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Sals Story

I had had some really hard times, divorce with a daughter who was only 9 months old, but I coped, I felt relief as well as hurt. How strong I was was an asset to how I coped nothing could take that away from me. I decided my life was happy I had a home, I had Sam and I had a job I enjoyed.

Money did become a little bit tight I would admit it was due to my spoiling Sam but in reality my wage couldn’t afford to keep us both. That is when I decided to join the prison service. Another major step in my life. Suddenly when Sam was 3 years old there I was travelling down south every week from Sunday to Friday then home for the weekends, I coped fine, how when I look back I don’t know how, maybe I was a much stronger person than I took credit for

…… Whilst training I rang home to speak to my mum, no answer, why worry, but I did as my dad had being unwell so knew he would be in the house. That worry passed until the next day I got a call to tell me my dad had a brain tumour and had being rushed into surgery. I was panic stricken and lost.

New job, in training, what could I do. Nothing is my answer to that as although my tutors knew what was happening no one once told me to go home. I later learnt that you could and your training place would still be there for you. But without advice and some guidance what did I know. The training was like army so how could I leave, I couldn’t walk away from a career, a wage that would keep Sam and my house, our home.

I got through it and passed, how when I look back I will never know. My dad died just after I finished my training, my first month at work in December, I didn’t ask for time of too scared but luckily I had a great manager and as I was so upset she let me off one day, the day dad died, so at least I was there to say my goodbyes.

Life carried on, I moved on like we all try to do with a bereavement.

I was fine at work, dealt with all the problems that occur, answered an alarm bell one day and it all changed. I arrived at the alarm bell, adrenalin pumping but what I confronted scared me. A prisoner out of control that had the strength of every member of staff trying to calm him down.

I stayed then when sorted out I walked away, not realising that every belief I had had now changed and I was suddenly scared of even my own shadow. I went home that night, I didn’t feel myself but nothing that I could explain so I dismissed it. Sam was away for a week abroad with her dad, so I had an early night. I woke in the middle of the night and I wasn’t me, I was scared, I was shaking, I struggled to breath and the most horrid thoughts were going through my head. I rang my mum as I just wanted to die. She told me to come up to her house which I did. I went into overdrive and coped. I packed my uniform as was at work at 7 am, I went to her house and got into be with her. I couldn’t sleep, I was struggling to breath, I needed the toilet and felt so sick I was scared to move.

I didn’t sleep that night, got up and went to work, how I will never know. Got to work walked onto the wing and I went again. I thought I was dying, I had to sit down as I felt like I was going to pass out and my head couldn’t tell me anything that made sense. I left after about 10 minutes, got in my car after a friend walked me out and drove home, the whole time wishing that the steering would go so I wasn’t to blame for ending it all.

I lost all concept of my life, I didn’t want to go through this, nothing in my life could give me an inclination about what was happening to me. I got to my mums and she called the doctor, he arranged for me to go and see him. I was even scared to get out of bed let alone go to the surgery, but with the support of my mum I did it. I was given medication which I took, and even to this day I was so far out of it I don’t know what it was.

I progressed then went back down, what seemed like a small unknown incident grew bigger and I eventually had to take time of work. I took medication, medication that I can look back on now that didn’t suit me, but what experience did I have to help me on this. I continued to live my life, went abroad with my friends, thinking I was so much better on the tablets, but struggled every night whilst there, hid the knifes before I went to sleep, was frightened of me, myself what hope did I have.

I visited psychiatrists but couldn’t wait in the waiting room to see them so left. When I did see one she gave me another type of medication and I struggled again.From then on I relied on my doctor. She gave me medication and if I felt ill she changed it. I tried one and after just two days I was in the garden and passed out. I then tried Prozac, a simple noise whilst on that would turn me in to a gibbering wreck. So I then decided to give in on medication. I coped but not sure how, I lived but not a life that I deserved.

I struggled again so decided to give medication one more try, disaster I cried, felt like I was dying, couldn’t and didn’t want to move of the settee. I wanted to go to bed and hoped that I wouldn’t wake up. I couldn’t look after Sam her dad had to take her and although I needed that support, as his girlfriend was looking after her I became a bigger failure and wanted it to all go away and the only way was for me not to be here.

I got intensive horrible thoughts, I thought I would hurt someone I loved, Sam being my biggest fear, so the thought of her coming home made me worse. I was scared to go into my own kitchen, I kept knifes there. I was scared to go to sleep when Sam was in the house in case I lost it. I would sit for hours in the garden in case I lost control. By now nothing was worth fighting for, no one had any answers and I couldn’t cope thinking I could hurt my child, I honestly would have preferred not to be here than feel like I did.

In desperation I returned to my doctor, this was my last chance. She prescribed me tablets I had already tried and failed on, but she asked me to try a low dose and gradually increase it. What did I have to lose. I tried and I felt ill, I panicked more, I wanted to not be here more, but I persevered, I knew I had no alternative. I used my diazepam as much as I had before but anything was worth a try.

It took time but I persevered and slowly I did feel a little better. I am no way cured, I am a lot stronger and understand how I felt, even though still feel it and still panic that it is coming back. But I sit down and think about how bad I was. I often wonder now as I was so ill and then got worse when taking certain types of medication if I was getting worse or the medication contributed to it. Luckily I persevered with my medication on my last try and it did help me and I benefited.

A lot of things contributed to me being ill as Sam was involved in a case with my friends children where her brother was convicted of rape and I think that was the final thing that told me I couldn’t take anymore. The fight brought it on, and now I am so scared of violence which doesn’t help me in my profession. But the scars are deep now and changing my job wouldn’t change my fears. I still have bad days and horrible thoughts and when I do I honestly still struggle, I have being taught through CBT to understand them but I cant forgive myself for thinking them.

I had not a great childhood and could carry on typing forever, and I do think the fact my dad was violent has contributed to my fear, but as I was growing up I never realised the impact that would have on my life. I was adopted and have now found my real parents which was a happy story at the start but has turned out to be something that I wish I had never persuaded.

Thank you for anyone who has read this and for all the support I have had on this site. Realising you are not alone is the biggest comfort I could have asked for.

Sal