Mental Health Issues: Part 1 - My Story

Posted at 17:20pm on 15th October 2023

We hear, repeatedly, about the number of young people suffering from mental health issues, but little about any means of reparation. This, despite being told that 'Your mental health is just as important as your physical health'.  One of the causes, however, is listed as being 'childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect' – grounds with which I can identify.

Born with a painful intestinal disease – unidentified until I was was well into middle age – my mother*, so I was then informed, was told to ignore my screams, because I was nothing more than a 'naughty, attention-seeking child'. Naturally, this had a profound effect on my childhood. Screaming with pain in the middle of the night, I was told off for waking my baby sister. Unable to eat certain foods without increasing the pain, I would be sent to my bedroom with the threat of a smacked bottom. Indeed, isolation and physical punishment were the norm for me.

Living in outer London at the time, I would often run away to stay with my Grandma. She, at least, seemed to have some affection for me. Yet time and again, even as a four-year old, I would dream that I would be watching my parents standing over my grave, while wondering if they might now have come to love me. This, indeed, personified my life, from early years, through to adolescence, though I have to say that mental health issues were completely unrecognised back in the day.

Despite the fact that neither of my parents were church-goers, I was sent to a Roman Catholic primary school. There, when caught scraping any foods that contained milk products into the 'pig bin', I would be made to take it out and eat it. Until, thanks be to God, one of the teachers – a nun – would ensure that I was served a jam tart instead of rice pudding or custard. This had a profound effect on me, though it was to be many years before I recognised it as such.

In my latest book, Picked For A Purpose, I endeavour to show the path I trod as a young person, and the means by which my mental health issues were dealt with.

*My parents were not 'bad' people, but were merely taking on board what they had been told about my being 'naughty' and 'attention-seeking'.  Indeed, my mother wept when she told me.

NEXT TIME: Mental Health Issues: Have You Ever Felt Useless? Or Unheard?

Your Comments:

Veronica Zundel
16th October 2023
at 1:39pm
Not only were mental health issues in children not recognized, food allergies weren't recognized either. Sorry you had such a very bad time. Thank God you had grandparents and at least one understanding teacher.

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