Every now and then, as you go through life, you come across someone who not only inspires you but also has that uncanny way of making you smile. Their outlook, even after enduring so much trauma; their attitude, kind spirit, and desire to be a light in the darkness, just leaves you feeling better for having met them.
From the moment you visit Jessica’s website or check out any of her social media profiles, you can’t help but be inspired and just start smiling from ear to ear…at least that’s what I did! 🙂
Having survived many different types of trauma, Jessica has dedicated her life to not only her own healing journey, but to also inspire others and redefine the stereotypes that surround survivors.
I consider it such a pleasure to have met you Jessica, and I am so grateful for the story that you have so openly shared here on the blog. You are amazing and I’m looking forward to working with you in the future.
Hello there you lovely bunch! I hope you’re all well!
What an absolute pleasure and privilege it is to be writing here today.
I’ve been following Matt and the Surviving My Past podcast for quite some time now and never imagine I’d be asked to speak right on this very website.
Well, I guess its time to introduce myself isn’t it? My names Jessica and I run a little blog over on littlestlady.com. Here I talk about my abuse and mental health difficulties right through to my recovery and healing.
See my life was well, interesting. We will start with that.I suffered emotional,physical and sexual abuse and also two assaults. With this I was left in a pickle to say the least and left to rebuild my little life right from the very start.
The rebuild was going to be a task to say the least especially as among the mixture of broken pieces I had managed to accumulate Post traumatic stress disorder and a severe form of Obsessive compulsive disorder.
My post traumatic stress was intense and I always find the word ‘intense’ to fall quite well with PTSD. I was basically reliving my childhood again and again and actually the majority being in my sleep. Yep,my main symptom of PTSD was night terrors and I would wake up with my fingers more or less embedded in the palm of my hands due to the sheer fear of it all.
In regards to my OCD, well it was in the form of ‘safety checking’ and rituals that involved anything that could set on fire, anything that could cause a flood or any chance of anyone breaking into my home. I also had another little OCD trait in the form of writing which prevented me from getting past even the second word without starting the whole thing again (and believe me I didn’t even think the first word was right).
After a while this little lady had truly had enough. I had battled with my mental health difficulties for too long and it was time to do something about them. I’d tried a few different things in the past but my head just wasn’t in it and i was sort of comfortable and completely use to just being frightened. I mean by this point it was almost my trademark. My OCD getting as bad as it did was that real push to finally start doing something about my difficulties. I was beyond exhausted from pacing round my house 24/7. Truly, I was ready to go into therapy and I was ready to come out of it with no signs of OCD nor anything else.
Luckily my GP knew of someone who could help me and described her as ‘just as determined as me’ and yep, she was! After that long dreaded mental health waiting list I was put through to the lady that would completely change my life. She was so incredibly passionate about her work. I couldn’t believe in everything she said more and I was willing to spend the next few months working through my abuse and all those tricky little things that go with it.
My therapy began with my therapist confirming my PTSD and OCD and also explained the underlying complex anxiety disorder which was closely linked to the two. Next i began learning about each disorder and what was a trait of each. I also learned about why i was doing the things I was, the responsibility I had taken on as a child, and how much my trauma had shaped my daily life.
Now the real test was taking these things on. I completed tasks and challenges on a daily basis including exposure tasks to really tackle my OCD head on. Lets all just take a minute to appreciate the thought of me turning a plug off,running to bed as quickly as i could with my hands on either side of my face so i couldn’t see the other plugs on the way, getting into bed and making myself stay there.
Yep. That’s what I had to do. Decide i wanted to go to bed and leg it. Now, ’Leg it’ is very much a British term but it’s literally the only way i can explain the whole scene.
Yes I was eventually able to leave things to go to bed, but that didn’t mean I was sleeping soundly in the next room not thinking about them. The whole process was draining. Even draining doesn’t cut it. I was completely and utterly exhausted and was only left with the thought of “Who’s idea was this?!” I wasn’t even that exhausted with keeping my OCD as it was.
As well as tackling my OCD I was also working on lots of different aspects of my abuse and attempting to figure out some tricky unanswered questions. When I was assaulted it was by two members of the same family as my main abuser. During the assaults they used the exact same words and phrases to hurt me as my main abuser. It was almost like they had been sat down and taught it somewhere. How on earth did they all end up saying the exact same things and where on earth had this all come from? My therapist spent a lot of time explaining the cycles of abuse to me and how the behaviour can be learnt and picked up on at such a young age. I told her what i knew of the family history and slowly we started piecing everything together.
In regards to my OCD I eventually became able to trust myself and the things around me. Slowly but surely my OCD was minimizing and slowly but surely I could go to bed without wondering if the toaster was magically going to push itself down and set on fire. I had also began writing again due to learning that the reason i couldn’t before was that i just didn’t think it was good enough. My PTSD symptoms had also shrunk hugely due to me learning more and more about my abuse.
My final session of therapy was spent with a mixture of clapping and tears and I can only imagine what someone would have thought walking past the room. Why on earth was all this commotion going on? Well, because after those grueling months working every day on my OCD I became OCD free. I was not doing a thing. My little hands were not on one plug socket,door lock or tap. Id done just what I had set out to do.
In fact since ending my therapy (Almost 3 years ago!) I have not engaged in any OCD activity at all. No checking, no pacing the corridors and no lying awake waiting for a huge wave to come and throw me out of bed all because id left the tap on.
All that hard work had paid off and all that hard work for my therapist had paid off too. Shortly after my therapy ended and due to taking my case to the health board showing how much progress we had made my therapist landed herself a job as the manager of the mental health services in my county.
I believe in good therapists and I believe in hard work. Yes it was tough and I had so many moments where I would stop and contemplate whether to continue. With the help of my therapist and reminding myself of the small victories a long the way and how much progress I was making I was able to push through.
I’m so incredibly passionate about sharing what I learned during my abuse and my recovery. Knowing why my abuser did what she did to me is only more of a push to teach and encourage others into recovery as well. I believe in removing that stigma from abuse and mental health difficulties as that stigma was what prevented my abuser from getting help and only repeating that behaviour on to me. She didn’t heal from what happened to her. In fact she didn’t even get the opportunity to think about such a thing as for her, there was nothing to heal from. The abuse was to be forgotten about, you were suppose to ‘suck up’ your worries and just carry on. A circle of beliefs that had been passed down from generation to generation.
I recently created a little Draw my Life video which may help to explain my life a little better.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Matt for sharing this with you all and thank you for taking the time out of your day to read about my story.
For those struggling please just keep pushing through it. It is hard but it’s so much brighter on the other side.
Jessica Emily – Littlestlady.com
Feature images and Post pictures created by Jessica Emily.