Wednesday 19 December 2018

The Ostrich Egg: My Journey to Mental Wealth

By Lea

It is only when we lose what we had that we realise just what we had. This is true in different elements of life. Sadly, this year it was true for me when it came to my Mental Wealth.

Between the ages of seven to twenty-two my Mental Wealth was lost, eaten alive and consumed by a range of people, from bullies at school, to the lack of trust shown by professionals who had the training to know better, and others. All this in addition to a rough deck of cards life had thrown my way.

Over those years, though, I was fortunate to spend a twenty-four week admission to The Crisis Recovery Unit, a specialist unit which was part of The Maudsley Hospital, which specialised in attempting to reach those for whom self-injury had become a coping mechanism.

I guess the best analogy I can make is that my body, my life, my experiences, my emotions were like an ostrich egg. The staff at the CRU chipped away slowly and methodically to break down the barriers I had put up as an act of self-protection. Once the external shell was cracked they chipped on until nothing remained of that egg. They then took the time and tenderness to build it back up, but equipped it with the skills and knowledge, not to mention self-confidence, that things can and will change, but that change has to come from within.

That was July 2001 through January 2002. For the first time my fears and my demons were not only heard, but they were held in mind whilst solutions – all of which I had to reach – were found and embraced. But this was not without many tears and setbacks as the journey to Mental Wealth began.

It worked. It lasted. Healthy coping mechanisms were adopted, psychiatry pushed to one side, a degree obtained, the loss of one of the few who gave unconditional love even whilst in my darkest of times, the birth of a child occurred, a divorce happened, a house move and more – all whilst maintaining that wealth.

But as is so often the case with these things, life had other ideas. In May of this year (2018) I was raped twice within six days by a so-called friend of over three years. He had methodically taken time to manipulate, use and lure me into a false sense of safety and trust. He had obtained power to know my buttons, how to push them and ultimately use them against me. I did the right thing and reported it to the police, but as all of this was going on the Mental Wealth I had gained rapidly disintegrated back to the crumbs and fragmented shell which the CRU had provided the skills and self-awareness to enable me to build back up.

Sanity fell. It fell like stale about-to-go-green-and-mouldy bread fed to ducks by children at the park. Any healthy ways to express emotion failed, and thirteen and a bit years of freedom and stability were lost. After caving in to self-destructions, and a psychiatric hospital stay, it is safe to say Mental Wealth was well and truly lost to the sink hole of life. Full blown Mental Illness had returned.

Last week the police informed me that they are unable to take the case forward to court due to lack of witnesses and/or CCTV, but who actually has these things when it comes to rape? A felt a sense of abandonment from the very agency which claims it is there to help and support, urging those who survive not to be silenced but with the emergence of the “Me Too” campaign to find their voice and speak their truth. I spoke mine, yet I am the one living with additional physical scars to layer on top of the mental and emotional ones he left as his legacy, whilst he walks the street continuing to spend his days oblivious to the damage and detrimental impact his actions have left behind.

In a vague attempt to self-soothe, self-manage – and self-sabotage if truth be known – self-injury has occurred once more, medical treatment obtained. The urges remain. The self-love for now is, temporarily I hope, on a shelf. I am trying to regain my grasp on it but it is hard. It is going to be a long journey to reclaim all I had.

If I know one thing it is that once this storm passes a butterfly will re-emerge. But it is hard to keep attuned to that vision when even as I write this I am in physical discomfort and pain following an episode of self-injury earlier this week which left my leg a mess. And I am mentally reliving all that he did those two days when he stole so much.

Asking for help is a hard yet brave step to take. I asked. I begged. I reached out. I cried. I screamed. Services were offered eventually but it took a breakdown to obtain a hospital stay. Services then deemed that due to their funding I had used my time and had to move on, although they acknowledged the distress I am living with on a daily basis. That was a sharp and bitter pill to swallow.

I am mindful that I am fortunate to have a private therapist trained in trauma who is enabling me to regrow and relearn and acknowledge and accept all that has occurred this year and its impact on me. After previous experience of being unreachable or untreatable by too many therapists my guard remains high. Nevertheless, she is thankfully equipped with the skills to see through the facade and get to my gut, to know what I need but may not want to hear, enabling me to try do things differently the next day.

So much has been lost, but I cling to the hope Mental Wealth will return some time soon. Until then all I can do is keep on as I am, vocalising when in distress, reaching out in the hope light will return, and pray no one else suffers in ways I have.

About the Author

Lea is a mid-thirty year old, Gender Fluid, Pansexual Solo Parent who lives in Leeds (Yorkshire, UK) and is Natural Term Breastfeeding their small who turns six in January 2019. Lea also happens to live with cPTSD, Fibromyalgia, and ME, and lost their sight a decade ago. Follow Lea’s Challenging Parenting Perceptions blog and Twitter (@leahtova).



  1. It always hurts me to see that others have experienced some horrible things, but I love your line "If I know one thing it is that once this storm passes a butterfly will re-emerge." - I have found the same thing and I try to remember the moments when I did re-emerge so when times get difficult, it helps keep me going. I'm going to add you to my list of bloggers I read. Will be checking out more of your stuff too! Thank you for having the courage to write and share.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Don, the pain side of knowing others struggle always tears me too to my gut, as I hate how the pain of mental ill health affects me n the thought of others experiencing similar makes me so sad. Feel free to keep a eye on my blog, it is still in its early days, but is giving me some focus n a small bit of structure to find something each day to blog on n reflect upon. The blog also has 2 past articles I wrote more just as angst after how I was being perceived based on other sides to my health and disabilities, so I reposted them. feel free to keep in touch, n all the best Lea x