“My life was saved by a stray cat my mum and I saved from the streets...
I have survived every aspect of childhood abuse that began at a very early age and continued for many years. It is impossible for a two-year-old to speak, let alone express and interpret adult emotions.
Internalisation results in repression, self harming and feelings of self worthlessness and most commonly eating disorders that affect MEN and Women.
I have been living with Anorexia Nervosa for 20 yrs and although it did take my life in the year of 2000, I miraculously survived and through music am making a difference in peoples lives. It takes time, perseverance and emotional intelligence but it is possible to reverse these effects with a supportive network of friends, health professionals and people like ourselves who can offer support.
I have now maintained a healthy but low BMI for approximately 3-4yrs. It is similar to diabetes in the way we 'manage it day by day'. It is a miracle that I am here typing and if it weren't for the stray cat my mother and I picked up off the street, I would not be here.
Without going into graphic detail, the day I decided to end my life my cat kept running back and forth to my mother who was sitting in the loungeroom. She knew something was wrong and she found me lifeless, no pulse. I had lost all bodily functions, and she and my father dragged me to the loungeroom for the paramedics.
Mum said it was the first time she had seen my father cry. He was a very sad, mixed-up man and I have no anger towards him at all. I'm not making excuses for him but I know he didn't mean to hurt me as a child; he just didn't know how to show emotion, which is very typical in an 'eating disordered' household. It has taken 17 yrs of therapy to get to where I am today and alot of self determination and hard work.
I was on life support for a short time. Mum didn't come to see me as she knew this would be the last time after countless times of attempting to take my life. I remember waking and the Dr's telling me that I had had 3 seizures.
I am still here and although, since the death of my father in 2006, it has been very hard, I have had only two minor relapses but now have heart irregularities so need to be kinder to myself.
It is very hard when the abuse has stolen your every self-esteem. It stunts your growth in adult life. Having an eating disorder is bad enough as it stunts your social/employment life but with the abuse on top of that it is overwhelming to think about.
I have never shared part of my story publicly or the issues of Dissociative Identity Disorder as a result of major abuse. I'm taking every day as it comes right now. There are so many childhood survivors out there all over the world and if this reaches anyone of you, I hope that you are able to find some inspiration.
I too have told her that I forgive her for not protecting me from another family of perpetrators who were very sick individuals and the worst of all. She says she cannot forgive herself and she has her own issues but will never get help so in a way I feel 'responsible' for holding her up emotionally. The worst of my perpetrators has passed away from a drug overdose and the other two have been in and out of gaol. The youngest also turned up to my high school many years ago now. It was awful. He bragged about what he and his brothers had done and I was teased from the other boys in my class alot.
My ED was triggered at the age of 6 as this was the only reaction I got from my mother and I was diagnosed at 15. By not eating was the only way I could grasp my mother's attention. I learnt that this was the only way I was able to communicate with her.
The repressed anger that I experienced, which later commonly develops into some sort of self-harm, began when I was first abused at the age of two (not perpetrated by my father) I was medicated at the age of 3yrs for 'temper tantrums.' Then, at the age of 6 when my father behaved inappropriately towards me, I was put on an anti-depressant for anxiety and bed-wetting, I also had to have a brain scan for my 'changeable moods'...funnily enough, the scan showed up nothing!
All I can do at times is laugh to get through. I don't know if I have a future but am taking each day as it comes. It all seems like too much so I'm writing alot lately, hoping to get all of this negativity out of my brain.
I am also planning my first student Christmas concert for this year that the owner of the restaurant I play at has so kindly let me use as the venue! How lucky am I!!! This, in a way, is giving me a reason to keep going, living knowing I have my students depending on me for guidance.
I was saved only by a stray cat. If my mum and I hadn't saved her, she would not have been there to save me. Mysteriously, she disappeared a few years later. It makes you wonder if we really do have guardian angels...
I want to use my artistic attributes as a way of advocating the long lasting effects childhood abuse has on adult survivors, men and women.
As an artist/performer, I use art as a ‘voice’, an external instrument to express what I cannot in words. I believe we as artists with common interests can help each other and encourage each other through positive influence.
Apart from freelance photography, I am a classically-trained pianist and teacher. My students age from 5 yrs to 55 yrs; it is never too late to follow a passion. I teach to ‘Motivate, Educate and Encourage’. My students motivate me; they give me a purpose for living life to the full.
I also volunteer at various nursing homes and hostels providing musical entertainment in a therapeutic environment. Apart from performing, I have worked as piano accompanist for various seniors choirs. I have worked in musical theatre and have worked with the Nepean Bell Ensemble, an ensemble of youth and adults with intellectual disabilities.
Having worked as a volunteer in aged care I would also like to advocate the issues surrounding residents such as depression, loneliness and isolation.
Beauty is seeing the smile on the face of a resident at the nursing home who, in a catatonic dementia, clutching a doll they have had since they were 12 years old, momentarily breaks free and begins to sing when I play their favourite song, even if now and then they tell you TO SHUT UP! :)
Beauty is connecting with another person who may not get any visitors because their family and friends have passed on.
I believe you get in life what you give. Grow, follow your dreams and celebrate achievements, big and small. Become involved in your community, volunteer, believe in yourself, have faith and never give up. With our life’s experience we all have so much to offer the world".
‘Breathe to live, not to just exist’.