My journey of processing trauma, has been a long and painful one, that has taken over 7 years.
When I first started therapy, back nearly 8 years ago, my diagnosis was based upon the very little I had disclosed. I had an appointment with a psychiatrist – purely for the benefit of claiming disability support pension, as I was unable to work.
During this one hour appointment, with a psychiatrist I had never previously met – I divulged very little of my full trauma history. But, enough about my childhood trauma was disclosed to allow the psychiatrist to give a diagnosis of PTSD, delayed onset from complex trauma. I was in a very traumatised state and barely able to speak and had no further appointments with this psychiatrist.
What I didn’t tell her, was about my marriage. I didn’t tell her I had functioned well, and been independent from the age of 20 – until my current marriage which started at 30 – when my health began to decline. She wasn’t made aware of my high functioning life, prior to my second marriage. She wasn’t aware of my job and my career and how I supported myself fully with no help from family, throughout my 20’s.
So, she based my diagnosis of a very incomplete picture of my trauma history and health and functioning capacity both now and in the past. Her diagnosis was based on this incomplete history she had available to her in a one hour appointment. And that is the issue with diagnoses based on a brief appointment, and a limited discussion of the trauma history. They are not always accurate.
That diagnosis has since been superseded by a far more accurate diagnosis, based on the full extent of my abuse history. Based on my therapy and trauma processing since that appointment.
7 years ago, I had not processed the abuse and domestic violence in my current marriage. The abuse was psychological, emotional and sexual abuse, of a fairly covert and insidious type – that is very hard to realise is in fact abuse.
As often happens in long term therapy – I began to slowly process this trauma, learn about abuse and feel able to disclose more abuse. I began to realise the lying, manipulation, toxic selfishness and harm caused by my current husband (I refer to as my ex) – was significant abuse. I began to see the similarities of the personality traits of narcissism and sociopathy in my ex. The lack of empathy, the lack of conscience, the toxic selfishness, the lack of consideration for the needs of myself and our children, the pathological lying, the affairs I suspected he had, the lack of remorse or shame he felt for the harm he caused.
After a few years of processing, I realised I had been conned and lied to from day 1. Told a whole lot of lies about his first marriage and how he pretended to be a good person, when he is anything but good.
I realised how he exploited an abuse survivor, with soft boundaries and empathy – for his own callous needs. So heinous.
I also realised a few years ago – that he had sexually abused me, via sexual coercion in the form of: manipulation, guilt tripping, anger, causing a toxic environment with his bad moods, acting like he was owed sex, plying me with alcohol, not caring that I clearly did not want sex with someone I knew was harmful, not caring about the pain the unwanted sex caused, acting like he was the victim because I would not have sex with him and manipulating the situation into seeming like ‘I’ was in some way – the bad person. Severe manipulation and gaslighting abuse. He didn’t care that I had to dissociate to cope with the sexual abuse. He didn’t care that I felt no choice but to ‘give in’ on occasions – just to stop the anger and the harmful behaviours he inflicted, when I rejected him.
I realised this sexual coercion was sexual abuse. In fact, rape. He chose to rape a child sexual abuse and rape survivor. Which is whole deeper level of heinous and evil abuse.
I realised my marriage had been nothing more than me being the victim of an exploitative and toxic, narcissistic, sociopathic abuser.
I went down the dangerous path of trying to get him help and get him into counselling, unwisely believing he may change. (He didn’t and only went a handful of times). I was scared he would cut me off financially – like he did his first wife, who he failed to pay child support to for over 10 years. I had very valid reasons to be very concerned. He used finances to keep me in the marriage. He made it clear there would not be enough money to support two homes if he left. And being unable to work, I was scared I would be unable to support my children. He used financial abuse, to continue to control me.
In 2018, in therapy, I began to discuss leaving the marriage and how to manage my health and my children alone. The arguments and abuse I continued to endure, at one point resulted in him getting a knife out of the drawer and in anger, using it in a threatening manner. I realised I was in danger – physically. I talked about this in therapy and contacted a lawyer to seek advice and was told I should apply for a domestic violence protection order. I went to the police, with a document the ex had signed for his therapist – admitting to all the abuse and the police dealt with it very badly – no doubt because my husband is a police officer and they protect their own.
After this knife incident – the police advised him to leave and I told him to leave. I attempted to set boundaries on his behaviour whilst he saw the children and attempted to maintain contact between him and the children – which the children didn’t actually want in the latter half of 2018. These boundaries were to try and protect myself and my children and I discussed this every week in counselling.
In January 2019, another incident occurred and he was angry, abusive and threatening, because he had been stalking me and found out I was on a date. The white hot jealous rage was terrifying. That’s the really dangerous kind of rage, that leads to women getting really hurt, or dead. My teenage son witnessed it all and was scared for my safety. I told the ex to leave and he wouldn’t. I ran inside the house, locked the screen door and told him to leave, or I would phone the police. I got my son to write down everything he witnessed, in case the police had to be called. I arranged for the locks to be changed the next day and contacted the lawyer again.
I applied for a domestic violence order, and the judge awarded a temporary one immediately in chambers, due to the evidence I supplied. Now, I am in the court/legal process, regarding an ongoing domestic violence order.
In 2018, I saw a clinical psychologist and again in 2019. This was in addition to my regular weekly counselling sessions with my GP Counsellor.
With the full extent of my abuse history known – an accurate diagnosis of PTSD – caused by the domestic violence in my current marriage – was given. With the impact to my health being disabling and severe.
The vasovagal syncope I also now suffer, was diagnosed within 2017 – by a cardiologist – as caused by extreme distress due to my marriage, had also been given.
The new and accurate PTSD diagnosis, was confirmed alongside the vasovagal syncope – which cannot be ‘delayed onset’. Both were caused entirely by domestic violence in my second marriage.
In a report written by the clinical psychologist, it was noted that the period of time throughout my 20’s – was a significant period of good health – both mentally and physically, which shows full recovery from my childhood trauma. And this was further confirmed by the fact that I got out of my first marriage in good health in my 20’s – despite that being a marriage with some abuse I had suffered.
The clinical psychologist confirmed, there is no reason my good health in my 20’s would not have continued, had I not have been subjected to the domestic violence in my current marriage.
And it was confirmed, that the abuse I endured in my current marriage, was significantly traumatic and abusive to cause PTSD in itself, independent of any childhood or previous trauma.
This also supports what I have spoken about in counselling – where it’s been confirmed as clear, that had I been in a loving, safe, kind relationship from the age of 30 – I would not have had a breakdown at 40, and not have the poor health I now have.
So, my current diagnosis, is PTSD, with features of Major Depressive Disorder, Mixed Anxiety, Agoraphobia, and Generalised Anxiety Disorder – caused by domestic violence.
This is a clear example, of how diagnoses can change, based on the extent of the trauma known to the diagnosing clinician. I never had delayed onset PTSD. My breakdown and PTSD were caused by my marriage.
It’s my belief, that most diagnoses cannot be accurately known, unless there is a sufficient therapeutic relationship, in which all trauma and all symptoms are known.
(And I am blessed, that both my GP counsellor and the clinical psychologist, will both confirm all this in my domestic violence order court proceedings, if necessity calls for a trial to occur. Plus, all the lies the ex has told, all the lies to admitted to, all the abuse he admitted to, will be divulged, along with the abuse being clear narcissistic/sociopathic abuse).
~ Lilly Hope Lucario
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