Anxiety, Domestic Abuse, Homelessness and a baby - Part 1 - Love and Diagnosis
Anxiety, Domestic Abuse, Homelessness and a Baby – Part 1 – Love and Diagnosis
This is a three part investigation into the life, thus far, of an 18 year old young woman. In these case studies, we will talk about how she met her abusive partner of six years, how she dealt with her anxiety disorder, teenage pregnancy, homelessness, social work involvement and the battle for her child.
How did you and your partner meet and how old were you?
“He was 12 and I had just turned 13. He was in 1st year of secondary school and I was in 2nd. I had seen him going around school and was intrigued by him but didn’t know him properly. My best friend, Jane* was telling me she had a new boyfriend and he had a little brother that went to our school. A little later we were introduced and it turned out to be him. I was instantly attracted to him. I know it sound silly, but I knew there was something more.”
How did you two start dating? How did that happen?
“Well, I started hanging around with him, his brother and Jane. I was normally quite confident but for some reason I couldn’t just speak to him. I had to have a purpose or an excuse. Like, I didn’t smoke but I used to ask Jane for a fag – just so I could offer him two’s (half) so maybe we would speak while he was waiting for his half. Even then, I would never even smoke half, I must have looked like such a dork! Haha!
We used to get the same bus home and friends and his brother kept making signs and shouting for us to kiss and so on. We were so embarrassed that we wouldn’t even sit together the first 5 times we got on.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later that we actually kissed. I had been out with his brother drinking and we went back to his brother’s for a party. His brother and Jane were sleeping together that night and there was nowhere for me to sleep. So, his brother woke him up and told him to move over because I had to sleep in with him. I couldn’t go home drunk. So, I got in the bed and he was so shy that he handed me separate covers and explained that he didn’t want to share covers because that would be weird. We started speaking and toy fight flirting and eventually ended up kissing. We stayed up all night kissing and talking. His younger brother came through in the morning to wake us up for school but we were already awake still and went to school together. Funnily enough we both fell asleep in class. And that was it, we started being a couple from then on.”
Were either of you ever unfaithful?
“He was unfaithful 12 times in total during our 6 years together, only one he has sex with but when you are teenagers and virgins, eventually loosing it to each other – French kissing someone else was cheating. I was always faithful. He first cheated on me for the first time, 2 weeks into our relationship. I thought I would get my own back on him and with Jane I was out in town meeting some boys. When it came to it, I ducked out. I couldn’t do it to him. I know this sounds cliché, but this wasn’t when I realized I loved him. It was long before. The first night we spent together, I knew I wanted to be with him, full stop – no one else.”
Describe your first panic attack and how your anxiety was diagnosed.
“I was 14 and I had been staying in more and more recently. I had been feeling sick and kept taking indigestion medication and anything else I thought might help. Then, one day, Jane persuaded me to come out in town with her shopping. I started to feel really ill. Looking back it would have been the prospect of meeting new people that would have been making me anxious but I didn’t know that back then. So, I thought it was something physical. I started to panic on the bus and freak out wanting to see my mum. I was crying and hyperventilating, so Jane took me to my mum’s work because she didn’t know what to do. My mum’s boss told her to take me down to the staff room because I was in such a state. They didn’t really want that in front of customers. Next thing, I was gripping on to the staff toilet crying saying I was going to be sick. One of my worst fears is being sick. My mum didn’t know how to help me either, so she got her friend to pick me up and take me home. The next day, she took me to the doctor. We described my symptoms and the doctor diagnosed me on the spot and handed me a leaflet about the disorder. I remember just thinking – wait so it’s all in my head? There’s nothing wrong with me? At least if it was something physical, I could have proof of it and get a plaster or a bandage or something! That wouldn’t make me ‘weak’. But in my head? How do I get that fixed?”
What sort of medication were you put on?
“I have taken beta blockers, anti-depressants, diazepam and various other relaxants. I became addicted in my early teens to beta blockers and they had to switch my medication around because of this. I was first put on anti depressants just over a year ago due to excessive stress. I am now on citalopram.”
How did you lose your virginity? Was it romantic?
“I was 14 and it was Hogmany (New year’s eve) and we were house watching for a family friend of his. About a half hour before the bells, we were kissing and he asked me if I wanted to go all the way. I made some silly excuses and went to the toilet. I was really nervous and started crying in the bathroom because I wasn’t sure if I was ready. He realized that I was taking a long time and came through to check on me. So, I told him how I felt and he wasn’t disappointed. He just hugged me and kissed me and told me it was ok. We went back through to watch the fireworks and hugged some more, which was really romantic.
Then, the night after we went to a New year’s party at his Grand Mother’s. I was drunk and so was he. I made the first move and it was clumsy, not romantic and nothing I thought it would be…I was disappointed the next day because I had a silly idea that it would be like the most romantic love scene in one of those classic movies. I was wrong, but I didn’t regret it really because I loved him.”
When did you fall pregnant and how did you first find out?
“The story of my son’s conception is not a classy one and I would hope he never reads this! Haha! We were at our friend’s flat, he was 14 and I was 15. We had been drinking again and I had ran away from home because I had been arguing with my mum. She had a new man and like any silly teen, I resented him because he wasn’t my dad. Our friends went to bed and we had sex on the floor in the living room.
I had been for a pregnancy test at a family planning clinic not long before that night. We usually used condoms but there had been once or twice we hadn’t. I went just because I was paranoid. This time, about 8 weeks after that night, I went because I had missed one period and the one before was very light. So, went back to the same clinic with Jane for support. I was hoping that it would just come back normal but it was done right in front of me. And while waiting for the result, she asked me again when my last period was and I burst out in tears because I could tell by her face what she was going to say. And then she said it. I was terrified. I had so many thoughts going through my head about my mum and John. My mum would be disappointed in me, would John leave me? What on earth do I do? Where do I go from here?”
End of part 1. Thank you for reading.