Trauma Ambassador Lauren’s Story

At Healthwatch Essex, we have a Trauma Ambassdor Group who we work with to help improve health and care services for people living with the effects of trauma. Lauren is a member of the group and has been sharing her experiences with us and explaining  why she wanted to join the group.

“I was 30 when my parents suddenly divorced after 45 years of marriage. I found it really hard to come to terms with the fact my mum didn’t love my father anymore, and announced she was moving away to rebuild her life. This sent me into a dark place because I was concerned for my father who didn’t want the relationship to end, and I had to adjust to my parents being separated. I always knew my mother wasn’t loving or the mother that I needed, and I finally realised she was a narcissist, neglectful and emotionally abusive to my father, my brother and me. I cut all contact due to how abusive she was and that she fed my poor mental health. I decided to try some counselling to talk about my feelings and emotions to help me to process what I was going through. I’ve been seeing the same counsellor for the last three years and she really is my rock, she helps me with days when I can’t function and supports me in giving me a place to explore my feelings.

Beside this I had kept a secret from virtually everyone that I had experienced a physically, controlling and manipulative abusive relationship at the age of 14 for two years. I had kept my trauma to myself for many reasons and still do to some degree, but when I went through the trauma of my parent’s divorce the past came unravelling into every part of my living day.

When I first disclosed to a therapist that I had been in an abusive relationship at the age of 14, which ended suddenly due to him being drug dependent and taking an overdose. I got the chance to finally discuss the abuse I endured, which leaves me faced with constant flashbacks, traumatic memories and feelings of to this day.

I found it difficult to function daily and ended up being signed off work for five months due to a poor decline in my mental health. I was left with feelings of uncertainty, depression and anxiety. I began trying to understand why I couldn’t function on a day-to-day basis and ended up resorting to a private psychiatrist where I was diagnosed with OCD and complex trauma. I struggled to come to terms with my long-term mental health diagnosis, and my mental health spiralled. I continued to see a therapist and due to the diagnosis, I accessed therapy on the NHS whereby I began EMDR therapy. I continue to live with my challenging mental health and am under the secondary mental health services and currently awaiting an autism assessment, as the team feel I also have this.

My husband of 13 years is also my main support, who helps with my daily living, and we support each other. We now have set up a men’s charity football team and raise money for our local branch of Mind to give back to the services for helping support my husband when he went through his own turmoil of mental health and tried to end his own life. We have successfully raised over £21,000 and continue to do what we can for our chosen charity.

In June this year I heard of Healthwatch Essex, and their Trauma Ambassador Group for people that have suffered trauma and want to help others by raising awareness with their lived experience. It’s really comforting to be part of a group who all have the same desire when it comes to raising awareness of trauma. Healthwatch is where I met Sharon who has given me countless hours of advice in regard to my mental health, my journey with the NHS mental health services and the support from the local group. Sharon has helped me in so many ways which I can’t thank her enough for. She has escalated my concerns when needed to in regard to a shocking experience with an NHS psychiatrist and has safeguarded me when I’ve felt lost, helpless and wanting to end my life.

I now feel I am somewhat ready to share my experience of my trauma even though it’s anonymous due to having to safeguard myself from a dark past but if I can help others to highlight their trauma and their lived experience it’s one less person that might be suffering.”

If you would like to access support around any of the issues mentioned in this blog, give the Healthwatch Essex Information & Guidance Service a call on 0300 500 1895, email [email protected] or text/WhatsApp on 07712 395398.