Someone please unravel my car crash of a life!

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    So I just turned 34 in November and although I had no issues with turning 30, it feels like I’m now having an early mid life crisis that I can’t get out of. I’m suicidal and I’ve been to see the GP, but all they could do was stick me on a waiting list to see a therapist for a few hours of counselling (which I seriously doubt is enough to fix all of the problems causing the depression). So I’m leaving this here for any random strangers to have a go publicly!

    Issue 1: I was bullied violently as a child throughout junior school by both a group of classmates and one of the teachers who took a dislike to me. I was a weird, nerdy, socially-inept kid and had no idea how to interact with people, so I was a walking target for abuse and got it. It’s left permanent scars and I hate the way I look now. I think it’s called body dysphoria, as I logically know I’m not the worst looking person in the world but really feel like I am. I come from a family of very good looking women (lots of media types that look like models) and I am compared to them constantly. So I have never managed to get over this. I have zero self esteem.

    Issue 2: My father was/is a narcissist and bully to both my mother and me (as I remind him of his own mother who left). He destroyed what little confidence I had left by my early teens, was angry, aggressive, insulting and a control freak who completely warped my idea of what a ‘normal’ relationship should be. He has no barriers and told me when I was 17 that he wished he hadn’t had kids as he would have had a better life and constantly shared horrible detailed things about his sex life and then lack of sex life with my mother that still makes me feel sick to this day. He pressured me into getting into debt in my early 20s, then when I was nearing bankruptcy during the recession he demanded I pay off his holiday home rather than my own debts. He’s then spent the last decade complaining and mocking me for having no life. Everything he does wrong is my fault. Even if I had no idea about the event, it’s still somehow my fault. He has a conversation with someone and forgets what they said… it’s my fault for not reminding him. It doesn’t matter that I wasn’t there. I ‘m supposed to be his PA, even if I’m working full time and have my own things to remember. My mother is a very weak, lazy and scatterbrained woman who simply brushes off or ignores issues as she dislikes conflict. She just eats, watches TV and hangs around the garden all day. If anyone gets mad or criticises anything, she gets upset. She lives in a fantasy world and has never been able to give me advice on anything as she doesn’t work or experience normal life, so I consider her more a distant aunt than a mother.

    Issue 3: Due to the above, I ran off with a 40 year old man when I was 14. My parents didn’t once question why a 40 year old man they had known for only a few days was happy to let their kid live with him. They just waved me off. He became a surrogate father figure for a couple of years in return for sex. It was incredibly messed up in hindsight, but probably the closest thing to a normal and caring relationship I’ve ever experienced as he was affectionate, never insulted or hit me, demanded nothing and actually listened and gave me practical advice. I still struggle to view it as ‘rape’, despite being told it was. It ended when I turned 17 and someone he worked with discovered what was happening and I had to move back home. When I returned to my parents’ house, a 30 year old man was coming over on evenings/weekends and shagging my 14 year old sister in the room next to me. Again, my parents made no move to stop it. He’d walk past me in the kitchen in the mornings grinning and if I started a row over it, my protests were brushed off with excuses. I had to act as though it was completely normal.

    Issue 4: I have zero friends to act as a support network to make up for my dysfunctional family. Growing up, women have bullied or ignored me and men have used me for sex or just treated me badly. So I have zero trust towards other humans. I have no idea how to even go about making friends. These days I don’t seem to have anything in common with women anyway. When I was younger I was attractive enough that I could at least get boyfriends in order to have someone to hang out with and ask for feedback. Now all the men my age are taken and I have no interest in one night stands or affairs, so I’m isolated.

    Issue 5: I managed to get good grades and a degree, but have never held down a job for long enough to progress past minimum wage. I get panic attacks or screw up socially with colleagues, or my lack of short term memory, focus or multi-tasking skills makes the job impossible for me to do, and either I’m asked to leave or I panic and quit. I can’t act ‘normal’ for long enough to get anywhere. Then getting a new job takes months/years as I’m terrible at applying/interviewing and struggle to change my routine again. My career is a patchy mess of short lived jobs all over the place.

    Issue 6: Every time I’ve tried to escape my parents’ home, I’ve had to rely on a relationship with some man in order to afford a place to live. There are very few jobs where I live and I struggle with commuting as my short term memory and organisation skills are shot to bits (I have to get up seriously early in the morning if I need to be ready to leave by a set time, which requires surviving on little to no sleep, which makes me very sick after a few weeks as my stomach gets messed up and my family don’t let me catch up on sleep when I’m not working). I’m terrible at driving, as I have no focus. I’ve been in multiple accidents while learning to drive over the years and finally got my licence after 17 years of lessons but have never used it as I’m terrified. So that leaves me with dating and staying with someone near a job. I can’t live by myself or with total strangers, as I freak out or forget things like eating or washing. I can’t sleep in a house with people I don’t know very well, even when I’ve kept a knife next to my bed and the door locked. I don’t trust people not to hurt me, so can never relax if there are strangers in my house. But I can’t afford to rent somewhere by myself.

    Issue 7: I’m in a constant state of panic, paranoia and/or suicidal rage, so I have to prioritise the important stuff like remembering my job over things like a normal diet in order to stay employed. I can’t focus on more than one thing at a time. Either my job is great or my diet is great or my relationship is great or something else. If I switch my focus to something else, every other area of my life falls apart. Right now I’ve had to focus on my health as I ended up in hospital last year, which means I went crazy on a strict diet and exercise regime and lost my last job as a result of being completely distracted. So I’m unemployed yet again.

    Issue 8: My family constantly humiliate and panic me over my lack of friends, hobbies/social life, job, partner, life… My sister is very attractive and managed to find a husband, despite what happened to her, and I am the weirdo loser who is just getting old alone now. They all have far more money than me as I can’t keep a job, and they expect me to pay to join in with expensive social events, presents, holidays, etc. I moved back home after my last relationship and job ended and a suicide attempt cut me off from everyone else I knew, and my parents have just spent the whole time pressuring me to get a job any job so I can give them money for more holidays with their mates and get a nicer car. They also keep asking when I’ll move out, despite me giving them close to £20k over the last few years that would have been the money for a deposit. I try not to panic over how broke I am, but they keep complaining that their wealthy lifestyle isn’t good enough, which makes me stress even more as I don’t have one tenth of what they have.

    Issue 9: I’ve always been depressed, but recently I have been in a constant state of suicidal panic. It’s not regular depression, but an extreme sense of fear and confusion about everything. It’s like a choking weight on me that never goes away and fills my head with what feels like mud. I wake up in the middle of the night with what feels like a heart attack and my teeth are ruined where I grind them all the time without meaning to. I can’t think straight any more and where I used to be able to speak clearly and write cover letters and CVs, now I can barely think straight to brush my teeth and get out of bed. So I now lack the remaining skills I had to get out of this mess. I randomly cry at nothing all the time and barely leave my room now as I know it will be yet another thing for them to use against me. On the odd occasion I do go downstairs and bump into anyone, they just demand to know whether I have a job yet and when I going to get my own house and leave. They invite people over all the time and will make these comments/questions in front of them to humiliate me even more.

    There are a whole list of other things, but those are the main ones that are now spiralling out of control. I went to the GP and explained I was suicidal but he offered me the option of A&E (pretty sure it would involve sectioning, which would be far worse than the situation I’m in already) or this waiting list to see a therapist for a few hours. He gave me a card to call someone, but I really struggle to talk on the phone so that wouldn’t help.

    People of the internet… any f****ng ideas are welcome at this point! I’ve never been a stupid person, but I seriously don’t know how to get out of this any more. I’m in my mid 30s and feel as though I haven’t been allowed to start my adult life yet. Everyone is getting on with things and settling down with kids and homes and I’m going backwards.


    Dear  Emily:

    I read some of your post and  will be able  to read and re-read it tomorrow morning, in about fifteen hours from now. Some of what you shared,  I can definitely relate to, and yet, it is heartbreaking to know that someone  else has suffered  and  is suffering so much.

    I will reply when  I am back. Please be  kind  to  yourself today!



    Thank you. I wasn’t expecting any replies for a while if at all, as it’s late in the evening here. Just ranting out loud anyway. Sorry to hear you’ve been through bad times as well. Life can be pretty rubbish.



    You said I’m in my mid 30s and feel as though I haven’t been allowed to start my adult life yet. 

    You must feel so much stuck and in despair about your situation.  It sounds like you are in severe depression if you are crying all the time, and being in constant state of anxiety, panic, paranoia and/or suicidal rage.

    It sounds like you need mental health intervention immediately.  Can you get it?  Find a hospital or therapist or a counselor to see you on an emergency basis?  That GP you saw was a waste of time, can you see another/someone else?

    I would look for ways of getting out to do something that will help you get back feeling human and have some measure of self worth.  I suggest to some light volunteering but I would think in order to just function that you need to get some mental health help.  Churches or other places may offer volunteer counselors.  Just getting out of your house is a good first step.

    Exercise and meditation are things you can do on your own without needing other people to assist as well.

    Take care,


    K sweetie. Here’s the thing. You have been through absolute hell. I’m amazed you are still upright, but you are! Firstly give yourself a massive pat on the back for dealing with a lifetime of shit so far.

    You are in survival mode. This helps you survive but does not bring happiness.


    You have great insight into what has brought you here and you have the strength to change things. Start small and it will build, I promise you. Find ways to comfort yourself. I have baths twice a day, go to bed with a hot water bottle, cry, listen to music, draw pictures, sit in the quiet and think. Eat nice things, cheese on toast, cups of tea. As you go along you will find your own comforts. You may find comfort allows you to feel sadder at first but stick with it, you’ll get through that.

    Then start to figure out what you can do to help yourself. Set one goal or challenge a day.  Stick to practical stuff go from there. You will have good days and bad days but keep with it. Churchill famously said, success comes from moving from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.


    Sending love and hugs xx




    I’m really sorry to hear this story, it has been a pile of s*** from day one by the sound of things. I can understand the living situation and not wanting to live with strangers. When I live with strangers it is overwhelming being in their presence, it should be a human right to have your own space and not be considered normal to share your home with strangers. No other animals really do this for good reason.

    Do you live in the UK? Have you considered applying for support or grants? Things like PIP for mental health grants, they are quick to fill out and you can get help via citizens advice? It could provide you with an income to get away or to find a cheap place perhaps? Not sure if there are other solutions where you are?

    Also if you are at home there are jobs you can do online, they don’t tend to pay a big income but it can be something to help you. Websites like Money Shed are good for starters. Plus it can give you something to do and they have a community of people online who will help you through everything. You can make £300/400 a month which is rent money for example or a holiday which might be good.

    Do you know of any support groups locally for those who may be struggling with similar issues? I recommend it from a practical perspective, it might be absolute hell to be there in a room of strangers but being around people really could be a lifeline for almost anything (work, home, support network, etc) and you don’t have to talk and generally there will be people there who are non-judgmental and who may have been through things like you?

    It’s frustrating the lack of these groups really, you know you have strong drug and alcohol support networks set up by governments but there is a real lack of mental health ones.

    Have you considered more radical treatment? I’m not sure if I’m allowed to mention it but it some countries they have quite “radical” methods of treatment for sufferers using plant medicines and natural remedies which can induce intense experiences but have also had “radical” results as well. I can point you in the direction for this if you’d like but I would recommend getting a stronger grounding first if possible with work etc so your mind can be more focused on your pain.

    Either way, I would add that you’re trying to understand and “unravel” your life, something which you don’t need to do but is something the mind will do over and over again in an attempt to provide answers for you (keep you safer, etc). This can be a wasted endeavor and lead to rumination.

    My best wishes,



    Dear Emily:

    You are 34 and  you are living with your family, a father who bullied you as a child and still, “angry, aggressive, insulting”, who “shared horrible detailed things about his sex life” with you, details that “still makes me feel sick to this day”, a  man who  pressured you to get into financial debt, had you pay for his holiday instead  of paying your debts, a man who blames you for anything that goes  wrong in his  life, “Everything he does wrong is my fault.. He has a conversation with someone and forgets what they said… it’s my  fault for not reminding him”. Your mother “just eats, watches TV and hangs around the garden all day… She  lives in a  fantasy world”.

    The women in your family, you wrote, are “very good looking women (lots  of media types that look like models)”, and  your family compares you t them constantly, you wrote, leading to your “zero self esteem”.

    When you were 14 you left your home and moved in with a 40 year old  man. Your parents knew this 40 year old man for “only a few days” and were okay with you living with him,  “They just waved me off”. This man was “a surrogate father figure for a couple of years in return for sex”, and it was “the closest thing to a normal and caring relationship I’ve ever  experienced as  he  was affectionate, never  insulted  or hit me.. and actually listened and gave me practical advice”.

    When you were 17 this man told you that you had  to  go back home because someone he worked  with “discovered what was  happening”.

    When you returned home, you noticed a 30 year old man  was visiting your 14 year old sister, having sex  with her nights and weekends “in the room next  to me”. And your parents “made no move to stop  it”.

    You wrote: “Growing  up, women have bullied or ignored me and men have used me for sex or  just treated me badly. So I have zero trust towards other humans”. You wrote: “When I was younger I was attractive enough that I could at least  get  boyfriends  in order to have someone to hang out with.. Now all the men my age are taken and I have no interest in  one  night stands or affairs, so I’m so isolated”.

    You wrote that you were severely bullied in junior school, that you managed to  get good grades and a degree, “but have never held down a job for long  enough to progress past minimum wage”, having “short term memory”, difficulty focusing and multi tasking. Your career is “a patchy mess of short lived jobs all over the  place”.

    “Every time I’ve tried to escape my parents’ home,  I’ve had  to rely on a relationship with some man  in order to afford  a place to live”. You are terrified of driving because you’ve been “in multiple accidents”, and  you “can’t live by myself or with total  strangers… I don’t trust people not to hurt me”, and “I can’t afford to rent somewhere by myself”.

    Currently, you live with your family who “constantly humiliates” you for being “the weirdo loser who is just getting old alone now”, unlike your sister who is “very attractive and  managed to find a husband”. They ask you for money that you don’t have,  because you are unemployed, pressuring you to get a job so that you will give them more money “for more holidays with their mates and get  a nicer car”, and they want you to move out because you are  not giving them money currently,  “despite me giving them close  to 20 k over the last few years that would  have been the  money for a deposit”.

    Currently, you’re “in a constant state of panic, paranoia and/ or suicidal rage… I can’t focus on  more than one thing at a time… If I switch my focus to something else, every other area of my life falls apart. This past year, you “went crazy on a strict diet and exercise regime and  lost  my job as a result of being completely distracted… an extreme sense of fear  and confusion about everything… I can barely think straight”.

    “On the odd occasion I do go downstairs and bump into anyone, they just demand to know whether I have a job yet and when I going to get my own house and leave. They invite people over all the time and will make these comments/questions in front of them to humiliate me even more”.

    My thoughts at this point: your father/ parents value money more than anything else. It is their #1 value: “they keep complaining that their wealthy lifestyle isn’t good enough”. The 40 year old man who took you to his house where you lived 14-17 paid  for your expenses, food, clothes and such, which relieved your parents for paying for those  expenses. It is possible that the man made a financial arrangement with your parents and paid them for having you in his house.  It  is also possible that the 30 year old man that felt free to have sex with your 14 year old sister over nights and weekends had a similar financial arrangement with your parents.

    When they see you, they see Money. If you don’t have any or  cannot generate money for them, they don’t want you.

    Basically, your parents and whomever partners with them, living in this house or visiting, are a bunch of predators, and you are prey.

    I understand the difficulties in your efforts to move out. Yet clearly, there is no  way you can live there sanely.

    Sanity is the goal, I figure.  For having gone through this life, it is surprising that you can use proper grammar, and write in the organized way that you write. It is surprising that your strong intellect is still strong, although short term memory and difficulty focusing is a problem.

    If there are any minor children living in this house, children protective services/ police should be involved!

    I think that the best place  for you  would be a shelter for exploited women, women sexually and  otherwise exploited. Basically, your parents prostituted you and your sister when the two of you were children.

    Seek a shelter to move to, gather some of your clothes and belongings and move to a women’s shelter where counselors are available to help you and other women who were victims of sexual exploitation by parents and strangers.

    Move there and never visit or be in contact with that home-of-horror, unless you take the legal route later  on,  if you are capable, and if legally possible, to sue your parents for what they have done to you.

    Move out ASAP and stay out of that place.  Once there, take it from there. I hope to read more from you.






    I thought I would come back and give an update on my situation as I found this post randomly and had forgotten I’d even written the above. Maybe it will help someone else who is experiencing a similar thing.

    Thank you to everyone who replied to me when I was going through that. I wasn’t expecting to get much/any response, as I know other people have their own issues, and it meant a lot to just have other humans interact in response.

    I ended up having a complete mental breakdown in the end (which was possibly a good thing). I got a job a few months after posting this that seemed perfect initially but turned into a complete nightmare. The owner was in a similarly bad place to me and in a very toxic relationship and I think we clicked over shared trauma or something. He was also my idea of perfect in terms of a partner and made it very clear he liked me too, but obviously nothing could happen. At the same time the woman he was with made it clear she was in it for the money and asked myself and another colleague to help her cheat on him as he wasn’t earning enough for her. But I couldn’t say anything and was just stuck in the middle. There were a lot of secrets on all sides and it became very very stressful and we both ended up seriously hurting each other.

    A few weeks later I had a seizure, heammorhaging in my eyes/nose, my heart temporarily stopped (I now joke that he literally broke my heart!) and ended up having a psychotic break with hallucinations and all that fun stuff. I think I finally maxed out my pain bar and as a result my brain and body went into blue screen mode. For the first time in my life someone smacked me down hard enough that I couldn’t get back up and was therefore forced to get help. My short term memory disappeared for about seven months and I thought I would never recover and was going to be locked away for the rest of my life. I’m still not 100% and still have agoraphobia and PTSD, but my memory and other things are slowly returning now.

    However, one of the positives was that I lost any sort of internal dialogue while this was happening and apparently went into a rage at my parents for everything they’d put me through. Plus my brother, who is sadly turning into a carbon copy of my dad. I also cut off an old ex who was using me for attention/free therapy and a few other people who I realised were just taking advantage of me year after year. Previously I was too beaten down to stand up for myself as I was trained to believe I was worth nothing and had no right to even consider my own needs. Now I struggle to care about anyone or anything outside of myself and my little neice and nephews who are too young to protect themselves. I’m having to learn to even tolerate being around adult humans, which is a bit more extreme than I’d like. I know this is likely just an extreme reaction to how I’ve survived for the last 36 years and hopefully I’ll be able to find a happy medium in the future. But for now isolation and boundaries keep me safe while I heal things.

    I was put in intensive therapy for CPTSD and general trauma and learned that I was a textbook codependent. I was trained from birth to only ever care about what other people wanted and let everyone treat me however they liked just to keep the peace. My automatic reaction to every situation was ‘what is best for everyone else and what can I do to make that happen’. It was robotic almost. I would regularly burn out and get sick, but just relied on insane amounts of caffeine to keep going so I wouldn’t let people down. I was a walking magnet for cluster B types that loved the fact that they could hurt me over and over again and I’d just sit there and take it or even feel guilty and ask for more. So I had attracted multiple zero-empathy people into my life and let them stick around and suck all the energy/love/money/work out of me. I was the ultimate punchbag for everyone because I allowed myself to be. No one was forcing me to do it. It just never occured to me that I could tell people to f**k off or fight them back. I had zero sense of autonomy as I was raised to be a slave. It was a bit of a shock to accept that how I viewed myself and the world wasn’t shared by other people. I was seriously angry at myself for being such an idiot, and forgiving myself for that will be a work in progress.

    I’ve had to learn a lot of new terminology and learn what is/isn’t a normal and healthy response to certain behaviour or situations. I’m a programmer at heart and I view this as reprogramming my brain. I’m at the stage where I’m now fully aware of why I ended up where I ended up and can identify unhealthy behaviour in other people and myself. I am still a codependent, so I still catch myself jumping in to offer things to people that don’t need or deserve my help. I then have to back track at times, which is annoying. I still need to learn that I’m good enough to just exist as myself and I don’t have to work to earn basic acceptance from the world. I think that will take the rest of my life to fully master.

    I only have a couple of people left in my network that treat me like a human and I know I can trust not to take advantage of me. I was shocked at how many toxic ‘friends’ and ‘family’ I had collected over the years. Being used and thrown away was normal to me, so I was more attracted to the people that used me the most. I didn’t know what to do with someone who was genuinely nice. If anything I probably seemed really weird to healthy people and that pushed them away.

    I’ll be on heart medication and in therapy for the rest of my life now, but that’s ok. At the very least, my niece will have a female role model that can teach her what is/isn’t acceptable and prevent her from having to experience any of the things that I went through. A lot of the women in my family are codependent types and I don’t want her to copy that.

    My biggest concern is that I’m too old to really start my life at this point. The goals I had don’t seem possible now. Even if I meet another rare match that is a) healthy and b) I’m healthy enough to interact with them the right way, physically I’m a wreck due to all the stress, violence and now general aging I’ve experienced. So I’ve had to accept that I may never get to be happy despite all the hard work I’ve done, which is really painful. But life isn’t fair and at least I can use my experiences to help my niece, who means the world to me. If that’s all that my life amounts to, then so be it.

    I need to decide what to do as a career, as I haven’t been able to work since the above happened. I’ve never planned a career out, as everyone else in my family always had an opinion on what I was supposed to be doing and I was pushed in different directions on the basis of how much money I could make them. I started a small tech business project that has given me something to focus on over the last year, but I’ve struggled to find anyone else to work with long term. So I’m not sure how viable it is. I love the idea of running my own business, either directly with a partner or in parallel with someone who runs their own business and can act as a mentor/brainstormer. That way I’m less likely to end up in another situation where I am taken advantage of and can’t escape (at least in terms of work). But I need to build up my confidence a lot. And I’d need to find someone, which so far hasn’t happened.

    I’d also like to make friends that I can trust. I am still very wary of talking to or being around other people, as the PTSD is still there. I have huge trust issues, as I’m now overly aware of how easy it is for people to hurt me and don’t yet trust myself to notice all the red flags or react the right way to them. It’s good that I have boundaries for once in my life, but they are pretty raw and over-the-top right now. For anyone reading this who has gone through the same thing, once you learned to have boundaries with people, did that ‘war mode’ feeling gradually fade over time? Did you learn how to attract and let people get close to you without getting hurt or constantly panicking?

    I’m aware that I’ve babbled on for ages here, but maybe someone will find this useful.


    Dear Emily:

    I am the last person who replied to you back on January 6, 2019. It is a pleasure to read your amazing and indeed useful update. It reads very genuine and inspiring. It’s been slow on the forums here but I wish that somehow, many members will read your original post and your update almost 3 years later.

    I very much appreciate your dedication to your nephews and to your niece, being motivated and able, as you are, to guide them toward a better life than the one you experienced so far. I hope that they are currently protected from your abusive father, brother and any other family member who is likely to harm them.

    You wrote at the end of your update: “For anyone reading this who has gone through the same thing, once you learned to have boundaries with people, did that ‘war mode’ feeling gradually fade over time? Did you learn how to attract and let people get close to you without getting hurt or constantly panicking?“-

    -I went through some experiences that were quite similar to yours (I am willing to elaborate if you ask me to do so), and my answer is: my war-mode feeling, my anxiety and emotional instability, have improved a great deal. It has been a very, very slow healing process, and like you, I believe that it will never be complete.

    What I found out through the process of healing is that if I expect it to happen fast, and get disappointed when I still feel unwell- the process of healing stops and time is wasted. When my expectations are realistic, and I no longer get surprised at how long it takes- the healing process continues unhindered, becoming easier and faster than otherwise.



    Dear Emily:

    How are you? I would be glad to read from you anytime you feel like posting here.


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