Experiences of 2020

Pauline - Survivor

My name is Pauline. I’m a 44-year-old single mum of teenage twin boys. I have a background in health and social care, as well as childcare and education. I have battled with chronic illness and daily pain for several years now.

In 2018 I was a victim of a serial rapist, who was convicted just before lockdown. This threw me into a spiral of poor mental health which I worked through, but nothing can prepare you for. I don’t look after myself the way I should, but it’s quite hard to realize when you need to put you first. The only way I know how to change my mindset is by looking after others and when you can’t look after yourself all feels lost.

I’ve realised that family, friends and communities coming together is more of a necessity now than ever before. I’m forever grateful to my doctors who have saved me and my sanity on numerous occasions, as well as my close family and friends.

At the start of lockdown, I volunteered to go back to the NHS. I applied for several jobs, tried to be Mrs Hinch and thought I would have time to heal my soul after walking out of Glasgow High Court.

Initially I felt safe and not at all scared of a virus; I meditate on a daily basis which is one of my best coping tools (I’ve tried many!). Fake news and people abusing their positions of power scare me more.

I live within North Ayrshire, in a small rural area with high rates of crime, poverty, unemployment, drug abuse, addictions, and suicide. I’m still in awe at those that thrive amongst the chaos. I feel we have a local authority that doesn’t listen to the vulnerable in our community, let alone support them. So I’m writing this blog for the SWC, to highlight the areas of deprivation as a means of trying to rectify this for future generations.

The Power of People stands out most for me in this lockdown. I’ve seen an amazing community come together to help loads in their time of need. I have found women tend to talk openly about mental health and vulnerability - we need more women to speak in this man’s world. Some put themselves at risk. I have been one of those in need, and also one who has given back. It makes me proud to be Scottish and proud of Scotland. We’re shining as the strong nation we are on the world platform. We are known for wearing our hearts on our sleeves and that has shown immensely during this time.

If I could bring any changes, I’d put more into community advocacy workers to assist with all of the above - be that face to face, regular phone calls, visits…

I consider myself lucky. I’ve got two strong boys, an amazing loving family and a wee crazy tribe of friends and people I can just go to or lift the phone to in my hour of need. The unrecognized heroes. I’m so aware that those who usually need help will never ask for it. When they do there is a lack of it. And when you do get help it’s usually a wee volunteer angel.

I’m currently within RAMH, still on my own recovery journey, still keeping a diary and a gratitude journal. Although I’ve had some pretty rough times, I always look for the silver linings and I know that in time I can put my experiences and suffering into helping others.

People tell me I’m a strong woman ...

That’s because I was brought up with a strong mum, sisters, friends. I don’t know where I would be without them.