By Judith Haire
Key Themes: autobiography, dysfunctional family experience, abusive marriage, psychosis, recovery,
“Don’t Mind Me” is Judith Haire’s vivid account of the terrors she experienced while in the throes of psychosis. She describes how her dysfunctional family background and her abusive first marriage combined to bring her to the brink of insanity. Her remarkable and sustained recovery is told in great detail. “Don’t Mind Me” is an extraordinary story and shows how Judith battled through her devastating illness and emerged a stronger and more resilient woman.
About the Author
Judith Haire was born in 1955 and worked for several years before graduating in Politics from Sheffield University. Afterwards she spent eleven years working in the civil service, in a variety of roles. At 37 she experienced an acute psychotic episode which was to change her life radically. She lives in Kent with her husband Ken and their eccentric cat, Smudge. Judith had her first article published in Mental Health Practice magazine in 2007. “Don’t Mind Me” is her first book.
The phone rang and I screamed. I was filled with terror. My heart began to pound and I started to shake. In my confused mind I had become the deaf dumb and blind boy in “Tommy” a film that had captivated me many years before. I moved my limbs in a stilted and robotic way. I was no longer myself. I was in a different world, the world of psychosis. I was trapped and could not find my way out.
It was l993 and I was thirty-seven. I was entering a severe psychotic episode and this was to change my life forever. I need to take you back to my beginnings and describe how my life unfolded and how the many traumatic events which befell me made this terrifying illness almost inevitable.
Chapter One: Beginnings
I was born in Kent in December l955. My mother had met my father at teacher training college and instantly fallen for his charm. She loved him intensely but he said he would never marry her. My mother became pregnant.
She told me many years later that she had been put under great pressure to have sex and on that particular occasion she knew it was a fertile time of the month for her and neither she nor my father had any contraceptives with them. My father ignored her worries and continued to put pressure on her, saying he would kill himself if she did not have sex with him there and then. She found the pressure too much to resist.
Because my father was studying for exams she hid her pregnancy selflessly for several months and when she eventually told him all hell let loose. His mother insisted it was a deliberate act to trap him into marriage. My father broke down and demanded I was aborted.
My mother felt an overwhelming sense of duty and responsibility and decided there was no option for her but to marry my father. The wedding took place at the end of July l955. My mother had just turned twenty and my father was twenty three.
Once my mother went to live with my father in his parents’ house she saw a totally different side to him. His fury at having to marry her manifested itself in a regime of punishment – moody silences, cruelty and snide remarks. Once I was born, life became even worse for my mother. My father’s abuse of my mother was always unpredictable and would usually occur in the winter months, with sudden unprovoked bouts of rage. My father acted as though I did not exist. He ignored my presence totally. We all shared a bedroom. My mother said those first four years were hell.
My paternal grandmother Maud was, I think, torn in her loyalties and turned a blind eye to her son’s awful behaviour towards my mother, while she was pregnant with me and after I was born. My mother was frightened of my father and vividly recalls her unwilling compliance to have sex when he was in a rage.
My parents decided that if I was born with dark hair they would name me Juliet and if I was born with fair hair, Judith. I was born with golden red hair actually. My second name is Frances. When I was very young my father would tease me that I was baptised “Cess.” My surname was Pool and I felt hurt by this comment.
My mother was dreadfully unhappy cooped up in one room and living in her in-laws’ house. She would often stand looking out of the window, crying and wishing she could be somewhere different.
From what she has said in later years, she certainly never regretted giving birth to me. It was the marriage to my father that she bitterly regretted as it brought her so much pain and unhappiness.
She tried her best to leave my father when I was four months old, taking me in my pram, her belongings hidden inside, but did not get very far before she was consumed with guilt about deserting him and made her way back home.
She had planned to travel to Dorset to live with her mother and father. To the rest of the world my father was charming and nice but to my mother he was not.