mental health


After receiving repeated explicit and detailed threats of sexual violence in the workplace on a daily basis for weeks from a patient who is a convicted sex offender, I discussed these with my line manager who stated “well what do we expect when we bring a beautiful woman on the ward” and laughed. He didn’t discuss it beyond this. I was the only woman in the team at the time and had not been in the service long so did not feel comfortable to report my line manager to more senior managers. I expressed to my team that I did not feel safe on the ward but the patient was not moved wards and I continued to have to go onto the ward he was on every day. When he started being allowed periods of leave off the ward, I stayed late at work to ensure that I didn’t have to walk from the building to my car at a time when he might be allowed to be out, particularly as he had made a point of telling me several times that he knew which car was mine. I felt I had to take these steps to manage the risk myself as I did not feel that anyone else was taking the risk to me seriously. I consulted the advice of a male psychologist colleague who specializes in working with sex offenders. He told me that “there’s nothing you can really do other than eat 10 donoughts a night”. A member of nursing staff told me that it is my fault because I have not lied to the patient and pretended that I’m married. I explained that my relationship status is irrelevant and being single does not justify sexual harassment and sexual aggression but they continued to say things like this, including in front of the patient. The patient stated to the whole team in a ward round that he is going to spank me and nobody challenged him at all. As part of my role, I had to sit in meetings where others or myself had to read out reports regarding the patients progress/mental state/behaviour, which frequently included quotes the patient had made where he described my breasts and bottom in detail, or described masturbating whilst thinking of me. It was extremely humiliating to have to sit in a professional meeting in a room full of people, in a role I have worked hard to be taken seriously in, and to have extremely personal descriptions about myself read out to everyone. Nobody asked if I was ok or offered to censor the material. This went on for months and only ended because I left the service. This is not unique to that service, but is a problem pervasive in forensic mental health services.


As one of the only females in the service (and the only female in a senior position) I was repeatedly told by male members of staff that “we shouldn’t have girls working here”. When the team manager announced that he has recruited someone to the vacant post we had, a male member of staff said “please tell me it’s a man?”. The manager laughed and said “beggars can’t be choosers!” and apologised for appointing a woman (who is extremely experienced and is actually over qualified for the post).


I had a huge crush on a “class clown” character in my class from the beginning of secondary school. It soon became obvious to him that this was the case and he began manipulating me, making me think he liked me, making me feel stupid and fat and ugly but wanting more and more attention from him. Eventually, I became involved with one of his friends, who began emotionally abusing me (another story – he’d say he was going to kill himself every day). But the original boy kept coming to my house, began sexually assaulting me, telling me I was disgusting and going to hell because it was cheating because I didn’t tell anyone. He did this until I agreed to break up with my boyfriend and date him. He then continued to abuse me, but me over and over again to “do stuff”, telling me that if I didn’t that he’d tell everyone about my mental health issues. I reported him to the police a year later from a psychiatric unit I was sectioned into after starving myself and self harming. Nothing was done. I was still put back in the same school and classes as him. He tormented me daily, saying I’d ruin his reputation and I was a liar and that if I said anything else he would tell everyone I was crazy and on antidepressants. His friends all bullied me also, one of them spiking my drink and assaulting me at a party. They are all still living in the same town as me, walking the streets, laughing when they see me, passing me at college and work making jokes. Feeding lies into the ears of anyone I get close to. Rape culture and gang culture led these boys to stuck together in a toxic group, ruining my life. I have come out of this looking like the lesser person and he has never been happier or more popular. These boys led me to eating disorders, suicidal ideation, self harm and more. Yet to them, it is all a joke because, to them, women are lesser beings, there only for pleasure and to be used and manipulated to their will.

Ms S

Since becoming a mother I have experienced so much sexism that it would take me an essay to write it all down fully! I really wish that everyone talked more openly and honestly to girls, and boys, about the reality of parenthood particularly for women. I think that parents are pretty good at doing that amongst themselves, but I wish so much that I had been told about the realities before I took the decision to have a child. I love my son and wouldn’t change him for the world, but I just wasn’t properly informed or prepared. And the change to a woman’s life is so massive. The biology of parenthood is not fair on women, but neither is the way that mothers are treated and the things expected of them. I believe that we are not told the truth because if we were, it would put us off becoming mothers. To start at the start of the process, I now find the term ‘morning sickness’ hugely problematic. It should be called ‘pregnancy sickness’ because it lasts all day. It is like having norovirus for weeks without a break – I am not exaggerating at all as I have experienced both. It is horrible and utterly exhausting. And yet we minimize it, don’t treat it (I know that there are good reasons for not trying new medications here, but there really is no help available). And it’s not generally considered something you can take time off work for. Labour is obviously massively painful and physically destructive to the mother, that is just how it is. But I’ve come to notice now how women in labour are often a subject for humour in television and film, and our wider culture. It makes me think, when is it ok to laugh at somebody in agony and distress? And the answer is, when it’s a woman. Postnatal care is below the standard needed for new mothers to maintain decent mental health. This was my experience and there are many articles online documenting this. After 40+hrs of labour, during which I had been physically unable to sleep or eat, I was left in sole care of a newborn baby (who wakes up at least every 3 hrs for a feed) for the first time. This is also when I was expected to learn to breastfeed, which despite being a very natural thing does take some practice to get right. This is the norm, but how is that sensible, for the best care of the baby or the mother? Women, including myself, are put on wards where people come and go, babies and women cry all day and night. I ended up going home with a newborn having lost two nights’ sleep. When this is the way that new motherhood begins – and there is no break from that crying, waking baby once you get home, 24/7 – I feel it is no wonder that postnatal depression rates are so high. I believe that things could be done differently too, it is just a question of money and resources. My grandmother spent a week in hospital after the births of her children, my mother several nights, and for both, the baby was cared for by midwives who woke the mothers only for feeds so that they could rest and recover. That was the norm then. But providing that care costs money, I guess, and women’s mental health is no longer a priority here. I could go on, about postnatal discrimination in the workplace, unequal burdens of childcare and housecare, the different standards expected of parents’ bodies (‘dad bod’ made me so mad – fathers’ bodies have done no work in the process of childbearing yet are allowed to stop caring for their bodies, while mothers are expected to ‘get their body back’ after pregnancy and labour). But I don’t have all night!


The last few weeks have been weird. This ex and I decided to stay as bffs after the breakup, and for the most part it’s been good. He and I are the only people in our respective friend groups who share the same sense of dark humour, and we still have plenty in common despite no longer being officially together. It’s been this way for 1+ years. Lately, we’ve been starting up again, in both a physical and romantic way. We’re both frustrated, and have embarrassingly strong feelings for one another, so fair enough. We’ve even shagged a few times. Now, part of the reason we broke up was my abysmal sex drive. I have been seriously abused in the past, which as you can imagine has had a great impact on me. I understood his reasoning; he’s human after all. But tonight, it was different. We were both drunk (I still am as I type this), and we came to an agreement that I would sleep with him for money. $10, to be precise. $15 or more for anything else. We finished up a while ago, and he tried to sweet talk me out of $15. I said no, and he protested. By the end of it, I felt worthless. I know this is fucked up, I know this is weird, but it’s just somehow the way it turned out. Just now, he came back into my room, worried about how I actually saw that encounter. He wondered if I saw it as real, or just roleplay. His particular level of disconnect is fascinating, given the endless twists & turns my mind has been going through recently. He’s not dense, he’s not insensitive, but the sheer difference in perspective is very interesting. I was 100% serious. And some part of me thought he knew that, and was conspiring against me anyway. I wish people could reply to these posts; Am I crazy? Am I overreacting to a situation I caused myself? Or am I right to feel so worthless? I’ve given up looking for answers.

Confused bat

Hi, I’m glad to have found this place and that I’m not alone. So I have pretty bad social anxiety and am very introverted. I don’t have a social media profile or go out that much. I withdrew from college at the start of 2015. I feel that since then my social anxiety has gotten worse but am getting a lot of help for it that I’m extremely grateful for. Between the time that I got failing grades up to now, one of my closest friends who I was living with at the time started to grow distant from me. The counsellor at the college campus made me feel very anxious and that I couldn’t talk to her, we just didn’t mesh well. So feeling like I couldn’t talk to anyone, I retreated to the mental health forums, i.e. the emotional wastelands of the interwebs. There are a handful that I feel are basically the same but with different names. Psychforum, socialphobiaworld, and socialanxietysupport. I went onto social anxiety support to vent about my problems I was having the the SA. What I didn’t know beforehand was that there seemed to be a lot more guys on these mental health forums than there were girls. I met a few girls, and I got along with them instantly. But whenever I posted a thread I got answers almost entirely from guys. One of the few I can remember was about how I’d been walking down the hall to class and two guys started insulting my outfit. I asked in the thread if anyone else had this problem where they seemed to attract random hostility while they were in College. The responses I got were questions from several guys just asking me what I did wrong to provoke these poor young men. “What the hell?” I thought. It was minor and I wasn’t being insulted directly but it still seems wrong to me for all these guys to assume I was the villain in the situation. I thought it was a fairly relatable thing. Then I started searching the forum for questions I had that may have been already asked. Among them I found responses from guys saying stuff like, “Haven’t had a MILF try to seduce me yet” and other things that to me just seemed really offensive even though they weren’t directed at me. It was frustrating to see so much of this kind of stuff. I’ve learned a lot about life in the past few years, including how forums operate, which is now something I wish I didn’t have to know. I’ve learned they are dumping grounds for emotions and vitriol. I’ve left this forum along with the account I had on socialphobiaworld. I keep in touch with the real world as much as I can and try to stick to venting/resolving my problems in a journal, with a psychiatrist, or with a friend or loved one.


Just heard Laura on NPR with Leonard Lopate… Which everyday sexism do I want to share? There are so many. I went to the emergency room for mental health reasons and was put into a psych ward where I was told to put a hospital gown over my clothes because there were men in there. I went in and ONLY the women had gowns over their clothes. Men were wearing their normal everyday clothing. On top of that, a woman who was obviously very disturbed was menstruating on herself and no nurses helped her. Why did I have to put a gown on and feel that I was the one who was the problem (and shamed for dressing inappropriately- apparently that’s leggings and a long sweater) when it was the men in the ward who were the problem. Maybe if a man was deemed a danger to women he should not be with the “general population” in the first place. Nope, the easiest way is always to change women it seems.


My boss, old enough to be my father tried it on with me- He’d comment in front of my male-strong team on my ‘weight loss’ and ‘how it made me beautiful and attractive’, he even said that I ‘had a good bum’. But he was old enough to be my dad, and I wasn’t interested. So his harassment turned nasty and personal- he obliterated my character within my young career and lost me a new position that was going to lead to a doctorate, all because he lied about ‘my character’. When I reported it to HR, they moved me from my team and put me in a lower paid position working unsociable hours- my former ‘team mates’ didn’t bother to stand up for me. After a Psychological referral, a suicide attempt and loss of over 5 stone due to lack of eating I attempted to take legal action- to no avail. Now i’m working a job paying minimum wage and have to start from scratch regarding my career. Turns out that a First Class Honours degree from one of the best unis is nothing in comparison to a sexism and vile male boss. He kept his job, sanity and dignity whilst he stripped me of mine for good fun.