Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

Recurrent traumatic events

Community Member

I don't trust authority. I know I should, but I always end up thinking I have made a huge mistake.

I was adopted by whitefellas from birth and experienced childhood sexual abuse for several years. My birth father was here on a student visa and although engaged to marry my mother, was threatened by her parents to have him expelled from Australia if he attempted to claim any rights to me. When I met my birth mother half a lifetime ago she told me they refused to allow any black children in the family and sent her to another state to give birth and have me adopted.

My adoptive family were extremely racist in their treatment of me, so much so, that I actually thought for much of my life I was a purchased slave and we just had another name for it in this country. They weren't evil, just ignorant and abusive. At primary school, I was taunted into fighting every day. At secondary school I was most commonly compared to "Kissy" from Roots and although I was punched, by 12 I had learned not to bother punching back. I was the only black person anyone had ever seen.

Since the early days of abuse, I find it just keeps repeating. Racism felt like it was manageable for a short while during my 20's, then politics went another way (One Nation, etc). Being abused while walking down the street, zero service in many shops, harassment by neighbours, property managers, work colleagues, mates down the pub, you name it - it just keeps escalating. No healing of my brain can fix this.

Right now (last couple years), my neighbour has been blocking access to my garage by parking across it, idling his car for up to 2 hours per day, at least one of those times is between 1 and 3-30am. He parks less than 2 metres from my window. I wrote him a note to ask him to settle down, he escalated. Got a note back saying he reported me to the police as he finds my face aggressive and intimidating. I had a massive attack last night when he woke me again after less than 2 hours sleep, could not stop sobbing, couldn't breathe, threw up, some kind of convulsions, it went on for about 40 mins. I was calm afterwards. Realised I am not going to survive under these circumstances. I just don't see how I could go back to fighting everyone like I did to survive as a kid, so many bullies.

Late last year was turned away by reception when I tried to make gp appt- they said I would be better elsewhere - all they had to base that decision with was appearance. Too scared to try again.


14 Replies 14

Hi Not so hot,

Thank you so much for reaching our to us here today. We know it isn't easy but it's so important that you have. We are deeply saddened to hear of the racism you have faced and by the sounds of things with your neighbour, still face. 

Please know you've come to a safe, non-judgmental place where you can give and recieve support from others who are or have gone through something similar to you.

Qualified mental health professionals at our support service are able to provide some counselling, support, advice and referrals appropriate to your needs and location. They're available 24/7 by phone on 1300 22 4636 or by webchat (3pm-midnight AEST) or email (replies within 24 hours) via www.beyondblue.org.au/getsupport. We recommend you reach out to them or, if you're in crisis, our friends at Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Hopefully, other members of our helpful and supportive online forums community will be along soon to offer you more words of wisdom and advice.

Thank you very much for your response, Sophie. I tried the webchat service. I am just out of energy now. I know the police are the only ones who could possibly have an impact on the neighbour issue but I don't have the energy to fight for an outcome with them. I have spoken to them 3 times already and they don't seem to have any reason to act unless the neighbour physically threatens me with violence. EPA guidelines for residents seem to rely on cooperation rather than enforced compliance. Regardless, I am going to have to figure something out for myself and I am trying to keep my energy low right now so that I don't try to engage with the neighbour or do anything to escalate the situation even further. I really appreciate you responding. You made me feel very welcome.

Take care.

Community Member

Giving an update just in case anyone like me ever comes looking...

A couple of days later, I feel a lot less suicidal and have managed to regain a little control over the panic attacks. The challenge is always how to be healthy while the external cause is still very much in effect. It is unrealistic to imagine that even if I could solve the problem with my neighbour, challenging situations won't keep arising on a regular basis (based on the last few years especially).

The situation has been ongoing for almost 2 years however, at least once or twice a week the neighbour did not go out. Since lockdown it is every single day, so it's almost 2 months since I had anything like a full night's sleep. 

What changed since I first wrote is that same day I remembered about Vitamin D (not sure how I forgot about it). I have a history of severe deficiencies because acceptable lifestyle vs my skin colour is almost guaranteed to result in a deficiency. I can't afford it really, but I have been taking calcium & vit D supplements with every meal. The background anxiety or restlessness/dread has dissipated just enough to not lose my mind every single time his car starts.

I have been going out of my way to give the impression I am not even home. Closing windows and blinds in advance of times I know he will start running his car, being very quiet in my flat, trying to make sure he does not catch a glimpse of me, etc. I wish he would forget about me, lol, but I doubt I could be so lucky.

The other thing that happened, and it is so minor but it made such a huge difference that I almost feel happy today... I was at the market this morning and had a lovely chat with a guy who was delighted to see me because of my skin colour. He had been beginning to despair there were no people of our look, in the area. I guess it made me feel good because he told me it made him so happy to see my smiling face.

So, because there is clearly a physiological element to the way I feel, I am completely focussed on nutrition as a first step. It uses a lot of energy to feel so stressed all the time, I need to support my body as a priority in case one day maybe I get the idea I am worth saving. Better than nothing.

The closed loop that occurs in my mind occurs because all I can find out about therapy options or help have the assumption that the issues or trauma are not ongoing. I just wanted to know if anyone knew tips to survive when you cannot remove the cause. The thread is not about racism but about the resultant depression and anxiety from various events. I am so isolated, it seems futile to keep trying to find support.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Not so hot~

You are in a most difficult situation and I'm afraid other than goodwill have few answers. If it of any use I too have been suicidal and have had panic attacks (fortunate now rare). I am guessing you are a First Australian, my apologies if I've made a mistake.

If I have assumed wrong don't hesitate to come back and correct me

There is the logical approach that I'd expect the majority in this country are not bigoted, but cannot close my eyes to so many that are -including state entities unfortunately. Logic does not really help.

You are trying many aspects, from researching conventional trauma therapy though to physical enhancement though diet. I'm glad you have the energy.

The thing that stands out in your posts is that you found that person in the market, and you both got a lift and enjoyment from the meeting.

Isolation, not just in your situation, is a terrible thing.

Would it be too naive of me to suggest you seek out a community based organization that specializes or is run by persons like yourself. Please don't think I'm trying to label you, I'm not, just wracking my brains for anything that might help.There can be comfort in sharing and acknowledgment.

Perhaps our 24/7 Help Line 1300 22 4636 may know of something in your area

Additionally Beyond Blue has a web section (with links to organizations that may be of some use if you hunt though it all).


I would welcome it if you were to return and talk some more, it would be our pleasure


Hi not so hot, welcome

So glad you found this safe place.

I feel ashamed that you have been treated poorly all your life. Indeed there is a percentage of Australians that haven’t got a racist bone in their body. I wished I was your other neighbour and could counter your neighbours aggression! Bullies don’t back off otherwise.

Having a mental illness draws stigma similar to racism (in a way) so many of us here have run the gauntlet of ignorance. The only remedy is to weed out the bad and keep replacing them with the good. This mental rejection of some humans in your life if done successfully, means they no longer exist and perfecting that can even result in you laughing situations off. I’m laughing inside right now thinking about the effort that fool goes to - wasting petrol and time.

Another avenue to release such frustration is helping others to cope that have a similar background to you. It is a way of channeling your energies and balancing the evil.

please google

beyondblue topic the Good Samaritan

as far as your anxiety goes-


beyondblue topic anxiety, how I eliminated it

beyondblue topic the best praise you’ll ever get

feel free to reply anytime in those threads or here.


We are here, all sizes and shapes

Some think we are less worthy- “Gods mistake”

But there is a secret and I’ll give you a hint

In the sand of beaches...we leave the same print....


Thanks Tony, for your kind and thoughtful response. I like your verse. Although I am not religious, the idea of "God's mistake"really resonated with me. I've seen a few of your poems through the forum and I enjoy them very much.

At 3:30am I had another attack unfortunately. Not as severe as the previous time I posted. I learned a little about breathing in ways that reduce the severity of the response. I get what you are saying about laughing it off, but it's been more than two months since I had over a few hours sleep. For the 18 mths prior, he used to take 1-2 days off per week and I would catch up on sleep on those days. It was a bit opportunistic and unsatisfactory but even that is impossible since lockdown.

It sort of feels like a massive flood of hormones (or something) is released into my body and I get fired up because I have woken from a deep sleep with a fright, only to discover there is nothing I can do, no danger to avert, no actual situation, but I can't seem to convince myself it's normal enough to sleep through. When I do get the anger under control, I often cry for a long time because I can't move the shock and discomfort out of my body and really, I just want to go to sleep.

I've tried headphones, earplugs and other ways to block sound, yet I can still feel in my body the underlying vibration or shakiness, just like being nervous. This happens when the car is idling for more than a minute or two, even when the sound is inaudible I can feel it and smell it. It seems to be a feature (not a benefit) of under building carports. Other tenant's cars don't bother me at all because they just drive in and out, no shenanigans.

I wrote him a note at 4am telling him he won and to please stop the harassment campaign as it is negatively impacting my health. Then I stressed myself out about how much further he could escalate the issue if I give him any response he doesn't like, so I retrieved the note an hour later. I really wish I could just drop it. I don't have the funds to find somewhere else to stay at the moment.

Long term I have to find another place, that is an awfully complex road though, so I am still trying to find ways to get enough clear brain space to make and carry out a practical plan. All these extreme responses seem to say to me that I am simply not able to adapt to this lack of regular sleep and that I feel it's too much to ask of my body. Impasse.

I will take a second look at the threads you highlighted, there may be clues 🙂

Community Member

Wow Croix, I can't explain it but your reply had a similar effect on me to the guy I saw at the market. To be seen at all is a rare and precious thing, to know you have been seen (or heard) seems to poke a hole in the isolation bubble and let the fresh air in. I just felt real for a moment.

I think you are right, I need to do something about the isolation. I rarely see a friendly face nor get to give a full account of anything that occurs unless I write to myself (or on the forum). My circumstances are often just too full on for most people...

Sometimes I try to imagine what I would do if it were someone else in my situation and I knew about it. There is no way I would stand by and let it continue. It's a big ask, but I need to find one other person like me in this regard, I think. I need an ally.

Now I've made myself laugh at where that idea lead me... Could put up an ad - taking applications for solid ally. Must have excellent practical skills, must be resilient and open to looking at things honestly, must be dedicated to growing and learning, and most importantly, must have jokes and funny stories because I am a smiley person who loves to laugh. Surely there's an app for that 😉

I am thinking hard about your suggestions, there are complications with many people's perceptions of my cultural identity and when I asked for final clarification from my birth mother late last year, I just got such ridiculous confusion that I feel like an imposter to every culture! That is not resolved for me yet, so I need to tread carefully. The politics are waaaay beyond me and I don't want to do something disrespectful.

I really appreciate you taking some time to write me a note, Croix, I don't have a lot of energy for all this research, but the smallest good feeling, I try to use it to motivate myself to improve things. It doesn't always work, always worth a try though.

Thank you

Community Member
Off to see a recommended GP today. I spoke with the BeyondBlue helpline and somehow they made that first step seem easier than it has ever felt before. I am eternally grateful. Here's hoping I can keep taking steps.