When I first suffered from mental health issues in the UK, back over two years ago, I joined the campaign “Time To Change” because I felt it was important to talk about mental illness to end the stigma, which is the group’s main mission.
When I checked out the website and the blogs though, I was fairly quickly put off.
I saw stories of people telling us how well they are coping with their mental health “illness”, some were “bipolar”, some had anxiety disorders – ALL seemed defined by their “illness” – that really put me off because at the time, and still to this day, I didn’t believe I was, or had, whatever term is PC these days, “Bipolar”.
I am sure to have spoken about this somewhere in this blog previously, but my diagnosis came five years ago, an hour after speaking to a psychiatrist, in full psychosis mode – although I had no clue I was as it was my first -, drugged on to the eyeball – from medication I was given the previous night when I was taken in/sectioned although again I had no clue I had been sectioned, to make me sleep.
Some four months after a very good friend of mine had killed someone, about three months after my husband had left me and about two months and 29 days after finding out he fancied my best friend instead and about two months after quitting alcohol and pot straight after over 20 years of abuse.
You could say I had had a lot going on in a short period of time that may have affected my stability somehow.
Oh and to top it all, I was literally homeless then too. My husband wanted me out of the house and the house I needed to move back to in a different country wasn’t vacated. In between houses and in between countries. In between life would summarise it well.
The psychiatrist who examined me – I have yet to file my complaint against him and mark my words I will – asked me a very simple question:
“Do you know why you are here?”
The floodgate to my repressed emotions opened: I started to tell him all about the crap that had happened to me, since I was a child. I felt I had limited time to fit it all in so I was talking 12 to the dozen, ie, extremely fast. [I have since realised that what I do when I get excited and/or feel I have limited time to make an impression.]
After the hour, I sat back and relaxed, fully expecting some answers. How do I deal with this trauma, or this other one, how do I move on from this event or this other one – type of answers.
His? “Clearly you have Bipolar”.
“Huh? What the hell? What? Huh?” were my first thoughts (my mind was pretty foggy don’t forget too).
My seconds were “Cool, so what is Bipolar then?”.
He wasn’t interested in replying, he had his diagnosis which gave him the green light to prescribe any old shit he felt like (and he did).
So off I went on the internet finding out all I could about this “new” me.
This was my very first experience of a psychosis. Since then I have had five psychosis and two depressions, fitting in nicely with the diagnosis (to be diagnosed you need two episodes of depression and at last three psychosis, although that may have changed since).
That psychiatrist was clearly a clairvoyant.
Anyway, back on the subject at hand, I eventually started to realise “The Truth” and decided I wasn’t bipolar. Too late though obviously, with my five psychosis, it will never wash.
My two depressions I am not too worried about because the first was due to going back to the UK to an empty house, two suitcases and a savings account in my name. Nothing else.
No income, no car, no insurance, no friends, no anything else. No dog too to start with, then a few weeks later a dog whose health had started deteriorating since the split, becoming more and more blind (and a liability).
No life in effect.
The second was when I was signed off work for six months to a psychosis where I was sectioned,and realising I was getting no income from work sick pay (I hadn’t been permanent long enough, despite having worked there as a temp nearly three years), my driving licence had been suspended (making me stuck at home with no money), and I was suffering from a massive heartbreak (from a relationship that could be best described as friends with benefits and feelings).
I dare anyone to try either situations for size and tell me if they don’t suffer from some kind of depression too ;-).
Time to Change being mainly focussed on the illness, I felt the site wasn’t for me. I wasn’t about to go brandishing banners saying “Bipolar rocks”.
Mental illness sucks – big time.
Just go and visit a mental health ward and tell me what you think.
Just for the record, and in case this isn’t clear, those people in there are your siblings, or parents, or relative, or friend, or workmate. NORMAL people.
You may see them rock back and forth against a wall, or on the floor doing weird shit, crying in a corner somewhere, away from everyone. They might be unable to sit still or they might be staring at you blankly because they are unable to focus on what you are saying.
Worst of all, you may see their arms all stitched up after they cut themselves.
The biggest tragedy of all is that one day,
you might not ever see them again.
So no, I will not say having a mental illness rocks.
It sucks, it sucks big time – it can very well fuck up your life enough that you have no choice but live with it, because no-one wants you like that, no-one truly understands what you are going through – and most just shy away for fear of making things worse.
That’s what living with a label does for you.
I am Pascale, not a label.
When a quarter of the youth suffers from mental health issues, we can no longer call it a label. More a way of life – and that is scary.
Whilst on the ward, and this is where I saw each and every behaviour I mentioned above by the way, I saw a display dedicated to Time To Change.
It seems Time To Change is changing in the right direction for me. I now really want to get involved: #lets-end-the-labelling.
The name of the people I mentioned I met above are:
Pam (So sorry I saw you where still “in position” when I came to visit),
Ray (so sorry you had a heart attack),
Lee (sorry I missed you my last visit, looking forward to catching up),
Simon (I saw one of your carers on the way to the hospital, I mentioned how much 70s music brings you back to earth, she seemed to take it in),
Pascale (crying in private is the best way to be if you don’t want to be diagnosed as being too emotional when you are sad, the happiness though, spread that shit everywhere ;-)),
Andrew (I will save you I promise),
Matty (crazy adorable monkey despite all, I will send you a post card from Canada),
Jo (I want to experience your candle massages!),
Amanda (Amanda, the state of your arms the day I was discharged will forever be engraved in my mind, I love you so much girl!),
Lisa (oh Lisa, I won’t forget you I promise),
Harvey (A great reminder of my friend Wade, thank you, I love you despite your toughness ;-)),
Trish (Sista’, sorry I missed you my last visit, hope you enjoy the CD I brought in for you),
Ema (so shocked to see you back in after we were both discharged last week!),
Yvonne (I can’t wait for you to get better to help me with the website),
Bill (missed you my last visit, hope you were discharged rather than hiding in your room),
Glen (so glad I caught you, you were amazing with enabling me to release the pressure),
John with an H, (you were out sorry I missed you),
Andrea (sorry I missed you, hope you keep spreading those wonderful hugs),
Emma (so glad I caught you, can’t wait to meet you in the outside world),
Roger – one day I will show you, it’s not about money or heritage, it’s about Love.