#TimeToChange – Revisited

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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So off I went on the internet finding out all I could about this “new” me.

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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.

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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 ;-).

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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.

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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.

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The biggest tragedy of all is that one day,

you might not ever see them again.

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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.

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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!),

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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.

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Psychosis

I have been a bit quiet of late. The reason for this is I had a psychosis two weeks ago and was taken into care. I am now back home safe and sound, and still happy I am on the right path to living a full and happy life.

I am in fact grateful this happened as this is exactly what I suffered from last time I had stopped drinking completely, back in Canada two years ago, these episodes were what got me interested in Mental Illness.

I will probably talk a bit more about my psychosis and Mental Illness in general, now I have had two weeks living among peers who suffered from various mental health issues.

I have learned so much during that time, my head could be spinning if I hadn’t learnt to keep my thoughts under control, helped by an anti-psychotic medication, Olanzapine, albeit I am taking a really low dosage to help me sleep and slow down my thoughts.

I will post here the entry I wrote on Facebook to explain what had happened. Various people knew I was in hospital but not many knew why. I wanted to explain, from the safety of Facebook, exactly what happened to me, especially to work colleagues so they know before I return to work, probably in about two weeks time.

Writing this entry was a leap of faith for me, due to the Stigma attached to mental illness, however, I believe openness and honesty are the only way to break the barriers down. The responses I received proved me right:

I guess I’d better explain what happened to me a couple of weeks ago, as most of you will know I have been in hospital but not the reason why.

In short, I suffered from what people might call a Psychosis. For 48 hours, I wasn’t myself, at all.

Two weeks ago, on a Tuesday, as I woke up, something didn’t feel quite right and I had a weird experience…erm..blushing smiley… I thought I had a deep connection with “God” all of the sudden (I had been agnostic verging on the atheist all my life) and that I could stop time.

Luckily, for me anyway, I was at a neighbour’s house soon after and someone called for help.

During this psychosis, a lot of emotions surfaced, such as corruption within the Police force (long story, going back to something that happened in Canada) and also (organised) religion, which I am all in all fervently against.

It took a few Police officers to restrain me and secure me so I could be taken to a hospital in Bury, where I spend 24 hours in confinement.

I remember everything that happened, however I had no control over my actions/words. I remember feeling extremely angry too, poor cops received a mouthful!! I also remember having a strength I had never known before, it took a few of them to restrain and secure me, and I even managed to loosen a handcuff by the cheer force of my wrist (I was pretty surprised my wrist weren’t that bruised the following days!).

After the 24 hours in confinement, I felt back to my old self and I am now trying to figure out how this happened so it doesn’t happen again. I do know lack of sleep plays an important part of Psychosis, as well as repressed emotions.

I can see several reasons that brought me to that point:

– inability to deal with the betrayal I felt I suffered when my husband left me two years ago and started seeing my best friend, although I am now absolutely fine with both of them
– the loss of my dog Frodo, which I feel responsible for
– loss of friends due to my newly found need to be honest these days
– a course I attended at work which gave me hope that my company might actually have got the right message these days that people matter more than processes, making me feel really excited that things can change for the better there.

My life had been going good too since I became sober and I started a few too many projects with my newly found enthusiasm for life.

Work had also been quite busy too for the past month and so I was in constant state of “excitement” and began to sleep less and less.

I had experienced something very similar in Canada after my husband left me, except there, I had no-one looking after me. Luckily though I called the cops myself that time.

So, I am now feeling completely back to “normal” – I still am very different to what I used to be like when using alcohol and repressing my emotions – and looking at ways to channel my newly found energy, learning to take it easier (not quite there yet judging by the amount of stuff I have accomplished this weekend!) and also learning to live with being honest, as I used to be a people pleaser and honesty sometimes loses you friends.

I’m not ashamed of what happened to me as, believe me, under the “right” circumstances, this could happen to anyone.

I am also extremely grateful to have discovered really good friends through all this, people who have really been there for me, by talking to me about it or carrying on their business as usual which is also a great help!

My family has been great too, by being there when I have needed them and not freaking out.

My boss at work has been really understanding too, I feel lucky to have had that pressure off whilst concentrating on this new me.

I have also learnt a lot about mental illness during my stay at the hospital, and people. I will invest more time in my findings sometime in the future because I would love for my experience/thoughts to help this “Time To Change” campaign that is running at the moment.

I hope this won’t change the way you see me or how you behave towards me. As, apart from me seeing life from a different angle now (and really appreciating it), and this need to be honest, I haven’t changed at all, some might say I am just a little bit wiser these days  and I personally can say I am much happier:-)

If you have any questions or want to know more about what happened, please let me know as I’m more than happy to talk about it. I’d much rather you ask me direct rather than speak about it behind my back, but hey, whatever works for you 😉

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http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/