Mental health: A journey of firsts

7 May

Sectioned medieval

For me, having mental health problems has been a journey of firsts: discovering or going through lots of things for the first time.

  • First time I’ve been arrested (s136). First time I’ve been unlawfully arrested (“found outside” my home). Not a good way to meet police.
  • Lots of firsts that are too painful for me to talk about (because I left hospital with post-traumatic stress disorder – for a flavour see here).
  • First time I’ve been told landlords won’t rent to me and that my best hope for a roof over my head is a hostel if, that is, I’m able to persuade the council I’m vulnerable.
  • First time I’ve been to the council’s offices to apply for their housing register.
  • First time I’ll have a court order against me. First time I’ll be asked to pay court costs. First time I’ll have a bad credit record.
  • First time that lowering my expectations – of myself, of what life offers – has been a key coping strategy. And then lowering them again.
  • First time that asking for help – or being upset or angry when none is forthcoming – has been seen as a symptom in itself.
  • First time that my healthcare needs have been assessed by looking at me through a toughened glass screen (“You don’t look unwell”).
  • First time the impact mental health problems have on my ability to work has been assessed by a physiotherapist as I touch my toes.
  • First time I’ve found that insight and intelligence are a hindrance rather than a help in getting support (“You seem to be coping so well”).
  • First time I’ve discovered that believing I’m a human being with rights will only provoke some of those in power to prove how mistaken I am.
  • First time I’ve bought size 18 clothes for myself.
  • First time I’ve really appreciated weather. All weather. Just to feel sun or wind or rain on a body that’s been sealed indoors for too long on a locked ward.
  • First time I’ve had to take medications to counteract the effect of other medications.
  • First time I’ve been afraid of nurses. First time I’ve been afraid of doctors. First time I’ve been afraid of hospitals.
  • First time I’ve come out of hospital with something worse than I went in with.
  • First time I’ve waited years for treatment.
  • First time I’ve had an experience so extreme that many wouldn’t believe it – and wouldn’t want to know – so it’s best not to talk of it.
  • First time I’ve realised that mental health training can distort perceptions so much that many professionals live in a different reality.
  • First time I’ve realised it’s normal practice for psychiatrists to write to my GP about me, not to me, changing diagnoses and treatment plans.
  • First time I’ve thought I’ve been at absolutely rock bottom and slowly, gradually improving … then realised that there’s far further to fall.
  • First time I’ve been patiently waiting to move up the waiting list only to find I was never on it in the first place and was simply parked.
  • First time I’ve been so concerned about being asked “So, what do you do?” that I’ve avoided meeting new people and become adept at deflecting personal enquiries.
  • First time I’ve smuggled drugs into a club (of any sort and, in this case, prescription).
  • First time I’ve realised people will lie through their teeth to cover their tracks; and that my honesty is a handicap.
  • First time I’ve realised that complaint investigations can be merely exercises in post hoc justification rather than about learning from mistakes and improving.
  • First time I’ve realised some police are pushing for more powers over people in mental health crisis, even when they’re in their own homes.
  • First time I’ve realised how much mental health “care” is based on risk, containment and compulsion, not nurture, support and recovery.
  • First time I’ve had letters from care and support minister Norman Lamb, my own MP and the mayor, all within a year.
  • First time I’ve envied prisoners, who at least have a release date and rights, and are less ridiculed & demonised than “mental patients”.
  • First time I’ve dialled 999 to ask for help for myself.
  • First time I’ve been robbed by someone I know (who had access to my home after I was sectioned).
  • First time I’ve been told by police that being robbed is a civil matter and I should sue the person who robbed me.
  • First time I’ve realised that, once you’ve been a mental patient, your credibility is zero and everyone else will be believed ahead of you.
  • First time I’ve been paid to give my input as a mental patient on being a victim of crime, website usability and making NHS complaints (rather than being paid to take part in market research on things like margarine and hair products). plaints..



5 Responses to “Mental health: A journey of firsts”

  1. Hope 7 May 2014 at 8:33 pm #

    I can identify with so much of this. The system is broken. I’m sorry you’ve been through so much.

  2. SidneyRoseRyan 8 May 2014 at 7:06 am #

    Hi, there! I was really moved (in every way possible) by your most recent post, and although I’ve been following along with sporadic posts of yours since December-ish, I actually don’t know exactly what “mental health disorder” you struggle with, but I do know one thing: I’m almost 100% certain that your city/country is to blame for how you feel about yourself & how you’re “categorized” in society! It makes me sick to my stomach reading about the many (& counting) obstacles they’ve thrown onto you, and don’t even get me started on how they speak to you! You’re what most people in the U.S. refer to as “a good egg.” We ALL have our mental issues (despite what some politicians & government agencies think), obviously some cases worse than others, but doesn’t that make us HUMAN?! I’m so sorry for all the drastic ups & downs you’ve gone through, especially since you had to go through it without the proper care & support you deserve, & I must say, there were at least 8-9 of those bullet points that struck me right through the heart because you really did nail it on the head; the poor treatment as if you’re some sort of ward to the state… The unthinkable & insanely outlandish rules & regulations… And worst of all, the lack of credibility you’re/we’re faced to live with once you’re honesty (specifically, regarding your personal mental state/ailment) gets you nowhere but caught in a societal-time bomb of a trap! Just know this, the unthinkable challenges you’ve faced head-on & overcome, resulting in your writing corresponding posts for all to see over the internet is most definitely a selfless act of kindness & humanity, & there are probably many people that have/will benefit from reading YOUR WORDS! Thank you for helping me realize that things really are perceived exactly the way they shouldn’t be (which is also giving me a great sigh of relief since I’d been dwelling on specific similar events for the last 2 years, & had begun to think that maybe my “family” was right in leading me to believe that I was losing my mind, when really, I lost footing of any stable ground I’d had left BECAUSE of the way the treated me). You should be so proud of yourself & I sincerely mean that. I look forward to reading your many more posts ❤

  3. savemefrombpd 9 May 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    It’s a bad and sad world.

  4. jemmabrown 10 May 2014 at 11:00 pm #

    Reblogged this on Through My Eyes.


  1. Mental Health on the Internet 02/11/2014 | roseversusblackdog - 2 November 2014

    […] heart-rending account, from the excellent Sectioned blog, of the many indignities encountered from dealing with mental […]

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