March 3, 2014

poetry blog

I currently live in “Proud Preston” at the heart of Lancashire and am married with two children (and a goldfish named “Bubbles”!) I enjoy reading, writing and performing poetry and am currently a part-time administrator. I am very keen on giving mental health service users, myself included, a voice. I write poetry with a humour that pierces the darkest of emotions and lightens the most controversial of topics.

Crackers

(A first attempt to put into words my experience of having a mental health diagnosis and some of its subsequent treatment.)

When you're certified ‘Crackers’

It's like a kick in the ‘Knackers’!

And you never recover completely,

The shrinks they outfox,

Put you in a box,

And label you nice and neatly.

 

It's not so bad though

If to hospital you go

And get treated there quite well,

Three square meals a day

Not at home but away

A cross between ‘Heaven’ and ‘Hell’

 

When you're certified ‘Crackers’,

Nothing else matters,

Panic and anxiety's rife,

Labelled forever,

But never say never,

Just hope it won't last all your life!!

Mickey Gee (Written 1999 or thereabouts)

 

MY Mental Health Diagnosis

I was diagnosed initially as having "mild schizophrenia" in about 1985 or thereabouts (in my early twenties) with no explanation and a suggestion by my consultant that I don't tell any other doctors about this diagnosis. This led me to believe I shouldn't tell ANYONE.

The only explanations I found about the condition "schizophrenia " was through watching a TV programme, there was no internet or "Google" then. I found this a bit scary and to be honest fairly weird and read snippets of stories in daily newspapers which were either fairly helpful about medication or totally misleading about the illness itself. I eventually heard about and telephoned the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, now known as Rethink Mental Illness.

Eventually in about 1992 my wife's district nurse discovered that I had the "secret diagnosis" of "schizophrenia" and put me in touch with a Family Support Worker with the charity "Making Space". I gradually heard about more organisations out there which could help or support me or help and inform me in some way.  e.g. Mind, the GEM Project, The Mental Health Helpline, SANE.

After a long psychotic episode I was medically retired from my job at the Benefits Agency at the young age of 33. But life goes on in spite of my illness and I still work to the best of my ability. As well as the help I received from all the Psychiatrists I have seen, the Community Mental Health Team, the NHS and volunteering, I have received help in one way or another, small and great from organisations including Time to Change. At present I am reading up about Mindfulness and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy with a view to undergoing talking therapy at a future date. 

There is much good news in my life too and not enough time to relate it.

Stigma and Discrimination

With regard to stigma, I believe ignorance can be combatted through education, education, education ongoing until minds are opened, or like a sculptor by simply chipping away, chipping away, chipping away until the final sculpture can be appreciated. 

I was once told by a college doctor that I couldn't go on a teaching course because of the psychiatric medication which I was then taking. I was turned away after having to face the Principal on my own. Two years later I was accepted on further education teaching course at Tuson College in Preston. It was great to be accepted and study there and they helped me in very positive ways.

I got a job part way through my teaching course at Tuson in a different career, as an administrator with the department of employment. Thus I started my journey of work after approximately 21+ years of formal education.

As you and I know, we never stop learning, growing, developing, evolving changing. Let’s hope it's a time for understanding, partnerships as well as individual, community, national and international positive progress.

I am a now Time to Change Champion and am very pleased to have taken part in the Time to Change “Speak-Out” training recently. I hope to join with others to give hope to the next generation of those who struggle with mental ill-health.’

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Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.