I'm a graduate of 52 and my career was ended fifteen years ago when I suffered an acute psychotic episode. I was hospitalised for six months, had six treatments of Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) and found starting all over again one of the hardest things I have ever been faced with. It was like doing a jig-saw puzzle with no picture to follow and some of the pieces missing. The greatest obstacle to my recovery was my severe loss of confidence. Working to retrieve my confidence was a challenge but I got there in time.
At the recent Social Inclusion Network meeting, Constable Jim Scotson, the Hate Crime Officer for Merseyside Police based St. Helens, described the work of the Hate Crimes Unit, which is locally known as the Ã¢â‚¬ËœSigma' unit. <--break->The title of Sigma was carefully chosen. Sigma is a letter from the Greek alphabet and symbolises the work of the unit in recognizing and protecting all vulnerable members of our society whilst seeking to continuously improve the service the police provide to victims.
If you asked me to tell you what I got for Christmas last year; I wouldn't have a clue. Having said that; I can remember the day I was first sectioned fairly clearly, and that was nearly 20 years ago. I was naked; talking to a light bulb; believing that I would be beamed up too heaven at any moment. My father, my sister, my sister's husband and his friend all witnessed this breakdown. I was told later that I had been acting weird for weeks. I had lost a lot of weight very rapidly; I was not sleeping, and I would continually go missing.
In this sometimes chaotic, fast moving world we all live in, I hear so many times from people, many of who I mix with, that 1in 4 people suffer sometime in their lives with mental health problems. I am 57 year old woman and just one of the many women that have mental health problems. I live independently alone, not necessarily lonely. My home is a flat within a building of five flats. My neighbours see me as I see them: as a friend, I can talk and listen, chat and laugh, help one another in any way which we need to.
I first came out 28 years ago. My coming out promotional message was that I was happy, sane and well. I was a happy, sane and well lesbian. The coming out process was remarkably simple and painless but it was the era of Greenham Common and second wave feminism. Three years ago I had to work out a new coming out strategy to accompany the onset of what was to become a severe mental illness.