Tag: Mental Illness

Saying Yes

This month, I started out with the idea of taking up jogging – a positive step towards physical fitness.

So, on the 1st of June, I jogged and then thus ended my jogging experience. Once was enough. It was not enjoyable and was slightly painful to my already sensitive joints.

So I was going to have a month free of the pressure to do something new, however, I have actually still completed some goals.

I have said yes to many things. I have worked hard to earn some much-needed money and I have socialised more than I can ever remember socialising. I have said ‘yes’ to last minute plans, I have travelled more than I have ever dared, gone on day trips to a place that I have been wanting to go to for over a decade and created strong bonds with people I have only recently met. Finally understanding what people mean when they speak about ‘clicking’ with people and feeling as though you have known them years when in reality it has only been a few short months.

June has seen me returning home to my mum for a while, I turned another year older, my mum got the all-clear after completing treatment for pre-cancerous cells, my aunt still remains in remission and I have passed my first year of University.

With thanks to the people around me, I have managed to remain in my hometown with minimal depressive thoughts.

Saying yes has been scarily exciting and the month is not over yet!

Today I Was A Soldier

I have returned ‘home’ – to my mother’s house.

To start this time off well, to hit the ground running – I set off to Church this morning.

I thought a calming and comforting environment would be nice, maybe one or two familiar faces that I would not be opposed to seeing.

I found myself surrounded by people who knew me, knew my grandparents and who greeted me with large smiles.

I had not expected to be approached by the vicar and asked to play a role, “would you like to be a soldier?” I had not expected to say yes, to be thankful and grateful for being asked. A reading took place, everyone had a role to play, a few lines to read.

Speaking out loud is not my cup of tea. For a while as a teenager, I was mute. Speaking out loud in public situations is sometimes still difficult. But I did it and I did it loudly.

The morning was spent being much more sociable than I had expected it to be, a whole morning of;

“Hello, Chloe.”
“How are you, Chloe?”
“Nice to see you, Chloe!”
“How are you enjoying University?”

I almost made someone cry. She had not heard I had moved, that I had got into University. Her joy was shown in the many hugs she could not stop giving me, in the misty eyes looking into mine and in her words, “everything comes around eventually, Chloe. Hearing this has just made my day!”

I did not know what I was expecting, but the unexpected was perhaps the best thing that could have happened. I feel as though I have a little more breath in my lungs and as though a part of me has fallen back into place.

I feel so proud for speaking aloud and being able to hold a conversation with people. Something that I would not have managed quite so effortlessly just a few short months ago.

 

 

Guilt

For the past 3 weeks, every week, I have been doing my 2 days (15 hours) in Uni and my 2 days (16 hours) of volunteering with Wednesday’s and Saturday’s set aside for Uni reading and writing essays.

Today, after very little sleep I woke up exhausted and decided I would take today off from my volunteering. I have to do 100 hours by the start of May as part of my course (not funded) and I already have just under 50 hours complete.

However…

Now there is guilt.

I keep thinking of ‘mental health days’ and looking after one’s self.

But. We live in a society that deems mental illness to be a weakness and while I do not think of this as being the case with others… I apparently have a whole different set of rules for myself.

One day for the good of my health should not bring guilt.

And yet, here we are.

 

Six Weeks

images(https://www.oif.ala.org/oif/?p=9937)

Week 1:

The man in his mid 20’s is presented wearing a stiff white shirt with a bright blue necktie. He sits behind an oak wood desk, the paperwork covering it seems to be placed in even piles as a laptop has been placed to one side, idle.

The sound of a clock ticking in the otherwise silent room is piercing. The two occupants sit across from each other, sizing up who might be the first to speak.

“So, tell me about yourself?”

Curious eyes dart from the window to the eyes of the man behind the desk. There is a head tilt that suggests the man is being judged. Curious, dark eyes dropping to land on the file on the desk that reads: MILLS, Alexander.

“Shouldn’t you already know?”

“I’d like to hear it from you. In your own words, Alexander.”

“Alex.” Dark eyes revert back to the window, looking out at the view of the City.

“Okay. Alex. Do you want to tell me what brings you here to my office?” The man keeps his gaze on Alex, trying to gauge the boy’s reaction.

The following silence is heavy, weighing on the man’s shoulders. He sits in thought, wishing he had forgone the necktie – if only to not feel so constrained.

A buzzer sounds to mark the end of the hour, “same time next week, Alex?” the man says with a sigh. The only response is a lift of one shoulder, as Alex stands and leaves the room without a word.

 

Week 2:

The door opens, a woman with mousey hair wearing a warm cardigan leads in a boy of 17. He towers over her as he passes by and walks through the threshold. His posture straight, eyes determined he walks straight over to the armchair in the middle of the room.

“Good afternoon, Alex.”

“Doc,” Alex replies with a slight nod of the head.

“How have you been since we spoke last week?” The man asks with bated breath.

“Yeah, good.”

“That’s good to hear… what have you been up to since we last spoke?” he prompts.

Alex maintains eye contact as he sits there silently contemplating how much of a reply he wants to give. His eyes trailing to the Doctors collar and tie – it’s a dull red colour today.

“School.” Alex responds with a casual shrug, “that’s pretty much it.”

“You like school?”

“It’s alright. Same shit, different day. The teachers don’t care, why should I, right.” No hint in his voice that his statement is a question.

“What about your friends? You don’t see them outside of school?” The question is asked in such a way, it’s as though he is unsure of how it will be received.

Alex’s gaze shifts and drops to his shoes, “Not really.”

 

Week 3:

The door flies open, banging against the wall as it swings with surprising speed. With a startled jump and a raised head, the man looks up, speechless.

Alex stands in the threshold, face like thunder. He grabs the door and forces it shut, throwing himself in the chair opposite the desk.

“Alex? Is everything alright?” The doctor asks, head tilting to one side, unsure what may have caused such a reaction.

“Why do you do that? Why does everyone do that!? The sympathetic head tilt thing like you understand my life. You don’t even see me! No one sees me. I’m just a number to you, a special case, a “looked after child” whose mother can’t put the bottle down long enough to remember she has a kid.”

“What makes you think… Has something happened to make you think that?”

Alex looks up, eyes dark as he makes shaky eye contact. His lips form a tight line, the tension in his shoulders almost painful as he sits ramrod straight in the chair. Taking a breath to try and regain some composure, Alex returns his gaze to the window. Looking out at the City skyline he speaks, “I got a detention today because I didn’t do the homework and wouldn’t tell them why I didn’t have it.” He scoffs, “Detention. I’m 17, not 7.”

“Would you like to tell me why you didn’t do it? We haven’t discussed your new placement yet, have you settled in alright?”

“It’s loud and busy. Hard to concentrate on anything other than keeping out of people’s way. It’s fine. The best thing for me, right…” Another scoff.

 

Week 4:

“Alex, I want to start straight off from where we left things last week. I’d like you to tell me more about how you’re managing to settle in, in your new placement.”

“Like what? It’s not like if I say I don’t like it, there’s anywhere else for me to go.”

The man leans forward, hands clasped together over the desk, “Are you saying you don’t like it?”

“It’s fine…”

“But…?”

Alex shrugs, “It isn’t home.” His eyes raise to meet the Doctor’s gaze before immediately dropping back down to his shoes.

“Last week, you acknowledged that where you are now is for the best. Do you believe that?”

“No. It wasn’t even that bad, we were fine. We were coping.”

“At home, you mean?”

“Yeah. We had issues but doesn’t every family?” Another shrug, “We had each other’s back. Now we’re both alone. They won’t let me see her. That isn’t the best thing for either of us.”

“Do you know why you aren’t able to see your mum, Alex?”

“She’s in rehab. Cold turkey, right. Treating us like I’m what she’s addicted to.”

“That may change, in time. Once she’s recovered. They might allow you to visit or to phone her. In time.”

 

Week 5:

“How long you been doing this, doc?”

The doctor flushes pink, clears his throat, “I graduated just over 6 months ago.”

Alex doesn’t answer, just sits contemplatively.

“How’s school been going?”

Alex shifts in the chair, “Fine.”

“Care to elaborate?”

“It’s fine. People mostly just leave me to get on with whatever. They don’t bother me.”

“Do you socialise with the other students?”

“They look at me weird. Like I’m damaged or like they might catch something just for being in the same room as me.”

“How does that make you feel?”

Alex looks up, an amused look on his face, lips curling up into a smirk, “Really? You’re going with that cliché?”

Once again, the doctors face turns pink. He laughs, embarrassed to be called up on using such a phrase.

Alex turns his head, observing the landscape. He has become drawn to the view, often getting lost in thought as he watches the clouds move.

“Alex?”

“Invisible. It makes me feel invisible.”

 

Week 6:

The room holds a young man, in his late teens. He wears faded jeans with a short-sleeved shirt, band logo prominent. He sits in the chair that he has come to think of as ‘his’, a small smile on his face. Across from him is a young man, not all that much older, a white, crisp shirt tucked under a grey waistcoat, looking much more relaxed than previous weeks.

“They said I can speak to my mum in a couple of weeks,” Alex explains, smile growing into a grin.

“That’s good news, Alex. On the phone?”

“Yeah, they said she’ll be able to make a call to the group home and then I can talk to her.”

“I can see you’re happy about that.”

“Yeah. This group home won’t be forever. I’ll be 18 in a couple months. School will be over, finally and I can get my own place and when my mum comes home, I can see her again. I can help her.”

“One step at a time, Alex. She may be doing well right now, but it can be different once people try to return to ‘real life’. It might not be as straight forward as you want it to be. What do you want to do when you leave school?”

“I just need to get a job. Like labouring or something.”

“What about college or University?”

“Doc, I grew up in the worst neighbourhood and go to the worst school in our area. Kids like me, we don’t have the same opportunities that kids like you have. I just want a job and my own place. Then everything will be fine.” His gaze once again, only on the clouds.

 

 

Authors Note:
If anything in the above causes offence or does not ring true, it was not intended. I do not know what it is like to be in any of these situations, this is fiction and something I have written to try and practice writing dialogue.
Chloe.

March is Here

I had not been prepared for March – February seemed to fly by!

For March I have landed on the idea of meditating and giving up bacon (just for the one month).

This is a hardship already. I am struggling so very much to meditate. I find that the breathing exercises remind me way too much of the days where I had to fight with my body to do just that. The days of being right on the edge of a panic attack with no other way back but to either find fight or flight.

I have now thrown the deep breathing out of the window and just started having 10 minutes of quiet time. No phone, no laptop, no devices of any sort… just quiet and stillness. This is much easier for me to accomplish and doesn’t feel as traumatic as reliving horrible memories.

Giving up bacon, however, is awful. I eat way too much of it, more than is likely healthy and I am already missing not having it in my fridge. I remind myself that it is only for 1 month – hardly anything in the grand scheme of things!

Learning Something New

Today, within my University lecture I learnt something new – kind of the point, I know… but still…

In my Law and Policy lecture this morning, we discussed all things law related and we were pointed in the direction of a case involving the Mental Health Act and the Human Rights Act. No other information was given other than the name of the case (Bournewood Case).

As my interest in mental health is quite a healthy one, I immediately noted it down and made a mental plan to go and look at it when I had chance.

I now have a 3 hour break (11.00 – 14.00) and find myself in the library getting a laptop out on loan to look at what I can find.

As someone who has spent years working with individuals with various learning disabilities and conditions, I find it horrifying to read that a person with autism could have ever been detained under the Mental Health Act ‘informally’. Surely the aim of being sectioned under the Mental Health Act is that it is the last resort and only done as a way of providing treatment and ensuring that the person is in a safe environment to heal and recover…

(Though I have never been detained or sectioned – my own experiences assure me that the system is not a kind one and that my view that people should be made to feel safe and secure may not be the case)

 

“They engaged a solicitor on his behalf and took a case for unlawful detention to the High Court, which ruled against him. The Appeal Court overturned the decision in October 1997, and the hospital chose to section HL, although he did not meet the criteria, and in December that year he was finally discharged by the hospital managers…”

“In 1998, the House of Lords overturned the ruling that HL’s detention had been illegal…”

“Mr and Mrs E decided to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights, which in October 2004 ruled in HL’s favour. As a result the government introduced the new Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, which came into force in April 2009…”

This case changed the law (in Britain) – thankfully, although I find it incredibly disheartening that change came from such trauma. As is usually the case.

I recommend reading about it (Bournewood Case), if you haven’t already.