Archive for mental illness

How to lose support & alienate mentals.

Posted in mental illness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 06/04/2014 by doyourememberthattime

I would very much like to write a cohesive & comprehensive review of the seeme Scotland conference. I want to be articulate, persuasive & insightful. I find myself completely unable to collate more than a couple of sentences without deleting them in disgust.
The problem is my rage just keeps spilling out. I feel angrier today than I have in a very long time. The doubts I have had about the current state of mental health activism have been confirmed. I am unable to hide from the fact that I am not only fighting the world outside, I am staging a battle against the very people who are supposed to be working for me. In short, I attended a conference aimed at dispelling stigma & felt stigmatised.
I apologise if this is disjointed. I feel more unwell today than I have done in quite some time. I have attempted to create a little clarity with my scalpel. I’m taking a deep breath & diving in.
The conference was billed as a re founding of the organisation. I was invited precisely because I had spoken about the status quo of the big mental health organisations. I did try to be open minded, but correctly thought I was in for disappointment.
I couldn’t even get past the ‘housekeeping’ portion of the event without being insulted. It was repeatedly announced that support lines & trained staff were available should anyone require them. The underlying assumption being that a person with a mental health problem would be unable to make it through the day’s events without hand holding. Oh the irony of being stigmatised at an anti-stigma conference by the very people supposedly fighting for your right not to be discriminated against.
This sort of patronising behaviour continued throughout the event. Whether it was speakers explaining ‘big words’ or delegates being shocked to discover I was university educated. A belief that being diagnosed with a mental illness is somehow incompatible with being a capable adult seemed alive and well.
The organisers of see me put a huge emphasis on the input of those with lived experience. Our opinions, we were told, were paramount. The caveat of course being that we accepted the established recovery bias. Our ‘lived experience ‘speaker was of course recovered. She was careful to explain how different she was now that she was better. She had overcome her brush with mental illness, she now worked, and she now had value.
I kept hoping the next speaker would say something, but was met with more buzz words and self-congratulation. I tired of hearing the same thing over and over. I eventually realised that the much feted ground-breaking new approach was the same tired ideas I had been hearing for years.
I have to confess to ducking out of some of the ketso sessions, used for the participation sections of the day. I found the format, which involved writing on leaves & sticking them to felt, incredibly patronising. It was cringe inducing & very much the sort of thing I would expect to be used to facilitate discussion amongst children. In fact if I was to identify a theme of the conference it would be condescension.
On the second day of the conference I attended the only valuable session of the event. A workshop on ‘the damage caused by the recovery movement’ led by metalpoliticalparent. The discussion was frank and I think for some attendees, surprising. It was only here that I felt I was listened to & only at that workshop did I hear anything that sounded remotely like change.
The recovery model reigned supreme. It is clear that seeme intend to continue with the sanitation of mental illness. They do not & will not hear the voices of those who want to discuss the dirty reality.
I’m aware that this post is weak. I can only attribute that to frustration & the after effects of being made to feel entirely other. I hope at some point to improve on my contribution to the discussion of the seeme event, but did want to offer something whilst the conference was fresh in people’s minds.



Posted in mental health, self harm, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01/03/2014 by doyourememberthattime

Today is Self-Injury Awareness Day (SIAD). As expected most of the mainstream mental health organisations have been out in force on social media. This should be a good a thing, but as usual the almost entirely miss the mark. All of the major charities trotted out the same tired recovery narrative with a sprinkling of inspirational bullshit. Did anyone ever manage to quit self-harm by drawing fucking butterflies? I doubt it.
If I sound frustrated, it’s because I am. These organisations are supposed to be for people like me. They are meant to advocate for me, but they are not remotely interested in what I have to say. When I tell them what I need and want, I am ignored. I have approached numerous organisations both directly & through social media to explain that they do not represent me (or the many people I know who struggle with mental illness). I am always met with silence or a patronising we know best attitude.
I don’t want to hear exclusively about teenage girls when discussing self-harm. It’s a stereotype & it makes it perpetuates a stigma that makes my life harder.
I don’t want to constantly hear tales of people who have recovered. I’m happy they are no longer suffering, but their story is not my story. Some people do not get better. Mental illness is a life long struggle for many people. Where are those voices? This representation of mental health difficulties is not accurate or helpful. It creates a misleading picture for people with no experience in the field. Even more problematic is the message it sends to those of who are still ill. It says our lives have no merit; that we will only be worth talking about when we recover.
I’m sick of the success stories. All those wonderful people who fought & won. The ones achieving amazing things. It just makes me feel a greater failure. I want the truth. Publicise blogs like this one. Tell the world the blood and guts reality of this disease. Let me speak. Give me (& others like me) the opportunity to show people they’re not alone. That the daily (hourly) fight to keep breathing is not that uncommon. Our lives are still have meaning & value even if we never get back to work or publish a book or raise a million pounds for charity.
Stop giving me stupid advice. Writing on my arms cannot replace cutting. Ice and rubber bands are just telling its ok to hurt myself as long as it doesn’t get messy. Having a bath will not stop a war raging in head. Ditto a cup of bloody tea. Lavender doesn’t cure insomnia. Painting my nails will not make me love myself.

Most of all, listen to us. We know best. We wake up to every morning. Our knowledge is hard won. Please use it to help others who are suffering.

no distance left to run…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 19/08/2013 by doyourememberthattime

as i have previously discussed, i have been undergoing emdr therapy.
there have been small breakthroughs; i am beginning to aim my anger in appropriate directions,
i am now able to acknowledge that anger & my right to it.
i’ve also begun to accept the magnitude of that awful experience.
sadly, i am yet to shed the certainty that i am to blame.

i continue to self-flagellate
i fear the day that i do not.

along with these positive steps, the side effects have also progressed
the flashbacks have lessened. they now present as intrusive thoughts. treadmills of memories that i cannot get off.
the urge to cut is ever present.
i am powerless without the outlet.
i have no way to jolt myself out of these episodes.

sleep is elusive. the nightmares continue when i do find it.
there are also haunting dreams of what could have been.
the images of what i have missed are painful.
the guilt is fresh again.
the need to atone is powerful
i must hurt myself
pain is essential.

my final torture is the cruelest
body memories
i feel pregnant.
i am experiencing many of the symptoms i felt when pregnant.
combinations of symptoms that i haven’t felt since i carried a life within me
sensations so powerful that i started to believe i was expecting.
began to hope
i took a test, three tests, actually
there won’t be any baby
the symptoms continue
torture is not an exaggeration
it’s excruciating
a constant reminder of what i have lost
what i want
what i can’t have

the therapy continues
my psychologist has devised a new approach
i am going to have a weeks’ worth of intensive sessions
his thoughts being that the distress i experience between sessions is counter productive
i think, basically, he is afraid i will do something extreme
he may be right
so, we are attempting to complete the therapy in this block of sessions.
i am terrified
i honestly do not know if i can do it
i want to try.

thank you for you pity, you are too kind…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 08/07/2013 by doyourememberthattime

I had a bout of ill health last week & once again found myself lying on a gurney in A&E in considerable pain. This has become a feature of life, one that I have reluctantly come to terms with. With the exception of one thing, I cannot bring myself to accept the constant focus on my self harm. No matter what I present with or how much pain I am, there are always the questions. I am quizzed about my scars by nurses, Drs & auxiliaries alike. The same questions over and over,
Does it hurt?
How long?
And with the questions come the judgements. I’m told I’m making it harder for anyone to love me, I’m ruining myself, I’m smarter than this, It’s dangerous. My body somehow becomes their property. The paw my scars. Yes, the touch me and are chagrined if I object. The scars blind them. They no longer see a patient. They see a crazy woman. Everything I say is now doubted. Despite my long and well documented medical history, Regardless of the fact I am mostly presenting due to a flare up of an already diagnosed condition, my mental health is called into question. I am asked humiliating question. Have I poisoned myself or hurt myself? How is my mood? Do I need them to call a carer?
I am no longer me. My symptoms are not simply diagnosed and treated. First they must discover if I am just crazy. All the while, I am suffering. The conversation is repeated with each new dry and nurse. Sometimes the cleaners and auxiliaries give their opinions too.
Mostly they branch into two camps. Firstly, the people who pity me. Who think I am some pathetic little girl. They pet me and treat me like a 5yr old. They offer platitudes & some frankly stupid advice. They are desperate to call someone to be responsible for me. They do a lot of touching & exclaiming. They can’t conceive that I am a strong, intelligent adult who is capable of looking after herself. So, they reduce everything I am into sad little bundle & except me to be grateful for their characterisation.
Now, we come to the haters. They think I am a waste of their time. I am stupid, self-indulgent, and stubborn. They grudge treating me, they especially dislike administering pain relief. Obviously if I have self-harmed, I must also a drug seeker. I’ve waited in A&E for hours with pancreatitis with nothing more than paracetamol because some dr objected to me having a history of mental illness. This group can’t separate the psychological from the physical. One must always be in some way linked to other. I have caused this. I am definitely to blame & they spare no time in telling me so. They believe nothing I tell them & never apologise when my records show that everything I have said is accurate. They have indiscrete & unflattering conversation about me. Meaning that other patients can now join in this judgy little game. They say ugly things & when they finally grudgingly have to offer some treatment, they make sure I know that I don’t deserve it.
Occasionally I come across someone who treats with compassion & respect. I am so utterly grateful. I shouldn’t have to be.

and watch your life slide out of view…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 08/07/2013 by doyourememberthattime

i’m bogged down in the swap of depression

i don’t why it always creeps back. i do the work, i make progress. i start to think i am moving forward and then before i know it i am entrenched in this misery.

life becomes too much. every single task is overwhelming.
Washing, dressing, opening the post, doing the dishes. all impossible.

i can’t even begin to tackle this cluster of simple, mundane jobs. i feel worthless. i am ashamed to admit my paralysis. i can’t ask for help because i can’t bear for anyone to know.

each inconsequential decision becomes a mammoth undertaking. i can debate with myself for hours about whether to sit in the living room or my bedroom. i’m crippled by the fear of getting it wrong, of making it worse.

and the sorrow. the stagnating sadness, which i can’t drag myself out of.

the voice in my head constantly berating me. it tells me what a failure i am. it demands that i cut. screams orders to rip myself apart.

i can’t stand it.

i drug myself with handfuls of pills. opiates to blur reality, sedatives to shut me down. anything to escape the drone in my head.
there is no escape. there is always another day. the blood will never flow unchallenged.
it’s never enough.
so,i wait.
for the voice to get quieter
my mood to become unstuck
i pray
there won’t be a next time.

there is no such thing in life as normal…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 06/06/2013 by doyourememberthattime

i don’t feel good today
everything is too close to the surface
i am fragile

I think, perhaps, I’m not really here
nothing feels real

that’s too real
too deep
too much

I’d run away if I had anywhere to run to
It’s me I want to hide from

I want to climb out of my skin
my head

i need a little holiday from my life
an opportunity to be calm.
no guilt or pain.
Oh, what I’d give to just be normal

all those years that my body worked exactly as it should
my head behaved itself
i didn’t know i should be reveling in it
i didn’t know how fucking remarkable that was

i wish i could remember how that felt.

do you remember the first time ……..

Posted in depression, self harm with tags , , , , on 26/04/2011 by doyourememberthattime


well, do you ?


i can’t.

try as i might, i have no recollection of the first time i self harmed.

i know roughly the period of my life that it began,

but i can not recollect the first time i thought the amswer was to hurt myself.

i can’t even remember the first time i realised something was really wrong.

i don’t know when i recognised that i ahd tipped from being unhappy to being ill.

i have this need to know.

why did it occur to me to seek relief though pain ?

is there something in the mind of self harmers that leads us to it ?

or is hidden deep inside us all,

but only some experience something that uncovers it ?

it bothers me that i don’t have the answers.

i feel that i could understand myself better if i knew how this started.

so, do you remember ?

do you know what made you make that first cut ?