How did you first come to the attention of mental health services?
In 2000 I went to hospital after attempting suicide not long after my mother passed away, aged 48. I had also not long split up with my girlfriend of four years and was really down in every way. I decided to visit a casino in Birmingham which I was a member of but hardly frequented, lost about £1000 on gambling, bought a few bottles of JD and some pain killers, went home and attempted the deed. I was only found because when i arrived home, I had left my front door wide open and the couple next door had called the Police as they had thought I’d been broken into.
Was your first hospital admission a shocking experience?
Hell yeah! I woke up on the first night to a woman running up and down the wing on fire, screaming like a Banshee. I thought I was tripping and went back to sleep. It wasn’t until the next day when the other residents were talking about it that I realised that it wasn’t bad drugs…
How did the medication make you feel?
Medication wise, it was always a struggle. Just when i thought I’d found the cure, the side effects would kick in, sometimes making it physically impossible to take them. My first prescribed meds had me trying to iron clothes with the kettle.
What do you think of the public perception of mental illness? Is there a stigma attached?
I have always been very, very open with my illness which has left me open to certain folks taking advantage or ridiculing me. Worse than that are the folks that try and help but the minute something goes wrong in some way, blame it on me because it must be my fault…
How have you built your life back together away from the mental health system?Apart from a few times when I was addicted to drugs (my way of self medicating at the time), I have very little to do with services.
What are your coping strategies?
Just try and live each day as it comes
What improvements would you like to see in the field of mental health?
Actually care and when you’re having an ‘off’ day and this goes to friends and family of all sufferers, stop asking if we’ve taken our meds. We can be pissed off to you know.
Do you believe that mental illness is incurable and will last for life?
Unfortunately, yes. i think it’s going to get a whole lot worse in terms of numbers too…