Monthly Archives: June 2013

#DontCallMeCrazy

I’ve just finished watching BBCThree’s “Don’t Call Me Crazy”, a documentary looking at the inside of one of the few adolescent psychiatric units in the country. 

My reactions were numerous, but the main, resounding one was the same one I get every time I set foot on a mental health unit. 

“We’ve got to shine in here”

They are dark places. There is little that can be done about the fact that they are places characterised by the fear and suffering of those who inhabit them. 

But there is so much to be done about our attitudes towards them. So much to be done to get the light and unfailing hope we have in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, into these wards. 

I’m not talking about a fluffy christian ‘joy’ which ignores the pain and suffering.

I’m talking about the hope and comfort found as Thomas the disciple touched the scars on Jesus’ palms.

I’m talking about the wonder of the men on their journey to Emmaus who thought hope had died. 

The driving force behind  ThinkTwice began on a very dark night of the soul on a psychiatric ward. I never want to forget that, and I never want that to cease being part of my motivation. Because that cry for light in the darkness changed everything. 

The bravery of the young people who agreed to be part of the documentary, and spoke so eloquently of their daily battles are an inspiration. I hope that one day, documentaries such as this won’t be necessary, because there won’t be a stigma. The ethics of showing the acute suffering of some so young is a topic for another day because today – I think our focus should be on how we help. 

You might offer to get the shopping, or feed the dog for a friend with a broken leg – what about doing the same for someone with mental illness?

My heart breaks for those broken my mental illness – not just those with a diagnosis – but those who struggle to navigate another’s darkness often with little or no support themselves. 

Let’s break the silence.

For the sufferers and for those who suffer alongside them.

 

Relapse

I mentally wrote this article whilst doing my cleaning job, yesterday and If I’m honest, I didn’t really want to write it. Even as I type, I’m not sure I want to. You see, in the past few months, I feel like I’ve gone a long way to putting the mental illness stuff behind me. I’m still passionate about the work I do and awareness raising – but I kind of thought and wished that my own journey through mental illness was over. I write about depression, I don’t live it anymore. After all, 2013, has so far been the happiest of my life. I love my family, friends, boyfriend, my work, my home – life is good. What is there to be depressed about?

And yet.

The other day I realised I was crying driving to a meeting with my dissertation supervisor. I’d cried most of the day before. I was heavily, bone-wearingly exhausted. The smile fell off my face as soon as I was alone and the tears came hard and fast.

There is some acutely painful about relapse. You forget, during periods of rest and wellness, the horror of it. You forget how exhausting it is, how the pain sits heavily in your stomach and at the back of your throat. For me, in the past few weeks, the months of feeling happy and lighter, have felt cruel. They’ve felt like a snapshot of what life could be. When I began to realise that the darkness was creeping in, I raged at God.

Why did I have to feel like this, again? I’ve done my time. I talk about mental illness, I don’t live it.

I felt like a petulant child, asking why? why? why?

Of course, there is no real answer to that question. There is no reason that it shouldn’t have returned. Depression has its’ own timetable. I am beyond grateful that this time, its return has been short.

Relapse, in any illness, is particularly painful. It feels like you’ve been let down by recovery, remission. It makes any work you’ve put into recovery feel pointless.

For me, I think I was putting so much effort into my work, so much effort into being the person I want to be, the 100% better version of myself, I began to forget. I began to forget that there are things I have to do, that help me stay well. Getting enough sleep, being one of them.

That isn’t to say that I’m to blame, it could have happened anyway. But it’s something to keep in mind. In part I resent that I have to keep anything about my own daily battle with the illness, ‘in mind’. I still wish it would disappear, never to darken my doorway again. And it might. I believe in a God who heals, sometimes in small steps and sometimes in dramatic flashes. It’s a hope I hold, but it is not a hope I take for granted. It might happen… but I might have to wait until heaven. Relapse is hard because it reminds me of that fact and I’m an impatient person. Relapse also reminds me not to take the light for granted, to appreciate it, for as Andrew Solomon so poetically writes:

“I can see the beauty of glass objects fully at the moment when they slip from my hand.”

If this relapse has taught me anything, it’s to appreciate the beauty of the glass before it slips.

 

For more information about depression you can read our post here: https://thinktwiceinfo.org/2012/04/26/depression-awareness-week-2012/

Or visit www.depressionalliance.org/