Mental Health has recently, and rightly so, been the topic of hot discussion and debate. People are starting to research, understand and evaluate mental health, albeit with difficulty, to try and really help sufferers.
May is Mental Health Awareness month and we want to help shine a light on something that has been kept in the dark for a very long time.
Steven Walker, in the book ‘Modern Mental Health‘, has put together a series of mental illness accounts in order to offer an alternative and thought-provoking perspective. In aid of this month’s efforts here is an extract from Hannah Walker’s story- the full account is available here.
Part One – The Human in the System
Chapter 1: A Survivor’s Story
By Hannah Walker
My name is Hannah and I’m a survivor of the military mental health system, the NHS mental health system and a number of psychiatrists. I suffer from bipolar disorder and PTSD, and I was diagnosed twenty years ago. In this chapter, I will tell you some of my story.
I was adopted at 4 months into a loving upper middle class family who lived on the Isle of Wight. I have a sister, also adopted, who is six years younger than I am. Neither of us has ever wanted to trace our biological parents, because we were happy at home and didn’t feel the need to go meddling. Both our adoptive parents are now dead, but they would have been quite happy had we wanted to seek our real mothers, but we thought not. No point.
I went to the local grammar school, and left at the age of 18 having been Head Girl and having collected a few O and A levels – nothing spectacular. When I was in the Upper Sixth, my best friend died; I later discovered that she had committed suicide. I had the first of what were to be many, many episodes of mania and depression after that event and had some time off school. The episode was curious – I didn’t know what was happening to me and didn’t really have the words to explain it to the GP. All I could tell him was that all the colours went bright outside, and I felt a rush of panic and fear as though I could no longer remain alive and deal with it. In that instant, I contemplated taking an overdose of painkillers – not so that I would die, but so that I could become unconscious and not have to feel the pain. I couldn’t be alone, but I couldn’t tell anyone what I was feeling as it was impossible to describe. The only time I felt “well” was when I was driving a car. I slept with the light on as I couldn’t bear to be alone in the dark with just my thoughts for company.
My parents hadn’t any idea of what to do with me, so they sent me to my GP, and I tried to explain what had happened to me, without much success. He diagnosed an extreme grief reaction, without much in the way of a clue as to my illness. I became even more depressed and started self harming, making up the most outrageous stories as to how I had cut myself. I spent hours with razor blades, slashing my arms to pieces, and telling the A&E department that I had fallen through windows/dropped a glass which had shattered/been hit by a hockey ball. No one helped. No one asked me if I was OK – not even the medics who assiduously stitched me up every time. I was sent to an Educational Psychologist, but refused to talk to her as she had hinted to me that she thought I was self harming. Far too ashamed to admit it, I reiterated my stories and told her that I was just very accident prone. She gave up.
I pulled myself together and carried on as though nothing had happened, which sowed the seeds of later episodes…
Please read the rest of the account here for FREE.
If you have a story you’d like to share then please do get in contact. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org