At 14yrs old I swallowed enough soluble aspirin for my stomach to be pumped and a 3-4 days stint in a general hospital. Family life was bad, and I remember truly believing that nobody would notice my absence, accept possibly my mother and then only crossly, momentarily. After several hours and still alive I assumed that I’d failed in my attempt and told my sisters what I had done, and one of my parents was recalled from church.
I remember sitting on a stretcher in casualty, with an arrogant pig of a consultant perched on a chair at the end of it, slowly eating an apple and alternately smirking at me... then and at my mother, who worked as a staff nurse at the hospital, (on the ward I ended up on), who idolised him. I couldn’t hear them above the clanging in my ears, and by then I was losing focus, but I saw enough to realise that I was the joke; even as the rubber hosing was forced down my throat...
That day paved the way for many years of gastric ulcers and vivid oral recollections that can still make me gag. Offers of counselling or any psych follow-up (I heard later) were easily brushed off. On discharge, I was encouraged to feel so ashamed of my actions, and it was never again mentioned to me at home or by me to anyone, anywhere until I was very much older. Were it not for WALKING OUT OF DARKNESS, I certainly wouldn't be writing about it for the first time now.
That was more than 40yrs ago. How different would it have been today?
6 million people in the UK are suffering from depression, anxiety and emotional stress according to the Department of Health.
A further 8 million people suffer a variety of other mental disorders.
6,000 people commit suicide in the UK every year. That’s the equivalent of one person every two hours, every day.
The figure is rising. In fact, it has doubled since 2008.
The suicide rate among men between the ages of 16 and 25 has risen alarmingly.
A greater number of British troops have been lost to suicide than have been lost in battle.
Suicide often occurs because no practical help is available, and no other viable option can be envisaged.
The inequality of our mental health system, financially and in the respect it receives from other parts of the NHS and the Public Sector, has long enraged me. It's 2014, yet as a nation - as a Human Race - we are still closed minded to the fact that m/h illnesses are a part of life to be generally:
Accepted - as an illness
Understood - by the masses to be neither contagious nor a curse,
Treated - promptly with respect, and
Cured - where possible, regardless of the length of time, number of care-plans or changes in medication that it takes
If a person with Cancer; Parkinsons; A Broken Leg, waited as long for their initial consultation or follow-up treatments as those with
psych conditions waited for equivalent appointments - or had they only been afforded the same level of respect and dignity - the outcry would be massive.
On Saturday 11th October I will be Walking Out Of Darkness (ok, wheeling out), with my son Anthony, as Team 'Open Your Mind 2014'. Any kind folk who would like to join us will be very welcome. It is estimated that around 25,000 fellow mental health charity supporters will also be there to raise funds and highlight the desperate need for a better awareness, understanding, acceptance of and funding for, mental illness and suicide prevention. It is so important that literally or figeratively, we stride together toward a better place for anyone touched by mental illness or suicide - which could after all, be anyone of us, at any time. With your help, I would love to raise some much needed funds for the amazing CLASP Charity. Even if you can afford a very small amount, please give in the knowledge that it will be be for one of the most worthwhile causes of our day.
To donate to CLASP Charity - or to sponsor me for the 10miles for CLASP Charity - via JUSTGIVING is simple, secure, very much needed.. and won't bite back by selling your details or hounding you for seconds. Usual cards + Paypal accepted.
Click below for a film by the BBC 'The Truth About Depression'
Thank you for dropping in and, on behalf of all those you have helped or will help - please - a massive hug!