The last eight months have taught me that sometimes, it doesn’t matter one tiny bit how ‘good’ a patient I am when it comes to mental health treatment – I can still be plunged into the deepest of crises and left gasping in panic at the seemingly inevitable truth that I just cannot not bear to be alive for one more minute. It doesn’t matter how good my attitude is, or how hard I work to remain positive. It doesn’t matter how much I bust a gut to work through frustration and despair to keep up open and honest communication with doctors, employers and therapists, or how often I practice my tightly-honed coping techniques – at times I am just a slave to circumstances and/or brain chemistry. And I’m tired of seeing other people with mental health issues being vilified for apparently not doing enough to control their symptoms.
Here’s a little list of what’s been going on:
- Since October 2013, I’ve suffered no less than four life-threatening triggers, caused by further revelations of abuse in my family and grossly negligent mental health care
- Heartbreak – I cut off all contact with someone for whom I cared deeply for far too long. I don’t care how trivial this might seem; as someone who struggles with emotion, this has been agony.
- After the second and third triggers, which occurred within the space of just a week, my home environment became intolerable and I had to look for a new place to live.
- Having made the decision to move, while dealing with the stress of viewings and the need to spend hundreds of pounds on private therapy each month, I then had the joy of HMRC delving into my bank account without warning when they decided I hadn’t filed a tax return for financial year 2011/12, and that I hadn’t paid my national insurance contributions since then. Acting as both judge and jury, they felt justified in imposing a penalty of £1800 to be collected over the next year, without warning, and without permission. I remember clearly the day I found out my pay had been drastically cut for a whole year, and the many hours spent on the phone to the tax office in my deeply triggered state, barely able to breathe, with a voice in the back of my head begging me to just take the damn pills already.
- I recently had the pleasure of being involved in my first Twitter ‘row’, which in fact was just trolling, plain and simple. It descended into me being called an ‘unhinged’, ‘sad person’ with a ‘victim mentality’, who ‘wants sex and then gets raped – psychological issues’.
After being such a ‘good’ patient – working on myself, taking responsibility for my own wellbeing and state of mind, doing everything possible to cope – it was hard not to feel like the universe was telling me, ‘This is not your time. You should leave.’ At that point (and this is still the case) I had no family support whatsoever, and in fact I have no contact with them now at all. Thank god for the few friends I have who have truly been there for me. More than ever before, the world was feeling like an utterly alien place, and over time I started to believe I have no place in it.
But the chokehold is slowly easing. Every problem that has arisen, I took care of it. I dealt with the tax office, even reigning in the help of my local MP, who took the matter up with the CEO of HMRC – they eventually dropped all charges and readjusted my records, recognising that the action had been taken because of a technical loophole in their online systems to which many have fallen prey. With my old housemate, I was kind but assertive, both directly and indirectly, and when this didn’t work I took action and moved. When the trolls came out to play on Twitter, I recognised it wasn’t good for my health and blocked the bastards. I let go of an unrewarding, painful friendship to save me further heartbreak. Yeay, go me! Problem-solver extraordinaire! Except, no. Don’t fucking call me strong for dealing with this shit that I did not choose to take on – it doesn’t make me feel any better. It’s easier for me to accept right now, that life is just tragically unfair at times. But people abhor a victim, don’t they? Well right now, I couldn’t give a toss if I sound like one.