A Diary From Noone

She spoke but no one heard, every scream seemed a whisper, and so she took pen to paper...

Category: Brum Votes (page 2 of 3)

Being A Black, Thirt-Two Year Old Woman and Crazy…

After watching, “Being Black And Going Crazy” I have found myself, as a black woman with certified and diagnosed mental health problems, reflecting upon the show and my own personal experiences.
I have been an inpatient at various mental health hospitals in both Birmingham and London over the last three years and cannot say that the ratio of Black patients, White patients, Asian patients and any “Other” patients has dominated more than each other, it has always been pretty equal. Regardless to the culture in which the area of the hospital is situated, because with the huge NHS Mental Health budget crisis, there are often national shortages of beds and so you end up where you end up, regardless of where you come from or which mental health hospital is closer to your home logistically.
I have always tried to accept help when it has been offered, when a psychiatric team suggest you go into hospital, you know it is both serious and important because it is not an easy decision to make or accommodate. If you refuse to comply, you may very well get sectioned and so do always try to accept the help when it is offered, as it is hard to come by.
The only difficulty that I have found as a black woman, is the patronising, inappropriate chat off the ward nurses of African or Caribbean descent. Although I believe that these members of staff were just trying to help, trying to show empathy but they approached me in the wrong way and gave some terrible, unprofessional and uncalled for advice. “Listen my sister, where in Africa are you from? You have a nice skin tone. What do you have to be depressed about? Do you think you are the only one who has had a hard life sister!? You will end up getting diagnosed if you don’t stop. Just pray to God and he will guide you sister.”
Excuse me! Firstly, I am not your sister! Secondly, I am not from Africa! Who cares what skin tone I have!? I don’t know all the reasons and why I am depressed. I most definitely know that life is and can be hard on everyone, not just me! Stop what!? Surely a diagnosis will lead to some kind of understanding, provide some answers!? Pray to God!? I did not disclose that I am religious!
The assumptions’ that these ladies made, the way they spoke to me, what they said to me, it was all because I was a black patient.
Each time I have been admitted into hospital has been because of troubles with my mentality, some of those problems were caused by genetics, both nature and nurture, but not because of the colour of my skin and whether the nurses had good intentions or not, I believe that their approach was unprofessional! I never witnessed them talk to any other people (not of colour) in the same way! I did see them approach fellow black patients.
Every patient, no matter what colour of their skin, their age, gender, sexuality, religious beliefs, diagnosis, they all deserve equal treatment.
“If you would treat the black man like you treat the white man , carry on man! Peace and Love”
“I am a black, thirty-two year old woman with various mental health problems.” Joe Blogs can home in on any part of that information but from the mind of a mental health professional, all they should hear is,”mental health problems”. Ethnicity, age and gender should come second.

To those that loved Amy…

Amy was a fully grown Alsation,
But there is no salvation in her departure.
She had the qualities of a child,
So humble,
Very loyal,
Friendly,
And honest.
Her character,
A reflection of her upbringing,
Not just a dog,
Nor man’s best friend,
Far from an average pet,
But a daughter,
A sister,
Dedicated to loving and protecting all of her family.
She had her role all figured out,
She was obedient,
But also elegant with a little sass,
Which is why she was so unique,
And will be extremely memorable to all!
Amy was special,
Exquisite.
Her passing is a tragedy
One I can’t yet comprehend,
It makes no sense to me,
How loosing her can possibly be true and fair.
She had a huge presence throughout the house,
And her spirit will remain there,
Without a doubt.
Store those memories,
Collect those pictures and video’s,
And keep them safe,
In an accessible place.
Sometimes grief makes us forget,
Delete out of fear of eternal pain,
Evokes suffering and regret.
But one day the tears will stop,
The sadness will lift,
And you will be able to smile and reminisce,
Become strong enough to be nostalgic without anger,
Tears,
Or spite,
You will then believe me when I say she hasn’t all gone away,
Her presence and powerful spirit will never leave you,
Because she was a part of you,
And there is nothing, anyone or anything can do to break that,
She will always be by your side,
Please remember that!

The heart of Malaga

As I sit in this holy place,
I try to make sense of what is and can be,
Does faith draw in tranquility?
Or does tranquility draw in faith?
I don’t suppose either/or really matters,
What matters is that one is at one with one’s self,
Enabling us to feel joy and purpose in the presence of life.
Religion can make you feel alive,
Part of a community,
Loved,
Heard,
Significant
And understood,
But it can also cause terror,
Ostracise people,
Take away your voice,
Label you impure or a sinner,
Shun you,
Leaving you feeling judged,
Disconnected,
In doubt of all that you know and rules that you abide,
And extremely misunderstood!
My question is,
Is there a happy medium?
Sitting in this aesthetically beautiful church building,
With monumental history,
Draped like the crown jewels throughout,
It exuberates wealth,
With lavish gold architecture.
It oozes with glamor and fortune,
Quite the opposite from humble tranquility.
I know not the correct answer to my question.
I know not how I feel entirely,
Being agnostic and all,
But despite the grand facade of gold and riches,
Despite my reservations of religion when in comparison to science,
This place still seems somewhat sacred.
Whether it be the familiar and universal pattern of service from the priest?
The people from near and far,
Foreign and native in prayer?
I do most definitely feel welcome here,
And perhaps,
Admittedly,
A tingle of God’s presence.
Faith did not lead me there,
Nor a desire for tranquility,
It was more about curiosity,
But I believe I left with a little of both,
How long it will last,
I cannot guarantee,
But I definitely left with a slice of faith and tranquility.

A Festival From No One, the first!

Please don’t underestimate how complex BPD/EUPD can be!

Since being in a mental health hospital this time round, I have heard nurses dismiss patients when they try to communicate the distress of their psychosis. “It’s not real”, “Noone is there”, “You know that isn’t really happening”! How rude. How dismissive. How dare they dismiss patients like that!? It is so hard to communicate the goings on in the bubble of mental health. One would think that a psychiatric hospital (acute or not)would be the easier and safest places to express ourselves, but stand corrected.
I suffer from psychosis, the nurses always encourage us to chat to them, keep them out of the dark, but I have been dismissed, challenged and told that if I don’t obey the hospital rules, I will be sent home. Such a threat may make people purposefully act out and be rebellious because who wants to stay in hospital!? To say it to me, indicates that my case study has not been analysed or perhaps even looked at. 50% of my self destructive behaviour is a product of my psychosis, I hear no rhyme, nor see no reason, I act out in a pressured or hypnotised state, heavily burdened with psychosis. Hospital rules, any rules do not enter my head. When in a trance, all rationalism and thoughts of consequence play no part. When a professional tells a patient who suffers from BPD/EUPD like myself, that people like me shouldn’t be in the ward, it is shocking, devastating and a trigger towards self destructive behaviour because in fact, rejection and abandonment is what has us all messed up in the first place. Saying such a thing without tact, without empathy, out loud for all ears to hear when I am already upset, is not only a matter of opinion but unprofessional and inconsiderate to say. It highlights a clear lack of skill, communication and understanding.
If I wasn’t supposed to be in hospital, why am I? If these hospitals shouldn’t cater for people with BPD/EUPD, how come at least a quarter of the patients that I have encountered, have it? Did she mean people like me or just me? Is she qualified, educated and trained enough to over ride the many higher up mental health professionals that put me in here? I think not.
I would love to go home, but after two weeks in hospital, I may as well stick it out until something has been done, until something new has been put in place for me to feel safer at home.
When I try to communicate, I feel dismissed, challenged, unworthy, judged, misunderstood and scrutinised. I want to get better but if I am honest the support is quite frankly unsupportive at times. Don’t get me wrong, there are also some amazing staff, this blog is not about slandering all mental health nurses or professionals, there are plenty of good ones and without them, I would not be here. I thank those individuals for that.
I think that BPD/EUPD is quite common amongst the population, but for some reason the diagnosis is overlooked by psychiatric professionals. I was diagnosed with it three and a half years ago. It then came to my attention that there were notes in my files, linking back to when I was sixteen, that said that they had suspected my illness from way back then! Thirteen years before the diagnosis was officially made, apparently they don’t like labeling people to young, but I am pro labels. They give you a foundation to discovering and understanding why you are, the way that you are.
I wouldn’t say that I am a veteran but I have been in and out of hospital consistently over the past three and a half years. Unfortunately, each time I have felt judged, dismissed and persecuted for A)Having an education B)Once having a career C)The occasional ability of conversing in a mature back and forth conversation re. my thoughts/condition /struggles/care plan/concerns etc. D)Questioning certain decisions that have been made on my behalf without my permission E)My main diagnosis being BPD/EUPD.
The one that bothers me the most is, E. Not only do the likes of Jo Blogs not understand it, but also the professionals issued to treat people with it. Someone out there decided that having BPD/EUPD does not warrent acute psychiatric ward admission! Apparently it has been proven that psychiatric wards are not the best environment for,”People like me”! That opinion, even if applied after thorough research, cannot stand or be issued to anyone and everyone with BPD/EUPD. We are all individuals, everyone is different. Not one rule applies to all. Surely it’s obvious, you may have the same illness as someone else but symptoms often differ. Also most mental health problems tend to overlap, you may be diagnosed with one illness in particular but have the same/similar/identical symptoms of another illness entirely. For example, I also suffer from depression and anxiety (both acceptable conditions considered to be worthy of acute psychiatric ward admissions). I also suffer from psychosis (most definitely considered as an illness worthy of an acute psychiatric ward). I tried to commit suicide (a worthy admission). I self harmed (depending on how deep or your intentions, enough to be admitted to an acute ward). Baring all of those things in mind, mental health nurses still have the audacity to belittle me and make me feel undeserved of the help that had been issued to me by people way higher up the mental health ladder then themselves. To my knowledge, mental health acute wards were built and designed with, “Crisis” in mind. Ideally patients stay no longer then 28 day’s. Occasionally longer, depending on possible delegated sections or lack of progress.
My argument is, nothing in this world is black or white. A diagnosis is a guideline, not the be all and end all. Your diagnosis may be one thing, but an individuals symptoms may cross over into the realms of another. I believe that my personal symptoms are often likened to symptoms of both Bi-Polar and/or Schizophrenia, both considered as serious mental health problems, therefore I should be treated and cared for just the same as anyone and everyone else. That is all I ask.
Mental health staff and in fact the whole entire world, need to be educated on what BPD/EUPD is and what the difficulties of having it can be. We tend to be extremely sensitive, paranoid and emotional people. Back handed comments thrown our way, especially when in crisis, can actually trigger and ignite an episode. Alot of us actually feel undeserved of love, care and attention. Many of us believe that the world would be a much better place without us, and if in crisis, unable to keep up with our routine and unable to reap the benefits from help within the community leads to hospital admission, we should be treated as fairly as any other!
It is not healthy, nice, empathetic, caring or professional to be dismissed and told that hospitalisation won’t help, especially if you have exhausted every other possible care provided and been sent there by psychiatric, medical professionals. Personal opinions are inappropriate and should be muted. It should be taken into consideration that people with BPD/EUPD both want and need acceptance, any form of rejection and/or abandonment can rock the boat, and to be made to feel that way in a place of care, is simply barbaric.
BPD/EUPD is a genuine psychiatric condition. It should not be tarnished by the likes of, “attention seeking”/”playing the victim”/”dangerous to be around”. That type of slander, simply breeds ignorance and ignorance spreads like fire. Help me raise awareness and share this post with as many people as you can, if we all manage to change and educate one persons mind each, perhaps eventually, the only thing spreading will be the truth.

Everything you need to know about being sectioned…

I may have blogged about this before, but it was from the perspective of my own research. Today I give you facts, straight from a mental health nurses mouth…
Below are the current facts about each type of section.
5.4 6hrs holding power. Issued by psychiatric nurses for psychiatric inpatients only.
5.2 72hrs holding power. Issued by mental health doctors.
Review;
A) Section 2. 28days holding power. Impatient assessment period.
B) Section 3. Up to 6months. Usually given to people who have been in hospital before and have a mental health history.
C) Informal. Voluntary hospital admittance. The length depends on the individual and their circumstances.
136 72hrs issued by the police.
37.41 Forensic. This does not have a set time but you can be held upto 3months without personal consent whilst the crime is assessed. These patients are put into a medium secure unit.

I hope that this information provides Some clarity for you. I myself have been threatened but not actually sectioned. I have always been informal. I have also known patients to get their section reduced or cancelled for being compliant and practicing good behaviour. If you operate in a respectful manor and co-operate, depending on one’s circumstance, it appears that sections can be quite flexible. They are put in place for the safety of an individual, not to punish people.

CRISIS

Today’s blog is about what to do when you are in crisis.
Firstly, how do you even know if you or someone you know is even in crisis? A good question but a hard one to answer as one man’s crisis could be another man’s euphoria compared to what they suffer from. Everyone is different and mental health is so vast, I believe that it would be impossible to give a, “one answer suits all”, and so I will write from my mental health state point of view, someone with anxiety, depression and bpd, because this is what I know!
So let me firstly remind you that I have suffered from depression from a very young age, the first signs of this is when I developed alopecia at the age of ten. I believe that whether you understand your problems or not, you cannot deny them and they will become active in one way or another. Being unaware, clueless and therefore not acknowledging or receiving help, your body will still find a way to release, to try and rid of what is wrong with you, like bodies do. Your body will show that something is wrong, for example psoriasis, eczema, acne, weight gain or decrease etc. When I was ten years old,I developed alopecia areata. I was not even aware that I felt down, but looking back now, I realise that I had serious dual parent envy. Something, well actually someone was missing. My life was lacking the presence of my biological father and knowing that he was alive and well, able to father his other children yet having no time, love, respect, consideration or feelings for me, made me feel unaccepted, different, unloved, unworthy and incomplete. Something was definitely missing from my life and all of that pain and strife that I could not handle, control nor understand as a child, found away out of my body.Overtime the situation worsened. I had a step father for nine years but he left without even a goodbye! That added salt to the wound, especially as by then I was much older. I was a teenager with all the regular teenage angst and hormonal nightmares but on top of that, I had been rejected and abandoned by the two fathers that I had in this world. The alopecia continued and worsened. The treatment was horrific, bullet shot injections straight into my head which would result in bee sting like tender bumps. My alopecia never ceased, it worsened to the point of me becoming basically bald. It had transformed from alopecia areata to alopecia totalise (from spots and patches to whole areas of the head, if not its entirety) even my eyebrows went and I nearly lost my luscious lashes but fortunately they stayed. Once we are on the topic, there is one more type of alopecia, it is called alopecia universalis, that means that all your body hair goes. I always say that God or the universe, whoever is in charge is having a laugh at my expense! I still have to shave other unwanted hairs on my body, the places where I want hair just don’t abide. By the age of twenty, I had to have the last bits of my hair shaved off. Afro hair is hard to manage and only having a quarter of a head of hair was far more trouble then it was worth. It was twelve years ago now but I still remember crying as my best friend shaved it all off and I sat on my bedroom floor. It never grew back. Also eventually both eyebrows also fell out and now I have to get them make-up tattooed.The whole alopecia thing has made dating particularly difficult, perhaps 7 out of a potential 10 boyfriends in my life have done a runner upon discovery and now I have being overweight and my mental health issues to also disclose and give men fuel to run off, but that is another story!
My point is that sometimes we don’t realise when we are unwell and/or in crisis. If we don’t know, if we can’t recognise and then fight the warning signs or symptoms, our body and/or minds will act on them anyway.
The best thing to do is make notes on what has happened before you fell ill as soon as you have enough clarity to do so. Keep a diary, overtime you may discover common triggers. Triggers don’t have to be big drama’s like deaths, arguments, fights, fall outs, break ups and confrontation. Triggers can be as small as smells, tastes, words, audio or visual. It’s the little triggers that we could all do with recognising, they could link to bigger episodes that we have forgotten.
I used to live in London, mostly in Hackney. At one point I would commute from Leytonstone to Hackney Central quite often. One day, a normal day on a normal journey, I blurted out, “I hate Hackney Wick” to my boyfriend at the time, as the train passed through. He asked why and for a second or so I questioned myself, and then went on to disclose that about seven years prior, I had been sexually assaulted by a female work colleague at a house party in Hackney Wick. She got me on my own, pinned me down, pulled at my clothes to expose my breasts, whilst forcing me into a position that I could not free myself from. She rubbed and grinded on top of me, forcing me to spread my legs and be still, repeating, “Come on, it’s ok”. She manipulated my body for her sexual pleasure until she satisfied herself. The next morning, we caught trains home from opposite platforms at Hackney Wick train station and I never saw her again. She never came back to work! I supressed that memory for seven years, never spoke of it, I had forgotten about it, buried it so deep and therefor I did not deal with processing the trauma. It was Hackney Wick itself that sparked the memory. That is one of the first times that I ever experienced a panic attack, it was mild but happened none the less. Now I am aware that, that place, conversations about abuse, explicit lesbian sex, butch black women, thoughts and memories of the episode, can trigger panic, anxiety and deep depression in me. It has been a long process but patience, analysis and diary logging have been worth it. The more triggers that you are aware of, the less alarming it all becomes.
I have two states of mind. I suspect that most people do. I can think clearly and rationally but engage in bad habits or think unclearly, loose control of thoughts all together and engage in self destructive tendencies. Despite the catalyst of the situation, the outcome is almost always the same, self harming and over dosing. I made up the useful term, “PRC”, myself. “Problem”. “Reaction”. “Consequence”.Ideally, “I” for, “Intervention”, should come before, “Reaction” and “Consequence”. In order for this to happen, you need to realise and understand that you are in fact, in crisis.
A) The clearer, more self aware elements to my mind, is far less out of control then, B) when I am in disassociation mode, the other more dark and irrational frame of mind.
A) If there is a problem and I am aware, which is 25% of the time, I will call the home treatment team, but I have found that it is usually a callback system and that is if they answer at all! You can call the likes of, “The Samaritans” but I prefer not to have to go back to the beginning of my mental health history every time I have to have a conversation.Each to their own though. There are also of cause 111 or 999. If rational and in control, tell someone, anyone, before you loose it.
Admittedly the other 25% of the time, feeling anxious about disclosing the problem, being unable to pin point the problem and feeling unworthy of any attention, like a nuisance for bothering people, it is quicker to self harm rather then it is to pick up the phone. It gives me instant release and I feel much calmer, way quicker then going through the rigmarole of dialling, waiting, chasing and speaking.
B)when psychosis kicks in and takes over, unfortunately I feel that I have no option but to obey their orders. They are impossible to ignore. I often don’t realise what I am doing until my self-destruction is over with, but when I come round, I do always either tell someone or ask for help.
It is always hard to identify, acknowledge and accept when you are in the midst of crisis. If you are fortunate enough to have loved ones, they should also look out for triggers and/or signs mid crisis. If not, keep communicating and the professionals should be aware, maybe even realise the level of crisis that you are in before you do.
I personally have a very poetic and creative brain. I may not say, “I want to commit suicide”, out loud and outright but if you really listen to me, you can often hear that I am trying to communicate that something just isn’t right. Drawing from the past, I may use phrases like, “The storm is coming”, or, “I keep glitching”. Whether I understand the context of what I am saying, whether I am aware of what I really mean at the time or not, those types of confessions should not be listened to lightly and be interpreted as me needing and asking for help.
I hate confrontation, I live quite an isolated life. I have a small voice, a lack of resilience and barely any confidence. I expect my nearest and dearest to know that I am a, “suffer in silence”, kind of person. I need reminding that I am safe to be honest, that I am loved and deserved of being so. I expect people to recognise changes in me, to visit and contact me, not just when I am noticeably ill, when things are dramatic but all of the time. My personal illness goes above and beyond crisis, I struggle everyday, battling both audio and physical hallucinations that go on and on about how unloved I am, how unlinked I am, how replaceable I am, how annoying I am, how much hard work I am and such negative things take their toll after so long. I don’t like to be a nuisance. I don’t like to have to ask, yet I really do need more consistent support all round really, professionals and loved ones, but from friends and family would help heal the fragmented pieces of my broken heart, mind, body and soul, and give me ammunition to fight and continue.
To summarise, mental health should be observed and treated indefinitely. Over time, patterns will emerge and we must take note of them. Things like therapy, communication, medication should help to avoid crisis. Deter you away from what you know can trigger an episode. If you can identify that you are in crisis or just feel different or unwell, always make at least someone who cares for you (medically/ professionally/personally) know. If you find yourself in danger, try to contact help. If you have already been self-destructive, still tell someone, to avoid further damage. You are important and deserve to be helped sincerely, without question or judgement.
It is neither weak or attention seeking to admit the truth and ask for help. Except when you are offered health, even though you may think it unnecessary. Ultimately, being unwell or in crisis is all relative, mental health has a deep and complex spectrum but fighting it alone, may well be impossible in my opinion. The road to to recovery will certainly be slower. Crisis is awful and terrifying but help can bring a little light. Light your own candle. Let the help shine a torch and keep both going. Then you may live to see another day and find the sunshine may banish the demons away.

Bird Watcher

I watch them fly over me,
The flock go back and forth,
Back and forth.
I was once amongst them,
Soaring the sky in unison,
Sometimes I would even lead.
Now injured,
I ly on my back,
Still watching them come and go,
Come and go.
They must continue,
They are obligated to,
They can’t just stop,
They don’t want to stop,
And so I must let them go.
My love for them cancels the anger,
Pacifies the jealousy.
Nostalgia provides great memories,
The best,
Which for now I keep close to my chest,
Should this be my final place of rest.
Undeterred,
I hold onto hope,
Hope that I may join them again,
One fine day.

five

There is this thing, that when you are older, like our grandparents age, funerals become your main social event! Everyone starts to go and leave us behind, and so they dress smart, pay their respects, then enjoy the odd drink or two as they reflect upon their net of contacts shrinking, and being left alone, the very last and final one.

A poem dedicated to Grandma (an epitaph soon to come)…

Five deaths in just under a year,
As you get older,
Nature starts to interfere.
There is nothing you can do,
About the pain that their departure put’s them through,
Put’s us through,
We can only hope that they have gone to a better place.

Two day’s straight without tears!

I didn’t cry at all Monday and haven’t thus far today (Tuesday)! What I am sure most people would consider normal, feels like a great achievement to me. The day’s are far better without tears. My day’s are still consumed with psychotic hallucinations which trigger self destructive tendencies, which links to my anxiety, but considering that I am still in crisis…. crossing one huge symptom off the list has given me a bit of a rest bite. Yey and hooray for the silver lining. If my illness has taught me anything, it is to not take the good times and good moments for granted, To not take having the freedom of being in the community for granted. It’s a sad state of affairs if not crying makes a good day, but when you have been crying for months, dry eyes feel good. It is just as important to say this as it is to note my downs. Up’s are few and far between but on day’s like today, I feel blessed to have such amazing people in my life, they are but a few but they mean the world to me. People who take the time to ask that I am ok? People who have taken the time to research my illnesses. People who touch base just to remind me that I am loved and remind me that I do have people who care for me, because I often question such things and mistrust everyone, “How can people love and care for me when I don’t love and care for myself”, kind of thing. My immediate family, my someone and my few friends are like oxygen to me. The people that answer the phone to me day or night. The people who know what is really going on, behind my mask/computer screen. The people that put their feelings aside when I am unwell and unable to think rationally, those very same people that are consistent and stand by my side.
Mental health problems can leave people isolated, reclusive, passionless and out of touch with everyone. As we grow older, the number of genuine friends that we have generally decrease, mental health problems can accelerate that because we can be quite trying. We really don’t mean to be difficult, extra sensitive, selfish or hard work. We just want to love and be loved in return, like everyone else, we just perhaps need reminding a little more then thought to be normal. I personally have to combat general paranoia which is intensified by the voices that I hear, which are currently all day every day. It’s like having two bullies by my side, who are complete, “Debbie Downers” who make fun of me, question all things good, focus on all things bad and have a vendetta to make me miserable and sad. They win usually, leaving me emotionally burnt out and desperate for silence. The love from my parents, my sister, my someone, my best friend and the support that I have had daily from the home treatment team, my exercise and the medication have definitely contributed to the last two tearless day’s. Long may they reign! Only, there are a lot of hours in just one day and it takes but a moment for me to relapse. I am usually up and down like a yoyo but it really is nice to have not cried. Thank you people, thank you universe and all things powerful, thank you.

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