Facing A Mental Illness, A Personal Experience

walk-in-my-shoes

 

Over the past few months I have had to face the reality of a mental illness;
An illness I never thought I would have to confront but yet out of the blue I was struck down
with depression and stress. I have now ended up in this hospital to hopefully get well again.

When I decided to get help I told my family not to say anything about where I was or what was wrong with me for fear of the stigma which is applied to mental illness by members of the population who draw un-knowledgeable conclusions, I was one of that population, that made those assumptions. That is, until I came in here and saw the real problems that people who suffer from a mental illness have to face in their daily lives and it does not make healthy viewing. In fact it is horrific, hence, the picture / slogan ‘walk in my shoes’ because until you have walked in those shoes you will never understand the turmoil that people and families actually endure when a loved one has a mental illness. I know I didn’t and that is the reason I am writing this as I hope to bring some little understanding of the problem. So, over the next few weeks I hope to write a few words about my experience and the various treatments I receive while I recover from my own event/ illness.

When I arrived into hospital the first thing that struck me was the quietness and the welcome offered to me by the nursing staff  as they showed me to my bed in a four bed ward. As I settled into the ward one of things that shook me was the number of young people from their late teens and early twenties who were in my ward and the other wards and private rooms around me, these were not the type of people anyone would expect to meet in St Patrick’s as they are in most cases from good and caring homes who are upper working to middle class where health insurance would be the norm but where depression would be the exception ( that would be my perception ).

After a few days as I settled in and over a cup of tea got to speak to my fellow patients. I was to discover that these young people were all 3rd level students who are in their 1st or 2nd year of their courses at university and are in most cases plagued by the fear of failure which has led to serious bouts of depression leading to loss of confidence and self- esteem and in some cases drugs and suicidal thoughts, not at all what I expected!!!! 

What I did expect were people in their late 30’s + who might have an ongoing illness or following the banking crisis, financial problems or marriage breakup and yes there are people here suffering depression as a result of all of the above but not nearly as many as the young people and I have to say it came as major shock. 

Once I got over the shock of my first few days and following meeting my doctor and his team I learned about my illness and realised that I was suffering from an illness just like any other. But this time it was an illness of the mind which was brought on by life experience and early retirement at the age of 52 following major surgery in 2004 and last being in 2015.

Over the years this led to feelings of uselessness, loss of self worth, and of being a burden on my family which in turn led to a deep depression.

I am now here 3 weeks and entering my 4th week , during this time I have got my own private room with its own bathroom which allows a tremendous amount freedom and privacy as the doctors assessed my progress and continue to  administer my medication to correct the chemical balance in my brain. I have also attended several workshops which have helped me to fully understand and come to terms with my illness. These workshops would include The Depression Recovery Service, which is a program of talks and lectures given by specially trained therapists in a group setting. This program lasts 3 weeks and has 8 sessions/lectures a week and is something I found really helpful and beneficial towards my ongoing recovery as I recover my confidence and self worth. The biggest part of this is the ability to share my story with others as well as listening to their stories and the reasons for their illnesses. It also explains in ordinary language the causes of depression and how the two parts of the brain communicate with each other, how to watch for triggers which may set off an episode of mild depression and if not treated could lead to a more serious bout of depression so that when I leave this hospital I will have the tools to look after my mental health.

The other treatment I will receive whilst I am here will be a course called:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

This is a therapy which helps people overcome negative thoughts  and turn them into positives.

This therapy helps people who have serious difficulties with the past which may have been caused by a trauma or serious illness or even post traumatic stress disorder as it bores down into the possible reasons for your depression.

Up to the end of this week and 6 weeks of hospitalisation, I have now had 3 sessions of ( CBT  )  during which, in conjunction with The Depression Recovery Service, has given me a real deep insight into what caused my severe depression  but more important it has given me the tools on how to deal with it should it ever happen again

I have a further 3 weeks to go when my treatment will be completed and I return to living my life to the full, where I will be able understand the connections between physical health and mental health and to face  these challenges with the knowledge and confidence that yes I can, at 69 years of age still be of service and help to my family and community.

After ten weeks in hospital  (June – September I am 4 months at home, but I continue to receive treatment and support as an out patient as I find my way through the WRAP program and receive ongoing support from Aware.ie

That is why I will continue  to ask people, do not judge people who have suffered a severe depression,/ mental illness, who have lost their self-worth,and their self esteem and who in many cases have lost their  will to live   

SO I ASK YOU,

DO NOT JUDGE, DO NOT STIGMATISE,  

AS ONE DAY YOU OR A LOVED ONE  MAY HAVE TO  WALK IN OUR SHOES  

{In conclusion I wish to thank the nursing staff the doctors the therapist’s and all the staff at Saint Patrick’s University hospital Dublin for their care in my recovery }

 

 

 

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