A MESSAGE OF HOPE

 

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As some might already know, I have just come through a 10 week stay in St Patrick’s Hospital for mental health  Dublin,

Since I was discharged six weeks ago and arrived home it has given me the opportunity to look back at the most life changing event of my 68 years

For almost a year unknown to myself I was losing my own self esteem, self worth and confidence, and entered into a deep depression which was brought on by a long period of illness and chronic pain which all started way back in 1992 and continued right up to 2017 in which time I had 7 surgeries including for cancer , a heart bypass , the inserting of 7 stents over time to my heart arteries  and the removal of  part of the right lung, all of these where a trauma to my health system and body , but what I never considered was the damage all this was doing to my mental health, that was until the the 22nd of June 2017 when  I entered into my GPs surgery  an emotional and physical wreck, lost, without energy, crying, and a distressed shaking,  broken man. 

I had unknown to myself hit the wall of severe depression and post traumatic stress disorder.(PTSD) by the 2nd of July 2017  I was walking through the threshold of St Patricks  Hospital for Mental Health being supported by my wife  Catherine and daughter Niamh

LOVE

As I walked through the doors I was unaware of what I might meet or come in contact with but I was soon put at ease as I met my medical team who explained what was to happen next, but it hardly mattered as I was just glad to be somewhere safe and where my road out of this deep darkness would begin.

After my admission process was finished I was brought to my ward         ( Kilroot ) which I found to be a coincidence as I muttered to myself  “The last place I saw that name was away back in the early 1960s as my two older brothers where engineers at the ICI plant there outside Carrickfergus County Antrim and it did not have good memories as they where driven from their jobs as they where Catholics working in a totally Protestant area. Thankfully that was not to be repeated in this Kilroot !!

As I entered the ward a nurse meet me linked my arm and showed me to my bed  in a four bed unit and said to me ” Don’t worry Philip we are here to help you get well ” that was the best news I had heard in a long time and my wife Catherine was so relived by that statement she was able to go home knowing I was in the right place.That I would receive the unconditional care and love of a dedicated group  of people who knew my Illness and what needed to be done to help get me well,

I spent the first three weeks of the ten in that ward as the medications took effect in slowing my brain from being a racing maze  to a more normal or what they would describe as manageable which would  enable me to take part in other program’s that will  contribute to my recovery

BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I FOUND IN THOSE EARLY DAYS AND THE DAYS AND WEEKS TO FOLLOW WAS THE LOVE SHOWN TO ME BY ALL THE STAFF FROM THE DOCTORS, THE NURSES, TO THE CLEANING AND THE DINING ROOM STAFF BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT WAS THE SUPPORT GIVEN TO ME BY MY FELLOW PATIENTS  OF ALL AGES  FROM THEIR EARLY TWENTIES TO SIXTIES ALL SUFFERING FROM SOME TYPE OFF MENTAL ILLNESS BUT MOSTLY FROM ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION IT WAS DURING THIS TIME THAT THIS LOVE WAS TO SPUR ME ON WITH MY RECOVERY

HOPE 

Some wise man once said    “From love grows hope ”  and yes in my experience that is true.

As I moved from my four bed unit to my own private room I could see the broad smiles of my nurses in recognition that I was now on my way to a full recovery , as I can now take part in the many recovery lecturers and workshops I was to take part  in the following seven weeks  but the glory of having my own room where I could go in, close the door to think / meditate , listen to music of the Buddha chants, ( which I found helped me to relax and sleep and still do !! ). once again my hopes for a recovery where to rise as my confidence was to improve as the negative thoughts where slowly leaving my mind.

My next step was to attend the various morning lectures which where given by the  doctors  and the  therapist who are specialist in their given field of mental health recovery  from which I was to learn so much about my illness, and how it was to effect my everyday life.but most important, how with the tools I was to be given I could / would / do, manage my illness into a full recovery.

It was after the first week of morning lectures that I was to enter into my three week course of workshops for acute depression which consisted off four two hour meetings per week, in groups of ten people , these workshops brought together all ages and genders but who had one thing in  common depression and looking/hoping  for a road out of this darkness that had engulfed our lives.

It was by attending these  therapy lectures and workshops that I first saw that twinkle off light ( and no it wasn’t the train in the tunnel !!! ) but what it was , was the twinkle of hope and not despair and the feeling of that workshop was as we all looked across the room, every on of us  where there for all kinds of different reasons but we all had one thing in common  { acute depression } and looking for help, that rope that will take us out of that deep and dark hole that we find ourselves in, giving us the Hope and  help we need  that will bring our lives back together  

It was at this stage that I was get to meet people in my own age group  ( 60+) some where male but the majority where female and all were widows /widowers who lived alone as their husbands / partners had recently died /passed on, this loss was / is compounded by the fact that in nearly all cases their children where  after  their education finishing were forced into emigration  to the four corners off the world,  to get a job and build their lives

 As they did not blame their loss on their children, but on banks and government ,  they will all solider on, as they hope  for change, hoping to see their family reunited in the land off their birth, where  they will once again see that twinkle in their eyes hear the laughter and the happy  glow that only a mother can see  and a love  that only  a mother can feel 

 

Laughter 

After two years without any laughter being in my life I had to  end up in a hospital for mental illness before I was to rediscover what it was like to have a real belly laugh 

It all began as I with other patients where sitting around  in the lounge  after  our night tea and biscuits as we chatted about  the events off the day.

There I was looking around at all these people , all like myself  drugged up before bed time and watching television when  a man  stood up and did the funny walk  of Basil Fawlty  as we all burst out laughing  and it was to get worse as we all passed comments  like ( Jesus we had to come here to get a laugh !!!!  or as we shake around the place telling people your all mad but I am alright !!!! ) 

This  outrageous behaviour and worse  was to continue right up  until my discharge !! but on a serious note  what it really was , it was the release of lots of tensions and bad emotions that  gathered up throughout the day, but we all went to bed drugged up with laughter and hoping for a better day tomorrow 

The most satisfaction day’s I had where days when I saw patients who I had  met leaving the hospital smiling and laughing looking into a new beginning in life with

 

            LOVE,  HOPE,

              AND  LAUGHTER