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Archive for April 11th, 2014

C blind dogYesterday I posted a link to the recent BBC piece that quoted evidence that cuts to Mental Health services are a false economy that brings more costs, both human and financial, in its train. When I commented on her FB share of the BBC link my friend, Louise, responded by explaining why she thought MH cuts persist:

As long as the stigma remains I expect. Mental health problems are still hushed up, or ignored or seen as the person’s fault in some way. Many times people would come for an interview as a volunteer, or worker in projects I was involved in and say they, or some one close to them, had had depression ‘but that’s not really a mental illness is it?’ !!

I then remembered a blog article posted recently by someone I know well (below is an extract: for the full post see the link). It is an eloquent explanation of what it can sometimes feel like to struggle with a mental health problem, in the context of other major challenges, and how society’s attitudes compound the problem. The writer is a courageous, compassionate and deeply insightful person, with a keen sense of humour, and if she is struggling to this extent, it is hard to imagine how difficult it must be for people with fewer resources. I was so concerned when I read her post that I phoned and was very relieved to learn she is basically OK.

Why is it that whilst some people are fighting to extend their lives, I am seeking to shorten mine? Why did I fight so desperately and pray so hard when I had cancer? I didn’t want to die then. I wanted to live. So why has my life value changed? Is it a trick the devil is playing on my mind? What do I really want? Right now I am so close to killing myself. That all-too-familiar feeling of a sinking heart, dark hole, bleak outlook, despair – all congealed into an emotional hell which swallows up your body, mind and soul. So familiar, yet so hard to fight. The conflict is painful in itself. Should I live or should I die? It’s like being torn in two by greedy birds of prey.

I’m trying to tell myself that this is my illness talking, not me.  I am the person who fought off cancer, who has survived more than 40 operations, who has overcome sight loss, bereavement, rape and so much more.  So it doesn’t make any sense to want to die now when there are no such crises.  If only it was so neat and logical.  This illness takes away my reasoning.  My perspective shifts and I lose hold of the future I want to live for.  In fact the illness dilutes my world into nothing and emptiness.  It steals my feelings, kills off my plans, destroys my basic instincts for survival.  And finally it tricks me into thinking that this is what I genuinely want.  Death – so easy, so final.  Death is taking up so much of my head at the moment, and all this sensible stuff on paper is utterly meaningless.  I cannot find the true me in all of this.  I am standing on that proverbial cliff ready to jump.  Yet obviously I still have a desire to survive because I want to understand what is going on in my head.  I could have died earlier today.  Why didn’t I?  So am I in effect winning the battle even though I feel I am losing it?  Again, I cannot follow the logic.  When thoughts and feelings become blurred and memories and hopes peel off and flake into the forefront of my thinking – how can I know?  And this is why I hold on.  I hold onto that uncertainty, unsure whether it will flutter away and take me with it or land on the ground and take root.  I literally hold on to Dash my guide dog – Dash, who is physical and strong and lives for the moment.  And now my two lovely cats Hagrid and Cleopatra – they too live for the moment.

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