As someone who wants to work in mental health I should be a person who stands up against the stigma and discrimination that people with mental health problems are subjected to.
I've even been subjected to stigma myself. The worst was actually by someone in the mental health nursing profession (This is the main incident in which I am referring to - in which the complaint went my way and he was disciplined). Yet, even though I am really against stigmatising people with a mental health condition or discriminating against them. I won't talk or be open about my own mental health problems.
There has been quite a few things in the press recently which would serve to increase the stigma that people with mental health conditions are subjected to. Namely the TESCO/ASDA/Amazon mental patient costume (BBC News article), the Sun news paper's head line (Re-blog of Masked AMHP's piece on it) and today I have seen that Thorpe Park are having an Asylum Themed Halloween event (Purple Persuasion's Letter to Thorpe Park). Well, I am a "mental patient". I have spent much time in hospital. One admission lasting nearly a year with the majority of this being spent on a PICU because I was deemed such a high risk to myself that I needed this level of care and that I was so unwell I warranted it. But as bad as it is. I am not willing to stand up publicly and tell people about my MH problems.
I am very private when it comes to my mental health. I hide behind a pseudo name, I have a pseudo name Facebook account and none of my friends or family have access to this blog. A couple do know I write and I have been asked if they could read it but it was a no and it always will be. I think that privacy comes in in all different areas of my life as well. I don't want people knowing my business. OK, weird I know. I write a blog and bare all. But, only two people who read this know who I actually am. They are both people I know through blogging and have felt I have had enough communication with them that I can trust them enough to revel the real me to them. I have met up with one of the people (we did kind of actually know each other before but knew each other more from reading each others blogs and we then figured out we kind of knew each other...bit weird - Hi La Reve). But no, I am very reserved about it and wouldn't want people who know me to have access to this. I think it would be very distressing for them to read at times with the thoughts I have and the feelings I have at times. The less they know the better. I do have worries about even having these 2 people knowing who I actually am and contacting either my family or someone in my team as it wouldn't exactly be hard to track someone down.
One thing I have noticed recently is the amount of people on Facebook that bare all. I wouldn't want my brother's friend's wife, a cousin's friend, someone I haven't seen since primary school knowing I was in hospital, in crisis etc. I wouldn't want these people knowing I spent such a long time in hospital etc etc etc. OK, it could be argued why I have people as friends who I am not particularly close to, but these are people I do associate with quite regularly or I care how they are doing and Facebook is a way to keep in contact with them even if I am not seeing them very often. I wouldn't be posting on there about how the hallucinations are getting to me, that the urges to SH are strong, that I have not got out of bed that day etc etc etc. I do feel that some things should remain private. I don't want my ex work colleagues to know what is going on with me.
Why is that? Is it because I am ashamed? Possibly. But there is part of me that believes that there are some things that people just don't need to know. I think if I had a physical illness I would probably be the same. Ok, so I do moan when I have a cold or cough, if I haven't slept because of the neighbours, if I feel generally unwell. But you wouldn't get me posting about something serious. I don't like to draw attention to my self. I don't like being the centre of attention. I am not saying that is why there are people that do this. But, for me it would draw a lot of attention and it's not what I want. I want to be the wall flower not getting much notice. I think this is one of the reasons I don't want to go to this meeting about me. My CPN said it's on the 31st and I could go if I wanted and she would encourage it. But, no, I'm not going.
(On the note of my CPN, I called her this morning about the medication issue. I said I didn't get why I was on such a low dose and that I didn't think it would be doing anything because it was a pathetic dose. That combined with that the contraceptive pill makes it less effective would mean that I am taking nothing more than a sweetener pill. She said she would speak to Dr T about it at that meeting on the 31st, but, she didn't think he would change is view point as he doesn't like prescribing medication and he feels in my case it is not helpful and that he is only doing it because I have said it is helpful. I don't know on this one. Maybe it's that part of me that wants to take the ownership away from me and can have an outside blame if I am taking medication. That I can say that well I'm on medication so it must be something that is beyond my control if I need medication. I do know when I was on Quetiapine and Depakote things were better for me. Well, I know I took the massive OD in April that nearly killed me, but I think I was more stable on it. Who knows. Maybe it's just my own opinion. And we all know that matters fuck all! Anyway...)
If I can't be honest and open about my own problems, how do I expect the stigma around mental health to reduce when I keep mine all hush hush like a guilty secret. It's not going to change is it when I won't speak out about it. I posted something accidentally the other day on my personal facebook about mental health. It was up less than a minute but I was really worrying about who would have seen it. I was worried because a few posts of mine recently have been MH related in terms of stigma that people receive. That people would think "she must have MH problems" and then I was worried that people would think badly of me. I got quite paranoid about it.
I will stand here and admit that I do not help the stigma. Yet, I am against it. It's contradictory isn't it? But, I am not willing to change the way that I am about my own health. I will stand up for others and I do get very annoyed by the stigma that people receive when the Sun runs with headlines such as 1200 people killed by mental patients. I'm a "mental patient" therefore I have this underlying deep urge to run out and stab someone in the neck numerous times.
Perhaps some of this comes from my schemas of unrelenting standards and failure where shame plays a big part. Maybe it's something I need to focus on through the SFT. I think first though I need to have it out with G about what was said on Tuesday and tell him I was pissed off after the session. I am glad we are having this week off as I think if I had to go back Tuesday I would have cancelled the appointment due to "illness". Ooooo...how insightful of me.