Mental health is now often talked about and the level of understanding is increasing by the year. Thankfully.
There is one final frontier to tackle though… the stigma of being sectioned. I know this as I was sectioned last year and I saw a level of fear in people’s eyes a good few times. They were unable to absorb the severity of my illness and to ‘normalise’ it in their minds. Hospitalisation is still a scary possibility for most people, mainly because it still has an image featuring strait jackets and padded cells. Please watch ‘Losing It: Our Mental Health Emergency’ on Channel 4 for a more realistic picture.
I know this because I was sectioned last year, twice, suffering psychosis. Suddenly, I found myself in a secure ward and my freedom was restricted. I wasn’t allowed out for two weeks, I was observed all the time and my driving licence was suspended. Freedoms most people take for granted were revoked and I was left in a state of shock.
I heard from one of the medical team that one of the local mental institutions had a tunnel for visitors to see relatives that started from a local park. It was a way they could visit without being seen as it was seen as a shameful thing. To be honest, I’m not sure this feeling has changed much as yet. I sense that many people felt at least awkward that a relative or friend had been admitted…
I hope this feeling will change as time and understanding moves on. I think there needs to be more exposure of the real mental health experience, the causes and treatments available, to help reduce any sense of shame. It has taken me six months to post this, whereas it took 8 years for me to disclose my previous period of illness. I figure this shortened timeframe is progress in itself.
I refuse to feel ashamed.
I’m well now with the right drugs and support, and am setting up my own business to influence social change. I wish anyone currently struggling, whether in or out of hospital, all the best. There is light at the end of the tunnel, sometimes it’s just hard to see 😁.
Love Ruth x
Photo by my gorgeous daughter, Nadia.