Monday, 6 August 2012

How I helped myself

Bit of perspective needed:
I'd spent the year in hospital on a Section 3 and had now spent 2 months on my third Section 3 in the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Unit.  It was a couple of weeks before Christmas and the Psychiatrist at the Unit told me that if things didn't improve for me, I would probably be sent back to hospital and potentially the locked ward after Christmas.  My self-destructive attitude was fighting this and refusing to believe him and essentially not doing anything to help myself.

I can remember the turning point.  I was sat in my room and bored to the teeth.  I was fed up of being alone in my room and only being allowed to see my family three times a week.  I didn't want to go home overnight because I was scared of something bad happening so hadn't spent a night at home for the whole 14 months up to that point.  With Christmas only a couple of weeks away, I was facing up to the prospect of another lonely Christmas night and suddenly thought "I want to go home."

Up to this point, I hadn't been helping myself.  I wasn't 100% co-operative with staff, not engaging properly in activities and I wasn't being completely open in my psychology sessions.  But here I was, alone in my room facing up to a lonely Christmas night.  I couldn't just 'pull myself together'.  I couldn't stop the voices myself.  I couldn't wave a magic wand and everything in my life would become perfect.  But I could do little things to help myself.

I came up with a plan.  I decided to surprise my family and ask for overnight leave over Christmas.  Realising that my bedroom might not be habitable for overnight use, I quickly changed the plan to telling my Mum about the leave and getting her to discreetly prepare my bedroom.  I cheekily asked for 3 nights leave from the 24th to the 27th December and expected to get 48 hours maximum.  I was shocked when the Section 17 leave form came through - I got the three nights, plus two nights over New Years!!

My Mum is excellent at keeping secrets.  I'm the opposite!  Keeping the secret from my Dad and my sister was so difficult but seeing their reactions when I told them I didn't have to go back that night and didn't have to go back until the 27th was priceless.  My sister screamed with joy (literally!) and grabbed hold of me in a massive hug, and then we promptly fell over the arm of the sofa on top of the Christmas presents I'd just wrapped.  Nobody cared about squashed Christmas presents and as they weren't fragile I wasn't particularly bothered either!  We had an amazing Christmas that year and I spent Christmas Eve Night at home in my own bed for the first time in exactly 15 months.

That first night at home was the first time I had spent a night without hearing 2 nocturnal voices.  These were voices that I only heard at night - no idea why - and were more annoying than upsetting.  I haven't heard these voices since and from that night onwards, I went back to hearing just the one 'dominant' voice.  After Christmas, I started engaging in activities and psychology, and was a lot more co-operative with the staff.  The Psychology sessions got to the route of my voices and helped me extinguish the dominant voice that had plagued me for over 4 years.

3 months after my turning point, I was discharged from the Unit, 4 weeks after being discharged from my Section.  I had spent 5 months in the Unit which saw most patients spending at least a year inside.  The dominant voice has been silent for over a year now and all my positive symptoms are still in remission.  (For those unsure of what I mean by positive symptoms this link provides a brief description: )

So my life and illness improved dramatically because I started helping myself.  My recovery is quite rare though, to recover that quickly doesn't happen often so don't think that a few months after starting to help yourself you'll be in remission.  But without helping yourself, you have very little chance of starting the path to recovery.  If I hadn't started helping myself, I could still be in hospital on that Section, alone in my room.  Or worse.

The moral of my (true) story:  Don't sit around feeling negative and not doing anything to help yourself.  Helping yourself can be done in the smallest of ways.  It can be as simple as stopping writing negative thoughts down and starting writing down positive thoughts.  Positive thoughts may be few and far between, but keep a diary of positive thoughts and go over and read them when feeling bad.  Keep the diary for purely positive thoughts.  If you need to write negative thoughts and feelings down, use a separate diary/notebook.  Treating yourself to something no matter how small and refusing to allow yourself to feel guilty for it can be another way of helping yourself.  But no matter how negative you feel, deep down you know there is something you can do to help yourself.  No matter how small.  And don't sit there, shaking your head at your computer screen saying that there's nothing you can do to help yourself.  There is something.  It may take a bit of thinking about, but you will think of something.  Anything.  No matter how small.  And if you genuinely can't think of anything, join a support forum.  They'll be able to help you come up with something.

The best way of recovering from Mental Illness is to help yourself start to recover.  A positive attitude helps so much and I can't emphasise this enough.  You may have to force the positivity, but fight hard to get it.  A positive attitude is worth its weight in gold but unfortunately can't be bought.  You have to work for it.

Stay positive and keep fighting.  Happiness is within your reach!!


  1. Hi Kit Kat. This is really good stuff! I am so pleased you are keeping the blog going, plus Twittering and You-Tubing - you will do a lot of good for a lot of people. Must go now - my youngest is waiting to play cars - but I am going to look up the You Tube video and catch up with all the posts I have missed on here as soon as everyone is in bed this evening. Well done!

    Louise x

    1. Thanks for the comments, they are greatly welcomed!! Glad you were ok with me linking your blog and book on YouTube - I didn't think you'd mind!

      I'm enjoying this Twitter thing so far but need to take a break today. Migraine is rather painful!!

      Katy x

  2. Hi

    I watched your video last night - it is excellent. Congratulations! It inspired me actually - I asked Paul to help me make a video too, although I think mine will be just me talking about the book, or reading from it. Yours was really good, with the music and the slides. By the way, have you seen a video on there by Jonathon Benjamin? I think it's called Schizophrenia Recovery, or similar. He's on Twitter too, as @MrJonnyBenjamin. Great stuff.

    All the best, Louise x

    1. Thanks for watching and leaving feedback! But more importantly thank you for encouraging me to write about my experiences! The video was a sort of cop out as I couldn't stay motivated long enough to write it properly nor did I have the courage to read my hospital notebooks to write fully about my hospital experiences. Some of my nightmares are bad enough and the last thing I want to do is to find out they're true!
      Wanting desperately to blog but have no phone line for the 2nd day in a row. After nagging BT all day on Twitter they are hopefully going to fix it tomorrow! If I'd done what they'd done, Id get arrested!! But enough of that, I've been screaming at them all day!
      My phone signal is temperamental too so won't write anymore. Please Blogger let me post this!!!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Apologies for removing your comment Louise! I clicked the wrong button and can't find an undo button!

      Just to be clear to anyone seeing this, the comment that I accidentally removed was not offensive or wrong in any way, I just clicked the wrong button and can't undo it!