I woke up about 45 – 50 minutes ago, with the words , reflections & connections vibrating in my head, related very much to how I spent my day yesterday. I had no intention of writing this post or the content, here and now, I won’t say it’s not something I would not have written about in the future in a different way or format or perhaps just in a diary, and perhaps its as my dad said , cart before horse material, but on the other hand , my mum used to tell me follow your intuition and my mum, was the wisest woman I have ever known, my guardian, my angel.
Frankly I don’t care if you believe what I am about to write or not, it’s very personal , highly charged with emotion and I share it only because of those vibrating words, reflections & connections, because its relevant to The Hethen Project, which is about raising awareness of mental health issues, and indeed the disparity in the difference of how mental health patients and physical health patients are treated. Furthermore, its related to the birth of the Hethen project, and previous posts that go back to 2009/10 when these pages were called justice uk style , and relate to violations of my human rights , which coincidently will see their 8th anniversary in the next few days, and which are probably why I have been on an emotional roller coaster of triggers to what I suggest is PTSD, for the last couple of months & coupled with other personal triggers related to mental health /illness within my family unit, all of course which will be discussed in my autobiography A girl from Glasgow, posts which are still here on the site, just posted privately ,for now , while I put things in order and edit A girl from Glasgow, which I hope to publish in order to fund the Hethen Project strategy. …. all of which are I believe related to my random, unplanned journey yesterday, which I don’t care if you believe or not, some of what I am about to say can be supported by evidence, some can’t , and these that can’t I can’t explain, and all I suggest you can do in that respect, is analyse what I say, and reach your own conclusion as to what possible benefit there is in it for me in lying about it, including the consequences for me of the stigma attached to my assertions. remembering that this is my truth, and I don’t give a fuck if you believe me or not.
So, here we go, sit back and come with me on my random journey….where you get to decide if its truth or the workings of my creative imagination.
Yesterday morning I woke around 7.30ish maybe a little before or a little later , but I’ve been regulating my sleep pattern as mentioned in an earlier post, and that even coupled with a bit of an emotional roller coaster this past week, I’ve been off the cigarettes since I went to the chemist and got pissed off over the patches issue, iv just been using the wee plastic stick thing, and even then I’ve only been changing the capsule about every 3_ 4 days (cos it’s mostly psychological after 3 days) when the nicotine I think is mostly gone, except what I’m using to substitute to deal with the cravings, the addiction. I had a brief couple of days relapse, about 5 day in, I was borderline manic, and thrwat with emotions, and tearful, but I been cigerette free since saturday, I know I’m not out the woods yet, but I’m confident. Anyway that’s by the bye. so, yesterday…
As I sat drinking my tea and munching a slice of toast, I looked out on my balcony and there was a wee robin red breast having breakfast, I took a picture, but its not very good because of the rain on the window panes, I was very emotional. I recently found out, only a few months ago, that robins remind my daughter of my mum, her gran, who passed away in 1997. So, yeah, My heartfelt tight, as we had breakfast, silently together in my mind.
Today I had to go to the doctors. It’s not something I like doing, I never have, since I was a child needles invariably made me faint, not because I was afraid of them, because in the beginning I didn’t know what they were, It was just something that happened when they stuck a needle in my arm or any other part of my body. I guess as I got older, the reason I fainted was psychological, a fear, not so much of the needle puncture, but of fainting itself, that moment of Alice tumbling down the hole, out of control of herself and her environment, resulting from the anxiety at the thought I would probably faint, which I was sometimes teased about , and I felt, embarrassed, and stupid about, in addition to it not being a very pleasant experiance. I don’t know if it was a case of phycological indicators, but it seems like a logical explanation, and fainting is something which I have learned to live with and manage better, by lying down while the blood is extracted, and drinking some water when the deed is completed. My mum told me the reason it happened was that I was super sensitive, which she claimed the family Doctor had told her. I can’t say it made me feel better, it didn’t, who wants to be super sensitive, it sounds so wimpy!.
Today I went to the doctors because I could put it off no longer. Which I have been doing because I know the NHS is under a lot of strain, I know the cost of an appointment and I don’t want to add to the burden, particularly since my emphysema is a result of my own stupid self harm and addiction. I don’t feel I should be entitled, because I have done this to myself , fact.
I went today because I have been in a lot of pain with my chest, neck and back, over the last couple of months and its been getting worse. Although I was pretty sure I had no chest infection, I have emphysema, which I know is my fault as a long time addict to smoking. Not something I’m proud of, fully aware it is self harm, and a major killer, that causes numerous deaths and costs the health service millions. I feel both guilty and hypocritical in regard of my addiction to nicotine, I have tried many times to end the addiction, and I’m ashamed I have failed to stop successfully to date, but I continue to try. I also felt unsure if my pain was a result of my other mental health conditions, as I have been unable to work out if my recent anxiety and manic mood was a result of my poor physical health impacting on my mental health or my poor mental health impacting on my physical health, so, I sought professional advice.
When I arrived early for my appointment, I popped into the chemist attached to the surgery where I inquired as to wither it would be possible to get some nicotine patches, as I had tried to stop smoking last November but had given up under the excuse that it was too close to christmas when I was more likely to be tempted, a feeble excuse, but I am an addict and a feeble excuse to an addict is better than no excuse I admit to my shame.
I had some patches left and have been using them this week, but as I was on the last one I asked if I could please be given some more now as it is advertised as a walk in service available at point of contact. I explained my circumstances to the pharmacist, my anxiety rising in the process, as I had to do this at the counter in ear shot of other service users, and discussing my mania and health conditions in this manner was not something I felt comfortable with , but needs must as they say.
The pharmacist explained that it was not their policy to do this, but that he could book me in tomorrow as they had a 24 hour policy and this was how their system worked, so I asked would I be able to get a perscription for them from the doctor as I was about to go to an appointment and he told me yes, the doctor could give me a 4 week supply on perscription, which for me was better because as a result of my mental health conditions I am not always able to push myself to leave the house and since I have been in so much pain and my mania is what it is, I cannot guarantee my ability to push myself when I am unwell whither as a result of the mental illness or the physical, and yes this upsets me, despite the fact that I believe for the most part I manage both my mental and physical health conditions without the use of pharmaceuticals for pain or my mental health conditions by and large for the most part , using alternative therapies like yoga, qui gong and meditation, but when things are really bad the alternative therapy routine can sometimes slip and I will go downhill, I know this which was why I was attending the doctor today to get some help and guidance.
When I went to my appointment I explained everything to the doctor in relation to why I was there and what had been said by the pharmacist.
The doctor examined me and confirmed that he could not find any evidence of a chest infection and said something about spasm which I didn’t really take in or understand.He told me to see the nurse for some blood test. He also agreed to my request for a short-term course of a class A drug, that I explained I had been prescribed in the past as a short term remedy to enable me to regulate my sleep pattern, which also acted as a muscle relaxant which had helped with the pain and meant I was able to then return to my alterative therapy routines which I use to manage my mental, physical and emotional health conditions. He also agreed to give me a perscription for the nicotine patches, but as I could not remember the brand he couldn’t so I’d have to come back for that once I got these details.
I left and made the appointment for the blood tests this afternoon, then returned to the pharmacist and told him the doctor had agreed to give me a perscription but I needed the name , which he gave me, and I asked if he could tell me if the nurse could prescribe them since I was seeing her in the afternoon and I thought this would help as I wouldn’t need to take up more of the doctors time as the surgery was very busy, as it always is. He told me she could and I felt relieved because, having not smoked for 3 days I didn’t want to find myself anxious tonight over not having patches tomorrow should I feel a craving, particularly as my mania is as it is presently and my control over it at this time is weak.
So, I returned this afternoon for the blood test and once again went through the patches story with the nurse, as I took off my jacket and prepared for the needle, my anxiety levels already high, I also asked was it ok to lie down explaining the whys of this too, before she took the blood that would fill the 1/2 dozen tubes she had prepared on her desk.
“I cannae dae that, I just dae bloods” was her curt reply.
I got on the plinth, and lay down, and as the tears began to fall, not with pain, but with anxiety , I said quietly,” guess I’ll just have to fucking smoke then and to hell with the consequences ay?” she didn’t reply.
When she was finished and I had composed myself getting up from the plinth, I asked if I could I please have a cup of water, she replied to me by indicating with her head to a dirty mug on the work surface, “that mugs manky, ye’ll have to stick yer heid under the tap” which I did with little grace, or dignity and then I thanked her and left.
I collected my prescription for the drugs from the pharmacy, a 10 day course which I have little doubt, is more than enough to help me regulate my sleep pattern allowing me to return to my normal alternative therapies routine with which I manage my health conditions.
Making my way down to the main street, to where I knew there was another chemist, where I hoped if I explained my nicotine patch dilemma, I might find a more understanding pharmacist who might be willing to help, I felt embarrassed, because I couldn’t stop the tears running down my upset, anxious and frankly, bewildered face, but unfortunately as I opened the door to enter the chemest shop, I noticed it was the same pharmasist as I had seen at the surgery earlier and thought that they probably had the same absurd policy, so I quickly turned and walked back out again.
It wasn’t till I got home that I remembered that I could easily have just purchased the patches over the counter, and I wonder why the pharmacist didn’t think to advise that this was also an option, I’m not sure why, and can’t help but wonder if my rough and untidy appearance today coupled with my mental health conditions, and indeed the class A drug perscription led him to make assumptions that I wouldn’t be willing or able to afford this, but that’s me being judgemental and making assumptions, which I hate myself for, but can’t help doing in this situation. A situation which to me, only stands to consolidate the absurdity of the policy in regard of my nicotine patch dilemma.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”
This showed up once again on my twitter feed the other night, and the same usual surge of agitation, that I have felt every other time it appears on my timeline surged through me. You see, for me, that quote is a trigger to several issues, relevant, but not essential to this post.
So I replied thus, I totally disagree, but it is impossible 2 explain why in 140 characters and cite supporting evidence which i cud do.”
For the rest of the evening it troubled me, and I felt compelled to write this blog, but last night wasnt the time, it was late and I was tired, but I felt I had to support my statement.
Of course I didn’t have to do anything, no one was forcing me, I had no legal obligation to elaborate on my opinion, it was twitter, none the less I tweeted,
“feelings r emotions often illogical & based on learned believes, not consented, but feelings can be proven wrong >
then replied to my own tweet cos I didn’t have enough characters with
” and we can overcome any emotion or learned believe or behavior that is illogical or false with the correct support.”
I felt a little better after tweeting these two tweets, I had not supported my argument as I had said I could, however I felt I had clearly explained my logic, perhaps not in one 140 character tweet but in 2, and surely that wasn’t bad!.
I had a bad nights sleep, waking often, thoughts that had been triggered impacting on my mind.
I still wasn’t happy so I set myself the task that today I would write this post to elaborate and cite supporting evidence to my claim.
Why? , because the topic is important to me. My trigger had been pulled, I needed to do something positive to manage my emotions, my feelings, in a logical manner, and to back up my assertions from a mental health perspective, as that is important to me.
I will try to keep this short, by breaking it down, which is how I apply logic.
So, there are four words I believe are relevant to my argument, make, feel , inferior, consent.
Lets look at the definitions .
Make = verb 1. form (something) by putting parts together or combining substances; create.
synonyms: construct, build, assemble, put together, manufacture, produce, fabricate, create, form, fashion, model, mould, shape, forge, bring into existence
2. cause (something) to exist or come about; bring about.
Feel = verb
1.be aware of (a person or object) through touching or being touched.
“she felt someone touch her shoulder”
synonyms: perceive, sense, detect, discern, make out, notice, observe, identify; More
2. experience (an emotion or sensation).
“I felt a sense of excitement”
synonyms: experience, undergo, go through, bear, endure, suffer, be forced to contend with;
1. an act of touching something to examine it.
2. a sensation given by an object or material when touched.
synonyms: texture, surface, finish, grain, nap;
Inferior = adjective 1. lower in rank, status, or quality.
synonyms: lower in status, lesser, second-class, second-fiddle, minor, subservient, lowly, humble, menial, not very important, not so important, below someone, beneath someone, under someone’s heel;
1. a person lower than another in rank, status, or ability.
“her social and intellectual inferiors”
synonyms: subordinate, junior, underling, minion, menial;
Consent = noun 1. permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.
“no change may be made without the consent of all the partners”
synonyms agreement, assent, concurrence, accord;
verb 1. give permission for something to happen.
“he consented to a search by a detective”
synonyms: agree to, assent to, allow, give permission for, sanction, accept, approve, acquiesce in, go along with, accede to, concede to, yield to, give in to, submit to, comply with, abide by, concur with, conform to
“all the patients consented to surgery”
Now that we have clear definition of the words, I will explain why I believe it to be wrong.
“Language is an ever-changing minefield, and alerts us to the power it has to buoy us up or pull us down, inflict pain or to encourage, to influence positively or negativily, to enhance self-esteem or sabotage self-confidence or to manipulate or to understand”. Lago, C. (1997).
So, let me now ask this question,
Does the abused child, who is groomed by an adult, give consent to his or her abuser? or are they made, moulded, forced by the abuser to participate or concent under duress or through ignorance, via the grooming process, based on emotions and feeling , such as fear of punishment, retribution, or promise of reward, be that the promise or even sense of (feeling) love, acceptance, affection or even absence of punishment. Baring in mind, children are generally taught that adults know better, are their superiors and as such have authority and power over them, and therefore should or must be obeyed.
Alternatively, may I suggest, the domestic abuse victim, whose life and confidence is sabotaged by verbal, & or emotional, and or physical and or financial abuse, who could be more intelligent, able and capable than their abuser, does not consent to their abuse, but becomes a victim of the treatment, and langauge used against them, for the purpose of control, which will invariably happen over time, reducing their self believe and self-awareness, until they come to feel or beleive themself inferior , not by consent , but by the treatment, and use of language, used against them.
And is that not a practice, tried and proven to be effective in the torture chambers of government’s around the globe over decades, nae centuries?
I could go on and offer more suggestions to support my argument that Elinor Roosevelt was wrong when she said
” No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”
but I believe these two examples are adequate to support my argument and shall end this blog with further reading suggestions .
Before I finnish this post, I would like to suggest that as suggested by Hutton, W.(2001) and explained by Thompson (1998)
“Communication is paramount in care delivery where the biggest cause of inadequacy is often a result in political correctness gone mad, causing major inadequacies and discrimination in our ability to communicate.”
and that perhaps the onus is on the care professional / service provider ,to be mindful of their own use of language and communication skills when writing reports in relation to services users.
In an age where service users have a right to access personal data held on them under data protection legislation, health professionals should remain mindful of how their langage & reporting skill could affect service users.
I believe langage provides a bountaful harvest of words that can allow even the most negative facts to be delivered with compassionate words that minimises risk of harm, in most if not all circumstances, if we are attentive to all evidence and facts, and don’t make assumptions without checking detail.
Finally, I wish to give the last word to Elinor Roosevelt, on something which I very much agree on, who said
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”
Lago,C. and Smith, B.(2003) Anti-discriminatory counseling practice. London; Sage publications
Maslow (1908-1979) and Rogers (1902-1987).Anti-discriminatory practice in counselling (2001)
Mcllveen,R. and Gross, R. (1998)
Last night sometime after 10pm, I shared something on facebook with friends, that I hadn’t really intended to write let alone share here, however I realise that its relevant to what I last posted and serves as supporting evidence for the agenda of, not only, The unconventional thesis of a woman from Glasgow, but to demonstrate the therapeutic benefits of arts and alternative therapies, in the treatment of mental health patients, not only with depression but that come under the umbrella of mental & indeed social health conditions or illness via the case study as will be demonstrated in my book A girl from Glasgow, and indeed posts relating to The unconventional Thesis of a woman from Glasgow, which will I hope become clear in future posts.
So, here is what I posted.
This week I saw a post on FB asking, did you consider your vocal or written word better for expressing yourself, it’s a topic close to my heart, a topic that has caused me both joy and sorrow, and indeed, destress, on a number of levels.
So, tonight the news comes on, and I pause, take a deep breath…. and internalise my thots, pick up my computor and begin to type, when what I really want to do is scream at the tv, something I have been documented negetevly for doing in the past, and heres why; ( not why I’v been documented negetivly for doing in the past oviously , but why I wanted to scream at the tv!) without expletives which have been replaced with #.
“I am absolutly #ing appalled at the #ing audasity of the dispicable # spreading #, #ing Teresa May’s comments reported on the news regarding A&E crisis. How dare that # face # blame the heroic proffessionals of the NHS, who are doing the #ing best they can dispite the #ing caos caused by the #ing tory government and their Blairte preessessors. These # wits have been carving up the NHS for 3 #ing decades., trying to privatise and #ing sell it off to their #ing cronies.
The present #ing health secetary, the un #ing honerable #ing Jeremy Hunt , the #, who couldn’t flog jam to the Japanes, who has no #ing qualifications in health or #ing socialcare, who ponces about with a #ing face like a slapped arse,who has repeatedly ignored the #ing warning signs, not to mention, the #ing verbal and written warnings of #ing health proffessionals, #ing social care proffessionals, #ing doctors, consultants, nurses, care assistants, accademics, pacient advocate groups and uncle #ing tom cobbley and #ing all. What does the #ing P #ing M do she blames the people, that keep the #ing country on its sore # blistard feet.!!
Yes it appears that, the #ing esteemed smugfaced #ing #,aka Mrs May, appears to e oblivious to the #ing fact that this nations economy is dependent on the smooth running of the #ing NHS, the #ing angelic #ing workers, who look after every #ing one of us. While it is her #ing party’s #ing austerity cuts to funding, bugets and #ing services that is to blame.
I may only #ing know little, but I have studied social #ing health & social#policy. and you can #ing beleive me , this #ing government is on a #ing mission to dismantal the #ing NHS, and if we don’t stop them, we’re all #ed.
So, rant over, I shall now go sit on the floor, quiety, meditate and omm, on the matter, of which salution to the original question I do better at, and which is theraputically more benefitial to my stress and anxciety levels.
And perhaps thos of you who know me well might imagine what I might sound like or indeed look like as I express these words aloud, and perhaps let me know how you think I best express myself. However I will not accept, sleeping as a valid response.
So, here is my journey and conclusions on the above, and how it links, and has progressed since, in relation to my last blog “Guidance from a wise woman for a journey to come”
In 1995 when I took the advice of the wise woman, aka Mrs Forbs, to help recover from post natal depression I joined the writing group at The Harbour Arts Center in Irvine where I was living at that time.
I was in a very dark place, and when I first joined the group, I was reluctant to read any of my recent poetry, I was afraid I would give the wrong impression, I desperately needed to fit in, because I needed this time to be me, and be accepted as me.
As time progressed I have little doubt my poetry at that time reviled much about my depression, and as friendships grew I was able to confide various issues with friends I made there.
I remember clearly having a discussion with a poet friend who also suffered with depression, about the benefits of screaming and shouting and venting, not necessarily at anyone in particular, but just to release that pent up negative energy that we swallow down that can feel like a volcano errupting inside because sometimes life is hard, and shit, and not always wonderful, and how going to the beach, or a forest, a footbal pitch or somewhere where the wind and rain and elements are in your face waiting for you, to scream it all out, and bring you internal peace.
I knew this to be true, and to be fair its a relatively harmless form of release.
At that time it was something I did when it all got to much, and I would storm out the house in tears and either walk to the nearby fields, where I would stand and bawl, or I’d get in the car and drive to a place right next to where I now live , park up , walk to the end of the harbour, or shore line and shout, providing of course there was no one around, which fortunately there seldom was.
Of course, shouting and screaming can be channelled more easily, and without even leaving the house if when you feel that urge to scream, and you pause, take a deep breath.. and burst into song!, I guarantee it can be a great way to defuse a heightened state of emotion, even if only because the ludacracy of it may cause you to laugh and laughing is alway , always a positive outcome.
Additionally, I suggest that the rhythmic breathing of singing helps us to control our breathing and thus the repetitive rhythm sooths anxiety and restores balance, perhaps this is why the catatonic rock , because it is calming.
A short time later, between 1995 and 1997 my GP in Glasgow introduced me to mindfulness, through breathing exercises, although I had no idea what mindfulness was then because I hadn’t heard of it. He taught me some basic, easy, breathing and relaxation techniques that could be done sitting or standing that only took a few minutes, to achieve positive results for anxciety.
I make no denial that I was prone to shouting at that time, probably more than I was willing to believe I did, and it added to feelings of guilt and anxiety.
I have almost always been vocal, loud and impulsive, I am aware of this , most of it was, I think, a defence mechanism , but that’s for a later chapter. My father had oftimes advised me to put my mind into 1st gear before putting my mouth on excellorator!
That first pause, and breath, is, I think, the first step is good self management of mental health and anxiety.
As I sat quietly after my controlled out burst as noted above, before I even reached the floor, my final paragraph had triggered a chain of thot in relation to what I had wrote, and I smiled, almost laughed, thinking of some of the reactions I’v had when I’v gone on a rant. I am quite an expressive person, prone to doing actions or waving my hands about when I speak, I have been told its can be quite funny to witness, if a little embarressing, and I thot how the same written dialogue, could be used as an arts based therapeutic exercise, to explore self awareness.
Not forgetting there are many ways of interpreting what was written, putting aside content topic for a moment, and that the tone has already been set as “appalled”, you, the reader have inserted the # word. So what if, as an arts therapy exercise we explore the same piece using only positive words for instance, #ing could be, caring or amazing or….. singularly, the hashtag sign, #, could mean any manner of words, providing they still made sense in contex.
Through exploring these avenues, we can then consider ways to interpret them differently, perhaps through comic, or tragic preformance, or through dance, or song, and in the process we are not only learning positive ways of managing mental health conditions, we are raising self awareness and improving communication skills, skills that can help and impower us in many situations of everyday life.
Even better than that, we can use these “thinks” to raise awareness of positve mental health managment outcomes, via the arts and other holistic practices and therapies.
Additionally, if we take the sinario and express it perhaps through a painting or scetch, again, there are various avenues of expressing the emotions , ie, cartoons, or photo stories reflected in photography or drawings. With the same creative channelling of energy, that creates further life skills that could be developed into buisness skills, ie Tshirts, novelty gifts ect to raise awareness of mental health issues. Furthermore the skills learned in that creative and theraputic prossess develops skill that can be carried over to many areas of employment and life skills, that empower us as individuals.
I think its prevelant also to mention that the topic content as trigger allows avenues of exploration on any number of subject that in themself further expand the various types of alternative interests that could be explored and always be shown to have the same positve outcomes.
As I sat quietly , I realise how far I myself have come in managing and controlling my own mental health conditions.
I don’t deny that I still get very emotional, and sometimes what to scream and shout with anger and rage, and even sometimes do, but that’s ok too, there’s a lot to get angry and upset about in this world, but theres also a lot to feel good about to.
I know from experience the benefits and therapeutic value of that pause , breath… focus 1st step.
Even as I stretched to pick up the laptop and began to type, the possess of mindfulness began.
The typing process itself, was my focus, I was suprised there were not more spelling mistakes I posted without spell check, of course there are errors that will infurate some people , whom I love dearly , but I know it will also make them smile, cos at the end of the day , my spelling is not really that big a deal, if what i’m doing by writing , even somewhat inconhereltly is preventing me from having to hang my head down the lavy pan as the byle projects out my slabbering destressed face in large volumes of vomit.
I am realeasing the beast, the negative energy in a positive , harmless way, and that is I beleive a positve outcome.
And, I expressed my right to freedom of expression, and opinion, without causing risk or harm, if you were offended by my words remember, you, inserted the # tag word, not I.
I firmly believe holistic therapy though the arts is a fundamental tool to the management of mental health and to bring an end to the stigma that erects barriers to good mental , emotional and social health outcomes .
And that I guess, is the primary objective of the agenda and stratagy of the Hethen Project which aims to raise awareness of how to achieve positive outcomes though the arts for those living with mental health conditions.
As a footnote I’d also like to say to all you spiritual smart asses out there, who make a link on the timing of my emotional outburst, and the enviromental and spiritual indcators related to positon of fullness of the moon, that is a topic I shall explore in more depth later when I descuss the benefits of understanding our byo-rythems and other interesting heatheny things, I mean come on, I haven’t called it The Hethen Project with out good reason, now have I . 🙂
When a consultant obstetrician tells you, you must be confined to hospital for 11 weeks until the birth of your baby, who will have to be born by arranged C section at 36 weeks, as there is a risk to life for both you, and your baby if you don’t”, you don’t argue, you take heed and do as he says.
This was the scenario I found myself facing just over a week after the death of my father in 1995.
Without doubt it was a frightening and depressing time, of course I agreed, and was admitted to hospital, where I spent the next 12 & 1/2 weeks.
I wasn’t a first time mum, I had two children already, I had read books and information about pregnancy before, I had experienced of pregnancy and given birth. I knew of the various conditions and complications that can occur, there had been complications at the birth of my last child and following it,but I guess most of us think that our pregnancy will be one of those without serious complications, every pregnancy is different as my mother used to say.
I had a grade A placenta previa, and as time passed, in addition, I suffered SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction), it was a difficult and worrying time.
I think its fair to say, generally, when we think of maternity wards, we think of them with much positivity, a place where life begins, but in 1995 I realised that the maternity ward is a place where life and death walk hand in hand.
For me, my 12 week stay was both an education and experiences.
I saw many wise, and sometimes, not so wise woman, pass through the maternity ward doors, and I was humbled by the care, compassion and support of the nurses doctors and auxiliary staff who worked there.
I had read about conditions like mine, placenta previa, and others like pre-eclampsia, to name but two, of course there are many more.
I was aware that sometimes miscarriage happened. I was aware some pregnancies were very difficult, that some babies could be still-born, or premature and very poorly, but during my 12 week confinement the reality of all the complications that may occur were hammered home as I experienced, and felt the emotional hurricane that in an instant can whirl through a maternity ward like the one I was on, leaving pain, sorrow and devastations in its wake. Such emotional hurricans touched us all on the ward, not only the parents of stillborn babies and their families, but touching the staff too, these amazing people who hold in their hands that balance between life and death. And of course, we mothers in waiting were affected when other women experianced a tragedy knowing that we too could face a tragic ending, we were all high risk.
I was also aware of and felt the joy of premature babies who struggle and fight to live and who survive against the odds and bring hope to all expectant mothers who face complications in pregnancy.
Post birth baby blues was common, almost normal on the ward, and I suggest there were also cases where signs of post natal depression that would follow were also prevalent in some cases , although its only 22 years on when I think back to some of the signs I witnessed and indeed felt, stories shared that I recognise that.
When a patient under these circumstances it’s not unusual to be told you’re in the best place, and of course you are, but that does not elevate the fear for the life you carry inside you should the worst case scenarieo occur.
During my 12 week stay the reality of my own circumstances and vunerability of my unborn child never left me as I witness both the joys and sorrows of the woman I shared time with, sometimes fleeting, sometimes prolonged time.
I saw and felt the joy of many mothers who left with healthy babies. I also saw woman leave without babies who had endured difficult pregnancies or births, and I saw fathers or grandparents leave with baby, who no longer had a mum.
During my confinment I cried a lot, not just in regard of my own fears and trepidation but for the mothers of babies I had come to know, who’s journey’s I had partially shared. Indeed, 22 years on I still think of some of these woman and their children and wonder how they are now.
I also wore my happy, I’m fine mask a lot, trying to hide my fears and worries from family in order not to worry them, and of couse, to not be a bother to the staff who had more than enough to contend with.
Fortunatly, my baby was born as arranged at 36 weeks, and although he was small and fragile, had jaundice and a heart murmur, 10 days after his birth we went home together.
Throughout my 12 week stay going home with my baby was all I could think of, all I wanted to do, but I was unprepared for how I would feel when that day came, and when it did I was overwhelmed.
Although I would like to say the state of my home when I got there was irrelevant and immaterial, as I was finally home, with my new baby and other children, it wasn’t. My home was untidy, unclean and in truth not how I expected to find it. For this particular story the details or why this was the case is by and large irrelevant, and is covered in my forthcoming book “A Girl From Glasgow” but of course finding my home thus, did not help my mood or emotional state.
I felt like a stranger in my home, everything felt surreal to me.
I had undenyably felt guilty about being away from my other 2 children during my confinement, I had felt guilty about leaving them with my poorly, grieving mother and once home I felt anxious about spreading myself emotionally, caring and giving equal time and attention to all of them, as well as getting the house back in order and returning to my caring for all of them. I felt useless, incompetent and depressed, and I felt guilty that I felt that way.
I recognised I was depressed and I saw the doctor in regard of this.
I was constantly tired, couldn’t eat and felt I got little or no support from my children’s father, who seemed never to be there and constantly on my case when he was. When I tried to discuss these feelings with him, I was told I was paranoid, stupid, and mellow dramatic.
When the health visitor came to the house to see me and he was always there, and he tended to speak over me and for me, something my health visitor told me, on one of the rare occasions when I was able to speak to her when he wasn’t present, she had noticed.
In the summer following my babies birth in May, around July, two old girlfriends from my past came to visit and stay with their children for a holiday. It had felt like a good idea at the time, but hindsight tells me that it was probably not the best time cos it added to the feeling of responsibility to be “fine” when I clearly wasn’t and my happy mask slipped on more than one occasion. After a doctors visit, during their stay, when I had been put on anti-depressant pills which I had a bad reaction to that night. I threw a wobbler, screaming and shouting at everyone out of control I guess, so the following day one of my friends returned home, the other went to stay with my mum to give me a break, she couldn’t go home, she lived abroad and her flight was still a week away.
My friends had tried to be supportive, but I felt judged and repremanded by their opinionated words of support and felt like no one was actually listening to what I was saying when I tried to explain how I was feeling.
I felt terrible, I felt lost and I no longer recognised myself and when I next took my baby for his check up unaccompanied by my then husband, I told my health visitor, the wonderful wise woman, aka Mrs Forbs, exactly how I felt, through a deluge of tears.
In that moment it felt like a weight had been lifted, when she took my hand and gently reassured me what I was going through was not so unusual and that I was not alone.
The Royal Collage of Psychiatry states that “Postnatal Depression is a depressive illness which affects between 10 to 15 in every 100 women having a baby & the symptoms are similar to those in depression at other times.”
Postpartum (puerperal) psychosis is the most severe type of mental illness that happens after having a baby. It affects around 1 in 1000 women and starts within days or weeks of childbirth. It can develop in a few hours and can be life-threatening, so needs urgent treatment.
Some 22 years on since my own experiences with post natal depression, and indeed later diagnosis of clinical depression and mental illness I am aware there is much more information and support available to woman who experience PND and thankfully the internet has made information and available support groups much more accessible for all of us. Additionally I think its fair to say that PND, like any other mental illness, does not only affect woman sufferers but can also affect men. Husbands, fathers, brothers, sons and indeed friends of those who experience post natal depression will be touched and affected, the impact is much wider than mother only. Now, in 2017 as many support departments and agencies see cuts to funding that helps those in distress I feel great concern for those who suffer PND or any mental health condition as the disparity between physical and mental health funding and support continues and appears to be getting worse.
I was very fortunate to have the wise woman Mrs Forbs to guid me, and can’t imagine what would have become of me without her advice and support. On that day when through my deluge of tears I explained how I felt, Mrs Forbs told me it wasn’t unusual for mum’s to feel how I did. Mrs Forbs told me my symptoms were normal, and given all the other things I had been though during my pregnancy it was hardly surprising I felt as I did. Mrs Forbs told me I had been though a great deal, my dads death, all that I felt, and saw on the maternity ward, and some of the other feelings I had shared with her in respect of my personal life, were bound to have an impact.She said all things considered I had done well to cope as I had, but that bottling up my feelings was counter productive, which of course was true. This wonderful wise woman, said feeling I had lost myself was not something to feel guilty about, it was normal, and the solution was to find myself again. She said she recognised that perhaps I had lost me in the responsibility of motherhood, I had perhaps become known as my children’s mum, my husbands wife, my mothers daughter, and with that I had forgotten who June was, that I needed to have some time that was my time, for my interests, away from being mum, daughter wife…Not that these roles were not important, but that I mattered too, and so did my interests and goals apart from my role and responsibilities as mother, daughter, wife.
She asked about my interests and life before and I told her of my past career, my interests and voluntary work within the arts and she suggested I get in touch with some groups and get involved in these things again, even if it was only for a few hours a week, saying I had to find time for me, to be me , it didn’t make me a bad or neglectful mum, and that it would allow me some space, time away from all the other responsibilities that would allow me to make new friends, which since being a wife I appeared to have lost.
I truly believe that this was quite possibly the best advice I could receive at that time, and I took it, and got involved with the Harbour Art Center near where I lived, where I got involved with the writing group and drama group .
Through my involvement with these groups and the friends I made there I began to feel a little more like me again, I regained confidence in myself and my abilities, as I remembered the strong person I had once been and was able to express my emotions through my writing and involvement with the theatre group.
For me this was not the end of my journey with depression and mental illness, but I am sure it was the guidance from the wise woman Forbs, and all I learned from heeding that advice that prepared me for the journey through the abyss of mental illness that would follow later and eventually lead to the strategy and agenda for what I now call The Hethen Project, and I shall be eternally grateful to the wise woman Mrs Forbs for her support and the advice and guidance she gave me.
REFERANCES & LINKS
“A journey of a million miles begins with one tiny step…”
you took yours now its my turn…
These were the words I scrawled across the freshly decorated wall in the living room of the marital home I was about to leave & lock the door on, for the last time. It was the spring of 1997, and these words felt like a fitting epitaph to my dead marriage.
The kids were waiting in the car on the drive, half an hour earlier I had waved off the van with all our worldly goods including the kitchen furniture, fittings, fixtures and sink, which a dear friend had helped me dismantle a few days earlier. I had been organising this move secretly for weeks, its true what they say ” hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”.
I had chosen this particular quote because my soon to be ex husband had used it when he had persuaded me to give up my independent, happy life as a single mum to one, indeed, he had led me to believe it was his own!!
I was a different person then, I hadn’t heard of Lao Tzu, though I had heard of Confucius, because as a child my mum began every little quote or words of wisdom she liked to say with the words “Confucius say…”
Of course it matters little which of these wise men said it, only that one of them did, because as I stared at that wall I thought, fuck , that’s a great quote!
I felt rather smug as I surveyed my graffiti work, in bright ruby-red lipstick.
He’d called me a crazy bitch many a time, now he was about to learn the extent of what this particular crazy bitch was capable of, and indeed, so was I.
There was little regret as I walked out the house, got in the car and drove away, telling the kids to wave bye-bye to the house. No fear or trepidation, no voice in my head filling it with doubt. I guess, in the moment I embraced it, I felt strong, stronger than I had for a very long time, and of course there was an element of anger, but it could be argued that there is strength in anger.
The months, in fact, the preceding years hadn’t been easy, there had been much to contend with, many emotions to mask and hide from many people, and not just in respect of my marital relationship.
I think its fair to say I had several stressful & emotional issues to contend with and not just in relation to myself but also relating to family health, and that particular journey began in 1995, when within days of my dad dying unexpetedly from a heart attack and cremaiting him, I went for an antinatel scan and was told I had to be confined to hospital there and then. I had a grade A placenta previa and would have to spend the next 11 weeks confined to the hospital & bed rest. They agreed to give me a day or two max, to organise the family and I was addmitted for the next 11 weeks.
I was understandable distressed. I had a poorly, disabled, frail mother who was grieving to look after and support, not to mention two other children aged 4 & 12 who had lost their grandpa who needed to be looked after and supported, and I was well aware my husband wasn’t up to takeing care of them all properly, he was too busy working unsocial hours as a DJ, and fucking about with other women under the guise of buying and selling second-hand cars, though to be fair , he did fit a bit of that in too.
Of course I had no option but to go into hospital for the safety of my unborn baby and indeed my own health risk, so I made arrangements for the kids to stay with my mum. Friends, her neighbours and relatives, rallied round to help mum, and I tried to convince myself it helped support her though the moarning period.
Sometime, later when my baby was born, in the early summer I was diagnosed with postnatal depression. I would pinpoint this as my first proper diognosis of depression, although hindsight suggests I had lived with depression for many years before.
It was then I was fortunate to be guided by a very wise woman called Mrs Forbs, who was my health visitor who told me it wasnt surprising that I was suffering depression given I hadn’t even had time to grieve my dad before the pregnancy complications set in, and there was other stuff too, but as I said that was just the beginning of the journey….
In recent weeks I have reflected on The Hethen Project trying to put together an “about” description of where it began and what it is, for the purpose of this website I realised that I’ve been doing something my dad often found me guilty of , “putting the cart before the horse” because The Hethen Project is a path on the journey of a girl from Glasgow, a path still being forged with a horizon beyond, and it is also a seed sown on the path planted by a wise woman known as Mrs Forbs, but that is another chapter, for another day ….
Sitting at his desk, he stared at her blindly
hardback, she stared, tempting…
Open me carefully, read me, if you dare
but beware, of the secrets lurking there
in the corners of the pages of my cranium maze,
in a hazy array, of far away days, and torrid affairs
and I just don’t cares, of the happened before’s…
Come scroll the pages, bound in my mind
lets see what you find, as the story unfolds
the stark truth , so bold
The good and the bad, the exciting the sad,
the quite, completely, mad…
Read , the absurd little story of me.
My moments of insight, my fears and my fantasies,
as we swim through the ocean of insanity,
that’s roars thru my veins, as volcanic emotions rain
we shall rage thru the rapids that send a tingle down my spine
trust me when I tell you the sensation is define…
as we drown in my sorrow then rise joyously
at the bridge to my heart, where love and sorrow embrace
in my light and my dark.
you can dance with the demons of my frontal lobe
then pirouette thru my mind’s eye, to my unconscious, untold’s.
Drift thru the oasis of my dreams, and nightmares
to dance with the angels ,who hold my souls prayers.
Dive into my consciousness, and smell my unleashed joy
then taste the fruits of passions in words, my thoughts deploy.
I’ll take you past the closet with the closed, locked, door
where pains and hurts, and other, awesome, memories are stored.
we shall go on an adventure through my soul laid stark and bare
You may linger in my memory bank and see whats hidden there
You may find some old scandals behind some forsaken prayers.
You can pause a while and look out thru the windows of my soul
and you can see what i see as the story is told…
so open me, at your leisure,
and read me, with care
and perhaps I’ll become a friend , to have and hold and share
who you can turn to anytime to find comfort for all cares.