I was in my teens when I first heard voices. I’d recently lost my beloved grandmother and had been excluded from the funeral. I took it badly. My grandmother had been one of my main carers up until the age of three. After her death I became depressed and got behind with school work. One day without my permission or knowledge I was taken to a child guidance specialist who quizzed me about my family life. Our family was dysfunctional but I was playing the game and said nothing was wrong. Even my mother was too scared to admit there were problems. Result? I was medicated and labelled a psychiatric case. There were no bereavement counsellors around at that time
Later on aged 30 I married someone who was a version of my father. The marriage only lasted 3 years and was abusive. I found the courage to leave. But the scars ran deep. I struggled on trying to ignore what had happened. Eventually at the age of 37 my world fell apart as I descended into psychosis and was hospitalised for 6 months. I was given a cocktail of medications. I’d been sectioned after I refused all food and drink for eleven days so when, 4 months later I was still not in the real world I had no say when it was proposed that I should have electro convulsive therapy (ECT) I had six treatments and I had the mother of all headaches after each treatment. I have to say it worked. I did not want the treatment but it did bring me back to reality.
After I was discharged from hospital I started the long slow journey to recovery. It was l994. Each day was an ordeal to begin with so low was my confidence
A psychiatrist told me I’d need to stay on anti psychotic medication for life. No way! I was intent on reducing the dose and this I did until I was able to stop the medication in September 2000. In 2001 I married for the second time, to the absolute antithesis of the first partner, a kind and wonderful man and we are still married and very happy together. In 2003 I was diagnosed with cataracts. The consultant said I’d got them as a side effect of chlorpromazine. I’ve had both eyes operated on now. Now it’s 2009 and I am fully recovered. Yes initially I had setbacks without medication; I had several small relapses but I have now stablised. I’ve gone back to driving, I’m at college, I’m working part time for a mental health charity
Best of all in my recovery was writing my book Don’t Mind Me. The catharsis was incredible. In my book I tell the story of my dysfunctional childhood, my teenage depression, my abusive first marriage, my experience of rape and domestic violence, my terrifying descent into psychosis, my experience of electro convulsive therapy (ECT) and my recovery. I wrote it to help others as well as myself, to raise awareness, to help mental health professionals, mental health students and anyone wanting to gain an insight into mental illness.
I’ve got my life back, I’ve got my sense of humour back, I’m whole again.
copyright: Judith Haire 2009