A fresh start

My 4 month stay in a psychiatric ward was life changing. I meet many people during my time in there, people who will stay in my mind forever. Many are in competition, how many years they have been ill, how many attempts to take their own life, how many pills they take a day. I didn’t ever want to win one of those competitions.

When I was discharged from hospital, I was given a council flat as a matter of urgency, apparently living with my parents was having a detrimental effect on my health. I returned to work, carried on the meds and kind of got on with my life. But I thought about being in hospital, worried this would be my life battling with depression. I also considered those that had died, many people who were on the ward with me had since committed suicide.

It cannot define me

When a saw my consultant he said “you are just one of those people, you need a stable life, it would be best not to change jobs or move home. Just keep doing the same thing and you should be fine.” This triggered something in me. I felt he was labelling me as a long termer, someone he would be seeing for years. It felt like depression define me. I didn’t want to be in a mental hospital in years to come, telling some youngster how I had been depressed all of my life.

I told the doctor, I was stopping the medication, we argued, neither of us listening to the other. But it was life, my body, my head and therefore my decision. I had been taking antidepressants for over 8 years, I wanted to stop. Sick of the daily pills, the injections in my buttocks, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. I wanted to change my life.

I stopped the drugs, I felt better. The thing with antidepressants, is for me I still felt the pain and sadness. But I couldn’t cry, it was like the emotions were held firmly in place – the tears were trapped behind my eyes. I swore that was it, I would sort my life out and NEVER take antidepressants again. I appreciate many people take antidepressants, they just aren’t for me or maybe the label “depression” is what I object too.

Stable life

Those doctors words chipped away at me, I felt compelled to prove him and everyone else wrong. I resigned from my job of ten years, no job to go to – I just quit. I decided to sign up to an agency, everyone laughed when I said I was going temping. “How are you going to temp, you can’t even speak to people?”. I can’t blame them, I thought exactly the same. But I needed a fresh start and colleagues who wouldn’t know I had “mental health” issues – I hate that terminology!

So, I now lived on my own and had a new job. I was starting over. How I wish I had – started over. I didn’t really change my life, but it was the start of having a voice. Because my two week temp job, lasted for thirteen Years.  I was promoted numerous times, I started believing in myself more. I realised I was capable of far more than I had ever realised.

If it wasn’t for the confidence I gained with this employer, I would never have given up work to study and graduated from university with a first class degree.

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