We each have a story to tell and I would love to hear your story if you would like to tell it. Please click on the mail button if you have a recovery story and are willing for me to share it on here so others can read it.
This story is not the whole story. That story cannot be told until my life ends! This part of my life story is about mental illness, spiritual awakening, recovery and more.
Mental illness is an epidemic – one in four people will experience mental illness in their lifetime.
That means you, statistically, or someone in your family!
I have and here is a short version!
‘Hello Mrs Palmer, do take a seat; now how can I help you today?’
‘I’m a shell’ I whispered.
‘Pardon?’ said a surprised female voice.
‘I’m a shell’ I repeated faintly, sat hunched over in the chair with hands tucked between clenched knees, unable to look at her directly. ‘All that is left of me is a physical, moving shell. Me? I have gone, I am not here anymore’.
I remember a look of concern alight upon the locum doctor’s face as she stared intently at me, all those years ago. At some stage she asked me to take a seat in the waiting room while she made a couple of calls. I am unsure how, but some time later I then found myself being ushered in to a consultation room of the local community mental health team…my first ever visit! I recall pulling a chair to the corner of the room, where I curled up into a ball with my head resting on the wall, for some reason. An Asian lady psychiatrist, with long black hair and buckteeth came in after a while; the result was her stating I must be admitted to hospital immediately. ‘I can’t’ I murmured exhaustedly, ‘I have three young children at home who need me’.
Sometime later I was led down a stark, magnolia coloured corridor on to the female ward of the local psychiatric hospital; two ‘firsts’ in one day! I remember my physical shell of a body and not a lot else it seemed, move painstakingly slowly into unfamiliar territory, aware of doors closing and locking behind me as I went. With my arms folded in a feeble protective type posture I attempted to take in my new surroundings, noticing the odd picture screwed in to the wall, a young woman spinning round and round and round on a computer type chair, hearing the constant clunk of keys, smelling the smell that only hospitals have, hearing someone crying and I remember thinking…’Oh God, help!’
After being asked many questions by ward doctors, having blood pressure and other vitals checked, I was finally led down more corridors to my room; a small curtained off area in a larger room divided into four. I vaguely remember my ‘room’ consisted of blue pull around curtains with yellow flowers on them, a single bed, small wardrobe, chest of drawers and chair. I was then left alone, now recalling how I sat on the end of the bed staring vacantly through a first floor window at a sense of freedom beyond the locked, secure unit I was now in. This was three days before Christmas!
From all I can remember the first few weeks in hospital involved insurmountable questions from doctors, my wandering aimlessly around the unit, eating hospital food and feeling deadened. I witnessed many strange sights, heard many strange things and met one or two beautiful people even amidst the pain and suffering they were so obviously in.
And that was the beginning; the first of 13 hospital admissions over the course of 12 years, an ever increasing supply of medication, ECT (electric shock treatment), more medication, therapies, weight gain, even more medication, chronic pain, more weight gain and yet more medication!
Have you ever felt so low there is seemingly no solution to the mental turmoil you are in? Or do you experience physical pain that feels too much to carry? Have you had enough of the way things are? Do you feel something in your life needs to change?
Well, I’d given up hope of ever changing, repeatedly being told by psychiatrists I was a ‘vulnerable adult with a life long disabling condition’.
My last admission was in 2012 where, once again, I felt overwhelmingly suffocated by a black void. From what I remember, one dark winters night in January of that year I drove to a local woods to end my life, armed with tablets, cling film and a hose pipe; convinced I had finally discovered a fool proof way! Yet somehow I ‘failed’, discovered by Police in the early hours lying in my car virtually unconscious.
When I came too in A&E, however long after, I was instantly sectioned (admitted to a psychiatric hospital in accordance with a section of a mental health act, against my will) and taken to hospital where I remained for my lengthiest psychiatric admission of four and a half months. With hindsight, I see this was such an excruciatingly low time for me; having completely lost all hope, re-written my will and written long letters of good bye. It was a place in my mind I had not previously gone in to, from all I can recall, with hindsight feeling as though I had moved from a place of wanting to escape the hell I believed I was in, to a place somehow beyond that to one of fearlessness.
Throughout a lot of the admission, all I felt propelled to do was escape and finish what had been interrupted; nothing anyone said to me could shift me from the place I was ensconced in. I attempted to hang myself during this time, with all that was to hand in a secure mental hospital! I refused all help, refused to see anyone, refused yet more medication only to end up having it forced on me against my will anyway; starting off with a big fat needle firmly jabbed into my rear end, releasing what felt like glue in to my butt cheek. I was livid, I wanted to be left alone and I wanted to die.
Several months later the day materialised when I was finally discharged and I remember returning home in a drugged and emotionally fragile and confused state. I see now that I continued to exist but not live; somehow scraping through each physically and mentally painful day, with my kids then aged nineteen, seventeen and seventeen, as a single mum since getting divorced a few years earlier. My mind was a mess and so too my very overweight body; crippled with relentless physical pain, tension and the inability to even walk a few steps. I can recount how my legs used to shake profusely as I attempted to walk downstairs and taking the dog out, at the time, was less of an option. I used to describe each step feeling like I was wading through treacle whilst attempting to drag a stationary tractor.
Blimey what a mess I had become suffering physically and mentally, big time, not living a life, just existing.
A few months after what became my final psychiatric hospital admission, I received an alternative treatment called the Neural Integration System (NIS), a system originally developed by Dr Philips in Auckland, New Zealand.
‘NIS (The Neurological Integration System) locates circuits which are lying dormant in the body, switching them on so the individual can thereafter function nearer to their optimum.
Using a series of contacts on the head and body and employing a muscle test, it is possible to determine whether the brain is receiving appropriate sensory information from the patients’ immediate environment.
Most people suffer physical trauma to varying degrees throughout their life. It would appear for example that a knock to the head will switch off full and optimal communication between left and right sides of the brain, almost in the manner that when an electrical circuit is overloaded we blow a fuse. This can be demonstrated in an uneven gait or walking pattern and is extremely common. Without this integration between left and right hemispheres you function below your potential by compensating and adapting. Too much adaption in theory will give rise to various symptoms’. Guy Blomfield.
I started to see Guy on a weekly basis, completely oblivious to the ins and outs of all he was doing, yet fascinated by it also; a treatment with a very soft touch, yet dramatic in its power I have since come to realise. My body started to change and I felt as though I were being re-wired.
Approximately a month or so after meeting Guy, I ended up in general hospital firstly with a chest infection and then a few weeks later because the doctor thought I had had a stroke. I was weak; unable to speak, eat or swallow, I had not had a stroke but a reaction to the cocktail of psychiatric drugs I was on at the time!
Once home again I continued to be a confused mess, eventually a blood test performed showed I was experiencing lithium poisoning, a possible side effect when taking lithium as a mood stabilising drug to treat bipolar disorder. From all I am aware I have ever been told about lithium, there is apparently a finite therapeutic window, a reason why I used to have to go for frequent blood tests anyway. Too low a level in the body means there is no benefit from the drug, but too high or toxic a level, then the individual concerned can apparently become confused, disorientated and organ failure can ensue…not nice!
With hindsight I can see I was behaving rather peculiarly, I guess, as 2013 began to dawn, pretty much living in my bedroom week in week out, too paranoid to see my children, becoming more and more convinced the world was being taken over by aliens. Yes, that is correct - aliens! I had reached a point where I would go out only when everyone else was asleep, but even this became too much for my mind when I felt I saw the outline of a space ship at the end of the road and a house on fire. Sounds funny I admit, but for me back then it was terrifying; I trusted no one, including my kids, believing they too had been consumed by the alien force, it being up to me to save them all...but how?!
I stopped seeing Guy at this time, caught once more in the tumultuous nightmare of my own mind experiencing a bizarre horror film. But rather than sitting in a comfy seat at the local cinema, bag of popcorn on my lap whilst viewing the big screen, I was totally living each moment as it happened. On one of these horror film days, still fearfully hiding in my room with two cricket bats and a knife as bed companions to protect me, two people from the hospital mental health team came to see me. In a confused and frightened state I ended up pulling my ‘bed companion knife’ from my jumper sleeve, pointing it at the two individuals in front of me, who I perceived to be aliens back then. Let’s just say that a while later five policemen burst in to my room, pinned me down on the bed, hand cuffed and arrested me. Having not washed for weeks I stank, looked a mess and was seriously struggling to make sense of the horror film I was in. The result was my spending a little over twenty-four hours locked in a police cell with a metal toilet and blanket for company. I was exhausted, in huge amounts of physical and mental pain, and ended up laying in the foetus position next to my new best friend…the metal toilet! At some point I recall realising I had no power to stop the alien invasion for even the Police refused to help me. The only option left was to give up; to surrender my self to the alien force, to the weird light I saw emanating from the heads of those around me.
I was finally released from custody, even stinkier than when I went in, all charges dropped and kindly driven home, being apologised to for the ordeal. Once again I retreated to my bedroom, my aching and exhausted body falling under the duvet as I experienced a momentary reprieve from the onslaught of my mind. But this was only temporary for just as one horror movie was ejected from the DVD player of my mind, another one was inserted as unpleasant, deeply buried volcanic memories began to erupt in to my conscious mind, bringing forth images, smells and emotional pain. Why me I cried, when will this nightmare end?
I turned to alcohol as a means to try to block out yet more confusion as this inner volcano spat boiling hot lava and debris in to my already suffering mind. The mental health team would not support me through this time, telling me I was not in the right frame of mind to talk about such deep issues, yet I was experiencing the torment anyway. So I ‘coped’ in the only way I could think of, soon drinking from the moment I awoke!
Even though I was not a happy bunny, the experiences finally helped me to see just how entangled I had become in a spiders web of confusion. I had no idea anymore who ‘I’ was, no idea what was medication side effect, no idea what was mental illness and no idea what was actual physical ill health; all had become so intricately woven to create the ‘wreck’ that was umm…’me’?!
I remember feeling incredibly alone, having lived in my bedroom for several weeks without hardly washing, drinking copious amounts of sherry, hardly speaking to anyone and feeling so…lost. One cold night in February 2013 I lay my store of lithium by my side and decided to have one last cigarette before taking the lot, knowing that this time I would succeed! (I took up smoking a year previously when in hospital!). As I looked out the bedroom window I found myself starting to talk to God, ok more like a full on angry, have-a-go-vent with no holes barred…an utter uncensored outpouring. It was raw, genuine, real, accusing God of abandoning me and making me suffer so, for whatever God dammed imaginable reason. Anger swelled within me as I continued the rant, at one stage quite literally demanding an answer. I admit though that deep down I did not expect a reply, probably pretty convinced that if there even really was a God he didn’t, on the whole, speak to people let alone to someone like me. So I was somewhat surprised, to put it mildly, to receive the following response:
‘I am here, have always been here and always will be. Others cannot ‘get’ you for the simple fact that they are not you. You are a unique individual with your own unique experiences. But you are not alone for I am here and I know you way better than you know yourself. I am in you and with you always’.
Although I didn’t understand what was happening at the time, I can now safely say that this inner voice experience was incredibly powerful and as I heard it, layers and layers of negative energy felt as though they washed away from me, massively calming my tortured mind and body. I recall suddenly feeling overwhelmingly tired, pulled to forget the tablets by my side and my intent to end my life. As soon as I lay down on the bed my virtually deadened heart started to experience warmth, as though a soft hot water bottle had been gently wrapped around the dying organ. As I experienced this heart reawakening I discovered I was unable to move, quite literally physically pinned to my bed by a then unknown loving force. For approximately an hour or so I was held fast, experiencing more and more hot water bottle sensations surrounding my heart, filling it with warmth and love. The feelings became more and more intense, time and time again a part of me attempting to gasp for breath amidst the profound peace as fear attempted to pull me from loves tight grip, but fear was not going to win this time. Part of me longed to remain with the innocent experience forever, to never experience a moment with out it again, but the experience dramatically stopped as quickly as it had started, my then falling in to a deep sleep. I had experienced something truly magical I now see, but at the time I hadn’t got a clue as to what was happening.
For the first time in many a year, I slept well that night and awoke with a sense of inner strength and knowing. I was obviously still in dire straits, yet for the first time in my life, I felt a deep inner sense of inexplicable clarity, but what that inexplicable clarity was I had no idea!
I awoke next morning with no desire to drink, pouring all alcohol down the sink; I showered for literally the first time in weeks and tentatively ventured downstairs to see the kids.
A transition was starting within me the extent to which I was completely unaware of at the time, metamorphosing from a caterpillar in to a butterfly, so to speak. My growing inner belief and strength, though fragile, were there nonetheless, and thankfully I also had Guys unwavering belief in NIS and me.
...to be continued