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(Part 3) "A Time Lord’s Prognosis…" mental health of a producer

I close the laptop lid. Time, time would tell I told myself as I sit back on the sofa. Glancing at the clock, tick, tock, tick, tock. Mere seconds having passed, beginning to feel like an eternity. Fidgeting, can’t get comfortable...

I close the laptop lid. Time, time would tell I told myself as I sit back on the sofa. Glancing at the clock, tick, tock, tick, tock. Mere seconds having passed, beginning to feel like an eternity. Fidgeting, can’t get comfortable. The watch ticks begin to sound annoyingly out of sync. Frustration builds, still can’t get comfortable on the sofa, try laying down. It begun to feel as if I was on a cold operating table, waiting and waiting for the passing judgement of family, friends, colleagues and even the general public as they hold the metaphorical hot knife of my creation in their hands. Would they use it for its created intent, the slicing of the thickening atmosphere that was clouding me or would it be used for harm…in effect a surgery which I have aptly prepared myself for…

Tick, tock, tick tick, tock. Sigh, I look at the clock. It’s only been a minute or two! The irregularity still persisting in my mind, with my temples beginning to thump with each of the sounds. It isn’t much longer before I’m up and removing the batteries and get back onto the operating table in the now renewed silence…my mind begins to drift through memories of the past year…

Cue flashback…

TV playing, Jeremy Kyle on with the usual shouting and hollering whilst I sit waiting for the cab to arrive for my impending journey to The Priory for my first private psychiatry appointment. The faint sounds of my son playing his ‘A very hungry caterpillar’ game on the iPad fill the pauses on Jeremy’s stern command as I try to keep up with the conversation. The whole experience triggered a thought in my mind that amongst all this madness and the howling demons that is living with depression there is beyond the perceived unreachable boundaries innocence and calm. Uber alert, driver approaching, I turn the TV off and sigh thinking that at least watching the show made me feel somewhat more normal (in an extremely skewed comparison, I know!)…

I sat in a big old leather chair in the psychiatrists office, waiting for answers I’d given to be tallied up in to classification scores. Waiting some time I scanned the walls of the office to pass the time…certificate, qualification, certificate, qualification accolades everywhere. Decorated like a generals jacket breast…I was lucky I thought. Not everyone can afford or be covered for this level of care…So, the psychiatrist exclaimed…depression, tally tally…severe…, your anxiety, tally tally…severe…and the voices…auditory hallucinations…psychosis. The recommendation to be admitted into hospital as soon as possible…

So a couple of days later I did just that, checked in to the hospital (I chuckle as I type this…a ‘hospital’…situated within a grade II listed building in West London and is sometime referred to as ‘The White Gothic Mansion’…) as per the more than qualified recommendation. The initial check in process was surreal without having a predetermined exit date and all your rights signed over to the psychiatrist for discharge. I was now in their hands, with free food, gym, 24/7 care, a regimented treatment plan for both medication and therapy, including group Monday to Friday 9-4pm and individual sessions weekly which was tailored by a key worker based on my initial state and updated throughout the stay. It it was a perfect opportunity for me, and/or anyone with a mental health condition. Money literally couldn’t pay for better treatment, it’s the celebrities go to place and I saw a few there throughout the stay…

The thought and silence ended abruptly, my phone now blurting a melody of Facebook and Messenger notifications. It was diagnosis time…the dread now settling in to even look at what had been said, irrespective of my earlier impatience for swift diagnosis and judgement to be swift. For a brief moment I was able to shake off the dread for a brief moment, unlocked my phone with the thought, so what was it to be? The hot knife for a joint effort in cutting away the atmospheric veal around me or was it surgery time?…

One by one I read the comments. All positive. I had to try and shift my minds negative spin on each comment, with my default and defensive attitude around the situation thinking that they were just a token message of support for their own agendas of looking supportive to others. But as I continued reading my guard came down, and I could see the genuineness come through. The hot knife worked at its intended purpose as I’d hoped, and since the atmospheric veal has been decreasing.

Over the following days messages public and private carried on, but there was a sad general undertoned theme. The lack of knowledge on mental health and the sense of it being such a conversational sore spot to even approach for most people. There were even people I’d known for years telling me they had or are going through their own hell, but too ashamed to tell employers, family or ever go and get help!

All of this made me frustrated and sad that I was lucky enough to have a level of care with my employer that would allow me to get the best treatment possible. What if this wasn’t in place? Where would I be? With what I experience of the public health care route wasn’t that it was bad, it was just a slow and long process from what seemed to be a volume or lack of resources issue. This isn’t something I can personally fix but we as a nation and a species need to acknowledge that mental health should be on par with physical health in terms of respect, awareness and hopefully remove the stigma for people to not be ashamed to ask for help. We live in the golden age of communication for crying out loud but there is such a lack of information and positive conversation around mental health…

Feeling helpless and unable to physically aid others, I decided to take my blog post wider to the public and to continue writing and sharing my experiences and journey. I also started to search for others to do the same, and publish via my blog with the singular hope that I can encourage at least one person to seek help that needs it I would have done something.

What people need to realise is that a mental health patient isn’t the traditional Hollywood depiction. A mental health patient is in most cases someone trying so hard not to be noticed or perceived as ill in anyway that they are over compensating massively. Excelling at work and possibly appear bubbly and what not. I’ve experienced and witnessed firsthand a full spectrum of people with mental issues as an inpatient and now friends from my time in hospital. Some suffering ridiculously but would come across as ‘normal’ versus how much they are hurting inside their mind.

At the end of the day it’s highly likely that you, one of your friends, family of coworkers will experience a mental health problem directly and for definite indirectly. Even so mental health is still shrouded by stigma and shame. This attitude needs major readjustment! We’ve made massive changes to attitudes in equality, sexuality and ethnicity but mental health has progressed only marginally.

So YOU, yes YOU reader person can help change the attitude to mental health if you just change your own. Hopefully a domino effect of talking to your friends and family, and them doing them same, and so on and so on. More importantly if you need help or advice please don’t suffer in silence, I did for waaaaaay too long. Writing my ‘Death of a Time Lord’ was probably the best thing I could ever of done for myself, that’s me being completely honest and I have stripped myself bare there.

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