A guest post by Peter Freedman:
I suffer from a mental illness.
That probably won’t surprise too many of you.
I am happy to tell about my illness for two reasons. Firstly, there is still a view that having an MI means you are dangerous and mad. I am not either. Next this is an encouragement to men, especially, that you do not need to suffer in silence.
As John Kirwan says, tell someone. And if they don’t get it tell someone else. Keep telling someone till they get it. That’s what I did.
I get panic attacks. Looking back, I now recognize that I have suffered these attacks most of my life. My wife remembers me getting the shakes during our marriage ceremony. I still maintain this was just anticipation of the night to come, but, perhaps not.
The symptoms of panic are varied. Most commonplace is uncontrollable shaking and what is called a “feeling of impending doom” – the fear that something big and nasty is just around the next corner. And it is coming for YOU. You don’t know what it is except that it is coming……
Random and silly fears are also common. Once, while peeling prawns I became convinced that they would poison us unless I removed every single bit of the black membrane. Another time I woke in the middle of the night, shook my wife awake demanding we evacuate immediately because the house was about to catch fire.
“Go back to bed, you silly old fool,” she said lovingly. And when I awoke the house was still standing.
My illness came to a head about two years ago when I suffered all the symptoms of a heart attack. The ambos did an ECG which showed my ticker was fine.
We went to hospital where they conducted test after test. All came back normal. The doctors told me I was suffering from stress.
Three nights later, I thought I was having a stroke. Back to hospital. Even more tests, scans, xrays. All results were normal, normal, normal.
So why was I feeling so crook when there was nothing wrong?
“It’s all in your head, dear,” said the nurse, gently patting my hand.
This time I went to the doctor who gave me some pills. In a couple of days , I felt right. YIPPEE, I WAS CURED!
So I stopped taking the drug. Staunch Kiwi bloke doesn’t need THOSE THINGS.
Bad move. My next panic attack lasted 48 hours. By the end I was almost suicidal.
So I went back to the doctor ,then to a counselor. Finally to a shrink. SHE GOT IT.
Now I am kept under control by a cocktail of drugs. I will never be cured and will pop pills for the rest of my life. Far better than the alternative.
And remember this:
If you THINK you are going mad, that’s the surest sign that you are not. It’s only if you don’t think you are growing mad, but everyone else is going loopy, that you are really going insane.
PS: I have just reread that last sentence five times and still don’t understand it.
Sheet, maybe I AM going loony……..Aghhhhhhh!!!
I admire people who do or have suffered from mental illness to be so upfront about it. I know that it helps a lot of people out there who have been through the same, and see they are not alone.Tags: mental health, Peter Freedman