So I believe my diagnosis was the start of a new chapter in my life, I also believe I have been over prescribed and for long periods of my treatment not been listened to as well as I should have been. I have a massive feeling of guilt regarding my diagnosis, not through any feelings of self pity or sense of being unlucky but because I feel unworthy of its definition. My life has been a rollercoaster, I first realised I probably wasn’t as mentally healthy as my friends in my early teens but did not receive a term for what I was experiencing until my twenties. By that time I had been through the criminal justice system, acquired the nickname of ‘Mad Tom’ and was the victim of terrible stigma and bullying. I had always been open about how I felt in relation to my emotions and often shared with friends how I was feeling, only one bothered with me when they realised I was one in four. That’s when the stigma started to develop into something much more serious in content. At first it was just gentle teasing and comments like ‘You’re mental you’ then as my symptoms gradually got worse it became ostracism to the point where I was completely isolated. Different medications were tried and my diagnosis was often redefined.
In an effort to reintegrate myself into the community I started hanging about with a group of guys who I thought were friends but the sad reality was they just made my condition worse by actively winding me up with nasty comments and snide remarks. They would often put ecstasy and cocaine into my drinks without me knowing and then torment me until I would be reduced to a snivelling mess much to their amusement. I should have been stronger and contacted one of the many fantastic organisations like Time to Change or Mind or Rethink or Sane but I could not because at the time I did not know they existed. All the time their treatment of me was getting gradually worse, they would shave my hair and cut off my eyebrows, steal my possessions and threaten me with violence if I stood up for myself. They hit me with iron bars to the point that a few months before my 33rd birthday I attempted suicide. When I came round from the tablets I had took one of my tormenters banged my head of the side of the fireplace causing a deep cut, When my birthday came around I was bound, naked, with clingfilm to a lamppost to a chorus of mocking laughter and nasty comments.
Thats when my recovery started, I made a promise to myself to get help and nearly eight years on I have just graduated and have a bright future. My experience has made me extremely wary of people and sometimes the anger I feel is very hard to control but in a perverted kind of way the people who made my life hell were the making of me because they gave me a drive to get better and learn to live with my illness. I would say to anyone who is experiencing this kind of treatment to contact someone because there are people who will listen and help you to live as full a life as possible.