Jonathan Benjamin describes his experience falling into mental illness, with depression, hearing voices, thinking he was being visited by an angel then possessed by a devil, of self-harming, diagnosis, diagnoses, feeling numbed by medications; hopelessness; suicide – arrest, being sectioned and psychiatric discharge.
He talks of seeking help, running away from hospital; feeling let down when doctors said “there’s nothing we can do”; of being scared of what was happening to him and being scared to talk about it.
As he sat on a bridge preparing to jump he was approached by someone who said “I’ve been there, I got better, now I’m top of the world”.
earing the story from someone who’d been there and themself found a way to recover made all the difference for Jonathan – even though moments later he was arrested and sectioned into a psychiatric ward.
Up till then, of all the people around him in hospitals, none were getting well and now he began to think ” If he can do it, I can”.
He talks of how the medications were vital in helping him recover but equally vital was that sense of inner hope he found when he realised he could recover; and the talk therapy, and for him the cognitive therapy that helped him find a way out – helped him learn how to change the thoughts that ran around in his head.
And how he began to find some peace of mind when he realised he could resolve to accept himself and accept that he might never find that peace he so desperately wanted but he was okay.
He also talks of the importance of the support he received from those around him and how supporting people in our lives who have mental illness is just as important as the support we give those who have any other serious illness.
At the end Jonathan talks about the importance of how we think of ourselves – and how we describe ourselves.
Instead of saying “I am depressed”; “I am schizophrenic”
say instead “I have depression“; “I have schizophrenia“
You would not say “I am cancer” .
You are not your mental illness.
Jonathan is a writer and poet and published a book of poems.
Pill after Pill