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Why you're afraid of me. Saturday November 21, 2015

In my area it has taken 39 years for the promised new building for mental health sufferers to become a reality!

It's crazy, and the stigma attached to the old building was tremendous. Just the mere mention of the name conjured up all kinds of thoughts in peoples imagination. People think it's the building that scares people but the truth is people are more scared of what happens within! You don't even look at the building when you have to go there as I did.

Here's a poem I wrote about it after visiting:

I didn't see the tall iron gates
standing in front of me.
The building didn't scare me!
I didn't even notice it was there.
I was looking only down!

The thoughts of what lay within,
were more worrying to me.
What were they going to do,
would I ever be allowed out?
My head was in a spin!

What of the rumours I'd heard?
The stigma of the place!
What was I going to face?
Are they going to fry my brain?
The thought of such pain!

"The thoughts that race around my head,
are plain crazy, so I've been told!
My mind's gone off the beaten track,
not on course with the rest of you!
That makes the going tough on me."

I've been put in the nuthouse!
What of those on the outside,
when they hear I'm on the inside?
What will their thoughts be?
"Yeah, I knew that he was crazy man!"

"They will have put him in chains,
bolted to the walls!"
"Locked behind bars within locked rooms!"
"That crazy man won't ever escape!"
"I'll never be of a mind to be put in that place!"

When shown to a room,
what a relief!
I see no chains fixed to the wall,
not even a lock on the door.
Well only one, to keep you out!

Worried now that night-time is here,
everyone heading for their rooms
"lights out, sleep tight!"
Not chained – not even to the bed!
There's nothing to fear in here.

I've been on the inside looking out,
you've all got it wrong!
You listen too much to rumours of old,
you're too afraid to learn the truth.
Things have changed – no men in white coats!

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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LillyPet Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 7:35am

Morning John, there was an old building with exactly the same scary stigma not far from where I live. I think that if it had been used for anything else it would have been thought of as a beautiful, historical listed building. It's been converted into luxury flats and I'm not sure how much of the original building, if any, remains. Obviously if it had been a general hospital the stigma wouldnt have been there,
I think that alot of the stigma comes from images from movies, old and new. Without wanting to go off your subject too much, I've been thinking about how powerfully film and animation reinforces stereotypical images and how much from an early age those images, stories, messages are reinForced again and again.
From time to time I have commented and challenged them if they crop up when my kids were around, not in a heavy way, but just raising their awareness. I think it's been a drop in the ocean though!
Thank you for sharing your positive experience in a wonderful poem. It's a shame that more of the reality isnt out there! LP :)

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 8:58am

Hi John...well, you've conjured up all the images that were put in my head when I was young. It is amazing that those who never went near any sort of mental health facility could pass on such horrendous experiences. I thnk it has been a bit like Chinese whispers: someone tells someone else about something they heard about a mental hospital and they embellish it...etc and to frighten peeps and make their story more exciting they 'big it up even more' for the dramatic effect it has!

One such hospital was only named after the town it was in....and if we ever heard of someone going there it was BIG news. And yet, my sister had to go there with a problem with hair falling the time, I thought it was strange but my mum just said the hospital treated all sorts of things, so the 'mental, crazy-people and men in white coats' scenario disappeared from my radar! Funnily enough, her hair falling out problem was a nerves problem and she was a 'nervy' type, and mental health issues come in all sorts of guises!

The buildings themselves often looked spooky but that was because they were often huge, old Victorian buildings in dark stone - money wasn't wasted on having the stone cleaned...hopefully it was spent on the patients!

I do hope your stay refreshed you and that if you or I have to go there, we get the rest and help we need.
Bear x

The Gardener Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 9:21am

Bear talks of 'images when young', Mine are real - and, what fears they still provoke. My mother would not bother with flowers in the house - I loved them. At 5 years old I stole all the tulips and daffodils in a neighbors garden on the way home from school. No hiding the crime. I was locked in my room - I can still feel the terror. I'd also dug a hole in my leg climbing trees (not nicking anything) but on my own a the district nurse one of the nastier villager's said 'you stole Mrs Lomas's daffs, didn't you' (you see, I still remember her name) so the whole waiting room knew of my crime. In India the worst of the human 'dross' looked after mostly by catholic nuns go to Mother Teresa's. There totally handicapped children are manacled at all four limbs because threshing about or trying to get out of their high sided beds would cause them even more harm. Oh, the agony of that sight. Now, when my husband was at his worst, he was virtually manacled - I knew he had to be - he was so distressed he was tearing at everything. Thought I had kept my self-control, But I had to go and cry in a dark corner. Not too long ago he would have been labelled a 'nut case'. (all have disease names now). But the surroundings are as good as they can possibly be, relatives catered for as well. My father-in-law died of dementia - in Honiton Old People's home - it had been a Victorian Work House, and still felt like it. Must go and do something positive, quick, and not look at the hospital bed, with high sides, awaiting the return of Mr TG. It's time for HO to dig out one of his funniest.

Down the well Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 12:49pm

Hello TG, I hope Mr TG gets home soon and is doing ok. I've really enjoyed reading your comments this week and wish you all the best x

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 1:40pm

You need to allow yourself to cry are facing such immense hurdles and watching someone you love dearly, go through so much is heartbreaking. Thinking of you both, Bear x

susan Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 11:44am

Hi John, I agree with the other ladies above and find your experience (and poem) very encouraging and uplifting. It goes a long way towards erasing those old images from our minds. Hopefully one day soon, mental health issues will be perceived no differently than any other health issue by the mainstream public. Thanks for the good news blog. Onwards and upwards! xx

Soulmansblue Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 8:02am

Hi Susan, Yes, it would be great if such stigma could be erased. Sadly though it may just be so but only due to the large increase in numbers of sufferers. It is getting harder to hide as the size grows.

Down the well Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 12:46pm

Hi John, thank you very much for your blog and poem. I'm glad that you had a positive experience and thank you for sharing it with us. I think to some extent we've all internalised these images,I know myself I have a profound fear of becoming 'properly crazy', whatever that actually looks like, and its so much to do with depictions of mental health in the media. My counsellor mentioned to me this week that she thought I could have traits of personality disorders and since then I have been sick with fear that I'm actually a terrible person and just wasn't aware of it. Of course in my more rational moments i know its nonsense but the stigma and depictions are powerful. I too hope for a day when there is no shame involved and i guess each of us has our little role to play in making that possible, so thank you for doing your bit john ????.

Debs Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 12:52pm

DTW - I hear you and those 'labels' make me mad. What are personality disorders at the end of the day? Nothing but idiosyncracies in the human experience. As soon as we're given a label it sticks and (my theory - nothing based in truth!) we often live into the label - researching it and growing into it and it often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Throw off those labels I say and be your unique self. You are fab ;-) xxx

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 1:42pm

Too right Debs...DTW should ignore that 'therapist' and not take the labelling to heart. I thnk someone else said as much earlier in the week...find a new therapist! Bear x

Down the well Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 12:47pm

Not sure where the question marks came from!!!

Debs Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 12:48pm

Lovely blog John, your voice is needed to overturn all those ridiculous concepts of 'mental institutions'. Isn't it ironic that if you have a physical illness and are in hospital people flock?There are flowers and grapes and laughter and chat and crowds round the bedside. In a psychiatric ward none of that. Its quiet and sombre and none really knows what to say. Pish I say. What is the world scared of? What might happen if we talk about mental health out loud? Go visit people when they need us? A big fat nothing. Other than people feeling loved and supported and held. Which everyone needs at the end of the day, not just those with a broken leg... xx

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 1:46pm

Debs, my deario...hoping you're on the way upwards and out of your current is a fact of life that those with a visual injury get more sympathy than those without anything physical to 'Show'. it's even the same with back pain vs a one believes the back sufferer as much as the one with the bleeding gash!! Such is life, I'm afraid. And this weeks ridiculous MPs arguing about the stupid things they say to each other to get noticed, doesn't really help the mental health cause at all! Rant over and out! Bear x

g Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 1:43pm

Yes there was a building all were afraid of in my childhood and kids threatened with being locked up there when misbehaving and some questioned there origins as "it" sarcastically after certain behaviours or pronouncements.I have never been inside.
A couple of lines in your poem John bring it to life .
The building I had been locked up for months when so much older - behind bars and locked doors - was and still is beautiful within big green lascious grounds.I found a little aosis in my spacious room filled with antique furniture with splendid view from the window to the point that in the middle of my manic madness I proposed the plan at my tribunal hearing of living there forever and just going home to my family daily to cook for them.The building - St.Luke Hospital in London - has been sold so is no longer ours ( NHS )to become luxury flats for foreign investors like so many parts of our capital .... and the images of sinister cranes looming all over the city building more and more empty ugly towers for money grabbers are more and more sinister ... sorry for this rant - it must be the wind ...

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 1:48pm

An, G, might be the wind as I ranted as well!

g Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 1:44pm


g Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 2:10pm

Thanks Bear for putting a smile on my angry face with just a few words - I love your "rants " if you want to call them that but they are not , your posts are so much more , so much else - mixture of personal diary , social commentary , historical pressis of most relevant facts , emotional vignettes , poetic prose ... rich with varied experiences of life lived to the full , filled to the brim ... ( I have just realised that I could be talking here about TG , Mary , Lex and Les ? sorry if I mixed the names , oh ,
and TRAG and LP and so many more wise moodscopers - thank you all for all these daily smiles . Yes - this feels so much better than the earlier post and probably my blood pressure is not as high now as before all due to 11 words and an exclamation mark - the amazing power of words - mighty pen and stuff............

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 5:41pm

Tee hee....when I re-read my reply about wind, I worried that peeps might think I meant personal wind!!! But no, it's extremely windy...outside!! Glad t have obliged, making you smile...but I think the rest of the Moodscope bunch must take a bow for keeping you going! Bear hugs x

g Sun, Nov 22nd 2015 @ 3:30pm

personal wind is great too - there is a post due about it waiting in the wings as more comedy is needed in this cold clime

Dave Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 2:28pm

Treatment of mental illness and the stigma associated with it have come a long ways but oh each has such a long way to go...especially the stigma portion of it...I often wonder what each of us could do more to assist in this regard...a prime example I personally encountered this week, my doc prescribed a new anti depressant to hopefully help me. When I went to get it, my pharmacist said my insurance company would not cover it until I had at least two fails on other (I suspect cheaper meds)Now I am fighting with the insurer to get the drug my care provider believes will help me. Wish me luck..DB

g Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 3:23pm

i will keep my fingers crossed - drugs should be free to all - there should be a constitutional amendment about it meds instead of guns !

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 5:46pm

Here in parts of the U.K., unless you are under the age of 18, are a student, are over the age of retirement or are on benefits, you probably have to pay for all meds...the NHS cannot cope with giving out meds for free all of the time. I know that in Wales most meds are free to everyone, however, the state of their NHS is dire and other more expensive drugs for cancer etc are unavailable for free...but you can't have everything. I do hope you are lucky with your insurers, Dave. Bear x

John Sun, Nov 22nd 2015 @ 10:12am

That is so unfair, but so like insurance companies and many others. It's not your health they really care about but the profit's that they can make out of pushing down the size of your claims.

Terence Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 3:52pm

I believe that two brief stays in hospital were my first and most important steps to managing and enjoying life with bipolar. Light, warmth, intelligence and care shone into my own personal chaos during these experiences on modern UK acute mental health wards. And then follow up crisis resolution, home treatment and Compassionate Mind therapy. I still feel blessed. So, no fear but stigma is where one finds it. I like the Stephen Fry approach, talk about it, as we do here x

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 5:48pm

Brilliant response, Terence...good to know you received what you need and deserve. Stephen Fry is brilliant. Much luck in keeping your bipolar in check :) Bear hugs x

The Gardener Sat, Nov 21st 2015 @ 8:53pm

Perusing the above while listening to opera (Haendel). Much on insurance. Many people think Insurance cos are bigger swindlers than banks - it's the small print that counts. My experience is they are inconsistent. We had several policies with a major Australian Co - paid handsomely. When I came out of Westminster Hospital bearing a piece of paper stating reason for admission 'Manic' I was obviously written out of all policies for any mental illness at all. The same Oz company started a system which must have cost them a fortune. On the end of the policy were ten 'rider units' which could be converted to full policies WHATEVER the state of your health. When it was discovered I only had one decent kidney we converted as many of these units as we could afford. One of the best was when I took out Life Assurance with the NFU - not many women did, but my involvement with our company made it expedient. The form included height IN SHOES! It was the era of the beehive hair-do (they would have expected short back and sides). If I had stiletto heels as well, then even if I was obese enhanced height over actual weight would have given an untrue picture. France is odd - not exactly post code stuff. But some regions will pay for some things (Vitamin E and Magnesium among them) others, that the benefit is not sufficiently proven and won't pay. But what a system! Wednesday night I discovered I could not see out of the left eye. When I came down from the roof I realised what had happened, crystals formed on a cataract lens - dealt with by laser Friday night. Just stopped shaking at the images conjured up by John's poem, needing saying and well said.

John Sun, Nov 22nd 2015 @ 1:34am

Hi All,

Thank you for such positive feedback on my first blog. I was rather worried about how it would be received, but you all laid my fears to rest.

I wrote the poem after being asked to take the last pictures of the old building to be used in the promotion of the new. My remit was that the photographs were not to be in the style of picture postcards.

So I took them all from unusual angles and from six inches off the ground. In fact I took every picture upside down to get the effect that I wanted.

While doing this my mind ran through the times I'd spent in the hospital and how people felt about the place. I thought about how I felt and I gradually put together my poem.

I'd heard all the thoughts people had about the place before I ever set foot inside. I never thought I'd find myself on the inside, but when I did the place became a sanctuary.

It was my safe place from the pressures of the outside world. I spent three months inside the first time and I have been back many times over the last 16 years. My last stay was just over 2 years ago after my last suicide attempt.

I was told if I hadn't been found when I was I would have succeeded. I wasn't to pleased at the time, but two months later after a decade spent in the darkest of places, my world turn upside down overnight.

My motivation returned and encouraged by my eldest son,my mum and stepfather I began to rebuild my world. Two years later and I have made many steps forward. I still have my motivation and though my mood is still on the whole is on the low side I am making progress.

Yes there are still dark times but by using my interests to distract me, my thoughts of suicide are few and don't last so long. I use Moodscope as an indicator of the direction of my mood. Without such you don't realise that your mood is gradually dropping or going up until you either find yourself on a tremendous high or low.

As you all know your mood can alter in so many different ways, so being able to monitor it helps. It is not a perfect system but it is a good indicator.

Thanks Again


g Sun, Nov 22nd 2015 @ 3:36pm

this post could have been easily your 2nd blog - I would love to see these pics - a link maybe please please ?

Soulmansblue Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 @ 8:04am

Ok - I'll upload them and post a link.

Soulmansblue Wed, Dec 23rd 2015 @ 9:27am

Link to pictures as requested:

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