My First Contact with Mental Health Services
So at 14 I had shoes from Tesco.
A bra that didn’t fit.
Knickers that had holes in them.
A body bruised.
A body touched by dirty old man
And ignored by the rest of the world.
I was beginning to lose my mind…
Every Sunday the radio would play the UK top 40. I listened to it and taped the songs I liked. All of a sudden the music went quiet and a troll-like voice issued from the radio: “What do you want, Dolly? How much do you want?” My skin prickled. I shut off the radio in fear. Deep demonic laughter followed. “Can’t get rid of me. I’m yours for life now.”
“Who are you?”
“I am the universe. I choose whether you live or breathe.” I got up and ran out of the room. I stopped listening to the radio from then on. As the days passed, I thought maybe I just dreamed it all. The voices then chose the TV as their medium. I was drowning in a sea of bad ads that I had to read into for cosmic significance. Soon I stopped watching TV. I became obsessed with the battle between good and evil played out in The Empire Strikes Back. I was thinking: Everybody thinks it is just a film, entertaining make-believe, but that was what they wanted you to think. But that was the reality, and the audience watching and their little lives was the fantasy.
Stress increased the hallucinations and delusions. One time Dad pressed my hand down on the oven hob; the skin of my hand sizzled and throbbed. Holding my burning hand, I ran into my bedroom. I had a picture of Jesus on the wall. I looked up at it and begged him to help me. He just stared blankly down at me, his bleeding palms facing me. Our hands looked similar. I understood then I was being persecuted for being Jesus by the demon that was my father. He wanted me to die. He was behind the voices that told me to jump down a stairwell. When I was on the street, they told me to step into oncoming traffic.
Because of these frightening experiences, I stopped going to school. Social services got involved; they arranged for me to see a child psychiatrist. The irony of it all was that I wanted to talk to someone about what I was feeling and the experiences I had. I wanted to see the psychiatrist. I was quickly dissuaded of that the second I stepped into the psychiatrist’s office based at King’s College Hospital. The psychiatrist coldly told me to sit, and without making eye contact, said, “So what’s wrong with you?”
She had a checklist of questions and I felt myself shrink smaller and smaller with every question. I seemed an annoyance to her, that I was wasting her time. She asked me really personal questions, such as ones about abuse, with such coldness in her voice, it made me want to kill myself there and then. So she became another person to add to the list of people who didn’t care, who couldn’t protect me, and another reason not to trust. Just in case I couldn’t get that, she ended the session by saying, “I should pull up my socks and to stop being silly.” Hard to even entertain that notion when I thought demons were chasing me. My meeting with her didn’t convince me that hell didn’t exist.
Looking back, I have some anger over that encounter, and wonder how my life might have been different, if I meet a warm, kind, supportive professional. Maybe my life would have played out the same, but I know I would have experienced a little less pain.