Therapy turned my life around
Posted Friday 26 March 2010
Tell us your experience of psychological therapies on the NHS
I had my first experience of psychosis at age 14 after years of abuse and neglect in the family home. People can argue psychosis is completely biochemical and has no bearing or connection to people’s own life experiences. Even at 14, I knew this was not true, because the voices I heard were of my abusers; the screaming I heard was my own. I got no support from child psychiatry except punitive threats, and then later on I was put on medication. But does a tablet cure abuse, loneliness, stigma and isolation?
I so desperately needed to talk about what was happening to me, but I was left alone in my living hell full of demons but no one to talk to about it. I kept asking for psychological therapies, and kept being turned down for it. The reason I was given is that talking therapies cannot help people with psychosis.
My psychosis did not go away; medication merely turned me into a zombie. It made the nightmare foggy but I still could see it and feel it. I still attempted suicide, still self-harmed and was generally self-destructive.
I waited 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years before I finally got a course of cognitive behaviour therapy. And guess what: it turned my life around. It helped change my thinking, and make sense of my experience, and it made me feel like a human being for the first time in decades of mental health ‘care’.
I am now actually living a life, such as undertaking a degree. The screaming has stopped. I think this is because my voice had been finally heard and didn’t need to be turned into a scream nobody else heard.
There are other people screaming, and nobody hears them, and they give up and commit suicide. I know people who attempted or committed suicide whilst on the ridiculously long waiting list for psychological therapies. Nobody would dare to say to someone with a broken leg, "we can treat you in a year and a half, take the pain."
I support Mind’s We Need to Talk campaign because psychological therapies gave me my life back, and because I no longer want people to end up in the ground because nobody is listening to them.
Dolly Sen is a writer, film-maker, performer, musician, artist and mental health consultant.
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