Political parent, psychiatric patient
Posted Thursday 6 May 2010
Cross-posted at Political Parent
Today, election day, I am facing my 16th day as a psychiatric inpatient. It's been a very different and difficult 16 days.
There's no need for me to go into the medical reasons why I'm here, I'm safer here, it's better for my children if I am here. It's not the kind of place I would choose to be.
My mental health took a significant turn for the worse and I'm waiting for modern medicine and the system to patch me up sufficiently so I can return home and start rebuilding my shattered life.
I knew very little about this side of mental healthcare provision and again I am ashamed at the state some parts of it are in. Everyday I get the same message from staff - "we'd like to do X /Y/Z but we're too busy/short of staff". In fact I am all to aware of the pressures the staff here face and at times I feel like an inconvenience.
From time to time, when I dare to think one day I might be able to cope with the relative stress of going out alone, living in my own house, managing my own pain in a healing and healthy way, I plan my future and the changes I think I could make to the perception and treatment of mental health in society. I also have a number of letters already mentally written to Ms Sturgeon. When I'm well enough she'll be sick of the sight of me.
At this stage I struggle to be witty at all but I have designed a range of T-shirts including one with "do I look like the cabinet secretary for health?" written on it.
Today is going to be difficult for me, you all know how hard I worked in the past but for this election I have been largely absent. It's easier for me to pretend it's just not happening.
I do not know what I'm going to do today, I don't know whether I can face watching election coverage on TV – I've hidden from news in all formats for at least 16 days. I've steered clear of Twitter and Facebook and put myself in an electionless bubble. It'll be the first election night I haven't spent at a count or sat up, feet aching, glued to the TV.
I nearly lost my right to vote yesterday but after considering my future career (whatever that is) the psychiatrist decided to hold off. The truth is I don't think I can vote, not for somebody else, not in "my" seat. I am ashamed to even say it but in terms of a triggering event I can't imagine anything more difficult than going to the polling station and putting an X next to where my name should've been and could've been had others shown the enduring loyalty I often extend to others.
So I will keep myself occupied today agonising over whether I think I can use my right to vote and vote for someone else in my seat in my election.
I wish everyone well for today, especially Labour comrades. I wish I was out there with you, I wish I was who I was but I hope that this episode will have made a new improved version and I hope to unleash her on the world soon.
So I will now go back to being the patient, I hope to 'return to the community' before my birthday in June. but in the meantime would like readers to shower me with friendly messages on twitter @zoe_smith
I'm not sure that I'm the only person who cannot predict the outcome of today, from the snippets of news that sneaks in off the soles of visitors shoes it's all a bit up in the air. I'm too up in the air myself to care much. I hope we win but I know if we don't I'm ready for a fight, well, almost ready.
Guest blogger Zoe Smith
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