Young Harry walks into his local fish and chipper; sits amid the steam and the smell of frying satchels of goodness and with hands clasped betwixt knees begins a slow and barely noticeable rocking. It has been a hard day for Harry, with tic and twitches and verbal not quite silent explosions, leg and chest pain and the distinct impression he can actually feel his brain. Too many memories, a blistering cavalcade of lucid immersion into the past. The present though snaps constantly at the heels of his consciousness, chores to be done, shopping to be completed, dog to walked and offspring to be gathered up from school with a wink and smile and a “How was your day?” Dinner is next on the list that never ends and whilst the beef in browning, socks and shorts and skirt and tops become folded by insensate hands and placed ever so neat into such untidy drawers. The meal is made and consumed by all at the table with smiles and cheer and the occasional growl as a chop bone is dropped to the floor and old rover pounces, tailing beating a tattoo against the wall. Lead wife and sprogs to the sunken lounge, the carpet daily vacuumed and fresh from the baking soda sprinkled and brushed into the pile. Wash up, wipe benches make tomorrow’s lunches all the time a chameleon coping.
Harry doesn’t eat fish and chips but he likes it in the shop. The aromas and a business, not his and they are so very understanding. They nod a greeting but know that silence is the medicine here. Young Harry goes home, tears and a sobbing no one will ever hear. His companions, the memories never actually stop so have no need to return.
Just a boy when it started, and though few suspect, still in myriad fashion it continues. To this day and hour and minute on the clock face……………………………………
Harry not just gets through the day, he accomplishes many complex tasks. He put others ahead of himself, as befits a nurturing parent. He creates wonderful meals and an atmosphere of safety and security for his loved ones. He functions at an extraordinarily high level. Yet hi is severely and persistently mentally ill.
The MH sector has as yet merely scratched the surface when utilising the many talents and the enormous breadth of knowledge that MI survivors have.
I say survivors for a reason. In many cases, especially those of a complex disorder; treatments and therapies are only partially effective or in so many cases non effective. So there is a population walking around that self manages crippling symptomology. Most refuse to give up! Imagine; cancer, no treatment, no pain management no hope of cure and yet every day lived and survived with another day of the same to look forward to. Short remissions, a time to be appreciated for some actual life quality, then Boom! Episodic again!
This is survival at the sharp end. Also this is a life which develops a unique skill set.
Whilst there have been some interesting breakthroughs in understanding complex mental illness and with the recent discovery of the applications of cyclotides and the accurate targeting of psycho-pharmaceuticals, we still today, right now, are reliant on various and often strangely affective behaviour management skills to get us through the day.
This truly translates into a knowledge base that if channelled and focused correctly could have vast applications in peer to peer support.
If these inherent skills can be identified then an homogenous training can be made available to peer workers and a new care model brought into being.