Questioning my sanity

22 Feb

Just a quick mini-post here, which has come about following several received messages which suggest that my previous publicly confessed mental health issues mean that I am unreliable, unstable, and incapable of making informed decisions.

I have gone on record as stating that I suffered from a string of nervous breakdowns during 2011 and 2012. I have also had an ongoing issue with depression – something I’ve seemingly had a tendency for from adolescence, but which for the most part is kept under control. I found that the medication I was on previously – Citalopram (a drug which works wonders for several of my friends) – provided me with nothing better than psychotic episodes during which I self-harmed. I took myself off the drug in June 2012, which removed the psychosis within a couple of months (once the build up in my system of the drug had worn off). The depression took longer, and has on occasion been re-triggered by particular sets of circumstance.

I have kept an occasional journal throughout the experience, and discussed my experiences, feelings and other matters throughout with close friends, medical professionals and counsellors. I find that talking takes away the edge, and in most instances dissipates the mood entirely. On the rare occasion over the last year where the darkness has threatened me, I have picked up the phone and called someone, or set up a counselling session. It is amazing how powerful words can be.

At its worst the depression has had a crippling effect on my creativity, resulting in lengthy bouts of writer’s block, and an inability to concentrate. I have lost gigs as a result, and under-performed on others.

However, I have worked hard to regain control of my life and myself and am now in the best form I have been since at least August 2010. I am working consistently, and currently engaged in a radio journalism course in Belfast, which I have been producing strong work for. I see my family and friends regularly, have a social life, and am rebuilding my business. I have a string of bookings for gigs already in place for the year. In short, I’m on top form.

At my worst, a string of circumstances conspired against me. I have removed myself from those circumstances and taken control.

I have been accused this week of “extreme behaviour” by someone who should have known better than to pass comment to me at all. I’m not entirely sure what they mean by that, but it is typical of people to comment vaguely on something they know very little about without supporting their claims with specific examples or context. Context is everything – it helps explain every action, every comment. The context surrounding this blog is simply that there has been an insinuation repeated over months that my mental health is impairing me, and that a specific individual (who asked that I do not mention that she had emailed me at all) chose to question my actions suggesting that I was “humiliating” myself.

Let me make it abundantly clear – that anyone should think to use a confession that they are suffering with (or have suffered with) any form of mental health issue against them is abhorrent. You cannot tar everyone with the same brush, and there are many different levels of mental health issues and the impact thereof. And a previous incident is no guarantee that there will be future ones.

In the scheme of context, there were extenuating circumstances surrounding my nervous breakdowns, and these have been recorded through written, visual and audio forms, plus witnesses. There is a large volume of evidence which can be called upon when the time comes, and which helps to verify and form the opinions and understanding I currently have. Those previous incidents do not mean that my ability to rationalise now is in any way compromised, that I am not able to make an intelligent informed decision. On the contrary, I am perfectly capable.

I write this post in order to condemn those who choose to write people off because of any form of mental health problem. I write this in order to assert my right of response to those who choose to slander my reputation, and infer that my mind is faulty. I write this publicly because a verdict in court (should it come to it) is not necessarily made public knowledge, and so the damage is done. As we were reminded just before the Nolan show on Wednesday night, the onus is on you to prove your accusations, not on me to disprove it when it comes to libel/slander. I don’t make a statement about an individual unless I have the material to support my opinion or presentation of facts.

I will also add just this: My doctors and barrister were perfectly happy with the state of my sanity and my mental health with regards my ability to judge and rationalise. If they hadn’t been, I wouldn’t have been allowed to give evidence during my recent legal action.

The individual who sent that ill-judged, ill-informed and unwanted message can piss right off. Aside from anything else, they are at risk of implicating somebody else in a breach of a court ordered agreement. They asked me not to mention their contact to another individual. I hope they have the sense to come clean themselves so said individual can tell them why it was a stupid thing to do. I have also passed on the message to my solicitor because of the implications and nature of the post.

Irrespective of my previously publicly confessed mental health issues I am not unstable, unreliable or delusional. I am perfectly rational and sane. And I take the risk contained in responding to this publicly because I am being defamed. And that is not acceptable.

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