When these words are spoken they are always received differently, depending on the impact they have on the person hearing them. For those of you like me who have gone through this experience, we also have a magnitude of different responses. Every one of us has a different story to tell. But let’s first go to those on the outside looking in. There is a stigma attached to those words that was never part of their remit. Association if recognised could taint their very being. They scoot around us with an uneasy feeling as though it were taboo to ask the question. Is this a reasonable reaction? Do they mean to make us feel as if we have the plague? The answer to my mind is a very easy one it’s a firm no. The way the system is run in many ways gives weight to those seemingly measured thoughts. It’s treated as a under the counter transaction, that should not bring it’s baggage along with it. So many things need to change if we are to alter their prospective. Mental Health is an illness, that should be treated much the same as any chronic condition. It’s ok to ask us how we are feeling, when returning to work after time away to heal, we won’t go up in smoke or become an out of control entity. We are still the same person we were before our episode; we need to move on in leaps and bounds to push this message home.
So let’s come back to us and our own insecurities. How do we prepare for that first day back at work? Will we be walking around with a sticker firmly pasted on our forehead, announcing to the world that we nearly made it to the funny farm? How should we respond to the questions that are asked of us from the brave? How many times have we asked others how they are feeling after time away? Would they really want an honest answer? Or is it just a curtsy? Do they want to sit with you for a time and discuss the truth? Should we just put it out there, make a joke about it as if we too can see the funny side. Do we make it quite clear, that there is no discussing the matter in any way shape or form? Do we see someone we know in the far distance and alter our route in avoidance? I myself have experienced each and every one of these scenarios.
If we were to put these two misconceptions together what would we be left with? To my mind for so many years, it became me on one side of the street and them on the other. Today I sit here and announce that those thoughts no longer have any headspace. I have managed to close that divide through the power of healing. So I say to you here and now, please don’t imagine that for you there is just no way back. Simply because if you are strong enough to deal with the episodes consuming you while searching for a way back to the light, then you’re sure as hell strong enough to conquer anything.

Author's Bio: 

Teresa Joyce was born in 1958 the middle child of three. After losing her father at a very young age; it was to set the pattern for the rest of her life. Losing was something that she would have to get used to. Today she still has some memory of her father, but in truth it’s all a little hazy. Her mother through no fault of her own after that loss had no other alternative, then to return to her parent’s home with her children in tow. This family unit were to spend only a few years there, until the wind of change came around once more. Teresa still holds many happy memories from her time there as a child. Happy memories are something that Teresa holds in very short supply, and she has treasured them always. Her mother was set to meet the man that was to become her stepfather, and they moved on once more to a new city with the promise of a new life. Hopefully it would be a happy one for all concerned, but it became a place for Teresa that felt far more like a prison. One in which she would spend many days months and years hating. Teresa swore to herself that she would leave all this behind her at the first possible occasion. She can still clearly remember the day that she left that family home and joined the Royal Air Force. It was just two months off her sixteenth birthday. Her stepfather had informed her that to remain living in his house, she had to live by his rules. This was a big decision for her to take being so young, but she could no longer live by any rules that he imposed. Never really understanding at that time, what she was really running from. Memories of those years living by his rules were buried so deep, that previous years and events were only a burr to her. Teresa’s Time spent while in the Royal Air Force was very rewarding, and she involved herself in all and everything possible. After meeting her ex -husband whilst she was on leave, she then left this all behind her and married. It was greatly missed and in retrospect, it would be something that she would live to regret many years later. Life as a married woman changed many things for her; the biggest of all would be the arrival of her son. Teresa loved him even before he was born, and he is still able to pull on her heart strings daily.
Sadly after many years, she found herself unable to stay within that marriage. The onset of a set of circumstances beyond her control would stamp its seal, rendering the marriage unworkable. Engineered by the involvement of the one man Teresa had learnt to hate - her stepfather. The marriage was dissolved and there was no going back on her part, that door was firmly closed behind her. Some years later she would find herself in a long term lesbian relationship, firmly believing that anything touched by a man was tainted; bringing with it only pain and heartache. Teresa’s thoughts at that time were that the worst was surly now behind her, but her life was set to make another turn from her envisaged path. It was to arrive in the form of an accident, which once again would alter her life forever. After many months and many doctors reports she was ill health retired, unable to return to work in either one of her two loved occupations. Teresa was affected by this far more then she could have ever expected, she was left alone with nothing but time, and still within the mix of a completely insane situation; it was at this point that Teresa would enter into the mental health care system fully, to have any hope of dealing with everything going on around her. That care umbrella is still part of her everyday life. The loss of her mother through less than adequate health care, brought her pain like she had never thought possible. Teresa saw herself delving deeper and deeper into her own unconscious thoughts, revealing to her at that time memories which seemed so alien. Ultimately her mental health would prove to be a factor, in the disintegration of her then lesbian relationship.
It’s something that Teresa is still trying to come to terms with even now. She now lives alone with only a small dog for company, which in truth she is happy with. Firmly believing that she can’t hurt those she loves, if they are not there for her to do so; to her mind segregation is the answer. Teresa is still unable to work and in constant pain daily. Maybe today you could say that she has once more taken back control of her life, but only outwardly. The truth is she still carries the past along with her, like an uninvited guest at a party. The one that never seems to know when the party is over and it’s time to leave. Teresa is now trying to live her life as fully as possible, through her son and grandson; they have become her light at the end of the tunnel.