Ignorance Isn’t Bliss


SKU e-book Category

136 in stock


By Elizabeth Hoskins

ISBN: 978-1-84747-239-7
Published: 2007
Pages: 56
Key Themes: drug abuse, manic depression, bi-polar disorder, alcoholism, grief, anxiety


‘Ignorance Isn’t Bliss’ is the account of Elizabeth’s experiences with self medication via illegal drug and alcohol miss-use, social stigma and contact with the NHS mental health services. Although Elizabeth’s story probably echos hundreds if not thousands of others, some perhaps even more extreme than her own, she felt she had an important story to tell all the same. ‘Ignorance Isn’t Bliss” is reflective of the poor quality of services offered to people like Elizabeth and the social stigma linked to mental health. This is an excellently written and well thought out book which charts some of Elizabeth’s extraordinary experiences.

About the Author

I’m a Bristol based film student, having moved here three years ago from Newbury in Berkshire. I have experienced mental health difficulties for some
time, and through my teens and early twenties, self medicated with drugs and alcohol, but have recently been diagnosed as bipolar. I now want to tackle this head-on and by working at BristolMind, making mental health
documentaries and writing my story, I aim to help other people do the same

Book Extract

I went to the Nurse’s office at school because my chest was feeling a bit strange and my blue 978-Ventolin inhaler wasn’t working. It wasn’t like before where I got rushed to A&E; doctors and nurses flapping all around me and a noisy nebulisor thrust over my face. That time, I really couldn’t breath, my lungs felt like they were filled with millions of burning ants, all wearing DMs with lead weights strapped tightly to them, and every time I inhaled they would nearly make it out of my lungs, but not quite. But it wasn’t like that now. It was more like my lungs were squeezing themselves together and pulsing a filmy, phlegmy fluid up my throat that took joy in settling over my wind pipe. When the Nurse was ringing my Mother to come and collect me, I waited out the front of the school, where I was doubled over on the worn out concrete, my entire fist in my mouth and down my throat, making the most horrendous noise, just trying to breath. Miss Frew [the R.E teacher who wore so much perfume you could smell her before seeing her] had the audacity to ask me if I was OK on her way in to the building. By that time I had half of my arm down my throat, spittle and afore mentioned drawl flying everywhere deeming it rather hard to speak, so I just gave her a desperate look right in to her eyes. She flashed a look of terror back, then half smiled, nodded to herself and carried on in to the building. And she was supposed to teach about religion and the forgiveness and love in the world. I felt cheated, again.

When Mum finally arrived, I started to feel a little better; I think we may have even got McDonalds drive thru on the way home. She took me upstairs to my bed room and let me rest. We both thought it was just an asthma attack and we would go to the doctors later when I was feeling up to it, to have me checked over. As soon as she left the room I started to feel the old squeezing again. The chest sensation but not deep internal wheezing like an asthma attack. So back she came, and just decided to sit with me on my bed for the afternoon.

It came in bouts until the doctor ended up having to make a home visit. He seemed unsure as to what he was dealing with, and kept on giving me sideways glances as a child might to a severe burns victim. After giving me the once over he took Mum out the room and before I knew it I was in an ambulance speeding our way to the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

I was f**king petrified. On admission a herd of middle aged men and women all suited in obligatory white coats robotically moved around the ward. I was sat, sweating with fear in the hospital cot until they reached me, and chanted out all the usuals – can you just confirm your name, birthday, age, parents etc. ‘My Dad’s dead’ I blurted out with my Enid Blighton smile firmly fixed. I had been planning my answer to this question when they were inspecting the girl in the cot next to me, and I decided if I looked happy, they would know I was fine about not having a Daddy anymore, and wouldn’t think I was strange. So for some reason, I laughed after saying this, unusually hard which didn’t lead to the desired effect. In a unison that only the medical profession seem to have mastered, they drew in a breath, focused in on me slightly, then jotted on their secret charts.

At the risk of going off the point, I just love the ‘safety in numbers’ motto that hospital staff seem to have. Instead of maybe a couple of doctors doing the rounds, talking to the patients like they are actually people, hell no, we’ll get the whole team round to poke and prod the dying specimens. It reminds me of my Mother telling me when she went for a gynaecologists’ appointment. The doctor was having trouble finding her cervix, so off he trotted to get his college to cop a feel, but low and behold he wasn’t the man for the job either. Before long, most of the hospital staff, trainees, kitchen staff an all had been down there to see what was going on. Throughout the whole experience, my Mother was calming saying that it’s definitely in there.

I had about a 3 week stint in the hospital, which really didn’t bother me. It meant I didn’t have to worry about going to school, sleeping in my bedroom which was becoming more and more stressful for me, or even getting up. I was gradually getting stronger, and after they had done every test under the sun I could stop using the cardboard bed pans and actually make it to the toilet down the hall. It seemed I had a mystery illness, but when I was discharged, they sent me to see a child psychiatrist at Newbury Hospital. It was probably the most useless hour of my life, as all we did was sit in a room that smelt of dying people and disinfectant, and list the names of people at school who I considered to be my friends. As the problem at hand was not an up and coming popularity contest, but was actually the fact that my Father had just been found dead by my Mother on her Birthday, it was, how shall I put it… A f**king waste of time.

Before long, maybe a week or two the symptoms reoccurred, so I found myself back in the same bed as before. I can remember feeling quite satisfied with myself that I had ended up back in hospital, and I didn’t have to worry about the stresses at home for another few weeks. Thinking back it is alarmingly obvious that I was suffering from acute anxiety, not their diagnosis of asthma, which they must have been aware of, otherwise it would be a very strange decision to send me to the psychiatrist. I honestly think that if they [being the hospital staff] had given me more appropriate psychological care at that time, it would have saved me the years and years of the self-harm, suicidal behaviour and deep depression that followed. I was a child who had been very hurt by life, who didn’t have a strong, stable family network to support her, because it had fucked them up real good too. All I wanted was somebody to talk to, and friend that didn’t act like I had leprosy, or a room that didn’t silence as soon as I entered. So this is how it all began.


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