Living With Mental Health Issues


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By Richard Weaver

ISBN: 978-1-78382-276-8
Published: 2016
Pages: 89
Key Themes: Mental Health, Asperger’s Syndrome, Psychosis, Advice, Guidance


As a person who lives with Asperger’s syndrome (a social and communication disorder on the autistic spectrum), psychosis, mood disorder and a number of lesser mental health problems, I have first-hand experience of the subject. I therefore decided it was time to write about how I originally received inaccurate diagnoses, the struggles both I and my family went through in order to get the correct diagnosis, and then appropriate treatment. In the pages that follow I will talk about how these problems have affected my day to day life in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood (although this will not involve a short autobiography). I hope this project will enable (assuming it gets completed) the reader with psychiatric problems to understand you are not ‘crazy’ or ‘beyond help’ and you DO have a future. Whilst (as I have found) you may never eradicate your symptoms completely or even very much, that doesn’t mean in any way you can’t or shouldn’t lead a full, satisfying and meaningful life.

You may (as I have) been in trouble with the police, maybe for serious offences – this isn’t the end of the world. I have twice been convicted of attempted robbery (and on the first occasion possession of a replica firearm too) – it hasn’t stopped me getting part-time paid employment with CHOICE (the organisation who own and the care home where I currently reside) carrying out home inspections in other CHOICE homes in the area to the tune of about £10 per hour.

Again, having spent time in secure units in the past need not mean always being dependent on the system, or even after leaving hospital never being very independent. Less than five years ago I was in a secure unit, and had to be accompanied by two staff at first. In the last five weeks I’ve TWICE flown from Southampton to Edinburgh totally unsupported.

For those who work in branches of mental health care, I hope this resource will also be useful by providing an insight first-hand into the isolation having both mental illnesses and a developmental disorder can cause. As stated in the above paragraphs, care-workers will be able to see the transition it is possible for a person affected by poor mental health given the necessary resources, expertise, patience, support from family and friends, time, self-belief and an unshakeable desire to succeed come what may.

Of course for carers of other disciplines this work may be useful. Suppose a patient from a psychiatric hospital (voluntary or sectioned) or someone more advanced in their treatment who is living in a residential care home (or even a prisoner under escort who has mental health problems) needs admission to a casualty department in a general hospital (which may even lead to transfer to another general ward) or directly to one of the other wards – if the doctors and nurses caring for this person understand some of his or her mental problems, it follows the patient can be given better care. Imagine someone experiencing a chronic psychosis is admitted to a general ward, they are likely to be more disruptive than the majority of people being looked after there. Whilst it is true that if someone was already seriously mentally ill when their physical illness or accident occurred, they would almost certainly be supported anyway – this doesn’t alter the fact that if staff in the general hospital in question had a reasonable understanding of why the patient was being disruptive – it would be easier to be sympathetic and also reassure other patients who may find this disturbing.
For friends and relatives of anybody affected by mental health problems, if they may be worried the particular patient is being mistreated in a psychiatric hospital; or worried their friend or relative may never recover or get a job – I hope this project will offer constructive advice.

Finally, for anyone else who is curious about the subject, or maybe studying mental health nursing or psychiatry as an intended career; and yes, I hope this project will one day make me a few ‘readies’.

Book Extract

Abuse is any person (staff member, fellow resident or patient, visitor, contractor or any member of the public) doing things to you that you do not want. The following are examples:

1. Stealing your money, or possessions or pressurising you into lending or giving them away (including asking to “Borrow” something, say tobacco) with no intentions of actually repaying you.

2. Hitting, kicking or head-butting you etc, or striking you with a weapon (e.g. a pool cue) or causing more serious injury (and possibly death) with an implement such as knife.

3. Shouting or swearing at you, calling you names such as “Stupid” or “Idiot” or criticising you because of your skin colour, hair colour, weight, fitness level, degree of intelligence, disability, whether you are gay, straight, bi-sexual or asexual (not interested in sexual relationships) or chosen lifestyle.

4. Staff forcing you to take medication when you don’t want to (if you are in hospital under sections 2, 3, 37, 37 & 41, 47 & 49 or 48/49, this does not apply). As I pointed earlier if you are a Community Treatment Order, staff cannot make you take your medication, but if you are recalled to hospital (and therefore automatically go on Section 3) hospital staff can make you take it.

5. Staff are not allowed to detain you in your room as a punishment. In hospital – if it’s absolutely essential, staff can keep you in seclusion (a small secure room on the ward used when your anxiety levels are so high you need to be kept away from other patients). If this is done case, staff must constantly monitor your mood, anxiety levels, and so on and they must also release you from seclusion at the earliest safe opportunity.


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