Worse than Psychosis
By Jason Tune
Key Themes: psychosis, stigma, society, empowerment
Synonymously Jason has activated a dissent into the reduction of stigma regarding mental illness. His first book ‘Sex, Drugs and Northern Soul’ outlined his own recovery from his own demons and experiences as a ‘service user’ in the 1980’s. Jason’s second book ‘Stigma worse than the illness’, is an uplifting if not empowering story into the reduction of stigma into mental illness. No one is exempt from mental ill health vulnerabilities or immune to its susceptibilities. However Jason has become an advocate into ensuring the recovery model is perpetuated nationally, if not internationally to its maximum extent by his biography, presentation and networking.
About the Author
In Rotherham, Yorkshire, 45 years ago my son, Jason Tune, a healthy 10 lb baby was born. It was a normal birth without complications. I watched him grow from a happy boy into a bright teenager. As he was approaching his 16th birthday, his behaviour started to change dramatically and he became restless and withdrawn. After seeking medical advice, I was told he was suffering a mental breakdown. He spent quite a long time in an out of hospital. Despite all the trauma and stigma he encountered he never once gave up fighting to regain his identity. Through his self belief and determination he is now able to lead a normal meaningful life. So much so, that he is now employed by a NHS Mental Health Trust helping a ‘new generation’ with a similar disposition.
Stigma comes in many different forms and my first memory of it was back in 1969 at Kimberworth School Infants in Rotherham aged 4 going on 5 when I had squinty eyes and needed glasses, I was on free school meals and had to queue in a separate queue from the other kids. At this point in my life I obviously had little appreciation of the complexities of the emotions induced by rejection, but for the first time ever I became angry as a result of it and this anger was to be a driving force in my life for some years to come. The big kids, on the same road, who went to the comprehensive school were calling me “Clarence the crossed eyed lion”, “Bozz eyed bastard” and other derogative terms associated with my lazy eye. One day I looked over the infant school playground wall into the adjacent comprehensive school yard and promised myself that one day I’m going to be the biggest, toughest guy there and nobody is ever going to bully me again.
As I wrote in my first book that when I went to jumble sales with my Grandma, whom I loved dearly and who left me with memories that I would not sacrifice for all the tea in China, I was often seen by older kids who verbally expressed their depreciation of my attire. I preferred to run these evening sorties during winter for the protection of the cover of darkness. However, the love of my Gran outweighed the pain of my ignorant persecutors. Although there wasn’t much money around at that time in my neck of the woods I was fetched up with a word called “respect” and amongst my peers respect was paramount.
Throughout my primary school days I started going to Sunday school, the Salvation Army and Pentecostal Church, although I wasn’t sure about all the things I was being taught in these places I learned enough respect and decent values to feel I had gained something that outweighed the labelling of “Bible basher” and other such derision directed at me by my peers. Nobody likes to be shown up but I recall as a child in the mid seventies being publicly denounced in the swimming baths upon being caught trying to smuggle my verruca into the water. It was always better if one had the chance to share their verrucca with other children as the blame would be diluted and one would not stand alone “a problem shared being a problem halved” and all that.
One memory of my childhood concerns parents not allowing their children to mix because of their backgrounds. A particular painful instance of where I fell foul of this concerned a young lady who had captivated my heart in the last year of primary school yet it could not be due to the non-acceptance of her higher socioeconomic status family who did not approve of the families on my estate. We were disempowered from being able to make our own decisions, the consequences not quite leading to the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet but none-the-less people underestimate the pain that young hearts can feel.
Into my comprehensive school days, I hadn’t realised I had been marked with a reputation that went before me and I feel this reputation did not truly represent who I was. I was the young guy that helped the elderly cross the road, helped his family for love rather than reward, wished to succeed at schoolwork and even did bits of charity work. My misleading reputation and false friends, that clung to me because they enjoyed trouble, brought stigma upon me. I ran into this trap through simply trying to survive.