Why Christmas is the worst time of year to be sectioned

by

'Twas broad daylight in Wintertime.

The sun was shining.   There was snow on high ground still, and pretty it looked too.

Christmas had been quite an ordeal that year -- I thought all the Santa-themed presents were sex toys and that the security services were going to fit me up with some sort of front-page News of the World splash about a made-up sex scandal.   I had read in a book written by a guy called Les Dove of "The International Association of Dissident Writers" that this was the treatment meted out to people who cross the UK's vetting agencies and dare to challenge state restrictions on reporting the most trivial of things on the grounds of "national security".    To anyone who has read his work and believes it, YOU NEED HELP and you need to seek it early before you end up on a section.  I read it and believed it.  

So came the 31st.  New Year's Eve 2003.  The day I was sectioned ...

New Year's Eve

The Boiled Egg Incident!

If there's one thing that my family and service never will let me forget about the day I was sectioned, it's not how acutely psychotic I was.  No, it's how I asked the kind ambulancemen who arrived to escort me to hospital if I could finish off my boiled eggs.  They said: "Yes, we're in no hurry Ian". So I cut up my toast into soliders in front of them and dipped them in.  Etiquette went out of the window in my hour of distress.

And then my mum said: "Right Ian I think it's time you got dressed -- go upstairs."  I did -- but I went straight back to bed.  

And despite repeated attempts by consultant psychiatrist, social worker and ambulancemen, there I continued to stay.  Cue Lancashire Police who dragged me downstairs in my pyjamas and dressing gown into the ambulance, escorted by a police officer and my poor mum.  Who was more scared I don't know!

Probably me -- as I'd read in Les Dove's book that MI5 runs special ambulances to abduct and torture people who challenge the state.   This book did more harm than anything I have ever read in my life, and lead to a suicide attempt in hospital, so frigthened was I of being tortured.  Almost nothing in Les's book is true -- the internet is my livelihood and yet I find myself saying once again how dangerous its lack of regulation can be.

Fortunately for me Les moved from Yorkshire to Mexico around the time I become paranoid, and I was unable to meet up with him.  We were going to do Betty's in Harrogate -- neutral territory -- if I had met the man himself I dread to think what would be of me now.  He urged me to leave the country like he had because I was "a targeted individual". 

The "Torture in the UK" report

I can guarantee that "Torture in the UK", Les Dove's internet-only publication about alleged top-secret classified torture techniques, is as fictional as this year's Downton Abbey.  But to a young, very vulnerable Ian, it contained all the answers he had been looking for about why the BBC had turned him down for 21 consecutive jobs, most as an internal candidate, after making obvious attempts to establish his politics and to test out whether he would challenge official secrecy and stick to reporting restrictions.

Santa Doctor and Reindeer

Regaining insight and making a personal recovery

I was released on leave after just two weeks on section 2 of the Mental Health Act 1983 and properly after the 28 days maximum.   My parents both took early retirement, but then held senior positions at the local NHS Trust, my mum as a ward sister and my dad as chief hospital pharmacist, and they promised to care for me at home.    I think it's fair to say most people would have been detained for another 6 months in the state I was in.  Certainly, within 6 months I was back on the ward and attempted suicide, fearing Les Dove's MI5 psycholigical torturers would come and get me.

Each Christmas since has been emotional, distressing and turbulent.   Every year I have started buying my Christmas presents in about May or June onwards, "just in case I get sectioned again".    In 2009 I became suicidal for 5 and a half months during the year and that Christmas was particularly tough.   That year, I bought presents early for another special reason -- because I might not be alive to buy them later in the year.

But my reason for sharing this blog with you is similar to Charlotte, who blogged emotionally about losing her baby Jade earlier today, because that is that this Christmas I am determined not to let the past damage me any longer and cause emotional distress throughout Christmas and New Year -- particularly the day I was sectioned.

I was invited to 5 Christmas parties this year -- OK I wasn't well enough to attend all of them -- and the whole family is up to stay.  I am the most stable I have been in 9 years.

"Ian I promise not to section you this Christmas!"

My care coordinator has actually promised me she will not section me over the Christmas period and she has asked me to promise her I won't do anything to get myself admitted either!   The Christmas tree and decorations went up today.  There is a pile of Christmas cards from people who care about me in my lounge.  I am no longer working in an industry (broadcast journalism) full of bitterness, backstabbing, jealousy and overcompetitiveness.   I mix now with kind, gentle mental health professionals, journalists and service users/volunteers and I finally feel at home and at peace with the world.  I have great plans for 2012.

I was in both Liverpool's Anglican and Catholic Cathedrals two weekends ago.  I took the chanc to make a donation and sit by the candles and thank God for the wonderful life I now have again and realised that, although I am a naturally depressed person, this year I will be able to focus not on myself but on the true meaning of Christmas again at last.

Wherever you are reading this in the world, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  And if your struggles are continuing, I hope you will be inspired by my story that you too can reach peace at Christmas one day and that life does get easier with time.

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