Time To Change
Time to Change
By Lucy Flight, Security Contracts Manager
I joined Wilson James in Feb 2006, at one of my better points in my life. The year before had been extremely tough for me and is a time I now refer to as my ‘wobble;’ strange to give it a term of endearment!
My son had struggled at school with a late diagnosis of Dyslexia and the long and short of it was that he went through a really difficult time and made a few life changing mistakes that led us to have to move him away from the area and live with a relative. Meanwhile, my daughter was right in the late stages of her exams so we couldn’t all move and my son and husband then couldn’t really live together. No matter how much it was hard to accept, I couldn’t keep my son safe and my feelings had to take a back step.
When I got married at 18 and had my first child at 19, no one told me it would go that way. I thought that moving to Tunbridge Wells, having a three bedroom house and a husband who was in the Police meant that my life was all mapped out and looked pretty peachy.
After my son moved away, the gap between me and my husband was getting bigger, the house was being extended, my job as a Hospital Services Manager was getting tougher and ‘Agenda for Change’ was being pushed through the NHS. I was the one who did the supporting, the problem solving, helped patients, dealt with bereaved families but there didn’t seem anyone for me.
My marriage didn’t survive that time and we divorced in a matter of weeks amicably, or so I thought.
At the same time I had a call from my mum’s partner to say whilst they were away she had fallen ill and could I help bring her back and organise a doctor to be there when we got back. She really wasn’t well at all, we had a rocky relationship anyway but even she was quiet on that trip back…so I knew it had to be bad!
When we got home, the doctor called an ambulance as he thought she had a bad UTI and needed IV antibiotics. By the next week, they had transferred her to my hospital and diagnosed her with bladder cancer. By the Friday, she had gone. I carried an air bleep and got the crash call to her ward but they wouldn’t let me on. It seems she had an internal bleed and had two heart attacks.
At that moment, I could not have been any angrier. I was angry at her, the world, my ex, the staff, at my job and that we hadn’t sorted any of our stupid issues out. I also hadn’t thought about the fact that my staff had to deal with me.
After everything, I had some time off and thought it would straighten out. I lasted two days back at work and felt like everyone was staring at me, they looked at me differently, spoke to me differently and stopped sharing with me. I was lonely and felt totally useless.
I was lucky enough to have a wonderful PA Sandy, who looked out for me and tried to divert everything away. In the afternoon, I was sitting at my desk and felt a heat surge wave through my whole body, so close to my chest that my heart felt like it was going to explode there and then. I stood up and told Sandy I was going now and all she said was ‘ok, I’ll clear your diary.’
I don’t remember the journey but I drove to the doctor and when they took me into his room, I totally lost it. I have never cried so much and he just sat there and let me do it.
There’s this wonderful little pill called Lorazepam, of which he gave me two and it took the edge off this incredibly heavy feeling.
I had it once said to me that if you stuff all your ‘jumpers’ into the closet, eventually the doors will burst open so I guess this my doors breaking.
If you had told me a year before that I would be on Amitriptyline and Fluoxetine, I would have scoffed and said…”not me”. But they were my new best friends and I needed them. You have to look at them as levellers, not as something to be scared or ashamed of. The scariest thing that happened on that day is that the doctors gave me those pills but also took my hand and asked me to promise him that I wouldn’t take them all at once. I hadn’t realised it was that bad or I was that person that he felt he had to say that to. I needed more than pills, I needed someone to show me the way through this.
Counselling didn’t work for me. I felt insulted, maybe because the counsellor got my daughter’s name wrong twice; the children are the one thing I had got right in my life so that was the end of that. I then sought out an excellent psychotherapist who literally pulled me to pieces and helped put me back together again. It took six months but it was the best thing.
It seems we learn tools for survival when we are young and carry them on into adult life but they don’t sometimes work in the same way.
I learnt about me, why I did the things I did/do and why I thought/think a certain way. I learnt to deal with people differently, to be good to myself as well as others and how to keep myself safe. It was a revelation and I would highly recommend it even if you think you don’t need it.
I didn’t want to make this ‘war and peace’ but it’s hard to cut it back, the worst thing and the best thing in your life.
I wouldn’t change a second of that time, no matter how hard it was. It has helped shape me and rebuilt the confidence I lost and I now know triggers that could potentially put me or even others, in a bad place.
This is what the Time to Change campaign is all about – sharing, learning and understanding.
Please look out for yourselves and others, there’s only one of us but lots of us and we should never feel alone.
Here if you need me.
Wilson James is supporting Time To Change to end mental health discrimination; thank you to Lucy and our other Time To Change Champions for sharing their stories to bring awareness. Our charity partner of the year is Mind, the mental health charity. If you need to speak to someone confidentially, call our 24/7 Employee Assistance Programme on 0845 1201 421, quote: 72016.