Voices Forum front page //// articles //// VIEWS //// site index


Paul Kean urges ...
CAUTION ABOUT 'RECOVERY'


I noticed in Perceptions magazine there was talk about recovery. I found it interesting because when I moved from Birmingham to London to do a degree, I was convinced I had recovered. When I told a psychiatrist I was on 25mg of Depixol, he said, "25mg, don't know why they prescribe it, might as well drink tap water!". So, much water under the bridge, one psychiatrist called my parents in and said I could lead a normal life. As one student put it: "For being 'better' (health-wise) to be worth anything, it's got to be recognised by employers - it's the same as if you've been in prison 10 years - in fact that's what employers will assume". I completed the degree, then wrote off 10 letters a week for a year trying to get work. I just got rejections - if I mentioned schizophrenia I got no reply. At one point, I made up a job history and got an interview, but they realised I was lying in the interview. As I was well I couldn't get help with social services for housing. As a result I had the choice of the Carr Gomm Association, Broadwater Farm (famous for the riots) and the Salvation Army, which I had to accept as the best offer. The area was full of problem families, and ex cons who wouldn't take any medication but alcohol. I got harassed by the problem children and attacked by the ex cons. When I went to social services they said I wasn't a priority on mental health grounds and left me to become ill enough to be one. Well I'm now cynical about recovery. Are we all supposed to work telling each other about recovery? Without those jobs those people would be on the sick like greased lightning - my respect I leave to the few people I know in real jobs who have had mental illness, the people who don't talk about it, who I just hear about through the grapevine. I know pessimism gets you nowhere, but the sort of optimism that caused a mentally ill friend to buy her flat when she had a job, is equally destructive. Well I'm now on DLA (Disability Living Allowance) and have got an outreach worker. I put my problems down to the benefit system and not to the illness (lack of insight) - anyway the illness and benefits are intertwined.