"Today's thought is inspired by the memory of a person my mother once told me about; a lovely lady in her prime, who, during those sexually intolerant years of the 1960's/70's killed herself with an overdose of sleeping pills after it was discovered that she was lesbian. Her lover was unknown at the time, although much speculation and gossip abounded as to whom it might possibly be. Then, one morning, about six months after her death, the identity of her secret sexual partner came to public light.
The bereaved woman felt the loss of her lover so much that she also decided to kill herself. The first of the lesbian couple had taken her own life by overdose, whereas the bereaved partner she left behind decided to end hers by drowning.
On the afternoon that the woman decided to drown herself, she left behind a note, explaining her reason and citing that blind prejudice had driven her to such tragic action. The woman went to the appointed spot where she decided to jump in the water from a great height. The location was a dirty damn at the side of an abandoned mill (not the type of beautiful place seen in the picture accompanying this post). But before she could enact her intention, her suicide note had been discovered and read by three close family members who rushed to save her.
The rescuers managed to get there before the woman jumped and she was certified and placed in 'Storthes Hall Mental Hospital', Kirkburton, Huddersfield (long since closed as a psychiatric hospital), and was given Electroconvulsive Therapy (E.C.T.). It was decided by the hospital psychiatrist that she'd experienced a complete nervous breakdown and was emotionally disturbed.
While most considered it had been her family members who'd stopped her jumping, the woman concerned always said afterwards it had been the hand of another who'd persuaded her not to jump.
It later transpired that the reason why her rescuers had reached her before she jumped into the damn was that at the precise moment she decided to jump, she said that someone behind her spoke her name and said, 'Don't jump! Don't jump!' The voice then reportedly offered her a hand to pull her back towards safety. She turned back towards the water and was again determined to jump, but once more a hand was offered to her, and a voice called her name and implored her not to jump. The strangest part of her account was that each time she looked around, the hand which she said she clearly saw was not attached to anybody and the voice she stated that she heard was not the voice of anyone she had ever known.It reportedly seemed to come from a 'faraway place'.
This story was told to me by my mother one evening when I was paying her a visit at 'Storthes Hall Mental Hospital', an establishment she was a patient at three times during a period of mid-life crisis. During her mid-forties, mum incurred a mental breakdown and was similarly thrice treated with E.C.T. over a two-year period.This was a very difficult time for the family. However hard we tried, none of us could help mum. Her mind was invariably in 'far away places', and only God knew for the most part where her thoughts were!
I don't expect anyone to read this post without considering/part questioning its veracity. Even though it was my dear mother who related the story to me as she pointed out 'the woman' to me one night I visited her, I could never determine how true a tale it was myself.
You see, at the time, my mother was herself behaving extremely irrationally. For over three months, during this first period of her breakdown, my mum had got it into her head that the IRA were out to get her. She left home one night and caught a train to London. When she arrived at King's Cross Station, she immediately caught the train back up north to Leeds; and when she arrived at Leeds, she travelled back to London again! She also got a job working in a hotel near King's Cross and when she had a few days off, the travelling back and forth from south to north and vice versa would resume. During this period, the family could not do anything to help her and a number of times, mum would phone me (often in the middle of the night), and ask me to collect her. On the few occasions, I went to collect her, mum wasn't there.She had presumably decided in the meantime not to wait, and instead, catch the next train back to London.
You will no doubt be thinking by now what similarity lay behind each account of the two patients in 'Stothes Hall'. I'll tell you. At the time of relating the details of their experiences, both mum and the other patient had incurred a physical and mental breakdown after hearing voices in their head and imagining things happening that were no more than a figment of their imagination! The thing to grasp, however, is that though these things were not happening in the world you and I inhabit, to my mum and others like her at the time, they were happening and were every bit as real as every real experience anyone can ever have!
Today, psychiatric illness, once the Cinderella of the NHS is becoming more recognised as requiring treatment every bit as much as the physical injury does, and great effort is being made to get the Government to fund it adequately. For a variety of reasons, more young people today are experiencing psychiatric conditions leading to emotional disturbances and mental breakdown. It is estimated that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and 1 in 6 reports experiencing a common mental health problem in any given week.
Whether the psychiatric condition experienced is more easily hidden such as anxiety attacks, depression, P.T.S.D., phobias, and borderline personality disorder, or is more visible in the person's everyday behaviour such as O.C.D. (the compulsive repetition of a usually performed single action like washing one's hands or catching a train to London and back), the condition is a very real, physically exhausting and mentally debilitating!
If you know someone who fits this category, please give them your understanding, as they truly require help to get well again. A recent government study revealed the following statistics in every per hundred people of the UK population:
Suicide Thoughts during their lifetime: 20.6 in 100
Suicide Attempts during their lifetime: 6.7 in 100
Self Harm during their lifetime: 7.3 in 100
It could be you, or someone very close to you. In memory of mum, I include one of her favourite songs that she used to sing every day of her life. It was one of her far away places called, 'The Isle of Innisfree'." William Forde: December 4th, 2017.