ALLYSON McKay, who attends Support in Mind Scotland's Fife Services, has drawn on her own deeply personal experiences of mental illness to write a book of poetry entitled STIGMA, which she hopes will raise awareness of mental health issues.

Allyson, who is bidding for funding for her book to be published, has kindly shared some of her poetry and an article about some of her difficult experiences. Her account is incredibly powerful and will resonate with many of the people we support in our services across Scotland.

'They think that you are stupid and thick and think we are aliens from outer space'

by Allyson McKay, Fife Services

I was about 12 years old when I was told I had mental health issues and was sent to a special unit. This was taboo in those days.  My family did not offer any help and I was ignored and became the black sheep of the family.  Anything adverse that occurred was blamed on me. "That's her at her best," my mother would say and I never really recovered from that.

It was hard in those days when nobody talked about it and they still do not. I have dyslexia as well.  They called me names like "dummy," "stupid" and "thick" and more than that they walked away and you started to believe it and your confidence was shattered.  You just ran away and hid but that was not the answer so I started to go for a walk for an hour a day to strengthen myself and started a job in a care home.

Two years later I married and had four children. Everything was great but when I had my last child I developed post-natal depression and it was "Oh No, here we go again!" I was put back on medication and was in hospital for six weeks.  My husband could not cope and walked out.  Returning from hospital, I could not cope with the children and was back in hospital for another two weeks.

While I was there I put my feelings down on paper and thereafter learned to write poetry and by writing learned to cope better.  Now I tend to walk away when situations become too much to handle. Then, I can learn to cope better.  I usually sit down and have a cuppa and count to ten, as I cannot understand why people are so cruel.  They think that you are stupid and thick and think we are aliens from outer space. So we have a few problems and need help to manage.  Does that mean we have horns protruding out of our heads, that you like to make fun of?   You certainly will not be poking fun and laughing if the shoe was on the other foot. It is good that we do not know what is around the corner.

I thought we had come along since the 60s but it looks like we have a long way to go to break down the barriers.

So, "Please do not stand and stare at us and question "What is the matter?"  I will tell you I am needing time-out or I might say I need to talk to someone.   So, "Do not make a fuss."  We find it hard enough to accept ourselves. Help us make life a bit better for all of us by respecting each other.

I thought we had come along since the 60s but it looks like we have a long way to go to break down the barriers.

I think it is much harder for the younger people today coping with cyber bullying and social media as we do need to talk about these important issues affecting society today. We should have more compassion and encourage people to speak out against the stigma of mental health.

I was in hospital about six weeks one time and remember sitting in a corner ripping paper.  I remember someone saying to me "Why not write on it?" When I was told I was "stupid" and "thick" I believed it, but now I am writing poems and am going to have them published. We must believe in ourselves with a little help, hope and courage.

I know it is not easy for someone to be different.  It is like being on a rollercoaster

They do not have a heart if they still bully us.  I know it is not easy for someone to be different.  It is like being on a rollercoaster and there is no middle ground.  I know it is not appropriate to stay in hospital too long as support in the community is more effective. Targeting awareness in the community is essential as is stopping the stigma of mental health.

I could tell you on many occasions, I went on to self-harm.  I just want to share my experiences to help others and that there is a better way to handle it so if one has a hard time, you can talk to someone. It does help.

I know its not easy these days because of modern technology as well, whereby information is passed on very speedily and is quite harmful with bullying tactics by some ignorant folk.

Talk to someone and a little bit of love and compassion will go a long way in helping to stamp out the stigma of mental health issues.

Extracts from STIGMA, by Allyson McKay...

Blessing

Having a place to go is a home

Having someone to love is a family

Having both is blessing

 

Hope

Never stop beliveing in hope

Because miracles happen every day

And thats some times all we have is faith

 

Sisters by Heart

We've shared so much laughter

Shared many tears

Wev'e a spirtual kinship that grows stronger each year

We are not sisters by birth

But we knew from the start

God put us together to be sisters at heart

 

Crazy

Call me crazy but

I love to see people

Happy and succeed

Life is a journey

Not a competition.

A Winter's Tale 

It's winter here in Scotland

And the icy breezes blow

At seventy miles an hour and

At 20 degress below

Aye I love my Scotland

When the snow is up yer butt

Ye take a breath o winer air

And yer nostrills just freeze shut

Aye the weather here is wonderfull

So I'l guess I'll stick around

I could nae leave my Scotland

Cause I'm frozen to the ground