Liberation Day…and I woke up singing…

24th April…I woke up singing today…it is Liberation Day…4 years ago (in 2009) on 24th April my Section under the Mental Health Act 2007 was lifted and I was discharged from Willow Ward at Park House, North Manchester General Hospital…

Park House, North Manchester General Hospital

I was compulsorily detained on Willow Ward at Park House for 3 months (28 January-24 April 2009) – long enough for Willow Ward to become the ultimate symbol of an oppressive, terrifying, untherapeutic and unsafe space in my psyche, a space that I came to hate and despise vehemently…

Willow Ward came to symbolise the culmination of my mental health crisis for me-a place where I was deprived of my liberty, where I was treated as somebody with diminished capacity and insight, where I was somebody ‘dishevelled, retarded, highly agitated and characterised by suicidal ideation, lethargic and far from mentally alert, incontinent, occasionally subjected to physical restraint and possibly needing ECT treatment due to treatment-resistant severe psychotic depression’ (From my care records covering the period of my detention in Park House).

My mental health crisis back in 2008-2010 and in particular my sectioning in 2009 effected a huge blow to my confidence and was a source of profound feelings of humiliation and shame, as well as a source of a deep sense of failure,  unfairness/injustice and stigmatisation- all acutely disempowering emotions. My mental breakdown and in particular my stay on Willow Ward at Park House were  immensely scarring experiences whereby the very core of my existence was deeply shaken and all my certainties collapsed.

 

So, when on 24th April 2009 my Section under the Mental Health Act 2007 was lifted and I was discharged from Willow Ward, it felt like Liberation Day as I felt I could have my life and freedom back. Although the struggle to regain my confidence, return to work  and repair my life has been hugely challenging in the last 4 years following my discharge from hospital, 24th April has become a psychic symbol of freedom and  life away from oppression,  terror and humiliation for me.

I woke up singing today…feeling joyful and grateful that I am not detained at Park House any more…

And looking through an old sketch book I also found two collages that I made back in 2011 when I was still attending START in Manchester, an arts mental health project. One of them is  a word collage and the other is a word collage that forms the shape of a vase with flowers. I thought that both collages capture how I am feeling  on Liberation Day really well…

Word Collage, Start, 2011

 

Vase-shaped Word Collage, Start, 2011

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