Todays Friday focus is a very moving one , its all about a Young 24 year old Lochmaben Lass and her quest to stop the Stigma attached to Mental illness , after being ill herself for many years , This is Chloe’s story 1 a 1 a Dugals Friday Focuswritten in her own hand , and below is a YouTube video Chloe posted earler this week , that has already had over One Million Views ! Please do share this story and help others know they are not lone in their suffering !
I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Chloe Kacedan. I am 24 years old and I live in Lochmaben. At the age of 18 I became very unwell and ended up in hospital. I had recently finished my 6th year at Lockerbie Academy and was due to start University in the September of 2008. I was excited about starting my course and couldn’t wait to begin a new chapter in my life. School wasn’t the easiest of times for me, as my mind was often pre-occupied with personal matters. I still enjoyed school and in 6th year was given the opportunity to become a House Captain, which was a role I took seriously and thoroughly enjoyed. After finding out that I had been accepted to study a BA Honours in History/American studies … I felt as though nothing could prevent the happiness and excitement that I was feeling. However, shortly after leaving school my world fell apart, and that genuine happiness that I’d once felt turned into sadness, despair and hopelessness.

After leaving school, I made a decision that would change my life forever and one that would force me to re-live memories from my past that I had desperately managed to conceal for so long. At the age of 8 I began to endure sexual abuse from somebody that I knew. Someone that I trusted. It continued until I was around 13/14 before he made the decision to move away and start a new life elsewhere. There were only 2 teachers from my school that were aware of this incident and as a result, I received counselling from a member of the CALM’s team. It allowed me to relieve a lot of the issues that were on my mind, however, I was unaware of the extent to which the psychological damage would later impact on my life. It was only after leaving school that I felt as though I had the courage to go to the police and tell them exactly what had happened. I was given the support of the Family Protection Unit and assigned a personal officer who helped me through the entire case. Throughout this time I was asked to give detailed accounts of the abuse as it happened. As a result, the illness began to reveal itself and I had no idea the level of destruction it would cause.

I imagine that your first thought when reading this article was a natural assumption that my physical health had deteriorated. When someone mentions being “unwell”, it’s understandable that we assume it is a physical illness. For me, however, becoming unwell took the form of an invisible infirmity. It was my first real glimpse into the world of Mental Illness. It was as though darkness had descended over my entire being and there was no clear way out. I began to notice my emotions becoming more intense and out of control. I felt a deep sense of despair and anxiety. I started to become angry towards those around me. I didn’t know what I wanted from life anymore. Any certainty that had once led me to where I was had vanished. I began to push people away and say hurtful things to the people I care about the most. Worst of all, I had no idea why this was happening. Why I was feeling all of these emotions and where it had all come from. Then one day it became too much. I felt as though I had completely lost my way and I was doomed to feel like this forever. I had given up on life. Everything that I once cared so much about didn’t matter anymore. As a result, I was sectioned under the Mental Health Act and taken into hospital against my will. I’ll never forget how scared I was and how lonely I felt. It wasn’t because I didn’t have anyone around me who cared or was trying to help, but because I felt like nobody genuinely understood how I was feeling.

I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) whilst under the care of Mental Health professionals. I genuinely thought my life was over. However, my long road to recovery started at that very moment I was diagnosed with these psychological disorders. As time progressed and I began to come to terms with my diagnosis, I began to notice something … Something that has inspired me to write this article today. Mental Illness is so common, yet so many people are afraid or ashamed to talk about it. Why? I believe part of the reason is due to the fact that there is such an unhealthy stigma surrounding the subject. Many people are made to feel embarrassed or feel the need to isolate themselves from the rest of society purely based on the fact that they have a Mental Disorder that they did not choose, nor do they want. I cannot count the amount of times that I have heard Psychiatric hospitals referred to as “Loony Bins” or “Nut Houses”. To me, this highlights the problems surrounding people’s ignorance on the topic of Mental Illness. People who require hospital treatment for a physical illness are not subject to this kind of scrutiny. They are not made to feel different or ashamed because they are in need of help. So why is it that people are so quick to judge someone because of a different type of illness? Is it because it cannot be seen? Is it because people are afraid of what they do not understand? Or is it just a sheer lack of understanding on their part? For so long I was scared to open up and come to terms with the fact that (due to no fault of my own), I have a condition that causes a chemical imbalance in my brain, yes that’s right … a chemical imbalance … resulting in dramatic fluctuations in my mood and my outlook on life. One minute I can feel on top of the world and find life wonderfully fulfilling , and the next minute everything changes. I am not a Doctor, or a Psychiatrist or any other form of Mental Health professional. I do not pretend to have an extended knowledge with regards to other diagnosis. I can only speak about my own feelings and experiences with Mental Illness. I want to stop the stigma surrounding Mental Illness. I want people to understand that, just because they cannot physically see something, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. People’s emotions are real. Their pain and lonliness is real. Their frustration is a way of venting how they are feeling because they cannot find a suitable outlet for their suffering. Mental Illness kills. It destroys lives and leaves behind a trail of destruction. People often refer to suicide as a “choice”. This is a misguided statement. Suicide is not always a choice. Try to imagine that level of despair that a person is feeling in that moment they decide to take their own life. Try to imagine the desparation before they take a plunge into the unknown. Many of you will not … and that’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with not being able to comprehend taking your own life. There’s nothing wrong with finding it difficult to understand how a person is feeling. It can be difficult to understand why a person thinks and acts the way they do, especially if they themselves don’t fully understand why it is happening. But don’t judge what you don’t understand. Don’t make someone feel worse because they are going through something you cannot see. Try and show the same level of empathy towards that person as you would towards someone who has a physical illness. Do not make them feel ashamed or embarrassed because they are unable to control the way they think and feel. After all, it could happen to you. Any one of us can be the victim of mental illness at any given moment. The reality is you’ll know somebody that has or is suffering from some type of psychiatric disorder, you just might not realise you know.

I want to stop the stigma attached to Mental Illness. I want people who are experiencing such problems to have the security to come forward and speak about their feelings. I want to stop people feeling ashamed and embarrassed about something that is so common within today’s society. I want people to know that they are not alone. That they do not have to suffer in silence. That there is always a way out. Thus I have decided to form a local support group for those that wish to come along and see how many different types of people endure the same or similar battles. I want to allow people the opportunity to meet others within the community who face the same dilema. The fear of speaking out. Together I truly believe that we can rise against the stigma that has been created surrounding mental health. The group will be informal and anyone is welcome to come along. People do not have to speak if they do not wish to do so. This group is for the people of Dumfries and Galloway. For those that have suffered, or may know of someone who is fighting a secret battle against this epidemic. It will give people the opportunity to meet others whom they wouldn’t normally get a chance to speak to. If anyone has any questions please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] or otherwise contact me through Facebook.

Together we can stop the stigma!

Best wishes.

Chloe Kacedan.




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