‘Include Me In’ by Anthony O’Connor

When I was first approached to write a blog, I was unsure and didn’t think I had anything to say that might interest anyone. So, I went on the IMHN webpage and had a look around and remembered that one of the things that encouraged me to join the organisation was its five values. They are Inclusivity, Bravery, Respectfulness, Determination and Innovative. For me personally, the words bravery and determination stood out (I had decided I was lacking in both) and contributed enormously to me becoming a member. Since then, I have been much more involved with various activities and meetings and what has become most apparent to me now is the word ‘inclusivity’.

Normally I would associate this word with a resolve to include all people regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual or religious orientation and it tells you a lot about both me and society generally that I’ve never really thought that this word applied to me. I am a white, heterosexual male approaching my sixtieth birthday and, on the face of it, I’ve never been excluded from anything in my life. But the truth is very different, and this has only really dawned on me since meeting the incredibly diverse group of individuals that make up the IMHN.

My inclusion in this group of people is entirely down to my long-standing Mental Health issues and those issues are equally responsible for the many times in my life that I have been excluded from society and I don’t mean just being sectioned, although that has happened. I have had Depression since childhood (never spotted, never diagnosed) and it remains with me to this day. My life has been a series of stop/starts with me always feeling that I’m just yet another bad decision away from complete breakdown. I know some of you reading this post will recognise what I’m saying, and I also know you will have had the anxiety, fear and freeze-you-in your-tracks terror that accompanies this condition. Then there is the guilt (you let a lot of people down when you have depression) and the self-loathing that follows. I’m sure most of you have figured-out that this is one of the ways that suicides happen; I’ve woken up in a hospital bed more than once when I didn’t expect to wake up at all.

The work of the IMHN is vital if we are to prevent people having to go through their whole lives burdened with an illness as crippling as any physical condition. We need to get to grips with the current system of mental health provision, we need to shake it up and we need to radically improve it. I am working with an excellent team of Experts by Experience on the IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapy) programme, and this is just one of the areas where we can make a difference. In just a few short months we have started to identify those niggling little flaws in the system and we are pro-actively seeking solutions. It is unbelievably advantageous to sit down in a meeting with other people who have gone through/are going through the system and can therefore pinpoint the mistakes and the glaring omissions. To understand what these individuals have gone through in order to be able to make these contributions makes me feel privileged to be sat alongside them.

Now I have found some like-minds and my inclusion in the group is important to them and theirs to me. We have all been excluded in one way or another and I’m aware that there are those amongst us for whom this is an on-going and deeply wrong situation. We have come together to right many wrongs and our inclusivity is an absolute key weapon in our endeavours.

 

Words by Anthony O’Connor – member of our IAPT (Increasing Access into Psychological Therapies) Experts By Experience Group and Manchester IMHN Leadership rep.

Published on October 21, 2021 at 3:55 pm

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