Ah, the playground, times recalled of the joy in a young child's heart. The fun, the laughter, the innocent games of childhood. Yet, not all children had games of fun to keep them amused. For they were the playground bullies and the only games they wished to play, involved toying with the minds of the vulnerable little ones.
Some of the bullies never left the playground. They brought their evil into their adult working lives. The games, the mind games, took on a more sinister and complex nature.
I never really fit in at work. I was different, a foreigner, an outsider. I tried to ignore the abuse. Maybe if I pretended the writing on the wall that stated, 'You foreign bastard! Fuck off back to Canada! Stop taking jobs away from us English!', wasn't really there, that all would be okay. Oh, how wrong I was.
The torrent of abuse, went on, unabated, for more than eight years, physically, financially, and worst of all, psychologically. Here I was, a man trying to support his wife and son, falling apart and descending into a world or relentless insanity. Racked with guilt, I felt I'd let my family down. Once, a strong and happy man, now barely a man at all.
My mind and my body, could take no more. I collapsed at home, a quivering wreck. My doctor put me on sick leave. This would be the start of a breakdown that scared and humbled me.
I returned to work a month later. With trepidation, I attempted to do my daily routines. 'Hey nutter?! What's wrong with you? Poor baby not very well?!' taunted the bullies. Well, no I wasn't and I left the job, for good.
The ripple effect of leaving my job, was to take its toll on my family. I turned to drink to numb the escalating reality that I was becoming mentally ill. This only compounded the problem and my wife left with our son, to start a new life. My breakdown was now in complete control of my life. I turned into an incoherent, pathetic, shadow of a man. Get drunk, pass out, wake up, get drunk, pass out. This was my world.
You may have realised, that through sheer resilience and determination, that my life has turned around. I challenged the negative environment within and without. Yes, I am mentally ill. This, however, has bestowed upon me a gift. The gift of profound understanding and empathy for the innocent, the scared, the desperate. Fragile humans, tormented and abused, by those so insecure, that they need a victim to deflect away their inadequate feelings. Yes, I am mentally ill. I thought it only happened to others. Now I know that it can happen to anybody.
A bully needs an audience. I walk the streets of town and sometimes see the bullies that came so close to destroying me. I look at them , I smile and see the fear in their eyes. For they fear the man who was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. 'What if the nutter is having a bad day?' If only they could see the man and not their distorted perceptions of my illness.
The goal of my blog is to reduce the unfair stigma, the labelling, that so many of us with mental health issues, have to endure. We are all in this together. No man shall be alone. It's time to celebrate rather than fear our differences. Let us truly create a positive environment where all mankind can rejoice in the wonderment of diversity.
I think back to the happy times of a little boy in a playground. Some brought the darker side of the playground world into their adults lives. Their ugly acts of inhumanity have caused intolerable grief to countless, defenceless victims. It's time to stop, to think, and embrace the possibilities of a caring, kinder, more thoughtful world.
Here's wishing you a peaceful and positive New Year.