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A CARER’S STORY - MY FIRST DAY VISITING THE CMH
My first day visiting the CMH was one filled with sadness and fear. I remember the sense of shame standing on the street ringing the bell and the sense of panic walking up the avenue. I was afraid of everything that moved even thinking will I ever get out of here alive. I laugh now when I think of that particular thought.
When I saw my child my heart jumped and it took me all my strength not to cry. Here was this young man who once upon a time played football and hurling in Croke Park. He loved to DJ and dance. He gave me my first grandson. He looked at me with suspicion and fear in his eyes. My stomach did a summersault and I felt like collapsing to the ground.
Instead I smiled and hugged him. I had an overwhelming urge to take him home and mind him (I still feel like this today, each time I visit him). He looked so lost and unwell. It still upsets me today writing this. The sense of powerlessness was and still can be overwhelming.
The journey with my child in the CMH is like that of being on a merry-go-round. As he is resistant to most medications, his recovery is often short lived and there have been many relapses. He suffers so much with this illness and it would take me all day to describe some of the awful periods he goes through. He also has had some good periods when it looked like he might get well enough to leave the hospital. These periods changed and he is again back to square one where it all starts again. Through the past years, I have learned so much from my child and can admire the endurance and sense of humour he continues to have. Often he is the one who gives me hope.
I cannot thank the staff of the CMH enough for all their hard work and their support over the years. These people are now part of my child’s life, in a way that I cannot be. They are the caretakers, the friends he has lost through this illness, the people who support and look after him. They mind him and share the good and bad times with him, supporting him all the way. I pray that one day he will be able to go out and live in the community, sit at the dinner table with us, go to see a football match, maybe play a bit of football with his son, do some of the things he enjoys and wants to do. I know tht there is recovery from this illness and that for some it takes longer than for others.
Another hope of mine is that one day people, we will see the residents in the CMH as people with a severe and enduring mental illness and not see them as criminals. I would like to see the stigma of mental illness disappear forever.