You look so well! Perhaps the biggest curse of hidden illnesses is so often we look so well. Look 'normal'. There are so many mental health diagnoses, so many people hurting, confused, lost or forgotten who look good, look normal.
Fiona looks good and 'normal'. So often people who have mental health issues aren't taken seriously because they look good or 'normal'. A wheelchair, a stick, stitches make sense to an observer. PTSD can't be seen, depression isn't in a wheelchair, BPD doesn't walk with a limp.
When GTL received an application for Fiona to go to Jess Glynne from a concerned and compassionate friend we got the outline of a story. Depression and PTSD from events in Fiona's history. This was enough to take the application further and to find tickets to Jess's show in Birmingham.
Quite often PTSD is associated with events is a war zone. Fiona's PTSD is a result of childhood trauma, traumas not taken seriously at the time even though seizures had her hospitalised for 10 months when she was 17. Self harming at 14, suicide attempts at 15 and 18. Diagnosed as depressed and given meds. Supported housing that wasn't safe at 18. Just depressed, have some meds, you look good.
Understandably Fiona feels let down, that the appropriate services failed her, that she wasn't taken seriously at home. Big wounds, wounds that take great courage to heal, wounds that need compassion, patience and love.
Adrian, Fiona's husband is compassionate, patient and loving. They met in 2006 and life turned around with Adrian; happy, working, two wonderful children. Then in January last year Fiona woke up and all the memories, the trauma that lived deep inside arrive crashing at her door. She couldn't eat, sleep, drink. The mental health crisis team diagnosed her with PTSD, BPD, meds prescribed, counselling given, six weeks off work and things seemed ok. But they weren't and it wasn't long before everything crashed again. More meds, a new counsellor, off work, days in bed, hopelessness, helplessness, fear, depression, too scared to go out, to answer the phone. In Fiona's own words 'Feeling lost, empty, angry, worthless having no hope and feeling like you are on your own, not able to fight, not knowing how to fight'
That was over a year ago.
Adrian is a constant support and ally. Not judging, being nothing but compassionate. And it's hard for him as well. To see his beloved wife hurting so deeply. To at times be a single parent as the distress for Fiona is too much.
Slowly life is becoming a little easier for Fiona but it's a long road. A year into counselling, meds that seem to be working yet stop her sleeping well.
Mental health issues often bring about isolation. Sometimes because friends disappear because they don't understand, sometimes because the thought of simply walking out the front door or making a phone call is terrifying.
We invited Fiona and her family to Farm Fest (where the photo was taken) and yes, she did look good, look normal. And we know it was a great effort to come along, to be amongst people and she did great.
We're very excited to be able to take Fiona to Jess Glynne next month especially as the show falls a couple of days after her birthday. She'll be going with Adrian and we'll spoil them both, taking them to a lovely hotel where they can simply relax and have time together. Then to see the show.
Happy Birthday, Fiona.
For the last year the Foo Fam, a Facebook group with members from all four corners of the globe, has been supporting Given To Live.