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Experience Reflection

Why did I delay in getting help?

In the end, I only got help because I was forced to by the severity of my illness. (It ended up affecting not only me and my family, but public life and people in the street.) The main reason that I tried to keep ‘things’ to myself was fear. Now, fear is essentially irrational: there are usually no good reasons for it. But fear was the umbrella that kept my other secret concerns ‘in the shade.’ Those other concerns are interlinked by a common thread of fear, and were: shame, or feeling that I would be judged very poorly if people knew; shyness, in the sense of being reserved and a very ‘private person,’ which inhibited me from opening myself up to strangers, like doctors; self-sufficiency, which is the lie that I had no need for outside help, including medication; a refusal to accept myself, in that I absolutely refused to identify as mentally ill; and culture, in that I was coming from a context in which ‘such things’ were not accepted or openly discussed or known about. Most unfortunately, all of these factors worked together to my detriment and, in the ensuing delay, I got about as sick as you can get. Then it was that I started getting treatment and, fortunately, I complied with it from early on. It was a huge relief finally to admit that I needed this new help, and to lie down the oppressive burdens of absolute fear and total denial. My twofold task had now become a quest for ‘wellness’ in reality, and the slow and gradual ‘closing of the umbrella of fear’ which cast a full shadow on me in the first and second decades of my life.

By Stephen Plustwik

'In the face of all my foes I am a reproach, an object of scorn to my neighbours and of fear to my friends. Those who see me in the street run far away from me. I am like a dead man, forgotten in men's hearts, like a thing thrown away.'—Psalm 31[30]:12–13 (Grail).