There are times, not very often I admit, when I can be serious. A sense of humour is a well used tool in my survival kit, you could say it\'s had abit of a hammering along the years but I\'m glad I can see the amusing side of things as opposed to being pessimistic and letting the bad times defeat me. I\'ve faced some tough obstacles and I\'ve overcome them when I could see no improvement in sight, always having an optimistic, determined outlook gets you through it … even if you are left with a little scarring. I\'ve always been a strong-willed person (my mum would say it\'s my downfall) but how can that be when strength only drives you on to achieve the goals you set for yourself. Surely a strong-will equips you and protects you? Along with a strong-will I have perseverance. I hate, with a passion, something beating me. I\'m not competitive, but if I do a crossword I won\'t put the damn thing down until I\'ve done it. Not much of a challenge in the grand scheme of things, but you get the idea?

These attributes came in handy when I worked in psychiatry. Patients would come to us in pretty bad physical and mental states and initially you\'d think there wasn\'t a cat in hell\'s chance they\'d recover or lead normal lives, but just having others\' care for them who were willing to guide them, listen to them and be that mental (sometimes physical) punch bag offered them a pinch of hope. Mental health, especially in this day and age, is something we will all have some experience of by the time we reach our twilight years, may it be our own sufferings or the sufferings of others. Post natal depression, breakdowns, altzheimer\'s, anorexia, bulimia, cutting or just depression in general is not as rare as people once thought and it definitely doesn\'t carry the same stigma it once had. Over the years I have cared for many, many different patients. At the extreme end of the spectrum there have been schizophrenics. My first encounter was with a 6ft 4in woman called Julie who upon hearing voices telling her I was laughing at her, came at me in the kitchen with a fork she\'d been carrying for protection in her handbag! Despite this I liked Julie. She was ill. She couldn\'t help it. She\'d been the victim of parental neglect, lack of education, abusive relationships and neglect from the system. It had failed her and she was pissed off …. Can\'t say I blame her for that! The \'not so dangerous\' patients were the ones with personality disorders. When I say not so dangerous, I mean they are generally more likely to manipulate others mentally rather than fork attacks, although the draining effect they have over people is probably just as dangerous. Constant reassurance, attention and interest is a must with these people which is partly healthy when dealing with a child, however the same can be frustrating when it\'s a 50 year old man who\'s only \'real\' problem is the fact his wife left him for another man and he\'s having trouble \'coping\' with it. I\'m not belittling the 50 year olds problem but it\'s hardly something you should allow to defeat you. Besides, if this was how he conducted himself with life in general it\'s no wonder his wife left him. The reason I\'m telling you this is because I was recently told something by someone (and its not the first time she\'s told me) that reminded me of a girl I used to look after just before I left the profession. Chloe was 18 when she came to us. Three years previous to this she had been in and out of psychiatric hospitals and units and at such a young age the things you witness in those types of places are not something a young person should have to see. She was a lovely girl to look at but when you looked beyond the superficial surface it was quite sad to see she had no life in her eyes, no soul. To cut a long story short Chloe had been very badly abused when she was younger by her mother\'s boyfriend. Throughout all the ordeals she must\'ve endured she didn\'t know that this was wrong. All too familiarly this guy had told her to keep quiet and she had done until at 15 she fell pregnant. To cover up his own indiscretions and guilt the guy had made her have an abortion, alone and probably quite clinically and to make matters worse, inflicted more abuse on her as soon as she returned home from the operation!!! As a result of now knowing this was wrong Chloe left home. She didn\'t tell anyone, she just left and sadly no-one looked for her. Over the next couple of years she found herself in similar situations whereas abusive and violent behaviour was part of her life. The trouble with Chloe was, she didn\'t know any different. Like many victims they are sometimes a victim of themselves. They tolerate certain situations because it has been the norm for them, they react, or indeed, don\'t react to others behaviour which sometimes results in a pattern of events they feel safe being involved with. This sort of lifestyle is not normal and Chloe needed to realise this. I think in the depths of her conscience she knew otherwise she wouldn\'t have needed alcohol and drugs to cope. As a result of the abuse she was inflicting on herself her mental condition deteriorated and she became extremely depressed. Fortunately the ride stopped for Chloe as finally the system caught up with her and gave her the lifebelt she needed. With a lot of therapy and re-education as to what she should or should not tolerate Chloe became well again. What I was told isn\'t anywhere near as severe as Chloe\'s story but its enough to have me concerned. What may only be something minor, every now and again, is only going to escalate and get worse because someone is tolerating a certain behaviour which is wrong and that only allows the bully to continue because they can. Whether this person came to me because of my work experience, I don\'t know. I have witnessed for myself (last year) something which concerned me a lot and naively thought it would go away … it seems not.

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