Sinead Keane

I have thought long and hard about writing this. Why, you might ask. Mainly I have never really thought people would be that interested in my ongoing journey with depression and anxiety (and I also have Asperger’s syndrome to boot). What has been going on in my life for the past few months as made me want to scream out at the top of my lungs. I feel like my head is on the verge of exploding, that there is a type pressure deep in my body that is about to explode. I fell like Violet Beauregard from ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ when she eats the chewing gum she is not allowed to and turns purple and all her limbs start to swell up. You see, I am currently going through one of the worst periods of my illness in about seven years.

My gripe as a suffer of a mental health condition is not with the public health service. I am in the very lucky position that I have a consultant that I see one on one and who is very easy to talk to, this is a rarity I know. My interactions as a service user have always been good, it was hard I admit to gain access but once I was in all I have met is good people.

My problem is with the education system and its views of mental health. I am currently an M.A. student at a rather large university that is situated in Dublin 4. I use the term currently very loosely as I am currently not attending because I am too unwell. You may well be asking at this point as to what the education system has to do with my health a good bit. Firstly, I want to sharewhat my experience has been so anyone that comes after me might realize that they’re not alone and some has been through it before.

We have a third level education system in Ireland that can’t deal with people like me. Academia in Ireland is full of those who think that they are terribly liberal to those who are different but in reality they are not. Once someone with a mental illness arrives on their door it is like they might catch a contagious disease. This year I have explained my situation to two lecturers, one the head of school, and their response was that they had never heard of what illness I had. Yes, in 2016 this is what the alleged higher educated have said to me. Once also after saying that he had never heard what was wrong with me said that he had never seen someone have such an extreme form of my illness as me. These and other interactions that I have had have slowly ebbed away at me, little by little.

Disability service for all the good intentions stick to script. They have the same script for every disability look it up you will find I am right. Since I disclosed my illness I have been treated as a lesser being. There have been meeting held about me that I did not find out till after the fact. I was greeted with shock when I complained that I had no input in discussions about me. It’s not really inclusive is it?

(I’ve written briefly about my own experience in college here. Wasn’t so much fun!)

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