By Carol E. Kelly
Key Themes: Mental Health, Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar, Autobiography
This autobiography describes the life of Carol E Kelly MA, who suffers from schizo affective and bipolar disorders, how poetry helped her battle through illness whilst helping and inspiring others.
About the Author
Carol E Kelly was born in Garvagh, County Derry, Northern Ireland in 1958. She has resided in the seaside town of Portstewart, County Derry for over forty years. Carol is a performance poet and part-time lecturer in Psychiatry. At the age of eighteen, whilst studying in London, Carol was diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia. This was later diagnosed as schizo affective and bipolar disorder.
Despite this Carol has achieved a Masters qualification, she is an award winning and published poet, has received various awards from the Arts Council to travel to Canada and New Zealand, where she recited her poetry and gave workshops. Carol has also worked as an advocate for a Mental Health charity. Carol works tirelessly promoting mental health issues through her poetry and has appeared in print and television also campaigning for equal rights. Her unique insight of the mental health system and her personal experiences has provided inspiration to many other sufferers.
When I arrived, she immediately knew something was wrong. She bathed me and took me to see the welfare officer at our college. As soon as we arrived at the South Bank's Welfare Office I imagined I was in a siege situation where the helicopters flying into nearby Battersea heliport were surrounding me. The workmen on the roof were really soldiers with guns instead of shovels. The sirens of the police cars were after me. In London as I'm sure you know there are always police sirens in the background but I internalised this thinking that they were all after me. The absolute terror and feeling of extreme paranoia and being part of a vast conspiracy meant that I could not speak and I must have looked terrified and consequently very alarming in appearance to most people.
It was a Friday so Jan and I were sent home to get fish and chips in Brixton. No doctor had been called at this point. However, throughout the course of the weekend a doctor was sent for because I was so panicked and agitated I was acting like I was being frisked and standing against the wall so my torturers could search me. I went with the welfare officer, still not in form to speak, to the Maudsley Hospital. They begged me to sign a form which meant I was a voluntary patient, I eventually capitulated and for my sins, they put me in a cell overnight.
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