A direct line to sanity

Practical information provided by telephone
helpline Saneline was of enormous benefit to Richard Jameson.

You are desperate. You have reached a state of
misery that it is hard to imagine. It may not even occur to you to
ask for help. But help is at hand.

When I first fell ill in 1960, there was
nothing. Worse than nothing – there was hostility. Nobody wanted to
know, not even the scientists. If I had been capable of feeling
lonely on top of all my other mad, mixed-up emotions, I would
indeed have done so. But I was on another planet and Saneline had
not yet been thought up.

It is impossible to say how much this
telephone helpline has helped me through its extremely supportive,
trained, volunteers who provide practical information galore.

If you are homeless, in distress or imagining
things that aren’t true, they can help. Not by saying “there,
there”, but by giving you all the information you need to get out
of your predicament: names, addresses, telephone numbers of
experts, and simply by being there to make your life a good deal

When I fell ill, I thought I was the only one,
but there are thousands like me. More’s the pity of course, but
more’s the joy that I wasn’t alone. Every case is different, but
there are many recurring patterns. This makes it easier to solve
the problems and make the right recommendations. For there is a
solution to every problem.

Saneline is the brainchild of Marjorie
Wallace, who gave up talking about life in general to talk about
schizophrenia and mental disorders in particular. How I wish I had
had its services between 1960 and 1975, when I was certified nine
times. Nobody seemed to know what to do with me except get me out
of the way. When I got back into the community each time, I had no
social worker, nurse or counsellor. I had to do it all myself,
which I recommend, because it strengthens you. But Sane, the
charity Wallace founded, is now part of the landscape.

There are no scars on people like me. We may
look completely at rest, but it can be hell on earth. Thank
goodness for Saneline – let’s hope it continues to get funding.

Some people’s minds never go wrong. They are
blessed – but under-privileged. I can tell the sufferer from this
plateau of good health that I am almost glad I went through it all.
It taught me so many useful things about myself and life in
general. And from the safety of suburban normality I can almost
envy my hypomanic self. I am now blessed with mini-hypomania,
beautifully controlled. I don’t get bitter or depressed, because I
don’t like the feeling – I shy away from it. I have learned
behaviour, almost from scratch, thanks to people like Desmond
Kelly, who is the kindest shrink I know.

Doctors certainly don’t seem very kind when
you are fighting the world in your mind, including the spirit
world. But they are much kinder than the popularly distorted view
of them. And you fight a very lonely battle out of your mind, with
only a brick wall for company.

Richard Jameson is a mental health
service user. The number for Saneline is 08457 678000.

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