Snapshots …lost stories

Moved, touched, left  wondering, sad, a glimmer of hope, distressed, frightened all profound feelings I felt when visiting In a Dark Wood the link explains it here – 

http://www.storyingsheffield.com/stories/in-a-dark-wood-words-and-images-of-mental-distress-across-a-century/

There were pictures of people from Middlewood Hospital (lunatic asylum) from just under a hundred years ago, with a soundtrack of music and voices of present day people talking about their experiences of mental health.. I was one of those people
In telling my story which I don’t often do these days, I cried it felt so sad and somebody cried with me and  in the sharing we could sit and be together a while eyes showing mutual compassion, a sad and knowing moment of understanding and that moment is now etched in my mind.
This picture below caught my attention particularly the woman in the centre.. I don’t know her story but I found myself creating one for her a fantasy to make her real not just an image in a photo.
“She was taken in to the asylum as she had a child without being married which happened often in those days and she remained in there for years slowly becoming institutionalised and she lost her mind, her sense of who she was, of who she may become, she was lost in a photo to be shown in September 2016 in Sheffield where she came alive for me in my mind in my story” I cry … What was her story?
I posted this photo on my Facebook and someone said they used to work there in the 70’s and the children of mothers who had been taken into the asylum were working in the laundry. A story I found hard to hear it’s only 40-50 years ago. A time when my mum was in High Royds Hospital (asylum) could I have been one of these children? My heart sinks the fear of that place remains with me today I was so traumatised as a child visiting I only remember that place in snapshots in pictures in my mind, I was so small and frightened, I can’t imagine being in there working.
What are these children’s stories today? It makes me cry … Do children get frightened today when visiting parents in mental health hospitals does anyone consider that?
I blogged about visiting High Royds as a child you can read it here
Another story is one that a former member of staff from Middlewood told me as I had been wondering why all of the photographs had been taken . They seemed so posed, harrowed, eyes sad and despairing I became obsessed with their eyes I was trying to see their stories are the eyes the windows to our soul? Nobody knows the truth as to why they sat in rows in chairs posed for the camera.
The story she told me was that on a Sunday they were all forced to go to church and had to put on their Sunday best clothes and they weren’t allowed their cigarettes until they were ready .
We still hear about coercion in metal health face down restraint, people injected against their will and now not  allowed to smoke on the wards for their own good health …for me it’s about coercion….. and it echoes of this past story of withholding cigarettes and making people go to church for their spiritual good no doubt.
Today we can tell our stories through blogging, and the internet will keep our words and images for us so others can read them, we talk about digital footprints maybe for people to follow.
My mum has her story she often forgot lots of mine due to  her devastating life with schizophrenia and forced ECT  so there are bits missing. I don’t know what time of day I was born for example. Memories fade and I cry.
I am so touched by this picture and I wonder in mental health how far have we moved on? But I do know we need compassion, kindness and to be able to tell our stories in a safe place where we are not judged.
Goodbye you brave three women I’m remembering you today.

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About bpdffs

I campaign for better services for people with BPD. I run #BPDchat onTwitter on Sundays at 9pm BST, please join us. I train CMHT staff in BPD awareness and run psycho-educational courses for people with BPD. I am a governor at Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust.

2 responses to “Snapshots …lost stories”

  1. Julie says :

    So sad and I truly believe some things haven’t changed. Do you know if it will be possible to view th exhibition online in any way?

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