Tariq - Interview 06
More about me...
Tariq is a 21 year old man of Asian origin. He is a full-time university student. He says his diagnosis has been difficult to pinpoint' first he was diagnosed with manic depression (aged 18) and then with schizophrenia. He's tried various medications, and his current one works but blocks out his feelings, causes drowsiness and makes it difficult to study and watch TV. He takes his medication late at night to manage these side-effects.
Tariq believes that his mental health difficulties were caused by the bullying and physical assaults he experienced at school following September 11 2001 combined with the trauma of having open heart surgery (he was born with a heart defect).
When he first became unwell, Tariq began to feel anxious, down, suicidal and was constantly reliving the bullying he had experienced. At first he thought this was normal. Just before his exams, he felt worse' he didn't want anyone to speak to him, felt like smashing things, and felt uncomfortable walking to college. He said he tried to act “normally” so people wouldn't be suspicious. Tariq also experienced hallucinations (he saw dead people and people followed him around the house), delusional thoughts and thought blocking (not being able to think for himself) and he attempted suicide several times. His mental health difficulties mean that he still gets anxious in public places. Tariq believes he is in recovery but that it will take years to recover.
Tariq is on an enhanced Care Programme Approach so he sees a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a mental health nurse. Tariq strongly disagrees with the idea of institutional racism because he has not experienced it personally. He is very happy with his mental health team, who he describes as warm, compassionate and kind. He felt he is listened to and says he negotiated his care plan. However, Tariq has written letters to his mental health trust to comment on the services he receives and to make suggestions for improvements. Tariq has also had a lot of support from his disability officer at university. Tariq has tried therapy, stress workshops, meditation, self-help books, and fitness videos but thinks “it's all rubbish”. Tariq is a practicing Muslim, but he says prayer has not helped him. He feels as though he has been rejected by his religion because of his mental health difficulties.
Tariq believes he has experienced more discrimination as a result of his mental health difficulties than his ethnic background. For example, Tariq described experiencing discrimination when applying for voluntary work because of his mental health difficulties. He believes that the Disability Discrimination Act is ineffective for people with mental health problems. Tariq has chosen to tell only close friends and family about his mental health difficulties because he feels that it could affect his chances of marrying in the future.
Tariq was made to feel like a “no-hoper” at school, but is proud to be at university, and this has boosted his self-esteem and confidence. He also works as a charity trustee and does voluntary work supporting hospital patients. Tariq plans to do a PhD and to become a university lecturer. Tariq is inspired by famous people in history who reportedly experienced mental health difficulties and feels he has gained from having mental health difficulties.
Tariq is inspired by people with mental health problems who have gone on to do well because you...
I want to be a service user that does well and when I, the thing is what I draw a lot of inspiration from is the people that have experienced mental health difficulties and have gone on to do well. You know, like if you look back at history, you know, Winston Churchill had mental heath, he had very bad depression, , Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest presidents of America, he had mental health difficulties, so I think that, you know, mental health difficulties people experience in their life but they can do well, they can make an enormous contribution to society and I tend to look at it in a very positive way because if you started looking at it negatively what, what will people think of you…?
Beethoven, the famous classical, he was, he suffered from mental health, what's that guy's name, the guy who inspired Mahatma Ghandi, Tolstoy, he suffered from mental health, he mentioned in one of his books that he suffered from mental health difficulties. Many of the most significant figures in the 20th century and even before suffered mental health difficulties…
To, that they too can persevere, even though they've got mental health difficulties they can preserve not to feel embarrassed of their mental health difficulties, that to continue with life and to keep on working at what they're doing and not to be taken, not to let anyone pull them down because I think that if you let that happen then what will happen is that you'll go down and it will affect you really badly. But if you persevere and if you ignore those ignorant comments you will persevere in life and I feel that I've persevered. Even though I haven't got a PhD yet I think I've persevered and I've shown people that through my experience I've positively done things constructive in my life that a lot of people can learn from and a lot of people can adopt to their own lifestyle.
Tariq set out his own care plan and says the mental health system is different from how it's...
And they let me set out my own care plan which was amazing so on a weekly basis rather than them telling me what to do, what to take, how to take it, I'd say look I'm going to take it on this day, I'm going to take it on that day, I'm going to walk, on that day I'm going to go for this, and the thing is they accepted it so it really amazed me that the staff actually listened to what I had to say. but what I did say I sort of, I'm the sort of person that's sort of, I can be like a politician I can make concessions, I can be like, you know, if you don't do this then I'm not going to do this. If you don't let me do this then I'm not going to take the medication etcetera and the thing is that they actually engaged with me in that sort of concession sort of thing [Laughs]. 'Alright if you do the medication then we'll do this for you.' and it was like, I was able to engage with them frequently and it's, and until this very day I do, on a monthly basis I go to an outpatients' appointment to see my psychiatrist and my mental health nurse and we still do make concessions. and like I'm the sort of person that would say, you know, if you don't make concessions I'm walking out of here, and
the thing is that I've never had staff not listen to me and they've always listened to me etcetera so I think having access to mental health services I've actually positively gained out of the support that I've received, the support mechanism, you know, they, they've been very understanding, whenever I couldn't come and wouldn't contact them they've been very, you know, 'We understand,' etcetera. they've been very, very understanding so I think that I've, the mental health services have treated me quite well and I feel that, you know, I'm very happy, I accessed the mental health services I, because I initially had this very sort of negative view having like watched TV programmes when I was young where you see people being dragged in and, but they say that it's, you know, this is not how the system is. Maybe 50 years ago this was how the system is but we're now very modernised where we treat, want to help people in the community, we want to treat them in their home, that's where they should be.
Tariq says the ethnicity of his mental health team doesn't matter, because they've all given him...
The thing is people always say you need to have an Asian man support you, you need to have an Asian man be next to you to be your advocate, why do I need that? I don't. What will, I don't understand what the difference is between a white person supporting and an Asian person supporting. It's like they're, you one is sub-human and one is human and [laughs] and it's true, and, and they're two different kinds of people and they can't do the same thing. It's like because of their race they have to be different somehow. I think it's not true, I think that the support I received from white members of staff has been the same I have received from Asian members of staff and I've had Asian people that have supported me in terms of the mental health system.
I've had a, you know, my psychiatrist I've had three psychiatrists because one had, they've all had to move on to different areas of psychiatry and etcetera but one, my first one was an Asian guy, my second one was a, I think he was , yeah I think he was a Jewish guy and the third guy the now, now, actually I've ahead four, the third guy was a Chinese guy and the fourth one is an Englishman and I've had a broad range of people and all of them seem to have the same belief that they want to see me recover and do well.
Tariq says that he's glad he wasn't sectioned because he believes it could have damaged his...
So I think that being supported in the community has been beneficial for me and it's also helped, it hasn't tarnished my records because once you're sectioned it actually bars you from taking up certain positions in society because from what I understand, from what I've learnt is that if, once you're sectioned you're not allowed to do voluntary jobs that may require you to work with the public, you may be barred from becoming I don't know a professional in some areas you know, you can't even become an academic, academic if you're sectioned.
But if you've experienced mental health difficulties but you're not sectioned you can, that's the big difference. And for example there was a famous guy in the United States and I've forgotten his name, John, he was a US professor who suffered mental health difficulties, there was a film done about him called the Beautiful Mind, Professor John Nash. John Nash was a professor who suffered very serious mental health but he was never sectioned. Although the film was a bit exaggerated and it didn't give an accurate depiction of his life he took medication but he was allowed to stay as a professor but what they did say to him was that if, if he was sectioned and then couldn't continue his career and that's what his, what people should differentiate that, people that experience mental health difficulties can go onto become success, successful but people that are sectioned it may be far more difficult for them because they, people that are sectioned it's far more difficult for them to access services and for people to sort of, because of the legal processes in this country it's quite difficult to sort of, I don't now I'm not sure how I can word it but I don't know how to word it so I'm not going to continue on that bit. but I think people that do experience mental health difficulties but are not sectioned do far more better than people that are sectioned. Winston Churchill, as I was saying, he suffered depression he was never sectioned, Abraham Lincoln was never sectioned many of the, you know,
Beethoven, the famous classical, he, he was, he suffered from mental health, what's that guy's name, the guy who inspired Mahatma Ghandi, Tolstoy, he suffered from mental health, he mentioned in one of his books that he suffered from mental health difficulties. Many of the most significant figures in the 20th century and even before suffered mental health difficulties. So, but the majority of them were not sectioned, I don't think any of them were, they were, they took medication, they suffered from depression but they were never sectioned and they've gone onto to do very well for themselves so I think that I've actually benefited by not being sectioned.
Tariq says some families in his community refuse to allow relatives with mental health problems...
We suffer those worst forms of everything and we have the least number of people. But I think that's, I think we suffer the lowest number but the people that do suffer mental health difficulties within the, within my community don't tend to come forward and, and use mental health services.
I've met many families who are refusing to allow their children to use, who experience children, their children who experience mental health difficulties to come forward and use mental health because of the family shame. and they, they, a lot of them are quite religious so they think it's, their kids have been possessed and it would be bring shame on their family from their relatives and stuff so they prefer to keep the person, their daughter at home or their son at home and not let them access mental health services. so I think that's a very major stigma that needs to be defeated but I don't think anyone is interested, the government is not interested, I don't think the Department of Health or any government agency is really interested, nobody really cares. But I think that mental health charities have taken a good step in showing look there are problems and we need to highlight them and we need to explore them and discuss them and have a healthy debate. But government who, who hold most of the money who can put thousands into these services to tailor and, to challenge stigma it's not a priority for them so I don't know I think it's going to be very difficult.
Tariq thought it would be helpful if professionals work more with families, and provide...
There are various other things that they could do but I think that they're not utilising these ways, they're, what they're doing is a lot of them don't have the time to do that and that's understandable because they're all busy, everyone is a busy person but I think that more could be done and it could be achieved but I think that can only be done, not by the professionals on their own I think it needs to be done through a filtered system where the trust board of Mental Health Trusts in different parts of the country can make these decisions, can look at ways forward, explore ways forward and then let these views filter down to the professionals. And then maybe work together with the professionals and, and see what ways they can actually get to families out there who have patients, or even, you know, about patients that ring hospitals to say they're very unwell, you know, what systems are there to get to them? You know, find out ways because there are hundreds of ways but people within the mental health system I feel that they're failing in that particular area but they can improve. I'm not saying because the thing is that they can improve but I'm not going to say they're racist because of it, I don't believe they are racist because they're not providing me with the tailored service that I wanted but I think that they improve, there's always room for improvement everywhere, in every walk of, in every walk of life, whatever profession there's always room for improvement but that takes time and that takes the participation of staff, patients, families, the senior people in that trust, working together to work for a more better , to work for, for a more better community and for, to help the patient involved recover and be able to integrate themselves back into the community in which they live.
When Tariq first began feeling unwell he didn't know what it was, but said it felt "normal" like...
Yeah exactly because you just, honestly you just feel normal, you just feel like it's, it's when you feel, you know, when you feel , when you get the 'flu you, the 'flu is natural it's just, you know, it happens and you feel poorly but you just still feel the same, you still can do your stuff, you can still do, you know, gardening or cook or, or make yourself a cup of tea. You can still do your ordinary day to day things but it's just that you have a feeling where you have something coming over you like you've got the 'flu but you have to deal with it or you have to try and keep it out or you have to try and, you know, try to recover on your own etcetera. That's how it was like, I feel it was just natural that I was experiencing and that other young people may have experienced it as well. but I didn't want to tell anyone about it, I didn't want to tell my friends I just thought it might be a bit embarrassing, maybe I'm going through something or whatever so yeah I just felt it was just a natural part of a, a human being and what they go through. and because I feel that I'm sort of, because I'm all over the place and I'm very active and I go all over the place I feel that maybe because of it, I'm very, feeling very weak and that's really putting pressure on me etcetera but [pause] I don't think it was. Now I see it wasn't.
Did you have an idea of what it might be then?
No I didn't because I didn't, the thing is I didn't even think the slightest that it was to do with anything, I didn't think it was to do with my heart problems, I didn't think it was to do with anything else. I just didn't think anything, I just thought, you know, I wanted to get on with the day and do my college and etcetera and I didn't think any of it, anything of it.
And you said in the beginning you just tried to sort of cope.
Yeah exactly, I tried to get on with my day to day stuff at college and do what, what I had to do. I had, you know, I tried to sort of keep it completely up but on some occasion it was quite difficult because I experiencing very, you know, feeling very anxious and very, you know, my hands were getting very sweaty and I was getting very frightened for no reason, I don't know why. But there were times when I could sit in the classroom, I had to walk out and go to the woman that was based at our college to go and tell her this is how I'm feeling etcetera. And this may have been during the class that I'd walked out, and etcetera so yeah.
When his symptoms got worse, Tariq told people he trusted and they went with him to the hospital;...
Tariq saw dead people and people following him around, but has difficulty remembering exactly...
Okay and what kind of hallucinations were you having?
Well, well I can't remember must of the experience because of the medication but I used to see dead people , in graves and I used to see people, I used to actually see people who would follow me around the house and follow me when I'm out and about in the community when I'm, wherever I'm, I go they're there and I even, I remember I even recounted or record some of the descriptions of the people that I was seeing to the crisis team that was seeing me so those are some of the experiences that I do remember.
Tariq tried various different CAMs but found them all unhelpful and doubts how they can work for...
I don't do anything, [laughs] I don't do anything because I, I've tried everything and I find everything ineffective in terms of , you know, all this, the therapy, it's all rubbish. they tell you that you should go stress workshop, I've been to stress workshop it's rubbish, they don't know nothing there. The people that run them are, are stupid as well because, honestly they don't know nothing and they're like you go along to these workshops and they'll be like, 'Breathe in, breathe out,' and then you're like, 'Is this a joke, is this, is this like a theatre play or something?' because these people don't know what they're doing and it's, it's like, you know, what are you doing, it's embarrassing. And you don't want to be there. And I've been to, you know, I've been to a lot of sort of stuff that has been run by the Mental Health Trust in my area, a lot of workshops and a lot of stuff for service users, everything I've been to has been a load of rubbish and it's all been ineffective. Some of the things that they tell me as in the crisis team told me breathe in and out, meditation, all these million and one things, none, nothing helps. Meditation doesn't help, meditation only helps people that, I don't think it helps anyone, I just think that people say it helps them but it doesn't because especially like in this, in this sort of developed modernised world where people are constantly in and out and people are constantly working and the world is going at such a fast pace there is no time for meditation, people that meditate are either lying or they are so, they are feeling this, you know, I don't know this sort of karma, whatever you call it, I don't, honestly I just think it's just all, I don't think any of it is true because I've actually tried it, I've actually tried to sit there for three hours but I can't even sit there for thirty seconds I just think right this is a joke [laughs]. I find every technique very ineffective so yeah.
Is there anything else that you've tried?
I've tried every.
Can you tell me more?
I've tried a million and one, I've used technique books that I've got from the library, I've used videos that, fitness videos, I've used advice from the crisis team, advice from the psychotherapy units, the psychology units at my hospital, my psychiatrist, my mental health nurse, I've, so many people have told me do this, do that, do this, nothing has worked, honestly nothing has worked. nothing as been as effective, nothing has even had a little real impact on me so I've, and they were still bringing up, you know, for example if I told the crisis team, 'Look load of rubbish what you're teaching me,' they'd come back a week later and they'll say, with printouts, they'll say 'Do this exercise, it will be great, you'll be running about.' And it doesn't work and I've just given up on all that fitness stuff because I just, none of it is effective, none of it helps and I've had no sort of positive outcome from anything that I've undertaken from the advice I've had from mental health professionals.
Tariq feels religion is hypocritical and he feels rejected by his faith because he has a mental...
And the thing what I've learnt about is that even in my religion it's frowned upon and I've seen that in a lot of the monotheistic faiths like Christianity, Islam and Judaism it's regarded as the devil, the as a, not as a sin but as if the devil has entered you and it's like you're possessed, that's the word possessed. And I've, like when I've done sort of searches on the internet and stuff I've read like different interpretations of scholars and religious leaders and they all say that people that have mental health they're all possessed and that they're sinners and that we need to help them to repent from their sins and from, and take that possessive devil out of them because they've been corrupted and etcetera. And it's very sad because I'm quite spiritual and I've got mental health difficulties so it's either that I'm a part of that religion or you're telling me, you know, I can only be a part when I don't have mental health difficulty but then if I do get, go away, you know, you're not wanted any more.
So, you know, it concerns me that even religions that came from centuries and centuries ago before mental health, mental health difficulties even came into existence, you know, people experienced and stuff these religions are openly discriminating against people that experience mental health. Because even in the text books and stuff it says that people that have mental health difficulties are possessed and when you, when I've actually, I've actually tried to ask religious leaders but every time they do they always, they don't answer my questions, they're like, 'I haven't got time, I need to go, I can't answer that question, I need to go, I'm busy, come back another time.' When I go back another time they're not there so they try to deflect from answering any questions. And it concerns me because it makes me feel that I've been, without me knowing, thrown out of a religion which I thought I was a member of. and the thing is that I, I was shocked when I read all these articles, one by one I was going through each article how the bible perceives mental health, how the Torah or the Koran and all the other religious books from other faiths and all of them say people that have mental health or psychological they, they, they have flaws in them, in their character and that means that they've been possessed by the devil and the devil has taken over them and they've, you know, the devil is inside them. And in a lot of countries in the non-developed world, you know, there are cases where people are like that are killed. You know, I've, you hear about it in places like Africa, in Asia where it's seen as a shame on the family and therefore that person has to be killed because the devil is inside them. To take the devil out you have to kill that person, thank God it's not here in the developed world but, you know, this barbaric sort of way of treating people is still occurring and our world leaders do nothing about it.
Tariq says if his community found out about his mental health problems it might make it difficult...
Okay and so what, what do you think would happen if your community found out, can you say a bit more about that?
Well people would look at you in a negative way, probably ridicule you behind your back, probably make, you know, say things that would be very hurtful if you were there. ridicule you and, and it would be frowned upon, people would think oh my God and it would be spread across relatives and people would be like, “He's got mental health difficulties.” And then it may be bad for my own future, for, you know, when I get married and etcetera because, you know, people will say he's got mental health difficulties, would you want to marry into a family that has someone that has a mental health difficulty etcetera. So I think those are the repercussions of if I came out openly about it. so yeah.
Do you think that is something that's particular to, to your community or do you think…?
I think it's particular to certain other communities, BME communities because I think in certain African groups it's a very sensitive issue as well. in certain, you know, in Indian culture it is regarded, in Bengali culture it is regarded as very sensitive, it's frowned upon, in Pakistani culture, many different cultures it's frowned upon. And this is not only talking from me just talking off the top of my head this is from extensive research that has been conducted by universities, that has been conducted by mental health charities, by organisations, by even organisations that tailor their service to ethnic, you know, Indian communities because there are Indian organisations, Indian led organisations that provide services to their own community, mental health services so they have also conducted research and they have found that there is a lot of stigma and a lot, among certain communities in their own. But I think that as people, as an increasing number of people enter the system it will become increasingly accepted by society and that's when it may be but I don't think that will be in my lifetime.
He thinks the Disability Discrimination Act is unhelpful for people with mental health problems;...
You said when we spoke on the phone that you had had some difficulties doing some voluntary work?
Can you tell me a bit about that?
Yeah basically I think that this Disability Discrimination Act is very ineffective, I think it's a complete and utter joke. I only think it protects someone in a wheelchair or someone who has broken their finger or someone who has I don't know I'll be naïve and I'll say someone who , I don't I want to use a very stupid example just to show you how bad the Act is. someone who has probably scratched their finger and is regarded as a disabled person, they would be covered by the Act and they would be given any job. But you see if you've got mental health difficulties this Act, you know, no, I, I want any expert, any doctor, anyone to sit in front of me and tell me how it protects mental health, people that experience mental health difficulties because at the end of the day when you go to an interview you're not protected by the Act like people say because, you know, what the interviewer can say, he can, the interviewer can say after the interview okay we'll be in touch but their feedback could be this person experienced , suffers from mental health difficulties so it may be difficult for them to work with the public. That's subtle discrimination, that's discrimination that people will say actually that's not discrimination that's just , you know, this person suffered from mental health difficulties, this person can't communicate, this person knows nothing etcetera. I think that discrimination is, is so widespread when it comes to mental health there is no Act to protect these, to protect people like myself who suffer from discrimination in terms of, in the context of mental health. The Mental Health Act is flawed, it's, it's a complete joke, it's more it protects people that have, you know, a scratch on their finger or who have, I don't know, who have bump on their, on their knee or something. It doesn't protect mental health patients because it's easy to discriminate against them. If you just say oh they've got mental health they don't understand or, you know, you've had psychological problems in the past, you don't know what you're talking about. Easily discredited and if it were to go to court what would the mental health patients say? “ Sorry I've suffered from mental health difficulty.” “Oh sorry we're discrediting you, you know, you don't know what you're talking about.” And what, added onto that mental health patients can't become jury, sit on the jury, why? Surely if we're protected by the Mental Health, the Disability Discrimination Act surely we should be allowed. We're not allowed to become magistrates, why not, it's a voluntary job, why can't we become magistrates? “Oh because you can't think straight.”
but isn't that covered by the Disability Discrimination Act, surely if you discriminate against people based on their difficulties that's wrong.” “Oh no basically you don't know what you're saying.” That's the sort of attitude I've come across and every job that I've gone for, every voluntary position I've been rejected on those grounds. “Oh you haven't thought straight, I think you're, you might, because of your condition you may find it difficult to talk to people or communicate or get your view across.” but the thing is, you know, they've even said , “Oh you're going to be in a place where there's going to be vulnerable people, you pose a threat to them.” That's an assumption but there's no evidence to support that. And the thing is that I've never posed a threat to anyone and I go to a university where nearly every single person is regarded as vulnerable because they're
He says that being cared for at home by your family is best for young people, although he says...
Tariq says he wasn't sectioned because he was young, vulnerable and less risk to the public and...
So every single day for a very, very long time, I can't even remember how many months, for every single day for several months they'd come to see me at home and I'd tell them this is how I've been feeling. But the thing is that even though I was talking to them my condition was worsening and it was worsening. It came to a period where, you know, they couldn't keep me in the house but what they did do on, on occasions was to put me in the respite unit which we had in the, it was a respite unit that was part of the mental health service, but was in the community and it was a place where people can go and use the services, or use some of the provision that was available such as read books and... And it was away from the outside world, it was, you know, a lot of the time the world is a busy place and people are moving around so it was somewhere where you could go and relax and just have, you know, be with other service users and just enjoy yourself and etcetera. And I spent three or four weeks there and I did that frequently so whenever there was tension in the house, whenever I started shouting at people, in my family, that's when it was decided, you know, you can go there.
But to be honest, you know, there's a lot of talk that, that mental staff are very sort of, they take it to the extreme that they deliberately section people. To be honest at no point was a section considered in my case. My doctors and my nurses were some of the most compassionate, some of the most warm, some of the most kindest people that I'd ever come across because whenever my, whenever my family brought up sectioning because I, you know, for them it was a new thing that I was unwell and they were quite frightened to have me in the house and stuff, the, the, the doctors were saying no we're not going to because we feel that we can't, we want him to stay in the community because he's young and we have a lot of, we have, we see a lot out there for him because, and we know that we, he has a future in front of him and we want to treat him at home. and the thing is that over time, over the last four or five, three or four years that I've been a patient they've seen me gradually recover in front of them and, and they've never had to section me…
And why do you think you haven't been sectioned?
Why? That's a good question because, number one I think that no young person should be in a hospital, it's a very dangerous place for a child, it can be very frightening for a child. children and young people and adults we develop in two different ways, adults are completely different from young people we have different dependency levels and etcetera so I think on that, because in hospitals it's only those that are eighteen and over mainly or those between thirty and over, the majority of the patients are over twenty five, they're usually in their thirties of forties. You wouldn't put a seventeen year old onto the same ward as a forty year old whose condition is far more worse, who poses a significant threat to all the patients. So it's better that a child is, is around the people that love them most, their family because that's where a child should be. And even like every professional I talk to they always say that a child's home should not be in the hospital it should be in their own home, it should be in the school where they go to school. They shouldn't be living in a hospital that's not the place to be. A child should be in the home, an adult can be in a hospital because an adult poses far more of a risk to, to other, to the public than a child would. A child has, you know, has limited sort of strength when it comes to the, because if you look back at the last ten years you'll see that no young person has ever been jailed, no young person who has, who has experienced mental health diffi