For Matt [not his real name], speaking out about his mental health problem had serious unintended consequences.
Reporting for the BBC, Natasha Preskey writes:
“‘They treat him like a paedophile. They treat him like the worst kind of abuser. This is how they see him’.
Paula [not her real name] looks like she’s going to cry. It’s understandable, she’s helping her husband tell the story of his mental health crisis, and how trying to get help led to him losing his job and not being allowed to see his young son.
Last year, Matt began struggling with what are known as ‘intrusive thoughts’ – unwanted thoughts that appear in someone’s head without warning. At the time, he’d recently been through a difficult divorce with his son’s mum, and one of his close friends had become seriously ill.
When Matt was having sex with his new wife, thoughts of both random people and family members – including his son – started to pop into his head against his will. At first, he couldn’t understand why this was happening.
‘A thought of my mother or my father or my sister would come into my mind and it was very upsetting,’ he says, adding that these thoughts quickly became ‘overwhelming’.
Soon, Matt started to have other unwanted thoughts too. He was taking a course designed to boost self-confidence and was given the classic public speaking tip of imagining his audience naked.
Matt, who had a strict upbringing, didn’t feel comfortable doing this, and felt that it was wrong. But after that moment, thoughts of naked people started to appear in his head at other times too. He would ruminate on these thoughts and worry about why he was having them, and if they meant anything.
‘The more I tried to bat it away, the more they would come,’ he recalls. ‘It was almost like I had Tourette’s, but internal-thoughts Tourette’s’ …”
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