Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/plugins/system/advancedmodules/advancedmodules.php on line 28

Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/plugins/system/joomsef/joomsef.php on line 29

Strict Standards: Declaration of JParameter::loadSetupFile() should be compatible with JRegistry::loadSetupFile() in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/libraries/joomla/html/parameter.php on line 512

Warning: Cannot modify header information - headers already sent by (output started at /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/plugins/system/advancedmodules/advancedmodules.php:28) in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/plugins/system/admintools/admintools/badbehaviour/screener.inc.php on line 9

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Strict Standards: Declaration of JRouterJoomsef::parse() should be compatible with JRouter::parse(&$uri) in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/components/com_sef/sef.router.php on line 361

Strict Standards: Declaration of JRouterJoomsef::build() should be compatible with JRouter::build($url) in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/components/com_sef/sef.router.php on line 361

Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/plugins/system/rokextender/rokextender.php on line 32

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Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/plugins/system/advancedmodules/advancedmodules.php on line 122

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Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/plugins/system/advancedmodules/advancedmodules.php on line 122

Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/plugins/system/mmbackground/mmbackground.php on line 98

Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/plugins/system/hotlogin/hotlogin.php on line 88

Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/plugins/system/ganalyticstrcode/ganalyticstrcode.php on line 32

Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/administrator/components/com_ganalytics/util/dbutil.php on line 56

Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/plugins/system/jdownloads/jdownloads.php on line 164

Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/plugins/system/jdownloads/jdownloads.php on line 165

Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/plugins/system/jdownloads/jdownloads.php on line 174

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Strict Standards: Only variables should be assigned by reference in /home/billbmn/public_html/wcmi1/plugins/content/fb_tw_plus1/fb_tw_plus1.php on line 43

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Kristy Mounsey’s story - WhatCausesMentalIllness.com
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Login

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FAQ  


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Word Cloud  


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Latest Additions  


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Glimpses

Kristy Mounsey’s story

Details

This is my story. I am in the process of opening my own business, I recently got my heart broken, and life is good surrounded by family and friends. Where a story starts I am not sure, and where the story becomes mine I am not sure. I really don’t want to expose other peoples secrets by telling my truth but I will not be silenced either, because this leads to stigma and shame. I am not ashamed of who I am, bipolar and all.

My biological parent’s marriage broke up close to the time I entered the world, something I now believe was a wonderful thing. My biological father was not a bad man, but he was an alcoholic who would eventually drink himself to an early death. My mother had an illness too. I had a fairly blessed childhood in many regards because although me and mum were on our own and money was tight until she met my “Dad” when I was six, we were never on our own we were surrounded by a loving family. I cried in Kindergarden because I wasn’t allowed to make to Father’s Day cards (one for my Granddad, one for my Uncle Neil.) I have seven wonderful aunties, but was especially close to my maternal Grandparents and Aunty Lynn and Uncle Neil. When I was born my Aunty Beverly was in the room. She would never forgive me if I left that out, my ‘father’ left the room because of the blood. My biological father’s best gift to me was his sisters and mother but I wasn’t as close to them as a young child as they were busy raising families of their own as, I am now a woman I have to say I like them as women and love them as Aunties. My (maternal) Grandma would make me clothes, and my Granddad would take me on long walks where we would talk and pick flowers. It was a peaceful time before school where I only knew love. My grandparents are very special to me and my Grandma is still alive at 95yrs old and still living independently. My Grandfather is with me everyday in the woman I am, but he passed away when I was fourteen

The miracle of my life happened at a time I wasn’t even there. My Mum met my Dad at a singles dance. He said to her “I can’t take you out on Saturday night because it is my sister’s birthday, but could I take you and your daughter on a picnic on Sunday”. It was love at first sight, but I am not talking about my parents. I loved my Dad from the first moment I met him. I was not yet six. I would also gain a wonderful Aunty, Uncle and five great cousins. My family was made whole when my parents got married on the 22nd of April 1989. This year my parents celebrated twenty two years of marriage, and the road for us as a family hasn’t all been easy (the three of us all had to face demons at various times) but my Dad told the Doctor recently if he knew then what he knew know he would do it all again. I love my parents more than anyone else in the world.

Growing up I had an awful time at school. I was bullied at least daily for eleven of thirteen years, and my parents made many sacrifices to send me to “good” catholic schools. In hindsight I was always just a little different. I got on better with my teachers than my peers (in part due to being an only child) and was a ‘sensitive’ child. Children have this radar for difference and I was so sweet I never stuck up for myself, as I wouldn’t want to hurt the bullies’ feelings, but that meant repeated harassment for me. Due to my gender I was never physically assaulted something I am grateful for, but I resent it when people say about children being bullied “if it doesn’t kill them it will make them stronger”. What about the children it does kill? What about teenagers who commit suicide or children who have’ no accident - accidental deaths’?

Looking back I realise I could have told my parents about the bullying they would have stopped it, but my mother was unwell and I believed it would upset her and like many victims of crime I blamed myself (I believed I was ugly and that was why the other kids hated me). Primary school also failed me on a scholarly level by diagnosing me with unidentifiable learning disability (which I believe is dyslexia) allowing them to pass the buck in relation to teaching me, but due to a literacy program ran by the “mother of Mt.Druitt” Mrs McLean I learned to read despite my schooling.

When I was a student doing my Masters of Teaching (2007) I was appalled at how little teachers were taught about bulling and how to prevent it, and primary school teachers are still given no training in mental illnesses at all meaning children suffering a variety of common mental illnesses including depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder go without support or teachers picking up sign for children to be assessed as studies prove early diagnosis leads to better outcomes. I believe the teachers knew I was being bullied but choose to turn a blind eye. They might not know how much I was suffering, but they violated their duty of care towards me, everyday. At school I usually had one or two friends who due to their own loneliness would brave the bullying associated with being my friend. I would latch on hard to their friendship but some were very bossy.

I need to make a quick passing reference to all my cousins who have unbeknownst to them been like brothers and sisters as I am an only child, but mention by name Michael and Shannon. I tell you both all the time how much I love you but I never have the words to express how dear you are to me. I have known you since you were born and I admire the adults you are both becoming and how you have both faced life’s inevitable challenges. I always remember the day Michael was born (I was eight) and the first time I held Shannon (I was eleven).

My experiences at St.Agnes High School represented the worst time in my life (although some of the teachers were great teachers in every other way) I had reactive depression due to bullying, and was being ostracized and tormented, but due to a fantastic family life I was happy every moment I wasn’t at school. One counselor tried to say this caused the bipolar, I don’t believe it caused it but I do believe it contributed to it. At St.Agnes fear led me to retreat into the world of books, which had the side effect of making me more ‘bulliable’ and yet reading is still one of my greatest loves.

I loved my last two years at Loyola College. The Jesuits didn’t directly intervene to my knowledge to stop me being bullied but they fostered an atmosphere where bullying was unacceptable and I was happy. A school councilor Mrs Matthews also mentored me and told me I was intelligent something I never knew until then. She helped me get into university too.

Life got even better when I got to university (which might be why I love learning so much). Being told at school not to be so opinionated (especially when my opinions were sometimes slightly out there), the intellectual freedom I felt at university still makes me so excited. Also finally I could choose who I wanted to hang out with and choose women who usually older than me taught me so much. Although most staff I have had taught me so much I need to record the name of two lecturers Dr Hill and Dr Camden-Pratt as having such a positive impact.

I first noticed late 2002 I felt “too happy”. I diagnosed myself successfully as having bipolar, but there was nowhere to go. I didn’t want to tell anyone in my family because I didn’t want to upset anyone, I thought I could handle it. In January 2003 I found a psychiatrist who took Medicare. I made the first available appointment that was for three months time. I slowly got more manic until I knew I wasn’t sick at all, just a genius. I cancelled the appointment the week before I ended up at Mount Druitt Emergency Department. I was under a lot of pressure had two subjects to go to finish my undergraduate degree, my parents were going overseas without me on holiday for the first time, I was working lot of hours in a temp job preparing for the next election, I was worried about troops going into Iraq and I snapped. The word for it now I know is having a psychotic break. My Aunty and Uncle Therese and Brian came to the rescue, my extended family gathered around and my parents came home on the next flight. I ended up in Blacktown psychiatric hospital (Bungarrabbie House) for seven weeks.

Inside the hospital I was misdiagnosed and put on medication that made me worse. I was hallucinating, overall quite happy and I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t let me go home, save the world-kill Saddam Hussein and settle down in a nice housing commission house raising my (future) children and creating art (some of those dreams are still mine ironically). I was manic. In hospital I was given valium at night and during the day I was punished, because valium takes away my inhibitions causing me to act out. One example is someone had written on the wall ‘fear God’ I got the crayons and I wrote “or your psychiatrist who only thinks he is God” and I made passes at a male nurse too. Another nurse kept preaching to me about God (I am not Christian; this was a public hospital and my choice of religion was not respected). Another thing that upset me in hospital was although I have never taken an illegal drug in my life I was drug tested up to four times a day, because staff could not believe I could be this crazy naturally (I can). My mother fought to take me home and eventually I was released into her and my Dad’s care. Dad and Mum visited me every day while I was in hospital and my extended family was more frequent than the hospital liked. My families love bombed the joint. I was never alone. What I didn’t know was that I would get depression two weeks later that would last over a year. Under the influence of anti-depressants I took two overdoses (one in six hundred people kill themselves on anti-depressants, which over wise wouldn’t kill themselves. Although I wanted to be at the very depth of my grief, it was love for my parents that stopped me as I didn’t want them to lose their only beloved daughter. I personally have a reaction to SRI’s that makes me suicidal, ironic for depression meds, lol). Due to my mother I was not reemitted to hospital, something I will be forever grateful for. Hospital is very unpleasant because the boredom of the place can make you more unwell.

I got the shits (excuse my language) after the cocktail of assorted tablets made me incontinent. One of the worst moments of my life was pissing myself next to a ladies toilet because my ATM card was in the machine. I was inside a service station, I couldn’t leave, as about $300 was about to be dispensed, and after that I rarely left the house for months. I stopped medication against doctor’s advice and slowly much to everyone’s amazement I started getting better. At this point I knew inside I had to do something, didn’t care what, but they wanted to put me on Lithium (and I knew this is a miracle for some people with bipolar but if it goes wrong you can end up in a wheelchair). My parents were frightened by my decision but they allowed me the right to make it. If my parents had not supported me, then the doctors could take way all my rights. Now I know that anti-psychotic medication is as harmful to your physical health as smoking (because these drugs have less testing done on them than other medications because they do not create lots of profit for multinational pharmaceutical companies). Overall my experiences with the mental health system where not positive. I am not advocating against medication for many people. as it can save their life, but I do believe in informed consent.

The hospital psychologist wanted me, an already depressed woman, to log my mood on a scale of one to ten every half hour then predict what my mood would be like in the next half hour, all day while I was awake (if I hadn’t been depressed before, the homework alone would make me feel that way). I’ve repeatedly seen psychologists at hard times and they will only treat me using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy which I know doesn’t work for me, but they are not funded for other treatment or more holistic therapies.

Due to repeated problems with the mental health system I now manage my bipolar with my GP (Dr Barrett) who treats me with respect and doesn’t undermine my intelligence as many people in mental health system have done. The love of my family healed me and made me whole again. At the moment I am living my life unmedicated, because I plan to have children in the next few years, and my favorite medication (Epillium which does slightly mellow me and is a great mood stabaliser) causes birth defects. There have been times I’ve requested to go back on Epillium for short periods and one day when I hit menopause I will probably stay on it blissfully till death.

Despite my Bachelor of Arts (Social Ecology) I have a not fantastic work history and was never given a good job, partly because I have to explain gaps in work history. I’ve worked in an outcall telesales role, at a nursing home without training for the role, and in a job where I had to commute over two hours each way and when I stopped doing two hours unpaid overtime per day as well, I was let go. After that experience I went back to university to become a primary school teacher. I failed although great at the theory side, I couldn’t control the class and this caused me to hallucinate about head lice, making me too nervous to do the job. I was very controlled, none of my precious six year olds or the teachers would ever know I was having psychotic episodes in the middle of teaching. It didn’t help that I got head lice off the kids as well. I have a phobia about them. Often I couldn’t tell if I had head lice or I was hallucinating about them. After leaving teaching I complete a certificate IV in Mental Health and took on a variety of volunteer work while I looked for paid employment.

I had experiences with a variety of employment agencies, one psychologist made a significant impact on my life Ms McLennon. I am extremely grateful she treated me with love and respect. She would later leave this type of work due to her own frustrations with the system. At the latest employment agency many of their consultants have had less training in community services than me, and it is a community services role. On my first day there I was interviewed for a role with them but I believe I didn’t get it because I had too much compassion for clients and therefore wasn’t viewed as hard enough. Once a consultant I do respect, violated the disability standards towards me, although I made an official complaint I had to drop it because I was going to Adelaide on holiday and while I was away my father went to hospital with heart problems. This has put a lot of pressure on me and I think more investigation is needed on the role of Job network agencies and their effects on mental health of people in their services. The system needs to be changed drastically with minimum standards and qualifications put in place for staff. Despite problems I am determined to make a future for myself. My family brought me a car, in part so I would get a real job, but they let me keep it when I made it clear I was going to go into business anyway, and I am trying to learn to drive. It’s been delayed a lot because of my chest infection of late and I expect it will take me a year or so to get my P’s but being brave enough to try has been a real challenge. I know that not having a license has limited my ability to get work in community services.

Some people at the employment agency give up and allow depression to overtake their lives, rotting in the agency for a number of years where their self-esteem is decreased. Many at the employment agency have been good to me, but frustration causes me to still have a love/hate relationship with the service. In a capitalist society any system where the clients are accountable to staff, and the clients have little to no power to leave, paid by a third party (Centrelink both clients and service providers) that doesn’t access the service as a consumer, is open to corruption.

I met a great guy on EHarmony in 2009 who I hoped loved me once and we were together nearly two years. I will always love him, and yet some things are not meant to be and I am learning to accept that. I think I am hard to deal with in relationships, as everything is an intense experience for me whether positive or negative, and while my relationship did not explode due to my illness maybe I could have been less obsessive about the problem if I didn’t have bipolar. I believe that someone was malicious in their meddling of our affairs and I would not be silenced on the matter. It is also sad how when you break up with someone, families are caught in the crossfire and you lose more than one person you love. I will miss five wonderful females and one cute boy and their dog as well. I am very lucky in friendships I have so many friends who love me and have been there to support me during my relationship breakdown, and my recent severe chest infections, as well as starting my own business and at other times throughout my life. I would like to record their first names just to thank them for their love and friendship in no particular order. Jocelyn, Jodi, Tom, Astarte, Andrew, Melissa, Belle, Molly, Peter, Bea, Nelly, Nina and many more I will feel guilty for leaving out when I am feeling better.

I recently gained a Certificate IV in Small Business through Penrith Business Enterprise Centre, and have been in the process of founding my own company these last six months. During the course I have also made some new lovely friends. I am on the verge of the official start now and will be on New Enterprise Initiative Scheme shortly. I’ve worked really hard in spite being ill (chest infection for two months), and also qualified last Thursday for a business credit card at 5.99% fixed interest as a Microenterprise loan totally unsecured to hire a shop, and start my own business. I am taking a big risk, my family is scared to death, but all along I have focused on the words of a George Benson song “If I fail, if I succeed, at least I’ve lived as I believe.” This business I believe can grant me economic freedom, and maybe the most important thing to me the ability to afford to have a child. Not just IF Mr Right comes along, but on my own if need be. I am still hopeful that I will find a man to share my life with, but I will not make it a prerequisite to a meaningful life or becoming a Mum. I also dream of buying a home in the next few years, and helping my father who needs to transition into retirement. My business Access Crafts Studio started because I wanted to run a scrapbooking classes through the clubs, but there was only one club willing to rent me a room and they wanted $550 per day hire. Ironically now I am planning to rent a shop for considerably less than that in Penrith to run my classes in, sell arts and crafts on a consignment basis and hire out to other teachers. The most exciting part of my business though is drawing on my community services training to provide a meaningful, for profit community centre. Access Crafts Studio is founded on four main principles Creativity, Community, Inclusiveness and Social Justice. With high start up costs I will struggle to make a profit in the first year, but that only makes it more special, in the long run most things that give us most joy in our lives are bloody hard work. I am grateful for the opportunity, the support I have, but if no one is going to give me the job I wanted, I would simply make it myself.

Bipolar certainly made sure the journey has never been dull, and if I could rewrite my life I would not make many edits. I would not change the plot lines but I am realizing it is up to me to frame my experiences, and I would still have bipolar, it gives a whole new way of experiencing the world. I have bipolar but I am more than bipolar, I am a daughter, niece, student, friend, cousin, artist, lover, and an amazing woman.

Gloria Stienum a woman I admire so much, who also had a lived experience of mental illness as her mother had schizophrenia, said about something else “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off”. I believe breaking silences hold great power for social change, and we have the right to be pissed off.

GLIMPSES © 2007 For permission to use the content of this manuscript please contact Nicci Wall at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or fax +61 3 5222 6847

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Glimpses - Our Experiences with Mental Illness


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