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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

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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

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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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Mike Griffith’s story - WhatCausesMentalIllness.com
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FAQ  


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Word Cloud  


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Latest Additions  


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Glimpses

Mike Griffith’s story

Details

Forward

I am currently a consumer of mental health, a carer to our son who has mental health problems, a peer support worker to my mood support group, a student enrolled in a Mental Health Diploma, a partner of someone who has mental health issues, and a consumer advocate to those who would like to know more about mental illness wherever they are in my life.

After a class discussion regarding whether or not it was required, needed or wanted to educate consumers in the mental health sector on how the brain works and why they struggle with mental illness; I was prompted to write a brief story of my life so far. It was decided by the class that the client did not need to know the workings of the brain and probably would not be interested in, or understand how it works. (well that is how I interpreted it anyway) I would like to shed more light on this subject because it is one of the areas that I am passionate about.

This question had prompted me to do so because I think, had I have had the education that is available now regarding my mental illness, my life would probably have had a completely different result. My story is just one of many people that fall through the cracks. The main reason is because clinicians cannot tell the difference between logical and rational, also I strongly think that the insight has to be either redefined or disregarded in relation to crisis assessment.

Let me start out by stating that it is common for people who have mental health problems, not to remember their past. This is especially true if people have a Dissociative Identity Disorder Spectrum (DID), Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I fall into the DID category. I don’t know and I may never know fine details of my childhood. I do however remember bits and that is why I started at such a late age.

Early Years

For years I had fantasised about my parents being killed and going to live with my aunt who did not go to church and she had one of the most dysfunctional families that I knew. I used to stay with them over the holidays and my cousins (one girl (15) one boy(17)) would pummel my arm and try to see how big they could get the bruises on my arm. I think I was about 11 at the time. I started having sex with men in parks when I was about 13, and at 14 I was raped and the guy did not stop until I was unconscious. I couldn’t tell anyone about it because I believed it was my fault.

I ran away from home when I was 14, this was after a decision I made that I wouldn’t commit suicide I would run away instead; I don’t know what prompted that decision but I just remember making it. I started hitching to Melbourne, as I was walking away from my house a seagull was following me and I thought this was deliberate on the part of the seagull. I cursed that seagull and I guess that night was the beginning of my “adventures”. I got picked up by a guy who convinced me to go home again. Even as a young child all I could remember was sexual activity with other boys my age. One day my parents caught me being rude and my punishment was to stand in the kitchen with my pants down for about 5 minutes. Around that time I remember going to school and one of the kids asked if he could strangle me and I said yes, so he did it. I didn’t resist, and he stopped when I started passing out.

When I was 17 I met a guy and started having regular sex with him. He turned up at my church, then he met my parents and then convinced them that his mum didn’t understand his new religion, the end result was he moved into our house. I was really pissed off at this but I was now trapped.

My church found out and I was excommunicated for six months, was not allowed to see anyone or talk to anyone in the church or outside it, I accepted this because I was in love with a girl from Shepperton. All I was allowed to do for the next six months was eat sleep and go to work. No contact with anyone even my (nearly) girlfriend. After a six month period I moved to Melbourne in December 1989.

I met up with this girl and she told me that she had been spending time with my bother in Melbourne and had decided to go out with him. I moved on from that and then met her best friend and started going out with her for a total of two weeks. She was my first real girlfriend and I thought that relationship was going to fix everything.

Leaving Home

I started skipping church because I was heartbroken and I started having “adventures” again in the middle of the night. I wrote a poem about “The Black Knight” then I found a pinball called “the black knight” somewhere and started playing it. I played it so much that I believed it was real! Then gradually there was a blur between the pinball game and this character. I started living with an alter ego called Black from that time on.

Over the next few years I lived in about 25 different places, got involved in Tarot cards and I had gone through many relationships and many jobs, I tried to commit suicide many times. My parents had stopped talking to me by this stage out of frustration and heartache; they believed that my problems were due to alcohol and drugs.

The reality was that I had not had any experiences with drugs to this point because my friends were protecting me and I was using alcohol (from the age of 19) to self-medicate. I was severely depressed and utterly insane. I remember one night I was yelling at the ocean from St Kilda pier asking to be released from my own body. I asked to be possessed by the Egyptian gods, I was yelling at the top of my voice and someone ran up the pier and I had to explain that it was a play that I was rehearsing.

Queensland ... Beautiful One Day?

One day I woke up and I “knew” that I was going to Queensland and two weeks later I was on my way. I got a job almost straight away in Surfers Paradise; this is where I started smoking weed for the first time on a regular basis. Just before I left Melbourne my friend said to me, you know that you have multiple personalities don’t you? And I said no, and he pleaded with me to get help. For the first time I went to a counsellor and did not leave a real name, I discussed Black and the fact that he wanted to blow up the world, I told her that his response to the martin Bryant thing was “is that all?” she asked me to get more help but I refused. I went home, packed my stuff then went to Queensland.

After living in the Gold Coast I was frustrated because I had just been sacked from yet another job, depressed and frustrated and not getting anywhere I went to see a psychiatrist. I told him of my symptoms and he casually told me that I had ADD and there was nothing I could do about it. This made me more depressed and led to suicidal behaviour.

After about six months in Queensland I made friends with an ecstasy dealer. The first time I met him I told my friend that he was dangerous. We started getting to know each other and hanging around a lot more, he gave me free drugs. With the introduction of chemicals to my system the line between “black” the fantasy and me the reality disappeared. This guy and I used to play with knives and strangle each other. One night he came around and I had just had a major blue with the guys at the hostel where I was staying, they threatened to kill me. My friend came around and asked if I wanted to come with him and I said no because I was fearful of what would happen next and I did not want to make any sudden movements.

I thought I was going to die that night unless I shared the dope that I had just bought with them. I pretended to pass out and they left my room. I then ran out and spent the night on the beach in a cave, the next morning I woke up and desperately needed to contact my friend. I phoned his wife and his friends and no one had heard from him, then I phoned the police and asked if anyone had been murdered and they had been. It was my friend and I was brought in for questioning.

After a weekend in jail for cannabis possession, they let me go and started to follow me around. I went to one of my other friends place and told him what happened and he said that I was a murder suspect and I needed a lawyer. He drove me to see his lawyer and I said that I didn’t have any money and he said “that’s alright, for murder 1 we don’t even turn the meter on”. I ended up a couple of weeks later slashing my wrist, I really meant it this time, I had taken enough drugs and alcohol with me and cut myself enough that I was headed for the grave (I was in the middle of nowhere, right across from where my friend was found drowned). The next thing I remember I was in a car being driven to the hospital. A week later they released me from Hospital and I ended up going home on the bus to Melbourne with my arm in a sling and still psychotic, I thought about my friends “multiple personality” comment and decided to write them down and name them.

For want of more creative names they are black, organiser, boy and Mike. That was in 1993 and there has been a couple more since then. If I had have gone with him that night I wouldn’t be around to talk about it. I do not know what would happen if that friendship had continued, I think that I knew he was dead because there was something missing in my soul. I went back to Melbourne and went back to smoking weed and drinking a lot, I knew I was in trouble but I didn’t know what to do about it.

First Hospitalisation

Seeing my addiction problems I decided to start to drink less and swap my cannabis use for prescription medication. I gradually stepped down until I no longer had a problem with drugs or alcohol.

Three years later I went downhill again and ended up having my first hospitalisation in Heatherton. They told me I had Personality Disorder, prescribed antipsychotic medication and released me after a short stay. I still did not know anything about my mental health, but at least the doctors confirmed that I was defective and I was relieved. The next few years were spent fading in and out of psychosis. When I got really unwell I would go to my GP at the time and start medication. When I was well enough I would stop medication because I was better. My problem was that because I knew the internal symptoms of my illness too well, but I knew nothing about the cause; when I was sick I did not seem to be, everything I did seemed to be logical but not rational. I would explain everything that was going on in my brain clinically, calmly and to the point. I was my own case manager because no one understood me enough to make sense of what was going on in my brain.

I felt the delusion had to be real because it was logical and consistent. All I was told by mental health workers was that I was delusional and that the other personality that I was conflicting with was just part of me. This made no sense to me because I knew who I was, but the dichotomy in my own behaviour was so totally uncharacteristic of my own thoughts, feelings and desires. If I was to accept that this “other” personality was part of me I would have to make the next step and believe that on the inside I am a mass murderer and I need to stay away from everybody and never to make friends again. This I refused to do.

Ten Years Later

After a ten year struggle of transitional housing and transitional jobs, in 1998 I finally started to settle down. I had a job for 12 months, I was in a relationship for over two years, but I got unwell again. This time was more serious. I was still struggling with the same issues and I was sick of it, so 13 years ago I decided to end it all. As usual I ran around trying to get help for myself and no one would listen, someone was going to die and it might not have been me. I overdosed and ended up on life support at the Alfred but survived.

Things started to look up after that, I applied for the DSP and got it. When I felt a little better, I volunteered at a Christian bookstore. At first all I had to do was to turn up and I did. I would go in once a week, sit on a couch for a few hours and then go home. As I got better so did my desire to take on more responsibilities. Eventually I stopped my meds and got even better. Two years later I was assistant manager of the bookstore, putting in 30 hours a week of unpaid work. It was really great; I even got to go to a trade convention and help do some of the buying for the store.

Running Away From It All

In 2003 I found myself unwell again. All the pressure had built up; I still had no idea how to look after my own mental health effectively, so I woke up one morning and noticed I was unwell. My boss was away and I was opening the store. I woke up, went to work, ten minutes later I packed my bag, went into the city and bought supplies and ran away. I started to hitchhike west. I wound up in Port Pirie where I fitted in. I was still unwell and got linked into inadequate services and a town where the unemployed population was double the national average and the amount of people on a DSP was double that of the unemployed population.

I got a flat and met a woman who I was engaged to after a month. I was getting increasingly unwell and started to gravitate toward violent behaviour. My delusions got worse and I desperately tried to seek adequate medical help. There was no psychiatrist in the town and any clinical sessions I had were via video link to Adelaide. I was linked in with my first psychologist who started to explain to me some of the things that were going on in my brain. He did not challenge me he worked with me. This was the start of my experience in the client centric model of health care and I suddenly had a feint light at the end of the tunnel. I had stopped sleeping, was unable to take medication due to internal conflict and had started to carry around a knife.

All this time I had been visiting my GP regularly because I knew it was a requirement to access services. It got to the point where I was losing the battle with sleep, so I went to him and asked him to prescribe sleeping pills. Then one night I had another psychotic episode and had taken the sleeping pills with alcohol and overdosed. After the overdose I decided to go for a walk. Apparently I walked to the edge of town, crossed the bridge to swampland and went swimming. I was found by an off duty police officer in a kayak, hidden amongst some reeds. If the tide had have come in, I would not have been able to tell this story. I went to my GP weeks later to tell him that I had stopped sleeping and he said that he would arrange a PRN for strong sleepers via the emergency room if I could not sleep.

I walked to the ER at 3am and told them I wasn’t sleeping. I asked for my pills and they had no record of my GP’s instructions. There were no doctors in the hospital at night just nurses and the nurse said that she couldn’t help me; I said to her that I had started carrying around a knife, and she said that it wasn’t a good idea but still did not give me anything and I ended up going home depressed and angry. The next day I went to see my psychologist and was told that I was not able to enter the building because I was considered violent, I was refused care. Things went downhill from there, I went to emergency the next day and I was finally told I was going to be admitted to the psych hospital in Adelaide. The police turned up and I was escorted to Adelaide hospital in an

ambulance, with a police escort. After three days of involuntary care they made me a voluntary patient. Still massively paranoid I thought that they were going to keep me there forever so I absconded.

I hitchhiked back to Port Pirie and was convinced that I was headed to prison. I left my fiancée and booked a bus to Melbourne. When I got to Melbourne I was chronically unwell. I was staying with a friend who was moving to Newcastle in two weeks time. I was linked in with St Kilda Mental Health Service and started investigating housing options. Being fully psychotic I knew it was just a matter of time before I was either in prison or dead, I still did not know what I would be imprisoned for though. One night I went to see Salvation Army counselling and told them everything, I was desperate because I knew tonight was the night. They got on the phone to the CAT team and tried in vain to get me hospitalised. The CAT team told her to send me home and they would ring me in the morning.

I was tired of fighting everyone including myself, I was tired of telling my story when seemingly no one would listen, I needed help then and there because if left to go on the behaviour would have escalated. The other really scary thing for me was that I was no longer suicidal, so that other part of me that was fighting had stopped. On September 11, I went to St Kilda Pier and burned down the kiosk at the end. The kiosk was 99 years old and a national treasure. It was front page news, I went to my psychiatrist appointment the next day and told them, they phoned the police and the police came to interview me. I had to convince them that I had done it.

First Time in Prison

I was interviewed by the arson squad; I was appointed a lawyer and sent to prison. Three months after the incident I had a psych report done for my case, the psych concluded that I should never be released. Three months after that I had another report done that said I could be released. I had been in prison seven months when I was moved into the best unit in the prison, it had its own gym, pool table, pool, vege garden and as much food as you wanted to eat. I was studying computers, horticulture and hospitality. I gave up smoking and I had a personal trainer who was one of the inmates. I had been on medication all that time and I also learned how to socialise. When my lawyer got the second report done I was told I was not eligible for a mental impairment defence because I was aware that what I was doing was wrong at the time of doing it, I was then advised to plead guilty.

I wrote a letter to the judge explaining my actions. In December 2004 my case went to court. The police official witness did not even turn up to the trail, just my defence team and the media. The judge’s ruling was that although I was not mentally impaired, my judgement was and he gave me time served plus one month. I was then sent to Loddon Prison. I was there for about a month when I was sent back to Melbourne on New Year’s Eve to meet with the parole board. The parole board adjourned their decision until yet another psych report could be done. Three months later I had a meeting with the warden as part of the standard prisoner review program. After my unit officer gave me a glowing report, the warden asked me if I wanted anything, I asked to go back to Loddon because it seemed obvious to me that I wasn’t going home any time soon. One week later I received word that I would be released within the week, after 18 months in prison I was allowed to go home to live with my parents in Ocean Grove.

Same Shit Different Bucket

After a period of being on medication and doing everything that was required of me, in 2006 I started to get unwell again. This was due to a lot of stress in my life. I was trying to study, my fiancée was due to come and live with us from South Australia but did not turn up, my dad was just about to have open heart surgery and I was unemployed. My dad and I were arguing a lot and at an appointment with my parole officer, I asked her if it was possible to spend the rest of my parole in prison because it was just getting too hard at home. She said no, and asked me to ride it out so I did.

I was still getting increasingly unwell and when I tried to get help, It was the same shit on a different day. I contacted triage and told them that I really wanted to blow up Shell, they saw me, looked at my file and released me and told me to go home. I spent the night on the street, wrestling with myself and I decided if I did it again right there and then they would win. I then took copious amounts of serequel phoned 000 and they told me to sleep it off. I took more medication and phoned them again; they told me to make my own way to hospital. I woke up on a public toilet floor, I walked from Rippleside Park, hallucinating, past the hospital and stopped at Ormond Rd, East Geelong where I phoned my dad to pick me up, a journey of five kilometres.

A week later I had an appointment to see Barwon Mental Health service. I saw Dr Peter O’Keefe and told him everything I had been going through despondently, expecting nothing to be done again. He told me to make myself comfortable because I was not going home. I suddenly had hope. Later that day I was put in seclusion and my parents came to visit. Dad just yelled at me and went ballistic because I think he thought I was faking it. I spent two weeks in seclusion, and then was released two weeks after that. I was appointed a case manager in Suzie Shepherd. She was the best case manager I have ever had. We started having regular appointments.

Her style was very casual and she even gave me her mobile phone number which I used sparingly. We drew up a case plan that was revisited many times to see if I was on the right path. I was no longer subject to “the system’s” treatment, I was writing my own story now. I was seeing a psychologist regularly and he became the cornerstone of my mental health education and the drive for optimal health. He did not challenge my behaviour; he challenged the validity of my thought patterns, logic and rationale.

When I completed study it was time to move out of my parent’s house. I moved into a friend’s house while he was away for six months. Paying minimal rent I even started to look for employment, something I never thought I could do again due to my mental illness and my criminal conviction. I was linked in with St Laurence, and I started to look for work. I was seeing Suzie less and less. Eventually I asked to be exited from the system and she told me that I had to wait just in case things went south. After looking for a job for while I found a job with Coles in the bakery in Ocean Grove. During this period I started a heavy period of drugs and alcohol. It was not daily use, but when I had a night out, I binged on whatever I could afford. This went on for several months until I decided to start my own business and get my shit together. This whole time, all I asked from the mental health system was that if I ever presented again I would be taken seriously. They agreed and that reassurance gave me enough confidence to stay well.

Suzie’s catch phrase was “you always have a choice”. This statement I think is a little incomplete. When you are fighting with yourself it seems as though there is just you and whoever you are fighting with in your head. In that state the aggression is constant and real. To end it something has to change. I do not have a choice of what I hear in my head. When I am travelling well I have a choice whether to listen to the voices or not. When I am unwell the voices turn to screams and they are constant. Suddenly life becomes a distraction of the voices, not the other way around. What the medication does is it helps me to make good choices, but when I am truly unwell there is no choice.

On The Right Track

Two years ago I was exited from the Barwon Mental Health Service, Forensicare, and all reporting requirements. I was able to quit Coles and shortly after that I started my own business SeeCureIT Onsite Repairs. Around that time I met a woman who I am madly in love with who also works in the mental health field. She has two kids and we are due to be married next year. As part of my business I have a community commitment, I currently sit on the committee of management for the Ocean Grove Neighbourhood Centre, I cofacilitate mood support in Ocean Grove, I am a registered peer educator with Mental Illness Fellowship of Victoria and I work one shift a week in the local Op-Shop. I still see a counsellor, the relationship with my parents is really good and the last time I felt I had to ring Suzie Shepherd was around two years ago.

I have realized recently that in the past, I have seen the rise of the “other” personalities as a sign of psychosis. When I knew they were there I shut them down and sought treatment. Through my psychologist I have been working with them now for around 12 months and instead of having holes in my ability to function on certain levels they are all functioning as one. I have come to realise through CBT that each personality has their own different function including “Black” and to work with them to see what they need so we can function as a whole. On an external level my behaviour might look different; in a holistic sense though; I just have to keep asking myself the relevant questions about my current reality:

Do I still hear the voices? Yes

Do I still have internal arguments? Yes

Am I dangerous? No

Will this ever change? Maybe

Am I still delusional? Sometimes

Am I coping? Yes

Am I unwell? No

Will I ever get seriously unwell again? Maybe

Mike Griffiths

August 2011

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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