Now what?

Equilibrio en salud mental

Picture © Elena Figoli

In the midst of a long, intense summer, my first outbreak and diagnosis took place. Schizoaffective disorder. Following a hard time with my job and family, just when I felt more peaceful, while I was holidaying with relatives and friends in a campsite by a beautiful beach cove.

I still remember it clearly: my delirium and how I was admitted to the clinic. I thought that the person instigating my admission was indeed the sick one here, and I became terribly petrified of that person.

A few days before my admission, I had started to distort reality. I was listening to my favourite radio programme on Cadena Ser, and the Sunday edition of El Periódico was actually dedicated to my favourite broadcasters, Gemma Nierga and Juan José Millas and his tales. It had been a fantastic morning for me, I felt great, I even felt the programme on La Ser was dedicated to me.

That evening I went stargazing on my own. I laid on the sand and listened to the sea whispering. My son and his girlfriend came looking for me, I just nodded and went back to the campsite. There he was, shocked, staring at me, my ex-husband. Staring back at him, I believed he was scheming against me. I spent the whole night outside the tent because I was afraid of him. Luckily, a friend of mine whose brother had gone through the same was there to calm my family down.

The next morning I was driven to the mental health clinic, where a psychiatrist saw me and transferred me to the hospital of Santa Coloma, in the Torribera premises.

Despite my delirium, I felt protected during my admission. In those intimate moments, I made friends that I never saw again.

Once stable, I kept on working for as long as I was capable of, and everything went back to “normal”. I co-owned a family-run printer’s; I worked hard and used to train how machinery worked. For a reason non-related to my disorder, we had to shut the company down.

Then I wondered, “now what?”

I didn’t want to stay at home so I decided to collaborate with local social entities, like the Ateneo Júlia Romera, where I used to participate in meetings aimed at improving our city and similar activities. I made many friends who really cared for me, as they showed when I was admitted to the clinic for the second time: they would visit at hospital, and would welcome me in social activities without distinctions or prejudices because of my disorder.

A few years later, I started taking it slow and spending more time at home, until I eventually stopped going out. A therapist suggested I could try going to a social club, which actually proved to do me good.

I started acting under the directions of Carmen, of Pallapupas, and I learnt to oil paint, which I still do. For me, creating and painting is magic. I also took part in the short movie “El camino está en ti” (The road is in you), directed by a professional and supported by colleagues who helped with the script and the acting. It was a great experience, which took a whole year, so the group became a big family. I also participated in a Dance and Movement course, and eventually performed in the local theatre.

I can’t say anything bad about social clubs. They help big time, so if you have some interest and enthusiasm, they can really help you improve as a person. I would like to thank Cristina, coordinator of the Social Club Gramenet, who I greatly admire, who was always there to help us progress and improve our qualities. Thanks as well to Raquel. I felt loved and I do love them back very much. Not only are they my club mates, I feel they are my friends too. I now have been a member of the club for four years.

Now I have other hobbies; above all, I like fighting against stigmas and self-stigmas in mental health. I would like to express my gratitude to ActivaMent Catalunya Associació for accepting me as one of their activists. After all my experience, I have learnt and I am still learning. I feel more complete, in better spirits and more enthusiastic about our project in Santa Coloma, alongside ActivaMent Delegació Gramenet, which a few members have just began.

In response to my question: “Now what”?, I would say: “Think about your present so you can build your future. You can improve your mental health by carrying out several activities, by meeting people that contribute with new ways of understanding life, do the things that make you the happiest”.

Maribel Catalán

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