Interesting transitions

I have spent most of my life thinking of myself as a victim; not without reason of course. In Africa, as a child, I thought I would like to become an ‘African’ and covered myself in mud. My mother was not amused to put it mildly. At school, I thought I was a Catholic but got found out and ‘removed’ to the minority Protestant section. In Thailand I was a farang – despised foreigner. I had goofy teeth, which didn’t help matters once the baby teeth fell out. At boarding school, I had my fees paid by the government – hmmmm.

Moving into adulthood, I still managed to attract unwanted attention for being different. Being pregnant at medical school was certainly not what women did. Not to mention being the black sheep of the family for being a Christian. Then in the church, I was far too outspoken as a woman. Being mentally ill in hospital, I was ‘deliberately trying not to get better’ according to some of the staff. In Scotland I was an ‘incomer’, which means outsider, and finally here in the USA, I am an immigrant, though being British does at least give me the advantage of an accent everyone seems to love.

However shedding this perspective of myself has been far from easy. The enemy’s lies are so pervasive in my mind; every time I perceive a failure or difficulty in life, they want to confirm this view of myself. But that is what they are – lies.

I am me, I am white and female and vulnerable, funny and talented and far too sensitive. There is much about me that I would like to change – the scars from self-harm on my arms for instance, or my fine and thinning hair. I wish I would stop being hypocritical and judgmental – but I am the way I am.

Recently I stepped way out of my comfort zone, taking part in a ‘Variety Show’ as half of a comic duo. When I agreed to this, little did I know that I would have to sing as well as make corny jokes.

As the shy, underconfident child at school, I had taken singing lessons to counter the fact that I sang flat. It worked and enabled me to be selected to sing with the famous boys school Eton College, in their opera. But that was short lived. As an adult, the confidence drifted away and I was back to square one.

I came back from rehearsal a week or so before the performance here and faced myself in the mirror. I didn’t like what I saw nor how I sounded, but I took solace in the fact that when I was singing, dancing and acting I forgot about myself. I was having so much fun. It was like being a child again but without the disapproving parents.

I am not about to hit Broadway and I know enthusiasm is a good cover for lack of talent, but I feel alive. It’s a good feeling. It’s good to know that I am me, not for any reason other than I am who I am. I have nothing to prove. I am totally accepted and loved in all my brokenness and fallen nature by the One who made me (and I don’t mean my parents!)

Life is tough and life has been tough. We all have our own different paths, some so excruciatingly difficult and unbearable that I cannot imagine how they survive. I want to fix it but I can’t. I hate injustice and discrimination in all its forms. But we do need each other, every one of us, whoever we are. A bottle full of love and acceptance 20 x a day is what this doctor orders. Non-judgmental listening, understanding and empathy towards myself as well as others, goes a long way in repairing the damage. I confess, I’m not very good at it, I need Your help and your help, but at least in that I know I am not alone.

Hello, my name is Cathy

I am Cathy Wield, but who am I exactly and what makes me tick. Now redefining my occupation as a writer, the world suddenly takes on new challenges. My passions remain similar and I still want to fight the stigma of mental illness but there are new horizons. I have learnt so much more about myself since emigrating to the United States.

The books I have written are not the whole story or at least not the completed story. The historical events are indisputable, but I have more insight about my early life and how it affected me so profoundly in adulthood. I have experienced healing of some very painful memories for the first time which is exciting, although I am fully aware that this is a process and it may take a while.

I am a woman of faith, but further definitions in this category may draw some near but also push many away. So I would rather leave it at that for now. I have so much compassion for those who suffer from all walks of life whatever belief system they have chosen. My desire is to be authentic about myself but I know there are many pitfalls and though I abhor hypocrisy, I am just as likely as anyone to possess this trait. So this comes with a warning: I am far from perfect and may unwittingly offend, although it is certainly not my intention to do so. May I ask for your patience and tolerance because I am a work in progress and I will make mistakes?

I spent most of my working life as an Emergency Physician, but I did have a couple of significant periods where well….. the politically correct phrase is, I took ‘a career break’. It makes my profile potentially more colorful than most: Dr Crazy Wield specializes in every emergency related to depression, self-harm and suicide, but lives to tell the tale. Well able to sympathize with unwanted effects for many medications; personal experience of overdose, ECT, suturing and surgery. Excellent communication skills after 7 years of face to face counseling and psychotherapy. She’s not so bad at other aspects of Emergency Medicine either………..Suffice it to say, I can call myself a thriving survivor and I have a unique perspective having played both the roles of doctor & patient.

My plans to continue practicing as a doctor were thwarted when I arrived here in the USA. Despite passing the rigorous USMLE – US medical licensing exams, I hadn’t seen the small print which meant that in order to apply for the necessary clinical experience as a hospital resident, I would need to have qualified from medical school within the last 5 years – that counts me out. I am rather more experienced than that. Nevertheless, nothing is wasted, but my career is clearly not going to be as a clinician.

This is liberating in many ways, set free to pursue other avenues. My first attempt at a job here was working with the homeless, though it has to be said that the reason I resigned following an unprovoked assault, had more to do with the response of the institution than the actual injuries. I admit a little reluctantly that I suffered from PTSD following the assault, but on the positive side, I have another string to my bow in the understanding of mental health conditions – there’s nothing quite like ‘lived experience’!

My assailant was arrested but unable to stand trial ‘by reason of insanity’. I was horrified to hear that she was released back to the streets without any treatment. I had hoped that some good would come from this incident and that she would get the help that she so desperately needed. I was told, that it’s ‘too expensive’ to offer her treatment…………

As usual, it is those who have no voice who lose out the most – in this instance, the homeless, the mentally ill and the addicted. I feel right at home among them, but I need to step up, step out and speak out as I doubt many others will.

Please join me – there is a battle in progress. We will win it one day – injustice will be defeated.

To quote a famous book – “the wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and the dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain.”

Hasten the day!