Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Silent Disability

My Lovely guest this week is disabled but you wouldn't know just to look, just like myself , having a disability is really hard to cope with then you here someone say "Well she/he looked ok the other day" being disabled doesn't stop you from doing anything always follow your dream.
Hello people! My name is Rich James and I am registered disabled. I am also a musician, and live in the UK.
My disability is not the kind you can see. I can walk and hop, skip and even jump (if you don't fear for your floorboards!). I suffer from mental illness. This is my story.
In 2001 I was working for a bank in an office. It was a dead-end job which I hated, but there was something else troubling me. Every day, all the people who were working around me, would whisper about me. They would constantly sad mean things about me - or so I thought. I had no evidence of what they were saying, I could not hear them. I just began to feel an ever-growing sense of paranoia, with heightened senses, and I KNEW they were talking about me.
It finally got to much for me, and I suffered a breakdown. One day at work I just burst into tears and knew I had to leave. Once left, I knew I couldn't go back. I went home to my wife who was on school holidays (she is a teacher, not a child bride!) and she immediately made me a doctor's appointment to see my GP.
My GP diagnosed depression and started me on anti-depressants straight away. They did not help much and I just felt very low indeed.
The days passed and I continued to feel that people were staring at me when I went out and were talking about me. This gave me a strange tunnel vision, which actually affected my vision for real. I also began to hear voices in my head. These were not 'the voice of reason' or that devil on your shoulder that I had always heard - the voice that helps you think things through and make decisions. These were previously unheard voices, always telling me to hurt myself. I just continued taking my anti-depressants and just waded through the days, doing nothing constructive. I would endlessly stare out of the window.  
Next, I began to see people who (my wife informed me) were not there. These were real 3D people that I saw, walking about, or sitting next to me. However they were always in fancy dress. I saw pirates and Nelson, among others. I knew something was wrong when I was driving home from a friend's house and stopped to let pedestrians cross the road. My wife asked me why I was stopping - there was no one there! This was very frightening to me.
I saw 2 psychiatrists, who both determined that I had experienced depression in the past but no longer had anything wrong with me. I felt cheated. Surely, seeing people who weren't there and hearing voices telling me to harm myself wasn't 'normal'?
I explained everything to my GP who instantly started me on anti-psychotic medication. From the second night of taking these pills, I stopped having hallucinations and stopped hearing the voices. It was like a miracle. I had been self-harming, cutting both my arms with a razor blade, for quite some months just to cope with the stress I was living under. Thanks to my GP and his belief in my symptoms and his quick action, I was able to stop this destructive habit.
However, the anti-psychotic medication left me feeling quite emotionally numb and unable to write or compose any music at all. I just had lost a huge part of myself.
A long period of recovery ensued (5 long years of doing nothing at all), but eventually I managed to feel that I could return to work. I knew, as I still suffered the paranoia, that I could never work in an office again. I found a job as a Chat Moderator for an online bingo site, that I could comfortably do from home. I am still working this day job and manage to turn up to every shift and complete my duties.
In January 2010, my inspiration for music came flooding back with a vengance, and I began writing again. This lead to my first album.
I still suffer from paranoia, so avoid crowded places like shops unless absolutely necessary. I cannot walk without a chaperone for very far at all, for fear of paranoia attacks. As long as I am accompanied, I can sometimes go and visit places. However, this having been said, I can act quite 'normally' in public and am very grateful for this fact. My medication gives me night sweats, and my poor long suffering wife has to change the sheets in the middle of the night on numerous occasions. I still suffer with many side effects of my mental illness and still suffer from depression, but I have learned to work with them to lead my life.
If anyone reading this isn't getting the help they need from their doctors, like I was failed by psychiatrists, then my message is "Don't give up!". Someone WILL listen to you and believe you and help you.
In March 2011, I released my second CD online through my own record label and one of my tunes was chosen to be used as the backing for an advert on the UK TV channel 5 (you can watch the 30 second advert at http://richj.biz/77). Things are looking up, so now I look to the future, although I still take each day as it comes.
Thank you to Shelly for allowing me to speak to you all about my experiences. You can find me and my music at http://www.richjamesmusic.com/
 Twitter:     @richjamesmusic
Thank you rich & sarah for sharing such a personal story, this will help alot of people who are disabled on the inside I call it silent disability
Your music brilliant you have achieved so much and should be very proud of yourself & also having such amazin wife to support you along the way x
Love Shellybobbins xxx


  1. Great post. I know the feeling, I myself have been manic depressive my whole life. Pills do not tend to work for me either. I have to just learn to control. You are very brave sharing your story and congrats on your music success x

  2. Rich & sarah are very brave sharing there story with everyone, lets hope it really helps others understand about being disabled I hope you will have a listen to rich music.

    thank you for taking the time to leave such a lovely message xxx

    love shelly xx

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this story Rich & Sarah.
    Rich your courage will be such an inspiration to others. Before starting my business I was fortunate enough to be employed as a project worker for a supported housing association and was priviledged to meet and work with many people from all walks of life who had experienced mental illness. I know your story will bring hope and encouragement; your bravery, determination and honesty shine through and I wish you the best for the future. You are an inspiration xx

  4. How awful to not be believed! As Rich was talking I thought of Schizoprenia so surely the psychiatrists should have been able to find something! At least I am lucky that I have a dr who understands my silent disability (ME) and believes me! Thanks for sharing your story and I wish you all the best for the future and with your music :-) x

  5. Thank you teri, yes such amazin story xxx

    thank you for taking the time to read it & leave a lovely message too xx

    Love shellybobbins xxx

  6. thank you bathbomb biz for taking the time to read this amazin story xx really appreciate it so much, great to help others too

    Love shellybobbins xxx

  7. Hi guys,

    Thank you so much for your very kind, positive and helpful encouraging comments. i was very nervous writing this post, wondering whether i should be so frank and honest. i am glad I went with my heart and told it like it is.
    Thank you all once again