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I do wanna talk about it

(10 Posts)
tribpot Sat 07-Jul-07 17:46:04

Think this belongs in The Men's Room ... here goes.

A guy at work who I know reasonably well / talk to every day etc. last year (before I knew him) was sectioned. I don't know if this was when his schizophrenia was diagnosed or if it was a change of meds that sent him loopy (no offence intended) but either way, he was off work for quite a long time. The only thing he's said to me directly was that he found things were getting difficult for him and had had to take some time off work. The rest of the story I heard from someone else.

Since he told me that he's been dropping massive 'hints' about it, like I was saying I might go mad in my team and he said "careful you don't get sectioned" and I said "I wonder if you still get paid if you've been sectioned" and he said "yes, you do, and also if you have an insurance scheme you might get a nice pay out". (This was in an instant message conversation, not on the phone - we work in different offices). I couldn't work out if that was my cue to say "why? Is that what happened to you?" (given it was bloody obvious it was) so I just carried on as if I already knew he'd been sectioned, which I didn't.

We've had further conversations in a similar vein, and I can't decide whether:
(a) he's comfortable talking about that part of his life the same as other (why not) and therefore if it crops up in conversation he mentions it; or
(b) he actually does want to tell me about it and is hinting I should ask him.

I think of this as being a bit of a guy's version of 'mentionitis' and I get it quite a lot; I saw another friend recently who had split up from his gf and kept dropping hints about it to the point where I just said "Just bloody tell me what happened and stop hinting" (I like the subtle approach!).

People do tend to see me as a confessor figure, I don't really know why - for example, another guy at work outed himself to me despite the fact I hardly knew him! I've got no problem with it, it was just a bit of a surprise when I knew there had been quite a lot of speculation about him in the way that tends to happen in offices. Sometimes it's more unpleasant, like "I am having an affair with my best friend's wife [this from a guy], and you are close friends to all participants in this sordid tale", that I could live without.

Anyway. Question for any guys who make it through this epic post. Does he wanna talk about it, to misquote Rod Stewart?

tiredemma Sat 07-Jul-07 17:50:49

Im not a guy but am training to be a mental health nurse. To me it would seem that he is trying to get you to chat about it with him without him appearing to 'deep', does that make sense.

Most people avoid people with mental health problems like the plague because they feel that they dont know what to say to them. So much stigma attached- especially with scizophrenia- most people perceive scizophrenics to be one minute away from stabbing someone- its so not the case!

Good luck!

Chat with him, casually- you dont have to counsel him! Im sure he would appreciate it.

tribpot Sat 07-Jul-07 18:55:55

Cheers emma, thanks for your more experienced view on the matter. I wasn't freaked out when I heard he was a schizophrenic as apart from anything else he's based in an office 300 miles away so I think the stabbing risk is low But also I assume with proper medication and treatment schizophrenia can be kept under control and he has the right to a normal life the same as anyone else. He's a perfectly nice, sweet, funny guy so what's not to like? (In a purely platonic sense, obviously).

tiredemma Sat 07-Jul-07 18:58:22

Wish more people would take time out to talk to people with mental health problems, its a very lonely world to be in when nobody wants to talk to you.

Let me know how it goes- ill be interested to know.

tribpot Sat 07-Jul-07 19:00:20

Thanks - will do. My dh is chronically ill (although this guy doesn't know that) so I'm kinda of used to dealing with nutters and freaks if you know what I mean

policywonk Sat 07-Jul-07 19:00:53

My bro is schizophrenic. When he's sane (which is about 70 per cent of the time) he's very happy to talk about it, so long as people are reasonably respectful. He quite happily makes loony jokes and so on. Be warned, though, that sectioning is usually a deeply traumatic experience for the person who is being sectioned (as well as for the people around them, but that's another story), so maybe don't dig too hard - just ask a big, borad-brush opening question and see how far he wants to go with his answer. There's still a huge stigma around mental health, particularly psychosis and schizophrenia, and I think a lot of people who have personal experience of these illnesses are only too happy to try to normalise them by talking about it. It sounds as though you must be an approachable, sensitive sort for him to make these comments to you - good on yer.

newlifenewname Sat 07-Jul-07 19:08:25

I can't give you a man's perspective, but I do have a very, very close male friend who has a dual diagnosis of bi-polar with schizotypal tendencies - so very much like schizophrenia.

He constantly struggles with the idea that he can and will be accepted and liked. He often uses jokes to broach subjects he in't comfortable with and we spend quite a lot of time talking about how 'normal' society reacts to people like him. I'm supposed to be able to give the pov of Joe public, and he quite often asks me about things he'd like to mention in conversation with other normal people but isn't sure how they'd react.

So, your friend sounds like my friend, and as though he is testing the water. Be 'to the point' with him and tell him you are okay to hear more.

tribpot Sat 07-Jul-07 19:47:55

Great - thanks for the feedback. I was planning on saying something to the effect of "I know we were having a laugh about being sectioned last week but I know it must have been a really difficult experience and I'm sorry you went through that" - at least so he knows that I don't actually regard the fact you continue to get paid as a reasonable basis for being sectioned to avoid a team meeting!

I think the fact that he keeps mentioning it (like "So I'm not going mad?" [when we both thought something had a close date but it didn't] and when I said "Nope" he said "well, not any more anyway!") suggests he would like to talk about it. Quite how I have this knack of being approachable to (or at least approached by!) all and sundry I don't really know but such is life!

policywonk Sat 07-Jul-07 20:18:49

I would say he definitely wants to talk about it - or at least have you explicitly acknowledge that you know what has happened. Your opening gambit sounds good to me.

Having said all that, I'm not a man, and I've noticed that they can be unpredictable!

tribpot Sat 07-Jul-07 20:53:02

That was my instinct, policywonk. It's probably a positive thing that, when questioning what I should do, I posted for male opinion rather than those with mental health experience, even though that's what I've end up with! (And am very grateful for). By which I mean I thought of him in terms of a guy, not a schizophrenic.

I'll make it obvious to him he can discuss it if he wants, or not if he wants - obviously we're colleagues and we have to work together, so it needs to be his choice and it doesn't affect our working relationship (or indeed our friendship) either way.

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