In memory of Anne O'Neill
- Dear friends,
I suppose there had to be a time when this would come, but I for one did not
expect it to be so soon. One of our colleagues who spoke out on this medium
is no longer with us. It appears she took her own life 2 weeks ago, in her
own bed at home with medication she was given to 'help' the 'illness' she was
Anne started coming to the Winchester Depression Self-Help Group a few months
ago. She came for all the usual reasons - needing acceptance amongst those
who understood, needing support, being in a place where the support she gave
would be gratefully received amongst others, as it duly was.
She always came early, put the kettle on, brought cake she had baked for us -
giving some to the receptionist on the way up (he liked her enormously for
this)! Was a part of a group of people struggling with their own private
She came from Basingstoke so technically was not entitled to access our group
(SS funding) - so what! She explained that she thought she had depression
but that the professionals said she was suffering from a Severe Borderline
Personality Disorder - and what the fuck can be borderline if it is severe? I
ask you... So purists may have said 'you don't belong here because the
diagnostic label you have doesn't match ours' - it didn't matter to us.
She became a much valued and cared for member of the group because she was
Anne; A nice, genuine, caring person. Not because of any construct that the
statutory services put on her.
She was a qualified nurse with some years experience but could not practice
because of her 'mental illness'. She was labelled 'potentially violent and
dangerous' by her GP, and a 'threat to vulnerable people' by her Trust. So,
she came to the group every week and no-one took a blind bit of notice of all
this bollocks and just was there for her as she was for them. She spoke out
on this e-group, quoting useful information she wanted to share. She went
out of her way to give me some very useful sources.
Anne struggled to 'clear her name'. She felt threatened by the impending
legal changes that she felt would mean she could be incarcerated at a drop of
a hat for doing nothing. She complained to her Trust for being assaulted on
the ward she was sectioned on. They denied this. She received an
unsolicited letter from a male porter of the hospital were she was sectioned,
inviting her out... She complained about this - no joy. Dead end.
Anne pursued her complaints, but could not afford a solicitor, although not
being brassic enough to get legal aid. Catch 22. She felt boxed in by a
psychiatric system she understood well, but that denied her dignity as a
citizen which ever way she turned.
In response to Jan Wallcraft's moving tribute to her friend Theresa
O'Shaughnessy, Anne wrote 'I am happy for Theresa, and envy her her peace'.
Anne has now found her own peace. I was rather she was with us, and I am
upset as I write this, but if she considered her life so awful that she
though she was better off dead, then so be it. It was her decision, no-one
told her what to do, and maybe it was the last positive act she did for
herself. She will be missed by her friends in Winchester who only saw good
in her. This Survivors site will miss her contributions to debates. We will
all miss a comrade in arms.
I'll let Anne have the final word. She e-mailed me about 3 weeks before she
died and quoted Anne McCaffrey,
'Sleep! I cannot, rest eludes me,
dreams to plague me tortured I.
Let me sleep, let me rest, let me die.'