This image shows the most important lesson that David Healy has taught me. Shane Here we are , into the second month of 2020 already – the older I get, the faster the months seem to fly by. It doesn’t seem possible, for example, that it’s over twelve months since we first started this website. During those twelve months, we, as a nation, have gone through a good few changes and this year will, probably, follow a similar pattern in that respect. During the same period we, as a family also went through some changes – losses to which we had to adjust and a ‘gain’ that we had to patiently hope would survive and make it to become part of the family. She did make it and is now at home and all seems better again through our eyes.
We have also suffered a very different ‘loss’, this being the loss of supportive appointments which have sustained us through some very trying times over the last three years and some. This has come about due to Professor David Healy’s move away from North Wales. As a family, we were rocked to the core when David shared that news with us of course. That was back in May – so we had a good few months to get used to the fact before he finally moved on a couple of weeks ago.
To say that we shall miss David is an understatement, his care and understanding have been our shield. We’ve managed through so many rough times, knowing that if things got really tough, all it would take would be an email to him and, in next to no time, the ball would be set rolling towards an appointment or a prescription that was needed. We do hope that things will remain fairly steady now; we’ve seen a variety of problems and worked through them with a fair amount of success. Of one thing I am certain – if we hit a really hard place then an email is all it would take for David to give his suggestion or advice to move us forwards once more.
Shane, of course, holds David as his hero – David rescued him from a very deep, dark hole. Or, as I’m sure David would put it, “Shane got himself out of a dark hole with a little guidance”. That ‘guidance’ took many hours of David’s time, took many bottles of a liquid form of the medication being reduced and many prescriptions of a supporting medication for the very worst days. Not once was there a hint of ” oh, no not you again!” or a look which meant “I don’t think you’ve got that right” – it was always a friendly atmosphere where every word was believed.
For me (and the rest of our family through me), we got the chance to try, by questioning, to make sense of the mess that we were in. Not once was I made to feel that anything I had to say was irrelevant, in fact, it felt that my observations were actually helpful to build a clearer picture of what was going on. I wouldn’t like anyone to think that everything ran smoothly through every appointment – that’s not David’s way; he says it as it is, you take it or leave it; David expects you to think for yourself, never pushes you to accept his thoughts on any matter.If he felt that he’d been mistaken about any point on the journey then he’d say so; if a question was asked to which David didn’t know the answer then he would say so. If I spoke my mind and David disagreed then he’d immediately tell me so! In the same way, we could disagree with David on a point and that too would be accepted.There was never the attitude of David being the one who KNOWS and poor little me being the one that couldn’t possibly have a clue. Each appointment was pleasurable because each of us was counted as being equal partners on the journey.
David shows a great deal of empathy, but never pity. He treats his patient as a capable, equal person who is able to make decisions about the ways forward through withdrawal ( as it was in Shane’s case). By working in this way David helps his patient to gain self-confidence and esteem. For example, David will say that he’s learnt a lot from Shane or that Shane’s the expert on Quetiapine withdrawal. This helps so much as far as self-worth is concerned. Just over three years ago Shane was at a point, as he puts it, of “letting the professionals finish me off”, having given up hope of ever seeing any improvement in his condition. Along came an appointment with David and things began to change. Through him, Shane found support, for the voices that plagued him, which very soon helped him to come to terms with them. His panic attacks lessened within a few weeks as he found that, now he understood about ‘voices’, there wasn’t the need to panic about them. Within months he was beginning to reduce his Quetiapine intake. This was horrid to put it mildly! David had an answer for that too – Quetiapine in liquid form which made life a little easier.
David, if you read this ( and you now have time for such things surely!), we wish you all the very best in Canada as you know. We shall miss the clinic meetings of course but are so glad that these days it’s easy to keep in touch by emails or your websites and so we’ll hardly feel that you’re any further away than when you were this side of the water. We thank you for every moment of your time that was spent in our support . We can’t ever properly repay you but what little bit we can do to support your cause, we will do.