Why mental health care in this country is fundamentally flawed

November 11, 2008

Also known as: Falling down the gap

I have PTSD. Right now I am sane, I feel normal and happy but obviously that isn’t always the case. At the start of Sepyember I had a major dissasociated break – I thought Nick was a figment of my imagination and that my rats were evil and plotting world domination. Not good. Even worse was that this was on my way to work, so instead of work I took myself to A+E and said help. They did, eventually. The first dr I saw said I was fine and probably didn’t even need to be on medication, just go home. Great. Nick insisted they got the on-call psych over and she was great. She referred me to CMHT and advised I took a few days off work to recover.

I did. Went back, felt good. Did the return to work interview thingy and asked for a referral to occupational health in the hope that would enable CBT to be expedited. I also saw my GP who referred me to psychological services for CBT but warned there is a long waiting list.

So, back to work. I loved my job, was working hard and enjoying it. I don’t feel my mental health prevented me doing the job. A few weeks later I had my first appointment with one of the advisors from occupational health. I talked through my history, started explaining how things were. I think I may have worried her somewhat as she said I’d be better seeing the occupational health doctor (which is what I thought was happening in the first place!). She also said I couldn’t go back to work without seeing them. THis was not good but it was only a week till the Drs appt so wasn’t too worried. TOld me she’d let work know and I didn’t need to do anything.

So, one week later and went to see the dr. She was lovely but the result was the worst possible. She felt I couldn’t go back to work without a psychiatric review. She also said that nowhere would take me for nursing with my mental health problems and that I should seriously reconsider my future goals. Also that if she’d seen my health declaration, she’d never have cleared me and the person who did clear me shouldn’t have done so. Oh and by the way, you need a note from yor GP if you want to get paid. Why the first advisor couldn’t have said that I don’t know. So, bang goes my future – give up on your plans and don’t go to work. She did say that she’d try and speed up my psych referral but got back to me later to say no chance.

So here I am over a month later with nowhere to go. CMHT wrote to me to say my case didn’t fall in their remit. Psych services sent a letter saying they were confused why I couldn’t see one of occy healths mental health people, occy health say they don’t have any mental health people. I’m stuck – nobody will offer me the help I need. The latest is psych services say my case is “in hand” but goodness knows what that means and how long I’ll be waiting. I have an official meeting with my manager and human resources next week to discuss my long term absence which I’m terrified about.

So whose responsibility is it? Someone has to accept that I need this help. At the moment I’m being paid to sit around at home and do nothing when I don’t want to. I want to be at work doing the job I enjoy. I have no idea how long this will last but I do know I’ve had my month at full pay and have 2 months at half pay remaining. I don’t know what will happen at this meeting on Monday, I’m teriffied they’ll try and fire me.

I have three teams of people – occy health, psych services and CMHT all refusing to have a lot to do with me. This is why the system doesn’t work. Because I was stupid enough to ask for help from occupational health, I’m now not allowed to work and been told I won’t be able to do what I want in the future. Because I was stupid enough to go to A+E when I was flipping out, this whole cycle was started. What do you have to do to get help? If I had a physical problem, the help would be there. Occy health have the power to fast-track physiotherapy referrals so why can’t they do the same for mental health? It’s not my fault that they cleared me when maybe they shouldn’t.

I am still doing my UCAS form on the hope occy health woman is wrong and somewhere will take me. I want to do nursing, I have a passion for care and actually think I’d be pretty good at it. But who knows? How crazy do you have to be to get fast help? It gets to the point that I’d consider doing something really stupid to get someone to realise I need help. With mental health it seems that if you’re sane enough to ask for help, you’re too sane to get it.


What to do?

May 1, 2008

Well, I still don’t definitely have my job. Everything that could possibly have gone wrong has. Story of my life at the moment to be honest. It’s like banging my head against a brick wall only to achieve nothing. It’s so stupid. There’s a problem with one of my references apparently so I’ve now given them another one but I don’t hold out much hope for it ever being sorted. Every time I phone the staff bank, I speak to someone with limited English who can’t understand me and then tells me there’s yet another problem. They never try and do anything to sort the problems, they rely on me phonign them to reming them that I do really want this job. I have just over a week till the next induction and I’m running out of faith that everything will fit together on time.

This is a real bugger as I’ve kind of pinned all my hopes and expectations on getting this job. I’m pretty miserable at the moment and this is the one thing that I feel may make it right. It’s probably stupid and if I get it there’s fairly high odds I’ll mess it up but the thought of getting this job is keeping me borderline despair rather than deep despair.

They want to change my drugs. At least the psychiastrist does. Ditch the citalopram and the tegretol and try ventaflaxine instead. To be honest, I’m prepared to give anything a go. I had an ECG at lunch time today as ventaflaxine can mess with your heart but mine is fine – at least before the drugs! The only thing is, the psychiatrist didn’t tell me how to come off the others and how much of the new stuff to take. So, I went to see my GP instead (as recommended by nice psychiatrist lady). GP is old school and the one who put me on citalopram in the first place. He basically made me feel awful about changing. Didn’t give me any useful advice and seemed to be suggesting it would be a bad idea.

I want the new happy pills. They’re meant to be better for anxiety and to be fair what I’m on at the moment just ain’t working. I’m so damn sensitive about everything and can’t let anything go. Every little detail is just building up in my head until I want to explode. Like my housemate complained I woke them up coming in late and I felt terrible about it for the next two days and kept beating myself up mentally. Thing is he wasn’t even that pissed off. OR Nick wil say something trying to help and I’ll just yell at him and tell him I don’t love him. So I’ve just stopped talking to him at all because if I say something I’ll only end up shouting.

I don’t know what to do. My head is breaking me. I have these words in my brain and I can’t get them out. I can forget about them for a moment but as soon as I let my guard down they swoop in and start tearing me apart. Every little detail goes wrong. I can’t achieve anything worthwhile with this going on so why do I keep on bothering? My brain is trying to kill me and I don’t know how to make it stop.

If I get this job everything will be alright. Of course it will.

Why in the future I’m just going to lie

February 29, 2008

So, I got the job 🙂  The interview was suprisingly easy, I don’t think they expected me to actually know anything about anything. I was meant to be starting on 7th April with an Induction Week. This means I finish here on the 19th March, fly to Pakistan on the 20th March, land back again on the 5th April and start work on the 7th. Obviously there’s a holiday somewhere in the middle of that but somehow I don’t think it will be the most relaxing of trips.

Anyway, I got the job subject to my references and occupational health clearing me. References should be fine. I’d already filled in a long form for Occupational Health and been fairly honest.

Medication   Yes – Citalopram and Tegretol

Depression   Yes – drugs help control it

Self harm      Yes but not for a while 

 All true, all me. So the nurse phoned me yesterday morning to ask about my depression. I told her it was under control and that everything else was as on the form (I don’t know why it would have changed in 2 days but I suppose they have to check). Everything was fine, apparently I’d need a blood test and maybe some vaccinations but who cares.

Yay job! Or so I thought… Four hours later I get another call, same nurse. “Actually I lied, you’re clearly insane and therefore need to see one of our drs to make sure you don’t kill anyone. By the way, all our drs are ridiculously busy so we don’t know when we can give you an appointment. Don’t quit your job just yet.” Ok, I’m paraphrasing but this has me pissed off. I don’t want to have to see a dr, I don’t want to go through the details of my life and why I think I can do the job. It’s not even that really, it’s that the first time she called I was fine, and then suddenly I’m not. Way to make me feel good.

Now, I’d be prepared to accept she was just an idiot if this was the first time it had happened, but it’s not.  The exact same happened with occupational health at BP only they took 2 days to change their mind. Now call me paranoid, but that’s a 100% cock up rate.

I don’t mind having to see a doctor. I do mind being told I’m fine and then that I’m not. What’s changed? It makes me feel unstable and picked on.  It’s made me feel worse than I have in a while. So, this is why in the future I’m going to be fine on all forms.

I was going to write this yesterday…

February 14, 2008

… but then realised I’d forgotten how to log on. Useful aren’t I. It’s annoying as I had straight in my head what I wanted to say and now it’s gone again. I had something profound to say about the effects of depression but now I can’t really remember what it was. I have an annoying memory like that. I can remember car numberplates from 15 years ago but can’t recall what I was thinking 5 minutes ago.

It’s really odd at the moment. Last week I wanted to get down to Addies, see my psychiatrist and start getting my “happy” pills reduced. Now I’m almost scared of cycling past the place on my was to work in case they try and take them away from me as it feels like they’re the only things stopping me going insane. How can so much change in one week? Nothing physical has changes as far as I can tell so why do I feel so much less positive?

Last week: Going to go off, retrain as nurse and be succesful

This week: What’s the point, I’ll just fail or screw it up like my first degree

Last week: Work is fun, and easy, can cope with this

This week: Work is a waste of time, I’m not achieving anything so why bother

Last week: Nick loves me, and I am happy and bouncy

This week: Why would anyone love me?

And so it goes on. I did manage to get my application to be a HCA at Addies in last night so that’s one good thing but I hold no hope of even getting an interview, never mind a job. Which is a shame because at least then I’d be doing something that would help me gain skills for what I want to do rather than killing time waiting for Nick to graduate which is how I feel at the moment.

I know this sounds like I’m just moaning. It’s more me trying to get my thoughts straight so I can work out what triggered my mood change and get back on the right track. I know there’s a lot of possibilities out there, I just need to be in the right frame of mind to see them.