Road to Nowhere
Posted by SherryPie
24th Aug 2013

21 August 2013

Since moving to Suffolk from London, I have tried for 10 years to get proper help and now I am in despair and I'm on my own.

As I've got older my mental health has got worse.

I believe I have had depression since I was two years old. I also believe that I was bipolar when I was a teenager - I remember experiencing massive euphorias followed by great troughs of darkness. I don't remember having any 'ups' since my late 20s.

I've been on and off anti-depressants and have always agreed that they do help. But there is no light and shade in a life on medication, they fill my head with cotton wool and I forget stuff. I can't function meaningfully. There is also the side effects to cope with. I also strongly believe that it's really easy for GPs to write a prescription rather than to address the problem sitting in front of them. I'm not on anything now. I have been referred to sub-contracted services but there's no quality control. I have experienced amateur and untrained/training counsellors.

My first experience of 'support' via my Victoria surgery was a volunteer amateur who worked for Mind, for whom I had to pay and who tried very clumsily to get me to do role play then spent a lot of time talking about his frozen shoulder.

The next was some government initiative/nhs service and I was contacted by a counsellor-in-training. Another insult.

Then there was a counsellor who operated from Victoria surgery who was also in training and talked to me as if he was reading from cue cards or a cliched film script and kept making me do written exercises in the sessions. Anytime I touched on anything difficult, he changed the subject.

So now there's this Wellbeing programme. I had an initial face-to-face assessment and I thought I needed CBT until I had it - over the 'phone - when it just made me feel worse after each session. In the introduction to the sessions, I was told how successful cbt was. So I was feeling like a failure when it didn't work. I was called in by the Wellbeing team for another assessment interview and it was concluded that I needed a talking therapy with a qualified counsellor. Eureka! At the end of this session I was told, however, that I would only 'get' 6 sessions.

All of the above was spread over 10 years.

I have now attended my requisite 6 sessions with a professional counsellor (Wednesday, 21 August). And I want and need to see him more. I don't know what 6 sessions is supposed to do. I am red raw.

Because we both knew that there were only 6 sessions, we couldn't touch very deeply on anything. We've scratched the scab off a supurating wound. I cannot even think about how I feel for a second without collapsing in tears. In desperation I went into my surgery again and broke down in tears in reception, and asked for an emergency appointment with a gp. I had to return a couple of hours later for the on call gp but the person I saw was cold and unfeeling despite the fact that I was sat in front of her rocking and in tears. I asked her what was supposed to happen after 6 sessions. She said she didn't know. One option was to self refer to the Wellbeing club again. The next was to talk to the 'Link Worker' - whom I was assured would call me before 2 pm on Thursday (22 August) ...... and the other option was to put me back on medication.

I don't want to go back on medication until somebody with a budget takes me seriously. I have to be seen where I am, now at rock bottom, a physical and mental wreck.

I understand that the six sessions is national policy but what good is it? I am very, very ill. If I had cancer I would get the treatment I needed. Low self esteem is a symptom of my condition. How does 6 sessions improve my self esteem? It's a joke.

I am paralysed by my depression. I am 51. I can't work for anybody else or for myself. With each successive job I do, I work for less money. I am now working for 7 an hour, supporting a family of 4 with 2 teenage children on 13,000 a year.

Is the only option really to threaten or attempt suicide before I get some serious effective help?

24 August 2013

Am I making a fuss about nothing? Is it just attention seeking behaviour?

Nobody called me on 22 August. I called the surgery to talk to the Link Worker at 1.45 who was completely hopeless. She'd written to me with an appointment in two weeks' time on a Thursday when I had to work. The appointment could only be on a Thursday because that was the only day she was booked into my surgery. I asked her who the service was for? She didn't understand what my problem was. I asked her if the gp had told her what a state I was in. She just kept saying that her first appointment was in two weeks' time on a Thursday and that she could try to get a room on another day. Completely useless - making me feel that I was putting the PSYCHIATRIC link worker to extra trouble.

I was now blubbing again. I tried calling the Wellbeing team at about 2.15 (on a Thursday). I kept getting an answermachine message telling me to ring back between 9 and 5, Monday to Friday. So I called the central office in Norfolk who told me I was calling the wrong office. She had to put me through to the right office through their switchboard. I talked to the duty officer who said that the service I had been using was for low to moderate depression and that I should probably be referred to the severe team - to start all over again. I asked why I couldn't just be funded to go back to the counsellor I was getting on with. He works through Mentis Tree who only work with low to moderate depression...... She (Maria, the duty officer) undertook to find out what might be available to me and call me back before the end of the day. I specifically asked her to call me on my mobile and she repeated my mobile number to me. I was not going to be at home and I didn't want a message left on my home answerphone. She did tell me off because we (the counsellor and I) hadn't completed the forms we're supposed to fill out after each session. I have been filling out these same badly photocopied forms for the past 10 years and nothing has changed.

Nobody called me on Thursday.

I was at work on Friday and nobody called me then.

I only looked at my landline phone this morning (Saturday) and on there was a message which had been left at midday on Friday saying that it has been agreed that 6 sessions is all I get and would I like to call the duty officer to discuss where I can go from there. I'll have to wait to Tuesday to do that as it's a bank holiday weekend.

All along the way everybody has tried to get me to go back on medication. I will not do it until I get taken seriously. Medication is a sticking plaster which temporarily relieves anxiety. It does not relieve the illness. If I take the medication then I can be classified as a moderate, unchallenging zombie. Which is what has been done to me for the past 10 years.

This town that I live in is dull, dull and nobody rocks the boat so people in the caring services (nhs, social workers, education, police) are mediocre and really can't cope with real problems.

My illness is my fault and my problem. This is how I am being treated. There is no insight or creativity or instinct used when talking to me. I just want to punch them they are so ineffectual.

I can write all this dispassionately as it has to be written but if for one second I acknowledge how I am actually feeling I collapse physically and mentally. I have to get myself to work tomorrow. There are two other (teenage) human beings I am responsible for. I have to function. But that's all I'm doing. What a pointless existence.

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