I was the lucky one- my experience of mental health services
Posted by agmorris75
4th Aug 2014

Ironically my bad treatment led to my good treatment which is always the case. I was diagnosed with clinical depression at 13, due to a strong history in my family. I was put on medication and referred to Cardiff's child and adolescence mental health service. The next few months are a blur but what I do remember (my mum might have a different or fuller perspective but this is how I remember it) was attending appointments at the mental health services every few weeks, each time seeing a new psychiatrist as doctors kept moving on. I also remember on a few occasions, students being present without my consent (although they may have asked my mum). The sessions consisted of getting the background (which, as I saw at least 4 different psychiatrist's in the space of 4 months, was needed often) then using worksheets from a exercise book to do some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Although the therapy in principle may have been useful, it felt very much like school and I did not feel supported. At 14 I took an overdose. Not too severe, just a large amount of ibuprofen. My mum took me to A&E. As you can imagine, this bit really is a blur but this is what I remember. I arrived and was seen quite quickly. I was scared and doctors, not very encouragingly, just kept asking me to talk about why I had done it. Every time a nurse came to check my blood pressure etc. they asked why I had done it. I had no answer and this obviously frustrated everyone and they were trying different people and methods to get it out of me. I felt under attack. They concluded I must stay overnight as although I was not too ill physically, they wanted to assess me emotionally and mentally. That night they put me on the children's ward. I was 14 years old. I was in a room of four beds. Across from me was a baby, maybe 18 months old, who cried constantly through the night. The nurses tried their best to make me comfortable, bringing me a tv and offering videos to watch. I was told a psychiatrist from the mental health team would be coming to see me the next day, after which I could go home if they were happy for me to. Needless to say, due to my surroundings I did not sleep well that night. The next day I was desperate to go home. I hadn't slept well and felt trapped. To make it worse, doctors still in turn tried to get me to talk about it. But when they asked, there was no sympathy in their voices. It was asked in a way that I knew they were thinking 'attention seeker' or 'stupid little girl' and 'why are you wasting our time'. Therefore I could not answer them. At about 4pm that day I was told a psychiatrist was not able to see me that day due to a communication problem between the mental health service and the hospital. I burst into tears. My mum asked if I could at least move wards. They moved me to the adolescence ward. Much better. Mum brought in her laptop and dvds for me and I already felt comfier. However, new nurses to ask the same question in the same condescending way. I have never felt so small. And I was watched like a hawk. I couldn't go to the toilet without someone needing to know where I was. I then wanted a bath and asked a male nurse where the bathroom was. He laughed at me and pointed behind me to the bathroom. I felt stupid but couldn't laugh at myself, I instead locked the door and cried. I started to realise how ill I was. After a slightly better night's sleep the next day I was told a psychiatrist was coming at 5pm. This was a great relief. My mum wanted to take me to the hospital cafe as I hadn't been eating properly and take me to the shops to get some magazines. I couldn't believe that she had to ask permission to take me off the ward and they nearly didn't let her. She had to fight for it. This horrified me. The psychiatrist came as promised at 5pm. His name was Dr Holiday. And he changed everything.

Dr Holiday allowed me to talk. He didn't condescend. He helped me. He became my psychiatrist and worked with me for the next 3 years and I'm so grateful for his fantastic help. He would see me as often as I needed and tried as many different methods until it worked. He was not prepared to give up on me when it looked like nothing was going to make me better. Yes this may be his job, but he did it well. He did it with a smile and helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. When I was 17 I found out that he could no longer work with me as he had too many patients. He was never meant to take me on as a patient, he was just meant to assess me that day then refer me to someone else. But having identified the good progress we had made in that one meeting back in the hospital and realising the damage it would do to refer me to someone else, he took me on. I can never thank him enough for this.

Turning 18, becoming an adult, is a momentous occasion for everyone. For me, it was more so than most. It meant I had to leave the child mental health services and move to the adult mental health services. This was scary for me. I was used to constant care with CAMHS, there whenever I needed them. I would have hour long sessions of therapy. The building was warm and welcoming, the staff smiled. When I got my first appointment at the Adult mental health service, I didn't really know what to expect. I arrived at a cold and miserable looking building. I walked in and I couldn't see many staff. I announced my arrival with the receptionist who ushered me towards some seats in a room. In that room were other patients with severe mental health issues. Some were aggressive and it was a very emotional place to be. I sat there terrified. And I waited and waited. I waited for 40 minutes. I thought I may lose any sanity I had left in that room. The doctor eventually came out, called my name and I went in. She didn't smile. She didn't apologise for running late. She looked exhausted and stressed. The opposite of what I needed. She took very little time to get my background. I was in and out in 10 minutes, not really knowing what we had discussed. I felt like I had been punished for her lateness with a short appointment. Only to find out you can only get a 10/20 minute slot. I don't find it is enough time at the GP surgery, so here I certainly felt robbed. Thankfully, I had been in the system long enough and knew the only way out was to get better. So I swore to myself that I would get better so I would only have to return once or twice before being discharged. And I did. I was lucky that I had such willpower and determination to not let the horrifying situation destroy me, but to build me. However, I can imagine some are not so lucky and may not know anything else. I was the lucky one.

I have a blog that I started 3 years ago. I have come a long long way in the last three years and I haven't felt the need to update it for a long time but there is such a huge amount of stuff on there that might be helpful. A lot of rubbish too but like everything, you gotta oh through that to get to the good bit!

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