Into the system…

blogging, work, mental health, therapy, disability, benefits and more…

Posts Tagged ‘A&E

September/October: Meet the Shrink…

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Late September: Referral to Psychiatrist

I returned to Dr N shortly after my trip to A&E. I was embarrassed about my previous visit to him and quite apprehensive, but it was okay. He was lovely as ever and showed his concern. He apologised for sending me to A&E, but pointed out he had to. He was concerned that I could have taken something else and not be telling him, so needed to get things checked out. I explained what had happened in A&E and following, with the crisis team. He was pretty shocked and disappointed that they hadn’t offered me more support or a proper assessment.

I questioned him on the borderline thing and he kinda avoided the question, horrified that the A&E department had been stupid enough to show me the letter, but did suggest that he wasn’t attempting to make a psychiatric diagnosis, more trying to assure I got the right attention in A&E. I wasn’t really happy with his response, but nevermind. He’s since redeemed himself.

Anyway, I asked him what other options there were and reminded him of my health insurance. In the end we agreed that a referral to a private psychiatrist was probably the best option and he arranged to do this.

When I saw him again, he explained he was referring me to Dr G and had written the letter. When I got to see the referral letter I was a little horrified. It was hard to see everything in black and white, honest and accurate as it was.

The referral process was quick and I managed to get a cancellation. An appointment was booked for October 2nd.

October 2nd: See Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr G.

I was absolutely terrified before my appointment. So terrified, I managed to miss the turning on my drive there and took a while to realise I was going in the wrong direction. I was not really in the right frame of mind to be driving. I got there safely though and was pointed in the direction of a waiting area. She was running quite late, although no one thought to tell me, so I sat there nervously looking at the clock, worrying I’d been forgotten or was in the wrong place. Eventually she came down to find me and led me up to her consulting room.

I was relieved to see there wasn’t a couch. I was terrified I’d have to sit on the cliché psychiatrist’s couch. No one prepares you for what it is going to be like, so I was relying on Hollywood’s interpretation of the psychiatrist for clues. I sat in a small, blue armchair and she began. She explained that the session would take around an hour and that she wanted to go over some of the things discussed in the referral letter and gather an overall history. Then she left it to me to talk.

I am not good at talking. I find it very difficult to open up, but I knew I had to if I wanted to make the most of her expertise. So I went through things. I probably forgot stuff. I was very nervous and didn’t know what to say, but we got there. Afterwards, she wanted to lay out the options for how to proceed. We discussed medication and Quetiapine (Seroquel) was brought up as a possibility. Then she dropped the bombshell. She thought I should come in as an inpatient. I was completely shocked by this and did not know how to react. I had not expected it. She did say if staying as an inpatient wasn’t an option, day care would be the second best thing, but she really wanted me to stay. I couldn’t really think straight after this. I was worried about what my other half would think and terrified at the prospect of being admitted.

At the end of the appointment, she showed me down to the ward and the woman in admissions showed me around. I think they wanted me to see that it was more like a Travelodge than a hospital and were trying to put me at ease. There were no beds available so they explained I would be put on a waiting list and it was up to me if I accepted and came in.

A million thoughts were racing through my head after this. I was worried about what my partner would think. I was anxious about the argument that was likely to follow when I told him. I was worried it was all an overreaction. I worried that maybe I’d been exaggerating things to make them seem worse than they were, yet at the same time I was glad to be taken seriously for the first time. I was cynical and thought that she probably just wanted to make the most money she could from me. Mostly I was just plain scared. I didn’t know what to expect and also knew that if I was to be admitted I would need to tell my parents.

An argument did follow and it took a while for my partner to come around to the idea. He didn’t want me to go in at all. I’m not sure he had realistic visions of what it might be like and seemed to worry it would make me worse. I also suspect he didn’t want me to go because he’d miss me and he was probably worried about not having me around to look after the house too! He did say that he wouldn’t want to visit me there and considered going away for a few days, but in the end he didn’t.

I also went and saw Dr N to get his advice. He agreed that I should be admitted and was glad that I was finally getting some support. He told me he’d have wanted me admitted to the local NHS unit if he thought it would do me any good, but said that it was so terrible it would probably do more harm. I think that’s a sad reflection on NHS mental health services. He also told me he’d been a ward doctor at a Priory hospital for a while, so knew what it was like and thought it would be beneficial. We talked about the benefits of staying over day care, such as not having to drive to and from the hospital after a challenging day of therapy. He really helped me to make up my mind and I made the decision to be admitted.

September: Caffeine Crisis…

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September 16th: Caffeine Overdose

A week on from the bridge I was a mess. I had spent the week trying to stop myself from hurting myself and I knew that I couldn’t withhold it much longer. The day before, I’d bought a packet of caffeine tablets. I don’t know why. Overnight I had gone over and over the urge to overdose and by morning I couldn’t stand it any longer. I took all of the caffeine tablets, 32 in all. I was surprised at how easy it was. I just swilled them down with a can of Diet Coke. I didn’t care what it did to me. I just wanted to shut up the noise in my head. I guess I knew that it wouldn’t kill me, but I wanted to make myself ill. I wanted to hurt myself. I wonder now if I took the caffeine to stop myself taking the paracetamol or fluoxetine or whatever else I could find. I wonder if I did it to stop myself from going to the bridge. I don’t know if there was some form of self-preservation happening.

The caffeine made me incredibly agitated. Shortly after swallowing the pills I was shaking and couldn’t keep still so I decided to go for a walk, hoping it would use some of my excess energy. I walked towards the village not knowing where I was going or what I was doing. My head was spinning. I felt drunk, dizzy and full of energy. When I arrived at the village I thought about seeing Dr N, but when I got the surgery I was too scared to go in and ask to see him. Instead, I kept walking. I sat down on a bench and texted a friend, then walked back to the surgery, but Dr N had left for his rounds. I gave up and walked home. By the time I got home I was feeling awful. I had terrible stomach cramps, was shaking and my head was pounding. In the end I just lay down in bed and stayed there. When my partner came home I just told him I was feeling poorly.

The night was long and painful. I was awake all night, the nausea unbearable. I kept heaving, but nothing was coming up. My head was spinning and pounding. My heart was pounding. I thought I was dying.

September 17th: A&E

In the morning I was still feeling terrible. My partner was concerned; of course, he did not know that I had brought the pain upon myself. I rang the surgery and made an appointment with Dr N. I was agitated beyond belief, feeling terribly sick and barely able to talk as I walked into his office. I was shaking terribly. I didn’t know how to tell him. I was so ashamed and embarrassed. In the end I managed to spit it out and explained what had happened. He was concerned and didn’t know how to react. He checked my blood pressure and kept asking me if I was going to be safe if he sent me home. I didn’t know how to answer. He decided to send me to A&E, gave them a call and wrote me a referral letter to take with me. He wanted me to call my partner and get him to take me, but I was too scared. I opted for a taxi.

I arrived at the hospital and handed the receptionist the letter. They took it from me and handed it to one of the nurses and then it was handed back. The letter was now open and I could read it. I was shocked to see what it said. Dr N’s differential included not just depression, but “? Personality Disorder”, which one would assume referred to the possibility that I had Borderline PD. I was quite angry. I hadn’t expected that, as it had not been mentioned before, but I also kinda knew that by self-harming in this way I had opened myself up to it. I sat in the corner and banged my head against the wall in frustration. Eventually I was called through, but a mix up meant I was left to sit in the cubicle on my own waiting for a nurse. One nurse saw my letter and said “oh you’re that one” and then ignored me. Eventually a nurse came and asked me some questions. She then found another nurse to take me through to majors.

I was shocked by what happened next. I was led to a cubicle and she instructed me to change into the gown and to get onto the bed when I was ready. I remember her asking me why I did it, but I didn’t know how to respond. She noticed my engagement ring and told me “see, that’s something to live for”. I thought she was an idiot. She obviously has no idea what it’s like. She attached me to the monitor and took my blood pressure and temperature, then left me. I proceeded to spend the next couple of hours feeling terrible, trying to work out what they were going to do with me. I was terrified. Everyone that came over and saw my notes seemed to flinch and wander away. I sneaked a peak at them myself and saw “DSH” in big letters at the top. I wondered if that was the reason why I was ignored. Eventually a doctor came and took some blood from me and asked me further questions. I was scared of him and didn’t know how to answer. He smelled too. Eventually he finished his interrogation and left me again. More waiting and being ignored followed. After what felt like forever, a nice nurse came and explained what was going to happen. I was to be moved to the CDU ward within A&E, to wait for the blood test results and a psychiatrist.

Shortly after I had been moved, my partner arrived. I was shocked to see him, as I hadn’t told him where I was. I found out that he’d been worried that he hadn’t heard from me and at lunchtime he had began a search. In the end the doctor’s surgery had told him I’d gone to A&E. When he arrived he was angry at me for not telling him the truth. He told me I was silly and kept asking me questions about what I had done and why. I just wanted to be left alone. I didn’t know how to respond. He kept asking me questions, in between hugging me and telling me things would be okay. I didn’t know what to say. I was starting to feel a little better by mid-afternoon. The nurse in CDU was lovely and the only one to really treat me like a human being. I was brought food, but it was inedible.

Eventually, I was deemed medically fit and the psych team were able to assess me. This was horrible. I was uncomfortable with the MHP. She asked me plenty of questions, but didn’t seem to want to listen to my answers. My answers didn’t seem to be what she wanted to hear. She didn’t seem to understand why I was there and I got the impression she just thought I was silly and pathetic. She was confused as I didn’t seem to fit her boxes. I think she just wanted to send me home, but realised I wasn’t happy about that. In the end she called the on-duty psychiatrist and he came. He didn’t ask me any questions about what had happened and just asked me what I wanted to happen next. He gave me the choice of going home and pretending nothing had happened, going home and having the crisis team visit or being admitted. I was scared of hospital, so I chose the crisis team. I was discharged after some frantic form filling.

September 18th: Crisis Team

The crisis team were hopeless. They turned up late and then proceeded to perform some bizarre good-cop-bad-cop routine, whilst they tried to find out what had happened prior to me tipping up in A&E. They asked me various questions but I didn’t know what to say to them. I made light of everything as I didn’t know how else to approach the situation. In the end I was deemed sane enough not to warrant their attention. They wanted me to wait for the mental health team assessment that I had been on the waiting list for forever. They seemed frustrated that they couldn’t just stick me in a suitable box and in the end they just discharged me back to my GP.

August – November: Up to now…

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I know I’ve been pretty quiet since I returned to the blogosphere, but I’ve generally been pretty busy with day care and when I haven’t been, I’ve been too ill to write or busy working on therapy homework. Or at least pretending to be busy working on therapy homework.

One of my therapy groups is something called Life Maps. For this session we have to create a “map” of our lives to date, highlighting key dates, events and people from our life story. We can do this however we wish, such as a big timeline, bubble charts or just written as prose, as long as we can use it to explain our story. During the sessions we look at an area of our map and by talking though our story, we can look at the key events that have shaped us and also keep an eye out for repeated behaviour and issues which may or may not have contributed to the development of our illnesses.

Simple right? Haha!! It is hard work. I have barely started to go through things and everything I’ve covered so far seems pointless and unrelated, except the info from the last couple of months. I feel guilty for my lack of progress. I need to look at my teenage years, but I am struggling. My concentration is shot to pieces due to medication and illness and my memory is terrible, so trying to recall events of the past 22 years is not easy. Problem is, I know I can’t use that as an excuse. Everyone else is in the same boat. My perfectionism also haunts me and makes it difficult for me to put things to paper, for fear of it not being right, but I know I need to fight this. I hate that I am not making the most of the therapy offered to me, but I am just not well enough. I know the therapy coordinator was worried I wouldn’t be up to it, but I want to prove him wrong. Problem is, I’m failing so far.

Anyway, I explained how Life Maps works because I decided to try and kill two birds with one stone and type up a potted history of events since I left the blogosphere, covering my path to hospital and beyond.

It has been a crazy few months. This doesn’t really begin to cover half of it, despite the amount of detail I’ve included. I just couldn’t explain how it’s felt to go through all this. It’s been a whirlwind. The future is still hazy. I am still unwell and still waiting for answers. I hate that despite all this, things really haven’t changed all that much since August, when I was last blogging. I just hope that things start to change soon, as I don’t know how much more I can go through before I break.

I’ve decided to do this as a series of posts as it is really long and unwieldy. Below, you can see a number of titles linked to the other posts. I hope this works out okay.

EDIT:– Why are trackbacks so unreliable? If you make a post with lots of links they don’t all ping at the same time. Usually only the first link pings. You then have to keep editing and saving the post until they all work. Stupid thing!

August/September: New GP, New Meds…

September 9th: The Bridge…

September: Caffeine Crisis…

September/October: Meet the Shrink…

October 4th: Tell the parents…

October 7th: Into the hospital…

November 4th: Out of the hospital…