Into the system…

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Posts Tagged ‘NHS psychiatrist

NHS Psychiatrist…

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Bloody hell, the CMHT is in a weird and slightly scary location. The building is a dilapidated old school on a council estate, with rusty railings and dodgy damp portacabins. It was in one of these cabins that I had my appointment. My social worker met me and took me in. The ceiling was falling down from damp. It really shows how much priority mental health care gets within our social services and NHS. Most of the other council buildings are shiny and swish.

It turns out that the NHS psychiatrist I saw today has seen me before, although I wouldn’t have known if he hadn’t have told me. Dr D assessed me in February after my massive overdose and arranged for my admission to the NHS ward back in February. I don’t remember the assessment at all, but vaguely remember his face.

The appointment was fairly routine. He asked me about discharge from the ward, what happened at The Priory, what has happened since. He asked about current mood. He asked about history, self harm, suicide, family history, childhood, education etc. All the usual things. It was a chore going over it all again. The more often I do this history thing, the less I manage to cover and recall. I just skip over things because I have said them so many times I forget what I’ve told who. I think he got the main points though.

He didn’t change my medication at all, as my social worker had warned me. He seemed to think that my current meds were doing some good and that we should persevere. I didn’t know if to ask about Dr G’s planned increases up to 300mg. I think I should have, but I couldn’t find my tongue. He said my meds would be reviewed when I next return to the CMHT.

One positive outcome was a referral to therapy. My social worker needs to get this done, so I’m not holding my breath considering her previous record, but we shall see. He said the waiting list is extremely long, but the sooner the referral is done the better. As I have covered most of the shorter therapies at The Priory, especially CBT, he said they probably won’t bother with these, but he was keen for me to have psychodynamic therapy. He thinks I will need to be in intense psychodynamic therapy for years. I had expected to do some psychodynamic stuff as Dr G had mentioned it in the past, but I thought it would be for a few months. I didn’t think I would need years. I guess I never really saw the whole psychoanalytical, lie on a couch and talk about your childhood thing as for me.

I wonder what issues he thinks I will need so long to deal with. I started on some psychodynamic stuff at The Priory when I did “Life Maps” and I grappled around for some reasons for all of this, but my childhood was uneventful and I don’t know what problems there are to find. I know there are some relationship issues with my mother and I was bullied in primary school, but aside from that I am unsure. I don’t think these are deep enough and I see my condition as largely chemical.

The plan is for me to continue on these meds, wait for a referral to therapy and see him (or someone else on the team) again in around 8 weeks. This wait is better than I’d feared but it still seems a long way away. I find the future so hard to comprehend I don’t know how I will get through to then. I was told to continue to see my social worker and to use the ALERT service, the CMHT in hours, the crisis team or A&E if things get worse, but I don’t know how easy that will be. I tend to suffer in silence and hide how bad things are getting, even now after everything.

I’m glad the appointment is over. I was so nervous and didn’t really know what to expect. The next step is to contact Dr G and tell her what happened. I think she will be glad about the therapy as she had wanted to find me something before. I am scared about letting go of her support, but know I will have to eventually. Dr D seemed a little concerned that I had still been seeing a different psychiatrist and I think he wanted that to stop. I understand it would be complicated. I guess I’ve always got the option of going back to Dr G if I felt I needed it. Dr D asked me to contact Dr G and get her to send a summary of my care at The Priory and a date for which I will be discharged by her as well as a list of the therapy I’ve had at The Priory. It all seems quite final.

p.s. I updated the My Story page today.

A long week…

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A lot has happened in the past week. I kept meaning to write, but time got away from me.

I saw Dr G last Tuesday and was disappointed. It was a fairly pointless appointment. I did mention my dip in mood in the weeks prior to seeing her, but she didn’t have much to say. She increased the Lamotrigine again by the minute amount of 25mg, so I’m now up to 125mg b.d. She asked me about the hand over to the NHS. She seems ready to hand me over and doesn’t seem to want me to continue seeing her once I’m in the hands of the NHS. She thinks it will complicate things, which it would, but I trust her a lot more than I trust the NHS and I appreciate the constant input. I’m worried about the frequency I will be seeing the NHS psychiatrist. Talking about this with my social worker today, she said that if people are “stable” they will only see the psychiatrist every 6 months, even if that stability isn’t a particularly nice state to be stable in. She said I may see them a little more often at first, but even then it may only be every 3 months or so. This terrifies me. At the moment I always have that “if I can get through the next fortnight until I see Dr G, things may be okay”. This can keep me going. Knowing I’m on my own for months may be enough to make me give up again. I know I can ask for a rapid access appointment if things get scary, bad, but I’m not sure that’s enough and I can’t be asking for one every month or so!

On Tuesday night I learnt the bad side of knowing lots of people with mental health issues. One of my friends who I met in The Priory texted me to thank me for being her friend and to apologise for the fact she was going to kill herself that evening. I didn’t know what to do as I felt powerless to intervene and hypocritical for wanting to do so. She had been a long-stay patient in hospital and I believe was on overnight leave at the time. In the end I contacted the hospital she had been at and told them what she’d said. They wouldn’t discuss it with me due to patient confidentiality or even acknowledge what I had said, but I hope it alerted them and was of some help. They told me to call the police instead as they would have the power to intervene, but I didn’t want to do that. She tried to call me a couple of times in the evening but I missed the calls and when I called her back she didn’t pick up. I was worried but I did what I could. I was relieved when she later texted to say she had been picked up by the police, although worried for her. The hospital she had been in have chucked her out, presumably for breaking the rules of her overnight leave. I’m shocked and appalled by this decision as she’s at her most vulnerable at the moment. The people who are meant to be caring for her have dumped her when she needs them most and she is now alone and extremely ill. Last I heard she was staying with some friends and I just hope they can keep her safe.

This whole thing was triggering for me. I wanted to help her and intervene with her decision, yet I myself wanted to do exactly what she was doing. I was jealous of her at the same time as worried for her. I was angry at myself for being so hypocritical. I knew that if I was in her position I’d have been frustrated if she had intervened, but then I still wanted to do something. I couldn’t just stand by and let a friend die. I was comforted by the fact that she had contacted me. It suggested to me that she wanted someone to do something. She’d have gone alone and quietly if she was completely determined to succeed.

Wednesday started with a trip to Dr N so he could steal my blood for the mood disorder research. He struggled to get anything out of me. Spent ages trying to find veins in my arms and used my wrists in the end. The first attempt failed and has left me with terrible bruising and some wrist pain. The second attempt was eventually successful, but painful as he pushed the needle around in my wrist. We got there though in the end.

After this it was a trip to my office. My work laptop was due to be upgraded so I had to go drop it in to the IT department. It was weird to be in my old work environment. It made me realise that I really missed it. I wish I could just go back and do my job.

I had Creative Remedies in the afternoon. It was visual arts this time, which boils down to painting. I was disappointed by the class as it is restrictive. We had to start with a “colour wheel”, which made me feel I was in primary school. I know very well which colours mix together and what primary and secondary colours are. For our first project we have to choose images from a selection of Japanese, Egyptian and Art-Deco pictures and use these as inspiration. It feels very much like art at school, which is frustrating as I’d rather paint whatever I liked. I was impressed with the materials on offer though. We get a portfolio folder and sketchbook, access to good quality acrylics, watercolours and gouache paints and canvasses to work on. It’s all free so I can’t really complain. The teacher does seem to be experienced and the outreach workers are the same as on Monday’s session, so we should be able to develop a good relationship with them. I’ve been getting on well with one of them in particular already. It is basically just an art class though and not art therapy at all and although it gets me out of the house and doing something it doesn’t seem therapeutic. I miss the emotional freedom of art therapy at The Priory and the therapists there.

Wednesday evening saw us heading over to Snowdonia for a few days camping. My parents and grandparents had rented a cottage over there for a week, so we joined them for a couple of days. It was nice to get away for a few days, but I was feeling a bit flat a lot of the time. A good campsite near Beddgelert, we enjoyed nice food at The Goat Hotel on Wednesday evening.

The highlight of Thursday was a trip to Harlech castle, but a further reminder of my illness. Disabled admission was one such reminder. A bonus in that it was free, but even still I feel weird asking for it. I find it hard to think of myself as disabled. The second reminder came from climbing the towers. I felt uncomfortable at those heights. I am not scared of heights in any way, but I wanted to jump. If my parents and partner weren’t with me it would have been a huge temptation. I don’t think I could do that in front of them though. The image of my fall would haunt them for too long. Aside from this though it was good. I’ve never been such a big fan of ruined castles, but the views were fantastic.

Friday brought beautiful weather and a trip to the beach. We struggled to find one where our dog was welcome, but eventually stumbled across a beautiful little cove, with golden sands and shallow water. The beach was almost deserted with just one other couple there most of the time. We went for a swim, which was of course cold, but good. It was lovely to see our puppy swimming properly for the first time. I felt like a proud parent. There were also lots of little silver fish swimming around, which was unusual but made me a little squeamish.

We came home on Saturday, amidst drizzle and murkiness. A real downer after the lovely day on Friday. Our tent was soggy and I hate packing at the best of times, so I felt pretty awful. I’ve just felt pretty low all weekend and have had little motivation to do anything. I just want to hibernate really.

The highlight of today was another trip to Creative Remedies. I have enjoyed it and I think I will continue to, but I am still unsure of the therapeutic benefit. I wonder whether the vast amount of money that is being spent on this should be put to better use elsewhere, especially in reducing the waiting lists for other therapy.

My social worker came over today to check up on me before we both go and see the NHS psychiatrist tomorrow. She had some paper work to read and sign – mainly my risk assessment and enhanced CPA. It was weird to read a catalogued list of risks and declarations of my suicidal thoughts. She asked me what I wanted from the appointment tomorrow and tried to set some expectations. It seems that we will go over history and recent mood. It is apparently unlikely that the psychiatrist will change my medication on the first meeting and it is likely that I won’t see them again for a while. I don’t see the point in just going over my history and not actually doing anything. He can find the history in my notes and I’d rather use this appointment to make some changes that may help me to recover. We will see though. Wish me luck. I really fear I am going to need it.

Tiresome…

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Another week has passed and I’ve not written again. I don’t know where all the time goes.

On Monday someone came from Birmingham University to interview me for Mood Disorder research. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would, but that may be because I was hardly verbose. I just generally ended up saying “yep” to every question. There were questions about your family situation and stuff. Then there was a series of questions about depressive symptoms, all of which I have experienced at some point or another. She recorded that part of the interview and the following part about mania. There were questions about agitated depression and dysphoric mania too, both of which I’ve experienced and most of my depressions are agitated.

There was a section on psychotic features, most of which didn’t apply, but there were some things mentioned that I’ve experienced and never really considered psychosis before. Those dissociative experiences and weird feelings where the world don’t quite feel right were given air time. There are times when I lose all sense of size and relativity. Paranoia too, but I guess everyone experiences that at times.

There were questions about medication and treatment. I realise now that I forgot a load of drugs that I had been on. I don’t know if it’s worth emailing to let them know. It felt weird when there were questions about hospitalisation and ECT and it made me realise just how ill I have been.

Her list of symptoms and questions made me realise that I can’t deny having Bipolar Disorder. I had experienced pretty much everything mentioned for both depression and mania (although generally not as severe on the manic side). I sometimes wonder if I’m actually just plain depressed as I spend so much more time on that side of the coin, but I can’t deny that I’ve been manic or at least hypomanic plenty of times too. More so, it made me realise that I am really quite severely ill. I often think because I have Bipolar II disorder, rather than I, it means I’m not that bad, but I guess that isn’t really the case. I’ve been lucky to have not had any real psychotic experiences and severe manic episodes, but my depressions are pretty much as severe as they get and I’ve been through a lot treatment-wise too.

At the end the girl tried to take my blood, but failed. I have really terrible veins. Small and deep. She’s given me a pack to take to my GP so they can take it instead. I wonder if they ever will find a gene or two that causes all of this.

Afterwards I completed the questionnaires she left me. Millions of ticky, or rather crossy, boxes. A lot of personality type questions about honesty, social anxiety and esteem. A section on events proceeding first experiences of illness, which for me was pretty much uneventful. No bereavements, abuse etc during my childhood.

Tuesday was fairly dull, except my father popped in for a couple of hours. He was in the area for a trade show so came over for dinner in the evening. We went to the new Fish and Chips in Alty and then came home and had cake. Good food and it was nice to see him for a wee while.

On Wednesday I saw Dr N for my fortnightly visit. I was pretty honest with him about how the past couple of weeks have been. Things have gone steeply downhill since a month ago and he was concerned. We talked about self harm and suicide again. We also talked about my social worker and seeing the NHS psychiatrist. He warned me that the NHS psych will probably try and get me to try an anti-depressant again especially considering the drop in mood over the past couple of weeks. He made some comment about “that’s all they [NHS psychiatrists]  seem to do”, which amused me. I’m worried about this though. I don’t think it is a good idea considering how bad things were when I was on them, but then I wonder because things have not exactly been great without.

I forgot to take the blood pack with me, so he’s going to do it next week when I’ve seen Dr G. No doubt I will have a meds increase to sort out as well.

This morning I had a visit from J, my social worker. It was a long one and I found it tiring. I tried to be honest with her too, talking about the increase in suicidal thoughts and the agitated anger outbursts that have been happening for a while. It was shaming to talk about wanting to hurt people and myself. I felt uncomfortable and was fidgeting a lot. She was pushing for info though and I felt obliged to supply.

I was alarmed when she mentioned the crisis team and hospital. I managed to calm her down and say that I’ve managed to keep myself safe over the past couple of weeks and I think I will be able to going forward, but even still. She agreed with me in the end and said she will not take action, but she kept reiterating the fact we could get the crisis team out. I don’t trust the crisis team and I certainly don’t want to go through the NHS inpatient experience again. I don’t want to put my family through that either. I am scared that my bloke will be shocked it was even considered. I have not really let on that things have been much worse in the past fortnight. I have to phone her or ALERT if things get worse again, although I still don’t have their number so not sure how to do that.

She wanted us to talk about what her role was and what I want her to do for me. I didn’t really have an answer as I find her a little useless and wonder what the point of her appointmesnts is. I was keen for her to liase with other services and make referrals for me though. We discussed other things out there, especially therapy. She is getting me on the list but warned me it will be an incredibly long wait, even just for an assessment. She also suggested Beating The Blues in the interim, but it’s more CBT and I’m not sure Kate had much positive to say about it. I start Creative Remedies next week and Positive Thoughts in a couple of weeks so we shall see how those go. She also suggested I tried the Day Centre in Warrington. I’ve been once before, but was too scared to talk to anyone there and left after 5 minutes reading the notice boards. She suggested she took me in and introduced me, which may be better. I said I will see how Creative Remedies go first and then decide.

There was a lot of boring stuff about setting expectations for recovery and doing things to help. It was a repetition of much of what she’s said before and got quite tiresome. She talked a lot about my work and how if I am ever to go back things will have to be different. We talked about the competitive nature of the company and she seemed appalled at the way things work and shocked that I accepted it. I think she really wanted me to consider leaving and working elsewhere, but didn’t dare say as much. I know things will have to be different, but I am not sure I want them to be so different I leave my job. We will have to see.

This afternoon I need to get down to some serious baking. My friends who get married tomorrow have asked for contributions to the buffet and bar instead of traditional wedding presents. Hopefully I can knock up some yummy contributions and everything goes well.

Hope everyone out there is okay. Take care folks xx