Mad Covid Voices, with Lou

27th April 2020

How has your care changed since COVID19?

The care itself has just gone remote, just phone calls – phone calls instead of normal GP appointments, and then it was explained to me that if needed I can get access to an in-person meeting, meaning if I’m in crisis, I imagine. But my medication, not the medication itself but access to medication has changed quite a lot. It’s kind of jumped forward the trust in me, I guess, because before I’d have to go and have a little check in, like “are you okay? Are you okay to pick up this medication?” And I’d be like, “yeah sure, whatever”. Whereas now the medication just gets sent over to my pharmacy and I just go pick it up. And I was like, oh that’s quite different. So I think that’s about as much that has changed, still quite a lot. 

2)     How have those changes affected your mental health?

They haven’t really, I’m not really one for liking to engage, to say the least. It hasn’t really affected my anxiety directly I think, which is, I would value as quite a good thing. I do get overcome with anxiety sometimes when I have to answer phone calls, but that’s a thing that would just happen anyway, I don’t think it’s really affected my mental health. Well, I say that, it’s kind of increased the distrust i have in certain aspects of the service, I suppose because you can’t see that persons face and you can’t see their body language, and that kind of stuff… you think a bit more don’t you, I do anyway. So a bit more distrust. 

3)     Have you been told how to get help in a crisis since COVID19?

I don’t think i have, at least not explicitly, which I know for me is fine. I don’t know if it’s just a me thing, because i’ve had enough crises in the past I know the kind of process, but none’s said this has changed. So for me it hasn’t been explained, I would hope for other people it has been, but for me it hasn’t. Which I’m personally fine with, but if it was somebody else and it hadn’t been explained to and they needed that reassurance, i’d be a bit concerned.

4)     How is the experience of self-isolating /social distancing in the community? (how are you finding living alone/with others, are you able to access support, food, meds, things to do etc)?

I think it’s been something to adjust to (laughs)! I’ve not spent this much time in my house for a very long time, but access to support has been fine, very lucky that I’m quite comfortable picking up the phone being like “hi, please help”. So for me that’s quite an alright thing. Food has been fine, again very lucky I live near a high street, that is fine. Medication has been quite difficult because the medication i take is on  a national shortage at the moment, so i’m like “oo, okay”, and i’ve had to go to 3 or 4 different pharmacies just to pick up a weekly prescription, i’m like… don’t want to do that every week. Especially as you don’t want to spend much time outside as possible, and i’m running around the high street going “have you got my meds please?”. 

5)     Have decisions been made about your care (such as discharge / referral etc) that you believe wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for COVID19?

No, not for me, thankfully. But when I read that question on your email I was like, oh that could be really interesting, because it made me sit and reflect quite a bit. If I didn’t have the history I do, with the risk that I had, I reckon in the situation I’m in right now with my mental health and how I cope, I reckon I would have been one of those people who would have been discharged or referred onwards. I’m like wow, its really… I just sat and reflected, this is really quite an insight into how the system works with risk taking and things, I dunno. I found that really interesting myself, because I know that if I was someone who hadn’t been in the system as long as I have been, and didn’t have the level of risk, as they call it, that I had, I reckon I would have been discharged and I think that’s really unfair of the system to be like. Because I’ve seen it in people I know, they’ve been discharged or been referred as a step down, and actually they still need that level of support, they still need access to it. Bit of consistency that we need. I understand their on paper reason, but in practice I don’t get it. It’s individual lives that you’re messing with. Some people it works for, but the people I’ve spoken to personally it’s like, it doesn’t work, don’t do that. 

6)     Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

The one thing that I’ve noticed the most about this whole fiasco, and I’ve written, I’m gonna call it a blog post but it was more a bit of a rant, and i sent it in. It was one thing that I noticed from a more objective perspective that this situation brought to light to me: that the kind of self-care and treatments I guess that people are being suggested to on the internet, and all the positive affirmations and all that kind of thing, they’re very much what I know as more so self-affirmations in treatments for people who have a diagnosis of personality disorder. It really brought home to me, why do we stigmatise that diagnosis and that label, but when a similar kind of experience, or a similar reaction to a trauma is happening, we’re all praising everybody and it’s all communal spirit. The difference, I was just like wow, and this is okay in this society? It’s just, i dunno, It was a sit back and count your blessings kind of moment. I did end up speaking to all my friends about it too, like “have you noticed this?” And they were like “no but now that you’ve said it I have.” I was like “sorry!” (laughs). I think it’s something we all need to be aware of, and sit down and think about what we’re doing. 

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