Darren’s #MadCovidDiaries, 29.06.20
For the first time in my life I’m able to use the word depression as a descriptive term to apply to my self. I’ve been experimenting with using this with friends and it seems to be going ok. I’ve had both chronic depression as a diagnosis and depression from the same GP, depression first then chronic depression then depression. It has asked a lot of me to begin thinking about why it is such a hard word to use as a descriptor, a lifetime of state sanctioned vernacular utterings loom and prod with their shaming sticks. Whether I can keep using it as my own remains to be seen, I’m under no illusion it could all shimmer away with one interaction. For now as a limited usage within my social group it feels somewhat liberating.
I remember the liberation I felt when I joined Recovery In The Bin. I found it the most generous of groups that helped me gain some language for myself to both express and defend with.
Around 8 years ago my parents got in touch with my GP to see if he’d investigate possible Aspergers with me. When I went in to see him about this I had no idea. He explained to me that my parents had been in touch and then laughed when he said that they wanted to see if he’d look into Aspergers for me. He laughed further as he said that ‘we’ surely both agreed that any social difficulties I experienced were a result of depression and anxiety. I agreed with the ‘we’ and that was the appointment over. I’m now coming to just over two years of waiting for an ASD screening. It was due in March. Waiting is very difficult. I have conversations with friends about this and some ask ‘what does it even mean? why do you want a diagnosis, what’s it’s purpose?’ All are valid questions and I understand why they ask. But at the same time my heart sinks. All I’ve been wanting is to understand myself better and have access to support. Whilst these questions remain as a primary response to diagnosis seeking there remains a judgement of invalidity which can cause harm and a risk of people not being able to reach out for help and support. I’m the kind of person that thinks obsessively, I’ve been round the block so many times with questioning the purposes of diagnosis’. It doesn’t do me any good if I can’t position myself within society to begin with.
I reached out for support from my GP for support as I’m experiencing increasing amount of PTSD symptoms during this time due to escaping an abusive and violent realtionship which threatened my life. Typing this is difficult. But I type it as a way to regain some kind of way of helping regulate and regain some control over symptoms. I had never told my GP about this as previous experiences of talking to them had left me despairing. This is the second time I’ve written about this in this lockdown. I seized upon knowing I might be ready to talk about my experiences and finally got a response from Psychological Therapy Services. First by letter then a phone call which is their assessment. The person I was talking to didn’t know any of my medical history and didn’t know why I was in touch with them. On another day I could have easily just hung up, as many of us know it’s so difficult and upsetting having to constantly repeat our asks for help. The phone call took about an hour and a half. I’m quite spikey when talking to people who may want to support me, I simply don’t trust people. It was a tough first ten minutes. It was a lot of questions. I grow increasingly infuriated by ‘scales’ in assessments. Some magical threshold that both denies and accepts. I told the person I don’t like those sort of questions and my reasons why. I think it’s an important thing to criticise but I learned it’s a lot of work to have to explain yourself especially when in the position of needing help, there’s a power imbalance that isn’t in your favour. For me they might as well be asking on a scale of 1-10 which animal would you like to be. An hour and a half later the phone call assessment is over and she tells me that I meet their requirements for support. And asks what support I’d like. I tell her that I would really like to do EMDR. She tells me that there are only two people in the city that can do this that are in their team. I am told that there is no guarantee that when they are in touch that I will get one of these two people but am advised to mention this when I am contacted. So no guarantees. I am however going to receive Trauma focussed CBT. I had nothing but bad experiences of CBT. I’m hoping this is different. I have since told my family what has happened and they have cut ties with the abusive partner.
I think everyday about other people suffering with abuse and more than ever in the current situation it renders me speechless, heartbroken and angry.
At the end of the phone conversation she makes a generous effort to tell me how much she appreciated how difficult the phone conversation must have been for me and she wanted to thank me for sharing and for not ending my own life and continuing to fight for myself. She said much better than I can write here. Acknowledgements like this are so so important and can make the difference between life and death.
Thanks for reading.
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