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“My experience this week of trying to get urgent mental health support has been a groundhog week I’ve repeated many times in the past. …you have to start at the beginning again, and your knowledge of yourself counts for nothing.”

An Anonymous #MadCovidDiaries 12.02.2021

TW: Suicidal thoughts, Self-harm.

There are so many ways I could have started this blog…

With the time on Wednesday when I gave up trying to get hold of a GP as I couldn’t get through the receptionist questions.

With the time on Tuesday when my partner said why is it that you have a long term health condition but every time it flares up you need to start from the beginning of the system again?

With the time on Monday when I was lying in bed with my family sleeping at 3am trying desperately to persuade myself that it might seem like a good idea to go for a walk in the woods in my PJs while the temperature is -5C but that it also wouldn’t be.

Everything is like groundhog day at the moment and my experience this week of trying to get urgent mental health support has been a groundhog week I’ve repeated many times in the past. For some reason the way services are set up, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve managed whatever is going on for you, it doesn’t matter how many professionals have agreed with your approach, if it relies on getting specific support through the NHS you have to start at the beginning again, and your knowledge of yourself counts for nothing.

I am usually described as ‘high functioning’, whatever that means, but when things tank, they tank fast. Last week I was thinking I’m finding it hard to concentrate at work, then one broken night’s sleep later, I can’t sleep, I can’t sit still, I’m batting off urges to self-harm and generally walk away from my whole life, I can’t do the simplest of tasks, can’t talk properly, can’t make sense even to myself.

I really didn’t want to try and get any help from services as it can be such a game of roulette, but I also live in absolute fear of my life falling apart the way it did numerous times in my 20s, and now the fallout would affect my little family so much and I’d do anything to avoid that.

I do know that a couple of specific things help me get back on track – namely melatonin and benzos for a short time. I have only ever used these really carefully and this was actually the recommended approach last time I was with a CMHT a couple of years ago.

On Monday I finally plucked up the courage to make a GP appointment. I am useless at explaining things on the phone or expressing how serious things are for me but it’s literally the only option open to most of us right now. I was questioned about whether I was having ‘bad thoughts’, and my main response was that I couldn’t really answer properly as my child had broken into the room where I was on the phone, but that I was really concerned. I know I go very quickly from a bit bonkers to left the planet and I was trying to make the most of the in-between place I was in.

I know everyone is squeezed just now, I know things are very hard for everyone, but I find it hard enough to have accepted that I have a long-term condition that flares up, to then not be trusted or believed when I say I know what works for me.

I wanted one prescription; so far this week I have spoken to my GP surgery 4 times, my husband and a friend have also called them on my behalf concerned. I have gone from being told to try increasing this other medication and check back in three weeks, oh and the CMHT aren’t taking routine referrals during Covid; to being asked do I really need an urgent appointment as I just had one the other day, to a half-hearted crisis team referral (which I neither requested or wanted) which I misunderstood as a re-referral to the CMHT as the GP kept referring to both as ‘the mental health team’.

Ultimately and luckily for me, I turned up for a second assessment for a trauma-focused therapy on Thursday, which was then curtailed as the therapist was concerned I wasn’t stable enough, and initially they tried to persuade me to go to A&E. Based on service criteria they have had to discharge me and refer me back to the local triage service, who have been very quick to respond and understand the situation.

I now, may, hopefully see a psychiatrist in the next ten days, which I hope will be helpful and might allow me to pursue the medication approach that has been prescribed by this team previously and documented to the GP. Who knows at this point.

But I am knackered, and feel like the whole process has been needlessly stressful and convoluted. Without others to advocate for me I’d have given up. I am still struggling hugely with urges to self-harm and suicidal thoughts which are unusual and a massive red flag for me. I just don’t understand why it has to be so complicated and why there have to be so many hoops to jump through when you are at your most vulnerable.

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