Not a week goes by when there isn’t some big news event on Mental Health, and it is hardly surprising considering that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year. This week was no different with one of the England’s leading psychiatrists declaring that the mental health service in England is in crisis and unsafe. Merge that statement with the statistics and that is some scary stuff.
Perhaps you yourself have battled with Mental Health, or chances are that you know people (plural) that have. In today’s society there is always something to say about it, whether it be from experience, misconception or stigma and discrimination. My experience is personal, and over the years it has been vast.
Back in 2008 when I went to my doctor expressing that I felt I may be Bipolar she did not take me seriously. Unbeknown to me, as I had been living out of the country for a while, there had been a lot of media attention on Bipolar at that time and later on I concluded that she had felt that I was jumping on the bandwagon. She ignored my medical file, with enough history in it to judge that I maybe onto something, and she was wrong.
I finally made it to the local NHS mental health team and was (possibly) wrongly diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I say possibly because by the time I was subsequently diagnosed with Bipolar and put on medication I no longer felt the need for any further labels. The very nice NHS psychologist gave me some options and one of which was self help and her recommendation of a CBT book series. These books saved my life, at the time. I worked tirelessly for several years on ‘fixing’ myself until it became evident that my tenacity alone was not enough, once again I was at breaking point.
In 2011 I tried and failed to see the nice NHS lady again but instead I got stuck in the system. Questionnaire after questionnaire my frustrations grew. How could a one to ten scale determine how I actually felt? I was at my wits end. For me, having experienced heart-break, grief and all the other harsh realities that life can bring, there is nothing worse than being stuck in your own personal hell in your mind.
I finally went private because I was fortunate in that I had the means and supportive parents who could enable me to do so. Others are not so lucky. A friend of my partner’s recently walked into her house to find her daughter had committed suicide, the system had failed her and despite her mother begging doctors to help, her pleas had been ignored. Her story made national news, her mother will never recover.
As soon as I went private I was on the road to recovery. I was incredibly lucky by being drawn to the right person for me. When she looked me in the eye and said “I can not treat you unless you are on medication”, I had no choice but to surrender. Having refused medication my whole life it was ultimately what saved me. Through my reaction to the medication my Bipolar diagnosis was confirmed. All my hard work over the previous few years finally started paying off.
The above is only a brief summary of my experience and all that is left to say is that I agree that the mental health service is in crisis. I am one of the lucky ones, others like my partner’s friend’s daughter are not.
What is Mental Health to you?