You may remember that not that long ago I went through a bit of a downward spiral, I didn’t feel that I was going to be able to snap myself back together and, after a little breakdown at work, it was agreed that I should take week off. To allow myself to heal, calm and find inner peace.
Well the truth is I don’t know what I found, I don’t know if I’m “fixed” or if I’ve simply come to some form of acceptance. I visited my GP who referred me into an NHS counselling service within Liverpool – the worst thing that could have happened if I’m honest. The service wanted me to tell them my problems on the initial call, to see if it was the right service, then again to a duty officer which I couldn’t do; I ended up writing a three page letter to the service detailing the problems, which prompted another call. We finally arranged an assessment call, which asked for all the same information that was in the letter (which they later admitted to not reading); I hung up.
Despite being outspoken in a number areas of my life, when it comes to my own mental health I really do have the basic “man block”; I cannot talk about my feelings. Instead, I bottle them up and then, when the bottle is full, have a breakdown. This is the 3rd time its happened in my life and the 3rd time my local NHS mental health trust has been utterly useless. Now, before you think I’m blaming the NHS – I’m not. I’m blaming this services referral process, making a difficult situation worse by making a person to repeat every detail of the issue a number of times before support/treatment is given, when they’d have to go through it all over again I’m sure.
I’ve no doubt this is partly down to the Tory cuts too.
The week was not wasted though; I read a lot of self-help information online, read about coping mechanisms for anxiety and started to exercise, properly. Don’t get me wrong, I went the gym a fair bit anyway but it wasn’t structured, it didn’t excite me and I seen it more as a chore. Weeks down the line and I still have my ups and downs but they’re less frequent and I think I owe this down to being in a place where I wasn’t ready to give up and kept looking for alternatives to the one that had been blocked from me due to their initial processes.
The method of accessing support for mental health needs to be simplified, it needs to be as if you had a physical injury. If you went to A&E with a broken arm you would be triaged and referred to a doctor that dealt with broken arms, the same if you had a heart attack etc. This needs to be applied to mental health services – for example: the GP refers you to the mental health trust, they then do a face-to-face initial “triage” and then they get you to the service that is most appropriate – without having the patient repeat themselves repeatedly.