I’m sorry if this is poorly written, I am irritable.
A friend asked me today if MH services have ever really been helpful for me. In an eye-blink I said yes: they have, at times, kept me alive and I can’t just forget that. For all my frustrations and genuine anger at the way the system works sometimes, I know I wouldn’t be here without some of the support I have received, from people who were actually listening.
BUT. I am frustrated. Incredibly frustrated. Because I know that this time, had I been able to see someone faster, I would not now have a broken ankle. I asked for help. I couldn’t get help in time. One day before I was finally due an appointment, I snapped. As did my ankle. Ha, ha.
Today, a woman from the Crisis Team asked me why I let things reach crisis point. I informed her that I had been asking for help for months, received none and finally ended up in hospital, none of which I could see as having been my fault. That it wasn’t my fault referrals are slow, or psychiatrists go on holiday without adequate cover, or whatever. She (obviously) informed me in return that nobody was saying it was my fault. But sometimes I get the feeling that people think it is. That they think I deliberately wait until boiling point to tell someone the water is too hot.
Not thinking of the fact that it’s my skin that’s burning.
Another thing that frustrates me is how I was treated as a child in the MH system. Again, that admission may have saved my life, and I can’t be ungrateful about that. BUT. I was bright. I wanted to prepare for my GCSEs and they weren’t used to that. They wanted to see us preparing to get 3 C grades in Maths, English and Science- at most- because that is what they assumed we were capable of. For one girl, they pushed the boat out and let her add Art to this.
Faced with someone determined to do more, they didn’t know what to do. Rather than ask, or try, they treated me as an irritating anomaly that should be fobbed off. When I said I needed to go back to school I got constant replies of “you’re not ready yet.” What they didn’t understand was how crucial my school-work would eventually be to my recovery. I don’t think anyone, even I, could have fully anticipated that at the time, so I don’t blame them for not seeing GCSE Shakespeare as adequate medication. But I do wish they had been able to better listen to and accommodate me and I hope that things are better now for anyone else in that situation.
Finally, the Edinburgh Crisis Team. They are abysmal. I can’t remember how many times I was told I had “too much insight” to have a real problem, or how many times I was told that hospital is for people with “serious mental illnesses” (I was diagnosed with depression at the time and, for a while, with borderline personality disorder, as well as bipolar- apparently, none of these is a serious illness? Who knew?) I can’t get across enough how important it is not to mistake insight for perspective: YES, I might realise what is going on for me but NO, that doesn’t necessarily prevent it from growing to grotesque proportions in my head until serious damage appears the only solution. https://balfourthrb.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/insight/ explains my views on this fully and succinctly, so I won’t rant on about it here any more.
I suppose what I am trying to say, is that there is a difference between being given an excellent life-jacket, and being provided with an adequate boat in the first place. MH services have saved my life. MH services have put it at risk. They’ve kept me afloat but I’ve yet to learn how to swim.