CMHT: Failings In Mental Health Services.

CMHT (2)

 

 

When you’re mentally unwell it is hard to know what to do or where to turn. Making the decision to ask for help is not an easy one. Actually taking that step and reaching out is even harder. I’ve had an experience this year which I know I’m not alone with… in that my plea for help has been ignored, and my referral rejected. I know this happens to a lot of people around the country.

 

I saw my doctor last weekend and she had discussed their rejection with my local mental health team. The woman she spoke to apparently said that I should see it as a positive …  yes, that’s right…. I should see it as a positive that they’re denying me help. I suppose because it means they don’t deem me to be that seriously unwell that I require their help – so it means I’m better than I think I am. If you’re following this blog I think you know full well what is wrong with that…

 

It is completely INVALIDATING! It’s saying that what I’m experiencing isn’t as bad as I feel it is. That others have it worse. That things could be worse and I could be a very real danger to myself or others. I’ll tell you, that’s the only way things could be worse for me – that I actually act on thoughts and visions I have of killing myself, or that I become a danger to others. I’m one step before all that. But it seems that means I’m not ‘ill enough’ to warrant help. It seems I have to take that step over the edge, try to take my life and hope I survive it in order to receive their help.

 

They will only help those who are at that point or who experience psychosis I believe. The trouble with this is that it makes people like me question if we need help. If help is only given once you’ve tried to kill yourself, and they tell you to see not getting help as a good sign, therefore invalidating your suffering, then you’re going to start thinking you don’t need to seek help until you’ve tried to kill yourself. Which might as well be the case with the CMHT anyway, as they won’t see you until you’ve done so.

 

The changes they’ve made to mental health services are ridiculous. CMHT won’t help until you’ve crossed the line between life and death. Until then they direct you to wellbeing centres or the like, which is fair enough if you’re at that stage where that sort of thing will help. They do courses about anxiety, anger management, mindfulness, confidence. But when your issues are intense…. like ‘BPD’ intense… you’re endlessly having breakdowns, unable to function in society, your whole life is messed up by your illness and you don’t want to live anymore… but haven’t quite got to the stage of taking action to remedy that, then you’re on your own….. UNTIL you take action and hit rock bottom. Then and only then might mental health services help you, if you’re lucky. Never mind that once someone has tried to end their life there’s more work to be done to fix them, and they might be more likely to try again. They put off helping people before the event, letting them fall apart completely – they’d rather fix broken people than stop people totally breaking in the first place. It’s ridiculous.

 

I used an IAPT service last year… which I was under the impression used the ‘stepped-care approach’… meaning they could step people up to step 4 if necessary – the mental health team, if the person’s beyond their help. I was step 3. I struggled with the course. Had various issues with it and didn’t get a great deal from it. I came away broken. They didn’t ‘step me up’. I had to go away and work on things by myself or go to my doctor to be referred to CMHT. I think this was negligence on their part. They couldn’t help me and in fact in some ways made me worse, so they should’ve done what they could to get me better.

 

It seems you’re very much on your own nowadays with mental illness. You alone have to make the choice of what to do. Right now I have to choose what direction I go in – my doctor’s re-referring me but I have serious doubts about this, as I should not have to BEG for help – it only makes me feel worse and resentful. They may reject me again. Or they may not. And then they might make me feel worse than I do now, as I don’t hear great things about mental health services anymore. If I do get to see a psychiatrist and get diagnosed, as much of a relief as this would be to me, what if it results in bad things, like being denied treatment, or facing stigma, neglect and abuse and restrictions in the future?  Getting help might make me worse…. but at the moment I feel NOT getting help will make me worse…. so I’m stuck. I’m confused. I don’t know what to do.

 

And I wish I wasn’t the one who had to make the decision. Things used to be so easy. You went to your doctor, you were referred, they saw you and took the lead. Now they’re all reluctant to take anyone on and actually do the work helping you… they look for any excuse to avoid you… they ask you what it is you want from them…. how it is you think they can help you….. what has happened in the space of ten years?? Where has all the care gone? It’s not that I want my choices taken away from me, but I could do without the pressure and added stress of worrying what’s right and wrong for my mental health. I need to know what is on offer. I need to know what is wrong with me and what would be the best treatment for it – even if CMHT don’t want to offer me that treatment… at least I would know where to go with it… and I don’t want to be fobbed off by them telling me to do a course on assertiveness at the wellbeing centre or something…. I want honesty. What type of THERAPY will be best to help me with my emotional turmoil and my mountain of ‘trauma’…. tell me how to heal my mind and to be able to live one day in this life without being wounded by everything around me…. how to not be traumatised by the tiniest experiences…. how to not want to die anymore. Tell me what will help (and not by brushing it aside and just ‘joining clubs’) and direct me to where I can find that help if you won’t give it. That’s what I need.

 

Answers. Help. Guidance.

 

I don’t like this culture we have now around mental illness. I’ve heard, as I’m sure you have too, that people are deemed ‘not skinny enough’ to be offered help with an eating disorder. This only encourages the person to lose more weight. Telling someone who believes they are fat that their BMI is too high to warrant help is sickening. It is feeding into their illness that tells them they’re not thin enough. It makes the problem worse. Oh, but then of course once they’ve got that ill they’ll get help won’t they! Just like with general mental illness. They won’t see you unless you’re actively suicidal. Never mind if suicide is on your mind every day. They don’t care about that. Only if you MEAN it. From what I’ve just been reading though I hear that once you’re diagnosed with BPD they don’t want to help you. They close off treatments for you. They write you off as a lost cause. I hope this isn’t true. Because that would mean one of the worst, most painful, traumatic illnesses, which puts you at a higher risk of suicide makes you ‘too ill’ to treat. If anyone is in need of care and support it’s those with BPD, as it comes from a place of pain and suffering. We can’t have people give up on us as though we’re a hopeless case, when we’re lacking all hope as it is.

 

The part of all this which makes me angry is that I was denied help…. I was told to see it as a positive…. and that if my mood got any lower they could look at it again perhaps. How the heck do they know the state of my mood?? They haven’t even met with me to assess me!! They’ve deemed me not ill enough to warrant their help. And they’ve based that decision on my past notes and treatment, my experience with IAPT and whatever the doctor said to them. Unless they just remember me from years ago and think ‘Oh no not her again!’, they are making the decision on assumptions and old evidence. I’m not where I was ten years ago. I’m not where I was a year ago under IAPT. I’m worse. But they wouldn’t know that because they haven’t met with me. They probably don’t know much about my suicidal thoughts, my paranoia, my self-harm and all the other elements of my illness. How can they tell all that from a bit of paper?

 

I feel as though they’ve communicated to me (through my doctor – who thankfully is a lovely doctor), that what I’m experiencing isn’t that bad. How would they know?? And for their information it is ‘Hell on Earth’, to quote a friend. Right now I have constant urges to hurt myself. I harm myself every other day in some way and it’s never enough. I can’t stop. A part of me doesn’t want to stop. I want to cause damage and so much pain. There’s chaos in my head every day, and some days I feel the only way it will ever stop is to end my life. And given that I am forced to exist in this way, in this hell, that often looks inviting. I don’t want to end my life, for the sake of my family. To get help I would have to say ‘screw my family’ and try to end it.  That’s asking me to change as a person and go against my values, before I’ll be offered help. Why not help me now while I’m still determined to not end my life, even if the only reason I’m hanging on is my family? Surely that should be worth something….?

 

I know I’d be a tough case. Because I can’t willingly say I want to get better. That I want to change my ways of coping. This is because I have no faith in my ability to recover. I cannot see a future without me self-harming. I can’t see a future with good people around me, fulfilling my emotional needs and treating me well. My life has got smaller and smaller. It’s hard to imagine the opposite. I can’t say I want to get better. I want the world around me to get better before I feel I can. I don’t feel I can help myself at the moment. Does this mean I don’t deserve help? Does it all depend on me being willing to help myself? Some of us hit such a bad patch in life that we need help in order to start helping ourselves again. That’s where I am. I want to WANT to help myself. That’s the best I can do right now.

 

But I need help… and that help doesn’t seem to exist for me. I see the doctor again in a couple of weeks. I might find out if I’ve been rejected again or perhaps it’ll take longer than that for them to decide. I don’t hold much hope. I’ve had someone suggest I get myself an advocate. I haven’t yet looked into this, but may do. The trouble is, these rejections and the invalidation makes me think it would all be a waste of time and that I don’t need or deserve help. That they won’t help me no matter what… and if they did they would make me feel like I’m wasting everybody’s time. The last thing I need right now is to be made to feel a burden when I’m reaching out for help. It takes such courage to ask for help. When you have your pleas ignored and rejected too many times, eventually you’ll give up asking and suffer in silence. God knows where that’ll end up. A gamble between life and death I think. It shouldn’t have to come to that…

Rants On Reality.

*This is venting so very strong language and self-harm / suicide references*

 

Time to be honest, I’m not okay. Yes I’m taking little steps. Yes I have some wonderful things to look forward to next year. And to many people I’d probably seem like I’m doing better than I was two or three weeks ago. But inside is chaos and sometimes I just want it to stop.

 

I need help… the help I’ve been denied by mental health services. I need someone to tell me what the fuck is wrong with me. I thought I knew, but now it feels there’s so many layers to it that I don’t know how to do life now. I feel like my mind is going… my concentration and memory are rubbish. My stress level is constantly high, so the slightest thing is too overwhelming for me. Whenever I go out I feel exhausted and ill afterwards. It’s like my brain is so full of noise and traffic, that being around other people and having to pretend to be well, is too much and will make me snap. I’m worried about going back to my voluntary work. I tried taking steps towards that this week, but already I’m panicking about it. I know that having to work with the public is not something I can do right now. It’s too overwhelming.

 

Also being around people is too dangerous… people only have to say something wrong, even in a banter kind of way, and it’s like I’ve just been emotionally stabbed. People would have to walk on eggshells around me, or I’d have to constantly be hurt by those around me.

 

I’m not okay with friends. I’m trying to block out how I feel about it all, so I don’t feel the full effect of it again. I’ve been trying to stay in touch casually with people, but still feel so detached. The nagging feeling like none of them really care is always there, contributing to the chaos in my head. Pressure to talk to people too…. I have times I can talk to them, and others like right now where I don’t even keep up to speed on what’s going on for them. I can’t open up. There are people I’m supposed to have got back to… I haven’t. I feel really guilty about it but at the same time I still can’t do it. I’m having a problem with words right now. I feel emotionally imprisoned.  I feel if I start talking to people a whole world of emotions and thoughts will tumble out. So I’d rather live in denial of other people. I feel bad for it.

 

I keep trying to write my feelings out about losing my best friend. I can’t do it. I don’t even know how I feel anymore. I’m pissed with her. I’ve been hurt by her. I hate her. I miss her. I feel calmer and more resigned to a life without her. I feel misunderstood. I feel guilty. I feel bitter that I feel guilty. I feel scared…. scared to ever try and sort things out with her. So I don’t. I won’t. Part of me feels it’s her fault so she should  approach me and apologise for abandoning me because of my mental illness. Part of me realises she probably thinks I’m the one in the wrong and abandoned HER… because she doesn’t understand mental illness or how her last message came across to me. She made me feel like a burden and like she needed space. So I’ve given her that. I’ve had a life of feeling like a burden and a worthless piece of shit, which she knows about, so she shouldn’t expect me to go crawling to her begging for her friendship. Won’t happen. She did me wrong. Who abandons someone at their lowest ebb?? But then a part of me thinks she didn’t deserve to have me ruining her happy life with my misery, so she was within her rights to walk away.  But that feeds the low self-worth monster. I can’t work out if I want to be nice to her or tell her how much she’s hurt me. So I say nothing and can’t complete any bit of writing I do about it.

 

I always stop and pull my hair out instead. That became a problem again. Just like the self-harm… particularly punching. I really want to self-harm so much but often can’t muster up the energy to do anything like that. I feel numb yet like I’m drowning in emotions at the same time…. like there’s so many feelings going on inside me, that they’ve filled my airways and they’re pinning me down and stopping me from acting or speaking. So nobody knows how I’m really feeling. It’s like someone having their voice stripped away, having their heart dug out of their chest and screaming in agony but nobody can hear them…. or even more than that, being paralysed and being tortured but showing no signs of the hell you’re going through on the inside.

 

Paranoia. Nobody can know what it’s like to be mistrusting of people’s intentions, even your own family members. My best friend didn’t understand that a lot of the changes she saw in me this year were as a result of paranoia, and probably took it personally. But do you know what it’s like to be scared of your own loved ones, for no reason? To feel they’re going to hurt you in some way….. with no evidence that it’s true…. just your own mind convincing you of it. It’s scary. I spent a long time when I was younger, not wanting to be around the males in my family as I had convinced myself that I’d repressed something and that they weren’t safe to be around. I know this is not true, and when I’m in a healthier state of mind I never even think it, but it comes from a place of not trusting anyone – I’ve always been particularly mistrusting of men because of some of the jerks who have hurt me over the years. But it also comes from feeling disconnected from reality. I don’t know what’s real sometimes. I have dreams where I get really angry with people I love. I wake myself up shouting and swearing things like ‘I’ll fucking kill you for that!!’ …. sometimes kicking my legs in the air or punching the pillow next to me. In the last few days I keep having dreams where I’m desperately trying to punch a wall and injure myself, but it’s like I’m doing it under water, so can’t hurt myself as much as I want. It’s frustrating.

 

Times like right now I want to scream my way into a new reality where none of the last six years happened. Life doesn’t feel real. Not the life outside of my house. Even going on the bus the other day, people didn’t seem real…. or they seemed TOO real…. like they’re on another plane of existence from me. Like I am floating around in a bubble of invisibility while they live life…. that’s how I’ve felt all this year. It’s unsettling.

 

My mind keeps jumping to different thoughts. I’m thinking about the fact I cannot remember growing up. I remember tiny snapshots of experiences. I remember when I had a nosebleed at primary school and the dinner-lady pinched my nose so hard it hurt. I remember when someone stole my favourite teddy ‘Freddy Teddy’ from school when we had to take a bear in… not sure I ever got over that! I remember a few of us (we were the good kids) running back to our classes at the end of the day after a music group, as we didn’t want to be late, and a teacher came out and shouted at us really loud for running through the playground past all the parents, and how humiliating it was. I remember standing alone at lunchtimes by the wall, watching everyone else have fun. I remember begging to tag along with other people so I wasn’t alone. I remember being bullied. I remember being teased so much about my hairy arms that I started shaving them. I remember the amplifier not being switched on for a jazz band performance and the teacher embarrassing me while I was on stage. I remember being stalked by someone I befriended when he was new to the school, and how nobody wanted to be around me if he was there. I remember a boy in my tutor group putting his thumb through my clay work I did in art – he was later expelled for other reasons. I remember a girl telling me a group turned down having me in their limo for the prom because I’m ‘boring’. I remember a teacher giving me a dressing down for reporting her to my parents instead of talking to her myself. I remember a teacher grabbing me by the wrist and shouting at me, calling me a ‘stupid girl’ for accidentally picking up a hot tray and burning myself. I remember when my cat died. I remember having a car accident on our way on holiday – don’t recall the details now. I remember when I started self-harming. I remember being ‘abducted’ by a bus driver playing a joke on me one evening when I was alone. I remember the look on someone’s face when I made a mistake at a voluntary job, and me going to my bag and self-harming in the room I was working in. I remember cutting myself under the table in psychology, for doing badly on a test. I remember sneaking scissors into the pocket of my jeans at college and going off in the break in biology to harm myself, for not knowing the answer to a question, despite knowing the answers to everyone else’s questions. I remember flipping out on the biology trip because the people I was working with wouldn’t let me do the job I was meant to do, so I said ‘YOU DO IT ALL THEN!’ and I remember how they looked at me, and I remember wanting to walk out into the sea and drown. I remember …..

 

I’ll be honest. At this point I have a mental block. Everything I just wrote came pouring out in an endless stream of memories…. flashbacks. And at this point I re-joined reality and a part of my brain has yelled ‘STOP!’ as it’s too much… too many bad memories…. the point is the parts I can remember about my childhood and my teenage years are generally bad little snippets – the bits I’d rather forget. And all the good stuff that I wish I could remember I just don’t. I look at photos of me and I don’t remember that person… I don’t remember those times, how I felt or even doing the things we did. It’s like it was a different person.

 

There HAS to be something wrong with my mind…. be it trauma/stress related, amnesia, BPD-related or degeneration of my brain. A part of me is worried I’ve inherited Parkinson’s. I know that’s rubbish, but what if it’s true? What if my brain is dying? Will I ever get my good memories back? I don’t even remember my childhood – growing up with my parents or spending time with my grandparents when I was younger…. which is very upsetting when I’m grieving for my granddad. I have very few real memories to hold on to. Only the knowledge that I loved him, and he cared about and worried about me. The main memories I have of him were after he got ill and as he passed away. Nobody can understand how hard it is – they say to hold on to the good memories, but I cannot remember them now. For whatever reason. I’ve been robbed of my past.

 

On top of that I keep getting really vivid images in my head… like when I’m walking down the stairs – I was carrying a little kitchen knife down the stairs earlier and I had an image of me falling down the stairs and falling onto the knife…. and it plays out in my mind’s eye… graphically… to the extent I can imagine it stabbing me, as well as the pain of just falling down the stairs. Sometimes in the car (as a passenger) I imagine a car coming down the road on the wrong side and us having a head-on crash…. or on the motorway I have visions of a pile-up just ahead of us, and it makes me really anxious. I sometimes imagine situations where people upset me or humiliate me and what my response would be – and it’s like my body reacts as though it’s happening and I feel the emotions it would stir up…… these images happen so quickly and without actual intent to think about them. They’re usually very brief but very detailed and sickeningly graphic. I don’t feel in control of my own mind anymore. What’s wrong with me?

 

I feel so trapped and lost because nobody will help me. Did CMHT reject my referral because they think I have BPD, therefore they’re discriminating against me?? That’s not fair on me to not even be able to see someone to be told what’s wrong with me and what I can do about it. They should at least signpost you to people who can help you… and no, not the IAPT service…. they don’t want to know either.

 

There seems to be this atmosphere of ‘You have to help yourself’ around mental health services nowadays. Whilst I acknowledge that is true, some people need help to be able to help themselves. I will be blogging about this separately, but being told by mental health professionals, ‘You’ve done DBT in the past, just look at your folder and use your skills’ is fucking stupid and neglectful! Don’t you think if it was that easy I wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place?! I need human interaction, support and someone who can offer me hope…. I need someone to figure out everything that’s wrong for me, and once that’s established to perhaps review my medication situation…. not to just tell my doctor that ‘medication won’t help in the long-term’….. okay Sherlock….. so what will?? Because you sure don’t seem to want to help either? So what’s your magical solution for me?? The thing that sickens me is that they would’ve all sat around discussing me and they either thought ‘Oh no, not her again….’ or they simply based the decision on my past…. how the fuck is that meant to help??? I’m not the same as I was in the past. I cut my arms so badly that I bruise my tendons for over a month…… I punch walls so much I have deformed my knuckles……. I pull my hair out so much I leave bald spots….. I feel suicidal most days…… I have no support network anymore…… I have faced so much loss since before…… everything is different but these morons want to base it on the fact that they once offered me the most intensive help they could … there’s nothing more they can do for me… wash their hands of me. Fuck them. And fuck the whole fucking world at this point.  So let’s say I received no support for twenty years, then had a serious relapse…. would CMHT turn me down saying I did DBT once twenty years ago…. ‘that should be more than enough – help yourself’. Warning guys, it seems once you do DBT you’ve signed a contract saying you’ll never seek mental health support again. That’s what it feels like. It’s like they got me to do it, and secretly it meant they could then wash their hands of me. Then once I was discharged there’d be no way back in….. oh, unless I had a serious problem within six months, therefore they’d fast-track me back in………. sorry that I managed to go several years without crawling back to you fuckers. Believe it or not I actually liked not having to report to someone every week or two. I liked the freedom from mental health services. I’m not choosing it as a hobby. I chose it as a fucking lifeline. It took me months to finally decide to be referred. I’ve been through hell this year. And then this.

 

To not even assess me….. you know what, if they were to change their minds now I’m not sure I could attend, as I feel like an utter fucking burden to the services now…. just what someone like me doesn’t need. I feel like a burden to IAPT, a burden to CMHT, a burden to my best friend. ARE YOU ALL TRYING TO FUCKING KILL ME???! All these people who should be there to support you in your hour of need and I’m treated like I’m nothing. Like if I did kill myself what would it even matter? Mental health services should be there to make people feel better, but my experience has been the opposite. At my most fragile times I’ve been made to feel like shit for not being well again. DO YOU THINK I WANT TO BE ILL AGAIN??? This is the most detached from reality I’ve felt in my life. I’m scared. Scared of the world, scared of people and scared of myself. And each rejection and abandonment deepens the wound and makes it that much harder to repair me. Why couldn’t anyone help before I reached utter despair?

 

I’m upset now, so better stop writing. Sorry if there’s typos etc. – was just ranting, can’t be bothered to check right now.

 

 

My Experience Of IAPT.

My Experience Of IAPT.

 

 

*Self-harm & suicide*
*Pictures of dressings shown but no scars etc. visible*

 

 

One year ago tonight I had a breakdown at my group therapy session, and self-harmed in the break. That was the point my life spiralled down to the mess it is now. I still vividly remember that night.

 

I had arrived early, to ask to speak to one of the therapists afterwards about an issue. That issue was what I called ‘transference’. I wanted help to know how to cope with it, so that it wouldn’t become a barrier for me in the group. I was terrified about talking about it. I felt sick with anxiety in the time leading up to it. I felt I had to do something, and this was definitely something new for me, so very hard to do.

 

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I got to the building and pressed the buzzer to be let in….. no answer…. I tried again, and again…. no answer. I phoned the therapist we were told to phone to be let in…. no answer. So I stood there for fifteen / twenty minutes by myself, until someone else turned up. It was almost time for the session to start by this point. We were the first ones there. We went in when someone else came out, and went up in the lift and stood outside the doors to where we had to be. A couple of others turned up, having done the same, so four or five of us were just lurking by the lifts, wondering what was going on. I was really angry that on this one day where I needed to talk to them before the session, they ignored me. And that now there wasn’t time to say anything! In the end another member of the group phoned the therapist… and this time he answered! Which given that I was transferring on him, made me feel personally rejected, like the other person was special to him but I was irrelevant and to be avoided. I was nothing. So it all set me off in a very bad way… It turned out the buzzer wasn’t working. I don’t know why the therapist didn’t answer my call, but answered the other person’s. I’ll never know that.

 

There was no time to ask to talk to them later. But I knew I had to say something. I spent the first half of the session zoned out. I couldn’t focus. I was so anxious about confronting the problem, that I wasn’t paying attention to what we were doing. I hobbled to the break and asked to speak to Matt. I told him I wasn’t able to take anything in… that I had a problem and could I speak about it afterwards… he said the line I heard far too often on that course – that there’s limited time as they have to be out of the building by 7:30pm. I was starting to cry by this point for holding it all in. So he said we could have a chat there and then. We went into the next room and sat on one of the couches. I don’t remember all the words – not to quote them anyway. But I remember I was following a plan of how to tackle the issue. I had problem-solved and decided how to approach it, to save any misunderstandings or embarrassment. I was building up to saying what I needed to. But before I could ever get to that point, Matt steered the conversation away. He skirted round the issue, and kept talking about me having an appointment made with my individual therapist. He wasn’t hearing me. He wasn’t giving me the opportunity to say what I needed to. Okay, I should have just blurted it straight out, but I was scared, so I was working up to it. I’d done all this problem-solving homework that week, to figure out what to say and do about it….

 

 

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It didn’t go at all to plan. I didn’t get beyond three or four points, before he led the conversation. With all the skirting around it, we ran out of time and had to go back in for the second half. I was still heavily burdened, and in fact felt even worse. I felt unheard, misunderstood and rejected in a sense, in that he was stopping me speaking to him and forcing me to do things a different way. In one pocket I had my grounding object. In the other I had something to harm myself with, wrapped in a small bandage. I had never intended to use it. I had hoped things would go better than they did. It was ‘insurance’. It was just in case things went so badly I couldn’t cope anymore. I shouldn’t have had it on me. I know that. But I was in a very bad state of mind, and it was so I felt I had options.

 

I followed Matt out of the room, and was so close to making the right decision. I was just behind him as he went in the door to the main room. I had my hand in my pocket on my grounding object, but the prospect of going back in that room, with nothing feeling better, nothing released, for more of the same – hearing nothing and being lost in upsetting thoughts, I felt ‘what’s the point?’… I couldn’t do it. I felt trapped. So I told Matt I’d just be a minute, he said okay, and I walked in the opposite direction, to the toilets.

 

I was beginning to cry and was muttering to myself as I went. I had difficulty getting in the toilet door, as another door was open just inside, and it was preventing the door opening. This added to the feeling of frustration. When I finally got in, I went to the farthest cubicle, shut myself in, pulled out the tool, and with one quick and impulsive movement I had gone too deep. When I saw what I’d done I began to panic. I was hyperventilating. There was no pain at that point, and in fact it took a while to even bleed, but once it did, it really did. I grabbed some tissue and as I did, the blood went all over the floor. I’d never harmed myself that badly before, and I still graphically remember seeing it, and hearing the blood hit the floor. I’m not trying to glamorise it. And I am actually leaving details out. I am traumatised by the experience and still have unwanted flashbacks. It’s not something I can forget.

 

I don’t know how long I was in there, but it was the loneliest feeling I’ve ever felt. I was speaking out loud saying ‘I don’t know what to do… what do I do? What am I going to do… I don’t know what to do’. I was panicking. I was kicking the side of the cubicle whilst crying ‘NO! NO! NO!’…  I felt sick seeing the wound. I had already had a bandage on my arm from previous self-harm. I used what I had taken off to put over the wound and bandaged myself up, just so that I could come out of the cubicle, to the taps with some tissue and clean the floor up. I was worried someone would come in and I’d be caught. I thought I could hide what I’d done to myself, but if they saw it on the floor that’d be it for me. So I cleaned the floor up. And then I tried my best to clean my face up. I had cried so much I had panda eyes. I had all the signs I’d been crying, and I didn’t want people to notice if I went back in. I knew I had to go back in, because I didn’t have anything to treat myself with. But in my bag I had steri-strips and a dressing. This would seem odd to people. But just as I had ‘insurance’ by having the tool with me, I had ‘insurance’ just in case it happened. Again, I never thought I’d need it – that’s why I didn’t have that on me in the toilets! When I self-harmed I wasn’t in my right mind, so I didn’t think of the consequences in that moment.

 

I didn’t know what the time was at this point. Had I missed ten minutes? Half an hour? Was the session almost over? I walked back to the session, went in whilst trying to hide my face. I sat back down in my seat nearest the door. I wasn’t present. I think the therapists were trying to include me, but I was just focused on how to treat my arm. It was throbbing by this point, and I felt really sick. I decided I had to do something, so I just grabbed the bag that had the treatment stuff in, and dashed back out again.

 

This was what alerted Vicky, the other therapist, that something was wrong. I don’t know what happened in the room after I went out. All I know is that initially I went to the room next door, sat on the couch and started to search for my steri-strips. I then realised what I was doing and how foolish it was to sit in a room that anyone could walk into at any minute. I then went back to the toilets, to the end cubicle, having wasted valuable time, and unbandaged my arm. I was searching in my bag for what I needed, and I heard someone outside the toilets talking. It sounded like they were calling me. I didn’t answer. I started panicking more. I had to rush to treat it before anyone saw. Then I heard Vicky come in. As lovely as she was, she had quite a brusque tone, and it made me feel scared that I’d be in trouble. I didn’t want her to know what I’d done.

 

But I realised I didn’t have a choice. I think she was asking me to come out. I reluctantly told her I had a problem. That I’d hurt myself and it was the worst I’d ever done it. I was crying the whole time. She had to persuade me to come out and let her see if I needed treatment. I felt so ashamed – nobody ever sees my wounds and I didn’t want her to see it. She had to tell me she wasn’t mad with me, she just needed me to come out so she could help me. Eventually I reluctantly came out. It didn’t feel real. She said it would need stitches. I got a bit distressed, as I didn’t want anyone to have to know. I hadn’t needed to seek treatment for self-harm for about ten years… after that one experience I said never again. I hated worrying my family like that. I talked things through with Vicky – about not wanting to give my family more to worry about… we’d had a bad enough year. I don’t remember everything we said, but I remember her saying ‘old habits die hard’. I remember her reaction when I said I had something to treat it with. When I got the bits out, and she was like ‘What is this? Is this your kit?’… It felt attacking and judgemental at the time… and looking back actually. I felt so ashamed. I can still feel that kick of shame right now. As it turned out it was just as well I had something, as they’re not kitted out for things like that. She got me to hold the wound closed while she put the strips on. She advised me to get it looked at for stitches still.

 

I was so apologetic. I didn’t want anyone to know. One of my first questions was who would have to know about it? She said ‘Well I’m going to have to tell Matt’. That was one person who I didn’t want to know about it. I didn’t want him to feel it was his fault, having just spoken to me. She said my individual therapist would have to know. And then as the session was coming to an end I had the choice to stay in there, or to sit in the room next door to the group. I asked Vicky to put my stuff in the room next door, so I could avoid seeing anyone at the end. I had been getting a lift home each week, but that particular week, because I was intending to have a chat at the end, and didn’t want anyone to know about it, I said I’d get the train. So I was suddenly stranded at the end of the session. So after another chat with Vicky I phoned my dad for a lift. And initially waited in that room. Vicky tried to lift me up by saying to look at the positives – that I came out and got help from her…. that I knew it was the wrong choice and regretted it… She said one of them would phone me the next day to check in on how I was. Matt tentatively popped his head in the door whilst we were talking, and I felt so guilty seeing him, as obviously he knew at that point something had happened. Apart from how to tell anyone I needed to go to the hospital, how Matt felt about it was my biggest concern. Daft I know.

 

I had to wait for my lift, so walked over to the train station to be met there. I got in the car – obviously my dad knew something was wrong as I’d said I wasn’t good and needed picking up. But I couldn’t admit it. I said I wasn’t sure whether to tell him or what…. but I waited until we got home, and told my mum instead. We went straight back out, to the minor-injuries unit. It was all a bit of a blur. It didn’t feel real. I didn’t want what was happening, but just had to go with it. I think on some level I zoned out… detaching myself from the reality of it all. I remember sitting in the waiting room, feeling so completely drained and flat, and noticing how sparkly the floor was…. mesmerizingly beautiful. I found an odd sense of peace in it. I was seen really quickly, probably because it said I had ‘a cut on my arm’ on the form I had to fill in… I guess they prioritise things like that in case it might prove fatal. They commented on what a good job Vicky had done closing it. They decided to leave it as it was, and not to stitch it, but to put special dressings on it, and I had to go back in every couple of days to have it checked and changed.

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They were really good about looking after it. I never felt judged.  Until the last check-up I had, where the nurse made me feel like shit, took the strips off too soon and fiddled with the wound until it hurt. She interrogated me, and made it sound like I shouldn’t have been there, and should have gone to my doctor’s surgery to have it checked – despite having been told to come back there. Lucky I had someone in there with me – we just got up and walked out on her in the end. I complained about her.

 

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But going back to that first night with the wound – it was difficult. I found it hard to sleep. It hurt so much and I couldn’t risk sleeping on it. I was also haunted by the visions of what had happened. I started writing a letter to them about it, because I was so angry that I’d been left in that situation. I was angry that I hadn’t been listened to, and that I’d been made to do what I did (yes, I know it was my choice), and for everything I’d gone through that night as a result. I was so angry I was crying about it. So I wrote it out. A part of me felt I wouldn’t go back to the group. Part of me felt they wouldn’t let me. I was worried I’d be in trouble and I’d be abandoned in that state. I decided not to make any decisions that night. The next afternoon Vicky phoned. I couldn’t tell her why I did what I did, but said I’d written something to explain it and would let them read it the next week. I was excused from doing the homework that week.

 

This is a sample of what I went through in those first few days after it happened:

 

 

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It was a difficult week – full of pain, flashbacks and wound checks. The flashbacks I was having were so vivid… graphic… disturbing. I had to keep my senses fixed on the present, so took to colouring and other visual activities like jigsaw puzzles, to try and keep my mind off it.

 

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I had tendon pain, from the wound up towards my thumb. I had this for several weeks and had to be careful what I did. They checked I had sensation in my hand, so were sure it was okay, and just bruising or something. I felt I had no right to complain about that pain though, as I had done it to myself. But family kept reminding me it wasn’t my fault, and I still didn’t deserve to be in that pain, just because I self-harmed. It did wear off eventually, but I’ll never forget that pain. I even drew on my arm to show the area where I felt pain…

 

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That week was just about surviving and getting through it, and catching up on sleep I couldn’t easily have. When I went in the next week I texted and asked to come up earlier, as having to catch public transport I had to wait around in town for a long time, and I was really anxious about going back there. They said that was fine. Vicky spoke to me before the session to check in. I gave her what I’d written. I apologised again, saying I never wanted that to happen again. I asked them what the group knew about what had happened, and they said that I just left and wasn’t coming back into the session. I don’t know what the truth is. I don’t know at what point Vicky told Matt – was it quietly at the end, where someone else could have heard? I was worried this might be the case. But that session I really threw myself back into it positively. I joined in more. At the time it felt like a turning point…

 

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I later wrote about what I learned from the experience myself…

 

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At the end of that more positive session I apologised to Matt, saying I hadn’t wanted him to feel bad about it. He said that he actually learnt from the experience, that he should get straight to the heart of the issue early on. He realised I was close to releasing something and he didn’t give me the opportunity to do it. We spoke briefly about my self-harm, and how it had come from a sense of feeling ‘trapped’. I said I’d written to explain it. Then they offered me some of the left-over biscuits from the break and I left… knowing that the next time I saw them they’d know what had happened and why.

 

This was part of the previous ‘problem-solving’ homework – where I assessed how it went.  This was written in a bad moment where it was hard to find positivity!

 

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The rest of the course was difficult. There were better weeks, and others where I didn’t cope well at all. One week I was really anxious (I took a diazepam before the session, despite not having it prescribed for that) … I had difficulty speaking out and asked Vicky for help with it by giving her a note… she nodded to say she would help, but when it came to it she didn’t. This was so I would push myself to do it without help. But I wasn’t happy with this. It happened the same week that someone was a bit abrupt and stand-offish with me, and also the next day Matt had seemingly ‘ignored’ a text from me, saying I wanted to leave the group and why. I was angry about all these things… and hurt. I brought it up at the next session, but it felt unresolved, and I self-harmed in the break again. They didn’t know this time. Vicky came in to check on me, but I managed to bluff my way through it, talking to her through the door whilst bandaging my arm, so that she never knew. I told her I was just upset and needed a minute. When we came out of the toilets Matt was at the end of the corridor waiting to speak to me, to say he was sorry he didn’t get my text. We realised because his work phone is an old phone, and my text went over a certain length it came through as a multimedia message, and he thought it was spam. So he didn’t open it. He said he would never have knowingly ignored me in distress, he just didn’t get the message. So that felt a bit better, but it felt like a rejection, and that doesn’t heal immediately. This is what my text had said:

 

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And these are to illustrate the struggles I continued to have throughout the course…

 

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Another week I asked to speak to Matt before the session. I wanted to know how to detach from someone, and if I would get any help with transference issues after the course. This time I asked if I could just say my bit before he answered or asked anything. So he just made notes. I didn’t get wonderful answers. The bits I remember were to remember my values … that from reading literature on it, transference tends to sort itself out, and if it doesn’t you’d normally just not work with the therapist anymore… and that I had the option of quitting the group and having some alternative help. I don’t know what that would have been. He talked about people wanting therapy to ‘fix’ them. And about transference being about wanting solace from our struggles. I felt a lack of validation and understanding. And I also heard ‘If you yourself can’t get over your fear of losing me, you’ll have to lose me’. I felt zoned out by that point. I felt despondent. He asked if I could do the session today. I said I didn’t feel safe. He asked if I had the means on me to harm myself. I said no. I was telling the truth. He asked if I could keep safe that night. I said it would be difficult. I knew in that moment I would be going home and harming myself. I wished I had something on me. I had decided to avoid that option that week though. I went into the session, didn’t join in at all. Didn’t say a word. Nobody even looked at me through that whole session – particularly Matt. I felt invisible and rejected. They did a role-play about how to say no to things, a made up excuse they joked about was that ‘my granddad died… no the other granddad’ – and given my granddad had died six months earlier it kicked me to the core. It felt like a personal attack. Insensitive. I wrote these notes during the session, desperate to get out of there…

 

 

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Dashed out of there at the end, ran down the stairs, got in the car and said ‘don’t ask’. I went home, harmed myself and had to go for treatment again. My family were desperate for me to stop going to therapy at that point. They didn’t know what my problem there was. I couldn’t tell anyone. They just saw me getting worse. It was only once the therapy finished I finally admitted it to them. But even I was questioning why I was continuing to go to the group when I was always left in this state…

 

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By the halfway point of the course I was painfully attached to Matt. I couldn’t understand it. It was overwhelming and distressing, and nobody else knew how much I was suffering or why. I saw the end in sight and I was so desperately upset about the impending loss. I couldn’t admit to the group the reality of it, so made it sound like I’d miss the group. Consequently I felt misunderstood. It was a heartbreaking experience.

 

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I wrote a note to Matt about that chat I’d had with him, the one that led me to go home and self-harm…  and how misunderstood I felt. I also spoke to Vicky a couple of times, breaking down in tears at the loss I faced. They were both really good about it. After giving Matt the note he seemed more understanding and caring, saying he knew it’s not easy, and he understood. He said he’d have a word with my therapist so that I could get more urgent support. I had my appointment two days after the course ended. I thought this was because she was aware of everything that happened. She wasn’t. She made me tell her everything and then trivialised my feelings for Matt. It was all handled wrong. I was then told that was my last session with her, and effectively abandoned, two days after that loss of Matt and the group.

 

But I’ll come to that…. going back to before the final session… Throughout the course I found that I would spend Thursdays crying because of my feelings for Matt, and the loss I was going to face. The thought of never seeing him again was unbearable. It’s a thought I still haven’t come to terms with a year later. To have to spend ‘forever’ without him. Forever is a long time. I don’t cope well with ‘forever’ or ‘never’. It tends to make me suicidal from the pain.

 

The days leading up to the session were tough. I had support from group members who added me on Facebook, but I still couldn’t tell them what I was going through.

 

 

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That night of the last session was hard. I was very emotional. It was made harder because Vicky wasn’t there – she had supported me through the course and my feelings, and wasn’t there at the end. At that point the only people who knew how I felt were me and Matt. I had told another member of the group a couple of days before, who wasn’t there for the last session either… I only told her because I knew I wouldn’t have to sit in that session with her knowing. So the only people in the room who knew the pain I was in were me and Matt. The burden was too much. I got upset in the break and admitted it to one of the others. The very last mindfulness session we did I still remember. I remember thinking ‘this is the last time I’m going to hear his voice’. It was to be my last memory of him. And I started crying during it for the first time on that course. I’d often hear others during mindfulness exercises, but it was never me. I couldn’t hold it back at that point. And then it was time for goodbye. It felt empty. Unsafe. People gave me hugs at the end… still not aware of why I was upset. While I was hugging one of them I saw Matt notice and look away… to this day I wonder how he felt – was he relieved I’d be gone? Did he feel bad for me? Was he even worried how I’d cope? I doubt it. He probably didn’t think a thing about it. I was so upset at the end that I never really said goodbye or thank you to him. I regretted that for a long time. Anyway a few of us went next door to the pub, and I told them about it and broke down in tears. They were wonderful… they validated me, they understood, they picked me up and made me smile again.

 

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And then I went home, and watched The Apprentice… hiding my face the whole time, as I kept crying. As soon as it was over I went to bed. Only I sat up for hours crying, and self-harming instead of sleeping. The emotional pain was so vivid and loud.

 

Sometimes when in distress I take photos. It may seem odd to some, but sometimes it feels like it captures the emotion and feeling. Just like a self-harm scar says ‘Look, I was upset and this happened’, the photo proves there was real emotion and pain. Often though I’m not even that aware of what I’m doing. I have taken photos of my self-harm before too. I know it seems an odd behaviour – it’s one I might dedicate a post to soon, to explain. This photo captures the raw, ugly despair I felt that night…

 

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I got to the point I didn’t feel I could live in that amount of pain. No amount of self-harm could stop the emotional pain. Nothing would stop reality – that I’d lost him forever. And I thought if self-harm can’t fix this, then the only thing that might is suicide. It took me a very long time but eventually I phoned the Samaritans. I had sat with the number in my phone for ages, and hovered over the call button…. I couldn’t bring myself to do it…. I’d never called them before. I didn’t know what to expect or what to say. There was a lovely lady on the other end who got me through that night.  And somehow I got through a lot more after that. I got through Christmas, the New Year and many reminders. I even saw Matt in a shop during this Summer. We looked at each other, but he appeared to not see me or recognise me, so I didn’t say hello. It upset me and dredged everything up, but I’m still alive at least.

 

These were some of my thoughts from that night of the last session:

 

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The whole experience was very traumatic. From start to finish it wasn’t handled right. From not being given the space to say what I needed to, and breaking a vicious circle, to having to deal with it on my own throughout the whole course… to being led to believe I’d have more support at the end…. to being told that was it, they were done with me. I know they feel bad about it, but this is one time that therapy did me more harm than good. And I think there were lessons they could do with learning from it. Talk to each other – my therapist didn’t seem to know anything about my experience on the course! Listen to what your ‘clients’ say and what they need. Don’t run a course right up to the time you have to vacate the building, because then you’ll have time to help people who need it at the end, so they won’t go away and self-harm! Don’t abandon someone just after an ‘abandonment’ or loss – my therapist went to do that two days after I was suicidal from a loss. After I broke down in floods of tears in that appointment, could hardly breathe, and almost had to beg to not be abandoned she offered me one more appointment… four days later.… as if that was any better!! Ridiculous. All so they could tick boxes and ship me out of the factory. Yes I’m still angry about it. I saw another therapist for four sessions to work through issues from the course. But the damage was already done.

 

I had had such hope that I would get help in that appointment after the course. It was disappointing how it went… it left me suicidal – I decided it best to catch a bus the short way home, as it didn’t feel safe walking over a motorway bridge to get home. I finally admitted everything to my family that day, as I was not okay, and didn’t feel at all safe…

 

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I’m not okay. I’m not recovered. I’m not over Matt. But I survived. Surviving it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt… it doesn’t mean I’m okay now… it doesn’t mean it wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve been through. I’m still vividly haunted by it. And in all honesty I need someone I can talk to about it, frankly and without judgement or being told to just move on. The whole experience was traumatic – I can’t forget my incident at therapy. I can’t forget everything I went through, that nobody would know about unless they read this blog. It’s scarred me so much in many ways. My self-harm is out of control as a result of doing that therapy and being abandoned. I’m in immense pain emotionally even to this day, because of the way it was handled, because I was denied the opportunity to heal and because I miss Matt so much. That wound has never healed. It’s still gaping wide open, and the infection of this horrible life has seeped in and destroyed who I once was.

 

I guess in some ways the pain has faded a little bit…. like the scar…. I have an arm full of scars now since doing that course, but I still know exactly which one happened that night. I know which one happened the night I dashed out of there, went home and hurt myself… the first time I had to have one glued. As a self-harmer I don’t remember every single one and what caused it. I’ve done it much too often to remember every one. But something as traumatic as that I would remember.

 

The pain may not be as extreme and impossible to survive as it felt at the time, but it is very deep pain, that nobody gets. They all think I’m over this now, or at least should be. How do they expect me to be over it if I never talk about it? Even writing about this experience here, which I needed to do, I’ve felt like I’m back in those times. I’ve felt the emotions… even felt pain in my arm. I’ve felt urges to say and do things like I did back then. I’ve felt under threat. I’ve felt suicidal again. I had to stop several times writing this post, to remind myself that it’s not happening now. That although it hurts and I’m not over it… it is over. It’s in the past. This self-reassurance isn’t actually of any comfort to me. I have no professional support now. I’m not over my feelings for Matt, and cannot talk to anyone about it. Nothing can help the pain I feel. And it’s not like my life is in a good enough place to say ‘I’m not in that time now’. Because I don’t like the time I AM in. So it’s no comfort to say it’s not happening now, when I’m still wounded from its happening in the first place.

 

I know it took a lot of strength and determination to get through the course to the end. I had times I wanted to quit. I had times people were wishing I would quit. But it couldn’t be for nothing. I had to keep going. I had to find every ounce of strength I had left in me to push me through that course. And I did it. I don’t know if it was the right decision or not. A part of me wishes I never mentioned the transference and just carried on with the course, sitting there thinking ‘Matt is so lovely’, and avoided all the embarrassment, and didn’t start self-harming like I did. Because it’s only spiralled down since then. Part of me wishes that instead of going off and self-harming, I’d gone in, grabbed my stuff, left and never looked back. It would have avoided the attachment growing. It would have avoided the loss. It would have saved gaining a new physical scar for every week of the course, and so many emotional ones too.

 

I have to try and find and hold onto the positives. The strength and determination it took to go there every week. How hard I worked, doing my homework, creating my folder and creating my own homework. Meeting new people who feel the same ways as me, maybe not in exactly the same way, but to know I’m not alone in the things I think and ways I behave. There are many lessons I could take from it. I haven’t given them much thought lately though, as it’s been a mixture of flashbacks, grief, love-sickness and also trying to put it all out of my mind. But it’s something I should consider…

 

 

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This was me six days after my incident at therapy… putting on a brave face, through the pain and the flashbacks. Oddly it’s one of my favourite photos of me that someone else has taken. If nothing else it shows me that I can come through anything, still be strong and smile. I carried on living. I continue now to carry on living. Whilst everything inside me screeches at me to end it. I’m in a worse place now than I was back then, and I don’t really have the strength to smile anymore. Nobody would want to feel how I do at the moment. I wish they could so they’d understand the mess I’m in. It’s not just about this situation – that only plays a part in my current struggles. But it was the start of the accelerated decline in my mental health. Somehow I now just have to hold on long enough, to get to a place where I can start to believe in recovery again. It’s a long way off, and there’s no support in sight for me. But now it’s come to the point of just hanging on, it literally is ‘do or die’.

 

 

 

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IAPT, BPD & Me.

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*Apologies for any bad language – a slight personal rant included. Mentions self-harm & suicidal thoughts*

 

I don’t know if I’m just not understanding the meaning, but there seems to be something very misleading about ‘IAPT’ services…. ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ – how exactly do they do this? I had access to them for four sessions. Okay I did a twelve week group as well, but that’s very different to working on your own individual issues with support. Four sessions to fix not only the problems I had before the group, but just the one to resolve issues that were awoken by the group. So yes, I had access, but now I don’t.

I feel that by ‘improving access’ they mean it’s accessible to everyone – in other words you can refer yourself. And you will get seen because it’s such quick turnaround. They see you for a couple of sessions and then ship you off to a group course to keep you occupied, before signing you off of their books, and shipping the new recruits in.

In a word, it’s a FACTORY.

There was something I saw on Twitter recently about IAPT and the burnout rate for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners and High Intensity Therapists. This made me stop and think about the pressures that the staff are under to reach targets and provide the service they do. They may not have the training they need and the funding, to help those in need, and perhaps they feel powerless. But I had it pointed out to me that that’s not my problem.

I shouldn’t have anything to do with that side of things. I should expect top-notch care from people whose job it is to keep me safe and well. And if they failed me, they failed me. I shouldn’t feel sorry for them, that they are struggling too. I shouldn’t feel like a burden or like I’m too complex for them. I cannot help having the mental illness I have. I cannot help the fact there’s no support out there for people like me. I’m in need of help, and I should take up whatever help I can get – and it’s their job to provide that help. If they couldn’t do that, they’re not up to scratch, and that’s down to them.

Yes there are massive gaping holes in the NHS and mental health services. Something needs to be done about this. The staff are doing the best they can. They’re likely stressed and unsatisfied with the state of things too. But the difference is they are able to quit if they want. They can leave their jobs if it gets too much. I don’t have that luxury. I cannot quit my mental illness. I wish I could but I can’t. I need the help of people like them, in order to try and pull myself out of it. I rely on them. So I need them to do their best to help me.

And unfortunately in my experience I don’t feel all of them did their best. Even my doctor seemed disappointed in them. She knows how hard it was for me to keep going back to the group after my self-harming incident… that I pushed myself through the last few weeks of the course, to get the support at the end, and didn’t receive it. She herself had said weeks ago that the service was unlikely to abandon me at the end of the course, as clearly I’m not well……… that’s obviously not how the service works!! It seems they get rid of you, regardless of what state you’re in.

 

10

 

I wrote something about my incident so that the facilitators of the group, and my therapist would be aware of it. I believe those running the group read it, though I could be wrong – not sure I trust anything now, regarding this service. But I believed my therapist had it passed on to her. However it seems it was ‘added to my notes’ – which she clearly had no interest in reading. What was the bloody point?? I had already harmed because an encounter with one of the facilitators had left me feeling powerless, and that had made me question what the point in using the skills was, since they wouldn’t allow me to do so…. so to have my therapist, on top of that, make me feel like I wasted yet more of my time, I just think there’s no point trying with them. It’s not even like I’m a difficult person, refusing to co-operate! I was eager to learn, and to try things… I had knowledge and was pro-active. But it seems I was ahead of them in some regards. I knew what they could do to help me, but they didn’t seem to have a clue.

Is this my problem, or theirs? Is this a lack of training? Is it a lack of experience with someone like me? Am I too demanding? Am I too clued up about my own mental illness? Is it lack of funding to actually offer me real help? Is it apathy towards me?

Whatever it is, it felt like I was screaming out and pleading for their help, and they refused to give it. I felt like ending my life at times, as it would be doing them a favour, as I’m clearly a burden to them, just as I am to everyone else. I honestly thought they wouldn’t care if I did end my life, and they would’ve left me to get to that point. I actually considered doing this at one of the sessions. I harmed myself in a dangerous place, not caring about the consequences. But I was interrupted before it could go too far. I patched myself up and carried on as if it hadn’t just happened. They never knew this, and never will unless by some miracle they happen upon my blog and know it’s me.

At one point I spoke to one of the facilitators, and he said that if I’m struggling with the course and can’t go on with it, I could be offered a different therapy… I asked if that was through a different service somewhere else, and he said no, through this service. But me being a glutton for punishment, I chose to see the course to the end, and see my therapist. Now, if I hadn’t finished the course, would I have been offered this magical different therapy I wonder…? Because I sure as hell wasn’t offered it at the end. I don’t even know what it would have been!

I thought IAPT was about accessing different therapies – I thought it would open doors to recovery by being referred on to people who could help me… I thought it was this ‘stepped care model’ and with me being ‘Step 3’ I could be ‘stepped up’ to the CMHT if necessary. So do I assume that my therapist didn’t think I was ill enough to require this level of help? She clearly didn’t think I needed ANY help, as she discharged me! She thinks I need to help myself now. Well thanks a fucking lot! It’s not like I’ve been trying to do that for the last five years of my life!

Do they honestly think a twelve week course will help someone like me, and then that’s it? In a normal circumstance then perhaps… but given the disruption to my learning I experienced during that course, because of self-harm and transference, it’s almost impossible to feel I’ve benefited from the course, like others may have. So to treat me as a normal case, thinking I should be able to cope on my own now, because I’ve learnt the skills, taking no responsibility for the individual difficulties I faced because of this service, it’s not on. It’s not good enough.

And I hate to be someone who complains. I hate to seem ungrateful. It’s particularly hard, because one of the facilitators actually patched me up after I harmed myself, so I feel grateful to her, and the other one I admired greatly and felt emotionally attached to, so to slag off this service after the work they put in makes me feel really guilty.

But I think it is possible to be grateful for the help I did receive, to feel the way I do about one of them, and still say the help I received was not enough. It was a bad experience. They could have done more. And should have done more. I’m trying to come to terms with this conflict. I am grateful, I liked the facilitators as people, I feel strongly about one of them still, but as a service they let me down. And in fact each member of staff I came into contact with let me down personally in one way or another at some point. But people make mistakes, I know this. They are only human.

I don’t know if I’d use this service again. If I did I’d ask to see a different therapist, as I feel like we didn’t really gel. In fact I didn’t like her attitude at all. But right now I just need to recover from using this service. In the new year I hope to look at my folder from the group, and really reflect on what was discussed, because right now it’s a blur of emotions when I think about it. But otherwise it’s just business as normal – I have had to survive on my own for years now… no, I shouldn’t have to… I should get the support I need, but obviously that’s not going to happen, so I have to continue on as before, just with more psychological scars to contend with. I’ll give it my best shot… either I’ll sink or I’ll swim. I’ll either recover on my own, or I’ll reach the point where I can no longer be denied the help I need. That’s the sad state of the mental health services now… you have to be on death’s door before they’ll even contemplate helping you anymore. Either that or you have to be mild / moderate to be helped by IAPT. Unfortunately I’m more complex than that, despite what this service’s paperwork indicates (they said I had something like moderate depression and mild anxiety – you can’t diagnose me from that piece of paper, let me tell you that! It doesn’t cater for people like me). But the thing is I’m not actively trying to kill myself, therefore I’m not ‘ill enough’. So I, like many other people, particularly those with BPD, am stuck with nowhere to turn. That’s why being abandoned by this service now is a kick in the gut. I’m isolated because there’s no suitable help out there for me.

IAPT obviously isn’t geared up for those with BPD. But is that my fault? No. When I was discharged from the CMHT I was told that this service I’ve just used, is my option. In fact they’re my only option. So that’s why the doctor told me to speak to them. They’re most suitable for those with depression and anxiety, and hooray – I have both, but I have more than that too, which they can’t help me with. But does that mean I cannot have help? Since I don’t have an official diagnosis of BPD I’ll probably never get the level of help I need. I’ll probably never be able to see a psychiatrist to even be given the diagnosis now, so I am well and truly screwed. I, like many others with BPD, appear to be a casualty of the system, yet again. Not well enough to be treated by IAPT, and not ill enough to be treated by CMHT. Yet we as BPD soldiers, are most at risk to ourselves, so how it can be allowed that we suffer on our own I really don’t understand. At times I feel we’re deliberately being left to fend for ourselves, so that we will become part of the statistic, of ‘1 in 10 dying by their own hand’ – perhaps they want that particular statistic to grow. Maybe society wants us gone. Maybe I am a burden. Maybe they want me to kill myself as I am deemed ‘weak’. Like survival of the fittest, and although we’re stronger than most people will ever be, we’re viewed as ‘pathetic’ and ‘beyond help’… whilst those at either end of the scale for mental health are ‘worth saving’.

 

for your very special wishon thanksgiving!

 

The damage that is being done to those of us who already have in-built beliefs, that we are worthless, a burden, unlovable, and we fear rejection and abandonment, is off the scale. I’m screaming inside ‘WHY WON’T ANYBODY HELP US?!‘ Do we not deserve help just as much as someone with mild depression? Have we not got as much to offer the world as someone with moderate anxiety? Does my life mean NOTHING??

Mental health services should be there to fix these beliefs we have about ourselves and life. They should be helping us to feel worthy. To make us realise we’re not a burden and we deserve love. They should be supporting us and encouraging us, not neglecting us and abandoning us after a couple of sessions. Many people with BPD, though not myself, have experienced neglect or abandonment as a child – to have that replicated by mental health services in adult life, is shameful.

I feel I was neglected in this process. And now I’m on my own again… with more negative beliefs lumped in, just to make it all that more difficult. I feel resentful towards them.

But the only good thing I feel right now, is a unity with all those other people out there with BPD, who cannot get the support they need, and are just as desperate as me. That gives me strength right now, to fight for justice for them, if not for me. The mental health services may not think my life matters, and I might not think my life matters, but I believe the lives of other BPD soldiers matter. And none of them should be let down like I have been let down. So I will keep speaking out for them. They are the only people who understand how I’m feeling right now. They are the ones who know what it’s like to constantly be at war in your own head, and to feel like your heart is screaming in pain, and exploding silently in your chest. The only ones who know the battle to get up in the morning, and pretend that a night of crying and harming yourself didn’t happen… we live to fight another day, with no hope in sight. They are my family. And they matter in this world. If mental health services can’t see it, then at least I do.

I know the strength it takes to ride this rollercoaster every single day. I know the ‘highs’ that aren’t actually all that high, and I know the lows, as low as Earth’s core. I know the feeling that we will never fit in, and function in this world like ‘normal’ people. I know the self-hatred. I know the intense emotions and the emotional and physical scars they leave us with. I know the despair, the fear and the loneliness. I know the pain of just living. Whilst others enjoy their lives we simply exist, and try to survive. We deserve more than this. But we can’t do it alone. We need mental health services to help us. That’s their job. So unless they want blood on their hands, it’s about bloody time they do it.

xxxx

 

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