Mental Health, Common Sense, and the Unknown

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Everyone has a level of physical health which changes over time and as a result of circumstances.

A minority of people are at their peak of physical health, the healthiest they could possibly be.The majority of people are generally healthy: they don’t have to worry about their physical health as everything is working well enough to live their life.

Minor physical health issues such as colds or aches and pains, are common. They temporarily make life doable but more difficult. People with longer-term minor issues learn to adapt and accommodate around what is tougher for them- perhaps they can usually function at 95% of the generally healthy level .

Major physical health issues can make normal life very difficult, requiring someone to change how they live for a bit and often need a recovery time/ gradual return afterwards.

Then a small percentage of people have chronic, severe physical health issues that mean they either cannot function in a typical life at all, or they need to adapt almost everything about their life to live and function.

So, why did I just write that? Everything I’ve just said is common sense, and it doesn’t need saying.

But try it again, swapping physical for mental…

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My Diagnosis Experience, Part 5

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Yesterday, I finally had my appointment with C3.

Leading up to yesterday, I’ve been nervous about going back, more so than if I was seeing a stranger. The nerves are mostly from not knowing how she would interpret me, based on her unexpected assessment last time. Because all I remembered from before was the more negative parts, like the conversations I ended up confused by and L’s reaction to meeting her, I was expecting a bad experience. Instead she was friendly, and she remembered me to some extent; asking about church and uni.

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Facebook Suicide Prevention Initiative

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On February 25th, Facebook’s safety division announced an extension of their suicide prevention initiative. They describe the initiative as being based on work with suicide prevention organisations, clinical research, and lived experiences from mental health survivors.

From what I’ve seen so far, parts of this initiative seem beneficial,  and useful for helping people through a bad night or self-destructive impulse. However, there are still some concerning areas, and there has already been at least one example of just how this initiative can be dealt with wrongly.

The Benefits

Firstly I’ll go through its helpful aspects. The idea of pointing out that the post suggests someone is upset or distressed could be effective. Receiving this message might be the shock that lets someone realise they are having difficulties beyond typical ups and downs, and so might encourage them to see what the offered help is.

From the other side, allowing people to send an anonymous “someone thinks you might be in trouble” message reduces one of the barriers people often have in talking about mental health issues. It starts the conversation in a low-risk way, without requiring the face-to-face questions that many people just don’t know how to carry out.

Facebook’s post showed some pictures of the support options.  The support page offers the following message:

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My Diagnosis Experience, Part 4

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Background

Despite having sat through my fair share of mental health assessments, I don’t know much about them. As I don’t personally know anyone who has experienced one, and don’t really have many people I could ask about how they work, my knowledge is entirely from what people have said online.

Out of everything I’ve written about in the last few posts, one meeting has always remained in my mind, because it was simultaneously the worst and the best experience I had with mental health professionals.

Having never had anyone to “compare notes” with, I’m going to explain it here, in case it comes in useful for future reference or for anyone else. Again, personal information has been removed.

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My Diagnosis Experience, Part 3

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Note ; I’m not going to use any identifying information, so I’ll refer to each person by a letter+ number to tell them apart, as it does get rather confusing. The colour-coding is also just to keep track.

K1– university counsellor
K2– university wellbeing practitioner
L– a close friend who I needed to bring with me to some meetings.
C1– first mental health assessor at the community services.
C2– second  assessor at the community services.
C3– final assessor at the community services.

Community Mental Health Services

I was referred to the community mental health services (CMS for short) 3 separate times; once from the hospital, once when I finished seeing K1, and by K2 during the relapse I mentioned earlier. This meant I had 3 separate mental health assessments in just over a year.

Each time I was assessed like I’d never been there before, with a different staff member. This seemed really inefficient, especially as each asked me the same questions and mentioned me having used the services recently.

My first assessor C1 was friendly, and I was able to talk to her. However, while I went in assuming my issue was solely/mostly depression and I would be offered CBT, C1 threw a curveball by giving me a leaflet for Mentalization Based Therapy, a treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder.

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My Diagnosis Experience, Part 2

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Some notes for this series; I’m not going to be using any identifying information, so I’ll be referring to each  person involved by a letter+ number to tell them apart, as it does get rather confusing. The colour-coding is also just to keep track.
K1– university counsellor
K2– university wellbeing practitioner
L-   one of my friends, who I needed to bring with me to some meetings. 
C1– first mental health assessor at the community services.
C2– second  assessor at the community services.
C3– final assessor at the community services.

Doctor’s Surgery

One of the services involved in my treatment was my GP’s surgery.I don’t have much to write about this part,  as I chose to avoid them as much as possible. While  they technically knew everything that was going on, because each other service wrote letters to the GP updating them with new developments, this didn’t have any practical use.

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My Diagnosis Experience, Part 1

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Some notes for this series; I’m not going to be using any identifying information, so I’ll be referring to each  person involved by a letter+ number to tell them apart, as it does get rather confusing. The colour-coding is also just to keep track.
K1– university counsellor
K2– university wellbeing practitioner
L-   one of my friends, who I needed to bring with me to some meetings. 
C1– first mental health assessor at the community services.
C2– second  assessor at the community services.
C3– third assessor at the community services.

Beginning

Although I’d had mental health difficulties for a long time, since probably age 10, I didn’t see any mental health services until I was 19. Accessing them wasn’t by choice; when a friend needed to take me to A&E, the hospital had to refer me to community services. My friend also booked a GP appointment for me, and contacted my university to see if they could help me. So I went from knowing nothing about mental health services to being seen by three types at once. It was a confusing period of time, because it felt like my only option was to be bounced around from person to person, and do everything they said, even though I wasn’t really sure of what was going on.
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Diagnosing Mental Health: My Experience

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One of the things that can stop people looking for help with mental health issues is the uncertainty of not knowing how they are referred and diagnosed, what kind of place they need to go to, or what person they need to see.

This is especially true for people under 18, who may not want to see anyone in case it means involving their families or sacrificing their ability to keep information confidential.

Online communities can answer these questions to an extent, giving some people’s experiences. But these sometimes focus on only the easiest experiences or the worst experiences in getting help.

Personally, my experience was in-between these extremes; some of the services I used were really accessible and useful while others made less sense. Similarly, some of the people I saw were really supportive and helpful, and some weren’t. So I thought I would explain my experience getting support, in case it’s helpful to anyone.

2012-
Part 1 (Uni)
Part 2 (GP)
Part 3/ Part 4(Community Services)

2015-

Part 1-Pottergate Centre Screening
Part 2- GP
Part 3- Community Services