Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Insane Vs The Mental Health Team

I am appalled by the state of the mental health system in Yorkshire, specifically Kirklees. I am disgusted with the apathetic doctors and the inappropriate demeanour of the mental health nurses of the mental health team.

My dear friend suffers with Asperger’s syndrome. For those of you who don’t know what that is, basically it is a high functioning form of autism. She also suffers from severe depression and anxiety. She needs her routines, she has poor to no eye contact and talking to people she doesn’t know is almost impossible.

Lately she needed to have her antidepressants changed. Anyone suffering with severe depression and on medication will know that this needs to happen when the pills you are taking aren’t working, you get used to them or the side effects outweigh the benefits. It can be a very stressful time to someone who is suffering as there is almost always a noticeable change in your mood and/or thought process while the other pills are coming out of your system and the new ones are taking effect.

She went to see a doctor we do not usually go to as he is generally unsympathetic and rather rude. She was desperate. She explained to him that she was overly suicidal, irrationally angry and at a greater risk of harming herself on these pills. He reluctantly changed them after lecturing her about getting better quicker. This is not what outraged me, unfortunately in both of our experiences, this is the norm. It seems to be the understanding doctors that are few and far between these days.
It was what followed me that outraged me. A few days later, she returned to the doctor's for her top up of pain killers (for various ailments) and after being lectured about taking them and being told to drink water instead as it will cure everything including her depression (!) she looked at the notes the previous doctor had put. They were as follows:

“She displays no signs of suicide, has good eye contact and generally has good rapport”

Now, I was not there but I know she (having Asperger’s) cannot lie. He was not only out rightly lying about her suicidal thoughts but in the mood she was in as well as not liking him, I know for a fact her eye contact would have been worse than poor.
I wish I could say this was the only way she has been failed by seemingly trained professionals, not only in her life but just this week.

She had recently been contacted by The Mental Health Team for her second time; the nurse who spoke to her was pressuring her to go in for another assessment. She couldn’t get there by herself and so asked for a home visit. I was in the room when this conversation took place. He told her to get her priorities in order and basically threatened her to go in otherwise she wouldn’t be seen. She was so upset by the time she got off the phone, she couldn’t speak.

Outraged, I called him and demanded to know exactly what he had said to upset her. I was met with an appalling attitude coupled with “I don’t think that’s any of your business” and “I am not prepared to answer any more questions”. I was not asking for any personal details or any information that could have even sounded confidential. He simply refused to talk to me and said he would not apologise for his manner.
The matter was passed on to my friend's mother, as I was not being taken seriously. She informed me that he apologised to her and said he was simply in a bad mood. He then arranged a home visit.

Being Miss Manners and not wanting to hold a grudge, I welcomed him in to my home so he could assess my friend. She was understandably upset and therefore displayed very guarded body language (looking at the floor, folded arms and shaking legs) but I prompted her to answer as many questions as she could and I filled in the gaps.

I thought it was going as well as it could possibly go until he said “I don’t know if there is anything I can do as she clearly doesn’t want me here” in the most vindictive way, like a child who had been cast out. I was astounded. I politely informed him that she is like this with any new person due to the concoction of ‘issues’ she has and that he should not take it personally. He childishly interrupted me with “I’m not!” Yes, it sounds like it.

I am simply shocked that any of this behaviour was allowed to happen. He is in a position where he is supposed to display empathy and rational behaviour at all times…am I incorrect in thinking this? I know they are human too and have ‘bad’ days but surely in this crucial position, you need to display a level head and an understanding nature?

Both she and I are being failed on every conceivable level in regards to out mental health. This is the sole reason I have the knowledge and insight in to my own condition as if I relied solely on the ‘professionals’, I have no doubt, whatsoever, that I would have committed suicide by now.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Simplistic Lies

I remember being around nine when I had my first definitive suicidal thought, though it started much earlier than that. A diary entry from my prepubescent mind aged around ten depicts a story of a lonely, sombre child. Alone in the playground with only her thoughts for company. Thoughts of horror, thoughts of death. Deep and fascinating thoughts no child should subject themselves to. These thoughts started with the most innocent of lies a mother tells.

I have habits, habits pigeonholed as bad. I stress bite my lip; just the lower. Chew until I draw blood. The lie I remember imparted about this particular habit was as follows:

“The bits of lip-flesh you tear off and accidentally swallow will find their way in to your arteries, clog up your heart and you will die.”

This provoked a deep inner monologue, a story of the rogue lip-flesh somehow finding its way through the lining of my stomach and rattling around in my body until it finds an artery to invade and kill me. A story with images, narrative and motive. An imaginative child.

This lie. This lie to scare and prevent, to postpone and deter.
Did it?
No. I am still a stress biter. This habit did not begin so young, I was around twelve when this apparently deadly habit took control of my mouth, and my mind.

A possibly more serious and unpleasant habit took hold of me from an earlier age. This habit, this vagrancy came out of the blue. No one knew why, not even myself. It held me like a drug, I would tweak for my next hit if we had been kept apart. It was my delight; it was my addiction. It was vinegar. Straight from the source, sucking as a baby would from a bottle of milk. My mother hid it, I found it. I sought it. She put it out of reach; I would perform acrobatics to get it. What was my mother to do? She concocted another lie, possibly the first ridiculous lie my mother told me.

This lie. This lie so bold, so ridiculous, I believed. I believed this lie, this brazen distortion of the truth because my mother was my vessel of information. She had no reason to lie…so I thought. This lie was as follows:

“If you carry on drinking vinegar, it will dry up your blood!”

This liquid, this deadly, sharp tasting acid, this masquerade of toxins to be enjoyed over chips…will kill me? Not just kill me but indeed enable the blood in my veins to evaporate leaving hollow tunnels under my skin leading to my death?

This absurd lie, that I believed, this first catalytic lie to scare and prevent, to postpone and deter.
Did it?
No. I drank as my stomach allowed. I drank until every bud on my tongue was raw. I drank in secret.

A few weeks passed and to my shock, no sign of death emerged. No sign of my liquid life mysteriously disappearing from my veins. I was pensive. Was what my mother informed me of, a lie? The conclusion I had reached saddened me. Not because my mother had lied about my fluid bottle of heaven but because her omen was in fact untrue. I was not dying. It occurred to me, rather strangely that I was melancholy about this. I was actually upset that I was not slipping away; I was not going to die. I fear that this is where it all began.

This Razor Blade Tastes Like Cupcakes

This is my karma.
I am a bad person.
I am selfish;
I am expectant,
I am bossy.
I am corrupt;
I am pathetic,
I am weak.
I am naive,
I am not hopeful,
I am death.

Death of friendships.
Death of relationships.
Death of morals.
Death of consequences.
Death of freedom.
Death of innocence.

It is all on me;
It is my entire fault.
It is what I deserve,
It is what I have created,
It is what has killed me.

It has killed me.
There is no going back;
I am death.
I am the end.
I choose nothing.
I am sorry.