Over recent weeks I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I have a mental health condition. It started off as anxiety but it has worked its way into that plus depression. It’s not great. One sets off the other, all the time.
I feel anxious about a situation which leads me to believe that it won’t get better and the depression kicks in, it won’t get better because of this or that. I go to bed.
I feel depressed about something. I think about it too much and then the anxiety kicks in of how I will deal with that situation and when I think I can’t. I go to bed.
It’s not great. Bed is this place I feel safe. I don’t have to be asleep – I just feel safe.
At the moment my medication has been increased for the third time and I am getting used to it. Getting used to it means being sleepy, if not sleeping, for twenty-four hours of every day. It means not going out sometimes and having to deal with that.
It means that some days I look at pictures of people doing things I would normally be doing and feeling jealous. I feel angry at that person because they are doing something I want to be doing. It’s not their fault, it’s not even mine.
So then I start to get angry at something else. The way that people who have Mental Health issues are treated.
My problems came to light in November, as I wrote before.
So imagine on that Monday where it all kicked in was different. Imagine I had fallen in the street and broken my ankle.
Here’s how it goes: I would have been taken to hospital. I would have had the ankle reset and dressed and I would have been given a referral to follow-up appointments and physio. I would have been given a plan on how to get through the next few weeks. I would have an estimated return to work and access to a team to help me get there. I would have been supported all the way to return to work within a couple of months or a few weeks, however it’s put.
What actually happened was: In September I ended up in hospital with a panic attack. Lovely advice from the people involved but no further help offered.
In November, after the event on the Monday, I contacted my own doctor. We had a chat, I was signed off sick, put on ACE Inhibitors. They worked, for a bit. They calm the heart so therefore calm anxiety feelings. Or they can.
I changed doctors, to my current one. He is amazing and I would say not one thing against him. He listens, he advises, but he needs me out his office as soon as he can, no longer than fifteen-twenty minutes because this is how it is. He has other patients to see. I know that.
The problem is this: my doctor has now increased my medication twice. He has to do this because there is nothing else he can do. He can’t refer me to anyone that is immediate; it takes weeks. So he has to try to help me in the here and now. That means I am so sleepy I can hardly walk at times. Bed is the best place to be because I can sleep it off. It feels like I am being punished. The higher dose works, as it should, for me, but the effects are terrible for me if I want to live a normal life.
Can you imagine breaking your ankle, then going to hospital to be told it’s OK and to go home, see your GP and then have your GP have to palm you off for three months with pain killers before he’ll refer you to try and get it fixed? It wouldn’t happen. It doesn’t happen.
Why is a broken ankle any different from a broken mind?