I promised myself I would start to blog more often so here I am! It is good to have a little break from things.
I did my bit for ‘awareness’ today. I have made a short film via social media, presenting to the public the mental health challenges I have faced which go back to when I was in my childhood. Think I enjoyed doing the film, if it helped one person, it was worth it! It is 10 mins long and hopefully useful to others.
But alongside awareness, we need more services, sustainable, well funded local community groups and better trained GPs! We need timely, prompt assessment and services that last longer than 6 weeks and waiting lists, less than the current 6 months for certain types of treatment. I found ringing up every month and asking how far along I was on the lost, helped me feel I was getting closer to the first appointment. They wont give you info, you have to contact them. Be proactive. The rhetoric from our UK government promises early, preventative health care but I do not 100% trust what they say, they will deliver. Most health services are in a political dilemma and what was previously funded by local government, has been withdrawn. There are lots of services now, asking for a piece of the pie that has strunk in size over the last few years. Health inequality is a major issue in the UK, especially here in the North West of England.
Worth remembering, your GP follows NICE guidance – the stepped care model. This NICE guidance is worth a read as you can go armed with the know-how and key knowledge of what they should be doing to help you. There are also lots of voluntary sector services, such as peer led groups, mentors, walking groups, social activities to help your well-being. The GP will probably not be aware off any third sector services. Remember, GPs are gate keeps to a vast amount of health service however if you have a knowledgeable GP or nurse practitioner, share the name of your GP to others you know in the area. If your GP asks you questions about the social context of your emotional health (for example – what is going in your family life, how is your job affecting you?) then you’re on the right track. Emotional distress sometimes come from childhood or recent stress lifestyle factors. More importantly, mental ill health can deteriorate very quickly if not treated early, just like cancer – yet we see no public health advertising about it.
My video offered 3 tips I would give people about embarking on help and support. One of which is how important reading is around the subject of emotional distress and following peer led online support can be helpful. It can also me useful, in moderation as you can become over loaded with ‘awareness’, make yourself more burdened, read about medical labels, other peoples issues and often, a negative attitude and vulnerability that our issues can present. We can also read about how NHS secondary health services have made life difficult for individuals, stereotyping people with various severe mental illness and patients becoming ‘reluctant to comply with forced treatment’. I am not saying this is good or bad by the way, it is just out there in the public domain. On the other hand, some very positive health professionals are supporting people. It is much easier to write about negatives and what is not going well for us. Taking medication and tapering off medications is a hot topic at the moment and one the best groups I have found is ‘Lets Talk Withdrawal Podcast‘ on Facebook. It is an online community that no GP will refer too. The pharmaceutical companies should be offering more help to people with discontinuation syndrome from psychiatric drugs, especially around carefully tapering off. The NICE guidelines state 4 weeks which is completely unrealistic for many depending on dose.
I love the fact you can have a voice and meet others that have had same struggles and still are here to share their journey. I am not recommending certain groups, I am simply saying their is some choice out there for mass engagement to other peers. The power is shifting into the hands of service users and carers and we have a lot more patient engagement in health services now. We are the experts of our own conditions.
Life is not always a stroll in the park, it throws lots of difficulties in our path and suddenly, the unhelpful thoughts and feelings of our ongoing mental health is preventing us from enjoying our life. One of the first steps after reading peer support is speaking to someone else that you can trust. This normally begins with a GP or an understanding family member. If you are really lucky, speaking to your ‘mindful employer.’
On the whole, it has been a fairly hopeful few months for me and my family and it will be for you too if you just keep connected to others. Please speak to a GP if you want to access therapy and medication choices. There is way too much stigma around medication out there. Speak to people who takes medications. Services all have different waiting lists and other local organisations offer support too in different parts of the country. There is nothing wrong with asking for support. Shame can be some damaging so try not to let it get in the way of your well-being. I know how hard it is. I have learnt to ask for help. I am now managing to work a few hours a week with the NHS in an adult learning role and keep up with family commitments. My son is doing well and he will be 10 years old on 6th November. I want him to grow up fairly resilient and have supportive friends and a bright future. If you would like to connect me, here is my email: