Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Chronic Illness and Hair Loss















[Image Description: Photo 1: A picture of Amy with straight orange shoulder length hair
                                 Photo 2: A picture of the back of Amy's straight orange shoulder length hair
                                 Photo 3: A picture of the bald patch on the back of Amy's straight orange shoulder length hair]


For around 5 years, on and off, I have experienced patches of Alopecia Areata, aka hair loss.

Blood tests have shown different results, B12 deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, Folate deficiency etc but even when my levels have gone back to normal (with the help of a course of tablets) I have still had the hair loss. The only thing doctors seem to have put it down to is stress.

Things have been particularly stressful recently (see my latest two posts) but I do try to take time to relax as much as I can.

It's only since I've had chronic illnesses that I have experienced hair loss, so I wonder whether this is connected. My immune system must be compromised and most of the illnesses I have are systemic; with symptoms affecting various parts of my body.

I'm quite vain about my hair. I enjoy getting it styled and coloured with bright dyes, but I also look after it well; washing every 2 or 3 days with shampoo and conditioner (the kinds that keep it very moisturised, but also keep the colour in), moisturising spray before using a detangling brush, then heat spray before styling. I make sure I have days where I let my hair dry naturally, without a hairdryer.

The first time I had Alopecia, the patch was small but right on the top of my head, so I had to style my hair a certain way to hide it. I felt mortified when someone noticed the patch! I struggle with my own identity (thanks, BPD), but I see my hair as part of it, so to lose it would be like losing a part of my identity! Since then, it has been happening on and off, every few months to a year.

As for treatment, most things don't do much but I've found that a prescribed product called Dermovate at least speeds up the hair growth. I won't say it'll definitely work for you, but if you experience patchy Alopecia, I recommend going to the doctor, having whatever blood tests they send you for, and asking if you could try Dermovate. It is a steroid treatment, and thins the skin so can only be used for a couple of weeks at a time, but compared to waiting for hair to grow back without treatment, this product has definitely sped up the hair growth for me. If you do try it, I hope so much that it works for you too.

Do you experience/ Have you experienced patchy hair loss (aka Alopecia Areata)? Have you found out the cause? Are there any other treatments you would recommend? Please comment below!

References

What is Alopecia Areata and How do I Treat it?: https://www.healthline.com/health/alopecia-areata

Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency Anemia: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamin-b12-or-folate-deficiency-anaemia/symptoms/

Vitamin D deficiency:  https://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/vitamin-d-deficiency#1

What is Folic Acid deficiency Anemia?:  https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/folic-acid-deficiency-anemia

Dermovate Ointment:  https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/940/smpc

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Updates, and some worrying family news

Since my last post quite a few things have happened.

Nan

My nan has now been temporarily placed in a nursing home. It's further away from family than she'd like but she at least accepted this was the best place for her, at least while she's rehabilitating. Her family (including my dad and I) are taking turns visiting her, so she only has 2 or 3 days where she doesn't see anyone other than the nursing home staff.

Her suspected Dementia is definitely getting worse and she is now doubly incontinent. As for her mobility, on a good day she can stand with the help of a machine (a Rotunda I think?) but she generally needs hoists to get her out of bed and into a chair.

Her nursing home placement was originally only supposed to be 4 weeks, with the hopes that she would be rehabilitated well enough to go back to her assisted living flat. Staff were under the impression (due to Nan convincing them) that she would receive round the clock care in her flat, and carers would tend to her every need. After speaking to some of the family, however, they now know that this is not the case. Once the 4 weeks have passed, Nan will have a thorough assessment of her physical needs, mental health and capacity. Hopefully Dad and I will be able to attend for any other information needed.

To say she is settled in this home would be quite an overstatement. Staff have told us that she is complaining about everything and accusing them of taking much longer to see to her than they actually are. We spoke to one of the nurses based in the home, who has got to know Nan fairly well, and she definitely agrees she has Dementia. She assured us they will assess her for this at the end of the placement, and along with any other concerns raised, we will discuss where she will go next.

Last time I saw Nan, she seemed to accept that she now has too many needs for her assisted living home. She reluctantly accepts she has to stay in this nursing home for now but she wants to go into one much nearer the family when she comes to the end of her placement here.

I feel so conflicted about Nan to be honest. She really annoys me, and I get embarrassed about the way she speaks to staff, but I have to remember that a lot of her behaviour etc is down to the Dementia and for the most part, she can't really help it. I love her to bits though and worry about her constantly. The main things I want are for her to be happy and safe. She's safe at least, but I wish something could help her feel happy. My family and I do our best to ensure her room is as homely as possible but it's impossible to get it just right, and unless it is exactly the same as her old flat, she isn't happy.


Cousin

A few weeks ago, one of my cousins went to the Philippines to do work experience for her medical degree. She'd had all the vaccinations needed, but unfortunately a mosquito bite infected her with Dengue Fever . She was very poorly already and was unable to tell the hospital staff of any other things that had happened.

A few days after she was admitted into the hospital, she became critically ill, and doctors discovered multiple jellyfish stings on her body. She'd been swimming in the sea, and luckily was wearing a bathing suit instead of a bikini, so some of the stings didn't quite get through her skin. Regardless, she is now in intensive care and has been intubated. This is because the neuro-toxins from the jellyfish stings are severely affecting her ability to breathe. She is also experiencing paralysis in her legs.

There have been points where doctors have been unsure as to whether she will survive. Apparently the stings had been in her for a week before being discovered, and the Dengue Fever masked the symptoms of the stings.

We are all so so worried about her, but glad that friends of her parents are keeping us updated about her condition. My aunt and uncle are flying over to the Philippines, so hopefully there will be more updates soon.


My Mental Health (TW: Self Harm)

This year, I planned to do everything I could to improve my mental health. I was so fed up of feeling so stressed, anxious, agitated, demotivated, and low. I was also really frustrated about how easily triggered I am by any mention or discussion of abortion. It's been 10 years since I had my traumatic one and I've never really faced it. I still have a few weeks left on the waiting list for counselling with the Primary Care team, but I feel like I need to start therapy or at least talk to someone ASAP. Once my counselling for this has finished, I plan to get in touch with Women's Aid, about the abusive relationship I was in when at university.

At the moment, I feel like I cannot concentrate on much at all, let alone myself. I am going through the motions, trying to keep as busy as possible, but suffering physically because of it. My head is full of thoughts again, and to be honest I am self harming every day again. I feel quite sore because of it, but I get such urges to do it, I can't resist. When I'm not doing it, I'm thinking about it and it feels like the only thing I can control right now.

As well as this, I can't stop thinking about my Nan and cousin. Is Nan having a good day or bad day? Have the nursing home staff been tending to her needs quickly? How is Nan treating them? What happens if she becomes too verbally aggressive? Will she be assessed properly? Will Dad and I be able to attend the assessment so the social worker etc can get our experiences and views of her behaviour? These are just some of the worries I have about Nan. As for my cousin, my main terrifying thoughts are whether she is still alive, whether she is unconscious because she's so poorly, or because the doctor has put her under anaesthetic. My cousin and I aren't very close, but I still love her and the thought of losing her is too much to bear.


My Physical Health

As I said above, I am trying to keep busy to distract myself from my thoughts, but this is affecting my physical health. I am very dizzy and feeling faint, and having times where I almost fall over or faint.
Alongside this, I've been having some nausea, worse aches and pains, very bad joint stiffness, and I'm extremely tired and wobbly on my feet. I'm not sure how I'd cope outside without my walking stick. I have my ENT follow up next month, where I will be undergoing Vestibular tests . I also have an appointment with a Cardiologist next month, where I intend to ask about being assessed for POTS . I really hope both specialists will thoroughly assess me and be able to come up with a diagnosis on that day. I will make notes, as usual, of my symptoms, what makes them worse/better, when symptoms arise etc. In the meantime, all I can do is make sure I sit whenever possible, and lie down when I need to (which seems to be most of the day!)

So this is what's been happening with me recently! I will write another post when I know more, and my main posts will be about my appointments next month.

Have any of my readers experienced Vestibular tests? I would love to know what happens and if you get a diagnosis on that day. Also with Cardiology, do they do any tests (as well as an ECG) to thoroughly assess your symptoms?

If you can advise, that'd be great! In the meantime, take care everyone, and thank you so much for reading xxx

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Facing my Past

(TW: Meds, mention of Abortion, Overdose, Suicide, and Self Harm. Weight/Diet talk)

After being discharged from CMHT, I've been struggling a lot with my mental health, and not knowing where to turn. A meds review with my GP resulted in a small prescription of Diazepam (so far, I've only had to take 5mg) and, knowing I have this to keep me safe, has prevented me from taking overdoses in order to knock myself out.

On one of my "good" days, I made a decision to put myself first and do everything I can to look after my mental health. I simply cannot afford to abandon my mental health and end up in crisis without support. I'd been putting off contacting Women's Aid (re: abusive relationship) and Cruse Bereavement (re: traumatic abortion) and I needed to decide who I'd contact first and when.

As it had been on my mind recently, and I was getting more and more triggered by any mention or conversation about abortion, I decided to contact Cruse Bereavement first. I tried the national number, then the number for my local area, but couldn't get through. I found some email addresses though, so sent a long email to each of the ones that seemed most relevant to my enquiries.

After a couple of days, one of the email accounts messaged me back. They were sympathetic to my situation and felt an abortion clinic that offers counselling would be most appropriate. This was Marie Stopes. I contacted Marie Stopes and received an email back. Again, they were sympathetic to my situation, and wanted to help, but it would cost. I simply cannot afford to pay for counselling, so I had to decline. I decided to see if there were any other abortion charities in/near my area, but everything I found expected you to pay at least £30 for an hour's counselling. I can't afford to pay that much on a weekly basis. It felt like every time I tried to access help, a door was slammed in my face.

Eventually, I ran out of options apart from one; Primary Care. I didn't want to go through CBT again but I figured any therapy is better than none. I left a message on their voicemail to call me back and the next day, they'd called me back, taken my details, and arranged a telephone appointment for Thursday to see what they could offer me (if anything). I had my telephone appointment on the Thursday and was faced with many many questions (not just about the abortion). After going through the PHQ (questionnaire for Depression), the GAD (for Generalised Anxiety), specific phobias, and daily functioning questionnaires, they asked about my main problems now. They also asked about my lifestyle, traumas in the past, symptoms of PTSD, OCD etc.

Finally, the therapist asked what my reasons were for getting therapy from them, whether I was ready and committed, and why I wanted to tackle these main problems at this point in time specifically. I couldn't give a very detailed answer to this, it's just that I feel that I am so fed up of the way I'm feeling and how much it holds me back. I also feel that I am ready right now and I want to see how I go. I need to face my past and at least try to move on. For that, I need support.

The therapist said she would speak to her supervisor, then get back to me. Later on that day, I received a call from her, with good news. I was accepted and would be put on an 8-10 week waiting list. The wait is a little while, but at least I'm going to get help!

In other news:

I chased up my Cardiology appointment, and after sorting out a problem because my GP hadn't attached the referral letter to the right system, my referral was finally sent. A couple of days later, I received an appointment to see a Cardiologist in April!

So, at the moment I am under an ENT specialist for dizziness (vestibular tests/follow up in April), a Cardiologist for fainting/nearly fainting, and will be seeing a therapist for mental health. I'm really hoping I'll get some answers and maybe even treatment! If something can improve, I will be so pleased!

Family:

My nan is still in hospital, for her broken right femur. She has had an operation to plate and pin her femur into place and is recovering from this. It seems her impacted bowel is still causing her some problems, but she won't discuss this with hospital staff. She also won't tell them about the dizziness she gets when she bends over. Her borderline Dementia is getting much worse, and of course the effects of the anaesthetic are making her confusion worse. She's been having some strange ideas about the hospital, and her money. From what I can gather, she believed that the hospital was being used as a film set, and the other patients were actors. She also believed (and still believes) that her money will disappear, the longer she is in hospital.

When Dad and I last visited her (yesterday), a social care worker came to see her, and was under the impression (due to lack of communication from other staff) that Nan would be discharged either that day or tomorrow. Dad and I had to take the social care worker aside, and explain everything. Because of this, and the fact we'd mentioned the Dementia, she decided to rearrange the appointment. She had also not been told that Nan was eventually going to be transferred to a different hospital, for rehabilitation. It was a good job we were there to explain everything! Nan does just want to go home, and has apparently had her mental capacity assessed (she had passed because it was done on a "good" day) so if she decides she wants to be discharged, she probably will be.

It's a very difficult situation because all the family want what's best for Nan, and we want to keep her safe and comfortable. We want her to have a say in her care as well. Unfortunately, she just wants to go back to struggling along with minimal help, even though she is now at significant risk of further falls, and her Dementia is getting worse. What she really needs, and hospital staff have agreed, is 24 hour care. Nan had managed to convince the social care worker that this is exactly what she will get, but this is not the case at all. She gets a visit in the morning, for washing, putting creams on etc but she will struggle to make very simple meals for herself. The rest of the time, she will stay in her chair, on her own in her flat, and she will even sleep in her chair. She is at a stage where we are considering nursing care. We thought she had at least accepted this, but she doesn't want anything to change. She even said "I don't want anything different, I want it the same".

This is stressing me out a lot and I am letting everything get on top of me. My parents are being wonderful though, and encourage me to take the pressure off myself. For this reason, I have decided to have a break from Slimming World. I had developed an unhealthy mindset about eating and compensating for "bad" days. As well as seeking counselling for certain parts of my mental health problems, I also want to learn more about body positivity. If I can come to a point where I feel better about myself, I can then decide whether to continue with weight loss, or if I just want to maintain my weight. Either way, I will try to keep to a mostly healthy diet, with the odd treat.

So overall, I am working on putting myself first (most of the time) and looking after myself. I need to quieten the thoughts that tell me I'm useless and unimportant. I will blog about my ENT follow up/Vestibular tests, as well as my Cardiology appointment/s and Counselling appointments. For now, I think I'll leave this blog post as it is, and hope that you are all as well as possible!

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Stress Stress Stress

So much has happened recently and it's got my mind in overdrive.

Firstly, mum had a fall and couldn't stand up for hours. Doctor at A&E was useless, but luckily after a stop overnight, she gained enough strength back in her legs to stand and walk a few steps, with help. She is still very wobbly and one of us needs to be in the house with her most of the time, as she is at risk of falling again.

Secondly, I received an ESA limited capability for work questionnaire. I am to be reassessed. It came as a shock, because I thought those with long term conditions would be exempt from these. It seems not, and I'm hearing of quite a few friends in the same situation.

Thirdly, nan had an impacted bowel, and was suffering severe lower stomach pains and nausea. She was taken to hospital by ambulance and received some treatment before being released at 3am.

Fourthly, nan was taken to hospital the next night, following a fall which resulted in a large complex fracture of her right femur. She has since had to have an operation and is recovering.

On top of this, I'm due to have a smear test, I need to book a dental appointment (about 6 months after a reminder letter, oops!) I need to chase up my Cardiology referral, and I need to ring the bereavement charity and/or Women's aid about the abusive relationship I was in.

It feels as if there is so much to think about or deal with, that all I want to do is run away and hide! I have no choice though, I have to get these things done at some point, and I can't get away from the other things I need to consider.

Needless to say, I am EXHAUSTED. Mentally, physically, emotionally, you name it. My Fibromyalgia has been playing up too, as well as the intrusive thoughts and routines with my OCD. I feel on the edge of breaking down, if I'm totally honest.

I was walking down the corridor in the hospital with Dad earlier, after seeing Nan. I was trying to keep up with Dad (he wasn't being fast, it was me being slow) and I got very breathless, my heart was pounding, I was dizzy and felt as if I was going to faint. Going to the toilet only gave me a few minutes break before I had to carry on walking. I've somehow found energy to write this post, but only just.

It seems to be a difficult year for many people, especially those with chronic illnesses (physical and mental). I think all we can do is try to break down the things we need to consider, and prioritise which need doing first. It is so important to look after yourself and be kind to yourself, and I guess this is something I feel I need to do as soon as possible.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

A Blackout, A Fall, GP ENT Follow Up and a Gold Star for Amy!

I've had some eventful times recently, with my health!

Firstly, I had a sort of Blackout about a week ago. My dizziness and faintness have been quite bad and about a week ago I was standing by my bookcase, fussing Billie, and suddenly had a very temporary loss of consciousness. I caught myself in time before I fell, but I have been feeling very weird since.

I've been a lot clumsier since this "blackout"; knocking drinks over, bumping into things/people, and tripping up a lot. This came to a head when I had a bad fall 3 days ago. I was sitting on my armchair, and had to get up for something. I was wearing my pyjamas at the time. I rose from the chair and stepped forward, only to get my right foot caught in my left pyjama bottom leg. I fell forward, turning my left foot right over and spraining it, then fell into the bookcase and back against the wooden part of the armchair. My back is scratched and bruised, my foot/ankle are bruised, and my ankle is sprained. I don't do things in halves!

I decided to document these things, as I had a GP appointment yesterday; to discuss my first ENT appointment. This was with a GP I hadn't seen before, so I was quite nervous, though keen to let her know what had happened.

Unfortunately, the surgery was very busy when I arrived, and I think this was why the GP acted the way she did. She rushed me and, I felt, was dismissive of my symptoms. She quickly went through the ENT letter; where it mentioned the dizziness and faintness and the fact that they wanted me to change from Stemetil (Prochlorperazine) to Cyclizine (both anti-sickness medication), because they felt the Stemetil was making my dizziness worse.

I took my chance to tell her about the blackout. She felt it wasn't a proper one as I hadn't actually collapsed to the floor and she wanted to know if I had fainted recently. I said not recently, but I had fainted once, five years ago. I wasn't sure if it was related, but I thought I'd mention it just in case.

I also mentioned the fall, and showed her my foot. She didn't seem that bothered about it but she did examine it (slightly) and told me it was probably a sprain, but as it wasn't swollen, she wasn't concerned.

She next said to me (I'm paraphrasing here) "Well your blood tests and ECG were normal. Do you think the dizziness and faintness are stress related?"

This was quite an annoying thing for her to say. I know certain symptoms can be stress related, but I know that mine aren't. I have had stressors recently, but they haven't coincided with the dizziness and faintness. I experienced them months before anything particularly stressful happened.

She wasn't going to refer me to the Cardiologist either, but I stood my ground and said that the other GP was going to refer me so I would prefer this. Thankfully, she listened to me, and made the referral. She typed a lot, and I think mentioned the fainting five years ago, the almost-blackout, and the fall, in the referral request.

Lastly, she handed me my Cyclizine prescription, and said that the Cardiology appointment would get in touch with me.

Overall, the appointment wasn't a bad one, because I got what I needed (primarily, the referral). I do wish she'd rushed me less and not been dismissive though. Maybe it was a bad day for her, I won't take it personally.

I awarded myself an invisible Gold Star for holding my ground and asking for what I needed though. Past me would not have had the courage.

Monday, 31 December 2018

Self Care, Distractions, and a Difficult Time of Year

(TW: Mentions of self harm, overdose, and hallucinations)

If you read my last post, you'll know that I've been through a very difficult time recently. I have struggled with Depression, distressing thoughts, panic, self harm, overdose, and hallucinations. Crisis team were lovely every time I phoned them, and I had to have two calls with them after the Community Mental Health team were unable to give me any help. CMHT just gave me advice to see my GP for a meds review, and to ring the charity numbers they had given me for bereavement and domestic violence.

I left that appointment feeling very disheartened and lost. I felt abandoned by the mental health team, and I felt there was no point in ever ringing them again. I had reached my limit for mental health care with that team, I would have to look elsewhere. I don't blame the team. They did what they could, with the very little resources the government has left them.

I rang my GP and had an urgent appointment that same day. I started to cry and panic as I explained everything, but luckily my GP was very supportive, compassionate, and a good listener. I was told to increase my dose of Pregabalin, as this can apparently help with anxiety and depression. I was also (reluctantly, but I gave good reason to ask for this) given a small prescription for Diazepam, to take on my most distressing days.

Another thing that triggered the most recent mood swings and distress was a dreaded white envelope through the post. I was to be reassessed for ESA. I thought reassessments had stopped for people with long term conditions, but maybe they have now changed those rules? I filled in what I could; using online guides and previous scans of my last ESA form. I also rang my GP today and asked for a supporting letter. She did not say what she would write on it, but she did mention something about referral letters and my notes. Hopefully this means she will attach extra evidence. Anything to back up my claims about my health is useful.

If you are to be assessed/reassessed for ESA, and have received a capability for work form, I highly recommend visiting the website Benefits and Work. This website gives a large amount of information and complete guides for filling in various benefits forms, attending assessments, appealing, and attending tribunals. I also recommend becoming a member (just £19.95 for a year) as this gives you access to much more specific information.

Today, I am struggling to fill in my form, despite the information I have to help me. Forms like this, ask you to talk about such personal information about physical and mental health that it can be quite daunting and distressing. I am focusing on all the negatives, the struggles, the pain, the mental distress etc and it is no wonder that I'm feeling all of these negatives intensely. I have been dissociating ever since I started filling in the form today.

As well as dwelling on this, I have been scrolling Facebook and feeling jealous of all the achievements my friends have completed. Whether it be a career change, travelling the world, a wedding, an engagement, an anniversary, or a birth, the world seems to be turning very quickly, and I feel as if I've been standing still. It is really hard to focus on my own achievements when, in comparison, they seem so minute. I wrote a status about this, which I will post below:

I'm trying not to compare myself to other friends who have achieved so much this year. By now, I would've loved to have got my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, be working in mental health, be married maybe with a child on the way. Instead, my illnesses persisted, and I guess the biggest thing I've achieved this year is surviving it. Shout out to everyone else with that same achievement and rest in peace to those who did not survive this year 

If you feel that you have not achieved much/anything this year, I assure you, you have. You survived this year. You got through the days, somehow. And I am so glad you got through it. You deserve to have a happy life; achieving things (no matter how small) at your own pace. You matter, you are valid, and you deserve to be happy with life regardless of what you can or cannot do. You do not need to be productive to be a human being deserving of love and respect.

I will be having a quiet New Year's Eve tonight. I will have a prosecco or two with my parents, and I will be continuing doing lots of self care to get me through.

Whatever you do, I hope your New Year's Eve is as lovely as possible, and I hope next year will be a much better year for you. Goodbye/Good Riddance to 2018, and please, 2019, be a good one!

xxx



Monday, 24 December 2018

Mental Health Team? What Mental Health Team?

(TW: Self harm, Suicide, Hallucinations, bad mental health service experiences)

I have had a truly awful day today.

Recently, my mental health has relapsed and I've been severely depressed, distressed, even suicidal (it's been a while since I was last suicidal). I have had intense suicidal and self harm thoughts, as well as paranoia about various people and organisations *coughDWPcough*. I have self harmed regularly, had urges to overdose on all my medication, and I took a small overdose the other day.

As well as this, I have had an hallucination. I was in bed (awake, not dreaming) and I saw a large black and red beetle climbing up my bedroom wall, then disappearing into the ceiling. I have had similar hallucinations in the past; very rarely however. Sometimes I have believed they were real, other times I have known they couldn't possibly be real.

I called my local crisis team about three times, bursting into tears down the phone and letting everything out. They knew everything, and had passed the information on to the Community Mental Health Team.

I went to my appointment today, partly feeling it was pointless, partly convincing myself that they will help and hopefully I will get more therapy and a medication review.

Unfortunately, I have received neither.

I explained everything again for them, filled in the paperwork (PHQ, wellbeing etc) which showed that I was severely depressed and not coping well at all. I answered their questions about trauma, triggers, home life etc. The CPN then said that I'd been there a couple of times before with similar issues and had received help both times. She suggested I call Women's Aid (for the abusive relationship I'd been in) and Cruse Bereavement (for the traumatic abortion 10 years ago) and asked if I'd considered Primary Care. I said that they believed I was too complex for them, but I would try.

Other than that, she reiterated that I needed to rely on my own resources, and be more proactive about using the skills I've learnt from therapy. I said I'd tried and struggled to do this, and felt that I needed more support.

Unfortunately, she told me that she could not offer any more support, because a while back the government cut back the mental health team's services and resources quite substantially, and there simply wasn't anymore help available for me. I burst into tears after realising they simply couldn't help. I felt as if I was on my own and that this mental health team barely existed at all. It was in ruins. The CPN even described it as a service that just puts a sticking plaster on service users, before sending them off again and possibly signposting them to other places, charities etc.

I knew resources were tight, but the realisation that there were barely any resources at all was upsetting, frightening even. I feel scared for people in a worse position than me.

We are fighting that voice in our head; telling us we are Bad and do not deserve help. We fight the urges to kill ourselves. We have that little bit of hope that there will be some help there if we ask for it. People keep telling us to reach out anyway. We reach out. We pick up the phone. We are given a face to face assessment and suggestions to distract ourselves, have a cup of tea, have a bath, anything to get us through the days until our appointment.

Appointment day finally comes. It takes all of our strength to tell the CPN everything, we let go as much as we can. We let ourselves be vulnerable in front of this person and at the conclusion of the assessment, there is no help from this team. Sure, we are signposted to other places but the main place that should be there to provide us with something with a chance of helping us cope, improve even, simply does not exist anymore. We are sent on our way with the promise of a letter through the post. We are discharged back to a GP who may not know much about mental health, so cannot help much.

This is the reality. I am not the only one. Something NEEDS to change.