Saturday, 19 October 2019

Trauma Focused CBT: Session One

(Trigger Warning: PTSD, abortion, self harm, and suicide mentions)

Last Thursday, I had my first session of Trauma Focused CBT. I was nervous and reluctant to go, leading up to this appointment. I was worried that I would be made to talk about things before I was ready. I didn't want to be in floods of tears in a public place, and I didn't want to be badly triggered either.

The therapist I saw, was the same one I saw for general CBT a while back. She is a compassionate, yet matter of fact therapist, which I find is a good balance for me. I don't like people to sugar coat things. I'd rather be told straight out if something needs to be said. Of course, I need the compassion too, especially when talking through some very difficult events.

At the start of the session, I was asked to fill in the usual PHQ etc forms (for Depression, Generalised Anxiety, Phobias etc) as well as a risk assessment for suicide/self harm. I gave similar answers to that of the questionnaires I filled in during my phone assessment. I think it will be very difficult to find a way to improve my scores on these; especially as I am on a low dose of Citalopram now and it's not doing a lot yet.

After this, my therapist asked me to give a brief description of my (main) trauma. This was about my termination 10 years ago. I told her some things, but she realised when I was getting distressed, and didn't push for me to carry on.

She then explained the difference between general CBT and Trauma Focused CBT. That is, that with general CBT, cognitions (thoughts) are challenged. This does not happen with trauma focused. Thoughts themselves are not challenged, but different perceptions are considered. So, in a way, ideas around the traumatic event are broadened, and other perspectives are allowed in.

My therapist then showed me the theory of CBT by drawing on a piece of paper. She wrote "Thoughts" "Emotions" "Behaviours" and "Physical Symptoms" round in a circle shape, with arrows to show how one leads to the other. We went through the main thoughts I had around my termination (she also asked me why I preferred to use the word "termination" rather than "abortion". I told her that "termination" seemed like a softer, more distant term, even though I knew they meant the same thing. She said one aim she wanted me to work towards was to be able to say "abortion" comfortably).

The thoughts, or themes, I felt around my termination were "guilt" "regret" and "loneliness". The emotions I had were low mood, and feeling like this was my only chance to have children (I can't remember what else I wrote). The behaviours included avoiding conversations, and becoming triggered when exposed to conversations, television storylines etc based around termination. She asked me what happens when I am triggered. I told her it was one of two things really. I could become inconsolable; in floods of tears, and panicky, as if I couldn't cope with life. On the other hand, I could dissociate.

She wanted me to explain what happened when I dissociate. I said I felt spaced out, as if I was having an out of body experience. I may go very quiet, and will freeze, as if I can't do anything. I will also stare at walls. It could take hours before I can ground myself. The ways I ground myself include grabbing something near me (a pen, for example) in order to remind myself that I am in my body and I do exist. I could also focus on what I can see, smell, or taste. So it's all based on focusing on what stimulates my senses. It's not easy, but it works eventually.

As for "physical symptoms" I explained that I found it very hard to separate the ones I had due to my mental health problems, and the ones I had due to my physical conditions (i.e. Fibromyalgia and Hypermobility Syndrome/Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome). After thinking about it for a while, I found that I felt exhausted, achier, tensed up (especially from clenching my jaw throughout the day) and dizzier.

She also said that we would go through my trauma in little chunks, at my own pace. Sometimes I might want to talk about it all at once, sometimes I might only manage some brief detail. She explained also that some of the topics we will go through include grounding skills, and establishing a "safe place". She asked me if I'd come across the term "safe place" before, and if I knew what it was. I said I'd used the term before and I suppose my safe place would be my home.

My therapist explained that it was a vision/memory of a place that makes me feel calm and safe (a sandy beach for example). I would use this safe place to escape to, in my mind. I would think about what I could see, smell, hear, feel etc and I may do a gesture (such as clenching my fist) to bring me to that place in my mind. I suppose clenching my fist could indicate wanting to hold some sand in my hand, and feel the soft grains running through my fingers.

We talked through what my aims were for therapy. I said that I felt I hadn't processed my trauma properly, and I needed guidance in order to do this. I would also like to be able to talk through my trauma with more balanced emotions. I wanted to not be so triggered, and I would like to ground myself more easily if I dissociate.

Finally, we did a screening questionnaire. These were 22 questions that my therapist would read out to me, and I would answer "not at all", "a bit", "moderately", "quite a bit" and "extremely" depending on how severely I related to the statement. I found that my answers were mainly "quite a bit" and "extremely". To meet the criteria for PTSD, I had to get a score of about 33. It turned out that my score was 65, so showed that I had very significant PTSD. So there's another diagnosis to add to the list!

Although I wish I didn't have so many diagnoses, I am glad that my problems are validated and I have a name to put to them. For about a year, I suspected I had PTSD, but I wasn't sure if I quite fit the criteria. At least now I know that I do, and I hope that Trauma Focused CBT will at least lessen some of my struggles.

After my appointment, I felt very overwhelmed and in my own head. I'm only just starting to come out of this, but I still feel rather overwhelmed. Things from my past are coming to the forefront now, and I'm finding them very hard to face. I know that I need to face these things if I ever want to move on though.

Resources

Treatments for PTSD: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/treatments-for-ptsd/#.Xarjl-hKiM8

PHQ-9 Depression Test Questionnaire: https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9

Dissociation and dissociative disorders: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/dissociation-and-dissociative-disorders/#.XarkROhKiM8

Grounding exercises: https://www.livingwell.org.au/well-being/mental-health/grounding-exercises/

Finding a Safe Place is Important for PTSD Recovery: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2015/11/finding-a-safe-place-is-important-for-ptsd-recovery

Online PTSD questionnaire: https://www.dynamicyou.org/mental-health-questionnaires/online-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd-questionnaire/

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Let's make sure "Every Mind Matters", by funding our Mental Health Services!

It's "Time to Talk", "Ask Twice", "Be in your mate's corner", and currently "Every Mind Matters". These buzz-phrases are easy to remember, and uplifting I suppose, but how helpful can they be for mental illness?

A lot of these mental health awareness campaigns aim to get people reaching out, talking about their mental health; whether they have a diagnosable mental illness, or their mental health isn't as good as it could be (mental health and mental illness are two different things, but that particular thing is for another blog post). They also aim to get people reaching in and checking if their loved ones are really OK.


I took part in the "Every Mind Matters" Mind Plan quiz today (you can take it yourself here ) and was given these 5 pieces of advice:


  1. Relax your muscles and mind - I was given a video to watch, in order to help me with this.
  1. Move more every day - "Why not try getting off the bus or train a stop earlier, or taking the stairs more often?"
  1. Make time to do something you enjoy - It suggested going to the cinema, or listening to music.
  1. Make time to chat - The emphasis was on chatting over the phone or in person
  1. Take time to reflect - This piece of advice wanted me to focus on the good things about my day.

None of these are necessarily bad pieces of advice, but they are extremely simplistic considering the answers I gave. I have severe Clinical Depression, severe Generalised Anxiety Disorder, as well as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, and possibly Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (not officially diagnosed, mainly because specific treatment isn't available with my local mental health team). My answers included statements that I was often extremely stressed, anxious, low, and struggling to sleep well. This barely touches on the big messy knot that is my (extremely poor) mental health, but even taking this miniscule fraction of it, I'd expect to be getting better advice than moving more, thinking positive, and chatting to a mate.

It's great that there's more awareness of mental health problems, and that people are being encouraged to talk to each other (whether that's reaching out or reaching in) but the appropriate services need to be there when people ask for help.


Just as medication, advice, and possibly seeing specialists is usually what happens when diagnosing and treating physical health problems, so should it be considered when diagnosing and treating mental health problems. Specifically, we need more choice of psychotherapy, better crisis services, more psych beds. We need less of a wait for therapy full stop. Community Mental Health Teams (for people with more serious/complex mental illness) need sorting out too. Too many people fall through the ever widening gaps because their needs are not able to be met.


Do you know how disheartening, even dangerous it can be when you finally muster up the courage to ring for help (whether that be IAPT, CMHT, GP etc) and be told there's either a wait, you need to ring someone else, or even that the help isn't available? I've become suicidal after being knocked back by mental health services. They are supposed to help you get better, not make you worse! Mental Health services in areas such as mine are woefully underfunded, and those with complex/serious mental health problems are given barely any therapy, if any.


If #everymindmatters
then make sure our minds are looked after, by properly funding our NHS mental health services!


Resources

Your Mind Plan - Every Mind Matters:  https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/your-mind-plan-quiz/?WT.tsrc=Search&WT.mc_id=Brand&gclid=CjwKCAjw5_DsBRBPEiwAIEDRW4JL3hTok4A793ZCwPbRexXE7BNfGIC9cGn5PX9mK5eSI4-dp-4P8xoCKkgQAvD_BwE


Improving Access to Psychological Therapies: https://www.nice.org.uk/about/what-we-do/our-programmes/nice-advice/iapt

What is a Community Mental Health Team?: https://www.rethink.org/advice-and-information/living-with-mental-illness/treatment-and-support/community-mental-health-team-cmht/


Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Getting the ball rolling: Primary Care

I finally feel like I'm just about ready to start Trauma Focused CBT. This is offered through my local Primary Care Mental Health team, and I can self refer for assessment. Last week, I rang up to give my details and was offered a telephone assessment last Thursday. They originally wanted to give me an appointment for last Wednesday, but after discussion amongst themselves, they decided I needed to speak to someone more senior because of my complex needs.

The telephone assessment went really well, and I managed to remember everything I needed to say (prompted by my notes as well, of course). The first part of the assessment was the more "objective" part; where we went through my answers to the PHQ9 and GAD7 questionnaires, as well as questions on specific phobias, functioning, employment, and recent appointments. My scores for the PHQ and GAD questionnaires were quite high; indicating my levels of Depression and Generalised Anxiety are quite severe. I knew this beforehand, and the complex issues that form part of my mental health problems just exacerbate those levels too. It's like my brain is constantly battling itself!

I was asked how I had been feeling recently (awful to be honest), how my family life was (ok, but a lot of stress about various things), my aims for therapy (to be able to talk about my termination with others, and help people who have been through similar experiences) and why I decided to contact the service this time (I was fed up of how easily triggered I got, and I want help to change this).

The telephone assessment was only supposed to take about 30 minutes. It ended up taking an hour, 10 minutes! Thankfully, I was given time to explain everything, and I certainly wasn't rushed! I do hope this helps them to get an idea of my needs and aims though.

The day after the assessment, I received a phone call to say they'd accepted me for CBT (I'm hoping they mean Trauma Focused, but we'll see).

I seem to have a lot of ideas for blog posts, and not enough energy to get them past a very rough draft stage! I can't promise my next post will be about my mental health, but you should hear from me, for updates on that subject, soon.


Friday, 13 September 2019

Another ENT follow up, and a Chronic Vestibular Migraines diagnosis

Today, I had my second follow up with the ENT department. I saw the consultant himself this time, and he was a very pleasant man. He introduced himself and asked me to take a seat, before asking me how I'd been. I told him that things were pretty much the same as before. My balance hadn't improved, despite the physio exercises, and the dizziness and flashing lights/floaters were pretty much the same too.

He told me the results of my Vestibular tests were relatively normal, so he didn't think it was my ears that were affecting my balance etc. He said it was more of a "central" problem.


I found he took me seriously and was sympathetic to my struggles with my physical symptoms. I also told him my physio had told me to speak to the doctor about Vestibular Migraines. The consultant wholeheartedly agreed with him and gave me the formal diagnosis of Chronic Vestibular Migraines

I've included a link which explains what Vestibular Migraines actually are, but these are the symptoms I experience:


  • Dizziness: This tends to be all the time, but I do get acute bouts of dizziness where I feel as if I am going to fall over or faint
  • Balance Problems: Again, I feel like I'm going to fall over. It is the primary reason why I use a walking stick, and is a problem I've had for years. 
  • Flashing lights: This does what it says on the tin. They are flashing lights in my field of vision. They can be incredibly distracting and I cannot concentrate when there are lots at a time.
  • "Floaters": These are little shapes (wiggly lines is a typical one) in my field of vision. They float around then disappear
  • Sensitivity to light/sound: I don't always get this, but I have noticed it happen a lot recently.
  • Some nausea: This tends to come on with the acute bouts of dizziness
  • Migraine headaches: I do still get classic migraines (with the headache) now and again. As I've experienced classic migraines in the past, the ENT consultant says I am more susceptible to Vestibular ones now
Vestibular migraines don't typically occur with the classic type headache/s. The primary symptom tends to be dizziness, so it is not usual that someone would think they are having a migraine at the time.

After I'd explained my symptoms and the consultant had given me the diagnosis, he wanted to know what medication I take. I listed off the medication that I could remember, and he told me that some of the medication (namely the Tramadol) could be exacerbating the dizziness, as it works as a sedative. 

The next thing he suggested was to start by finding my triggers and exclude certain foods to see if they affect the migraine symptoms. He also wants to see me in about 3 or 4 months time


Overall, I'm very pleased with how the appointment went and how I was treated. Most things were discussed and at least I'm still under the care of ENT.

Do you suffer from Vestibular Migraines? Please comment below with what helps/makes them worse.


Resources

Vestibular Function Tests: https://www.stgeorges.nhs.uk/service/general-medicine/audiology/vestibular-balance-and-dizziness-service/vestibular-function-tests/

Vestibular Migraines: https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/vestibular-migraines#1

Floaters and flashes in the eyes: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/floaters-and-flashes-in-the-eyes/


Tuesday, 10 September 2019

"I can feel it in my bones"

The title describes a phrase I use very often, when it comes to some of the pain I experience with Fibromyalgia. As Summer ends, Autumn begins, and with it come stiff breezes and general cold, I really do feel it in my bones and it makes moving my joints very difficult.

I wake up with incredibly stiff joints, and the cold weather means it takes even more mental and physical effort to get out of bed and face the day. I know that the stiffness will ease, as long as I make sure I keep warm and moving, but the initial pain that comes with the stiffness is incredibly hard to push through.

Keeping warm of course is very important for people with Fibromyalgia. So is trying not to overheat. We often find it hard to regulate our body temperature, and being too hot or cold can cause all sorts of symptom flare ups. Below are my lists of symptoms that flare up when I'm too cold, and when I'm too hot.


When I'm too cold:


  • Joint pain
  • Nerve pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Joint stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle twitching
  • Fatigue

When I'm too hot:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Subluxations
  • Joints that are "too loose"
  • Sweating
  • Faintness
  • Sleep problems

So, what do I do about it? Well, I can't completely control it obviously, but there are some things I can do that may help. These include:

  • Drinking lots of water/squash. I use a bottle that has measurements with times at certain points. I have to make sure I've drunk enough by the time indicated on the bottle. 
  • Have light salty/sweet snacks. This helps keep my electrolytes up and sometimes helps the dizziness
  • Sit down whenever I need to, if possible. I have to rest often, whether too hot or too cold. This may help the dizziness
  • Have naps, but not too late in the day. I aim to nap around 2 or 3pm if I'm not at an appointment, meeting a friend etc. If I haven't rested by that time, I do usually feel extremely fatigued, especially if I am too hot. Some days my body will reserve more energy however, so I can do a bit more in my day.
  • Wear layers instead of thick jumpers. This way I can add more if I'm cold, or take more off if I'm hot. 


Do you have problems with temperature regulation? Comment below with your tips for dealing with it!

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Physiotherapy for Dizziness and Balance Problems

Over the past few months, I've been having physiotherapy for the dizziness I experience daily, and the balance problems I've had for years.

My first session consisted of a long assessment of my problems, and going over the forms that I had filled in prior to the appointment. I was asked all sorts of questions, including about any other symptoms I have, how severe, how often etc. I mentioned about headaches that come with the dizziness sometimes, as well as the flashing lights/"floaters" I get in my line of vision most days. I also have had a few falls; where my knees or ankles have just given way. I've bruised like a peach and sprained ankles because of those!

After all of the questions had been answered (and I was pretty exhausted), my physio decided to do a few tests; starting with blood pressure testing when lying down for 10 minutes, sitting up, and then standing. At the time, I was being investigated for symptoms of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome with a 48 hour portable ECG (the results turned out to be insignificant, so I never got round to having the tilt table test). The blood pressure results were relatively normal, so the physio said that excluded a few things (he didn't specify what).

Just before the session ended, my physio gave me a few simple exercises to do (If I remember correctly, they involved turning my head to each side, tilting my head each side, and turning my head upwards and downwards slowly) My next session would involve some balance tests.

Subsequent sessions mainly involved asking how I'd got on in previous weeks, how I'd found I'd managed with the exercises, then introducing me to more balance tests and exercises to try at home. Although my balance didn't seem to improve, despite the exercises (which I did do regularly, like a good patient!), I did find my physiotherapist very helpful with advice, and his findings. After speaking about some of my symptoms, he asked if I had been told (by doctors) that I may be suffering from a type of migraine that doesn't always present with the classic headache. I guess I hadn't really thought about migraines, although an optician did mention it to me due to the flashing lights I get in my vision. I'm due another eye test anyway (it's on the To Do list) so they'll probably want to investigate that more. As the flashing lights have been getting worse, and the dizziness hasn't improved, I decided to speak to my GP about it. He gave me Stemetil for the dizziness, but decided not to prescribe the usual migraine medication, as I don't often get the headaches. Sod's law, I'm getting them more now!

As well as this, at my penultimate physio appointment we spoke about my balance, and I mentioned how I believed a lot of it was down to my hypermobility. My ankles are very hypermobile and often give way. I used to get teased at school for falling down suddenly in the playground. I've been embarrassed by falling while in the middle of a town centre as well. Thankfully it's not resulted in serious problems (the worst has been a sprained ankle) but it's not pleasant anyway. I told my physio that I was thinking about asking my doctor to refer me to a rheumatologist to see if my Hypermobility Syndrome was actually Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome . They used to be interchangeable diagnoses, but the criteria for HEDS is stricter now and they are believed to be different points of the Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders

I expected the physio to roll his eyes at me and dismiss my concerns, like various healthcare professionals have, but he actually took me seriously! He told me to definitely talk to the doctor and get a referral, so I can be properly assessed.

My last session was earlier today and when I told him the doctor had referred me to a Rheumatologist (Finally!) he was pleased, and wanted me to make sure the one I see either has a specialism in Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, or can refer me on to a Rheumatologist who specifically deals with EDS patients.

He was also pleased that I'd seen the doctor about my migraines. It looks like I've now been diagnosed with Vestibular Migraines . If the Stemetil doesn't help the dizziness or other symptoms, he will refer me on to a neurologist.

Lastly, we spoke about my balance problems. The physio decided there was no more he could do for me, so he has referred me on to a specialist rehab centre for balance problems. I'm not sure how long the waiting list is, but apparently the sessions are longer and the exercises a lot more intense. This should help my balance and give me better quality of life though.

Overall, I've been very pleased with these physio sessions. I may not have noticed improvements as such, but I've gained so much knowledge and advice, as well as support and advocacy from this physio, and I think these are invaluable. I feel that, with my physical health at least, I am starting to be taken seriously and actually getting the referrals and treatment I need.

I will of course blog about my referrals, when they finally come through, but in the meantime, I will try to keep you up to date with my physical and mental health progress. My next appointment is with the ENT specialist, so hopefully I will get more tests and/or treatment for the migraines!

Resources

1. Postural Tachycardia Syndrome: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/postural-tachycardia-syndrome/ 

2. Tilt Test: https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/tests/tilt-test

3. Joint Hypermobility Syndrome: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/joint-hypermobility-syndrome/

4. Ehlers Danlos Syndromes: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ehlers-danlos-syndromes/ 

5. Hypermobile EDS and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders: https://www.ehlers-danlos.org/what-is-eds/information-on-eds/hypermobile-eds-and-hypermobility-spectrum-disorders/

6. Vestibular Migraines:  https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/vestibular-migraines#1

Friday, 9 August 2019

A Mental Health Nightmare

(Trigger Warning: Self Harm, Suicide, Trauma, and Medication)

This is a follow on from my previous blog post


On Wednesday, I had an assessment with a nurse from CMHT. I was referred for this by my counsellor at my last session. Primary care had decided that, because of my urges to self harm, & my strong suicidal feelings, I wasn't stable enough for them.


The CMHT assessment went worse than I expected. I was assessed by a very condescending, judgmental nurse (who turned out to be the useless nurse prescriber I saw last year, who kept me on Sertraline even though it'd stopped working). She got me to fill in a very short questionnaire (something to do with how often I feel useless, demotivated etc) then told me she'd only ask me a few questions because CMHT had seen me a few times before & they knew my history.


First of all, she wanted me to tell her how I'd been feeling. I told her that primary care had sent me to CMHT because they felt that I was too unstable for them. She seemed disbelieving about that and had this smug look on her face (not a great start). I can't remember exactly what she asked me, but it wasn't much. It was mainly me telling her how I was feeling, and my worries. I was having urges to self harm badly, flashbacks about my traumas (Which I reminded her of), graphic mental images. I was even having suicidal thoughts, although I didn't think I'd carry them out because I feel stuck having my parents and Billie. They were my protective factors but without them I would definitely have attempted suicide. What I would definitely be doing though is self harming/overdosing. She still didn't seem to believe me, and asked what I wanted from CMHT. I said I felt I needed a CPN to monitor me. She said they don't do that now. I said I needed a meds review because I'm on the maximum dose of Sertraline and it seems to have stopped working. She said it was probably helping a bit so I should stay on it regardless. I said I may as well stop them, and she insisted I didn't.


I also asked whether an assessment for PTSD would lead to more help & she said no and I probably had it anyway because I had counselling for trauma and I'd been told to refer myself for Trauma Focused CBT. So I guess I have a sort of diagnosis now. I then reminded her of how much I was struggling, that I was at crisis point & I would definitely harm myself when I get home. She didn't seem to believe me and she said that I just wasn't ill enough for any help from them. She repeated it was all short term anyway, and mental health services had changed.


She then started talking as if it was a job interview. She asked me where I saw myself in 5 years. I was in no state to think about that, so I just said I don't know, I felt like I wasn't getting any better so I wouldn't know how I'd cope on my own, but I hoped I'd have moved out by then. She seemed pleased about that. She asked me about my hobbies (I talked about blogging and gaming), whether I went to any classes (I said about Slimming World), whether I worked/was intending to. I said I wanted to do something online but there wasn't much regular work online that I could do. She said that all I seem to do is go online, talk to friends and not much else. I found her very judgmental and she completely got the wrong impression of me.


There wasn't much else after that and I was crying through pretty much the entire assessment. She asked me what my plans were for that day. I scoffed and said I wanted to harm myself & that was all I planned to do. Even though I was clearly a risk to myself, she dismissed it. She'd even said at the start that she would have to tell a colleague if I was at risk! I have a feeling she didn't though. So I came out of the assessment crying and desperate to harm myself. I felt out of control! I dashed to the toilet and looked around to see if I could find anything to hurt myself with (preferably something sharp). I couldn't find anything & Dad would be there any minute, so I had to gather myself together then go out of the toilet. I told Dad what had happened and he was furious at her.


When we got home, I was in a world of my own. All I could think about was harming myself, and I spent about an hour in silence, planning what to do. I opted for overdosing. I took my chance when Mum went to the bathroom. I overdosed on Stemetil (Prochlorperazine). I only stopped when Mum came in. I told her what I'd done & she was very worried. She asked me how I was feeling, then it was only an hour or so after that I had my urgent GP appointment (mum had booked it when I told her about the assessment).


The GP appointment went much better than the CMHT assessment. He took me seriously, wrote down what I told him, and asked how I was feeling (drowsy, dizzy, nauseous). Then he faced me, took a breath, & said I needed to go to the hospital, get checked over and see Psych Liaison team. He said I was "high risk" and should get to the hospital ASAP. He also wanted to see me the next day for a follow up. Soon after that, I was at my local hospital's A&E department. I explained to the receptionist what I'd done & how I felt and I didn't have to wait long to see the triage nurse.


She was very understanding but she misunderstood when I talked about my bullying trauma shaping my personality. She thought I meant my body and started talking about weight loss, checking thyroid. That confused me for a bit. Having thin privilege, I'd never had a healthcare professional mention my weight before. Anyway, she checked on her system what needed to happen with a Prochlorperazine overdose. She booked me in for blood tests and an ECG. I had the ECG which was fine, then I was brought through to cubicles by a really nice doctor. She did my bloods & asked me questions about physical health, mental health etc. I really felt listened to, and she made sure I wanted to see Psych Liaison team. She then got a colleague to do my blood sugar (4.4, so low end of normal) and said while I wait for blood test results to come back, I should have something to eat and drink to get blood sugar up a bit. It would take an hour for results to come back.


Then came a lot of waiting. My blood results were "not worrying" but indicated I was dehydrated, so the doctor told me to get some water. She asked how I was feeling. I said I had a banging headache, and was very drowsy and dizzy. She then said she had called Psych Liaison team and they aimed to see me within the hour, but couldn't guarantee it. I was sent back to the waiting area. I got some water, went to the loo and waited. It was almost 2 hours before I was seen. The person I was due to see had finished his shift so had to spend time updating the person I was going to see instead. I actually saw two people at the same time. I think one was a psychiatrist & the other, a psychologist. They knew why I was there and had contacted my CMHT again. All they could do was advise me, as CMHT still wouldn't take me on. Apparently, even though Primary Care said I wasn't stable enough, CMHT said I was. They couldn't offer me more support but they at least explained things in a kinder way, took me seriously, and made sure I had support at home. The psychologist (?) also gave me information about classes I could join, mental health organisations etc. They also told me to see my GP about my meds.


Apparently, if the GP wasn't comfortable changing my medication, they could refer me directly to a psychiatrist! So other than that, I was to keep myself safe and distracted, with help of parents, friends, my cat, and crisis team until I have my Trauma Focused CBT. I eventually got home (after a trip to the chip shop, I was starving!) and was absolutely exhausted. It was about 10pm (I had first got to A&E just before 4pm). After food, I took a Diazepam then slept.


So since then I've been feeling like hurting myself but I don't think I'll do it, so I feel safer. I've seen the GP again and he's changed my Sertraline to Citalopram, and added a week's worth of Diazepam. He also got me to book an appointment for 2 weeks time, so he can monitor my moods, side effects etc


I feel like, even though I couldn't get more practical support from CMHT etc, at least I can refer for Trauma Focused CBT, I have a sort of diagnosis of PTSD, my meds have been reviewed, and my GP is monitoring me. So it's turned out ok, and I'm hoping I will improve. I will refer myself for Trauma Focused CBT next week, as it will be about 10 weeks before the sessions start. In the meantime, I have to be more open and honest with my loved ones, and let them look after me and keep me safe. The other day feels like a blur, a really bad dream even. I guess I'm still recovering but at least I'm in a better place now.