Monday, 22 July 2013

The Second Step

As you well know, I've recently begun opening up about my own mental health. I couldn't deny it anymore. I know all this has been triggered by my fibromyalgia getting worse and being chronically ill for so long. It has had an impact on every single part of my life. I've lost friends because of it, had to give up working, given up cheerleading during uni, can't continue my uni studies yet and socialising is very very rare. Everything I enjoy has become so difficult to keep a hold of. How could it not affect me emotionally/mentally? I hesitate to make plans with friends because I never know when I'm going to have a really ill day. I hate letting people down last minute. 

Anyway, the fact is, I can't ignore the mental and emotional symptoms. They are affecting me just as much as the physical symptoms, so need to be addressed sooner rather than later. 

So, I went to my GP (see my previous post for more info). It took every bit of courage I had left. I call this blog "The Second Step" because the first step, to addressing my mental health, was to approach my GP.

I was given a card with contact details for a self referral counselling service called "Healthy Minds". The card is called the "Ticket to: RECOVERY". Very positive hehe. Well I've had this card for at least a week now I think? Probably longer. What you're supposed to do is ring the number on the card and they assess your needs. Talking about my feelings face to face with my doctor (who I see fairly regularly) was difficult enough, but talking on the phone (which I hate doing anyway, get incredibly anxious) opening up to a complete stranger would be ten times worse. 

I finally rang the number today. I've not long been off the phone actually. It's just, I woke up feeling so down, so hopeless, completely rock bottom. I felt that if I didn't ring the number to access some help, I would completely break down and do something stupid. I've sure thought about it enough. 

I wrote down some notes in no order at all. This was to help prompt me. Then I rang the number. I was shaking and close to tears at this point. Had no idea what to expect. The first person to answer was like a general receptionist I think. She told me the phonecall would take about 10 mins and was I happy to continue? Then she took my contact details, address etc and put me through to a woman who was to book an appointment for me. I had my calendar ready. The appointment booking woman asked me a few equality questions (ethnicity, religion, sexuality, disability level). I took the opportunity to mention the fibromyalgia. She asked for my home number as well. The brain fog decided to surface then (thanks fibro!) so it took me a minute to remember it! She was very patient though and took my details no problem. 

She then told me that what would happen next was that I would have a phone triage appointment booked for me. It would take 30 minutes. So we booked it for 11.30am on 31st July (the day after my atos appointment, so I'm going to need it!*) 

So once that was sorted, that was pretty much it for the phonecall. I thought I'd have to talk about all my feelings over the phone right there and then, but no! That was it! I suppose it would help keep the phonebill down too. I rang on my mobile (the landline volume is ridiculously low and my hearing's not so good).

I thought I would write a blog post about this Healthy Minds service for anyone who has been referred to it and isn't sure what to expect :) I will write about the next step at the end of this month. I want this blog to describe my journey through mental illness as well as my mystery physical illness (well, it's still not 100% diagnosed).

Thanks for reading :)

*Ah yes. I don't think I mentioned the Atos appointment! Well they cancelled on me a while ago, re-booked for this month and, when I turned up for the assessment (in good time too!), I found out they'd cancelled that one too! Only they hadn't bothered telling me beforehand. The receptionist gave me a very halfhearted "sorry" and told me I'd get a letter for my rescheduled appointment. That cancellation/rescheduling letter came the day after my assessment. Very organised...

So yes, I experienced a massive flare up of my symptoms that day. I was bedbound for most of the day; not able to do much more than type quick messages back to friends and sleep. I think I've recovered (ish) from that now. Still in pain, still exhausted, still confused/forgetful, still feeling very very down and anxious, but able to get out of bed. 

Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive of me. It means so much, I owe you everything.

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