This Week in Mentalists – English Monsoon Edition

I hope you’re all enjoying the glorious summer sunshine. *squelch*splash*brrr*sniffle*

This week’s TWIM comes with triggers for suicide and abuse.

Mental Health Cop describes an anecdote involving a very challenging and dangerous individual

The story had a frustrating end for the police officers however.  Although occasionally the man was sectioned under s2, he was often released within a few days or a week.  Acute anti-social personality disorder.  So he has got a mental disorder?  He has a mental disorder he’s engaging in severely destructive behaviours, occasionally involving risk to other people and sometimes involving him using weapons to hurt himself?  So why can’t he be kept in hospital and treated?!!  Especially – why can’t he be kept in hospital for treatment when there is now a litany of evidence that if not detained, he will continue to engage in further behaviour that bring him back to police attention in sub-criminal, barely criminal or obviously criminal circumstances?

As I got interested in this area, I kept hearing people talking about ‘the medical model’ of mental illness.  I also kept hearing people talk about the psychological model and the psycho-social model of mental illness.  I’ll be frank: this confused the life out of me.  Illness is illness isn’t it? … and that means doctors and nurses, right?!

Well – it turns out that it’s not.

There then follows a helpful summary of the medical, psychological and sociological models of mental illness, for those who are interested in these issues.

Obsessively Compulsively Yours discusses the mental health benefits of arts and crafts.

Now let’s get one thing straight – I don’t have an artistic bone in my body. Seriously. My art teacher once asked me very kindly not to take Art the next year. So when my mum suggested that I took up embroidery, I wasn’t initially convinced.

Within weeks I was hooked. I was pretty prolific – cross-stitching anything within arms’ reach and stitching things that, on reflection, didn’t really need to be stitched.

I haven’t stopped since but I’ve branched out a bit into card-making, cushions and even drawing a bit (think childish cartoons and stickmen – I’m no Monet).

Crafting does help my mental health – I can switch off the incessant chatter in my head and focus totally on the task in hand. And creating something does bring a special shiver of pleasure.

This Compassionate Life has recently completed a course in mindfulness-based therapy.

Now that it’s over it’s time for me to reflect on what comes next. I’m in the process of being discharged from services altogether due to the combination of staff cuts and frankly having run out of anything else to try in the CMHT, so I’m now facing a future with no support from the NHS whatsoever (not even GP support as I decided not to take up the psychiatrist’s offer of medication after all.) Thankfully, I think I’m stable enough to be able to cope with that, which hasn’t always been the case.

Two years ago, I was a complete mess- horrifically depressed, terrified and suicidal, riding the never-ending rollercoaster of wild mood swings and implusive behaviour. It was hell. But at the same time, I discovered mindfulness and then Buddhism, the teachings of which just clicked. Finally, it all made sense- this wasn’t my fault. Suffering was everywhere; I was an extreme case, mind, but in the end not so different from ‘normal’ folk. As I read more widely I discovered that the strict medical model of mental illness which I had always thought was the gospel truth absolutely wasn’t, and that there was another way of looking at my mental health problems. This new evolving worldview was a revelation- it felt like freedom. It changed my life.

So two years later, facing the same chance to chart my own course in dealing with mental health difficulties that I had when I initially started treatment, I am coming at it from an entirely different perspective. The NHS mental health service was valuable in times of suicidal crisis, but is glaringly unsuitable for long-term support of people like me. The medical model which it is based on ignores our needs almost entirely. I am glad to leave it behind.

Chaos and Control ponders her identity

My twitter profile now reads: “In recovery from C-PTSD. Blogger. Knitter. ISTP. Bemused. Triathlete in training. Christian. Part time MSc student. Full time awesome. Always inappropriate.”

Will I always be in recovery? I don’t know. When Dr Partridge and I first started working together, apparently she told me that the treatment I would be receiving for my illness (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) would be experimental. That is, there was no wholly evidence based treatment for C-PTSD in the literature. We were about half way through therapy when Dr P reiterated that my treatment was experimental. The first time she had told me, I hadn’t heard. Or I wasn’t listening. Or maybe I didn’t listen because I couldn’t hear. I don’t know. Either way, it felt like someone had pulled the rug out from under me. Was our time together futile? Would I ever get better? We persisted.

While I can’t change my past, I think my team (Dr Partridge, Social Worker/George, Dr Shrinky etc) and I have done the best job they know how to do. My hope is that with each day that passes, the memories shall become more distant. I am not just talking about the traumatic memories. I am talking about the more recent memories. The admissions, crisis team visits, trips to Dr GeePee. Y’know, the way of life that comes with a chronic health condition. Multiple medical appointments throughout the week being the norm, for example.

Vwoop Vwoop gives an interesting perspective on pregnancy when you have Dissociative Identity Disorder/Multiple Personality Disorder.

For a great many reasons, we have not spoken at length about the fact that our system will have its first inborn child in the Autumn. The term “inborn” is one to clarify that the pregnancy and birth will be taking place within the inner landscape and not within the physical body we share. Though this concept may strike singletons as unusual and mind-boggling, it is not an uncommon occurrence in multiple systems (obviously each system is unique, and this experience is not standard either).

This situation is rife with emotion for us all, but especially for the parents. It is a delicate matter and one that we have been very anxious to discuss here but we have avoided it because of the uniquely personal nature of the subject. The parents do not wish to divulge their relationship information on the internet in the belief that some things are meant to be kept private, yet they are also in need of guidance as no one in our system has had a child before.

So I Am Crazy is nervous about follow-up from mental health services after a suicide attempt.

Got a letter in the post today asking me to make a follow-up appointment with the doctor/nurse at my surgery. It doesn’t specify why but I’m assuming it’s cause of that.  I suppose I should feel glad they got in touch eventually.  Instead it just seems to have made me more angry.  I don’t know if it’s fair to be feeling this angry at the doctors, it’s not their fault I’m ill, it’s not their fault I tried to kill myself, and I could have reached out for assistance some time in these past few weeks.  But I feel let down. I feel like I’ve had to do all of this by myself and I’m angry at them for that.  I feel like I’ve desperately needed help and they’re supposed to help me and they haven’t.  There are other reasons I haven’t gotten in touch too.  I don’t know how to explain what happened and where I am and discuss what to do about it in a ten minute appointment, but I’m scared of my doctor not understanding.  It feels like an impossible task so I’m putting it off.  I’m also nervous of making the actual appointment – there’s normally a 3 week wait minimum to see my doctor, to see them more urgently involves ringing every morning to see if there’s been a cancellation, and I can’t do mornings, let alone making a phonecall in the morning.  So I’m just putting off having to deal with the situation.

Escaping Entropy is obtaining housing support.

Today (well, technically yesterday) I had my assessment for floating housing support with a local voluntary sector organisation. It went well! The support worker seemed really understanding, non-judgemental and empathetic (all the good things!). I’ll know on Monday whether she can work with me and then (hopefully) we’ll start to put together a plan for moving out and becoming a more mentally healthy Lady C.

I can’t emphasise enough how much (ex)AwesomeTherapist helped me see there was a way out of this shitty situation, that I have every right to a safe place to live, free from abuse and triggering memories. This time last year I doubt I’d have had the confidence to talk openly about benefits, why I need to move away from home and just how past trauma has affected me and made it so bloody difficult to get away from Bastard and be independent.

The first step will be to apply for the dreaded Employment Support Allowance (ESA). I’m really, really worried I won’t ‘qualify’ because at times I can appear high functioning and am not with a Community Mental Health Team. But I can’t work at the moment, as much as I’d love to. I really need to move out before I can find work. My support worker did say she would come with me to the medical assessment and help me out as much as she can, which made me feel a bit more positive about the whole shitty thing.


For the Wildcard, here’s an amusing sketch from Mitchell and Webb about goodies and baddies.



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About Zarathustra

Trained as a nurse, currently working in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Co-editing the Not So Big Society blog. May possibly be an incorporeal being called Phil Dore. All views expressed are in a personal capacity and not necessarily the views of my employer.

2 Responses to “This Week in Mentalists – English Monsoon Edition”

  1. Oooo, thanks for including me Mr Z :-)

  2. Eek, thank you! I guess some people are actually reading my blog now… that feels weird. Good and a little scary… I’ve been kind of talking to the ether until now :P

    Interesting round-up as always, and I enjoyed the wildcard :) Need to watch more Mitchell and Webb…


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