Thoughts on the recent Mental Health reforms

There has been a lot of talk over the past few days over Theresa May’s speech about Mental Health reforms where she pledged about new initiatives to help those with mental health problems.

Having a look through her speech it seems like most of her initiatives seem to focus on younger people, once again leaving those over the age of twenty odd left to fend for themselves with services that have been slashed over and over again thanks to budget cuts by the Tory government. Theresa May also promised to take action to tackle the ‘stigma’ around mental health, I’m sorry? Stigma? I’ll rather take the funding.

Any hows

There are positives from her speech however. She pledged new support in schools such as Mental Health First Aid Training and closer links with schools and CAMHS. I do welcome these seeing that according to studies half of mental health problems start by the age of 14 and 75% by 18. She also said that by 2021, no child will be sent away from their local area to receive treatment for mental health issues. This will be an interesting one to watch seeing that it’s quite common knowledge that children being admitted to hospital can sometimes be sent up to 300 miles away from their home. Again what funding is in place to make this happen? The £220 million promised by David Cameron still hasn’t filtered down to  front line services as many services are using it to fund other services.

How ever research conducted by the Education Policy Institute Independent Commission on Children and Young People’s Mental Health in November found that a quarter of young people seeking mental health care are turned away by specialist services because of a lack of resources and that waiting times for treatment in many areas are also incredibly long. Which again is a funding issue.

Also in the speech, Therese May announced that just an extra £15m is to be pledged for creating more places of safety. This works out to be about £23,000 per parliamentary constituency. Which in the scheme of things isn’t a lot at all.

She also talked about Digitally assisted therapy. So treatment provided over the internet such as Scotland’s ‘Mind the Blues’ in what seems like an attempt to make overstretched services go even further. Maybe Therese May would like to introduce my Crisis Team Chat Bot?


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Seeing that it’s Time to Talk day, I decided to take part in the #Take5ToBlog. It’s where there’s 5 questions from your name, your illness to your hopes for the future.

I found this though a Facebook post and also a email I was sent and I just had to take part so I could do my part to raise awareness of mental health and the issues around it.

Now I’m fairly open about my mental health (as you would see from my twitter and also this blog) but this is slightly different.

So here’s my #Take5ToBlog

My name is: Fox (like I’ll give my real name on here) and I have experienced a variety of mental health problems to name a few: Bipolar, anorexia, anxiety, OCD and also PTSD.

My mental illnesses have affected every part of my life: being awake, sleeping, work ect. The crushing lows and highs of bipolar have impacted so much of my life from self care, friends, personal relationships and also work. Anorexia also affects every waking moment, living with the fear of food and the fear of gaining weight, having a voice where it makes you believe that you are fat, the guilt after eating something, the impulse to exercise all the time to lose weight. The anxiety is another one; the fear of being in a crowded place, speaking to people who I don’t know or being in a different place, this affects me to the point where I’ll have panic attacks, bolt away or worse case… I just shut down.

My greatest source of support has come from my closest friends who have been so understanding over the years and stuck by me even when I’ve been at my lowest and was sectioned. Also my girlfriend has been fantastic at supporting me, understanding how I may act or react to something and being very resuring when something happens.

My hope for the future is two things. The first one is to get back to the point where I was a few years ago where I was stable and not in the depths of my eating disorder. The 2nd is that mental health can be discussed openly and not hidden away as a shameful seciart.

I’m taking 5 on time to talk day because it’s important to talk about mental health and to raise awareness of the issues surrounding it.

Now I’ve done mine, are you going to do yours? Or take 5 minutes to talk to someone? It can be just a simple hello and how are you doing.

Some conversations are scary. Some aren’t. Don’t be afraid to talk about mental health

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15 steps to losing friends during a episode

While sat with family on boxing day, myself and a family friend (who is also bipolar) decided that we’ll make a list of steps of how to lose friends… Okey it’s not the best thing to do but we’ve all been there doing episodes where we are outgoing, confident and get on with people (or maybe not if irritatablety plays it’s part) or when being depressed, pushing people away, shutting down ect.

So here’s our easy 15 step guide to making and losing friends.

Step 1: Be in a manic state (treat everybody as your best friend, being confident and just be awesome)

Step 2: Go outside to interact with people in different places, pubs and night clubs are the best for this as you can dance away with that engery you now have.

Step 3: Meet new friends who now want to be your friend because they love your energy, confidence and your habit to spend out on all those things you know you just need and think you are awesome because of this.

Step 4: Agree to ‘hey, we should totally meet up some time!!!’

Step 5: Get Facebook/number/address of new friend.

Step 6: Now that you are out of the social context, fall into a depressive episode.

Step 7: From now on, whenever your new friend tries to contact you, don’t bother to answer, since you feel so miserable that writing a text seems impossible and assuming that everybody secretly hates you.

Step 8: Feel bad because your new friend takes it personally and wonder what’s wrong with you.

Step 9: Don’t explain to them your condition because you don’t know them that well and it would awkward as they wouldn’t understand or just think you are crazy.

Step 10: Avoid them every time you see them because you feel too bad to know that you hurt them.

Step 11: Lose this friend.

Step 12: Isolate yourself.

Step 13: Lose all of your friends.

Step 14: Count the cost of this and the cost of past episodes.

Step 15: And repeat

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Ten things not to say to someone with a eating disorder

I could write a long list of all the things you shouldn’t say to someone who suffers from a eating disorder so instead I’m just going to write down the top ones that people have said to me and seem to be a common thing people say to people who have eating disorders.

“You don’t look so bad to me”

“You look so healthy”

“Do you binge?”

“How much do you weigh?”

“What’s your BMI?, mines *insert number here*!”

“How much did you weigh at your lowest?”

“Are you going to eat all of that?”

“You could do with some fat on you”

“I wish I could be anorexic, I could do with loosing some weight!”

And the one I hate so much and has been said to me by so many people (friends, family and even health care professionals)…

“Why don’t you just eat something?!”

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Remind yourself

This is a letter to remind yourself that you are beautiful. Yes it may be true that you struggle with that voice in your head telling you that your not or that your a failure or many other negative things but however remember that voice is not your true voice. You are the voice of confidence, perseverance, determination and of course strength.

Please promise yourself what ever you do, you won’t give up this fight, you never know what’s around that corner.

Promise that you will do everything in your power to fight the good fight.

Why you may ask?

Because you deserve to be happy, healthy and mainly you deserve to be the best person you can be to yourself. You don’t have to prove anything to others.

Yes, your struggles are real and yes there will be more struggles to come but remember that these things will pass.

Remember that all those negative feelings that pierce the very fibers of your body and thoughts and make you want to go back to how you were and want to let that voice win will pass as well.

These feelings and thoughts are temporary, they come and go like the tide of the ocean. You just have to stand there and watch them pass but not let them sweep you away into that darkness again.

Remember that you really want the very best and also recovery for yourself and promise yourself that you won’t stop until you get this. It will be hard, it will be a uphill battle, it will take time and there will be times where you want to give up but it will be worth it in the end.

You are human, you are as complex as the universe itself and remember that you are even more beautiful than the stars in the sky.

You are unique. Don’t give this up.

Promise yourself that you will remember this everyday.

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Past few months with the Local mental health services and the fallout

I am surviving,
And that is,
About all there,
Is to it

Over the last two months, I’ve been in and out and passed around from the local mental services, from the local primary care team to the intensive team (crisis team) back again to the primary care team, to the GP, back again to the intensive team and then a brief stay in hospital thanks to a intervention by my eating disorder team.

My local intensive team are quite bad and are well known for it, while under their care, I was accused of lieing, self Dx’ing myself (I was told by one of their doctors that I wasn’t Bipolar but instead Borderline or I could just have recurring depression which lead to a argument and me slamming the door and walking out), being a attention seeker and making things sound worse than they were, along with being told to eat something all the time although the meds I was given killed of my appetite.

Thankfully I got a second opinion from one of the different doctors who agreed that my bipolar Dx shod stay the same but with BPD added in as well (co-mobid).

After a few weeks of support from them and daily visits I was discharged back to my GP and to the care of my eating disorder team. I was quite thankful for this because of the above but after a couple of weeks I started to rapid cycle; I felt high, confident, more energy, on top of the world, not needing sleep and excitable but that was short lived, I would come crashing down, not being able to move, crying, self care at its worst along with other things. So the cycle continued, a family member figured it was my antidepressants that might be causing it like they have done in the past, so I stopped taking them.

This was horrible; I stopped eating, struggled with the simplest of tasks and I started to dissociatate more to the point where it was impacting everything I did. This lead to my eating disorder team during a supported lunch to phone the Intensive team to see about getting me admitted which happened after waiting for 6 hours for a bed. I was kept in for a few days till I discharged myself because I felt it wasn’t helping and was to restrictive.

Back at home this week I’ve started to think more and more about how I’ve been treated by the intensive team and the primary care, they should of seen what was happening, acted on what I was saying (I had some insight) and after my section 136, offered the right level of support and not what they done above. The past couple of days I’ve been exhausted, stressed to the point where I’m getting ill by it all, crying about it, shutting down as a way of coping and over thinking it all, could I have changed things? No I couldn’t, but now what’s happened has distoryed my trust in the services to the point where I don’t want to engage with them again (well apart from my ED team). This fallout will continue for a while till I can learn to cope with it and recover.

They sent a survey to me and my family about the care I received, let’s just say it was very very low and I wrote a letter on the back that I hope they read (Dear Crisis Team)

Till then I am just surviving and that is about all there, is to it.

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Dear Crisis Team

         Crisis Team

As a user I don’t ask for much when phoning, just some body to answer and not a answer phone message, a listening voice, someone who could give some helpful advice and some support (maybe a face to face meeting) and insight into why I’m calling.

Some things I don’t ask for when I’m calling; someone who paterties me, tells me to make a cup of tea or have a bath or maybe to have a walk (esp at night and being vunenble). I can accept that these can be a good distraction and work for some peoole but have also you thought that I may of tried these and that’s why I’m calling?

I could also be calling because I’m suicidal, listen, help, don’t pass me off and don’t threaten me with the police (unless I’m really in danger to myself I.e on top of a car park)…

I don’t ask for much just that all I ask for is to be treated as person as a human being who just happens to be having a bad time.

Would you tell your best friend, your brother or your sister in crisis to make a cup of tea? Have a bath? Go for a walk?

So crisis team, that’s all I ask for, its not much is it?

A service user

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While browsing twitter this hashtag cought my eye and I quickly joined in to share my experiences with the local crisis team. My local trust hasn’t got the best history (has been under investigation a few times), I had so much to say and quite a few people replied to them saying they were quite shocked by them.

A few of my examples included:

‘Have you got a boyfriend who could look after you? No, I’m a lesbian ‘Oh could that be making you depressed? #crisisteamfail

‘Have you tried going for a walk at all?’ Me: it’s 11pm, dark, rainy and I’m a lone female of course I haven’t tried that #crisisteamfail

‘If you were really sucidal you wouldn’t be calling us, would you?  #crisisteamfail

Scared of being alone with men, asked for females to visit, promised yes… Team sent a pair of men, promptly freak out #crisisteamfail

You can search for this on twitter and see everyone’s tweets on it and people seem to be saying the same thing, they’re not being listened to by the teams or advice being given feels to be useless. It shows that there should be change in the services. Hopefully trusts take note and involve service users more on what they’re needs are and also what works for them when in crisis.

There was also a #crisisteamwishlist where people were talking about how they wish to be treated or services offered, most common theme was to be listened to.

Let’s remember there are some great workers out there, who do help, do treat you as a person and not as a case, do listen and at times do go out of their way.

This is badly writton, and when I have more time I will add to it.

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