Answering a question

I asked on Facebook and Twitter if anyone had any questions because I had received a lot of amazing feedback and people contacting me away from the blog and here is the first questions I will answer.

Again I will stress these are my opinions, it is important to know there are properly trained people out there that would probably disagree with me.

“do you ever crave a beer and how did you stop?”

There is a very short answer to this question….. Yes and I don’t know…… but if you have been reading my blog you will know by now I never use 5 words if I can use a couple of hundred!!!

Yes I crave beer, wine, cider and most strongly for some reason Southern Comfort (with a little bit of ice, no mixers that is just madness!!!). I was in a pub yesterday ordering a “cup of tea” walking up to the bar I was looking at the good stuff but I know I can’t go there it would destroy me!! In AA there are phrases like “one day at a time” I think these are a few very important words with alcohol and indeed mental illness. I think other people set goals like I wont drink until the end of the week and then the end of next week and so on and if that works for them that’s great but for me it was one day at a time.

So in short I do crave alcohol, i’m not sure it is a physical crave more a mental crave I want the feeling of being relaxed and if i’m honest the feeling of being completely out of it. There is another saying I took from AA “I have another drink in me but I don’t have another recovery in me”. I could not go through getting off the booze again, it is not easy!!!

On the “how did you stop” part of the question there is a short answer to this as well “The Woodbourne Priory” I am ashamed to say I am not 100% sure of the guy’s name I would accredit most of the praise to, I think it was Chris. There is of course a whole big story prior to me going into the Priory but I will cut it short’ish. I tried Aquarius after it was suggested by a counselor I was seeing at the time (Shaun was the guy that got the ball rolling he is an amazing man who stopped pussyfooting around me and said “until we sort out your alcohol problem we will never sort out your depression”), unfortunately Aquarius didn’t work for me, I will stress however I know lots of people it did work for it is an amazing charity, the reason I think it didn’t work for me was I basically just lied through my alcoholic, selfish, incredibly manipulative teeth. I told them what I thought they wanted to know and then I stopped going, I didn’t want to stop drinking.

I never tried AA because that is for proper alcoholics, you know the guys on the bench begging for money…… What a tool I was to think like that but I am pretty sure I am not the only one thinking like that and if you are reading this with the same thoughts then you are wrong. I have mentioned AA a number of times now but unfortunately I do not got to AA anymore, I wish I did, I often think I may be in a better place if I had carried on with AA but I can’t change that now. I am a very stubborn person and unfortunately although I have taken things from AA I don’t always agree with the things said in AA. It is important at this point that I stress that AA has helped an awful lot of people and I have thought long and hard about saying “I don’t always agree…..” I do not want to say anything that could possibly harm anyone but that is my point when people think of alcoholics they think of AA and this is for a good reason they do an awful lot of good, BUT for me it wasn’t the answer and the reason I decided to say this is that if AA hasn’t or doesn’t work for you then I believe there are other options but you wont know if it is for you until you give it a try and I don’t mean just go once try it again and again and go when you don’t want to go it works for so many people.

I am going to contradict myself now as I said I would on the “About Me” page, I got a lot from AA. Part of the one month in the Priory was two AA meetings a week, there are some fantastic people in AA and being able to spend time with people who had been soba for 10, 20 years is inspirational and makes you realise it is possible. There are also people there that fall off the wagon and with their strength and the people around them they dust themselves off and get back on again, this is very hard to see but also inspirational there is no shame in relapsing you have been drinking for a long time there is no shock that you go back to it. I saw a guy who had been soba about 15 years start drinking again it was horrible to see but he stopped again. There were people that would relapse again and again but they kept going, there was one guy who shared that he thought he needed to relapse to make him understand he couldn’t control the drink. Everyone is different even though the stories they share mirror your life almost exactly they are different and need something different for them to get it.

Without a shadow of a doubt the Priory stopped me and probably saved my life, I was lucky I was in BUPA and got the treatment for an excess of about £250, in fact that was one of the reasons I did go into the clinic, I realised I was lucky and that not everyone had the opportunity to go to such a good clinic and if I didn’t go it would be like I was taking the piss out of those people (sorry I couldn’t think of better words to describe that).film Despicable Me 3

The clinic took me out of “real life” and allowed me to concentrate on the job in hand other people in there had visitors I decided I didn’t want visitors, there were 5 or 6 people in the group I was in we did a lot of group therapy (scary but so beneficial!!!) a lot of that group therapy was based around the 12 Steps. I struggled for a long time with these because I fixated on the word “God”, in the end I just ignored the God word and listened to the rest. The point at which I thought “I’ve got this” was we had to write our “life story” and read it to the group (yup scary!!). The others guys life stories were incredible and upsetting at the same time, it was then my turn so I read it out and got some great feedback “you are so brave” “you have been so honest” etc etc. Then it was Chris’s turn to give me feedback (Chris was the guy in charge who earlier in this post I said I would accredit him with most of the praise) I don’t remember his exact words but they were along the line of “you haven’t been brave, you haven’t been honest, you have let us in a little bit but you have given us what you think we wanted to here”. You may think “harsh” the other guys in the room thought that as well I could see it in their faces, but he was spot on. I had used my alcoholic manipulation skills and manipulated most of the room, fortunately apart from Chris. We had words about this but he was right and in challenging me he had made me see I wasn’t putting in the effort I should I was still lying to myself and everyone else. So rightly or wrongly I decided I would never be able to do everything they wanted from me so I had to find the tools I could use. I have heard it said “think of AA as a tool box and use the tools that are right for you” so my main tool is Step 1 – 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Out of the 5 or 6 that were in my group I think I am the only one who never drank again, I could be wrong. I am pretty sure that the people in the group, the counselors and the people I met through AA thought I would not make it and lets be honest I still might not make it. People say “you are not an alcoholic anymore if you haven’t had a drink for over 10 years” I don’t agree with that I am still an alcoholic and will be until the day I die, I am just a soba alcoholic.

You can give up, even if you don’t want to. You may not want to but you know you have to, I still miss booze but I no longer have that option I look at it in this way “I abused alcohol so much I no longer have the right to enjoy it”. Again this might be right it might be wrong but it’s my sobriety and I don’t care if the experts agree with me or not. Reading through what I have just written I am thinking what a load of bollox so many contradictions but again I don’t care contradictions happen in life all the time especially in my mixed up brain, because I think one thing one day doesn’t mean I have to agree with that the next day. I disagree with myself all the time.

Keep smiling 🙂

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You need therapy the queue is 2 months

I’m not sure this is a good idea but then I have a life degree in doing the wrong thing!

Firstly let me stress that all the people within the NHS system that I have spoken to or seen face to face are amazing, the NHS Mental Health system doesn’t just let us (the ill) down it lets their staff down also.

Of course there is more to this story prior to August but I think that is a good place to start.

In August I was in a meeting with a counselor and she took a phone call it was my GP advising he thought I should be referred to a psychiatrist, she agreed and I was referred. I received my first letter from the “Early Access Service” dated 23rd August advising I would be seeing a Doctor on the 29th October. I then received another letter dated 4th September advising my appointment had been brought forward to the 27th September to see a different Doctor, I thought great they must of realised a 2 month wait was ridiculous. Then I received another letter dated 18th September advising my appointment had changed again to the 1st October, I thought oh well it’s still better than the original date so ok. What I didn’t notice until just before the 1st October the letter no longer advised I was seeing a Doctor I was now seeing a Mental Health Clinician.

At the end of the 2 hour assessment the Mental Health Clinician advised he would refer me to see a psychiatrist a medic and some therapy possibly CBT this decision is exactly what my counselor and GP had decided in August! I have no issue with the guy who was now making this decision he was like all the other people I have met in the system very professional and very caring. I will add at this point that the first counselor I saw back in June was also a Mental Health Clinician so it had taken 4 or 5 months to come to a conclusion we all knew back in June.

The day after my appointment on the 1st October I saw my counselor she advised the point of the referral was to see a psychiatrist and a medic she seemed very surprised I had been seen by a mental health clinician. Diplomatically she said It may of been they were trying to get through the back log they had so rather than me seeing a psychiatrist and medic I saw a mental health clinician in the meantime. My belief was this was just a case of being taken off one list and put on to another.

My counselor advised she would contact the hospital and see what was going on. She contacted me the next day and advised I would be receiving a letter saying I was to see a psychiatrist in November and I would also be hearing from elsewhere about therapy, possibly CBT. I was now on my way to being in Secondary care rather than Primary care. Having not received a letter on the 15th October I sent a text to my counselor (who I was no longer seeing because I had now been passed onto secondary care. There appears to be a No Mans Land between primary and secondary care which isn’t helpful) she called me back later that day to advise my appointment would be the 27th November and a letter was sitting on someones desk, they hadn’t had chance to post it out but it would be sent today. My counselor was brilliant, like everyone else I have met and spoken to.

Also on the 15th October I went back to see my GP, he extended my doctors note for another month and increased my medication from 100 to 150mg’s, he spoke about doing this a couple of weeks before, but didn’t want to do it then as I was soon to see the psychiatrist at the end of September and they would make a judgement on my medication at that point (lol).

Just as an aside because my GP had increased the dosage I had to spend another £7.85 for the extra 50mg, having spent £7.85 at the weekend for the 100mg. £15.70 is not a huge amount of money but it equates to 4.3% on that months SSP income of £364.00.

During my appointment with my GP on the 15th October I told him that on Sunday the 13th October I have made the decision to kill myself, I had been having a lie down because the buzzing in my head was driving me mad. I got out of bed and got dressed to go out and throw myself off a car park. This is not a nice subject but it is a fact I have suicidal thoughts all the time but they are just thoughts, this time it was different I had specifically gone out to get it done, but first I had to go and say goodbye to my cats. Spending a little time with the cats calmed me down. I know suicide is not the answer “it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” and I am pretty sure I wouldn’t actually be able to do it but at that point when I left to see the cats it was a horrible scary real plan.

On the 18th October I received a phone call from a local mental health centre, they had received a fax from my GP advising he was concerned about me, again good people within the system doing good things, we spoke for about 40 minutes and during this time I was given a “crisis” number to call. The only time I had used a “crisis” number before unfortunately I called it during the day and it only operates after 5pm so my mistake. I was given another number to call so called it but I couldn’t speak to anyone there because I wasn’t known to them, they gave me another number, I called this number to be entirely honest I cant remember what happened with this number but it was either voice mail, engaged or unanswered, not very helpful!! But this time I had been given a number to call at any time by a very helpful very caring person so I felt good about this number.

On the 25th October I was in a state, feeling really unwell and desperate so I called the number I had been given. I got an automated message advising “the mailbox is full and you cannot leave a message” I don’t think there is a person out there that will think this is acceptable?

On the 21st October I had made a complaint to the Early Access Service Team, in fairness to them they initially responded very promptly, I was advised that someone would call me to discuss the situation. I declined this call and pointed out I wasn’t well enough to receive a call and felt that they knew this and that’s why they wanted to call me because they would be able to walk all over me (probably unfair to think this but that is what my thoughts were at the time). They responded by advising they understood and would write to me. I received their letter on the 11th November, the letter was dated 24th October and the envelope (which I have kept) is date marked 8th November, it would appear it took 2 weeks to post the letter to me!! There is another little story here that I will skip for now, I have written another complaint email and have been advised it is being processed as a “formal complaint”.

Unfortunately this “formal complaint” doesn’t end there, sorry!!

On the 28th October I received a letter from Therapeutic Recovery Services advising me to call them to arrange an assessment for possible further interventions. I called the number on the letter on Tuesday the 29th October, you can only call them Tuesday to Thursday between 8:30am and 12 noon and the letter advises to speak to a specific person. The phone was answered and I asked for the specific person and was advised “I don’t think “name” works here with us”. I couldn’t handle that, a well person would of been able to challenge that response by explaining the letter they had in their hand but at that point I couldn’t. I tried the number another seven times over the next 2 days and it was always engaged. I had now missed that weeks window to call.

On the 5th November I called the number again and asked for the specific person the answer I got was “”name” doesn’t work here”. This time I had more about me, anger, and explained the letter I had. I was advised the specific person worked elsewhere and was given the correct phone number. So I called the new number I now had, there are details in this phone call that for now I don’t want to include, but the basic details being the letter had been sent out by someone else on the wrong letter heading with the wrong number on. Yes, a very basic mistake that anyone could make but on top of everything else not very helpful and indeed a hindrance to my mental health. The outcome of this phone call was I now had an appointment for an assessment on the 11th November. The person I did speak with, eventually, was fantastic very helpful and I received the letter the next day.

11th November I went to my assessment, the lady I saw was brilliant. These people are very good at what they do she managed to get me to talk about things I hadn’t talked about before and realise things I hadn’t thought of before and this is within an hours assessment. Another fantastic professional within a pathetic, not fit for purpose system. We discussed various therapy options and at the end of the assessment she advised she would write to me and recommend I had a certain type of therapy which I was happy about. I then asked “what is the waiting list time” and was told it would probably start in January……. hence the title of this post “You need therapy the queue is 2 months”.

I have complained again, I don’t like complaining and it probably sounds pathetic but it is very difficult to write complaints and make phone calls when not well. i started this post at about 10:30 this morning and it is now 15:36. I don’t want to jump any queues, in fact my Dad has offered to pay for a private psychiatrist appointment, but I believe I have to see this through. This may be me being delusional but I want to do all I can to ensure other people receive better treatment in the future.

The government want people off benefits and in work, I have a job but I am signed off and my SSP runs out at the end of this year at which point I will have to claim for ESA. I don’t want to be on benefits but another one of the governments “systems” is ensuring I will be on benefits for a while.

Thank you for sticking with this post, i’m sorry it goes on and on but I will end it with a simple question…….

Is the above acceptable?

Keep smiling 🙂

 

“I feel stupid tho :(“

Someone dropped me a message on Facebook the other day and we they spoke about the fact that they had been feeling really down and were going to see the doctor. I said they should be completely honest with their doctor about how they feel and don’t hold anything back, there response was: –

I feel stupid tho 🙁

I think this is an important point, depression / mental illness is stupid, it makes no sense to me. With a physical illness I guess you can feel the pain or see something wrong with mental illness, in theory, you cant. I say in theory because I think people with mental illness can sometimes see it in others. I was watching #bedlam last week and there was a guy on there who was being allowed to leave the triage unit to go home, I tweeted: –

I think you could see it in Dominic’s eyes he wasn’t right to be discharged #bedlam

He was back in very quickly and when later discharged again attempted suicide.

Anyway that’s not the point of this post, “I feel stupid tho :(” is. It is very difficult to explain what you feel and what you think when you are depressed, you hear yourself saying the words and think “what the hell am I on about??”.

Sometimes I agree with myself and sometimes I don’t, sometimes I think I am unwell other times I wonder am I just lazy and thick, sometimes I wish I was dead sometimes I think I have something to live for, sometimes I want to go out and do stuff but when I am out I feel everyone is looking at me thinking “look at that nutter”, sometimes I talk to random people in the street,  I did this today in a car park I was wearing sunglasses and sporting a ridiculous “chopper” style mustache, i’m pretty sure they thought I was a nutter!, sometimes I despair at people saying “snap out of it” sometimes I say this to myself along with “pull yourself together” but as hard as I try I can’t, sometimes I think I hear voices sometimes I know it’s just my thoughts, sometimes I think people hate me sometimes I think people love me, sometimes I can concentrate sometimes I can’t, sometimes I feel normal sometimes I don’t, sometimes I think lets kick off and get arrested fortunately I realise that isn’t a good idea!, sometimes I think i’m going to London to chain myself to Downing Street gates again fortunately I realise at this point I am a nutter, and so on……..

In October the New Scientist magazine had on it’s front page “The more we probe the brain, the less we understand it”, I read a book called “Depressive Illness The Curse of the Strong by Dr Tim Cantopher” he wrote something along the lines of “we don’t understand it anywhere as near as much as we should, in fact the more we learn the more we realise we don’t know”. I think these two separate sentences are very interesting, but then i’m mad so who cares what I think.

I understand why people with mental illness have been labelled mad, I don’t mind the word mad it is very descriptive, sometimes the only way I can describe what is going on in my head is “it feels like i’m going mad”. People who haven’t experienced depression don’t understand it they think it’s mad, made up, in our minds, they are not alone. I was diagnosed with depression over 20 years ago, I have experienced it and I still think it’s mad, I don’t understand it sometimes it makes me cry sometimes it makes me laugh sometimes I think i’m bonkers sometimes I think i’m chosen sometimes I think i’m ill and sometimes i just cant think at all.

I am talking about it all but still “I feel stupid tho :(“.

We have to do away with the #stigma about mental illness, chances are you will feel stupid talking about your feelings and whats going on in your head and body but you wont be alone, I talk about “the buzzing in my head” and the other day I got a message saying someone else has used this exact phrase. The more we talk the more we can fight together rather than suffering alone.

Keep Smiling 🙂