Tag Archives: stigma

Four letter words – guest post

Hi, this is an extremely powerful guest post, i’m saying nothing else at this point….

Four Letter Words

I have been too ashamed, too anxious to speak out about what I’m about to share, however I shouldn’t be and if this post helps just one person, then it’ll be worth it. This post does come with a trigger warning

Four letter words. How many can you think of? Food. Dark. Joke. Hate. Love. A lot of you will think of simple words with little to no meaning, however for me, one word changed my life. Rape. Let me share some statistics before I share my story.

There’s roughly 11 rapes (adult alone) every hour.
There’s an estimated 60,000 – 95,000 victims every year throughout England and Wales alone.

Black or white, male or female, adult or child, it doesn’t matter, if you’ve had a few drinks or not, if your with your friends or alone, if your covered head to toe or have skin showing, you’re always going to be at risk.

See, rape is a four letter word that’s paired with dark places, strange men and violence. This is so wrong; approximately 90% of victims know their attacker. I knew mine. He was someone I ‘loved’, someone I trusted. He wouldn’t hurt me right? He loved me? Wrong.

I was 14 when I met him, we were fine for the first couple of months, then it were almost as if someone had flicked a switch in his head, he became manipulative and controlling. I was sexually and mentally abused. Guilt trips, shouting, threats, it just didn’t stop. Friends and family, they could see what he was doing but I refused to believe. Self-harm, alcohol and starvation became a coping mechanism. February came, the first time he raped me. I remember it so clearly. His breathe on my face, his hands tight around my wrists, pinned to the bed. Screaming ‘no’, ‘I’m not ready’, trying to fight back just wasn’t enough and that was that. I prayed it was just a blip and that it wouldn’t happen again. Maybe I’d done something wrong to deserve it? No, no one ever deserves to go through such pain. Somehow it happened every week for months, it’s like he had it all planned out. I wasn’t strong enough to carry on. I had a knife to my chest, miscarried at 15, attempted suicide.

‘Why didn’t you fight back?’ People don’t understand that it’s a fight or flight reaction and most people freeze. Your body, your mind, even time, it stops. You’re silently screaming for help praying someone comes and frees you, there’s nothing you can do but wait.

Such trauma changes you, everything you saw the world to be before, everything you saw yourself to be before. It’s no longer the same. Being alone with or in contact with a man leaves you in a state. Constantly on edge, questioning everything, tormented with flashbacks, you can’t make it stop its happening again, there’s no escape.

But there is, with time and strength you will find yourself in the light that you never thought you’d find at the end of that god damn tunnel. This was not my fault; no matter how many times my head convinces me it was. I did not deserve what happened; I did not ask for it, I did nothing to provoke it.

I want you to know, if you’ve been through such an experience, or find yourself in this position; it is not your fault! Surround yourself with people that love you, people who care and understand. With the correct support and love, the flashbacks are easier to handle, the nightmares lesson. You are brave, you deserve better. Don’t give up hope, don’t give up faith. “Every seven years every cell in your body regenerates, that means in seven years time you will have a body that your attacker never touched”. Hold onto that. It can be a great comfort.

I am a rape survivor, now 18 and still on the long winding road to recovery battling many mental illnesses, I’m not there yet, but I will get there. Say that over and over in your head and soon you will start to believe it.

Hi, exbooozehound again, a VERY courageous young lady who I am VERY proud to know, so powerful, so important that we get this shared and read as many people as possible, please comment if you can and share, share, share if you can.

Here’s a link to my YouTube page

Negative Experiences

Hi, thank you for taking the time to watch the vlog “Them and us doesn’t work” and for taking the time to let me know your negative experiences.

I have built quite a network of people who can actually make changes and decisions and YOUR experiences will make a difference!!!!

Hit the “leave a comment” link (under the page title) You can post anonymously, your email address WILL NOT be shared, you will be asked to solve a little sum to prove you’re not a robot and I will have to accept the post before it’s shared on here.

“Them and us doesn’t work” and will NEVER work!!!!

all of us 2day2gether for a better 2morrow

Please add Country & Borough eg England, Dudley

Positive Experiences

  1. Hi, thank you for taking the time to watch the vlog “Them and us doesn’t work” and for taking the time to let me know your positive experiences.

I have built quite a network of people who can actually make changes and decisions and YOUR experiences will make a difference!!!!

Hit the “Leave a comment” link (under the page title) You can post anonymously, your email address WILL NOT be shared, you will be asked to solve a little sum to prove you’re not a robot and I will have to accept the post before it’s shared on here.

“Them and us doesn’t work” and will NEVER work!!!!

all of us 2day2gether for a better 2morrow

Please add Country & Borough eg England, Dudley

Hiding Away

I had a fairly busy “exboozehound” week last week and like most things in my world this brings contradictions in my noggin, the week was positive cus I was doing positive things and the week was negative cus those positive things are never gunna be good enough, I’m changing nothing and all that changing nothing is making me tired. When I get tired dancing with the demons is more often than not only gunna end with one winner and that’s the demons. So after a busy week comes the weekend that you tell yourself that you need to relax and recharge the batteries, makes sense right?

Not always….

Sometimes “relax and recharge the batteries” is exactly what you plan to do and Monday comes around and you feel refreshed for that rest. Unfortunately sometimes saying to yourself “I’m gunna relax and recharge the batteries” is you lying to yourself. What it really means is “I’m gunna hide away cus I just can’t be arsed with a life that has no joy in it” or “I’m gunna hide away cus isolation is safe”. I’m searching for more words but sometimes there aren’t words to describe it sometimes you just know you haven’t got the fight left, that was how I felt Friday evening and I knew the weekend was gunna be a disaster, it was. I didn’t leave the house Saturday and I only left the house on Sunday to have a McDonald’s. Leaving the house to have a McDonald’s is me forcing myself to go somewhere for a period of time surrounded by other people which is something I use as a sort of coping mechanism. It helped a bit but I felt very uncomfortable, but feeling uncomfortable and doing it anyway I see as a positive.

When I woke up Monday I wasn’t well and just gave into it and went back to bed and stayed there pretty much all day, although this allowed me to step away from the stress and pain of depression and the demons I was very disappointed with myself and if I’m honest I still am disappointed today (Wednesday) but I know I will put this disappointment behind me soon, I have to, I have to accept the last few days in order to move forward.

Tuesday morning was very painful, I originally woke up about 8:30am and knew straight away I was gunna struggle to get up, I had an appointment with my psychologist at 15:00 I started convincing myself I wasn’t gunna be able to handle this so would need to cancel that appointment and then I was thinking about cancelling my dentist appointment for the next day my demons were setting me up to take a huge fall into a place that would be very hard to return from and they were very convincing. Eventually I got up about 11am and spent the next hour pacing backwards and forwards, looking out the window thinking “I can’t go out there”, sitting on the stairs crying, stressing about only having 2 roll ups left and not being able to calm myself down enough to roll anymore, thinking about borrowing a box of my Dads cigarettes even though he had picked me up some rolling tobacco the day before and how pathetic it would make me feel not being able to do a simple task like doing a few roll ups. I knew I’d gotta have a shower if I was gunna go out to my psychologist appointment, worrying that I might fall over in the shower cus then panicking and poor breathing had made me lightheaded. Realising that cus I’d been in bed all day yesterday I hadn’t had anything to eat so I needed to get something to eat before the afternoon appointment. I’ve tried to write down as many of the ridiculous things that were causing me pain to give you an insight into the nonsensical world of my noggin in panic & anxiety mode….

Finally I calmed myself down enough to make another cup of tea and sit down to do some roll ups, sounds pathetic but each roll up was hard work keeping my concentration centred on this simple task, sad but very true. Then my phone rang, it was my Mom and pretty much as soon as I answered it I started crying, a 42 year old man who was now crying down the phone to his Mom. I can’t really remember what we spoke about but I know I said “I don’t want to keep going through this pain, sometimes it just gets too much”. Speaking and crying about it with my Mom really calmed me down and gave me the fight and strength I needed. After the phone call I sat back down and drank my tea whilst rolling a few more roll ups and then had my shower. Once I was dressed and ready I had to go out at that point before I had chance to go backwards again.

By about 13:00 I was in Halesowen tucking into a sandwich while watching the world go by, as talked about in my last post “Demons” I was proud I had done my first “little thing” I was still uncomfortable but I was uncomfortable and doing it anyway. After my sandwich I made my way to Spoons to have a cup of tea and start writing this post. My noggin was still very cloudy so it was hard going to begin with but I wanted to start the post whilst the pain was still raw, I wanted to get across that no matter how bad I was a couple of hours ago I’d managed to move forward quite away in a very short period of time. If I can turn the “little things” into a more liveable less painful day then you can too. I’d started to wish I had made an effort on Monday rather than hiding away but I have to stop thinking about that cus it’s done, it’s gone, it can’t be changed now, it was a day I either chose not to fight or just couldn’t fight I could spend loads of time analysing which it was but it would be a waste of energy, best to concentrate my effort on now than trying to answer a question that probably has no answer.

Sometimes I feel using words like fight & strength seem a bit dramatic and I would imagine those with no understanding of mental illness would mock these words, but how else can you describe it, you do need strength and fight to win against the internal mental and physical battle that mental illness throws at you.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Whatever mental illness throws at you you can find the strength to fight back, maybe not immediately but you will find the strength if you take the time and effort to look for it.

“enjoy the good and ride out the bad”

Keep going 😉

Jon aka exboozehound
@exboozehound
www.exboozehound.co.uk

Oh and don’t forget my Thingymajig (memoir/book)

 

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){
(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)
})(window,document,’script’,’https://www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js’,’ga’);

ga(‘create’, ‘UA-47484364-1’, ‘auto’);
ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);


//

Just My Opinions

This post is a long one!!!! I’m assuming not many people will actually get to the end so I’m gunna start initially with shameless self promotion with a link to my Just Giving Crowd Funding page.

Please help if you can.

A couple of weeks ago I was pointed towards this 82 page report for information of funding figures, I sat down to read it and after about 2 pages I lost the ability to concentrate. So I cheated, in Adobe reader I used the search option and simply searched for “£”.

If you have got an endless amount of patience here’s the link to the report.

It has taken me a couple of weeks to put this post together, it’s unlike any post I’ve done before as it includes statistics and official information. I’ve even tried to use proper language instead of my usual slang and I’ve not sworn once….

I’m guessing those who know me will be able to spot the times when I got bored, frustrated and thought about giving up all together.

The reports words are in black and my words are blue, probably stating the obvious but hey ho….

THE FIVE YEAR FORWARD VIEW FOR MENTAL HEALTH
A report from the independent Mental Health Taskforce to the NHS in England February 2016

FOREWORD
For far too long, people of all ages with mental health problems have been stigmatised and marginalised, all too often experiencing an NHS that treats their minds and bodies separately. Mental health services have been underfunded for decades, and too many people have received no help at all, leading to hundreds of thousands of lives put on hold or ruined, and thousands of tragic and unnecessary deaths.

To read the first sentence makes me angry, how is it possible that this stigma still exists. Like everything in this world we can all speak with good intentions about changing things but the more we talk and talk and talk about changing it nothing actually gets done to change it…. Sorry but this is a ducking disgrace!!!! Having already been made angry by the first sentence we then come to the next bit about underfunding for decades…. No ship Sherlock!!!! How much did this report and investigation cost???? I could not care less if this is down to the conservatives or labour, as it’s been underfunded for decades ALL political parties have let us down. I’m not interested in the stories about the politicians wanting to privatise the NHS to save the government a lot of money, however if it is true that this is what politicians want then they must strap on a pair and tell us the truth. If the problems aren’t fixable in the current state then we have to find another way, not in 2020…. Now!!!! If I’ve heard Cameron and other politicians announce an extra £1 Billion for the NHS I’ve heard it 100 times. But hold on as this report says right from the start that mental health services have been underfunded for decades is the answer to underfund for another 4 years before committing another £1 billion in 2020…. The answer to that by the way is No!!!! When we have headlines like the following on the 16th February on BBC News we haven’t got another 4 years to wait: –

BBC News at One first 2 sentences
“Biggest ever review of NHS Mental Health Services in England has found that MOST patients are being failed”

“Ministers accept there’s a problem & have pledged an extra billion pounds a year on improving psychiatric services”

BBC News at Six first 2 sentences
“The mental health failures in England that have led to thousands of deaths”

“A new report says 3 out of 4 people with mental illness get no help at all, government under pressure to take action”

Anyway from what I can tell this extra £1 billion that is arriving urgently in 2020 (let’s just remind ourselves of one of those headlines, “The mental health failures in England that have led to thousands of deaths”, just about replaces all the cuts from the NHS budget in the last few years.

Besides which £1 billion is a drop in the ocean and fixing mental health services is not all about money, if it was all about money when the NHS and our councils all over the country had more money than sense they would of fixed these things then…. Or would they of just spent year after year wasting money?

But in recent years, the picture has started to change. Public attitudes towards mental health are improving, and there is a growing commitment among communities, workplaces, schools and within government to change the way we think about it. There is now a cross-party, cross-society consensus on what needs to change and a real desire to shift towards prevention and transform NHS care.

Agreed, public attitudes towards mental health have changed, for me this is more important than pledges of money that won’t arrive or if it does arrive is only replacing the money that’s been cut before (for example £600 million cut). Here’s a little problem to consider for the near future…. The NHS mental health budget is stretched to breaking point, lots of people are working hard to break down and get rid of the stigma that surrounds mental illness, if we manage to get rid of all stigma this will allow millions of more people to ask for help and when they do ask for help the help just won’t be there. Back in September 2015 I attended a Dudley CCG forum after the opening presentation I spoke first and said this:-

“Your presentation was Nonsensical – you’ve said one in three GP posts are empty, your budget is a breaking point already so you can’t afford to pay for any new GP’s and then you say you want to reduce people going to Russell’s Hall by sending them to the GP’s that you’ve already said don’t exist cus of lack of money. The second slide which states acute healthcare cost 53% of the £441 million budget sums it all up, because the system that you finance has been broken for so long. You then ask “wear are we” I would suggest wear you are is no where and all the NHS seem to be trying to do is get volunteers to do stuff for free.

Your whole presentation is about what Challenges you have, but you give no answers, again looking at the second slide the CCG Management costs £6.87 million (1.56% of the budget) to put together a slide show and ask the public for help….”

For so many years the acute/crisis care has sucked up a massive amount of any cash available, the only way we can even begin to make progress with the current disaster that is the NHS mental health system is prevention by ensuring the services are there a hell of a lot earlier than they are now. As people start to see the stigma is going away they will be able to step forward without shame and talk to their GP’s about depression and what will happen? They will be bunged medication and sent away with the words “you should start to feel the difference in about 2 weeks” absolute poppycock, from personal experience and from speaking to many others if you begin to feel the difference in 2 weeks then you are amazingly lucky!!!! Also from personal experience and through speaking to many others if anything you will more than likely feel worse for the first few weeks. Now I don’t have any issues with meds, without my meds I wouldn’t even want to imagine what life would be like but is it the right place to start? Possibly it is…. But is “just” meds and go away the right approach? More than likely NO!!!! If you go through a number of months and the meds have taken the edge off, maybe stopped the highs and lows, maybe you don’t now burst into tears spontaneously, maybe you feel a little bit stronger or maybe a bit zombiefied (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing sometimes) perhaps you haven’t made the progress you and your GP would like chances are the next step will be some sort of talking therapy. Being offered some talking therapy could well be the beginning of your recovery, what won’t help the beginning of your recovery is being told you are being put forward for a counsellor and being told the waiting list is 3, 4, 6 months or more, this wait is simply unacceptable!!!! This is make or break time and because of the waiting lists more often than not it will end up being break time, the opportunity to make an “early intervention” has gone and will NEVER be available again. After a certain period of time in the mental health wilderness people become institutionalised in their own surroundings, if they’ve been off work for 3 or 4 months the likelihood of them getting back to their previous job has been reduced massively and they are now part of the £105 billion cost to the economy that is quoted in this report. The delays in getting any useful help at all then drains the employment costs later quoted (On employment, the Department of Work and Pensions forecasts that it will spend £2.8 billion in total payments to contractors to help people into work under the Work Programme between June 2011 and March 2020.) So to sum up the pathetic primary care system letting thousands of people down everyday is and will continue to cause the problem that unless it is looked at honestly and openly will never be fixed!!!! (I find it difficult these days to say “the pathetic primary care system….” As I know there are fantastic people working very hard in primary mental health care, however I hear all to often that people can’t access an initial support for their mental health needs, in fact the last time I heard this was last night whilst I was at a meeting held by the Dudley CCG).

This independent report of the Mental Health Taskforce sets out the start of a ten year journey for that transformation, commissioned by Simon Stevens on behalf of the NHS. We have placed the experience of people with mental health problems at the heart of it. Over 20,000 people told us of the changes they wanted to see so that they could fulfil their life ambitions and take their places as equal citizens in our society. They told us that their priorities were prevention, access, integration, quality and a positive experience of care. Their voices are quoted in this report and their views are reflected in our recommendations.

I can say from personal experience that the establishment is definitely listening and that’s positive, but I’m 100% sure they are only listening because they have no other choice. My guess is that these members of the establishment are the same people who as stated in this report were complicit in “Mental health services have been underfunded for decades, and too many people have received no help at all, leading to hundreds of thousands of lives put on hold or ruined, and thousands of tragic and unnecessary deaths.” To come to this conclusion these people have known for years that “hundreds of thousands of lives have been put on hold or ruined, and thousands of tragic and unnecessary death” and CHOSEN to do nothing about it. Yes they are listening but to keep re-announcing an extra £1 billion is just a sound bite and according to the statistics I can find and my maths is only just replacing the many cuts the system has already experienced, not forgetting this £1 billion isn’t coming until 2020. To report the system has been underfunded for years, many lives have been ruined and lost and then do nothing about it financially for another 4 years is simply a disgrace. It’s as pointless in having a dead cert winner and putting the bet on after the race has finished….

First, we have made a set of recommendations for the six NHS arm’s length bodies to achieve the ambition of parity of esteem between mental and physical health for children, young people, adults and older people.

Absolutely 100% behind this, who wouldn’t be? Because I have regular contact with the chair of the All Party Political Group working for parity of esteem for mental health I am going to tread lightly around this subject. Do I think parity of esteem will ever happen? No. Do I think it is a worthwhile aim? Yes. However I have a number of small concerns…. I don’t think it is unfair or incorrect of me to say that the whole of the NHS physical and mental isn’t in the best shape it could be and if I can say that then I also feel I can to say that getting parity of esteem for mental health in line with physical health isn’t a brilliant end goal even if it is achieved. Having said these exact words to the chair of the APPG I know it’s not as simple as that, there’s a whole lot of complicated and important targets that have to be achieved in the parity of esteem process. Going back to the question “Do I think parity of esteem will ever happen? No.” My answer of No pains me and following my trip to meet with James Morris MP at the Houses of Parliament and speaking with him on this subject if I am offered the chance to get involved with this process I would jump on board without a second thought, because any progress is massively important and we can’t just leave it to the establishment, we as individuals must step up and tell the establishment how it actually is and what they should be doing because we are “experts by experience” and our input is invaluable!!!!

Just one other thing on parity of esteem, if parity of esteem is our first target point then we must work towards that and be careful that we are not asking for special treatment. A couple of weeks ago there was a lot on the news about mentally ill people having to travel hundreds of miles to get the treatment they need, whilst I totally agree this is not ideal and can and will cause distress to the mentally ill person and their families I would ask the question, is this not happening on the physical side of the NHS? If someone needs specialist care either mental or physical then getting that care where it is available is better than getting no care. Saying this makes me uncomfortable and uneasy with myself as a person but I’m unable to not say it just because some people will disagree with me, if I’d had the opportunity of specialist care back in June 2013 when I had my mental breakdown I’d of took it no matter how far away it was just to feel safe and not scared about wanting to kill myself.

Second, we set out recommendations where wider action is needed. Many people told us that, as well as access to good quality mental health care wherever they are seen in the NHS, their main ambition was to have a decent place to live, a job or good quality relationships in their local communities. Making this happen will require a cross government approach.

I’m going to be brief on this one…. Does there really have to be an investigation and consultations probably costing a serious amount of money and people’s time to come this conclusion and make “recommendations”…. FFS!!!!

image

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, we have placed a particular focus on tackling inequalities. Mental health problems disproportionately affect people living in poverty, those who are unemployed and who already face discrimination. For too many, especially black, Asian and minority ethnic people, their first experience of mental health care comes when they are detained under the Mental Health Act, often with police involvement, followed by a long stay in hospital. To truly address this, we have to tackle inequalities at local and national level.

Again very briefley…. No ship Sherlock!!!! FFS!!!!

(You may spot this is the place I began to get bored and frustrated, but at least I avoided swearing)

Also if there is a “particular focus” on tackling inequalities and poverty why has the House of Commons tried to reduce ESA (Employment Support Allowance) twice, both times being blocked by the House of Lords and why are they trying to reduce the ESA by £30 a week for a third time?

We want to thank all the Taskforce members, and the tens of thousands of people who contributed to and helped to co-produce this report.

THE FIVE YEAR FORWARD VIEW FOR MENTAL HEALTH

A report from the independent Mental Health Taskforce to the NHS in England February 2016

“The NHS needs a far more proactive and preventative approach to reduce the long term impact for people experiencing mental health problems and for their families, and to reduce costs for the NHS and emergency services”.

In my local borough the CCG quote the figure of 53% of their £411 million budget is spent on acute care. In order to have a “far more proactive and preventative approach” it couldn’t be simpler…. Simply quick access to proper help remove GP’s from the process as quickly as possible, and very importantly continue to work hard to reduce mental health stigma.

Mental health problems are widespread, at times disabling, yet often hidden. People who would go to their GP with chest pains will suffer depression or anxiety in silence. One in four adults experiences at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any given year. People in all walks of life can be affected and at any point in their lives, including new mothers, children, teenagers, adults and older people. Mental health problems represent the largest single cause of disability in the UK. The cost to the economy is estimated at £105 billion a year – roughly the cost of the entire NHS.

Interesting statistic that “one in four adults experiences at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any given year” if they don’t get diagnosed early then things can only get worse. GP’s in the main seem to be unable to diagnose mental health issues through lack of expertise and lack of available time. If you think I am being harsh towards GP’s then just think about this for a little bit…. I had my mental breakdown in June 2013 and I saw my first psychiatrist at the end of November 2013 and I still don’t have a diagnoses.

One in five mothers suffers from depression, anxiety or in some cases psychosis during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth. Suicide is the second leading cause of maternal death, after cardiovascular disease. Mental health problems not only affect the health of mothers but can also have long-standing effects on children’s emotional, social and cognitive development. Costs of perinatal mental ill health are estimated at £8.1 billion for each annual birth cohort, or almost £10,000 per birth. Yet fewer than 15 per cent of localities provide effective specialist community perinatal services for women with severe or complex conditions, and more than 40 per cent provide no service at all.

£8.1 billion is almost 24% of the £34 billion mental health spend in a year quoted in this report and pay attention to the £10,000 per birth I’m about to breakout some maths. Oh by the way fewer than 15% of localities provide effective specialist community perinatal services is an absolute disgrace.

Here’s the maths….

NHS budget £116 Billion working with the 1 in 4 figure £29 Billion
U.K. Population £65 Million again working with the 1 in 4 figure 16.25 million

£29 billion divided by 16.25 million = £1784.61 per person effected by mental illness per year.

Added to the £10k figure above a documentary I watched about mental health based in some London boroughs when they were looking for psychiatric beds they were having to use private beds in some cases at a quoted cost of £1000 per night. Even this basic little bit of maths shows that current funding figures are massively insufficient….

In addition, people with long term physical illnesses suffer more complications if they also develop mental health problems, increasing the cost of care by an average of 45 per cent. Yet much of the time this goes unaddressed. There is good evidence that dedicated mental health provision as part of an integrated service can substantially reduce these poor outcomes. For example, in the case of Type 2 diabetes, £1.8 billion of additional costs can be attributed to poor mental health. Yet fewer than 15 per cent of people with diabetes have access to psychological support. Pilot schemes show providing such support improves health and cuts costs by 25 per cent.

I was at a CCG meeting last week and I found myself a little disgusted with myself as the last 2 meetings I had been to I had berated them (partly cus they deserve and partly cus I enjoy it) on one of the slides they had what they termed as their onion of care. I’m not that interested at the moment in the outer layers of the onion, what I am interested in is right at the core of the onion was the patient. Now apart from it being a little shocking that the NHS hasn’t realised the importance of the patient previously this is actually a very important part of us moving forward. As we work to parity of esteem for mental illness I think we should be looking at the “wellbeing” of the person looking at the person on a bespoke basis and forget about putting people into mental health and physical boxes, apart from anything else if depression is down to a chemical imbalance surely this chemical imbalance can be thought of as a physical issue. If a chemical imbalance is also at the root of anxiety then the symptoms and the outcome of anxiety also shows in a physical way. Obviously I’m not a medical professional and what I’ve just said may well be seen as idiotic, but sit and think about that for a minute…. Unless I’m very much mistaken the head and the brain have a very physical presence, usually just above the shoulders…. I few months ago I met up with a guy I’ve known since I very first started school, he’d been to university and become a Physiotherapist, after a period of time he started to notice that the appointments his patience were attending were sometimes the most important part of there week, fortnight, month and in receiving the physical therapy it also helped there mental state, maybe from just having contact with another person, maybe through the fact that the pain may be a little less for a period of time so they could concentrate on something else rather than the pain and the things they couldn’t do. The physical therapy of physiotherapy had a positive physical and positive mental effect. Almost as if the head and brain were attached to the rest of the body considered physical…. Crazy eh????). Here’s a link to Stuart’s website Lanes4Change 

£34 BILLION EACH YEAR SPENT ON MENTAL HEALTH

Poor mental health carries an economic and social cost of £105 billion a year in England. Analysis commissioned by NHS England found that the national cost of dedicated mental health support and services across government departments in England totals £34 billion each year, excluding dementia and substance use.
£19 billion of this is made up of government spend, though there is little or no national data available for how up to 67 per cent of mental health funding is used at a local level. Most of the remainder (£14bn) is for the support provided by unpaid carers, plus a relatively small share that is funded through the private and voluntary sectors.

I’ve already done some dodgy maths so I’m going to look at this from a different angle….

Let’s look at this sentence first “Most of the remainder (£14bn) is for the support provided by unpaid carers)” those that are used to me by now will know exactly what I’m going to say here…. If they are unpaid carers how the flip can this total £14 billion???? UNPAID!!!!

2nd let’s look at this sentence “plus a relatively small share that is funded through the private and voluntary sectors.” VOLUNTARY!!!!

I can hardly believe this sentence was considered suitable to be in such a report “£19 billion of this is made up of government spend, though there is little or no national data available for how up to 67 per cent of mental health funding is used at a local level.” LITTLE OR NO DATA AVAILABLE FOR HOW UP TO 67% OF MENTAL HEALTH FUNDING IS USED AT A LOCAL LEVEL!!!! WTF!!!! I don’t think I need to add anything!!!!

Given chronic underinvestment in mental health care across the NHS in recent years, efficiencies made through achieving better value for money should be re-invested to meet the significant unmet mental health needs of people of all ages across England, and to improve their experiences and outcomes.

Following on from above if you have little or no data on how up to 67% is used at a local level how the fudge are you going to achieve and quantify better value for money AND if you don’t know how 67% is being used how do you identify the significant unmet mental health needs????

Our ambition is to deliver rapid improvements in outcomes by 2020//21 through ensuring that 1 million more people with mental health problems are accessing high quality care. In the context of a challenging Spending Review, we have identified the need to invest an additional £1 billion in 2020/21, which will generate significant savings. It builds on the £280 million investment each year already committed to drive improvements in children and young people’s mental health, and perinatal care.

This will be brief….

image

 

 

 

I’m not sure “rapid” is the correct word, it’s 2016, 2020 is erm, NOT rapid!!!!

Over the next five years additional funding should allow NHS England to expand access to effective interventions. The priority areas we have identified would require an additional £1 billion investment in 2020/21, which will contribute to plugging critical gaps in the care the NHS is currently unable to provide. Our expectation is that savings and efficiencies generated by improved mental health care e.g. through a strengthened approach to prevention and early intervention, and through new models of care, will be re-invested in mental health services.

This paragraph highlights the ambiguities of this £1 billion, what additional funding over the next 5 years???? They keep talking about this extra £1 billion but if you look at the actual words they use it will be invested in 2020, I see no mention of additional funding over the next 5 years in fact cuts are still happening.

To deliver these commitments and realise the associated savings NHS England must be able to target investment and ensure there is sufficient transparency and accountability for putting them into action. Both the current Mandate priorities and those set out in this report should specifically be reflected in the local Sustainability and Transformation plans that areas will need to produce by June 2016, in how those plans are assessed and in the processes for allocating and assuring funds.

How much is it going to cost to “ensure there is sufficient transparency and accountability” when earlier on it was stated that “£19 billion of this is made up of government spend, though there is little or no national data available for how up to 67 per cent of mental health funding is used at a local level.”

We recommend eight principles to underpin reform:

Decisions must be locally led

Thus, taking no responsibility at a central level and if decisions are all made locally then boroughs next to each other and further afield will be duplicating work, wasting money rather than learning from best practice.

Care must be based on the best available evidence

Having already stated they don’t have evidence for 67% of the money they spend just what evidence is the care plan being based on. My guess is this suggests they should be listening to the people they haven’t been listening to for many years…. Those who are asking for help….

Services must be designed in partnership with people who have mental health problems and with carers

Whilst I couldn’t agree with this more, from experience the establishment has come to the conclusion that services shouldn’t be designed top down they should be from bottom up by consulting with service users and that’s a great step forward. However again from experience there’s not a huge percentage of service users who have the strength to engage with the powers that be, partly through the illnesses they have and if they have tried to engage in the past nothing has changed, we as a body of people generally have no trust whatsoever in the people we are asked to engage with. Personally having actually got involved with various groups I have a different view point and I can see that there’s an awful lot of people in positions of influence that want to make changes. But in order to build these services from the bottom up there has to be some investment and although people keep saying to me there is money available it just isn’t forthcoming. I’m not talking about access to thousands and thousands of pounds, let me give you a very small but important example. What people want and need is regular access to help and support, whatever happens that regular help and support can’t be available on every street so in order to access the regular help and support they have to travel. If they drive then you could assume this is fairly straight forward, I’m not even going to put petrol into the equation, let’s just look at Parking, some places aren’t to expensive but a place quite local to me it can easily cost £2.50 to park for a couple of hours. £2.50 is not a huge amount of money but say you were to access this regular help and support 3 times a week parking alone is going to cost you £7.50, if we look at ESA which is £250 per fortnight then £15 equates to 6% of income, again doesn’t sound a lot but if you were to earn £18k a year 6% of this is £1080. If you don’t drive and have to get the bus, which a lot of people simply can’t do due to anxiety, a day saver ticket costs £4.40 per day so let’s times this by 3 = £13.20 X 2 = £26.40 which is almost 11% of the ESA £250 per fortnight, again equated to a salary of £18k = £1980….

Inequalities must be reduced to ensure all needs are met, across all ages. Care must be integrated – spanning people’s physical, mental and social needs

Again brief…. No ship Sherlock!!!!
(And yes you may spot a little boredom and frustration creeping in again)

Prevention and early intervention must be prioritised

Couldn’t agree more, but surely this doesn’t take until 2016 to work out when the NHS has been around since 1948. Also because such a massive amount is spent on acute care (53% in Dudley) there isn’t any cash to invest in prevention and early intervention, back in March 2015 the government announced £1.25 billion to be invested in children’s mental health and only this morning (8th March 2015) on BBC news it was said that this money isn’t actually reaching the front lines because of the many levels of bureaucracy it is having to go through. I don’t believe it’s all about cash, but some has to be available to ensure some new thinking and new approaches can be put in place.

Care must be safe, effective and personal, and delivered in the least restrictive setting

Sorry but I think you know what’s coming…. No ship Sherlock!!!!

The right data must be collected and used to drive and evaluate progress

Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!!!! I will draw your attention to previous info….

“£19 billion of this is made up of government spend, though there is little or no national data available for how up to 67 per cent of mental health funding is used at a local level.”

Couple of questions…. Exactly how are we to evaluate progress? Against what scale? What data will they publish? Will they continue to hide the data they don’t want people to see? Will they do the right thing and find the ability to be honest?

On employment, the Department of Work and Pensions forecasts that it will spend £2.8 billion in total payments to contractors to help people into work under the Work Programme between June 2011 and March 2020. Yet fewer than one in 10 people with mental health problems have gained employment through the Work Programme. We know psychological therapies and Individual Placement and Support (IPS) services have proved highly effective – with around 30 per cent moving into jobs through IPS – but these are not being commissioned at scale. The Taskforce also welcomes the introduction of a Joint Unit for Work and Health, which is already piloting new approaches and recently secured significant new investment for an innovation fund.

The problem here for me is that because the help doesn’t come quickly enough (I had my mental breakdown in June 2013 and first saw a psychiatrist at the end of November, 6 months to see a psychiatrist, I know this is a relatively short period of time to see a psychiatrist) it causes people to get further into a world were they are institutionalised by their own surroundings and mental illness. The pressure that is put on people with mental illness to get back into work causes a lot of pain and anxiety, the language that is used by politicians and media makes those with long term mental illness feel useless, worthless and not part of normal society. On a personal level, I do quite a few things including the group for men, seeing individuals, meetings with different organisations, I sometimes worry that people will think if I can do all these different things surely I could go back to work and stop being a drain on society but I know and my psychiatrist agrees work, even part time, is still a long way off for me and the chances of getting back to a level I was previously at is non existent, not getting back to that level will destroy me as it will prove the demons right, that I am a loser, useless and a waste of a human being….

We expect rapid progress in the transformation of services for children and young people following investment of £1.4 billion over five years announced by the Government in 2014/15 (including additional money for eating disorders in children and young people). Plans are ready and these will be the first major programmes set out in this strategy to be delivered.

As mentioned above, only this morning on BBC news, “back in March 2015 the government announced £1.25 billion to be invested in children’s mental health and only this morning (8th March 2015) on BBC news it was said that this money isn’t actually reaching the front lines because if the levels of bureaucracy it is having to go through.”

And Rapid????

image

 

 

 

Mental health problems account for a quarter of all ill health in the UK. Despite important new developments in mental health research it receives less than 5.5 per cent of all health research funding. Latest figures suggest that £115 million is spent on mental health research each year compared with £970 million on physical health research.

This is a difficult one, 5.5% is a disgrace and £115 million compared with £970 million is pathetic but we have to remember how many physical illnesses there are. This sort of proves the saying “statistics can prove anything” it depends on what angle you are looking from and the point you are trying to make. Having played devils advocate a little bit on this one the first sentence is extremely powerful “Mental health problems account for a quarter of all ill health in the UK.” A QUARTER!!!!

We know that the scale of unmet mental health need is significant – hundreds of thousands of people go untreated each year at a cost of billions of pounds to our society and the economy. This investment would, however, make a start in plugging that gap, building on £1.4 billion of new funding over five years for children and young people’s and perinatal mental health last year, including additional funding for eating disorders.

A very powerful paragraph to end with very similar to the recent BBC News headlines on the 16th February….

BBC News at One first 2 sentences
“Biggest ever review of NHS Mental Health Services in England has found that MOST patients are being failed”
“Ministers accept there’s a problem & have pledged an extra billion pounds a year on improving psychiatric services”

BBC News at Six first 2 sentences
“The mental health failures in England that have led to thousands of deaths”
“A new report says 3 out of 4 people with mental illness get no help at all, government under pressure to take action”

An absolute disgrace!!!!

Where’s the evidence of how this £1.4 billion, announced as £1.25 billion in March 2015, is getting through to the front line.

I wanted to finish this post with some intelligent words to sum it all up, but I can’t think of anything suitable so I’m just going to leave it there.

“enjoy the good and ride out the bad”

Keep going 😉

Jon aka exboozehound
@exboozehound
www.exboozehound.co.uk

Oh and don’t forget my Thingymajig (memoir/book)

 



How a numpty like me pt 2….

How a numpty like me…. (Pt 1)

How a numpty like me was sitting on the Houses of Parliament terrace talking about Mental Illness….

On Thursday Camilla and Wendy from The Hope Centre Halesowen and me took a journey down to London, we had been invited by James Morris MP. James is our local MP, he is also the Chairman of the All Party Parliament Group on Mental Health, this group is working to get parity of esteem for mental health. Over the last year or so I’ve been fortunate to meet a number of MP’s who are passionate about making a difference to how mental illness is approached and those of us with mental illness are treated. I’m not a stupid man (debatable….), I read people well and I can say with 100% confidence that the MP’s I have met and spoken to about mental health are dedicated to making a difference, saying this does not sit comfortably with me cus we all know we’re not supposed to trust MP’s. I’ve also been fortunate to meet other folk of the establishment in many varying roles who are also very dedicated to making a difference to how mental illness is approached and how those of us with mental illness are treated. So we’ve got MP’s and folk of the establishment on our side dedicated to making a difference but also more importantly there are a lot of us with mental health issues finding the strength to stand up and be counted. On the 29th January we held our second Peer Support Meeting, organised locally with the NHS, Mind & Rethink, this time we had more service users involved and as you can imagine quite a number of the service users were very anxious about attending a meeting in a strange place surrounded by strange people but during the discussions even those that had seemed the most anxious spoke up and got involved. This to me is just as if not more important than the work those in the establishment are doing, Peer Support is empowering people with mental illness to start to shape the services we need and this empowerment can build our strength to begin to actually live our lives rather than just surviving….

Ok, back to Thursday, Camilla, Wendy and I were met at about 13:00 outside Port Cullis House by Sam a member of James Morris’s team, having cleared security and got redressed being watched by 2 cops with big shooters we then met another member of James’s team, Gary, who started telling us the history of the place we were now standing in (unfortunately my memory for facts ain’t exactly my strongest point, so I forgot at least 90% instantly) at the time it was very interesting and also odd, odd just to be standing where we were. As we made our way to one of the most exclusive smoking areas in the country we met with the final member of Jame’s team, Giverney and Anna, Jame’s good lady wife. Entering the most exclusive smoking area in the country was initially a bit disappointing cus of the security it looked like a prison yard, but then I turned around and looked up we were standing at the foot of Big Ben…. It was no longer disappointing it was now surreal and although I’d only had a cigarette about 10 minutes before I had to light one up…. I also had to have my picture taken smoking a cigarette with Big Ben behind as I knew my Mom would be disgusted…. We drew the line at a photo with the cigarette as the idea of me getting my tattoos out for a pic under Big Ben seemed to be frowned upon????

We had a tour all around including sitting in the viewing galleries of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, I actually remember an interesting fact about the House of Lords, the Queen has a thrown in there, it’s very extravagant all in gold and in front of the thrown there is a golden bannister that the Queen is not allowed to go past as it would be seen as the Queen meddling in politics (possibly not the exact explanation Gary gave, but it’s close….). Whilst I’m imparting my vast historic knowledge about the House of Commons…. We were shown a church inside the building it was amazingly ornate and intricate or in my words “a bit over the top”. In the days of Oliver Cromwell he kept his horses in there cus he wasn’t a big fan of church and religion (again possibly not the exact historical facts, but close enough). Also down there was a cupboard were a member of the suffragettes hid on a night when they were doing a census pole, as a protest against the census many women made sure they were not at home that evening (again fairly sketchy historical facts but as it is well known men cannot multi task, I was walking, looking, listening and breathing, this for me is multitasking so to add taking in knowledge as well would of been a step too far….). If you want actual facts I’m sure there’s loads of books or give Google a go.

When we were in the viewing gallery of the House of Commons, James was in there doing a great job of being aware and awake. It was odd to see in real life cus we only really get to see PM questions on the news where everyone just seems to be there to score points and jeer, the debate that was going on was very different and ordered. When it was time we met James in the Central Lobby, which seemed very small in comparison to when you see people being interviewed there on the news. Warning hear comes another sketchy fact…. It is called the Central Lobby cus when the MP’s are making their way to the Commons members of the public can lobby their MP’s by basically just shouting at their MP.

I would imagine you are completed exhausted taking in all the historical facts by now so you’ll be glad to know my knowledge has now all been imparted….

Now to the reason for being at the House of Commons, on February the 4th is was “Time to Talk Day” an initiative set up by Time to Change, so that’s what we did, sat on the House of Commons Terrace with tea and cake both James and Sam reminded me of the first time I met them at a surgery held at the Hope Centre a good while ago. In theory for that day I wanted to prepare some stuff to talk about with James about my recent experience of the mental health system, it was not a glowing report!!!! In actual fact the only thing I prepared was an angry sentence “I’m going to make a difference and your either with me or against me” I also used this sentence in meetings with people from Dudley Council. I can honestly say James has been behind me all the way since that first meeting and I’ve known since then how dedicated he is to making a difference to the current mental health system which just isn’t fit for purpose and is letting many many people down, patients and employees, day after day (obviously those are my words not James’s). We spoke for about an hour about what James is doing and what I’ve been doing and we spoke about hopefully working closer together in the near future we obviously bring very different things to the table, he has the ear of people who can make the decisions and changes, I can bring experiences of individuals and various groups and initiatives I’ve got myself involved with. I’ve said for quite a while now I don’t see “exboozehound” as just me “exboozehound” is everyone who has read the blog, commented on the blog, spoke with me either openly or in private on social media, anyone who I’ve met at meetings and groups. There are so many people, NHS department, council departments and third party companies that are doing good things in the world of mental health but in order for all these things to work best somehow we have to bring them all together pulling in the same direction and not wasting time and effort duplicating work. At the moment if we had a bottomless pit of money to throw at the issues in the mental health structures failings it wouldn’t fix the problems, we are in a situation where there isn’t a bottomless pit and being in this situation makes it necessary for us all to work together in different more effective and efficient ways to make a difference to many problems that have been in the way for many years.

So, how did a numpty like me end up sitting on the Houses of Parliament terrace talking about Mental Illness? A good while ago I decided the experience I’d had with my mental illness journey was just not good enough, it took me about 25 years to get to the horrendous stage of having my mental breakdown, maybe if I’d approached my depression in a different way and was more open and honest and demanded more help from my GP I wouldn’t of had to go through a mental breakdown to get to where I am today. So I started to complain, officially, and mouth off and stand up and be counted with no shame of being mentally ill. I got myself involved with different groups and organisations, I found the strength to start a group for men and I now see individually a number of guys that have been referred to me by members of the NHS. I decided I was going to do what I could to help others with my experiences and in helping others I also help myself…. People have said to me I am brave and inspirational, I still find that hard to accept cus I honestly believe anyone could do everything I’ve done and hopefully some of you reading this now will get out there and do the same.

Sometimes getting involved with the things I do actually makes me un well and my demons tell me I’m wasting my time cus at the end of the day I’m still a waste of a human being, I’m a failure and I’m weak cus I also need support. In actual fact whilst watching the news last night there were a couple of pieces on suicide in young men. One of the pieces featured a couple I met a while back at Big Centre TV who’s son tragically took his own life after suffering in silence with depression they have set up a memorial fund for their son Cameron, in both of these news pieces the definition of a man was spoken about, strong, courageous, without weakness and the reason men don’t ask for help because it makes them weak…. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it shows your strength of character and the strength you have inside to fight against the demons, I know this to be true!!!!

However, watching and listening to the stories of the young guys taking their lives and how men should be strong I found myself writing a note to myself and it said….

“ACCEPTING HELP MAKES ME A FAILURE & WEAK”

I realised that because I had been worrying for weeks about my car and how much it will cost to get it through the MOT and the fact that financially I was going to have to accept help from my Mom & Dad, this was confirming what the demons had always told me, I’m a failure for so many reasons but the one they want to pick on at the moment is that I’m a confirmed failure cus I can’t support myself financially.

I’m gunna end there, something for you to ponder on, even though “exboozehound” is doing all these positive things, Jon is still a failure….

“enjoy the good and ride out the bad”

Keep going 😉

Jon aka exboozehound
@exboozehound
www.exboozehound.co.uk

Oh and don’t forget my Thingymajig (memoir/book)


Happy New Year

My current mood is low and apprehensive…. Cheery start eh?

On the 29th December I started to write a post entitled “Chrimbo Limbo”, I’d heard these words whilst watching Coronation Street Liz McDonald said it to Amy. I was sitting watching Coronation Street “feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self pity” and these 2 words had just summed up perfectly what I had been experiencing and was likely to experience until today 1st January 2016. Chrimbo Limbo had made me break my rule of always “being in the day” and in breaking this rule I’d allowed the noggin demons to become too powerful and get control. I wasn’t able to complete the post I had started writing cus the demons had control of me and if I’m honest they still do today, hence the first line of this post being “My current mood is low and apprehensive”.

Chrimbo Limbo appears to have turned my brain into mush and part of the reason for this is cus I’ve “felt sorry for myself and wallowed in self pity” I’ve been thinking far too much…. “Thunking really isn’t my bag” “Thunking is very overrated” here’s a couple of things that I’ve been worrying about….

exboozehound built some momentum in the last few months of 2015, momentum that I’m very proud of. Part of that momentum led me to put in my first bid for some funding for a new project. After my last meeting about this I’m pretty sure I would of got some investment, but I’ve allowed it to cause me too much pressure. I’ve already got 14 meetings including “exboozehounds group for men” on Thursdays booked in for January, to any “normals” out there 14 meetings in a month will seem like nothing but to my mind all these meetings are plans for the near future, stuff I HAVE to do, this I find hard cus it’s not living in the day and I can never be sure how my days and weeks are gunna pan out, if I have some low episodes these are 14 opportunities for me to let people down, I hate letting people down if a low episode causes me to let someone down there’s a chance that the low episode can get deeper and deeper…. I’ve decided during the Chrimbo limbo period that I’m not going to continue with my funding request at this point cus it’s not the right time and has the potential to cause me unnecessary stress, my demons tell me I’m doing this cus I’m pathetic, the demons are wrong I’m doing this to look after my health….

A number of the 14 meetings are to organise another Peer Support Meeting, the first one on the 27th November went so well those of us who organised it committed to ensuring the second meeting would happen in January to keep the momentum building. We have set the date for this meeting as the 29th January which gives us plenty of time to organise and promote. Here’s the ridiculous thing that is playing on my mind, the Peer Support meeting is scheduled for 11am to 3pm and I’m booked in for another 3 hours of tattoo from 5pm to 8pm, I’m worried that a day that long will take too much out of me and possibly cause a low episode. I loved how positive the meeting was on the 27th and was very proud of the part I played in it. I also love how my tattoo is coming along and oddly love being in the chair being tattooed. So these two things are both massively positive things for me, but because I’m “feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self pity” these two positive things have allowed my demons to turn them to negatives…. Bloody ridiculous!!!!

So to sum up, some really positive things that can start 2016 off really positively and cus I’ve been “feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self pity” I’ve allowed my demons to own and consume me, this is not the way I plan to continue!!!! But now I’ve got some hard work to do to get out of a low mood that fundamentally I’ve caused myself…. We have all done this before and we have all survived every time we’ve been there as I say a lot “there ain’t nothing we can’t handle…. Eventually!!!!” And of course “enjoy the good and ride out the bad”….

If you’ve been paying attention, and fair play to you if you have cus I’ve been rambling on a bit as usual you will of noticed I’ve tried to bring attention to the words “feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self pity” by putting them in “…” There is a reason for this and the reason is I want to look at these words and attack them, this is what I was trying to do when I started the “Chrimbo limbo” post, I think it’s important to look at this in order to allow us to have any chance of moving forward, taking ownership of our illness and very importantly taking ownership of our own recovery!!!!

Yesterday I woke up late and then spent most of the day “feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self pity” I didn’t leave the house….

Today I woke up late, was angry I woke up late and started to get myself ready for another day of “feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self pity”…. Today is different to yesterday cus I’ve left the house and am currently sitting in Druckers in Halesowen writing this…. My day today is already much better than yesterday by simply leaving the house and an added bonus is I’ve just bumped into one of my mates wives had a little chat and a smile…. 🙂

So we know I’m guilty of “feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self pity”. Depression is an illness, other forms of mental illness are illnesses (I guess the clues in the title….) although we all hate it when people say “pull yourself together” “man up” “it’s all in your head” I hate to admit it sometimes there is a place for these sort of phrases, perhaps not the ones above there a little harsh but something along the same lines, I hope that hasn’t angered people too much, I’m gunna try and explain why I’m saying such a stupid and seemingly uncaring words….

At about 11:30 Boxing Day morning, I was still in bed and feeling like I was gunna be there for a while, I got a call from my nephew who asked if I wanted to come down to have bubble and squeak with them. My initial thought was “no, I just want to stay in bed” but I ignored that cus that was the demons trying to keep me miserable, I went down to my Brothers and spent an hour or so with my brother and his family. I was greeted by Ted the dog, I went into the compulsory plum protection!! Being greeted by Ted makes me smile (unless I forget to protect the plums), the kids make me smile, being in that happy family environment makes me smile, so if I’d listened to the demons and stayed in bed chances are I’d of had another miserable day. Sometimes I don’t go places cus the demons tell me people don’t want me around, but if that was the case why would my nephew have phoned me? The answer to that by the way is he wouldn’t of called…. FACT!!!!

Another day in “Chrimbo limbo” it was planned to go out and have lunch somewhere with my Dad and Brothers family I’m gutted to say I didn’t go, I did have a headache when I woke up and unfortunately had really struggled to get to sleep the night before, but this isn’t anything new it’s part of the game we play. The added issue with this plan was I would be somewhere with no control over how long I would be there and that causes me anxiety and allows my demons to be more powerful and much more persuasive or in other words I begin to wallow in self pity and allow the demons to control me, this is not good!!!! Once we start to allow, YET AGAIN, the demons to win the battle we allow for the possibility that the demons will get stronger and we will begin to listen to all the lies they tell us and the longer we allow the demons to get stronger the bigger chance we allow ourselves to spiral out of control of the good place in our noggins. Once we’re out of the good place in our noggins we’ve then got another fight on our hands to get back to that more stable place, the longer we don’t fight the harder getting back to the more stable place will be. And on and on and on and on, for me this is one of the very many reasons we have to remember to stay in the day and only deal with what we HAVE to at any given point….

I’m hoping from the last paragraph you can see this is me admitting very openly that I am guilty of “feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self pity” and just as a further admittance I am probably guilty of this far to often!!!!

I’m not proud of this next bit….

Many of you are guilty of “feeling sorry for yourself and wallowing in your own self pity”…. I agree, me saying that is completely and utterly out of order….

BUT, am I wrong?

Erm….

No I’m not!!!!

Have a quick think, even if I’ve offended you by saying the unsayable…. Am I wrong?

Ok, now you’re being completely honest with yourself, we have something to work with….

Now you’re being completely honest with yourself, you have a place to begin from, you have the foundations of your next battle….

Now you’re being completely honest with yourself, you have even more strength to win that next battle in a shorter time….

Now you’re being completely honest with yourself, you have the strong chance that you will have less battles to fight in….

I think it’s pretty clear I don’t think I’m wrong…. In many conversations I’ve had with many people stuff often comes up from years ago and it’s repeated many times, believe me I know it’s not easy to work these things out of your life partly because they’ve been in your life for so long and if your anything like me they’ve come in handy on many occasions to punish yourself with but its not healthy and you need to give yourself a break. If you can, put some effort into locking these things away or if not that it might be more productive to work these things through properly but if you ever want to move forward you have to do something!!!!

I’m not gunna break any confidences by telling you what people I speak to can’t let go of and in not letting go cause themselves unnecessary anxiety and stress. In a lot of these examples not letting go or fixating on certain issues not only stops us from progressing, they build a wall that we can never get over….

What I am gunna do is list my stuff, that echoes some of what people have said to me, I’ve worked hard to leave behind or still allow to cause me pain….

I’m a drain on society cus I’m on benefits

I was once beaten unconscious outside a boozer

I used to have a home

I used to have a good job

I used to have a relationship

I used to have holidays

I used to be a functioning member of society

I’ll never have another meaningful relationship

I’m 42, too old to ever have kids now

I’m lonely

I’ll never have a “normal” life

I’ve been fighting against mental illness all my life

Mental illness will always control my life

I’m envious of the lives people around me have

This list could go on forever, but what would be the point of going on and on and on? There are probably many things I could of done differently in my life prior to having the mental breakdown in 2013 but whatever they are I didn’t do them and I can’t change that now, all I can do is accept where I am today, accept that my mental illness is what it is, simply an illness and make the most of it. Spending all this time “feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self pity” is not going to help me take ownership of my illness and more importantly take ownership of my recovery, recovery doesn’t mean one day I’ll be fixed, it’s all about working hard to move forward to a point where I can manage my mental illness better.

Of course I know a lot of what I’ve said about “feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self pity” is far to simple…. Bad or low episodes are real and sometimes there literally isn’t a single thing you can do to get out of them, sometimes we just have to rest and mindfully work on trying to move forward, but I for one am determined to be mindful of spotting the difference and doing what I can to get to a better place as quickly as I can…. How about you?

“enjoy the good and ride out the bad”

Keep going 😉

Jon aka exboozehound
@exboozehound
www.exboozehound.co.uk

Oh and don’t forget my Thingymajig (memoir/book)



So here it is Merry Christmas….

(This post starts in a very negative way, but I promise it gets better)

So here it is Merry Christmas….

So here it is Merry Christmas

Erm…. We f’ing know it’s been coming since f’ing October!!!!

Everybody’s having fun

I can guarantee that’s not f’ing true….

Look to the future now

Are you f’ing joking, I have no future…. (Apart from more horrible demon fighting years)

It’s only just begun

Fuck off!!!!

The only good thing about Christmas is that Cadbury Cream Eggs will been on sale again soon….

Yup, Christmas is here and I’m really in the Christmas mood…. Mood being the key word!!!!

I’ve just googled “what’s Christmas about” the result was as below: –

image

The birth of Jesus…. And nobody is actually sure when he was born….

I know…. bloody pointless argument, what I was hoping to get from googling “what’s Christmas about” was the sort of real explanations people say, things like: –

1. It’s all about the kids
2. Relaxing with family and friends
3. Enjoying a break with family and friends
4. Presents and parties
5. Good food and drink

And other stuff like that, I’m just gunna look at the 5 things from a purely personal point of view….

1. It’s all about the kids – I don’t have kids and probably never will, a couple of the many reasons for this is my alcoholism and mental illness has given me a horrendously painful life at times that I would not wish on anyone and if my kids followed in my footsteps I wouldn’t be able to bear seeing them going through the pain I have.

2. Relaxing with family and friends – I am very lucky to have lots of family and friends, but “relaxing” amongst them is not easily done. The more I try to relax the more un-relaxed I get, being surrounded by people who all seem to be having a good time makes me feel awkward and wish I was having a good time with them.

3. Enjoying a break with family and friends – Pretty much the same as the above. Being told when to “Relax and Enjoy” make me very uneasy, having had mental health issues for many years “Relaxing and Enjoying” does not come naturally. Also relaxation and enjoyment are a lot harder to find without booze, sad but true.

4. Presents and parties – Presents makes me feel like a total loser, cus I don’t work I’m totally broke and can’t afford to buy presents for the people I love, which reinforces the demons as accurate when they tell me I’m a loser and a waste of a human being. Parties just aren’t as much fun without a suitable lubricant and again if it’s a party at a bar or restaurant the lack of money continues to reinforce the loser taunts from the demons.

5. Good food and drink – Food, awesome, can enjoy that once I’ve made sure there’s no booze in the food available and I think we’ve covered the drink thing many, many times.

Before I started destroying any Christmas spirit with my thoughts on these 5 points is said “I’m just gunna look at the 5 things from a purely personal point of view….” Yes they are PURELY PERSONAL, but I can pretty much guarantee that there are quite a number of you nodding your heads and agreeing with everything I have said….

Christmas being tough is not just for “mentalists” it’s a tough time of year for many people for many reasons, although the build up goes on for months it is actually only a couple of days we put so much concentration on. Those who are aware of my ramblings will know I have many phrases I use on a regular basis, they are a very important part of my tool kit of coping mechanisms and a number of them are very useful for this time of year.

“enjoy the good and ride out the bad”

“There ain’t nothing we can’t handle…. Eventually!!!!”

“It is what it is”

“Shit happens”

“grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference”

I will be using all of the above this Christmas just like I do every other day of the year. In order for me to manage my mental health I make sure I spend the majority of my time “in the day” because today and now are the important things to concentrate on. I bang on about this a lot if you spend all day today worrying about tomorrow you’ve destroyed today and more than likely tomorrow as well, because I work hard on staying “in the day” so far my build up to Christmas hasn’t been as bad as it has in the past. Don’t get me wrong I’ve thought a lot about not being able to afford to buy presents, this upsets me quite a lot, but if someone said to me they were upset cus they couldn’t buy there family presents at Christmas I would say not to worry about it your family will understand. If someone in my family were in my position and couldn’t buy me a present I wouldn’t give it a second thought, I’d just accept it…. “It is what it is” “shit happens”. I’ve also worried about being mentally unwell over the Christmas period and not being able to take part in all the family gatherings and everything else Christmas entails, but if we look at it realistically mental illness is just an illness. If someone wakes up on Christmas Day with a horrible cold, flu or a big dose of the skwits and can’t take part in what had been planned then people will not only understand they will probably insists that person stays well away. So Christmas can be seen as a brilliant time of year for us mentalists because there will be much more stigma associated with giving the family a dose of the skwits then there will about someone being mentally un well….

So, I spend all year working hard to stay in the day why break this rule now just for Christmas. Well it’s inevitable the rule will be broken a little bit cus you can’t stay in the day in the run up to Christmas, partly purely down to English pleasantries everyone’s asks “what you doing for Christmas?” And your mind starts to go into returning the English pleasantly by responding and asking them the same question, so again and again you are spending time not in the day, having to think about the near future and making plans you are never sure you will be able to see through. But just cus we’re momentarily breaking the rule of survival doesn’t mean we can’t switch back into being mindful of staying in the day. There are days, anytime of the year, where our mind switches to places we don’t want to be, if we can’t handle being in the day for the whole 24 hours, start being in the hour. Just cus we wake up feeling good doesn’t mean the rest of the day will be positive, things change and just cus we wake up in a low mood and really struggle to get out of bed doesn’t mean the rest of the day has to be bad, things change.

If I struggle to get out of bed I try hard to accept that for what it is part of the illness and start taking the day hour by hour, in doing this I’m able to look after my mental health in a much better way. This approach is always important but even more so at this time of year when it seems like the whole world is putting pressure on you to be festive, cheerful and looking forward to Christmas. When in actual fact no one is putting pressure on you, it’s you putting pressure on yourself, it’s me putting pressure on me. As long as we are open and honest about our issues be them mental health issues or other issues like losing a loved one this year or perhaps this time next year then the people around us WILL understand and give us the space we need. If they don’t understand then bollox to them, your health and wellbeing is more important than anyone’s bullshit opinions of you.

This next bit is gunna test my spelling…. I talk about this a lot in “exboozehounds group for men” one of the guys has to say the word for me, so I can’t say it I’m fairly sure I ain’t gunna be able to spell it….

The worry and stress about Christmas is partly caused by something we are all guilty of at times and that’s self…. (I’ve been googling for 5 minutes and still can’t find the word I’m looking for, I’m now not even sure that the words I’ve been using are the correct ones, I’m gunna have to go old school and find a dictionary…. Grrrrr) (no joy with the dictionary either…. Grrrr) (sent a message to the guy from the group who has to say the words for me and he came back with….) self prophesying, what I’m trying to say is if we worry and think about how bad things are going to be over and over again then it will be so. Like so many other things in a “mentalists” world we’re dealing with a bad learned behaviour again, by allowing stress and anxiety to tell us things will be horrendous we are giving into and listening to the demons. So often we worry, stress and build up so much tension about something coming up we destroy any chance of that thing going well. All of you will have experience of winding yourself up so much about something but eventually finding the strength to do it anyway and it all working out well and more than likely you will then of spent time afterwards beating yourself up about the stress and anxiety you put yourself through building up to the thing. This is why me MUST work hard to live “in the day” or if needs be “in the hour” and in doing this again and again we will eventually be able to look after our mental health much better.

Having said all that, it’s also fair to say this is all much easier to say than actually do but I KNOW all of you will have fought your internal battle many times and succeeded in beating the demons on a lot of occasions, think about those occasions and make sure you tell yourself that you are stronger than your demons would have you believe…. FACT!!!!

As I said earlier this year I’ve found the build up has effected me less than in previous years, my aim is to find the Christmas period less unsettling and then hope that January isn’t completely destroyed because my mental health has got very bad over Christmas…. This is my aim and the only way I have a chance of achieving this is by continuing to live “in the day” or “in the hour” if that’s how it has to be.

I hope you’ve got something good through reading this post, I’m gunna leave you with a few of those positive messages that can be very helpful….

image

image

image

image

Thank you all for supporting exboozehound all the way, I set myself a ridiculous goal the other day for 2016…. Nothing ventured nothing gained…. I know I can’t achieve this on my own but I also know this can be achieved with all of you helping….

image

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (good luck)

“enjoy the good and ride out the bad”

Keep going 😉

Jon aka exboozehound
@exboozehound
www.exboozehound.co.uk

Oh and don’t forget my Thingymajig (memoir/book)



Peer Support Meeting

Hiya, on Friday I went to the meeting (poster below. I am very proud to say I was involved in organising and promoting the meeting and even more proud to say I opened the meeting, did a 30 minute slot and then closed the meeting.

 

image

When we were putting this meeting together our aim was to get as many “service users” there as possible, we weren’t sure how many would find the strength to attend but we were very happy with the turnout, in total about 70 people came along and approximately 30 of those were service users and even more brilliantly a good number of the service users got involved both vocally and engaged with the scoping exercise where we asked 7 questions: –

Scoping Exercise Questions
Each question to be written on flip chart displayed around the room
1. Can you describe what peer support means to you?
2. What would you like to know about peer support?
3. Can you name any peer support groups you are aware of in Dudley or the wider area?
4. What are your concerns/ worries regarding peer support?
5. What would encourage you to get involved in peer support?
6. What would you like to happen following the event today?
7. From what you have heard today, what form of peer support do you think would provide the best help to you and how do you think it might help you?

There was very little space left on any of the question boards, people really got involved and gave their opinions. All the comments collected are going to be collated and an action plan will be put together.

I opened the meeting with the following: –

ABOUT ME

Published 24th October 2013

Hi, my name is Jon I am “exboozehound” you can probably work out I have had one or two issues with booze over the years. Fortunately my last drink was on the 17th February 2003, the day before I started a 4 week stay at the Woodbourne Priory Hospital.

I have suffered with depression since my teens, I am now 40 and unfortunately Clinical Depression has got the better of me and is currently winning the war.

So, to sum up I am a 40 year old Mentally Ill Alcoholic who is winning against booze but losing against depression.

I have started this blog to share my experiences, good and bad. I am going to be completely honest and I guarantee I will contradict myself from time to time.

I have had a horrendous time over the last few months and if this blog can help even just one person in a very small way it will be worth it.

Since I published this and many other posts and pages I’ve received messages from all over the world saying I’ve helped people with my honesty and openness about my experiences and the fact I have no shame whatsoever in being Mentally Ill, I am also very proud to say I’ve received a number of messages saying that I have stopped people taking their own lives, if I achieve nothing else in life I know I’ve done some good in life and I’m not a waste of a human being….(as the demons like to tell me)

You know now I’m a “service user” just like some of you guys. I don’t even want to imagine where I would be right now after my mental breakdown in June 2013 if I hadn’t been inspired and chose to fight back and never stop fighting, possibly in a loony bin or more than likely dead (not a nice thing to say but I strongly believe it’s important to talk about suicide & suicidal thoughts openly)

Last week the news was advising the NHS is £1.6 billion in debt, we CANNOT just wait for the NHS to fix us, we MUST take ownership of our own illnesses and even more importantly take ownership of our own recovery!!! We can do this in-part by embracing Peer Support

Of course the cynical side of me and possibly some of you think “of course the NHS wants to promote Peer Support because they are getting it for free using volunteers” BUT, the fact is Peer Support works.

Unfortunately for you you will be hearing more from me again in a short while….

Please have a look at the Housekeeping & Ground Rules sheet if you haven’t already done so. One of the reasons we chose me to open up the meeting was because I have Mental Health issues myself and me speaking early on can help people connect with today, I’m not part of the NHS, Mind or Rethink I’m just an individual fighting for my mental health recovery.

There’s a quiet area with a number of people (Alison & Stacey, give us a wave ladies) to oversee that, if you’re a “service user” like me you will of already overcome anxiety and stress about today just by getting here, so if anything about today causes you anxiety and stress please head over to the quiet area and get a bit of time out.

Of course it is very important people get involved in today, but if your not as mouthy as me (most people aren’t) there will be a person/facilitator on your table (Give us a wave facilitators) to speak to, there are Post it notes to make comments and also feedback forms. Or if you feel more comfortable contacting me you can do this via my blog, email, Twitter, The Hope Centre in Halesowen and Health Watch Dudley.

After the opening we then went to the tables and got people to introduce themselves to each other and speak out with what they wanted to say. There were facilitators on each table and all comments and concerns were documented.

It then came to me again to talk about my experience of the local Mental Health Trust and I decided to go with the following post from right back in November 2013: –

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 followed this up with: –

What I wrote in November 2013 and have just read to you is not exactly a positive endorsement of the NHS. I’m sure many of you have similar stories (I’m currently in an 18 week waiting lists for psychology, which has so far taken 22 weeks…. I have an assessment next week and have already been advised in the letter offering me the assessment,  “there will be a wait of a few months before this will begin”….

I hear stories like this and worse all the time, in fact on Wednesday this week I had a message from someone who is concerned about a friend who is very depressed and suffering big panic attacks and her counselling doesn’t start until February.

So I’m standing here in front of a fair number of people from Dudley & Walsall Mental Health Trust, people from the council and a number of Third Sector groups and I’m being very negative.

The reason for this is to introduce what I and a lot of people believe is one of THE ways forward and that’s PEER SUPPORT, we MUST have peer support setup from start to finish as soon as someone’s GP says I’m referring you to a counsellor, if the wait is a matter of weeks or months Peer support is very important and it must be made available to everyone.

Peer support can be a group of people meeting, it can be one on one meetings, it can be social media, it can be available and should be available in as many formats as possible. We don’t all fit into a perfect box, we are all individuals and all our needs are individual and the professionals should NEVER forget that and we have to make sure they NEVER do.

I run a group called “exboozehounds group for men” down at the Hope Centre in Halesowen, it bothers me a bit that it’s a group solely for men, but for some it has to be this way to allow the guys and me to be completely open and honest…. Who knows moving forward I could setup a group for all if there is a call for it and I’d be happy to do that….

As I said when I first spoke “ I don’t even want to imagine where I would be right now after my mental breakdown in June 2013 if I hadn’t been inspired and chose to fight back and never stop fighting, possibly in a loony bin or more than likely dead (not a nice thing to say but still very important to talk about openly)” They say the hardest thing is to ask for help…. well “they” whoever they are are very wrong…. The hardest thing is to ask for help and receive nothing or be told you will get some help but it won’t be for at least 2 months.

At the very first meeting putting today together there were 2 “service users”, me and one other. This brave guy spoke up and said he was getting no help whatsoever, he was neither in primary or secondary care and he felt completely and utterly lost…. sitting on his right was someone from Primary Care and on his left was someone from Secondary care and both these people said they would look at his file…. Since then I have spoken with this guy and he has visited my group, because he was strong and brave and spoke out in that meeting he is back in the system and being offered therapy and support. For me there is no bigger endorsement for peer support than that….

I’m gunna end with my current mantra.

We have to own our illness and more importantly we have to own our recovery, we can’t sit back and wait for the NHS to fix us we have to fight back for ourselves and find the help we need and the help we need NOW…. not in 6 weeks or 3 months…. NOW. Believe me I know how hard this is, the effort it takes for me sometimes to attend meetings and speak out actually makes me un well, but also sitting at home and festering makes me un well as well…. personally I would rather be un well because I’ve tried to do something positive for myself or someone else.

This is where my motto comes in a motto  I am very proud to say there are people all over the world that have told me they use my motto on a regular basis….

“enjoy the good and ride out the bad”

We KNOW bad times will come, that’s part of the game we play with our demons but we also know that every time we have played that game we have won. We know we have won because we are here and when those demons try to destroy us again and again in the future we will win again and again and again….

For me Peer support is all about “us” and “them” working together, owning our recovery and helping us realise we are not alone….

Fortunately my 30 minute slot seemed to go down pretty well, no-one fell asleep or started throwing things at me anyway….

As well as then going through the scoping exercise with the 7 questions above we were very fortunate to have a lady called Amanda from Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council who gave an overview of the Mental Health Self-Support Groups they have in place and have been working with for 20 years. I think it is safe to say people in the room were very impressed with the dedication and the results achieved in Wolverhampton. I’ve spoken with Amanda since and today when I spoke with someone from secondary care at Dudley & Walsall Mental Health Trust I stated the obvious that we should ensure we continue to speak with Wolverhampton VSC and learn from them.

We then had an overview of what the people in the room had said in answer to the 7 questions and any other comments there was some amazing stuff, people really got involved. After another period of discussions the question was put to the room “can we have a show of hands of those here who want to be involved in these Peer Support meetings moving forward?” The response was amazing, over 3/4’s of the room put there hands up, bloody amazing!!!! it then came back to me to close the meeting, I’d forgotten I was supposed to be doing this and fortunately for everyone in the room I hadn’t prepared anything, or perhaps unfortunately as I do have a tendency to go on a bit…. I closed the meeting with a massive amount of positivity, to have seen how involved everyone had got and how many people wanted to continue the journey was truly satisfying and amazingly positive for the near and distant future of Mental Health well being in Dudley & Walsall.

During the breaks I was introduced to some really brave people who had gone through a lot of anxiety and stress to get to the meeting a number of them will be hopefully coming to “exboozehounds group for men” at The Hope Centre. I have phoned someone since Friday who was at the meeting but left early due to anxiety, I also spoke with someone who’s husband is pretty much housebound due to depression and anxiety and I’ve said I will go and see him at home. These are two more examples of Peer Support, Peer Support can be one to one, face to face, on the phone, social media, groups of people together, there really is no limit to what Peer Support can do and can be.

To bring all this back to reality, although I am very proud to have been involved in this meeting as much as I have it has had an adverse effect on my health (not after sympathy!!). Over the weekend I have done an awful lot of sleeping, although I was very happy to be able to go to the cinema with my brother and nephew on Saturday, I really enjoyed that but as soon as I got home I had an overwhelming feeling of depression (again not after sympathy!!) just being honest and realistic. For me a lot about being in control of our mental health issues is keeping on a level, this in part is done with medication, every time there is a high point in my life it is followed by what feels like a very low point, when in fact it is just the process of coming back to earth, back to reality, back to the level we get used to. Just like in a “Normals” life there are ups and downs we need to recognise this and develop more and more coping mechanisms to deal with the perceived down before it gets out of control.

Thank you for making it to the end of this post, I hope you found it interesting and inspiring….

Mantra time again….

“We have to own our illness and more importantly we have to own our recovery, we can’t sit back and wait for the NHS to fix us we have to fight back for ourselves and find the help we need and the help we need NOW…. not in 6 weeks or 3 months…. NOW.”

“enjoy the good and ride out the bad”

Keep going 😉

Jon aka exboozehound
@exboozehound
www.exboozehound.co.uk

Oh and don’t forget my Thingymajig (memoir/book)




Continual Acceptance

I was gunna title this post “The Cruelty Of Mental Illness” but that seemed a little “let’s have a wallow in self pity” and that isn’t the place that I am or should be in at the moment. I should actually be doing a positive post about an award and recognition I received last week, I should be talking about some amazing new contacts of influential people I made at the “Dudley Volunteer Awards 2015” and the possibility of meetings I’ve got coming up and the potential that could come from those people and meetings, but after the high of the awards last Thursday I’ve gone for another little nose dive into depression. I was gunna talk about the cruelty of mental illness but I’d rather talk about the inconsistency and nonsensical reactions we can have to things. For me the meds we take are to keep us on a level, which is both a good and bad thing. It’s bad cus you often here people talk about themselves being zombiefied, unable to feel emotions. It’s a good thing cus the problem with being able to feel emotions you feel the highs and quite often after the high you feel worse because when coming down from that high you go back to that level that’s best to be on and the higher you go the bigger the drop back to the level which although it happens quite often it always seems to catch you by surprise.

The reason I changed the title and hopefully the message of the post is I want to be positive or perhaps more truthfully I want to be realistic….

I believe in order to move forward from whatever form of mental health issue you are dealing with there first of all has to be an acceptance of the issue, whatever that issue is and if you fully understand it or not. My guess is the majority of us don’t now and maybe never will fully understand our issues, we have spent many years getting to this point of our lives and to unpick the issues of life to a point where we know exactly why we are the way we are is very unlikely, so at some point we have to accept we are never going to be able to answer all the questions we pose to ourselves, we have to accept there probably isn’t one reason or indeed any actual answers to the many questions we ask ourselves or are asked in our recovery process by the experts who are trying to fix us. I’ve had conversations with people who believe they have recovered from there mental health issue, I would never question them specifically about it cus it’s there recovery, it’s there life and if they believe that then it’s absolutely fantastic news for them. Unfortunately I don’t believe I will ever be cured of my mental health issues, I believe I will always have a level of instability, I don’t see this as a negative way of thinking about it, I see it as a realistic thought pattern for the way my world is now and has been for many years. I know over the many years I have struggled with depression and then clinical depression and mental illness following my mental breakdown (or major episode) in 2013 has left me with an instability that will always be there in one form or another in my life, what I have to do is change my many incorrect learned reactions to different situations and events that will face me in the future. Having said that if I ever believe I am cured I will shout it from the rooftops….

It’s not enough to accept once you have a mental illness, the initial acceptance is a very important one but we have to continually accept each and every episode. We have to accept the highs, we have to accept the lows, we have to accept the intrusive thoughts, we have to accept the bonkers thoughts, we have to accept the paranoid thoughts, we have to accept the lack of emotion, we have to accept the abundance of incorrect and mis interpreted emotions, we have to accept the lack of energy, we have to accept the agitation, we have to accept each and every unexplainable mood change that comes our way.

Accepting all these things is not giving in, it’s not being negative, it is about being realistic. An awful lot of what goes on in our minds and in our lives make us uncomfortable and uneasy but in order to move forward from these issues we must accept them in order to find a way through and past them.

I say all the time I have no problem in accepting I have a mental illness or have mental health issues but I don’t think I actually have fully accepted. Part of me is still the man who believes men should be strong and be able to cope with everything life throws at us, I think this is hard wired into us. I believe this is why there’s an awful lot in the media about why men find mental illness harder to cope with, why men find it harder to ask for and accept help and why the figures for suicide in men is so high, we believe admitting we need help is admitting we are weak. We are not weak, accepting we have issues, accepting we need help, accepting we must ask for help, accepting that help shows we are strong and believe me when I tell you you will need that strength to keep fighting towards your recovery, you will need that strength to continually accept, sometimes on a daily basis that you have to find the strength to realise you will be able to cope with everything life and life with mental illness throws at you, maybe not immediately but if you keep accepting and keep approaching things from every conceivable direction eventually you will cope with it all.

“There ain’t nothing we can’t cope with…. Eventually!!!!”

(Please understand me going on about it being harder for men is by no means me saying its easy for women, anyone battling mental health issues is not having an easy time)

“enjoy the good and ride out the bad”

Keep going 😉

Jon aka exboozehound
@exboozehound
www.exboozehound.co.uk

Oh and don’t forget my Thingymajig (memoir/book)