A favourite quote and a way by which to approach life.

Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.

Monday, 8 February 2010

A bit less Wensleydale

Last time I posted I was feeling pretty emotionally crumbly, but things in that respect have improved over the past five days or so. I think this was in part down to an appointment with my new psychiatrist. I've seen a psychiatrist for many years now, initially because I was extremely depressed (for reasons that I won't go into), but I've been really well in that respect for almost seven years. Of course I've had the occasional reactional blip, almost exclusively in response to my physical illness, but they've been short-lived and understandable. I now see the psychiatrist because of the emotional impact that my asthma has, but I don't see them very often these days simply because I don't need to - I generally cope a whole lot better with the things that life throws at me. In fact several years ago the psychiatrist I was seeing at the time said that he wouldn't discharge me because I cheer him up too much :o) That was two psychiatrists back.

The psych services are very unstable with extremely little consistency, which I think is terrible as it's one area of medicine where the development and maintenance of a trusting doctor-patient relationship is vital, but it's just not there. Maybe it's doctor burn-out, I don't know, but whatever it is I'm now onto something like my 12th psychiatrist in 14 or 15 years! Things have been more stable since the middle of 2003, although I am now onto the third psych since then.

Usually psychiatrists are fairly good at telling you that they're going to leave, but the last one didn't tell me and the first thing I knew about it was when I received a very strange letter from the community mental health team (CMHT) that I think I mentioned a few posts back. The name and address at the top of the letter were mine, but it then went on with 'Dear Lesley', told me that the appointment I'd been expecting just a couple of days later with Dr G had been cancelled and a new one made for me with Dr M - a psychiatrist I hadn't seen for two years - on 32nd January. Hmmm, someone obviously wasn't with it! I phoned the CMHT to ask them what was going on, and while they couldn't account for the date or the wrong name, they assured me that the letter was for me and that the reason my appointment was to be with Dr M was because Dr G had left. Oh. News to me. They said they'd send me another appointment, this time for a date that existed, so I waited, and I waited, and then I got a letter saying they were sorry that I couldn't/didn't attend an appointment with a Dr T on 30th December. Had I known about it (and had I actually been in Newcastle) then I would've gone, but I didn't go because I didn't know ... and anyway, who was this Dr T? I phoned the CMHT again, explained my reason for not attending and asked who Dr T is, and the answer? A new psychiatrist. Really? What a surprise. Oh well. Eventually, having supposed to have had an appointment with Dr G at the beginning of November, I saw Dr T on Monday just gone. I hadn't realised how uncertain I was about meeting yet another psychiatrist until afterwards. It's not just the prospect of having to get to know yet somebody else, explaining the past and my current health/disability, but also the prospect that it's yet another locum so there's no real point in going into things in too much detail or working out their approach to 'treatment'. I had nothing to worry about. Dr T has taken on a permanent position, is fairly young, a lovely, approachable woman with a good sense of humour, on the ball, and not too quick to jump in with medication. Like almost every other doctor I've seen in the past couple of months she hadn't heard of POTS before, but as this has been the thing that's impacted so enormously on my life over recent times, this is what I needed to talk about. She was open to learning about POTS, and of course was concerned about the impact it's having on my life both physically and emotionally. She also said that if there's ever a time when I'm not well enough to get to my appointments with her, if I give her a few days notice then she's quite happy to come and see me at home! This is amazing. This is how the mental health services should operate, but it's not something that's ever been offered to me before. Occasionally Dr M would come to see me in the Freeman when in with my asthma, but it wasn't something that had specifically been offered, rather something that I asked if it would be possible.

After my appointment with Dr T I was hugely relieved. I knew I was in safe hands, and that those hands are here to stay, and I'd also been able to off-load a bit of the trauma of the past few month's life-changing on-set of POTS. I'd been miserable, crying, scared, and emotionally crumbly, but now I'm not so Wensleydale (like the cheese).

It's a huge relief, all of it.


B said...

I'm really glad to hear something's gone well, for a change.

Hope to see you again soon x

Hops said...

Hi Hun
Im so glad your new psych is working well -im on my own atm and its so scary- am going to be asked to be re-referred tomoz. I really do think that anyone with chronic health probs should always have access to mental health support - take care xx

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Very interesting post. I don't think I could cope with it all.

living_with_ba said...

Glad to hear something is going right!

Hope to hear more from you soon :)

BeckyG said...

Thsnk you all for your comments and I'm sorry it's taken so long for me to respond.

Hops, you're absolutely right about anyone with chronic health problems having access to mental health support. I think the impact of chronic illness is very under acknowledged and unappreciated, and often ignored. Did you manage to ask for a re-referral?

Ken, thank you for your comment. I think you cope with these things as they occur because you have to. Sometimes it's only when you look back that you see what a shambles and/or an ordeal it's been. I think the mental health services are generally under-valued, not just by the public but by the wider health service too, so funds and resources aren't put in as readily as they are into say cancer care. Psychiatry isn't attractive, and there's still a huge stigma around it, so it gets shunted off to one-side and some of society's most vulnerable inevitably fall off the edge when they just can't cope with it any more. I don't know what the solution is, but it needs sorting and the fear needs to be taken out of the world that surrounds mental health services and mental health service users.