Thursday, 26 September 2013

Stuff going on right now...

As I begin to write this, I am awaiting a call from the council's housing department. I am currently applying, with urgency, for a social property. The person I have just spoken to - and saw in person last week - is concerned about my mental health and felt he needed to contact the Crisis Team. I tried to explain that as I am not imminently at risk of suicide/homicide, they will not be interested, and that they are supposed to be an alternative to hospital admission. I'm not about to be admitted to hospital, and funnily enough it's also the Crisis Team who gatekeep psychiatric beds so they would get to make this decision too!

Anyway, the housing bloke called back to ask for my GP's phone number. This means the Crisis Team have said I'm the GP's responsibility. I am now waiting for it to go full circle and the GP to recommend going to A&E... to see the Crisis Team. This is the usual psychiatric merry-go-round of trying to get help when things have taken a turn for the worse, or even a slow decline for the worse. There seems to be an odd rigidity to services that relies heavily on first impressions. No-one is allowed to get iller, or present different symptoms after their very first assessment, without being made to feel like they are 'putting it on' or 'not trying hard enough'. Even if an initial psychiatric report is full of errors, omissions, misinterpretation and loaded judgements, subsequent contact with mental health services will be viewed in light of it (and subject to confirmation bias).

I've been told many times that I'm “intelligent and resourceful”. Well thank you for the compliment, guys! The problem is they use this to imply that I cannot have a mental health problem – or at least, not one that interferes with day-to-day life (surely the very definition of a mental health problem?). So, I should be using my intelligence and resourcefulness to sort out my problems and basically, just snap out of it! Never mind that I've tried this for years (who would have anything to do with MH services if they didn't have to?!) and it's not worked. Another word that's been bandied about in my vicinity is “articulate”. Thanks again, you flattering minxes! But unfortunately it doesn't matter how eloquently I can describe how I feel, it doesn't get me any closer to solving the problem! Actually, even identifying the problem fully requires therapeutic help. But no, apparently I'm too intelligent, resourceful (how? - I've clearly been messed up by not coping with things that have happened!) and articulate to possibly be struggling. The converse assumption of course, is that people who are mentally ill are all thick and unintelligible, but I doubt a mental health professional would say that (they sometimes act like they think it though... hmm).

The most irritating thing about all this is that they actually delayed my therapy because they were waiting to allocate me a CPN (community psych nurse), as they felt therapy would be so destabilizing I'd need support. Yet at the same time they are expecting me to cope with some incredibly difficult things alone, especially as my CPN has been off sick for six weeks now so I have pretty much no support at all outside therapy. They've said I'm going to get a new CPN, but they've apparently changed the rules on what they do so they're not willing to help with my current major stressors of housing/upcoming homelessness, and evidence for ESA (sickness benefit). So I'm in this terrifying situation of impending destitution whilst those who could help – and should, if they're supposed to be helping me get better – refuse to do so. I'm sure they must help other people with these things, otherwise who is? Are they seriously letting people on their books starve and become homeless?

My housing issue is because the scroungers, known as MP's (the ones who get the taxpayer to pay for their second homes and moat cleaning services) decided that those aged under 35 should only be entitled to enough housing benefit to rent a room. Now some might think this is fair enough and point to working people of the same age who 'can't afford' to rent a self-contained property. However, this fails to take into account that (a) if they really can't afford it, they'd be entitled to some top-up housing benefit themselves, and (b) actually they probably can afford it but don't want to be left with £70 or less to live on after paying the rent, as those on benefits have. Regardless, I'm not actually able to cope with sharing a flat. I've done it in the past, for many years, much to my detriment. Having this flat has been amazing for me, probably the singular most helpful thing for my mental health thus far. It's 'my' place, a place that feels safe, my sanctuary. That kind of thing is important if you don't have much expereince of feeling safe, and are being knocked sideways by the therapy process. I've lived here for two years, and previously was exempt from the under 35 rule due to getting Disability Living Allowance. Because of the stability brought about by having a steady income and my own, safe place to live, I would not qualify for DLA now (or it's replacement, PIP). Even if I did, the professionals wouldn't provide the evidence at this stage.

Anyway, I'm having to apply for a social housing property, which is pretty scary considering the huge demand for one bed flats now since the 'bedroom tax' is making people in social housing downsize. My current rent shortfall is £45 a week, leaving me £26 to live on. Obviously I'm not actually managing that, so my last tiny bit of savings is being eaten up. I'm fucking terrified, I've been assured I won't be homeless but the thought of having to leave my home to go into a hostel or an awful flat far from friends is too much to bear. I don't know how I'd cope going to the greengrocer's down the street without feeling sick and confused trying not to look in the direction of my former flat. Even though in practical terms I'm better off than previous homeless experiences, I don't actually know how to cope with living through it again. I don't know how to take any more pain.

To know that on top of that I'm going to have to cope with signing on and looking for nonexistant work, apply for jobs I can't do, and face workfare of 30hrs a weeks for benefits, and it's a bleak picture. I feel like I'm too late. Everything's come too late to help me. If only they'd started the therapy earlier, I'd have been going through it with the stability of my flat and benefits. Instead I'm expected to suddenly, miraculously be better and able to cope with work, despite not having had treatment yet. And the treatment/therapy is expected to be very distressing and difficult, so actually making the situation worse before it gets better. But nevermind, off to work! It's crazy, I can see myself getting more unwell and unstable, I don't feel brave enough to kill myself yet, and knowing all the pain that is to come is unbearable. They are actually putting me through it all again, the stuff that led me to breakdown in the first place. There's the hanging threat of removing my therapy if I'm too unstable to go through it, yet I'm being forced into that unstable and damaging place by stupid policies from a corrupt system that mental health professionals should be fighting, not endorsing.

I need a miracle, I actually do.

* * *

Anyway, the GP called me, breaking the Crisis Team – GP – A&E – Crisis Team circle of doom. Well, it was the practice manager I think. She offered me an appointment in the morning which I explained I would struggle to get to due to being barely able to get out of bed at the moment, and not sure what the GP could do anyway. This is awful, I know I should have played along and dragged myself in; but knowing from experience it would be futile it seems a total waste of the limited energy I have. Bleughhh. This post sounds really moany, I hope if anyone reads it they understand how bleak my reality is at the moment and don't judge too much. I do try to be positive, I've tried all my life to keep going, help others, and keep picking myself up when things go wrong. I actually thought I'd done really well and was being more kind to myself and coping better with things, but unfortunately most of that was to do with the stability of home and income I had for a short while. Also, mental health professionals – bar the therapist – seem to be expert at showing you you're actually a worthless waste of space who should snap out of it, the moment you try and have some healing self-compassion.

Waiting for a miracle...