Friday, 7 March 2014

Random connections and a brief synopsis...

A couple of days ago, I spent a huge amount of time reading this blog, specifically the mental health related posts from back in 2007-8. I'd been thinking about my experiences with mental health services, and surrounding events. Not intentionally thinking about these things, but lots of obscure memories and feelings were popping up and I seemed to be joining the dots and making sense of them. I was experiencing a lot of derealisation which wasn't exactly pleasant itself, but accompanied by a beautiful clarity that was alternately despairing and exhilarating.
Now that all sounds a bit airy-fairy and self indulgent, I know, and no doubt a psychiatrist somewhere would see it as the first signs of mania and want to prescribe me some heavy-duty meds. Or perhaps a mental health nurse could write some notes about me detailing how I refuse to accept I'm a terrible person who would be ok if I could just stop being such a damned pain in the arse, or you know, having feelings and that...
Conform! And please don't point out the discrepancies in this bizarre human society, the cognitive dissonance, the disjointed edges of our reality; do not peer through the cracks because therein lies MADNESS!!

Moving swifly on..!
CalumCarr noticed that one visitor had spent all this time reading his posts on mental health (cue moment of paranoid embarassment that someone out there had witnessed my obsessive blog reading) and was reminded why he has kept the blog. In return, his post on the matter reminded me that I would like to blog here far more often, and why...

I ended up posting a comment that turned out to be very long, and as it summed up so many things, I thought I'd post it here too:

I found your blog because I was looking for others who had been through the same with the NHS mental health services as myself, for validation I suppose.

I was still in my teens when I went to the GP for what I believed to be depression (still do actually, psych diagnoses are simply a label on a cluster of behaviours that commonly arise together...) Long story short [ok, so it turned out not to be so short...], someone somewhere decided to label me with BPD [Borderline Personality Disorder]. I didn't have a formal assessment, just aquired the label somehow. I think it was the GP due to some of the outrageous things he said to me ("You're just one of those people" etc.) and the fact that I never got offered any treatment from the word go. [This was pre- 2007 when the NHS still turned people away for having this diagnosis.]

As things worsened, I was regularly being taken to the hospital under section by the police, usually offered no assessment, and always sent away as a waste of time. If I tried to stand up for myself they gleefully used it as 'evidence' of BPD, being disagreeable. I made a complaint and the extracts from my notes, the lies and manipulation they used, showed me it was a losing battle. To this day I daren't read my NHS records because it would break me.

I was also in an abusive relationship at the time, and living under threat of violence due to a separate situation (I reiterate: I was 19 at the time!). Because of the BPD label I was refused housing assistance from the council. The MH services colluded with my abusive (older) boyfriend and if I was ever upset at how he treated me I was accused of 'splitting'. He was offered sympathy and supportive phonelines.

The worst thing is, I have ended up with a criminal record (and loads more charges that were dropped/public order offences) due to standing up for myself (eg. refusing to leave until I'd got help) and due to being angry (non-violently) about the situations I was trapped in. I always wanted to be a nurse, and a few years ago should have begun training. However the place was withdrawn at the last minute once they'd seen my criminal and NHS records. The people who did this to me are probably still out there inflicting their cruelty on patients, but I am deemed too risky. All the caring careers are closed to me now, despite feeling I was placed on this earth to help people.

There were too many arrests to count, terrible things that happened but the police would do nothing, calling me a 'drama queen', I was terrified and alone so many times. I've been homeless and kicked out of the hostel for not being 'priority' as BPD wasn't seen as mentally ill. I've been restrained so many times that when it hurts badly in a warped way I want to be arrested because that's the only human touch I had in pain back then.

I was eventually given some therapy several years later - and properly assessed, so they had to remove the BPD diagnosis but the stigma remained. The therapist was lovely but there were constant issues coming up to do with stuff written about me that she was working from - rather than focussing on how I felt, it was all about 'changing behaviours' that actually only existed around the mental health team!!

I thought I'd escaped it all when I had another breakdown, probably because I was finally 'safe'. Then the nightmares and flashbacks started. It's been 3.5 years of chasing treatment now. I'm lucky enough to have been offered funds for private therapy (from family member) and I know this is what I have to do; no-one in the NHS can help because they will not be allowed to criticise the system.

It's almost 10 years since it all began. Whatever the original issues were, the stuff that affects me now is to do with what happened when I tried to get help, and the surrounding circumstances. I precisely fit the diagnosis of 'complex PTSD' - as yet not an official diagnosis.

I have NEVER fulfilled enough diagnostic criteria to be diagnosed BPD. But the layers upon layers of lies and misrepresentation have forever condemned me.
Not that it should matter, even if I DID have it.


So there we go. I hate to criticize the NHS; on physical health matters they have been excellent for myself and others I know, and the principle of a healthcare system free at the point of use is one I strongly defend. But really, the issues I've had with them relating to mental health aren't really to do with the NHS at all, rather a lack of funding (if properly funded, the money would be recouped from other areas eg. policing) and the way in which mental ill-health and human behavoir in general is viewed by society.

I used to think that the antipsychiatry brigade were aligning themselves with the tinfoil hat people in their views on social and political control; mainly because I've never been admitted to hospital under section or suffered barbaric 'treatment' like forced injections or ECT. And yet... I'm coming at it from the opposite experience, of being refused any treatment at all, labelled, judged and condemned... and have come to realise it's the same social and political principles in action.


  1. Hi Myrtle

    The last thing I wanted to do was to embarrass you. I'm an obsessive stats watcher and so I see the ip address of all visitors and the pages they visit. I have so few visitor that this is an easy task. I was delighted to see someone - you - read and read and read. My blog still has a purpose!

    I'm pleased you've put your comments in a post: they deserve to be given that level of importance.

    When I read your comments I could feel again the anger and frustration and helplessness from 7 years ago ..... and I was the well one. It was Mrs Carr, as you know, who suffered at the desperate lack of NHS treatment. I could only imagine her sufferings as I can only imagine yours. But I know your sufferings are real. My thoughts, blessings and prayers are with you.


  2. Thank you Calum. I was going to leave you a message to ask if it was ok to link to your blog... should probably have asked first!
    Yes it is very frustrating, especially as in my case it spans young adulthood when I should have been making my way in the world and starting a career. It's weird being unemployed in your late 20's just as everyone else is starting to really get stuck into things.
    Mind you, I wouldn't be the person I am without these struggles and also I've done a fair bit of travelling and fun stuff amongst the bad times!

  3. Of course you can. I'd be delighted. I'll do the same for you.

    Take care.

  4. That's you on my blogroll. Hope that's OK.