If I was to write a comedy about getting referred to mental health services I would base it on my own experiences. In fact, I would just write out my experience because it’s beginning to make me feel that I live in some kind of Truman show-esque world where I am being purposely denied help for entertainment purposes.
So let begin with a “Previously on The Elephant in the Room” Elephant finally decided to let her doctor refer her after weeks of feeling betrayed and given up on. She waited for a response from the referral people only to receive on whilst she was working. She called back as soon as she could to be told she would get a call the next day, this call didn’t happen so she called the next day and was told “you will get a call tomorrow” and this went on and on until Elephant got fed up of calling and stopped.
So here we are at today. I haven’t been able to think about anything but this referral because it terrifies me, what am I going to find out? what if I can’t do it? It’s such a huge step. I don’t like going to new places. What happens if I get lost, or I freak out when I am there? I am doing this on my own and I am terrified. But, the people who keep calling me don’t seem to care about that, they promise calls and don’t call back and that’s not ok. I enough problems with anxiety without them adding to it, they are supposed to be helping me!
So, to take my mind off of this I got out this “Anti-stress” colouring book I got for Christmas and coloured and coloured and coloured for 5 hours and it did take my mind off everything and make me feel less stressed. In fact, I forgot about this waste of time referral and was feeling ok. Until they called me whilst I was working, and then they called again 15 minutes later and again 30 minutes after that. And of course I was working so I couldn’t answer. And that made me feel even more anxious.
I got home at 5:10 I called straight away, but I was put through to the crisis team. AGAIN and told to call back tomorrow. Well, this was not ok, I went crazy stabbing a ballpoint pen through a notepad repeatedly, my lip quivering in anger. Then I had to go and pretend I was ok. So I started to colour again, for 3 more hours.
Then I went to bed, I set my alarm for 9:10, to make sure I got the right people (who are supposed to start at 9) I dreamt about this stupid referral all night. In the most random of the dreams, I got a callback but I was confused as to why because in the dream it was a Saturday. In the call, I was told I needed a photo of me and a photo of me eating, when I was asking why they told me I needed to get a good nights sleep. I asked why and they said “because your first session is tomorrow morning” and I reacted by shouting “WHAT?” because in the dream nobody had told me about this and then the person said “oh, sorry I forgot to call you yesterday to tell you that it was happening on Sunday morning at 9:30” and then I don’t really know what happened because I don’t remember.
So anyway I work up at 9:10, waited a few minutes and called them. The guy that answered seemed completely uninterested in helping me. He kept asking me to wait whilst he turned on his computer. which was stupid and then all he did was take my damn details and tell me someone would call me back. I snapped “well it has to be before 12 because I am work then” (Although I start at 2, I just wanted this to be over and done with.)
So I waited, and I began writing this post and in all honesty I thought it would end like all the others but I think tis is gonna end worse than the other pieces.
I got a call at about 10 o clock. I knew it was them because there was “no caller ID” again. so I answered. The man was incredibly rude “Now YOU told us last week to call you on a Monday after 12. So I did” I interrupted “YES, my work patterns change every week.” “You said to call you after 12 and I did, 2 times.” I didn’t appreciate this and I think he could tell I was getting pissed off with his tone of voice. so he changed it and started laughing about how he was talking too fast. He told me he was going to ask me some questions and write down my answers.
He asked if I self-harm, I said yes. Just last week, he asked if I needed medical attention, I said no. He asked about my suicidal thoughts, I said I had them, I lied and said January was the last time but to be honest I’m sure it was last week. I shouldn’t have lied but I was on the spot and worried. I said I didn’t have a plan, I told him I take my medication at the same time every day. And I don’t. He asked how my mood was I said it was ok, to be honest, it’s not. I feel crappy again because he made me remember I am an idiot who cuts themselves and wants to die. After all of the questions, he told me that I would get an appointment within 2 months but I would get a letter in 2 weeks.
There was no point questioning as to if the letter would have NHS on because this team clearly doesn’t care about me or probably any other patients, he was really trying to find out if I was dangerous, I probably would have got more out of the phone call if I was.
So here I am, post phone call waiting for my referral and I feel worse, because now I feel like this guy doesn’t think my mental health is bad enough because I have a job, or that it’s my fault that I didn’t get this sorted earlier because I have a job. and now I hate myself even more.
Well. I hope the person I get my appointment with is nicer than him.
The Elephant in the Room