Previously on The Elephant Show

Dear Reader,

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.

As Always,

The Elephant in the Room

34 thoughts on “Previously on The Elephant Show

  1. I know how you feel, I am waiting for a referral to a psychologist, from my psychiatrist and it’s taking soooo long. My insurance company wants me back at work but I can’t even fathom that until I get a call from this new doctor. It’s been a few months, very frustrating. Hang in there.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The system is fucked. It’s awful. There are so many things the NHS does well, but mental health services is not one of them.

    Mostly it’s funding and staffing issues 😦 the last time my GP referred me for any counselling (and I *was* dangerous, or my GP thought I might be) I got 6 sessions with a woman who’s not any kind of doctor (much less a psychologist) who brought along a student to our first session.

    The first one. Where I was nervous and shy and no trust had been established between doctor and patient (but in fairness, she’s a graduate student herself, not a doctor; maybe she doesn’t know you’re supposed to get your patient to trust you, before they can talk about their deep-seated anxieties and despair, or before you bring a spectator to the show)… and there’s literally no one else, she’s one of 3-4 mental health workers for my town + about 3 other towns nearby. In a way, it’s good that student was there, making me even more nervous than I already was–at least it means they’re training more not-quite-psychologists.

    The last time I saw an actual headshrinker, it was through work’s private insurance. I’m a SAHM and part-time student, now. I can’t afford the £50 (plus whatever the insurance company pays) to see a real doctor for an hour.

    And it’s not like proper shrinks don’t do charitable/free work–many of them do–but I can’t blame them for spending that time, I dunno, picking up an unpaid shift in an actual hospital, where the crazies are much worse off than me… I mean, shit. When (I mean if, I mean if) I top myself, my 2 kids’ll have a rough time, but hey, they’ve got their dad, their stepdad, one set of grandparents, they’ll be alright. Someone who… I dunno… sees *actual* elephants in their room (and the elephants are trying to kill them, and they have to fight back) probably *does* deserve to be at the top of the “People Who Need Help” list, when compared to a sad little housewife and mother.

    Not that any of that makes it feel any better, being “just” a suicide risk/”just” a person who’d rejoice if a bus hit them, and knowing that’s not enough to qualify for services. Obviously, I wish something could be done, but… what do you do?

    I decided to study psychology, myself. True story.

    So maybe one day *I’ll* be the doctor trying to ring you back/having my secretary do it, and trying to decide whether I take your call, or the call of the schizophrenic who thinks he can fly off a bridge.

    If I don’t fly off a bridge myself, first 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I was the receiving end of someone who didn’t care and should go walk off a bridge just this morning. It was significant to me because just yesterday I had made the positive decision to try to love myself again and figure out how to do it. I had a string of good days and this was going to be it. I was going to get out of this depression I found myself in and things were going to get better.
    This guy at the local convenience store went off on me for no reason. I was not loud, ugly or cursing but he screamed and yelled and cursed at me because I had my own coffee and didn’t purchase it from the store. This sent me spiraling back into self loathing and hate and now I am right back where I started. Rock bottom and I just want to stay there in the dark. Other people have no empathy and are so clueless.
    I am right there with you Elephant. Right there with you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • And that is the worst thing. People don’t realise how little things like that can really throw you off.

      I had a situation today when I was at work where a customer shouted at me because she couldn’t use two vouchers at once. Except this time instead of getting upset I yelled “WELL DONT SPEND IT THEN!” and walked off and then when someone asked if I was ok. I started yelling about how I was going to break their necks :p Apparently Im not good at people being nasty to me

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve been hearing similar stories often, and I thought the health system in Britain or the US would be perfect to a fault. I’m sorry you’re going through this and there doesn’t seem to be a medical professional to help you through it. As a doctor, I sort of take it personally, but it’s a shame. I hope you get an appointment soon and with a professional trained to help you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t know if I said before, but my experience of accessing MH services on the NHS were very similar. What a ridiculous time to wait without any support or even any information that might make all this feel clearer. In my case, it did get easier once I was over the threshold, so to speak. I used the morons like him to be referred onto something better, but it is not without a fair bit of pushing and shoving. Don’t be afraid to push. I know it’s so hard to do when our MH is on the floor, but it is only the loudest that get seen first, IME. I hope it works out okay for you

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sometimes i can’t believe this is the state of the NHS, it’s unacceptable, and it appears they don’t even read the information given to them (what was it 10 times), keep at it, again another aspect of the stigma your working so it can’t be that bad!!!!.

    Keep the faith, were here for you:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you 🙂 I can’t believe that it has been so hard to get help. You see so many adverts and tv programs that talk about getting help and its hard. Especially when it has been difficult to make this step in the first place and then when they make you feel bad for trying to get better its not good.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ridiculous that they put someone struggling with mental health issues through so much grief. I’m sorry you’re going through this and hope that the person you’re referred to is great 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s a dangerous line that we walk when trying to get the help we need. On one hand, you know you need the help no matter how you feel at that moment. On the other, there’s fear that telling the truth about any of the questions will get you put into a situation that you rather not be in.

    I ran into a situation a few years back; I was asked about my mental health and instead of lying I told the truth. I opened up to the person on the phone hoping that I would get the help I knew I needed…what I got was two police officers at my door five minutes later taking me to a mental hospital.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s maddening how tangled this process is. I don’t think the “system” realizes how difficult it is to actually MAKE THAT CALL – and then to be placed on hold, in callback mode, etc, only to arrive at an appointment 2-3 months away….Not acceptable. It’s not like you can anticipate 3 months in advance when things will be at the tipping point where you need help.

    If there was a 3-month wait for people having heart attacks there’d be outrage….

    Liked by 3 people

    • I completely agree! If I had a heart problem I could have died in 3 months. and lets be honest with mental health I could die in 3 months! I got my letter today and my appointment is in two weeks. but, its scary. The first call is hard and I really hate how the waiting has made me feel.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. 2 months! Are these people accountable for nothing? I wonder how many people get worse due to the system abusing and retraumatizing them
    Can you let your previous dr know that you need a different place to be referred to?
    This is so inhumane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I got the letter today, I was surprised it was so fast. I still have a two month wait. I could be worse or better in that time and its scary to be honest. I will have to see my dr soon to get some more pills so I will talk to him then. I just feel that I wasnt treated very well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • They were very rude to you, even if it were a usual customer service situation.
        The fact that they know it is a mental health issue makes it even worse.
        Who trains these people that answer phones and do scheduling? It isn’t K-Mart, for gods sake!
        I am having issues with the therapy place my daughter is going to. Particularly her new therapist. Lots of rudeness and inappropriate communication. I think the lady is snotty with me.
        These people are being paid to help people, not retraumatize us.
        I feel for you. And it is noy just in your head that they did not treat you well, especially when the guy questioned you about your work schedule like you were in the wrong.
        By the way, i would have told them i had to work at 12 also. You cant be taking these kind of calls 15 min before going to work. For me, i have enough trouble getting out the door to go to work. Anything that added to the alralread disabling anxiety would destroy my brain.
        In general, people are not sympathetic enough.
        Take care and keep us updated. Sorry for the rant, but i have really had it with these rude mental health workers.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. Next they will have a drive through McTherapy and make you wait in the suicide drivethrough lane, behind 20 other cars. Then after waiting for 2hours say , ” oh. We cant take anyone else today. Come back on Monday and maybe you will get lucky!”
    Funny picture but I am not sure how far off from the truth it is !


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