I’ve had to reconsider about ten times how to go about this post. I ideally want to be informative, share my feelings in a calm yet entertaining fashion whilst not getting upset or hinting for sympathy or attention. To be honest I don’t know if I’m even gonna hit one of those things this time. This time is different.
This post, in short: mental illness sucks. Literally. It sucks the life out of you. Out of the person it affects directly, and it sucks the life out of everything around that person. Indirectly. Even when you lose someone you care about to it, and think you’ve finally won the battle with it yourself, BAM it’s back – like an unwelcome guest at the door with leaflets. Except it doesn’t just want to talk to you on your porch and give you some crap to read later, it barges right on through, throws all the leaflets on the floor and starts setting fire to them, whilst doing a contemporary war dance in the middle of your carpet and smashing all the windows in the process – all before you can even work out who on earth would do such a thing. I’ll tell you who – Mr Mental Illness.
Even the name annoys me. The fact that the word ‘mental’, implies to people, that you may actually be that – mental (and not in a good way). So you’re not just ill. You’re MENTAL-ly ill. Like being disabled. Why does it matter where? Stick the word ‘mental’ in front of it and hooray – humans have created yet another box to fit our ever-evolving society into. (Sorry you are going to have to bear with my cynicism with this one).
Right, so the point of this post. I’m not too sure if I’m honest. Indeed, all the life has been sucked out of me. Indirectly, this time (unless you count tonsillitis, but we’re not talking physical illnesses here) because the person who has been taken from me this time is my parent (you now, the remaining living one). Like, it wasn’t enough for the universe to give my dad his fair share of mental illness and finish him off, it just had to go and give my mother a taster too. Every now and again. i.e. When I was an embryo. When I was 11. When I was 15. When I was 19. I’ve lost count now I’m in my 20’s but it’s happening annually now. Literally every year. Sometimes she doesn’t even know it’s happening until it’s too late and I get back to see her frantically searching for any fragments of her soul. I get it, I do. I get how people are more susceptible than others to depression and anxiety, bio polar and schizophrenia and I’ve heard horror stories. I also get how people suffer in different ways. They get physical things like cancer and heart disease or a severe but ridiculously rare disease at birth that inhibits their quality of life. And it’s sh*t. I know it is. We know it is. For some reason, these things exist in this world and we all just have to struggle through it and just love and support each other the best we can. Respect what we don’t understand. Help when we do. Create beautiful moments whilst we can, make the most out of a life, our lives. Play ignorant if we have to.
I’ve just realised why this post doesn’t have a point and the reason is because I’M TOO ANGRY TO SEE ONE. I’m angry that my mum, like so many others, has done nothing in her life to deserve this amount of suffering. Not only that, I’m tired of it. I’m tired fighting the healthcare system to get the ‘help’ that she needs. That we need. I haven’t had a mother for over 2 months now as she’s quite literally lost in her own mind (think Willow’s girlfriend after she’s hexed by Gloria) and she can’t find a way out on her own. And unless a powerful witch with a vendetta on us has made such as curse, I’m utterly helpless to get her out of it. I need reinforcements. Professional, specialised, psychiatric reinforcements. You know, I get the whole thing with the GP ‘here’s some different pills, see how you go’. Yeah it works. If you’re a teenager, or whatever your age really and you just believe that these pills will help you – and great sometimes they do. But this is NOT the appropriate treatment when THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR OVER FIFTEEN YEARS, periodically without a known cause WITH THE SAME GP. Like do they not read the notes? Do they honestly think, in their professional opinion that changing to a (low) dose of another antidepressant will actually give an improvement, given the history? I mean maybe they do. They know what they’re doing right?
All I know is this: since beginning of July, I’ve lost my mum completely. Like her body’s walking around (when she makes it out of bed), with perhaps a remnant of her soul, but she is all for intents and purposes, gone. Like that little boy describes in that book/ film ‘Room’. He was five. Again. So you’d think, that maybe just maybe, the GP would recognise this as a crisis (they like to use that word a lot actually) and you know, email a quick referral over to the secondary care team, for a lady with a strong severe history of depression who needs urgent care – and perhaps give her diff meds to try in the meantime. I mean, maybe if Labour were in power this would happen, but we’re a long long way from that sadly. I’ll share with you how this went, to at least give some purpose to this post..
So early stages – my mum arranged a telephone appointment with her GP. He changed her to an alternative antidepressant (a low, maintenance dose though). We had about 10 days of this pointless and basic antidepressant (compared to what she’s used to anyway) that personally made me feel like sh*t when I had it, so I personally wasn’t holding out any hope. But hey, these people know what they’re doing, right? She then deteriorated. Couldn’t do her birthday present with me. I then got another appointment, with someone with a ‘special interest’ in Mental Health, who decides to do blood tests and gave her more tablets if she wanted to up the dosage herself. Further deterioration 2 weeks later. Blood tests get done, and after pushing for an actual face to face GP appointment as opposed to a phone call, the GP FINALLY does an ‘urgent’ referral and tells my mum to do things to get her up and out of this ‘rut’. At least we had the referral. Great. 2 days later and my mum has missed a call. I use my CSI skills and ring back to ask if they can call me instead – they need my mum’s permission, fine ‘yeah sure we’ll call you Lorraine if we can’t get through’. My mum gets another missed call. An hour later, I call back again, only to get stopped at security again, or more specifically, confidentiality. So after an upsetting scene where my mum was actually traumatised when I said someone on the phone wanted to speak to her again, she manages to give her consent and we’re back on track. She even does an over the phone assessment (I’ll have to say to her how brave this was of her when she’s better) and the outcome? An appointment with a psychiatrist in 28 days.
28 days. So another month. Of this. Literal suffering. Why? Because she’s not actively trying to take her own life. Passively maybe, but they don’t care about that. So obviously this makes me angry as well. I’m angry that that is the only scale they have to go by. I’m angry that people will probably lie and say they ARE suicidal just to get an earlier appointment. I’m angry that the reason the waiting list is so long for someone who isn’t able to survive on their own, is because of political reasons leading to financial cut backs in the NHS. I’m angry that EVERY time this happens to her, I, and now her husband to be, have to witness her grasping for air at the bottom of a bell jar Sylvia Plath style. I’m angry that in the weeks leading up to this final stage, I have to witness her questioning her own abilities into whether she can handle what’s happening. The woman who’s meant to be the strongest I know. And she is. But she falls anyway. It’s fine coz someone’s here to catch her. But 3-4 months of her precious life is stolen, some professional gets the right antidepressant to work temporarily, only for the SAME thing to happen again. For the GP to skip the notes AGAIN, up the dosage of the current tablets, then change them, then failing that refer her, if we’re lucky. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GET IN AND STAY IN THE SECONDARY CARE SYSTEM?! I’m exhausted. My mum’s exhausted. My step dad’s exhausted. We’re all f*cking exhausted. (Except me who’s exhausted AND angry – not a good combo, fyi). Meanwhile, life goes on and we continue to deal with the every day sh*t and pettiness IN ADDITION to the nightmare going on in broad daylight at home. So yes, I’m angry, (and small angry people are the worst).
You know what angers me most though, and this is really selfish of me I know, but I’m past caring. I’m angry at the universe. Like, seriously, you with all your planets and beauty and nature and sh*t thinking you’re all that – one parent wasn’t enough eh? You just HAVE to go and keep taking my mother and my best friend as well? Well you know what, screw you. My mum may have given up fighting but I sure haven’t. It may not even be depression but I sure as hell won’t let it beat us. It might nearly destroy me in the process – hell I can’t look after myself properly half the time (literally off work on antibiotics writing this) but one think I know for sure is that we will come out the other side. AND STAY THERE. Honestly, I’ll be damned if I’m losing another parent, to not just mental illness, but our healthcare system. IT AINT HAPPENING BRO.
So yeah, slight angry post I wrote there. (Alright Yoda I hear you say). And all is not lost – of course I found a loop hole with her work health care and have a consultant secretary calling me back tomorrow. But you know what, I’ll be damned if I lose my ability to make light of this situation. Because, once you lose your mojo, your sense of humour – even your sass (heaven forbid), is there really any point, to anything?
Thank you for listening. This is the therapy I need right now.