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Collateral Damage

 

Treatment of more complex disorders is expensive and patients often find they are put on a cocktail of drugs and left to it.

This is what happened to me in 2004 and it took years for me to get off all the meds they carelessly prescribed. Plus, some very dubious diagnoses were flying about when I was on a combination of behaviour and health-altering drugs.

How on earth can an accurate assessment even be made when you weigh less than seven stone because the meds have destroyed your stomach lining? Yes, I’m sure I was ‘challenging’, but I think that was due to the trauma and malnutrition I went through at the hands of services, and because of all the botched treatment along the way.

My health never truly recovered, and I remain unable to work. Here are some of the questions I’d like to put to psychiatric services:

  • Is it not much more expensive, disabling people, than providing effective long term treatment?
  • How much does it cost the UK economy, turning previously productive individuals into walking corpses with multiple health issues caused by side effects?
  • And when they are trying to slap on another label, as they are at the moment, who is that for? Me, or them?

Sometimes I feel the labels they dish out are little more than a form of scrapheaping, with no hope of recovery. Worse than this, I fear the labelling has at times been a form of institutional abuse, a means of covering up past clinical negligence by pointing the finger at the patient and their dysfunction.

Paranoid? Don’t think so. My adverse reaction to medications is clearly documented. And so are all the attempts to label me ‘hard to help’ and ‘difficult’.

I am relatively fortunate in that I am now receiving another round of NHS psychotherapy. I’m not convinced it is entirely addressing the PTSD symptoms I struggle with every day, and there aren’t what you would call any practical measures in place. I sit in a room once a week and talk about the difficulties I am going through.

Would I be better off away from this system altogether? Having just watched a programme on psychosis, I do wonder. Mental health services have certainly done immense harm in my family, and it would seem many others experience harm as well. The best input in the documentary came from patients turned academics, who were obviously best-placed to research and lecture on a condition they have experienced themselves.

I know people receive good treatment, but I haven’t, not consistently. And neither have so many other people. Lives are left blighted, and vulnerable people are shattered and left to pick up the pieces.

daily life

Family meltdown

What do you do when everyone in your family is mentally ill?

My sister and I have tried to support our mother our whole lives. When she becomes ill, though, the stress can become too much for us – and for my sister in particular, the pressures of caring for someone make her ill.

We have fallen out, as we always do, because I feel I shoulder most of the responsibility. I tend to get stuck in when a problem arises, but because I have chronic ill health, I burn out very quickly. The cycle keeps on repeating and the answer I am given by observers is ‘Well, don’t do so much, then.’

It’s difficult to pull away if you suspect your mum isn’t taking her medication regularly, or is at risk of a fall. So I want to be there for her when she is not well.

I sent my sister a couple of plain-speaking emails about how I see things panning out over the next ten years as mum gets older and more frail: how both of us need to find ways to cope better.

As she pushed back and became defensive, I got irritated. I told her I was tired of her always putting her needs first, over anyone else’s.

Her response has been to block me. I am no longer able to call or text, and she enlisted my own partner to channel emails through him, something I have put a stop to as it is completely inappropriate.

She has also accused me of being abusive. Her accusation is excessive and unjust. Having read my emails back several times, I know I’d be happy to show them to anyone to demonstrate there is no abuse there whatsoever. Frustration, yes. Impatience, definitely. A lack of respect, absolutely. I told her I’ve lost respect for her, and she continues to demonstrate why.

Am I supposed to go from here as, effectively, an only child?

I feel that during exhausting family situations, my sister only makes things worse. Am I better off not dealing with her?