Category: Mental Health and Me

Findings from Being in Residential Care

The first few weeks of this placement were spent in the care home side of the company. I stayed there while they prepared the room I am now in and debated if they wanted to keep me or not. In this residential unit I lived with a glassy eyed woman and a man who watched Star Trek on loop. Both were very sweet but spent the days shouting in their own languages and daydreaming in front of the television. I was in a room in between the two of them; in a bed which I soon gathered the room’s former resident had died in. It was very loud and lonely. When I moved out and into supported living the only way was up. My views on residential care and supported living revolve around five points:

  1. There are not enough suitable placements for people with mental health problems.

Being placed in a care home/independent living setting when the support on offer doesn’t cover your disability feels like treading water. For the last six months I have been the only resident on site who doesn’t have a learning disability. So I find myself pretty isolated and have my care needs only partly covered. I also feel like I am in a semi caring role for everyone around me. My social workers have known that this was not a permanent placement for me from the get go- blog here. I came here because the NHS were understandably keen that I stopped bed blocking in hospital and that I move ‘somewhere great’… ‘somewhere right’… ‘somewhere ok’… ‘anywhere that is not hospital’. The understanding has thankfully got better overtime, but there were many tears along the way.

I’m not alone in needing to make do with ill fitting placements. Like mine, many regions have joint provision for people with learning disabilities and people with mental health problems. This means they have to share resources like accommodation despite having very different needs. The outcome can be that neither group get the specialist support they require.

2. Continuity in Care is Needed

Of course, you are destined to like some carers more than others and probably outright dislike a fair few too. But when it comes to the rota you as a client have no control. Even though it is your care and effectively your house you are at the mercy of management as to who will come through your door. If you raise issues with this you are blikely to be branded as ‘difficult’ or ‘picky’. I’d argue that there is no such thing as ‘picky’ when it comes to care, yet in lots of care settings clients have no power over who gives their care at all. You might have a care team of up to ten people pop in and see you at different points during the day- all asking the same courteous questions like: “how was your day?”. What isn’t recognised is how completely overwhelming and frustrating it is to have to repeat answers again and again. Clients get grouchy… is it a surprise?

3. Staff in care work can be a mixed bunch

Some of the people I have met here are outstanding. They go above and beyond for the care and dignity of clients and are respectful of their opinions. With these amazing people everyone has a voice. Even if they are under resourced, underpaid and working long hours- some carers will go out of their way to help.

Like in any profession, care work has a few bad pennies. In theory carers should be caring; but with a shortage of carers nationwide more and more people are turning to care work as a simple means of paying the bills. I see staff with this attitude every day. They are the ones who don’t hide their sighs and mutterings because they believe the clients won’t notice. They text their friends through the shift and turn on awful plug in air-fresheners without asking. I would like to establish a rule, this rule is simple- you have to be caring to be a carer. If you aren’t caring about anything external to yourself you aren’t cut out for the job. You shouldn’t do it to your clients, your employers, or yourself. If you don’t live and breathe the profession you are going to spend days and weeks feeling so irritable it is like being tasered.

4. Actual Independence is Hard to Come By

Although living in an ‘independent supported living’ setting I don’t have a lot of independence. It’s certainly a step up from the hospital days of not being allowed to get my own drink; but the amount of planning that has to go into basic tasks is enormous. Want a member of staff to give you a hand with your weekly shop?

  1. Work out how many hours of care you will need to use during the week.
  2. If you have any left over you can go ahead and try to book it.
  3. Caution: you will have no idea who it will be with and whether they will have a driving licence or not. Therefore you will need enough hours to cover the possibility of having to use public transport.
  4. Make sure the time doesn’t clash with any shift change; if it does you need to plan it four weeks in advance so it can be specially put on the rota.

The spontaneity of everyday life is completely absent and with that goes a lot of fun.

5. It is what it is.

It is a roof over your head and you are covered enough care wise to get by. You meet the salt of the earth and the not so. It’s hard to change things when it feels like you are the only one seeing a problem. The staff you get on with can share with you the biggest laughs. Get to know how to contact PALS and CQC for anything seriously dangerous or harmful or just in case.

My time in residential/supported care has without doubt been one of the easier stints of my homeless journey. Though it can feel like I’m treading water I know I have come a long way from when I first arrived.

Well now… What will the next adventure bring?

The Incredible Horrific Mood Cycle

“Dear Tutors: You’ve probably noticed by now that I don’t make it into college all the time, and I wanted to explain a few things to you…”

This is how an email to my tutors began a week ago. I didn’t really know what to say, other than that I really am, honestly, trying my best. It occurred to me that it is hard for people to understand what it is like to go through the many, many, cycles of mental illness. Someone can seem like they are falling apart or they can be jumping around with joy, but in both situations they can be just as ill. Looking through my mood calendar (cheers occupational therapy) I have pieced together the last four weeks. I have no real agenda for this post but I wanted to show what it is like to live day to day with this kind of illness and how it can morph and change.

Week One- A&E and for God’s sake leave me be…

I was doing okay as sometimes I do, bumbling through. When I found myself in A&E again. Circumstances quite similar to the time before and the time before that took me there- spending a whopping £60 in taxis for the merry outing. I was in an uncontrollable panic for no apparent reason and like before one of the less helpful voice’s ‘solution’ was to get me to whack my head as hard and as often as I could against the wall. Not a good idea. It turns out that disassociation and panic attacks cause very similar symptoms to head trauma. Throw in the fact that I couldn’t explain what I felt because I wasn’t in my body and… 111 booked me in to A&E. The doctor took one look at me- trying to do breathing exercises and stop my muscles cramping- and told me it was hyperventilation and to… breathe more. I was glad to get home.

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The next day I had a delight instore- a continuing healthcare assessment. For the lucky who aren’t acquainted with this process, it is an elaborate game of ping pong between social care and health care trying to prove that your needs are in the other one’s domain. If your needs are health based, as my social worker believes mine are, social care argue for the NHS to take on the role of funding and organising your support. More pieces of paper and more number scoring systems for things that really shouldn’t be described on a scale of 1 – 10. As the process makes no difference to me either way and I was very tired from the night before I asked not to go ahead with the assessment. Having only just finished my ‘Education, Health and Care Plan‘ (another delight) I didn’t fancy yet another team rifling through my notes and my needs. So for once I saw an opportunity to protect my notes from the beady eyes of funding panels and took it. The continuing healthcare nurse left a little later once my dry answers turned to drought.

Later was my psychology assessment. Part two of four in what is likely the most boring and confusing saga the world has ever seen. Snot dribbling down my face and occassionally mentally disappearing in front of two (yes two) psychologists I babbled. My world was ending. I had people in my head telling me what to do and how I should not trust the people not in my head. I was dreaming things and then not knowing if they had actually happened or not. Anyone asking me ‘what’s wrong’ would get the most sarcastic of replies because it is everything and nothing all at once. The psychologists asked for my support workers to keep a closer eye on me and, yes honestly, some support will come right after this assessment. Honestly.

Week Two – Jacqueline Wilson With More Drugs

Week Two involved me going to see a potential future care placement. It was an adult fostering arrangement which is what I wanted to happen about 18 months ago when I first found myself in need of somewhere to live. I got the phone call from my social worker to say that the family were interested in me and that my care plans were to be sent over.

“Ha” I thought. I’ve seen my care plans and they are not too distant from one of the weaker Jacqueline Wilson novels but with more antipsychotics… (she hasn’t covered them yet, right?). There was no way they would want me in their house after reading my care plans. wouldn’t want to live with me if I read those things.

But for some reason they read my care plans and gave the green light. After sitting in their living room for an hour I felt like it would be a viable option for me. But going upstairs to see my potential new room there was a problem. The room was as wide as my arm span and it would be a struggle to fit myself and Noodle, let alone furniture other than a single bed inside. After trying to think outside of the literal box for several days I had to turn down the placement on the logistical fact that I just could not fit myself and my furry assistant inside.

Feeling pretty crappy and unable to go to college because I wasn’t utterly sure who I was, one of my support workers took me to some fields in the dark. I like dog walking in big open spaces as there isn’t much to fall over and as I was beginning to run out of oxygen in my bedroom, the fresh air and beating heart was much appreciated. We started singing along to music in the dark and for an hour or so I thought the depression spell was lifting.

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It wasn’t though, and I found myself tearing my room apart to find and disinfect away the ‘bugs’ that were in there and on me the next day. No, I would not take my medication. Why would I? It would make me tired and then nothing would ever be clean. I’d spent the day mostly silent (something that happens often in down periods) and once the cleaning commenced I didn’t want anyone to speak to me or touch me. Eventually, as I scrubbed at the soles of my shoes with disinfectant to get ‘the smell’ off them the team leader on shift cornered me with my weighted blanket and despite my protesting that I’d infect it, draped it over me. In the ideal world I would have taken my tablets, realised this was OCD I was dealing with and manned up and got into bed. In reality I took a shower with a member of staff perched on the toilet seat facing the other way to make sure I was okay. When I did take my meds after the shower I fell asleep quickly, exhausted from the events.

Week Three – Beginning to Float… Maybe.

Coming into week three my life is slowly petering back in to normality. I’m standing up for myself and am able to leave my bed for longer periods of time without panicking. It felt like this down period had been around forever. I still had dangerous urges and my body was a mess. But I was getting there.

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One of the places I was going out to was a hearing voices support group. Held in the back room of a church in a town that nobody really wants to go to, we sat in an awkward circle. Cue all the clichés of group therapy. We said our names and said how the week had been. A gentleman turned to me after my emotional muttering about lack of support and he said: “It has taken fifteen years for me to get the right help”. This made me feel sick. I wouldn’t be able to wait that long and no one should have to.

The next psychology assessment I attended in my pyjamas after a sleepless night of thinking about surviving fifteen years on this mood-coaster. Or even the next week. The confusion from the psychology session before was still thick and the probing questions swished away my thin vail of ‘all is fine’. I wasn’t fine, I was lost.

I managed to stay through the whole of my exercise class that week- something that in previous weeks I had been forced to bail out on due to my heart not slowing down enough to stay vertical. I was pretty proud of myself for this and imagined each song as a ‘level up’.  At the end of the class I played the Mario level complete tune in my head.

Week Four – When It Gets A Bit Fast

Week four was when things started to turn around. Not only am I feeling less depressed but I find myself laughing and dancing and singing. Not sleeping because I have the creative drive”. The family my social worker and I went to see would like me to know they want to swap rooms around so that I would potentially have more space. I think this is the best thing ever. Something in my feet asks if in my now majestical mind would see even a wheelie bin in Skegness as a luxury home. But there is no way of knowing until this mood dampens a bit. I seem really happy and I am, but my thoughts are coming at 100 miles an hour. I go to the shops and buy lots of things I don’t need with money I shouldn’t spend. I waste a lot of time too and no I don’t need to eat because I am superhuman. I get angry at little things or when my words don’t explain the enormity of my feelings. I get annoyed when people don’t understand the encryption code my mouth seems to put on my thoughts. I spend five hours bleaching and dying my hair so that it is bright blue. Everything is fun and I can’t stop talking but when I panic I really panic.

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And it is in that flurry that I write this blog post… This is my way of both filling in the blanks from when I last posted and also I wanted to share how some illnesses send you round and round in a cycle.

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Still Here.

My need to blog has not faded. I have so many drafts and attempts but every time I am about to click ‘publish’ a new mess comes along. So I have decided to summarise my situation into one (hopefully succinct) post.

*Esther, my MH social worker, is stepping down. I’ve been told that her role is covered by my current care provider and that this is the reason for her leaving. I’m actually ok with Esther withdrawing as increasingly I have felt that there is little point to our meetings. This is no secret. I’m not improving and I am not learning any coping strategies. I’m not ok with the reason given because her role is clearly not covered by anyone involved in my care. No one else works specifically in mental health and she is my only contact to the services.

Which brings me to crisis. Not literally crisis now; but the topic generally. I’ve been in what I define as crisis several times since the beginning of the year. The life stopping, hard to breathe, all encompassing, kind of crisis. In this state I turn to anyone who could possibly help me and at the moment it is like running at walls. The fact that I am in supported accommodation counts against me on the crisis ladder stakes. Even though learning disabilities are my carers’ bread and butter I’m deemed as OK and ‘supported’ by CMHT. This view is based purely on the knowledge that people are paid to work with me. Which yes they are- but they can’t assess, advise or tell me what to do with myself when in that hopeless state. They specialise in learning difficulties- not mental health problems. Despite this CMHT are handing over more and more responsibility. There is always a crisis more crisisy than me.

A Community Psychiatric Nurse should be stepping in by the time Esther has completely stepped out of the equation; but in the withdrawal process my appointments will drop to just once monthly. It is my hope that the CPN will step in before these appointments drop out completely so I will see someone fairly regularly. Hopefully to learn some strategies to get me by and stop me falling into crisis- or non crisis- quite so often. No one seems to know how often I will see this nurse so I am terrified my care will dissolve altogether.

At the same time as all of this I am being assessed for therapy. This is a three week process in which I sit in a room and answer the questions of two psychologists. After the third week they will make recommendations and hopefully put me on the waiting list for more in depth psychological work (which has been promised for nearly two years now). If I am deemed well enough to be put on that waiting list I can expect a wait of up to a year.

A year of scooting on, around and over the edge.

If I am not well enough for the waiting list I will have to aim to improve through whatever time I am given by the CPN and the imaginary expertise of my carers.

My living arrangement has improved slightly though. Since having no choice over new year but to expose my team to this illness at its very worse things have improved. The carers I work with are getting more perceptive about when they might need to help me and what they can do. They are also relaxing a bit about the type and amount of support I need when I am in crisis. They can’t mend me but they can keep me going. I think they have finally been broken into the world of mental illness like a pair of ill fitting but sturdy doc martens.

College… hm. Lonely. Very lonely. I feel people see my support workers and think of me as a strange and intellectually challenged alien. I just want to talk and laugh with someone other than my note taker. It’s hard balancing communication with a large handful of professionals alongside a hefty college workload. I’m exhausted from it all.

There you have it, a whistle stop tour of my upside down world right now.

For The Mental Health Team Teach Me So.

When she picked up my call two days later I was covered in glue from trying to stick the jagged shards of myself back into an almost human-like form. I’d been rebuffed by people I trusted, dramatically shortened said list of trusted people and shattered into a thousand pieces.

Why?!

A meeting had taken place which I had not been invited to. It was about my care, the roles of the professionals around me (which I am forever being told I misinterpret) and setting goals for my recovery. Why couldn’t I be involved in this? What did they not want me to hear? They tell me to be responsible for my recovery but give no opportunities for me to do so.  The summary I got from my co-ordinator involved the words ‘responsibility’ and ‘independence’ many times. According to CAMHS I had these skills in abundance- have they vanished?! Did I never have them?! This lack of communication and influx of mixed messages is what they laughingly refer to as person centred care. Let’s summarise:

So far the community mental health team have taught me:

  • I should phone them more often.
  • But if I do I’m being dependent.
  • If I try not to be dependent I’m not being proactive.
  • If people do the wrong thing and hurt me I should have ‘taken responsibility’.
  • If I do ‘take responsibility’ then I should be more cooperative and trust.
  • If I give them trust they will break it.
  • If I didn’t reply to emails I’d be non-compliant.
  • If I send practical emails I’m breaching boundaries and being inappropriate.
  • Despite being a full time resident in my body I am not a professional.
  • Meetings are for professionals.
  • Professionals will make decisions in meetings I don’t know about.
  • I am not being proactive because I’m not making decisions I don’t know I have to make

Basically the only message I am getting loud and clear is that I am a dung beetle to the service. However this analogy does suggest something about the service itself…

I’m so confused, I don’t know what to do because every move I make is wrong.

CMHT- what do you want from me??

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(They close for two weeks over Christmas… Ho Ho.. Huh?)

‘Most Appropriate’ Versus ‘Suitable’ Care

When I left hospital I was assured that I would be fine. Social services found me a shared house to live in just a forty minute bus ride away from the city I had began to establish my life in. It was great.

But this, the ‘most suitable placement’, was a placement for people with learning disabilities. Eager to be out of hospital I agreed to move here despite not being of this criteria. I thought it would be okay as many promises were made. Though the clients have very different needs to me they are caring and sweet people whom I felt would be fine to live with. I’ve been here for three months and am becoming increasingly desperate to move on.

Though the people I share a house with are lovely, there are difficulties that accompany living with people with a learning disability when you do not have the same. I’m no saint and many days I have been riddled with guilt about just how much the house’s atmosphere effects me. I’m not in their world, I don’t understand a lot of things they get angry and upset about. I try very hard to be empathetic and see it their way. It’s been eye opening and has lifted me out of the total ignorance I was previously submerged in when it came to learning disabilities. Many people with an LD are fantastic. But living as the only person in the house who has a handle on why it’s not ideal to start the dishwasher just as we need plates for dinner is hard. When I’ve had no sleep and feel low and lonely I miss the conversations I had with flatmates at college. Instead I’m in a loop of “How are you?” “Good. How are you?” “Good.”. Unable to go any further in the conversation without causing confusion or worry. The drama in the house is intense and consistent- nothing is transient. The grudges. The door slamming and tantrums that arise from the most minor of problems. For someone with an anxiety disorder this clearly isn’t the right place for me to live.

It’s not just the other residents. I’ve had two incidents of medication security being extremely lax. The most recent incident of which I found myself with a box of paracetemol. This is something that shouldn’t be happening for the sake of any client but as a person with acute mental health problems this is paticularly dangerous. Despite being here three months and several staff voicing their need for appropriate training no such thing has been put in place. Nor has sighted guide training or visual impairment awareness. Every time a problem raises its ugly head it often comes down to the staff -quite rightly- pleading ignorance. As time goes on things are increasingly my fault. The reason that the staff are not mental health aware is because I have not given appropriate input/provided the training. The medication should have been safe despite me finding the keys in a kitchen drawer because I’m blind and shouldn’t be able to use keys anyway. I should be more saintly about my house mates more frustrating behaviour because ‘they do have learning disabilities’. I don’t. But just as it isn’t their fault they have their disabilities it isn’t my fault I have mine.

As far as I’m aware this is the most appropriate care I have access to at this point in time. ‘Most appropriate’ meaning the best of the not appropriate. Please note: ‘Most appropriate’ is not a synonym of ‘suitable’. I get one hour of support a week from a mental health specialist and, supposedly, seven hours 1:1 support a day to help me get by. But the staff who provide my 1:1 are not trained for my needs like they are for the other clients they work with. Though a handful are fantastic and sensitive people who apply common sense to help me through, there are others who completely misunderstand and judge me and my actions. I, of course, have little to no control over the roulette of staff doing my care. If I request certain staff I am accused of being demanding.

In my county there are no steps between requiring more than one hour of mental health support a week and needing to be in hospital. It is one or the other. This is absolutely bonkers considering the amount it costs the NHS to give someone a bed. I have worked too hard to go back to hospital, but insufficient care is setting me up to fail.

If I lived just a twenty minute journey to the west then I could apply for supported accomodation suitable for my needs. However I am not eligable for it as long as I am stuck in a county that can’t cater for me. I’m angry that I have been put in an inappropriate placement where my needs and safety are often neglected. I could tell story after story but right now I don’t think anyone is hearing me. This is happening to so many people. When will someone hear us?

RECOVERY IS JUST A LOAD OF BALLS. METAPHORICALLY.

Seriously.

In French there is a saying: “le mieux est l’ennemi du bien”. Translation: The best is the enemy of the good. I can’t think of a phrase more truthful about mental health recovery.

The best is doing everything. In my head this is running around; getting top notch A Levels, spontaneously producing poetry and blog posts, finding somewhere great to live, learning more languages, pointing my finger at the government on Twitter and… Being healthy I guess. But if I’m honest my ideal doesn’t specifically contain being recovered. It’s just a fact that in order to achieve these things I would have to be. I haven’t achieved this basic requirement but I’m still going for it full throttle. Day in, day out I’m turning up to the tracks wearing pizza boxes on my feet and hoping to be Usaine Bolt. I’m tripping and falling and generally being stupid because, the truth is, recovery is a load of balls!

No, really.

You have to, like everyone else, juggle like crazy to catch all the things life throws at you. You didn’t learn to juggle properly so, inevitably and without warning, you lose control. You drop everything and have to start again.

The bit I need to get my head around is that no one learns to juggle with eight balls. They start with one and work their way up, dropping odd ones on the way but eventually getting into the rythmn of life. Of course you can stop juggling and put them all down: but that is your decision. You’re being strategic and stopping for a break before everything crashes down. After you’ve rested, eaten a few cheesy snacks and gulped a cup of tea you can start juggling again. Crisis averted.

I apologise for the long analogy. But recovery is a load of balls and I have to learn to juggle one way or another. It’s just deciding what takes priority. By trying to get the best am I missing what would actually be really, really good for me?

This Isn’t Me- It’s OCD.

When I was discharged from hospital my keyworker and I did the masses of paperwork in a visiting room with a lumpy sofa. Working our way through 1-5 scales and word selections we came to it: “I help other people when in need”. We paused.

OCD is a gremlin. It tells you what to do, how to act and who to be. It’s more than just anxiety- it twists your arm into doing what is *best* but the success never comes.

We paused on that question because we both knew that I love to help people. I love it when people take comfort in me and seek my support. I like the toasty feeling of being given trust to hold on to. I go out of my way to help other people. But there are many scenarios where I won’t help someone. Quite pathetically- It’s because OCD won’t let me do what I want to do.

If someone is feeling down I sometimes am so scared I will say the wrong thing and that they might kill themselves that I have to walk away. If they are ill I am afraid it might be contagious and deadly. If they are hungry I can’t offer food because I’m scared they might be allergic to what I give them. OCD loves hyperbole and the cold seasons make me cold too. I’ll avoid stuff, if I can’t avoid it I’ll panic, and if that goes on for too long I’ll end up hyperventilating.

I’m writing this because one of the carers I am close to has a bug. She had been physically sick but was on the night shift so couldn’t go home. I wanted to give her a hug. It’s the day after and I still want to give her a hug like I usually do. But instead I spent the night making my room reek of disinfectant and scrubbing the germs off door handles. I am too scared to eat the food in the fridge for fear it has been contaminated. A person that I am so close to, and love to bits, is now terrifying.

I feel like a bitch. I’m scared to let her near me and scared to touch anything she has touched. I’m hoping she doesn’t take this personally. I know I would if I was her. I’m angry that this disorder controls me and what I do and how I act. How I can’t touch anything with my bare hand until 48hrs have passed. I rationally know that even if I did get the bug it wouldn’t kill me. I’d recover. So why does this fear grip me so tight? Frustrated is not the word. I am cold because I am so frozen with fear.

That pause still upsets me. What a mess. 

Maybe I’m A Party Pooper… But…

I don’t *get* Halloween. I don’t understand it and I don’t like it. Why do we have a day to celebrate scary things? Where is the joy in scaring people and being petrified? More importantly why have we been bombarded with it since ‘back to school’ left the shelves back in September ?

I don’t think myself, as an anxious person, and Halloween mix. I’m dreading the knocks on the door tomorrow night; figures in black and masks, drinking and noise. Even if it is just kids from down the road- it sounds like a recipe for panic attacks.

The one thing I hate the most is that there is no ‘Halloween Opt Out Scheme’. I can’t wear some kind of badge that says “Please do not scream stuff at me- I may have a brake down”. There is no way to get across that you are genuinely terrified on a night that glorifies being genuinely terrified. Some people seem to believe that Halloweeen gives them the God given right to be nasty. Teasing spooking and scaring- “AH COME ON ITS HALLOWEEN.”

It’s not that I’m a wimp or a spoilsport- but I find something very unsavoury about the celebration. People seem to think it is a lisence to do anything they like to whoever they like. Just bear in mind that not everyone is ‘in the spirit’ -pun- of Halloween. So just be respectful, okay?
I’m probably spending this year with a book and hoping to all the lucky stars that no one knocks on the door. Can’t we hibernate until Bonfire Night is over?


I’d love to know if anyone else with anxiety/mental health problems feels this way too, at the moment I feel like a massive party pooper and a rubbish teenager. I did however feel the need to take this cute snap of little Mél inside a pumpkin bag from Tesco!

Facing Giants

After the saga that was my ‘peer mentoring’ (dis)appointment I didn’t do too great. On the day I posted my blog I ended up being semi-dragged into the walk in at the Community Mental Health Team office. I expected the worst, “WHY ARE YOU WASTING OUR TIME?!”, and all the other phrases I have become accustomed to.

But it didn’t come. I took one of my support workers and just talked for a bit. I expressed my concerns about having a care co-ordinator who is under the illusion that I am just a disobediant child and how everything felt very hopeless. It was the CPN from the previous meeting and she listened carefully and said she would take it to the Multi Disciplinary Team again the following day.

My phone eventually rang mid afternoon on Friday. I was told that a change of Care Co-Ordinator had been granted and my CCO was now the CPN I had seen as a walk-in. I was over the moon, this CPN had understood me so much better. I cried with relief.

My first appointment with… (time to think of a pseudonym)… Esther… was this afternoon and it went really well. We played the facade of ‘who sits where’ that always comes with a patient and worker entering one of those small white room for the first time; our positions yet to be molded by therapeutic routine. I took the high backed seat nearest the door and hoped dearly that my choice wouldn’t be psychoanalysed. We talked about my moods and how they are erratic and the ‘base work’ that needs to be done whilst I am on the enormous waiting list for therapy. Things like emotional understanding, trigger recognition, crisis prevention and so on. Generally the aim is that I will feel better for a bit before therapy churns everything up again but I should be able to deal with it. We didn’t pick up anything heavy other than the very background details of my trauma. Esther noted down a few of my questions so that she can ask the psychology team. She also reiterated that she will be having supervision from the psychologists following our sessions to make sure she is doing the right things to help me. Again with the complex case stuff: cringe.

It might be my ‘exaggerated moods’ but I feel super happy. Like everything is going to turn out fine. The lions den wasn’t as scary as I feared. The lion has been replaced by Esther the domesticated moggy!

I felt this picture fitted well. Mél and Noodle properly met each other for the first time yesterday. Of course at first I took err on the side of caution- holding Noods back, just in case. Both girls were amazingly brave. Soon Noodle was stretched out with her head on my knee, Mél perching in her ball pocketed between her back legs and stomach. They were both looking up at the TV and the scene was too adorable to not capture. It made me think about my CMHT situation and how sometimes the scariest situations can go smoothly. I’m not complaining that the end of this story is anti-climatic. I don’t think I could have taken another plot twist!

Saving Mélodie

Today myself and Noodle welcomed a new friend into our mouse hut. Say hello to Mélodie the rescue hamster!

She has been brought to me by the amazing hamster rescue- Austin’s Hamster Haven. They rescue little ones like Mél from awful conditions and personally chauffeur them to their new cage- wherever that may be! All they ask is for a donation and a forever home for the furry ones.

Mélodie is a Syrian hamster and is seven months old. Her Syrian status means that she does NOT like company from fellow hamsters. This is a well known fact about the species, it comes up with a quick google, yet Mél and her sister Portia were still placed in a tiny cage together. They were passed from owner to owner- only being kept for a few weeks before being sold on. Portia and Mélodie squabbled and it’s a miracle that they didn’t seriously harm each other. Luckily the rescue stepped in just in time. They had tried to intercept the pair several times after seeing them being passed around on the Internet. Finally an owner surrendered them to the rescue rather than trying to sell the unhappily cohabiting pair on yet again for money. This is possibly the kindest act any of Mél’s previous owners did for her.

Mélodie now lives in a perfect cage for a hamster (77 x 47 x 36 cm) and it’s all of her very own. Many think this is extravagantly big for a hamster cage but it is what is necessary for a physically and psychologically healthy hammie. I’m lucky enough to have kept hamsters most of my life so I’m a bit of an old hand at bringing grumpy little ones round but Mélodie is perfect. For the record: the rescue even makes sure all their little ones are tamed before rehousing them.

Mél is a fighter- having survived so many unpleasant homes. She’s safe now with me, and hopefully her company will do me good!

PLEASE if you are thinking of getting a hamster don’t feed the breeders! Go to a rescue!
a collage of little mél