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10th Day of Lent: Going without services which have saved my life

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Falling over the cliff

Victoria writes:

“In 2003 I had a breakdown. My Mother had to take me to my GP’s surgery, as he refused a home visit. As I paced up & down the receptionist appeared & asked me to go into a private room as “I was upsetting” other patients. It took 3 days of hell before I was seen by a psychiatrist who immediately admitted me to a psychiatric unit. Since then I have been under the Crisis Team, Home Care Treatment Team, 5 different Psychiatrists, multiple CPN’s, Doctors so ill informed that I was dangerously over-medicated. Over the years that care has become sporadic, over stretched & underfunded. I have been refused admittance twice as there were no beds, putting all the load on my partner.

I have had to learn my own coping strategies & inform MYSELF. Early last year my CPN said they were developing a new role in Mental Health Care. Peer workers, I was told, would be trained from those with Lived Experience (!) to offer mentoring to help those newly coming to terms with their diagnosis. It helped me to have something to aim for. So I started attending meetings for ImROC meetings to help plan the new “Recovery Colleges”. A Narrative project to record people’s stories was started so I got involved with that. I attended in my time and at my cost both financially and emotionally as I believed it would give me a chance to help and put something back.

At the start meetings were frequent and I felt well informed. I decided though that something didn’t gel as meetings got further & further apart. I began attending the CCG Consultation Group meetings in an attempt to see how far these “New” ideas were going to go. All while coping with my own problems as I knew that the Service, despite being already crippled by underfunding, was essential to others and very much to myself. I would be dead without them, a victim at my own hands. But then I saw exactly what NSFT’s plans for my service were. With a heavier & heavier heart I realised that sweeping cuts were undoubtedly going to have an horrendous affect on the people of Gt Yarmouth & Waveney.

At the meetings I attended related to the Recovery College, I watched as we were told there wasn’t any money for any substantial work. Increasingly the atmosphere started changing back to the default setting of “Them & Us”. There wasn’t going to actually be a recovery college as such but rather “Courses” would be run in ad hoc rooms at multiple locations. This meant travelling as far as Hellesdon & Ipswich, which I appreciated was going to prove untenable as I’m disabled myself with Spinal Problems and was unable to attend. And did they believe people who have chronic MH Problems & are unable to leave their homes frequently were going to benefit?

The only course I attended was at Carlton Court. Out of 7 sessions I only managed to attend 5 times. If you missed one session you automatically failed the course & were told “you have to repeat the whole course”! Nothing within the course was new to me. As a very regular internet user I have looked for anything that offers help & information. It hit home that only a very small percentage of people would receive any lasting benefit. Very encouraging for those whose self-confidence is already shattered. Was this really their big new plan?

At this point my mental health took a serious turn for the worse as the realisation that they were taking away the safety net that had saved me and so many others. I know that I’m going to have to rely on my partner to cope & the very real possibility of being admitted again but this time to ANYWHERE in the Country. I feel devastated at the harm these cuts are going to cause to so many. As I have said earlier the service was anything but perfect & had been in decline for some time. But, in a crisis they were their for me when I needed them. Who will be there for me now? Responsibility for our care has been shrugged off by the NSFT & this atrocious Government who have proved they do not care that they are playing roulette with people’s lives.”

Whether you use mental health services, are a carer or member of staff, let us know your stories: we’re stronger together.

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