Mental Health, Austerity an the Postcode Lottery

On Wednesday I’m going to Westminster with National Mind an the MP’s to their bring to the table event to discuss Mental Health Going Forward and what needs be done, theirs lots been highlighted about austerity, of postcode lottery, even the diagnosis lottery an conveyor belt. These issues are complex, challenging and have crippling impact to individuals affected by Mental Health. I’ve been asked to represent Yorkshire an Humber I will to an extent highlight my brother’s death and failings in his care. I have also spoke with my friends at Lighthouse Academy in Leeds an to my friends at Healthy Minds in Calderdale and I was alarmed at some of concerns raised and highlighted and that as much as we shout out for better mental health care we are so far from it.

Services are been closed without proper consultation to the service users that access and they’re unable be referred into alternative therapies as they don’t fit the recovery timescales, diagnosis to complex been told all has been to try help them and worst of all they’re now struggling find private alternatives because that one thing that made a difference has been took away.

For some accessing treatment and support and getting the foot in the door is hard specifically for rehab for overcoming addiction and I see regularly individuals, friends, little communities forming trying to support each other overcoming addiction and it breaks my heart to see them stumble because you know they are desperately trying following things like routine, keep busy, avoid temptation but the underlying issues not addressed, no support to detox, withdraw and overcome addiction and the space an Time and safe place to do and rehab is what would make all that difference but for some they are sadly overlooked, the waiting lists are too long that people are told waits of up to 2 years no point referring you in. Why then are their no alternatives why are we not demanding more specialised services why are we overlooking this vulnerable client group. Is it because they don’t deserve help, is it because society says they don’t fit just as services say we can’t help because we can’t fit you into a box. Austerity is penalising these individuals setting them up to fail be persecuted, isolated, attacked and further dehumanised and sadly why so many life’s are lost and in today’s society we should be holding up those most vulnerable.

People’s mental wellbeing is been impacted by austerity people know it’s good to volunteer, want to volunteer are told by professionals do it will aid your recovery and then they do volunteer and do little bits building themselves up, getting skills may not necessarily have an then bam DWP is taking them of benefits that awarded because of their conditions an impact has an been told well you can volunteer you can go on Job seekers or some universal credit been set up to fail not supported sanctioned if don’t apply for x amount of Jobs, write cvs do job searches and get x amount of interviews and many get passed up, employers won’t take on an so they get hit with sanction after sanction money stopped go without food, heating, hot water, basic provisions, spiral further into debt trying keep a roof over heads and the pressure of and lacking basic needs is detrimental to their health and we are turning our backs on them what are we doing to challenge the hardest hit be supported we’re are we fighting for their right to health equality not inequality.

One guy mentioned to me he wanted work volunteer be phased an supported in he’s not worked in a long time just finding his feet got placed on Job Seekers could I ask for more supported employment programmes I wished I could but sadly those services are few an far between an waiting lists get on are high so for him I pray he doesn’t stumble because of the dwp system setting people up to fail. DWP shouldn’t be allowed treat people in the inhumane way they are they are having a detrimental impact on health.

Mental Health is impacted by physical, housing, social, financial influences, influences that government need address especially if mental health support has a chance to change improve an save lives as part of the 5 year forward strategy on Wednesday when I take people’s voices to the table I’ll try ensure heard because I can’t sit back an watch the most vulnerable be forgot about anymore.

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Listen on World Suicide Prevention Day

This weekend Marks World Suicide Prevention Day, Mental Health Campaigner’s, Supporters, Activists, People affected by, People who’ve lost loved ones to Suicide, Unite Come out in Force, Discuss, Debate, Tweet more needs to be done. I too have in the past come in force spoke out, campaigned more needs be done but never did I think I’d lose a loved one to Suicide. People sometimes say people who take their own lives intend to do, or are selfish. My loved one was neither he was lost, he did reach out and ask for help those who were supposed to be their in time of crisis turned him away an that’s something I struggle to accept people come out tell people what do to prevent suicide but the key ingredient of people actually listening to what people say is been missed on World Suicide Prevention Day, Listening is what needs to be done more not just on World Suicide Prevention Day but everyday when supporting someone at Crisis. I should have listened to my loved one more, answered my phone the night before, I should have listened more when we spoke during the week I’d have not just heard the words I’d have heard the pain an fear in his voice but I missed that because I didn’t listen. On reflection my own heart now tells me what I missed and that’s something I know have to live with, I wish I could turn back the clock be my loved ones shadow and voice that week and make the people listen that he tried to reach out too and ask for help, to show them the signs they were missing and to picking up things should have been observing whilst listening to my loved when reaching out, he was not sleeping, eating, drinking, felt lost, scared, panicked, not able get to places familiar to him, was obsessing about finances, benefits be made homeless again, wanted to work be human again feel valued, all these issues could have been addressed if listened to could have had his fears addressed plans an safeguards put in place, he’d have felt comforted, supported reassured an maybe slightly optimistic about his circumstances. Been listened too may have made all the difference, my loved one would still be here, still be part of the family, still be the person we’d turn too, still be the person putting smiles on our faces an our kids faces too. Losing a loved one to suicide is something too that’s hard to acknowledge an face an hear it throws you into darkness and turmoil and your life too is zapped out of you, Talking about suicide is hard too because you don’t know if people are listening, want to listen, understand and empathise the despair in and the devastation causes so hearing things like your loved one was selfish or intended do what did are not things want hear, unhelpful and less likely turn too for help or chat too if need and then to leaves us vulnerable just as our loved ones who are sadly no longer here. Talking about Suicide is not an easy thing but if do please do listen, if reading posts about an wanting understand more about please take not listen to what the person has took time out to write as it may just make a little bit of a difference but lead to a big impact and prevent someone from losing their life to suicide

First Day’s

Every year I’ve sat back watched friends share their children’s first day at school nursery, reception an high school photos an every year I’ve smiled and liked an commented an wished good luck an every year my heart’s been tugged with sadness an Jealousy as I pictured what my little girl Marybeth would have looked like, I’d picture her with a smiley face, pig tails in her hair and in pinafore dress and chunky buckle shoes like I’d used to wear. I’d imagine her been excited lively and extra bouncy, I’d imagine waving her off on her first day and lining up with her class an waving me off going in. It’s always been something hard try share in because it’s a milestone we never had a moment never experienced and another slap in face never got to watch her grow up.

Today my 3 1/2 year old son had his first day at school nursery we woke up early we watched morning cartoons, I made him jam toasted on bagels as a sweet treat breakfast, he noticed the sweets I’d had last night so I said since your first day before you get ready you can have one, we didn’t stress or worry was nice we took our time. We chatted as we washed are hands an faces at the sink brushed our teeth together and my son asked me do his reminded me my eager big boy needed me.

It was a surreal experience dressing him in his uniform putting on his new school shoes, and brushing his hair ready and packing his school bag I’d waited so long for this moment so it was a moment I’d wanted savour. It was a moment I’d always imagined have with Marybeth but today was a real blessing share with my son I couldn’t be sad with him when messing about when trying take that first day photo nor did I try pressurise him have as we was sharing this moment together and that was far more perfect than the photo, watching him dance around parading about in his uniform was fun seeing him jumping up and down exercising because he liked the loud noise his shoes made, made me laugh, he chose dinosaurs on his shoes to remind him of his old nursery and specifically Sheryn and he hoped he’d see Sheryn an him watch build a tower I didn’t want spoil that moment so I nodded my head and said maybe, he was looking forward to seeing his new classroom an making friends and was been a good boy and know grown in short time had uniform on he was getting to big for it made me smile,

Driving up to school we chatted about the things he saw outside the window and was his cousins at his school I said no they’d started their schools and he said they’ll be their, their schools were broken I chuckled at how his thinking worked, we arrived at school did try get one more perfect photo but wasn’t meant be we walked down hand in hand I was so proud he pressed the bell to the nursery door as he waited to be let in he saw trains an was so excited, the door was opened we went in found his peg and bag he has a spider picture on his name space I smiled it was like Nanna 2’s imaginary spider we put his things in his bag and went in to class he handed over his water bottle and put his name on the pear tree he gave me a kiss and held his teacher and casually walked off hand in hand, a lump in my throat wellled my lil man was growing up and I was so very proud and forever I will treasure this moment and wish could bottle up and keep the emotions and feelings and drink when having a bad day,

I messaged photos to siblings and grandparents and thought of my brother Tim my sons god parent an uncle an in that moment our first day was tinged with sadness but not because of Marybeth but because my son missed out sharing today with him as I’d known he’d have been proud as punch as moment he was born my brother was eternally proud I’d been blessed with a child of my own so on his fb page was only fitting shared them their an say hope you watching down from heaven am keeping him safe in class.

My sister Nat phoned me her kids went into reception no problems didn’t look back an so therefore she wasn’t gonna feel guilty missing them, My sis Robynn messaged Logan was fine she was the blubbering mess pregnancy hormones though probably didn’t help, I’m blessed that me an my sisters have shared our children’s first days together this week an can continually share many Milestones together as that makes sharing first days extra special an today was very much well worth the wait.

Escorted Leave

Today after calling in an visiting my mum, I jumped on the bus to make my way to Lighthouse for Academy it started of as an ok journey we past a nearby mental health unit 3 people got on at the stop outside, I guessed one was a Health Support Worker, one was an informal patient an one was a sectioned patient. The member of staff sat in the middle seat an a patient either side, one of them asked the member of staff how long take, I leant across an told her if not many people get on 20 minutes an as I told her could picture her working out how long would have out, she asked did I know we’re best stop get off for we’re she was going to and I told her, I heard her talking to the member of staff about wanting an id for her pass as was getting crumpled and the HSW described many different options she could get and were probably find, I picked up from the conversation lady was going to look into a cookery course, I also picked up from the conversation a family member was going to visit an maybe another trip off the ward “that be nice picked up on HSW say, I put my head down looked out the Window and a lump welled up in my throat I remembered back to when that was me the person excited for escorted Leave and some of the places went to usually was only places like town centres easy get to usually a market stop and quick coffee I heard the women working out if time do pleaded with the hsw please let’s not rush back heard hsw say we’ll be pushing it for half past three. I wanted lean over plead with the hsw for the woman who asked in a meek, child like manner, I wanted say please don’t rush, let her have her freedom her space time out you’ll go home tonight she won’t please, I wished I’d asked didn’t like idea she’d feel rushed, panic not have chance embrace outside, I wanted ask are u ok,, treating u right, but I couldn’t I was paralysed in my past I was once that women childlike do anything to stay away from a ward longer, even though panicked an scared still felt a slight tingle at been out or should I say Free. I heard the HSW speak to the other lady about what she was going to do I picked up the other lady was informal she was going to go Window Shopping because she could and then on bus back to the Tesco then she’d get a taxi so not miss tea an the taxi wouldn’t be all that much even though I felt sad for them I smiled, I gathered all was quiet on the Ward this morning an that’s good felt saying yep it’s good when no alarms going off, not being restrained or seeing others in incidents as the words quiet on unit means no incidents and again I drifted back to a time when I was in that place and again my throats welled an a tear rolled down my eye, I wanted phone my mum, my sis say I was sad, say was catapulted to my past but I couldn’t because back then when I was on escorted Leave I wouldn’t have wanted anyone guess, would have wanted them think a group of friends out an I was normal not see was really mentally unwell and was probably why didn’t verbalise out loud kept to myself, When it got to their stop I saw them get off, I looked up saw the informal person slowly following the lady an member of staff and pictured they’d probably all stay together, I put my hand on the window whispered I was you once enjoy your time out and hope your out soon again and then be home. Then as the bus pulled out it dawned that even though my life had moved on I couldn’t escape my past that I once was unwell and a mental health inpatient and that would always be a part of me something that I’d not really ever leave behind.

The 3 S’S – Stigma, Shame an Suicide

Last year I lost my brother to one of the biggest killers of Males under 45, I’ve discovered that their is Stigma an Shame attached to how he died, I feel the stigma of because people don’t want to ask how I am, I don’t know if it’s because they don’t know how to, I don’t know if it’s because they’re afraid to ask and fear upset me, I’ve discovered people know do keep their distance have the look in eye’s it’s Katie, the look please don’t stop say hello ask am ok because if do am obliged ask back and depending on what say won’t know how respond. When I see that look or pick up on that feeling it breaks my heart, makes me feel invisible and alone, makes me feel have to put on a mask pretend ok, makes it harder for me to deal with my emotions and keep a lid on them an wearing a mask is exhausting so When lid goes can spontaneously get upset or react in anger and having own Mental Health needs intensifies that. I get that life is busy people are busy an time has to move on, but for me an my family it hasn’t we’ve not begun the grieving process as we’re still struggling to face what happened an why, and why when tried ask for help it not given and so because of a complex process to get that we can’t and so day by day it’s a battle of wits just face each day, I feel deeply for my mum because the brave face I put on I see she puts on, I wish she didn’t have to wish could change things but can’t, wish we didn’t have to pretend we’re ok and wish my family didn’t have to hide our pain and upset away in silence but we do, we get told your doing remarkably well considering then the pause, since My brother died yes we are , but the voice in my head screams we’ve no choice. I don’t say how my brother died it’s not because I’m ashamed it’s because I know more could have been done for him and he didn’t mean do he was however stupid he drastically did something to cry for help and so the anger I have is for them not him, I do feel shame but the shame I feel is that I wished I’d done more when he asked for help got it as it breaks my heart knowing he asked so many times and it wasn’t their, Losing someone to how I lost my brother is one of the worst unimaginable ways to lose someone you can’t ever prepare for nor properly say goodbye and nor know are they really at peace you try convince themselves they are, I talk to my brother everyday, everyday I tell him I’m Sorry, Tell him that he won’t be another statistic that his life mattered and lessons will be learned, I tell him what my day will be like and at end of day What I’ve done if I’ve broke down I ask him why he didn’t zap me with a bolt of lightning, I ask him is their live after death, are u at peace, what’s heaven like are you raving or are you looking after Marybeth. He doesn’t answer though even though I will with all my heart and might. I wish people did talk to my mum and my family about my brother it’d help us in our pain, reassure us his life mattered, I wish people asked we’re ok because it’s very lonely and isolating and why we know start to keep ourselves to ourselves in our own little circle and hate the world that little bit more. Even in our darkest days we still try function, make the effort because we know we have to and so it wouldn’t hurt to expect that back, but most importantly if we’re not ok how do we say we’re not and get help and support because we’ve not had that dialect or interaction. It puts the stigma and shame on something that shouldn’t be their, triggers me into hating the it’s ok to talk, it’s ok ask for help as they’re really great initiatives brought out of pain an suffering but also because I feel the stigma and shame off I question why, why do they try if people not standing up, taking notice and listening, and when I say listening it’s listening to what someone potentially

I say, what are they hiding inside as much as what they vocally may say. I struggle now at times interact with those who know me because of that invisible awkwardness, the pretending ok becomes crippling just like the voice in my head that goes of, so Why do people not talk more about how my brother died, Why isn’t more been done to prevent how he died and, How do you support people who’ve lost loved ones like how I lost my brother. September is Suicide Prevention Month and so this month I hope people actually do listen, stand up and take notice because then for those affected by may open door for it too be talked about and it make the difference to someone who needs. It’s too late for my brother and my family but it doesn’t have to be that way for other’s x x x

How to Save a Life – Patient safety – All Tim Needed.

On social Media I’ve seen people debating Patient Safety in relation to my brother I’ve realised that more could have been done for him and that Patient Safety did not come into his care. To help me come to terms with his passing I’ve to understand an process why and find the solutions to could have what made a difference it is what manages my self care an also putting pen to paper gets my thoughts an ideas out an mapped out. So today while I’ve had an empty house an cleared up house listening to the song that played at the start of my brother’s funeral I listened to the song ” How to Save A Life by the Fray and asked myself that question. I asked myself how Services from a Patient Safety point of View could have saved a Life and been all Tim needed and here’s what I came up with.

1.See me as a Person

2.See my Circumstances

3.Include my family and Friends in my Care

4.All Services needed to work together an not in Isolation

5. Choice an Opportunities

6. The important one Listen When I ask 4 Help

7.Judgement Free Care

8.Check my Records be it Safeguarding,Crisis,Suicide Prevention,Care Plans and Recovery Plans are all up to date, working an implemented an everyone including Me an My Family were made aware off.

9.Take Responsibility Don’t keep passing me to service to service from Pillar to Post.

10. Carry out All assessments

11. Don’t exclude me from Services Because of Labels Attached to Me

12. Support through Major transitions

13 Finally Compassion an Understanding as Human Beings we are all entitled to having that met.

These things don’t seem like much but to my brother they’d have made a big difference and he’d still be here for all those looking at Patient Safety please look at this and ask yourselves could you have been All Tim Needed.

Pill shamed for not taking – You can’t really be depressed then.

Theirs been lots in the media debating the pro’s an cons of taking Medication for Depression, BBC Panorama highlighted the dangerous of an how individuals became mass murderer’s an that’s in extremities.

I suffer from a Dysthmic Disorder in layman terms a neurotic mood disorder, Depression,Anxiety, Obsessive and Compulsive Behaviours, I have complex PTSD hear voices and Dissociate.

I don’t take medication for my conditions I used to they were harmful for my physical health I ballooned to just under 19 stone was a walking zombie did not interact, engage the world passed in a blur and still I was seen as disengaging by services it wasn’t that I was disengaging but the needs completely shut of all my receptors so I couldn’t engage.

The conditions I have are the result of Childhood Abuse, Losing a Child Born Still Born and the result of been a revolving door patient on an off throughout my teens to my early thirties. The medications I were on varied from Anti-Deppresant’s, Mood Stabilizer’s, Anti-Psychotics, Relaxant’s and Sleeping Pills. The medications just sedated my so called behaviours to me their now just my traits be it survival, be it instinct, be it my defensive mechanisms. Dissociation at times though can be a pain when things in my locked box want to surface as that hits when am at my most vulnerable an most risk and I’ve just to ride it out.

It’s been hard not been on medication and not easy but I try face each day as I can medication will only plaster over the scars of my past, therapy can help me address but the unstable emotions and how I handle things they’re what I’ve to learn to address, I recently nearly ended up back on medication I struggled with coping with my brother’s passing thought long an hard and in my heart knew wrong as it may take the pain away numb it but eventually have to face it and so may as well fight may way through it now but also the anger side of my cptsd has come in handy as I’m using that part of my grieve to fight for him wished did more when he was alive, also if agreed go back on the slow cocktail of men’s would build up again I’d be talked into needing more for different things and different behaviours an probably extra Dx and my son he needs me, he needs me to be strong for him be brave for him most importantly be alert and functioning and be all he needs so as hard as the days are I throw myself into It theirs days I feel mentally drained, exhausted, on edge, thoughts scrambling but for my son I attack each day, I also do for my family, I do for my brother too as he so wanted overcome his past.

Medication can help mask things and give me a rest from but in the end they’ll stop me from seeing the beauty in the world even though theirs too sadness in it, the voice i thought so hard to re-find would too agin be lost and one thing I’ll always tell my son fight for what you want well if I’m not living it he can’t practice it.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not easy theirs days when I can just drag myself up ready, Myles though he’s always immaculate, theirs days I’ve snapped my anger lids burst an that’s not been good for person who got brunt off, theirs days I have just crumbled just broke look liked a car wreck and all around gets to much and times to preserve myself I’ve to shut out the world keep my bubble to myself .

I’m not telling people to stop taking mess nor if they help you to stop believing that they don’t an to stop.

I’m asking that as I respect medications for you please respect though it’s not for me an in fact has been life altering an harmful an I don’t want that for me, I also need you to respect that just because I say no also does not mean I don’t have my conditions an my experiences an opinions like well you can’t be that bad if you don’t take because I can be.

The brave face people see is just a mask as if accepted people a) don’t get or understand me so I give up trying explain, b) if I don’t try I give up an where does that leave my son an family and c) if I go on meds the world will be shut out again.

If their was better monitoring of my help, safeguards an provisions that stopped me going on more an more mess then maybe, but I know for me I have to address my pain be it therapy, be it pretending life’s ok or be it writing my blog like now, I’m exploring having faith in my life that’s been a challenge an battle of perseverance, I throw myself into soft play just as much as Myles an that s my anger energy, we do crafts, go for walks we play the child in me likes that as that’s reminded sometimes life is good, being an activist for awhile was hard but then I missed it so am slowly going to re-dip my toes in the water and look to do again as my heart an a part within me missed that an so listening to myself keeps me going.

I suppose because I didn’t feel listened too an knowing my brother wasn’t listened to is why I’ll always shy away from medication in time that may change I’ve to meet that one person who will listen and give me the perfect care package so till then I’ve just got to listen to myself.

Whilst I do that though please don’t shame me an belittle my depression, my pain just as I don’t pill-shame you an vocalise the drugs are bad. It is these debates that create divides in the mh community an we need to be supporting each other and each getting the support that works it’s time focus on getting it right for everyone as at present services aren’t working and we need to work together to get that so let’s #endthepillsdebate.