Access denied: NHS Mental Health Services

Access denied stamp

CW: Alcoholism, NHS funding cuts (which can cause acute anxiety)

My mind feels so all about the place at the moment – and has done for the last couple of months. Sorry for the delay in posting anything. I keep thinking of coherent blog topics and then by the time I get around to posting something it’s just verbal diarrhoea because there’s so much going on for me mentally.

On the surface, things have improved. I’ve got part time freelance work coming in, social arrangements several times a week (meaning I’m now regularly leaving the house), appointments for things to help with mental health (and my back issues that feed in to my mh conditions) like yoga, the gym, mindfulness/meditation. But it’s occurred to me none of these things take the place of actual therapy, which I cannot afford privately and won’t get through the NHS.

When I’m feeling more coherent I want to write about my experience of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) earlier this year, as well as cuts to NHS Mental Health Care funding meaning a tonne of us are falling through the cracks (which sparked the #MHCareSoPoor on Twitter over the last couple of months).

I’ve spoken to others who live locally who are also experiencing real issues in accessing funding. It’s not seen as a funding priority despite the life threatening nature of mental health conditions – and is part of the bigger picture of NHS cuts that are leaving the service in crisis. Not being to access services needed, as well as being acutely aware of the NHS crumbling around us does NOTHING to help the condition of your mental health.

Alcohol

Something I’ve also recently starting tackling is alcohol. So by societal/AA/local alcohol services I’m not an ‘alcoholic’ (I don’t buy in to this definition as alcohol abuse/dependency is not that clear cut to me and starts a lot earlier than when you start drinking vodka when you first wake up), however I feel that my binge drinking is a problematic crutch for me. I don’t know when to stop once I start, have had nights I can’t remember parts of, it fucks up my sleep and how well my anti-depressants work and I suffer awful anxiety and depression the following day/s. I use it to blot out anxiety and it only ends up worsening it.

I’ve referred myself to the local drug and alcohol service. I’ve had limited success with them because they have restricted funding and are dealing with people who are physically addicted and DO start drinking when they wake up. It’s frustrating for the same reasons as the mental health care service funding cuts. You end up feeling like ‘How bad do I need this to be before I get help?’

I imagined they would help me identify triggers and give me useful tips on scenarios to avoid. But I’ve just been told to use the group sessions, which so far seem to be for people in much more serious, primary addiction scenarios. I see my situation as secondary to my mental health conditions – a case of self medicating ineffectually. However the fact remains that prevention is better than cure and alcoholism is a slippery slope from just drinking too much IMHO. (I’ve recently read Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Control Alcohol which is as problematic AF in parts, but sort of unfucks your mind from all the booze social norms and advertising. It suggests all drinkers are somewhere on a spectrum and there’s no clear divide like ‘not being an alcoholic’ – it’s interesting, although a controversial viewpoint admittedly.)

Again I was chatting to someone the other day and we agreed that it feels like the drug and alcohol services where we are being seen and used as mental health overflow. So no longer being helped by the NHS after being slapped on medication and given 6 CBT sessions (in my case after being at crisis point, which you have to question the suitability of a few CBT sessions for) we’re shunted over to another service with limited suitability as we still need ongoing support.

It’s a mess that gives me massive anxiety just thinking about it. Will we be able to halt the inevitable privatisation of healthcare in this country? I already can’t access counselling as it’s not offered where I am on the NHS any more, will I and everyone else with similar MH conditions be in a situation eventually where we can’t afford anything but pills? The concept of no NHS is just so frightening I keep trying not to think about it to not worsen my anxiety, but pretending it’s not happening won’t make it go away.

Right now I’m focusing on the potential of alcohol abstinence in the long term, after 3 days of anxiety and depression following two large glasses of wine. I have no idea if it’s the wine’s fault (I usually drink way more than that on a Friday night, so this was pretty reserved for me. Plus I didn’t smoke, went to bed at a reasonable time and went to a class Saturday morning. But seems like you can’t stop the mind worms, even when you control environmental factors.)

Return of the S.A.D….

Maybe it’s ‘just’ winter creeping in, which is when I inevitably watch my mental health deteriorate again. Fun times! I’d love some advice to determine the cause, but looks like I’m not going to get that from anywhere. So trial and error it is. I’ve made an appointment to up my anti-depressant dosage this week and I think the rest of the day will be spent in bed staring at the ceiling.

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