Not a good experience and one that has left me feeling there is no help out there. In June 2012 my GP made a referral to CMHT and it would take a max of 2 weeks for an appointment. It actually took them 15 weeks and lots of phone calls from me and my doctor. I have since found out that since the date of the referral, my case was lost, re-referred, send from CMHT to PCT, back from PCT to CMHT, then CMHT cancelled the case (I am told that this is procedure, if nothing has happened on a case for ten weeks). After much chasing up, my doctors re-referred me again and I received a letter in late Sept, advising of an appointment at 10 am on three days later at Millside Community Mental Health. Leeds. On that date, I arrived in time. The person I was due to see arrived at 10. 15 and told me they thought the appointment was later. They told me they were going to find a room and at 10.45 I finally had an appointment, although they told me that they had not read my notes.
My most major of my concerns is around my eating disorder; this person told me that they didn’t know anything about eating disorders. They said that they didn’t know how CMHT could help and that if I was Bipolar or Schizophrenic it would be “simply a case of changing your meds”. They could offer me help if I needed “help with your shopping or something like that”. Which I don’t. They also told me that ACDS was for people with things like bipolar and schizophrenia (it wasn’t something I wanted anyway). They told me that they would have a meeting and contact me after two weeks, with a decision as to whether they could help, and then gave me a number to call if things got worse.
I in fact rang in early Oct when my anxiety was very high. A few days later was the date that was two weeks after my appointment. When I didn’t hear anything I rang a couple of times to speak to the person I had seen but they never seemed to be there, I heard nothing at all after this. I gave up, assuming they wouldn’t be offering me help.
I have had continuing physical problems, including severe pain, as a result of my eating disorder and have been in hospital twice in early 2012 for this – in Jan and Feb. In early Dec 2012 my pain was again severe and when I went to see my GP she called an ambulance. Such was the pain that morphine had to be administered before I could actually move to the ambulance. I must point out that I have always been honest about this pain and the reasons for it, with medical staff. I don’t really want to go into the details here, but is concerning my physical dependency on laxatives.
At hospital – I arrived at 3.30 pm, at midnight I was still on a trolley. This wasn’t the staff’s fault: there was a shortage of beds and it cannot be helped, however, bearing this in mind, I didn’t actually get to go to sleep in a bed until 1 am. Shortly before I was moved to the ward (so in the middle of the night), a doctor who saw me said I was to have an enema and be sent home. The nurse insisted that neither of these should happen as I was in too much pain. At 3 am that same doctor came to the ward that I had been moved to and insisted that I was woken up to be given an enema. This was painful and produced no result (which I already had told him, as there was nothing in my lower intestines).
The next day I briefly saw a consultant in ward round. He patted my stomach and said, in these words, “There’s poo in there, that’s why it hurts”. He ordered another enema (which, thankfully didn’t happen).
One of his doctors that had been on the ward round later came to see me to ask me about my discharge medication. Incidentally, each time I have been in hospital I have gone without my psychiatric meds for at least 24hrs despite one of them having immediate and horrid withdrawal effects (venlafaxine). He asked me what laxatives I wanted to be prescribed and in what quantity. This upset me, as I have a laxative dependency and am in pain due to this. I became upset and started crying, as I don’t want to be prescribed the things, I want some help I explained and I cried and I begged for help. Something I should not have to do in front of other patients. I even explained how I had tried to get help from CMHT and what had happened and I asked if they could please get me some MH support somehow. I wrote down what he said next, as they depressed me so much. He told me that I don’t understand how difficult it is for one part of the NHS to speak to another part, and that even if he did contact the MH team I needed to understand that, whilst my mental health problems are obviously of great importance to me, they are not a priority for the mental health team: they have more important cases to deal with.
This made me feel awful. I started to question myself as to whether I had made a fuss over nothing, but saw that I could do little else having been in so much pain and that, I had tried to help myself. After some time, the doctor said he would in fact call the mental health team. He came back to me and told me that I did in fact have a CPN (the person I had an appointment with in September), and so the help I was after was in fact available to me.
I rang Millside and tried to speak to my CPN, but they were not there. They said I would get a call back from my CPN, which they did. I was asleep at the time, but got a message on my answer phone saying that they had been my CPN since the assessment but because I hadn’t had any appointments with him, they had discharged me and that if I wanted help I would have to go through the assessment procedure again.
I have not contacted my CPN again. I don’t actually want to speak to them again. To be honest I am too tired and exhausted to go through the assessment procedure again, and I don’t want to be faced with all this again. I don’t want to feel like I am a waste of time. I can prevent further hospital admissions if I continue to use the laxatives, although it has required me to increase the frequency of this as the pain is more and more frequent.
I am writing this not because I want my CPN to reverse the discharge from CMHT, or that I want anything for myself. I am getting to the point when I can’t care. How is it possible for a person with MH problems to stoke up the motivation to help themselves, when someone who is paid to be bothered, doesn’t help? I am writing this because I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this. I would also like to suggest that “not knowing anything about eating disorders” is not an acceptable position for anyone within the MH team to take. If they are not trained on eating disorders, how can they help anyone like me?