Recently I was asked what my gold standard of mental health care looks like. Now, I'm hyper aware that my gold standard is not going to be the same as other peoples' gold standards of mental health care. That is okay. Remember, nothing I say is representative of people as a whole.
With that little disclaimer in place, let's get on with it.
When speaking with the media and politicians, I always try to make it clear that I'm very much in favour of patient-lead treatment; and it's true, I am! I think if you drag someone out of their comfort zone, kicking and screaming, simply because you think you know what's best for them, you're asking for them to retreat further into themselves.
It goes without saying that withdrawal is the exact opposite of a desirable outcome in mental health treatment.
Now, in my experience, I've struggled to be in charge of my own treatment. I remember saying to a GP at one stage that the reason I came off a particular medication (without consulting a Dr or psychiatrist) was because it made me feel drowsy. He quickly responded with "well that medication doesn't cause drowsiness, so...". Suffice to say, I haven't made an appointment with that GP since.
That leads me onto my next point, which is that every individual's experience of mental illness and medication will differ from other peoples' experiences. They will be virtually exclusive to that person, and should be recognised as such. What that GP should have said is "well that's an uncommon side effect, however what we can do is try you on 'x, y or z'".
Bringing it back to mental health specialists, one of my most memorable experiences of therapy at the age of 16 was telling my therapist about an overdose I'd taken the previous week. At this stage I was ready to accept help, so I pushed through the fear surrounding opening up about this incredibly vulnerable moment. The therapist went on to completely ignore what I'd said, and at the end of the session told me "you seem to be doing well, so I'm going to see you once every three months with view to discharging you in December".
So I guess my gold standard of mental health care is very simple...healthcare professionals need to slow down and listen to what their patient is telling them. I've managed to single out one GP who actually listens to what I say and gets makes referrals where necessary to ensure that he is fulfilling his duty of care. For once, I actually feel as though I'm in good hands. It couldn't have come at a better time given that the last week or so has been one of the scariest times of my life.
This is the first full-length blog post I've written in a while. It feels good. I've missed writing. However, this physical health waiting game is far from over. I don't know how long it'll be before I'm able to return properly. Until then, I feel incredibly lucky to have an understanding audience and some fantastic people around me who have been writing guest blogs for me whilst I'm waiting to find out what's going on. Thank you, all of you. You're helping me keep the website afloat, and the website is keeping me afloat.