"My Lost Friend"

About: Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust / Adult mental health

(as a friend),

I should say I haven’t lost my friend entirely yet, but I’m losing her, she’s slipping away from me, from us all and we're at a loss as to how to help her find her way back to us.

My friend has suffered mental health problems for many years, beginning in her early teens with PTSD, anxiety and depression, since then various doctors have offered opinions on further diagnoses such as personality disorders, schizophrenia. Yet in my opinion she is bipolar.

At the beginning of the year, she was in a hyper state, everything was wonderful and shiny. She thought we were trying to ruin her fun; for example we would try to explain that she couldn’t really fly, but she wouldn’t accept this. We tried contacting various mental health professionals but she received no help, because when the various teams contacted her she told them everything was fine, yet she was still seeing all the world, it seems, through glittery lenses.

I would like to know why these services simply took her word for it over the phone, and why did nobody come out to do an assessment, despite us calling when she jumped off a bridge or when she lay down in the middle of a main road?

It seemed to me even as her high ended and she came crashing to earth with a bump, resulting in her being almost successful in killing herself, she didn’t get the help that I thought she obviously needed. She discharged herself from the hospital before being assessed by anyone trained in mental health as they were busy. She was in for 37 hours and as far as I am aware nobody asked her why she did it, or if she'd do it again.

It being obvious to the rest of us, she was struggling, so I took her to see her GP and I expressed my opinion that the local NHS services had failed her. The doctor jokingly said to me that he could section her if that would make me happy. My friend didn’t sense the joke and has refused to go back to the doctors since, until this week.

I should mention that my friend has told me that for 6yrs she has heard voices in her head telling her to harm herself, after admitting this week that the voices have for the last few weeks to couple of months been worse and now instruct her to harm others.

She saw her doctor (a different one from before) who referred her to the crisis team. He decided not to prescribe medication until she'd been further assessed. The following day the crisis team (that arrived 1hr & 10mins late) spent 35mins asking her lots of questions. I could see these made her nervous and scared; she wasn’t very chatty.

They arranged to come see her again the following day for further assessment, (this time they were only 25 minutes late) yet they kept asking her to repeat herself, which seemed to me make her more anxious.

On each of these visits, my friend was told that as she knows it’s wrong to act on these thoughts, she must take responsibility for her actions. It made me think surely going to the doctor and asking for help shows she’s doing this?

They also suggested that her pets were at risk and that the RSPCA could arrange to re-house them, which again seemed to upset her.

They still haven’t put her on any medication. I think she’s in limbo as she has been isolating herself from those of us who love her, which the crisis team say is the wrong thing to do.

She is refusing to leave her house as she seems to think if she doesn’t go out then she’s minimising the risk of her acting on the instructions from the voices. I think she’s so sweet as she’s hurting herself to prevent hurting others.

I would like to know why they haven’t decided on a course of action for her by now. In the space of 3 days she’s been seen by 5 professionals. She seems scared, alone and I think being failed once again by the local health authority.

We're at a loss as to where to go now to best help her.

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Response from Sarah Jones

We’re sorry to hear about your friend. We would encourage you to contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 01257 245792 or 07507 595437 as a matter of urgency so that we can look into the services being provided to her and make sure she is receiving appropriate care. Please reassure her that this will not adversely affect the treatment she receives.

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