"Constant support has allowed me to overcome many obstacles"

About: Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust / Adult Mental Health Services - Community (County)

(as the patient),

As a recovering alcoholic and someone who suffers from the bipolar disorder, I would like to share my story and leave some positive feedback about the invaluable service and support I have received from The Dual Diagnosis Service located at The Mill Fields Centre.

In particular, I would like to sincerely thank and show my sincere appreciation to a Dual Diagnosis Clinician named, Tina, who I have been seeing on a regular basis for the past year. A year, that at certain times has been one of the most difficult and loneliest of my life. However, because of Tina's constant support I have managed to overcome many obstacles, some of which had been deep rooted for many years. I am happy to say that I am no longer alcohol dependant nor do I feel the need to use alcohol as a coping mechanism as regrettably, I did in the past for many years. I feel mentally, emotionally and physically stronger due to Tina's ongoing support and advice appertaining, not only to alcohol dependency, but to every concern I've raised with her; from mental health issues, personal relationships, bereavement to further education, volunteering/charities, etc. Additionally, and much more importantly, her mediation and liaising with psychiatrists regarding my medication and also her input and morale support during appointments at The Millbrook Mental Health Unit.

I have always suffered from depression and mood changes from childhood, although it wasn't until I reached my twenties that I was first diagnosed and treated for depression. Terms like: mental illness wasn't something that was talked about when I was younger, let alone understood and highlighted. I was diagnosed with the bipolar disorder approximately 8 years ago. I would never have been able to write this, publicly acknowledging I was an alcoholic who suffers from a mental illness less than a year ago. The immense feeling of shame and embarrassment wouldn't have allowed me to do so. It feels a little surreal that I am writing this now to be honest.

Up until my referral to the Dual Diagnosis Service, my personal experiences and moreso the outcomes with professionals from the Mental Health Services and other Alcohol Support Services hadn't been good ones. I had my first encounter with someone from the Mental Health Services about 20 years ago after being referred by my GP to the Ashfield Hospital, Kirkby-in-Ashfield for counselling. Although initially, I felt the counselling was benefiting me, it was only scheduled for a short period; 8 weeks. It was a deflating experience, as soon as I had began to feel comfortable with the counsellor, reaching the point of willingly wanting to open up to her, my time was up. I remember feeling hopelessly alone and far more confused and anxious for some time afterwards.

Over the years, after seeing various psychiatrists or their understudies at The Millbrook Mental Health Unit, I started to feel less and less optimistic about ever being 'cured' or feeling 'normal'. Each appointment left me feeling hopeless, desperate and at times suicidal.

I have always had problems sleeping, especially when I've been in what I call, 'my invincible mode'. However, my long time GP who was very supportive and had been for years, wouldn't prescribe me sleeping pills on repeat prescription, he would only prescribe 6 at a time; which is fully understandable with a patient that has had suicidal thoughts. Thus, I began drinking as a way of self medicating, I would drink on the anti-depressants and mood stabilisers prescribed by psychiatrists so that I could sleep properly. Initially it was the only way I could get a good nights sleep, although the length of time I'd sleep became less and less over the years as I became more and more tolerant to every combination and cocktail of pills and alcohol. Therefore, I'd save my medication instead of taking the correct dosage every day and take a higher dosage and drink larger amounts of alcohol so I could sleep better.

Subsequently, my drinking became terribly out of control and destructive, so much so that my sister forced me to go back to my GP, whereupon he referred me yet again to a psychiatrist at The Millbrook Mental Health Unit. The psychiatrist informed me that she couldn't treat my bipolar effectively until I had stopped drinking. Hence, she referred me to someone from The Maltings, Mansfield. I saw this particular worker about half a dozen times. However, because I didn't 'tick the boxes' on her tick-sheet (her own words), I wasn't defined as an alcoholic or alcohol dependent according to The Maltings tick sheet. She said I was too articulate and able to hold coherent conversations with her which wasn't the norm for alcoholics, she went on to say that I didn't show 'physical' signs of alcohol misuse, I got the impression she thought I should have looked like a bag lady on a park bench. At her request I recorded in a diary that I had drank 62 bottles of wine in the month of February. Albeit she came to the conclusion that the root cause of my problem was psychological and not alcohol related. She didn't turn up for an appointment and I rang the Maltings and left messages for her but she never got back to me, so I didn't pursue it because I felt like a burden. I also felt sorry for her because she didn't know how to help me or what to do for me, this was evident the last time I saw her. I'm not blaming her because she was doing everything by the book, by her tick-sheet as she'd been trained to do so; she was actually a very nice person.

A couple of years later, after a drunken destructive phase (getting arrested and locked up for the night), I was referred to the Ashfield Recovery Partnership. The two benefits of this service was:

(1) I got to see a psychiatrist who actually understood the bipolar disorder and knew what she was talking about. I was filled with optimism and hope, however, I never got to see her again as she moved back to India because of her husbands career. Still it was nice to finally meet a psychiatrist who understood.

(2) I got referred to The Dual Diagnosis Service and began my sessions with Tina.

Tina has been the only person that has been a constant and consistent support to me, the only one who hasn't left me feeling abandoned; I don't think she knows how much I have depended on her over the past year. Tina has made sure that I have seen a better psychiatrist, Dr Middleton, who wasn't at all condescending, and who listened to me and treated me as a human being. I feel physically better now I am taking the vitamins B's and Thiamine Tina advised me to see my GP about, I take multi-vitamins and supplements on a daily basis now because I am more aware about my personal well-being and health. I have enrolled at night school and start 2 courses in November, something I wouldn't have dared to do a year ago or even 6 months ago. Tina gave me the prospectus and encouraged me to consider enrolling. I have planned, and am in the process of taking the steps to return to work in 2016. After living a somewhat reclusive life for the past few years, I am now forming and rebuilding relationships, I've had friends over for a meal. All this may seem trivial to some, however when you've hid away from the world for so long and the times you did go out, you had to have a drink before doing so, then it becomes very daunting to wake up and face the world alone. There is also lots of personal things that Tina has supported me with that I do not wish to go into, she has helped me in so many different ways.

Thank you Tina for being steadfast, I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I know I wouldn't have survived the last year without you, literally.

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Response from Jane Danforth, Involvement Team , Involvement & Experience, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

picture of Jane Danforth

Thank you for sharing your amazing recovery journey. I will make sure that the people you mention get to hear about the lovely feedback you have given them about their support and the services you have received.

It was really helpful to read how you felt about some of the services you have experienced in the past. We can learn from this and make things better for others using this type of service.

I have posted your story on Twitter https://twitter.com/InvolveT1/status/652072506644385792 as I think it is so inspiring to others. It is World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10th October 2015 and I think it is really timely that your story has been shared this week giving hope to others that recovery is possible.

You will receive another reply to mine from the team linked to your story

I wish you all the best for the future


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Update posted by feedbacknhs (the patient)

Thank you Jane, very much appreciated.