"Ongoing struggle with depression."

About: Glasgow Royal Infirmary Glasgow Royal Infirmary / Trauma & orthopaedics Hairmyres Hospital / Emergency department Hairmyres Hospital / General Psychiatry Lanarkshire Community Services / Adult Mental Health Services

(as the patient),

A few years ago my mental health began to deteriorate until I became too unstable and suffered from a mental breakdown leading to my admission into a psychiatric ward. I was released several months later and things took a turn for the worse and I began self harming to the extreme.

It started with cuts to my arms that got worse and worse. This all built up to the worst thing I've ever done in my life, which involved harming my face which then required plastic surgery to fix. I have managed to get away with only a thin scar. The self-harming became a morbid addiction. I've had more visits to the A&E than I would like.

During all of this, I was just seeing a CPN on occasion and a psychiatric consultant once in a while. I was stuck on a drug called olanzapine, which I detested, and would stay on the drug for 8 or 9 months. The CPN I was seeing was a brilliant professional but it felt like it was not enough, so they put me on the long waiting list to see a psychologist and put me in touch with a support worker. I didn't know that it would be these two individuals who would save my life.

Eventually I was put through to the psychology service. My CPN was replaced with another person and I met my support worker. I already felt like things were taking a turn for the better but was still hesitant, was still lost. My new CPN was a bit of a breath of fresh air and still proves to be of great help.

Psychology proved (and still does) to be a huge sigh of relief. I have found that, for me, talking therapy is a great deal better than just being prescribed drugs. The psychologist I see is, quite simply, brilliant. He continues to shine a light on parts of my life allowing me to understand what is going on, how I am affecting people I care about and, most importantly, how I can help myself.

While initially hesitant about seeing a support worker, my person in question and myself have hit it off amazingly well. He's a pep talker, a friend at your side, someone to rely on and even just someone to chat about nothing with. I never imagined one person could help so much. While my psychologist deals with heavy emotions and the deep, dark stuff, my support worker deals with the day-to-day stuff and provides a much needed boost to my morale. The two work really well as a team to cover all bases.

At the start of 2016, I became suicidal and was diagnosed with psychotic depression. I became quite unpredictable and a danger to myself. The mental health team then stepped up the game to do their absolute best to keep me out of hospital. I began acting out of my control and, at one point, tried to seriously injure myself but I managed to pull away. A part of me was still holding on.

I remember one meeting with my support worker that I'll remember for the rest of my life. I told him that I was getting urges to end my life and I remember looking in his eyes and seeing complete compassion. This man genuinely cared about my life, something I had never considered before. I finally felt like I could rely on someone. I owe him everything.

I began to reach out to the mental health team after that and my psychologist organised a posse to keep me secure. Over time, thanks to this safety blanket and my own determination, my suicidal urges faded, hopefully to never return.

Soon after this a psychiatrist offered to put me on another anti-psychotic but I outright refused. At first, the team was worried about my decision but soon saw that I was actually improving on my own. Things have been getting better. Much better. I have very recently taken a step backwards but I have the support and, most importantly again, I have MYSELF to rely on.

To sum it up with an aboreal analogy:

I was lost in the deepest, darkest forest with no sense of direction and no hope of ever seeing light again. I was scared, tired and alone. The community mental health team stepped in to give me the strength needed to climb up into the canopy where, whilst I can see that I am definitely not out of the woods yet, I can see where to go and I can see sunlight. I can feel hope.

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Response from Anne-Marie Carr, Service Manager, Mental Health Services South West, NHS Lanarkshire

Dear Domhnaill,

Thank you for taking the time to share your story which is one of great strength, courage and hope.

I was pleased to hear that you felt the input received from the CMHT has been helpful to you and to read how your support worker and psychologist have positively impacted on your wellbeing.

Your analogy is very thought provoking. I will ensure the this is shared with the team.

I wish you well on your continued journey to recovery.


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