The hand of help is slipping further away

Along my mental health journey I have often been told, “Sorry, you’ll have to wait a couple of months, as there’s little funding.” or “The course of therapy / counselling is for 6/8/10/12 weeks only, the NHS can only afford to run it for that long at a time.” The overall message has also included the fact that demand is higher than supply.

Two of the key points of my condition are anxiety, near zero self esteem and debilitating feelings of shame. If you understand C-PTSD / DTD as a condition and the effects it has upon the inflicted, then you’ll have little problem in understanding where this piece is heading. At a time when I am at my most vulnerable and absolutely in need of help and support, the very service that can help me is being systematically destroyed before our eyes. What hope do I realistically have of being able to live a half-way normal life?

The shortness of available courses of counselling and/or therapy has often been a problem in my own personal experience. Note the C in C-PTSD. It stands for complex. What I have found is that the fact-finding phase of these courses drag on and overflow into the remedial phase of the course, as it isn’t something that can be achieved in a session or two. The fact finding is a probing process that stirs up the memories, the feelings and leaves me very distressed. When I say distressed, I mean sobbing and close to screaming, during the session itself and highly agitated and disturbed for days, sometimes weeks, afterward. This is very counterproductive. By the time I run out of available sessions, I have often been in a worse state than I was when I started. This has gone on for over 25 years and it takes a lot of courage and will for me to ask for help again, but I know I have no other choice other than to give up and die.

Over recent months, my hope for the future, indeed vision of ANY future have been ground down to nothing. I am fully reliant on mental health services to stand any chance of recovery or even achieving any level of manageability of my condition. Yet those services are being destroyed by years of under-funding and defunding by the Conservative government. This is not a political statement in itself, I deplore politics, but a statement of provable fact going by publicly available statistics.

So the anxiety of knowing that the help I so desperately need is becoming a more and more distant option is making my current bout of severely depressive illness all the worse. It is adding to my illness and increasing the feelings of shame, as I read about the pushes for greater child mental health awareness, the social care and NHS crisis in general and how there are so many other more pressing needs in society, such as homelessness and refugee problems. This is not a dig at those other issues, I genuinely care about people in these positions and empathise with them as I myself have been on the brink of homelessness, but for good friends, and the way this country is going who is to say that I may not one day be a refugee seeking shelter in another country?

My depressive illness is getting so bad at present that suicidal thoughts, which I have not had for quite some time now, are beginning to creep back in. It all seems so hopeless, you see. I have to wait 14 days to see my GP which, given the suicidal thoughts I am trying to hold at bay, seems like a very dangerous waiting time. Part of the reason I started this blog is to get it all down in writing, so I can take the most relevant parts and put them into a list to present to my GP. It’s hard to get it across from memory, given only a 10 minute appointment. These aren’t complaints at the NHS, just facts about supply and demand. I am genuinely thankful for the very existence of the NHS  as I feel it is the reason that I am still here. The medication I get is just one thing that has helped me over the years.

I absolutely NEED more support at this time. Suffering from depressive illness for so many years, I know myself well enough to make a very informed evaluation on this subject. However, the available support is far from adequate. I feel that I need something to combat the anxiety and I absolutely need to be assessed for a priority assessment for C-PTSD and appropriate treatment. Given successful therapy for C-PTSD, it is entirely possible that I could be weened away from the antidepressant medication, which surely would represent a future cost saving? Just being practical there.

The question is, will the powers that be see the same justification? In short, is it worth it?

Am I worth it? *

* Am I and other sufferers worth it, when we can continue being the recipients of expensive medications delivered through and at great cost to the NHS?

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The story so far

To fully understand what I write about and why, it is useful to understand where I have come from. What path has brought me here.

“Here” is a man in his mid-forties who suffers from recurring mental health issues in the form of deep and debilitating depression. I have suffered this in various, but ever worsening forms since my teens. The recurring bouts can be triggered by various things, but primarily these have been stress, especially prolonged periods of stress.

I have found that I cannot make sense of the world around me, I don’t understand why people are the way they are and do the things that they do. I fear almost everybody I don’t know and suspect the worst of everybody. Ah, some may be thinking, he’s paranoid. If only it were that simple.

Add to this that I have a deep self-loathing, no self-confidence and little self-esteem and have had addiction issues with alcohol and cannabis, in spells of my life and again some will be saying, “yes it’s definitely paranoia”.

Not at all. All the negative thought processes and mind sets were there long before I took my first toke. I took my second toke, because the first one helped to alleviate those negative feelings. Well, until I threw up that is. So yes, I did self-medicate for some years, on and off. It genuinely was the only way that I could cope, as it gave me an attitude that said “Meh! It doesn’t matter…” However, as I saw this as my crutch (as in walking aid, not pelvic area, which is spelt crotch) and was once told by a GP that I was “hitting myself over the head with my crutch”, the cannabis has been a thing of the past for some time and I’ve been virtually teetotal for many years.

I’ve been on and off of prescribed medications for many years, the most recent of which are Sertraline to take the edge off in the daytime and Mirtazapine to help me get to sleep. Well, it knocks me out cold, to be fair, although my legs spasm for the first couple of hours of sleep. There have been plenty before that, Propranolol, Venlafaxine, Fluoxetine and such like; I really must get a full list from the health services. The only medication that provides any tangible relief is Diazepam, but obviously that’s highly addictive and the docs won’t prescribe that for any more than a week or so.

I will pad out the rest of my life story over time, but I want to make a concise piece of it here, so in summary there have been several “on the brink” suicidal episodes, two failed marriages, umpteen failed relationships, many failed jobs and many lost friendships as a result of the way I am and have stumbled through life, knocking over all the ornaments.

One of the few successful periods of employment was in the social care sector, which unfortunately ended up in redundancy near the end of 2015, due to government cuts in social care. During this I worked extensively in the learning disabilities / difficulties and autism field. I saw many autistic / Asperger’s traits in my internal behaviours and thought processes. Combined with the fact that I have a son who has Asperger’s syndrome, I asked to be put forward for Asperger’s screening, a couple of years ago. Amazingly, given my age, I was invited to an assessment.

I was asked to perform some tasks and to read from a book. Asked many questions and that was the end of the first session. I went back a week or two later and was asked a lot more questions, this time about how I feel during depressive periods and then about my childhood. I was told that I do not have Asperger’s syndrome, but although it is outside of their field of expertise, they both felt I had something called Developmental Trauma Disorder and that it may be worth me following that up with my GP. They did tell me that because it was yet to be ratified in the DSM-V, there was no funding for this condition.

So I did my research. Months and months of research.

So it turns out that there is another name for this condition. Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. C-PTSD.

Now, I have been through many counselling and therapy sessions where I have gone over my childhood and they have seen me descend into unbearable and obvious distress. I have been labeled as having Borderline Personality Disorder and a whole host of other tick-box conditions. Yet nobody has ever told me about DTD / C-PTSD.

So, bear in mind that I come from a family of seven siblings, of which I was the middle and the first of my biological father. A violent, womanising, narcissistic, alcoholic father with an ego the size of a football team. He bullied and terrorised the whole family. It has been alleged that he molested my older half sister, which I do not disbelieve. My mother both idolised him and feared him in equal measures. To the extent that she would offer us up as sacrificial lambs to quell his anger upon his return home from work, usually stinking of alcohol. The moment he’d walk through the door, she’d tell him straight away how bad we’d been. Credit to her, she’d promised that all day long, regardless of our behaviour. You see, she was traumatised and depressed too. Although I still find it hard to forgive how she dealt with it. Apart from using us as a virtual shield in the way I described, she would also tell us on a daily basis that “I hate you kids”, “My life would be so much better if I didn’t have you kids”, “I wish you’d never been born” and “You’ve ruined my life”. There were also be the daily threats of being taken away and put into care. Sometimes I wish she’d followed through on those.

Two separate incidents of sexual abuse, one a friend of my father’s in a vague but disturbing early memory, disbelieved when I told my mum and later used as a form of leverage to brand me a liar. The second was at the hands of a local vicar who much later committed suicide when under investigation for sexual abuse allegations against foster children. I didn’t talk to anybody about this until well into adult life.

Full swing “smackings” would ensue when my father felt the need. When I say full swing, I mean the arm would come through 180 degrees in its swing, with enough force to lift me from my feet, while held by an arm. As I got older, these “smackings” on the arse would turn into being kicked around the garden, sometimes with his steel toe-capped boots on and eventually would become fists, anywhere except the face and often to the back of the skull. My father was a keen sportsman and a scaffolder by trade, so he was no weakling. Quite an imposing and muscular six-footer, in fact. His constant, snarlingly delivered references to me being a “little boy”, right up to when he eventually left when I was around nineteen years old, were some of the nicer belittling put downs in his repertoire.

I remember and recall all of this vividly, sometimes in my sleep and it went on from my earliest memories in childhood, around 8 or 9 years old, up to when I was 19. This was on a regular basis, sometimes daily, at least weekly. There is more to it than this, but not that I am comfortable putting into a blog at this point in time.

So, after what I have read and learned so far in my mental health journey, this DTD / C-PTSD diagnosis seems pretty spot-on to me. Now I just have to see how I can begin to heal this damage that is so ingrained into my psyche and thought processes.

Hopefully I may be able to update on this at some point.

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The hand of help is slipping further away