Every woman and her wife seems to have a mental health blog these days, and I’m nothing if not a lifelong bandwagon-jumper.
Last November some fairly long-term (and, I’d thought, long-dead) mental health problems resurfaced, so in January I decided to take a year out from university and move in with my Mum and brother in London. Since then it’s been a merry-go-round of referrals, waiting lists, and trips to A&E. I’ve been a patient at a day hospital in St Pancras for a few months, where we learn to make lumpen pottery, do yoga, and shout and/or cry all over the psychologist in the hope that it will somehow help us cope – and for the most part, it does. There’s a kind of solidarity between mental patients; everyone knows that to have ended up where we are, we’re probably all in the same fairly leaky boat. The staff, as a rule, do their best with the limited resources they’re given.
Still, entering the mental health system has been a pretty bruising experience. Unless you’ve been living under a rock since Cameron & Co came to power, you probably know that the NHS is having chunks carved out of it left, right and centre, and that mental health services have been hit harder than most. On Monday I came home from what I very much hope was the last leg of a 6-week tour of London’s inpatient psychiatric institutions. I’ve been pinged around the capital like a silver ball in a pinball machine, from a crisis house in St Pancras to home to A&E to a psychiatric ward in Roehampton (because there were no beds anywhere in Camden or Islington) to a ward in Highgate and back to the crisis house. It was exhausting, and I can think of at least four points at which properly funding the Camden & Islington services would have saved the NHS money in the long run and me a lot of hassle, but that’s a rant for another day. Right now I’m trying to focus on how nice it is to have a functional shower that doesn’t have a peephole in the door – or, in fact, that HAS a door, unlike my bathroom in Highgate. I’m a long way from recovered, but I’m alive, I’m home, and my cats have remembered how great I am at tummy tickles. It’s a start.
PS. I am terrible at replying to communications at the moment, and haven’t really been up to seeing people for a while. If it’s looked like I’ve been ignoring you, I’m sorry.