Another year, another homecoming, another satisfied moment hanging my coat from a hook that isn’t carefully ligature-proofed. Since the end of October I’ve spent a total of about 10 days at home and the rest of the time stuck on the misery-go-round that is inpatient psychiatric care, finally landing back on my own bed on Monday. The upside of these admissions is that I’ve avoided acting on my most unpleasant and dangerous thoughts, so I’m, you know, still around. The downsides are many and various. Lengths of stay are based on time limits rather than need, so keeping myself alive has meant time in 3 different crisis houses and a ward: 4 sets of staff to learn to trust, 4 environments to get used to, trying to believe at each discharge that this time the leaving plan we filled in might keep me out of hospital while knowing nothing’s changed. The radioactive green hospital pyjamas were also not a plus.
This time, though, eleven months after referral to the Personality Disorders Service and six months after diagnosis with BPD, I have finally been allocated a therapist for Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, and had my first meeting with him on Tuesday! My therapist is (shock horror) a MAN, who haven’t always turned out to be hugely helpful therapeutically for me in the past – the one who was so confused by my inability to talk to him that he resorted to mockery and doing ACTUAL IMPRESSIONS of me during sessions provided a particularly special experience. I mentioned that I was nervous about seeing a male therapist to the PD service psychologist who I’ve been checking in with; “He’s not a very manly man,” she said, reassuringly. So that’s good.
I have also applied for funding to attend Studio Upstairs, an art project for people with mental health problems in London, and to go a few days a week to a day centre which provides occupational therapy groups of various kinds. Both look super, but funding applications are not a speedy process. In the past, healthcare professionals made referrals to social care services like day centres, and if you were accepted, the funding was organised behind the scenes. Now the system has changed so that patients have to write an application for funding, supposedly with the help of a care co-ordinator – a social worker, support worker or psychiatric nurse – but I’m still waiting to meet mine, and wasn’t allocated one at all until just before Christmas. You’re then assessed and allocated a personal budget which you can choose to spend on the care you want. In theory, this means you’re empowered to make choices about your care. In practice, it means you have to justify your needs by explaining how care is going to help you before you’ve had the chance to try it, you’re made acutely aware of how much money you’re costing everybody, and the whole process takes months and months.
So I’m not holding my breath for 2015 getting better quickly – but I am very, very, cautiously optimistic that it might eventually, which is progress. In the meantime I’m still seeing the Crisis Team, who are the usual mixed bag of quite helpful and absolutely shit, and am keeping the winter greyness at bay with wool of many colours (less blurry in real life):