When a Conversation Isn’t Enough……

14 Mar

‘Mental Health can have a devastating affect on sufferers.  A recent advertising campaign by time-to-change.org encourages people to ‘start a conversation, today’.  Although, this campaign has a value, it is not always straight forward and does not address some of the complicated issues that people suffering from mental health problems encounter……’

Lumps, Bumps and Behaviour……Scream_01

Mental health covers a wide and diverse spectrum of illnesses with an equally diverse range of effects upon those who suffer from it.  The medical profession, charged with diagnosing mental health conditions, have an expanding book of identifiable conditions from which to choose.  However, whereas many physical conditions often have a clearly identifiable abnormality, causing symptoms and correctable with surgery or pharmaceuticals, mental health conditions are often more subtle and rely on a patient’s behaviour to diagnose, often as a result of the answers they give to questionnaires, not that an underlying physical abnormality is absent, albeit harder to find without the advanced techniques of CAT or MRI scanning, more often than not discovered at a later stage when the symptoms persist and clinicians have failed to find a pharmaceutical solution.

Subtleties……

One of the problems with many of the common and, some no so common, mental health problems is the big variation in symptoms.  These can be attributed to other causes that are not exclusively the preserve of a mental health problem.  Even when several symptoms are taken in conjunction they do not necessarily indicate a mental health problem.  Therefore, diagnosis can take a long time, during which the sufferer may get worse.

Once a Cause is Identified……

The experience of each individual differs widely.   If you have an excellent GP who takes the time to listen to you, it doesn’t necessarily follow that further help will be available.  In the main your GP isn’t a specialist in mental health, so even if they correctly identify your problem their options are limited.  Depression is the most common diagnosis, although depression can be the result of suffering from other mental health conditions.  It invariably comes with some degree of anxiety attached.  If your GP chooses to address the problem themselves, you can be prescribed one of many different Anti-Depressants.  These come in many forms and often have the unhelpful side affect of increasing anxiety and, in the early stages have been shown to increase thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide and have many unpleasant side effects.  Any form of therapy is usually not offered even though most professional mental health advocates and practitioners would consider an element of therapy essential when dealing with depression and anxiety.

What is Depression……

And how can it affect sufferers?  ‘Depression’ is a widely used term and can cover a whole range of problems.  At the milder end of the spectrum it can be applied to somebody who may be under a lot of pressure from work, may have difficulty in sleeping and, for want of a better description, is feeling a little down.  At the other end of the spectrum it can be applied to somebody who idealises suicide, struggles to perform everyday tasks and experiences such chronic anxiety that they have overwhelming feelings of impending doom accompanied by the feeling that they are about to have a heart attack.  Two very different sets of experience with two very different outcomes for the patient.  Only a specialist in mental health is able to quantify the difference.  The problem can come from whether the patient is referred to the appropriate service.  With GPs time limited and the pressures placed on Community Mental Health Services, referrals can be subject to a ‘post-code’ lottery.

A Downward Spiral……

Scream_02If you suffer from depression everyday tasks become extremely difficult.  When faced with several things which need sorting out, sufferers can easily be overwhelmed and shut down under pressure.  This sort of situation is compounded by having to deal with the bureaucracy of government departments upon whom you are completely reliant for your income if you are unable to work due to your health.  The obstacles put in your way under the ever changing rules would challenge even the most intelligent and organised of people.  For someone suffering from mental ill health these can seem insurmountable, further compounding an already difficult situation.

Outcomes……

Feeling isolated, unable to cope with everyday life and perceiving the future only becoming worse, you can be driven to want it all to stop.  If this leads you to take the ultimate course of action and end your life all of the confusion, pain and inner turmoil will end.  If this was to happen and you end up laying on the coroner’s slab doubtless the cause of death will be registered as suicide.  There will be no mention of the circumstances that led to you being there; no mention of the fact that you have knocked on ever available door to tell someone just how bad things have become.  No mention of the pressure you have been put under by the bureaucracy who made your life a misery, jumping through hoops just to survive and no blame apportioned to the agencies who failed to recognise the seriousness of your situation.  Simply, suicide; an act carried out by you upon yourself by choice.  Choice that you feel you were denied whilst you were alive.

‘Start your conversation today’ is what the latest campaign tells you.  I started my conversation 20 years ago and, for the moment, I’m still talking although nobody seems to be listening……

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One Response to “When a Conversation Isn’t Enough……”

  1. lista de email March 21, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    very rarely do i come across a blog that’s both informative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. lista de email lista de email lista de email lista de email lista de email

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