My Diagnosis Experience, Part 5

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Yesterday, I finally had my appointment with C3.
Leading up to yesterday, I’ve been nervous about going back, more so than if I was seeing a stranger. The nerves are mostly from not knowing how she would interpret me, based on her unexpected assessment last time. Because all I remembered from before was the more negative parts, like the conversations I ended up confused by and L’s reaction to meeting her, I was expecting a bad experience. Instead she was friendly, and she remembered me to some extent; asking about church and uni.

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Treating Mental Health Issues: Definitions

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When talking about treating mental health issues, it’s important to look at what medical staff, researchers, and people with mental health issues consider to be successful treatment. As its a lot harder to measure and accurately define mental health symptoms than physical ones, it is harder to accurately judge treating them. To show what kind of terms are used when treating mental health conditions, I’m  using some hypothetical case studies. Imagine that each of these patients has just been diagnosed as being in their first Major Depressive Episode, and this is their first mental health issue. Each patient starts with a score of 18 on the PHQ-9, representing moderately severe depression using that system, is treated with an antidepressant, and is followed up six months later.

Response

After a six-week course of medication, Patient A retakes the PHQ-9 and scores 14. Six months later, their score is 15. Because their score has stayed lower, Patient A has had a treatment response. Their diagnosis would not change. In a purely medical sense, this is progress. An academic study testing the effectiveness of patient A’s antidepressant would be happy with a 3-point response, and would consider this a successful response. However, the patient themselves won’t see it that way.
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My Diagnosis Experience, Part 4

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Background

Despite having sat through my fair share of mental health assessments, I don’t know much about them. As I don’t personally know anyone who has experienced one, and don’t really have many people I could ask about how they work, my knowledge is entirely from what people have said online.

Out of everything I’ve written about in the last few posts, one meeting has always remained in my mind, because it was simultaneously the worst and the best experience I had with mental health professionals.

Having never had anyone to “compare notes” with, I’m going to explain it here, in case it comes in useful for future reference or for anyone else. Again, personal information has been removed.
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My Diagnosis Experience, Part 2

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Some notes for this series; I’m not going to be using any identifying information, so I’ll be referring to each  person involved by a letter+ number to tell them apart, as it does get rather confusing. The colour-coding is also just to keep track.
K1– university counsellor
K2– university wellbeing practitioner
L-   one of my friends, who I needed to bring with me to some meetings. 
C1– first mental health assessor at the community services.
C2– second  assessor at the community services.
C3– final assessor at the community services.

Doctor’s Surgery

One of the services involved in my treatment was my GP’s surgery.I don’t have much to write about this part,  as I chose to avoid them as much as possible. While  they technically knew everything that was going on, because each other service wrote letters to the GP updating them with new developments, this didn’t have any practical use. 

I wasn’t exactly organised in making appointments to get medication, which meant I didn’t see one doctor consistently. This made it very easy for me to slip through the cracks, avoiding all of their questions.
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My Diagnosis Experience, Part 1

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Some notes for this series; I’m not going to be using any identifying information, so I’ll be referring to each  person involved by a letter+ number to tell them apart, as it does get rather confusing. The colour-coding is also just to keep track.
K1– university counsellor
K2– university wellbeing practitioner
L-   one of my friends, who I needed to bring with me to some meetings. 
C1– first mental health assessor at the community services.
C2– second  assessor at the community services.
C3– third assessor at the community services.

Beginning

Although I’d had mental health difficulties for a long time, since probably age 10, I didn’t see any mental health services until I was 19. Accessing them wasn’t by choice; when a friend needed to take me to A&E, the hospital had to refer me to community services. My friend also booked a GP appointment for me, and contacted my university to see if they could help me. So I went from knowing nothing about mental health services to being seen by three types at once. It was a confusing period of time, because it felt like my only option was to be bounced around from person to person, and do everything they said, even though I wasn’t really sure of what was going on.
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Diagnosing Mental Health: My Experience

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One of the things that can stop people looking for help with mental health issues is the uncertainty of not knowing how they are referred and diagnosed, what kind of place they need to go to, or what person they need to see.

This is especially true for people under 18, who may not want to see anyone in case it means involving their families or sacrificing their ability to keep information confidential.

Online communities can answer these questions to an extent, giving some people’s experiences. But these sometimes focus on only the easiest experiences or the worst experiences in getting help.

Personally, my experience was in-between these extremes; some of the services I used were really accessible and useful while others made less sense. Similarly, some of the people I saw were really supportive and helpful, and some weren’t. So I thought I would explain my experience getting support, in case it’s helpful to anyone.

2012-
Part 1 (Uni)
Part 2 (GP)
Part 3/ Part 4(Community Services)

2015-

Part 1-Pottergate Centre Screening
Part 2- GP
Part 3- Community Services