Today is World Mental Health Day.
This past week I have been reminded so much how precious mental health is and how even in the UK there are so many people who fall through the gaps.
7years ago on the 3rd of October my best friend Becci died after taking an overdose. It took her two days to die. She had been given a 3month supply of her antidepressants by her psychiatrist despite him knowing she was suicidal. During the last year of my degree me and her boyfriend were in an out of the Royal Ed (psychiatric unit in Edinburgh) trying to support her as best we could. That hospital was just grim and if anything would make you more mental being in there. Becci fell through the gaps of the system. I know she didn’t want to be here anymore but I do think more could have been done to support her, and maybe save her life.
My brother has had Cannabis induced psychosis for the last 9years. He was on incredibly strong medication but he had a heart attack possibly hereditary but possibly caused by the meds so they have taken him off it and in the last year he is a shadow of the person he was. He was recovering so well previously even obtained a masters degree – yes there were still issues but he was getting better because the strong meds worked so well for him. Now he just seems a depressed shell and I miss my brother and want him back. His care has mostly been very good though- when he was admitted the hospital he was in was phenomenal and a stark contrast to Becci’s ward. He had his own room, the facilities and the support was amazing. There are still gaps in his care but it is so much better than in some areas. There is even a mental health cafe he goes to regularly- it is amazing- he says there he feels normal and it is such an essential facility.
And now me, I have had some pretty low periods looking back that may have been depression but I don’t know. I have never been treated for depression. However I have to say that I am phenomenally impressed with how well I am being looked after now I have been diagnosed with PTSD. I am getting free NHS CBT and I was seen within weeks due to the urgency of my case. I am seeing one of the head honchos at the hospital who is an excellent therapist and is really really helping me. I have not been allocated a finite number of sessions- it seems I can keep going until I am ready to stop. We have explored using EMDR which is a cutting edge treatment and although turns out it may not be necessary in my case I am incredibly privileged that I have been able to access all this support. My maternity notes are flagged so that I receive special care and my doc, health visitor and midwife are all alerted to that. All in all I am feeling safe and secure in the knowledge that if I do go onto develop PND (which is something I am a bit worried about at the minute because of everything that has gone on!) then I will be looked after and supported and I will get through it.
Mental health should never be taken for granted and mental illness should be treated as seriously as any other physical condition. This years theme to World Mental Health Day is “investing in Mental Health”. I hope local authorities will be taking the message seriously but on a personal level- what do you do to invest in your own mental health? What can you do to support mental health of others? In spirit of practising what I preach I am going to remind self of “self care masterplans” and phone my brother and check in how he is doing, and properly listen to any of my friends who need me.