The envelope dropped onto the mat and I knew the moment it was in my hands that it was from my local Community Mental Health Team, they are good they send every communication in a marked envelope so not only do I know who it’s from, but I guess if he’s clever so does my postman. I often wonder what my postie must think delivering these envelopes marked mental health team through my door, it’s certainly a conversation starter.
This particular letter was from the appointments secretary, requesting my attendance at an appointment next week with the newly appointed locum psychiatrist. Now I don’t mind seeing a psychiatrist it’s not something that I am ashamed of after all he or she is just another human being of equal but no less importance than myself, but there are times when these appointments can be challenging. I have had a number of different psychiatrists over the past decade and they have varied in their competency from the good, understanding partnership approach to the extremely arrogant and officious I know best.
Having a diagnosis of D.I.D can make this even more fun, I have had those who are accepting to those who are beyond sceptical and somewhere on another planet. Yet each of them has had the ultimate power to detain me, take away my rights and submit me to things I really don’t like, this makes it always stressful therefore to see them.
My last psychiatrist was in the end not too bad, we had our disagreements, I didn’t like his approach to my diagnosis or to me, but he did at least respect that by not making me see him very often and in fact he never once forced me to take medication I didn’t want to or spend a single day as an inpatient. So overall he rated ok, he wasn’t the best but boy he wasn’t the worst either.
The letter that came though this week has opened up some challenges, the locum psychiatrist who I am to see, previously worked for the local health trust in fact he was the doctor who against my wishes detained me under the mental health act. What joy will it be to see him again after what seems like an age and probably is I guess, our last major encounter was in 2007.
So at the moment I am slightly apprehensive, but I am also quite looking forward to the challenge that our meeting will bring, you see in 2007 no one had diagnosed me as having dissociative identity disorder and so I was just labelled with a variety of different things. I wasn’t as strong as perhaps I am now, I hadn’t been in secure services nor faced the trials that come with fighting a Mental Health Act Tribunal.
This meeting will allow me an opportunity to tell him just how we are today, that I am not bitter that his actions set me on a journey that took me hundreds of miles from my family, that back in 2007 what I needed was understanding and not enforcement. I’m actually looking forward to telling him how I have reduced my medication regime, that I no longer feel suicidal and that I am working hard to deal with my past and the damage it has caused to my life.
I am hoping he will see my name and remember me, think he is going to see the person who he saw in 2007, the women who was suicidal, in pain and confused. A person who had given up on life and wasn’t able to express to anyone what was causing all this hurt, because then he will be even more surprised when I walk in his room transformed in part from those dark days.
Now don’t get me wrong I am not at the end of my journey I still have difficult challenging days, but I don’t feel suicidal anymore in fact now I just want to work hard with guidance from my psychologist to repair the damage my childhood caused. My desire today is not to self destruct but to understand the different parts of me, my alters, that doesn’t mean all days are great, that I don’t feel down sometimes. Some days I can’t stop crying others I find sleep hard to come by, there are flashbacks and memories which aren’t easy to live with, but then no one has ever said having Dissociative Identity Disorder was easy. The fact is having any mental health condition is a challenge and having a difficult childhood leaves a lasting legacy from which a person needs to heal.
My forthcoming psychiatry appointment will be on mind this week, and I will want to try to hold it together for the appointment, not to be tearful or having a tough day. But if there is one thing I have learnt during the past decade it is the mental health services have changed, cuts have been drastic especially in the number of inpatient beds available, thus my psychiatrist will still hold the power to section me, the difference is the goalposts to do that have changed.
As my care coordinator kindly told me this past week getting into hospital locally today you have to not only be suicidal but much worse and even then they’ll do everything to keep from admitting someone. They have too few beds to go around and they can’t afford to detain me, so suddenly the power balance held by psychiatry for me at least has lessened. Now that is something to celebrate isn’t it, it certainly makes this forthcoming appointment less daunting.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2014