The Time Has Come…..

Lewis Carroll: Through The Looking Glass

Funnily enough, I won’t be talking about any of those things in this post, though there is a temptation to think about when pigs might have the wings to fly. But I’ll pass on that, for now. The ‘many things’ I have in mind are the reasons why I have been away from here for some time. I’m sharing them to show how easily what we believe to be the equilibrium of our lives can be unbalanced. Last week, when I began writing this, was Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW), and that seemed as good a time as any for a post which has mental health as its underlying theme. MHAW is organised by the Mental Health Foundation, and you can find out more about it from their website. I wasn’t really following their theme for this year – how our body image can affect our mental health – so it was perhaps just as well that this wasn’t intended to be an ‘official’ post in support of the week, as it is now late! But taking care of our mental health, whatever the context, is something of which we should all be mindful at all times.

So, why have I been AWOL? This goes back a while. I have a condition called lymphoedema, which can only be managed, but never completely cured. I had needed to restart the treatment for this for some time, but managed to go into denial and become reclusive about it. Whilst I was doing that – with the obvious signs of needing some support for my mental health – I received the news that my landlords wanted me to move out at the end of my rental contract, so that they could sell the flat. Whilst this is always a risk when you live in private rental accommodation, I have lived here since my divorce, eleven and a half years ago, and I felt very destabilised by this. So that was two pressures which were causing me stress and anxiety – not the best basis on which to build a successful search for a new home! Anyone familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs will recognise that the foundations of my personal pyramid were on shaky ground:

I needed to do something to improve my situation: sadly, that was much easier said than done. But, to cut a long story short, I’m now receiving excellent treatment for my physical health, and am more confident about that part of my life than I have been for the past couple of years. And to cut another story short, I have had the amazing luck that the flat across the hall from mine will become vacant at the end of the month, so I can move in there. It will still be a lot of upheaval, but nothing like as much as it could have been. I like the area where I live, so this is the ideal solution, and it means that I can maintain continuity in my healthcare without having to transfer to a new service. As my needs are long term, this is important to me.

Unsurprisingly, I think my mental health has improved, and I have felt a noticeable boost since I received the news last week about my new flat. This is probably just as well, as there doesn’t appear to be any support for that here. I had an assessment a few weeks ago, which described me as suffering ‘mild geriatric depression.’ Inclusion of the word ‘geriatric’ didn’t help! The mental health professional who was working with me gave me the bad news that as I was only a mild case I didn’t meet the specialist services’ threshold to be treated. She recommended the county Well-being and Support service. But this is where Catch 22 came in: that service is for people aged 18 to 65, and as I had reached the decrepit old age of 65 seven months previously, I didn’t qualify for their support either. I spent a fair amount of time on the website of the NHS Trust which provides mental health services in this area, but could find absolutely nothing for people of my age. They claim to provide services for all age groups, but there isn’t a specific section on their site dedicated to ‘older adults,’ and the links in other sections didn’t seem to work. It isn’t good for people who may need help not to be able to find it easily, so I’d made up my mind to call them for advice, but hadn’t got round to it before the good news about a new home. I’d also asked my GP Practice for advice but they hadn’t come up with anything either. It was beginning to look as if I just had to keep my fingers crossed that the new flat would improve my mental health situation, but quite by chance the nurse looking after my bandage change told me of a voluntary service operating in this area, so if I still feel the need for some support once I’ve got moving out of the way I can give them a call.

There may well be other services that could help me, but if a specialist professional, my GP Practice and the Trust’s website can’t direct me to these, where are they? Setting aside my own situation, there is something rather worrying about the lack of mental health support for older adults in this area. I wonder if this is just a quirk of the local system, or whether this is a more widespread issue? The current system supposedly places the commissioning of services in the hands of clinicians – Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) to give them their proper name. But as I have mentioned in previous posts, even when money is clearly ring-fenced for the provision of mental health services the CCGs tend to divert it towards physical care services. Frankly, I think this is a disgrace, and the fact that it has been allowed to happen and to continue does, I believe, reveal a failing of the system of performance monitoring which is supposed to oversee the CCGs’ work.

I know there are intolerable pressures on funding but it does rather seem as though I’m now part of a twilight zone of the forgotten and unimportant. I feel strong enough to bear that, but I wouldn’t mind betting that there are a great many older people who aren’t so strong, and may not be getting the support they need. There is a danger that people will fall between the cracks between heath and social care: I was referred to our local social services but, having established that I am solvent and am perfectly capable of washing, dressing and feeding myself they have closed the referral. Others may not be so fortunate in their circumstances, and it is to our country’s shame that so much effort and resources are being wasted on the ridiculously pointless and unnecessary Brexit, that important issues are being ignored. Hopefully, the dreaded Brexit will finally be resolved soon, and we will be able to tiptoe through the wreckage to see what remains for the provision of mental health services for older people, if anything. Or maybe all we’ll see is the occasional pig flying past. I’ll let you know how Flying Pig Watch goes, and if I can find any services to support me and others like me.


23 thoughts on “The Time Has Come…..

  1. Clive May 23, 2020 / 4:53 pm

    Reblogged this on Take It Easy and commented:

    I was going to post for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) but this post from last year popped up in my Timehop feed, so I thought I’d share it again as many of you are new readers and probably won’t have seen it before. At least I’m posting this year while MHAW is still live!

    A quick personal update, to get that out of the way. I did move flats and am now coming up to 11 months in the new place. It took me a while to feel settled, but I do now, and my mental Health has definitely improved. I haven’t felt the need to seek out the services I mentioned in last year’s post, but somehow I doubt that the general situation regarding service provision in this area will have changed much. Physically I have now been moved on to the next stage of treatment, which can largely be managed by me, rather than my having to go for weekly hospital visits. This is a huge step forward for me: if only I were allowed out to celebrate, or there was anywhere to go!

    If you have a moment, please click on the link in last year’s piece to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), as the link takes you to this year’s MHAW materials. As I said in Tuesday Tunes 9 this year’s theme is ‘kindness,’ which I think is especially appropriate. In these pandemic days we need to be more kind towards each other. My Facebook news feed has contained many instances of kindness to others, and I expect yours will have been the same. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to do something which will brighten someone’s day, and this can be beneficial for the mental health of both parties. The MHF have many useful tips and resources, so I hope you take a look. If you have longer, there is a very well-written piece about why kindness should be a driving factor in public policy – governments would do well to read this and heed the advice!

    I hope you have a chance to reflect on the theme of kindness, and that it will help you and someone else that you know: friends, relatives, other loved ones….

    Take care, stay safe, be well and be kind – to yourself and others 😊👍


  2. Still the Lucky Few May 28, 2019 / 3:48 am

    Glad you are back, Clive. Thanks for sharing what you have been going through. It seems such a terrible challenge, and I can only admire your courage. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive May 28, 2019 / 1:12 pm

      Many thanks, Diane. I’m just bumbling along and hoping for the best, really. Hope all’s well with you.


  3. watchingthedaisies May 24, 2019 / 12:14 pm

    I am glad you are able to move to a new flat so close Clive. Moving house is a biggie. I hope you are able to get the support you need for your mental health. Why should the over 65’s be excluded?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive May 24, 2019 / 2:49 pm

      Thank you, Brigid. Hopefully it won’t be too much hassle. Sadly, I’m not surprised at the lack of support for the over 65s – we are being put out to grass!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. browney237 May 23, 2019 / 10:56 pm

    Great to read your latest post I have missed you!
    Moving is always a pain even if it’s not far. I hope it goes without a hitch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive May 24, 2019 / 11:23 am

      Thank you Michael! Keeping my fingers crossed that it isn’t too awful! I have a lot of catching up to do: I know I’ve missed at least two posts from you but please bear with me while I ease myself back into blogworld 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • browney237 May 24, 2019 / 11:26 am

        No problem. I’m sure I’ve missed many more of yours.
        Take care.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Clive May 24, 2019 / 11:29 am

        Thanks. I doubt you’ve missed anything of significance,


  5. Molly Stevens - Shallow Reflections May 23, 2019 / 11:34 am

    What a lot you’ve been dealing with, Clive. I’m glad your physical treatments are working and that your move won’t be as traumatic as you feared. As for the mental health treatment for people over 65, it is a travesty that this age group has such poor access to care. I’m glad for your sake that you feel reasonably stable. Are there any free support groups who meet in your area? If run well, they can be better than professional help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive May 23, 2019 / 1:20 pm

      Thank you, Molly, I appreciate your kind words and your support. I agree that in this day and age it is shameful that the statutory services are so lacking, but there is a voluntary service that provides befriending – once the dust has settled on the move I’ll consider giving them a call, if I still feel the need 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Heather Hill, Author May 22, 2019 / 11:44 pm

    So nice to see you back, Clive. I found one of the most powerful and helpful ways through my own problems has been daily journalling. It’s been incredibly therapeutic and while I felt I had a bit of writer’s block professionally, the words just flowed when I started ‘talking to myself’ on the page. Happily, blogging can do that too. It’s so good to share it all. I hope things get better for you x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive May 23, 2019 / 1:16 pm

      Thank you, Heather. I really appreciate your kind words. I’ve never been one to keep a diary – maybe I should start! I’m only an occasional blogger at best, so I don’t have writing in my veins like you do, though 😊


    • Clive May 22, 2019 / 5:31 pm

      Thank you, Cindy. I’m well supported, so hopefully it will all turn out well.


    • Clive May 22, 2019 / 2:13 pm

      Thanks, Frank. Fingers crossed 😊


  7. endardoo May 22, 2019 / 1:01 pm

    So good that you at least got the accommodation part sorted, Clive … it really is such a basic need, as you pointed out, before you can tackle the other things. Keep on trucking (and blogging!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clive May 22, 2019 / 3:10 pm

      Many thanks, Enda. The move will keep me busy for the next few weeks, but the blog will still be here 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Stevie Turner May 22, 2019 / 12:22 pm

    So sorry you have been suffering, Clive. I too live with lymphoedema (of the neck – ugh) and it’s taken me 2 years to finally see a lymphoedema nurse and find out how to deal with it. Regarding your depression, have you Googled ‘Cognitive Behavioural Treatment’? My colleague at work said CBT helped her a lot with depression.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Clive May 22, 2019 / 12:39 pm

      Sorry to hear that, Stevie. It isn’t pleasant, is it. I’m lumbering around in compression bandages at present, just to complete the Michelin man impression. I had a course of CBT when I was suffering before: some of the written pieces my counsellor tasked me with became the basis for this blog, and some of my early posts. It’s also a part of the piece I did for your ‘Understanding’ anthology. To be honest, I don’t think I’m that far gone nowadays, but I know there are online versions of it if I feel the need.

      Liked by 1 person

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