The Time Has Come…..

May 22, 2019 22 comments

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.

 

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To Sleep, Perchance To Dream – A Revisit

May 18, 2019 2 comments

In my last post I promised an update on my current circumstances, which I’m happy to say are improving. That post is still only part-written, however, and as this one popped up in my Timehop feed today – from four years ago – I thought it worth sharing in the meantime. As you will see, it is in itself a reworking of a 2013 post, but come on – how many of you were following and reading my blog back in 2015, let alone 2013?! I’m hoping that, for most of you, this will be the first time you’ve seen this.

I still have the sleep problems described in the post, and have been advised that the solution I was given for those isn’t helping my current physical illness. I think they call that ‘Catch 22!’

I’ll see you again soon, with the more detailed update I promised you. Take care until then – and beware conflicting medical advice!

Take It Easy

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream.” This invites us to write about sleep, which in theory occupies around a third of our lives. I say “in theory” because that assumes a regular 8 hours per night of sleep, which is something I went for many years without. At its worst, three years ago, I was actually referred to a hospital specialist in sleep as I was having such a  problem with it and they feared I may have been suffering from sleep apnoea. Fortunately I wasn’t! I wrote about this in January 2013, describing how I was and some of the things I had tried, in ever-increasing desperation, to find a way to sleep:

SLEEPLESS IN EPPING

Bad idea

When I started this blog it was to share with you my experience of depression, both going through it and getting over it. But as I’ve said…

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Categories: Thoughts

It’s STILL A Hard Life

May 5, 2019 Leave a comment

Part Two. Or is it Part Three?

I’m still in recovery mode, and am not yet really feeling up to writing something new. So I thought I’d share a post from this day a year ago, which itself was a reworking and updating of a piece from May 2016. Reading this again, I am struck by how little has changed. The British government is still totally clueless about implementing Brexit, and is demonstrating absolutely no plan to resolve the Irish border issue. Failure to do that could well result in the dismantling of the Good Friday Agreement, plunging Northern Ireland back to the bad days described by Nanci Griffith in the song which gave my original piece its title. And as for the Trump government, please don’t get me started! There is still much in our world today about which we should be fearful.

But maybe, just maybe, there are some hopeful signs. Here in the UK there has been a notable anti-Brexit shift, and a recent opinion survey reported that 61% would now vote against it, given what we know about its negative impacts for our country and for Europe as a whole, not to mention that the Leave campaign has been proven to have been based on lies and criminal behaviour. And in the USA, the youth movement has continued to grow in force, whilst the Democrats have retaken control of the House of Representatives, while the Mueller report indicated a good deal of criminal behaviour by Trump acolytes, no matter how much Numpty tries to spin it otherwise. Small hopes, I know, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a second referendum to finally bury the lunacy of Brexit, and for impeachment and criminal indictments for Trump. The world deserves both of these outcomes.

Take It Easy

Two years ago today I posted a piece which laid out my fears for the way our world was going. This specifically referenced the campaign which was then in full flow towards the UK referendum on membership of the European Union (EU), which took place on 23 June 2016, and the US presidential campaigning, which at that point looked very likely to endorse Donald Trump as the Republican candidate, as indeed happened. Thankfully, election campaigns here only last a month or so, unlike the many months the Americans have to endure – but there’s no guarantee that either of us will come out with a good result, regardless of how long it takes us to get there.

Reading this post again, I was struck by how my worst fears were now coming true. Our referendum became a mass vote of lemmings throwing the country off a cliff, and with only…

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Categories: Thoughts
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