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Reflections…Week Thirty Nine

canstockphoto8630797This is a reflection of remembrance.

I found out on Thursday that a person whom I shared time with at art class passed away last week.

I did not know him well  but he, and his artistic style, will be remembered for some time.

He had earned himself the nickname of grumpy Pete, but I think it was, once you got to know him better, a tool for his own entertainment. Many a time I saw that whilst he was grumping away, he was also suppressing a smile, I have never seen a truly grumpy person do that.  And after he had said what he wanted to say, he would inevitably look around the room for takers. If none took a bite he would then direct the grump towards an individual. You could even say it was his way to start a conversation.

His artistic style was nearly polar opposite to mine, and in one conversation he also had an effect in the way I tried to approach my work. His painting were splodge’s, dabs, an almost haphazard placement of paint on canvas, layers upon layers of paint. I do not recall ever seeing a smooth painting of his. Nor did I ever see him worrying about blending colours on the canvas to create tone or shadow. Shadows themselves were created by the texture of the pain put onto canvas. Light, and the different angles of it, had a direct effect on his work. This meant that at different times of the day the same picture could have a slightly different look about it, just from the shadows cast.

His passing was of a surprise, he was of about the same age as me, however he suffered from epilepsy and it was one of these fits that ultimately put him in a coma to which he was never to wake from.

The words that he said that altered my perspective on my art could also be applied to life as well. I may not have them as a direct quote but I will do my best.

Here’s to you Pete

You know, people often think that creating art is all about drawing the outline. That they have to draw it as one line. But I found that if you draw lot of little lines, and not worry about where you put them so much, the outline just appears.”

 

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

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Cut, Cut, Cut…Part Two

Ok, you are in a charitable service that is having the funding stopped and you have issues with your Mental Health Service from the NHS. Who do you go to for help?
Luckily we have NSV(North Staffs Voice), Think PALS for mental health.

Well, we have till Christmas, this NON CLINICAL group have had their funding stopped.
Who do we have to help with unsatisfactory mental health then???

NSV are a separate charitable group from ECHO and Brighter Futures but you can see the connection I hope. If the support from these non clinical groups is ended the Support is going to be require at the budget cut hospitals, and if that is insufficient or has a problem with it, then there is nobody to help with the complaints if you stop funding the complaint enablers. Crafty really.

NSV covers all mental health services in North Staffordshire, a small team that goes a long way, and in my experience has had a profound effect to my CLINICAL treatment.

Sometimes in the mental health system a person can get stuck in a Drug Treatment program, that is to say the therapy treatments are not deemed an option.

What do I mean by that?
I have collected a lot of coping mechanisms to help me with daily life since my breakdown. This has resulted in therapy being denied due to me ‘coping’ in day to day life, to which I have ‘the medication to thank for that (according to one person),’ although the coping mechanisms themselves have been highlighted as strategies.
Positive strategies by the psych team but negative strategies (the same ones) by the couple of workshops delivered by the same service, so who is correct? Depends on who you talk to on the day.

To throw in the mix, the changes to my mood and the stability came at the time I was in the mental hospital for six weeks. Here I first developed some of the patterns I still use today.
When I left the hospital I did not return to the previous life I had before entering, everything changed. But it was the meds that got the credit.
My mood plateau’d and I kept questioning the effectiveness of the medication as my reactions are still to people, that has never changed, my coping strategy is to not mix with strangers without support or an exit plan being present, and avoiding crowds whenever possible, especially indoors.

Most of my strategies will not work in a work environment. So no, I don’t think the drugs work and I don’t think I am coping.

I was told right at the beginning, something like seven years ago, that the drugs are not the answer…therapy is the answer.
However I was left with…therapy is not the answer, just take the drugs.

I needed to be heard, without the fear of being sent back to the hospital, a real fear after being sectioned, or of being put on new meds/having the ones that you are on altered to compensate for your mood. NSV supplied that ear then became my voice. In 2014 it was a voice for over 1000 members.

If you or a loved one was ill you would want the best treatment available, and the correct treatment.
If the treatment had seemed to stall or be stuck in the same cycle that has offered no change in that persons mental state, and complaints have no effect because they are coming from the mental health patient, then yes an outside voice is helpful. If only to get a fresh look at the way treatment is received.

North Staffs Voice (formally North Staffs Users Group) is that voice for the service users. An intermediary service between service users and service providers.
Personally I think this service should be made available allover the country, just like PALS.

Mental Health problems can effect anyone at any time.
These are worth while charities that require your donations to carry on their support.

I hope that you will never need them nor anybody in your family.
However there is a 1 in 4 chance you will know somebody who will be affected and will.

 

To contact either charity follow these links

info@brighter-futures.org.uk
http://nsvoice.org.uk/contact-us/

To donate to either of these charities please follow the links bellow.

Brighter Futures Donations
http://nsvoice.org.uk/donate/

 

 

Written by
https://www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk

#Lloyds Bank – Warning!

Aaaaaagh, could be one way to put it, #@%$#^$! #%@^*&^% Lloyds Bank could be another. And I had been a near lifelong customer.

Not one for being diligent with money, or partners, in the past, I, like so many others with mental health problems, ended up in debt. Last month I finally managed to sort things out with the help of CAB (Citizens Advice Bureaux for those not in the UK), I would recommend enlisting their help on a range of subjects. The route I took avoided Bankruptcy, so the bank accounts I have, with little money in, were not affected.

Then along come Lloyds Bank, Without notification, they decide to close my main bank account, the one money gets deposited into and refused to let me have the funds held in it. Saying that it was the insolvency team that did it at first, they had no idea what the bank was talking about, and then saying it was standard practice. To unlock the funds I had to go back to the CAB who contacted the Insolvency team to get a letter stating they had NO interest in the account.

Then how did I find out?

My mobile provider sent a text that the Direct Debit had not come out, I went online (Lloyds Internet Bank) to find that there was the money in at that date, but no transaction was showing, I assumed that it was a problem with the DD. I needed some money out so I thought I would sort it after visiting the cashpoint.

Notice how I went onto the Online bank!

The cashpoint would not let me get cash or let me see my balance, so off to the bank to find out why my card is not working and why the DD failed. They thought it was the card at first until something was flagged on the account. Long story short – This is how I found out, No telephone call, No text, No email, No letter and, this is the best part I think, No message on the Online Banking, on that everything appeared normal, I found out standing at the counter, trying to keep calm.

The thought then was that it was an account that I could have credit with, I love how they say I could have credit with (overdraft), when in reality I could apply to have, or, be refused, without the banks approval it’s a mute point. The option to apply for one is on my other two accounts.

One is for Main DD’s plus a little floater for when they get taken out early with a standard amount going in to cover. The other was opened to control my spending whilst shopping, with a set budget. The main account (Lloyds) was to send the money to each account and build a little extra up with the leftovers.

So now I had to go into each of the other banks and ask the question…“Is my bank account being closed?”

I got strange looks until I explained what was going on, turns out, they are not, so not quite standard practice then.

Lloyds have in the past changed my address to one that I never lived at, no I was not hacked, My EX had changed her address to this one, and because in the past I once had a joint account with her, closed at this point, they changed mine to her address and sent my mail to her. She was just as confused as me. Internal error! I can honestly say I will not miss this bank.

It is their right, as it is with any bank, to close an account, I am not disputing that right at all, I just think it should be my right to be told about it, by the bank doing it, so I can alter my finances and make alternate arrangements for money going into and out of an account. I would have had to open an account with another bank if I did not already have that option in place.

So WARNING if you bank with Lloyds Bank – It appears to be STANDARD practice for this bank to CLOSE your account WITHOUT letting you KNOW about it. 

Who are my other banks?

Santander and the co-op Bank.

My complaint is in the post!

 

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/

 

Reflections…Week Thirty Five

canstockphoto8630797At times one feels as though life expects one to be permanently medicated, but I don’t.

The fat assed black dog has been doing its best to weigh me down, and to be honest, with how the last couple of months have gone, I have noticed him there.

Apart from the personal situations that have changed, an influential figure on my recovery has left, and with her leaving comes uncertainty on the groups future. Luckily this leaving does not have the almost violent sense of loss as a former influential figure, retirement is far calmer than redundancy, but the loss is felt.

Now here is where the black dog works his poison. Uncertainty leads to the fear of the unknown. When something is unknown all manner of horrors are true, happy thoughts whilst being under the shadow of this dirty, stinking, slobbering beast are not a many. So inwards I go, like a tortoise into its shell, and like the tortoise I find protection within.

And like the tortoise one will starve if one never comes out again.

However, retreating inwards for an introvert offers a sanctuary. A place to think, contemplate and work out a response, but it only works if the dog is kept outside behind a door. That is the difference this time, I have locked him out!

Sure I can hear him howling outside the door, I have to invest in double glazing, but this time he is outside. He is outside – without the use of medication.

One step at a time.

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

Reflections…Week Thirty Four

canstockphoto8630797Easy one this week…Voice is loosing its funding.

Never heard of it? Until a month ago never had I. Now I have a chance to let people know what it is and what they do.

First the official aims of the group:-

  • To improve mental health services
  • To bring together people who use mental health services, in order to increase their influence on services and to strengthen their voice
  • To inform people of their rights, about local services and any planned changes
  • To empower and protect the rights, needs and interests of people who use mental health services in North Staffordshire
  • To influence the way those services are planned and delivered
  • To reduce stigma towards people who have mental health problems

Now my personal, albeit short, experience.

I have an issue with my mental health, and I have an issue with my treatment. I am not saying the service is bad, however I have an issue with the treatment.

At the diagnosis some six+ years ago, I was told that drugs were only a band aid, the therapies were the solution to healing. That person passed me over to another and my relationship with the medication, unknown to me, began. I say unknown because at the start I was given the idea that a couple of years should do it with treatment.

The treatment has been withheld due to my ability at finding coping mechanisms, mostly with the price tag of avoidance, not a healthy habit to have. But this deemed me as coping and left to a drug only treatment. The drugs come with known side effects that have been ignored in the past, and for a long time the effectiveness of the medication has been questioned by me and a couple of therapists, Psychology consultants don’t seem to like having their diagnosis’s questioned by these people though. And so the cycle has continued.

What would I know?

Firstly the magic mood change, allegedly by the drug regime, came at my six week stay at the mental hospital. Here though was huge change to my life…I was effectively kicked out of my home by my ex, a blessing, though at the time it did not seem that way. So this meant my home-life completely changed, it was never taken into account that it could be positive – no longer being in that relationship.

Secondly, this is where my adaptations to my routine came into play, well even the routines became my coping mechanism. I had to come up with something, out of know-where came a twitch and a bloody speech problem (officially known as “from Unknown Source”), that could not be fixed. It got better with the help from Speech Therapy, also started whilst in the hospital, but never gone. So routines were developed and rituals were born.

Thirdly, this is the bit that bugs me the most…I am classed, by some, as being a higher functioning personality. Basically I can read geeky stuff and post graduate study notes and follow along for quite a bit on some subjects. Ask me to do the sports pages on a paper and I’m lost, basic instructions can have me flummoxed if the terminology is not in a format I understand. This has lead to problems of communication. I felt what I was saying at the beginning was being ignored, due to my limited knowledge of the terminology being used. So I did what I do, I learnt the correct terms, I did the research.

Hallucinations became Illusions, “they will go away in time”, High anxiety in crowds, to the point of passing out, “will go away in time”, side effects of the medication, “will go away in time”. On and on it went, my using the correct terminology actually made it worse, go figure!

This is where Voice comes in, they are a mediator, a ref of sorts. They can use the correct terminology and get heard, even if the client does not know the words. They can deal with the doctors if the patient questioned the treatment, and work for an alternative approach.

One phone call and my next appointment was a thorough review. Not only is my therapy treatment being looked at and I am being referred to an Eating Therapist for a possible eating disorder (sorry sis for finding out this way) and one of my medications was not increased due to it being an appetite stimulant and known for weight gain, also I was not put back onto a medication, but, and this is a credit to the Doc I saw, he is chasing my GP about getting physiotherapy for my back. Not put forward by the spinal team or the Neurologist, even when they found out I have three disc bulges and that these are/are not the cause of my nerve pain in my legs and feet, or the depression is to blame, dependant upon which consultant you speak to, but my Mental Health doctor. Something is not right there.

One phone call.

I had a Voice. And so do all who use the service and those like it around the country. But they are loosing funds, because they don’t meet targets or deal directly in the treatment of patients.

No they don’t. They should be seen as possibly saving the system money in the long run, even just reducing medications would be a big saving. Normal Hospital treatment has PALS, this is a mental health version. 

I want to be better, not “coping”, I want to be independent of drugs, not dependant on, I want the work that the therapies will require, to fix what can be fixed, replace what cannot. Most of all I don’t want to have to rely on the likes of wikipedia and youtube to do it or the thousands of self help books that all have the best way to do it.

Anyone, from depression to Alzheimer’s, anxiety to dementia should have a voice. Including the families of those affected who see the effects of treatment on loved ones.

If you wish to find out more, or make a donation , please follow this link: http://nsvoice.org.uk

I am not sponsored by or work for Voice, nor do I represent the company in any way. I am a service user and this is my opinion.

 

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

Reflections…Week Twenty Seven.

canstockphoto8630797My name has been passed along for consideration for an exhibition of writing, not a big exhibition as in National, but exponentially bigger in regards that one has even been considered.

My writing, has in the past, been subject to ridicule in one form or another. The only times I got detention was for my spelling or punctuation. English Literature was rejected as a subject, by the teacher, due to my inability to make legible a dip fountain pen. And ones attempt to further my writing skills at a creative writing class had me pulled to one side and told my English was not up to standard, I never went back, It was supposed to be a fun class.

So here one is, my writing’s being praised, especially my poems, and with it comes a kind of empowerment. One may not believe that my writing is good enough to win competitions, but it is good enough to be a contender, a far cry from where I was at the start of the blogging process.

The start of the journey was to ‘get out’ thoughts and feelings, to rid myself of demons in a way. It has adapted to thinking deeply about emotional connections to circumstances locked away in ones past, and to see how those patterns are now effecting the present. Some dots are connected quickly and some need more ‘digging’,  but it is supposed to be the journey that matters.

One thing is for certain, I believe that Miss Ross, and I am sure it had a H in it (Rhoss), was the best english teacher I had.

To prove a point, though a point is not needed, I have been looking at my old term book. Here are the differences in my educational history – teacher reports for english…

  • Feb 83, Andrew has made a satisfactory start to this years work.
  • July 83, Andrew has worked hard and has made some progress.
  • Then came along the teacher one does not have fond memories of.
  • Jan 84, Good- Andrew has worked hard and made pleasing progress. He must however improve his spelling and handwriting.
  • July 84, Spelling and handwriting show little improvement and are now sadly having a serious effect on his results. Oral work is very good indeed. (Why does this end statement seem like it was total surprise?)
  • Along comes the split to  Lit.(the above teacher) and Lang. (Miss Ross . Miss Ross also does the reports from now on.
  • Feb 85, Andrew genuinely tries hard – but his spelling is weak. He should read as widely as possible – This would help!
  • July 85, Andrew has achieved a very pleasing grade within his group in Language. He will not however be continuing the G.S.E. Literature course.
  • Jan 86, Andrew has always worked extremely hard and has produced some good work within this group, throughout this course.

I highlighted the two reports, nope, there is nothing outstanding about any of them, to show the two completely different approaches to teaching. The fist is to hammer away – “you will do it this way!!!” and the second is to find the way that best suited the student. My way was to read, a lot.

I have always found solace in a library; could this be due to the fact Miss Ross’s class – was held in the school library?

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

Reflections…Week Twenty Three

When you know you have caught a bug.

Not the insect kind, though I do with my son, nor the germ kind, this be the new ‘habit’ kind.

One started the blogging just to write something, Miss Ross’s words have echoed around my mind since High School like a squeaky fan in an air conditioning duct. She said I could, and should write a story as she enjoyed reading mine, she also said I failed to write a beginning and an end, it felt like I had just jumped to the action in the middle and I should put them in. Unfortunately copies have not been kept.

To start, writing was a chore, it was hard work, especially when people started to follow me and like the blogs, this added pressure to write well. Writing well is not something I feel I can do naturally, the structure and form of writing is lost on me, and don’t even ask what a simile, metaphor, adjective or pronoun is. These were never explained to me in a learning style I could follow.

I know oxymoron; somehow one feels like this is saying something about oneself.

Now one looks forward to writing, it’s even become a pleasure. My little note book is carried around and ideas are written down in it, often. But now I know one has caught the writing bug. More specifically the Poetry writing bug.

It is still done within the confines of therapy, but I have just finished my third in as many weeks, tweaking will follow of course. Two of the subjects were set as ‘themes’, and in the little notebook are ideas for more. One knows that the quality will not be of the highest standard, but I don’t care, I want to write another, and that is how one knows one has caught a bug.

As bugs go this has the chance of metamorphosing into something much different than what it is now.

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017