This time last year I was struggling. Awaiting professional help for my mental health. Since then I have waited and waited for my referral to come up. The time punctuated by changes to medication and sporadic check ups with my psychiatrist. It has taken 16 months to get me in to some form of therapy and as I reflect back over that time it has seemed interminable. I’ve seen the very real challenges that the NHS faces in providing adequately for mental health.
As regular readers will know I have tried to use the time to good effect, including openly disclosing my struggles for the first time ever. The support that has come in via the blog and twitter has been wonderful and whilst I have tried to thank everyone individually I’m sure I will have forgotten someone. If that is you then I can only apologise.
This Monday though was a milestone. My first session of therapy.
I don’t propose to go in to the details here save for one thing. As I sat with my therapist to agree the parameters and organisation of the treatment she suddenly realised that we hadn’t discussed the duration. Bearing in mind the number of false starts my care pathway seems to have had, I decided long ago to give up worrying about how many sessions the therapy would be, I was just glad to get some.
When she said “We are prepared to offer you a year of psychotherapy” I almost burst in to tears. Having fought so long and so hard it came as a sort of validation. No matter that I had waited all that time, now a whole year of help stretches ahead of me. She continued and talked about the opportunity to go in to my mind “deeply and fully”. To be honest I wasn’t listening terribly well by that point, so entranced by the prospect of all that time. I promise you now, I will use my time wisely.
A year ago I couldn’t have imagined disclosing my mental health to anyone but a small and trusted group of friends.
A year ago I couldn’t imagine that a House of Commons debate and bill on mental health could start such a huge shift in attitudes, challenging the stigmatisation of those who struggle with their mental health.
Today I know that I have a year of significant help to come. I haven’t even begun to speculate on how this year will change my mental health but I know it will be important. Please ask me again in July 2014, by then I should have some answers. By then I should know exactly what difference a year makes.