Yes, horrendous, that’s what my Mom said about my first experience with the CMHT (Community Mental Health Team). It was one that both of us will never forget and easily one of the worst days of my life.
If you have not read my previous post, then it may be worth taking a look at as it gives a brief explanation as to how I finally got a referral for this appointment.
As far as I knew, I had an appointment to see a psychiatrist. My Mom came with me as my husband (then fiancé) had to work. She stayed in the waiting room while I went in, shaking like a leaf, to find a psychiatrist and another lady with a clipboard in a very clinical and unwelcoming room. Now, a lot of what happened next was a blur, so I’ll tell you what I remember before what I thought was a bomb dropped on me.
It was absolute hell to try and explain everything that had happened through the years and then mainly focusing on what had happened most recently that made me try and get some help. They seemed to be listening to me and it was such a relief when I had finished. I then took a deep breath and eagerly awaited a possible diagnosis/treatment plan, etc. It was here that the bomb started to descend and the male started to ask me strange questions. I can’t remember all of them, as after a while I felt like I was underwater trying desperately to reach some air and understand what on earth they were on about. “Have I been self-harming recently?” – No, I haven’t. “Have you tried to commit suicide” – I came close but didn’t in the end. “Has anything happened with your Uncle” – My Uncle? I haven’t seen him in ages as he lives in Scotland. “What about the abuse you suffered?” – I’ve not been abused, why?”. Then somehow it went into me being sectioned. I had never been sectioned and didn’t really want to be thank you unless you think its absolutely necessary! “What about when you were found in a state and self-harming at the shopping centre a couple of years ago? You were sectioned after that” – What? So that was when the bomb well and truly hit.
I thought that having to explain my feelings, ‘flaws’ and recent traumas was enough, nope, they thought that everything that I had just said was a lie. I was shocked, terrified, confused and numb. I kept saying No, No I haven’t, why are you saying these things? Was I hallucinating or dreaming? They asked me again what my name was, any previous names, my date of birth, address, my GP’s name and confirmed that they matched my file…Wait, I already have a file? I have to mention here that my ex-husband’s name was very unusual. One that didn’t originate from Britain, so not at all common and had to be spelt out to people who asked. I had gone back to my maiden name but at the time I was ‘sectioned’ I was still using my ex’s name apparently. “Your name isn’t a popular one so it is you, admit it”
At this point, I went into a full-on meltdown. I’m not sure if I asked for my Mom to come in, or that the lady just went to get her. I have asked my Mom to fill in the gaps here as I was gone mentally. Couldn’t cope with any of it any more. She has explained to me the following: A lady came out and asked for some help. “She won’t admit anything!”. “Admit what?” replied Mom. “That she has been previously sectioned” Mom was then shocked and confused. “What for?” Mom asked. “Admittance for self-harm” replied the Lady. “No, she hasn’t!”. It was then Mom came in and found me absolutely hysterical. They then tried to convince Mom that I had been sectioned, etc. Mom explained that I have never been sectioned and that had they bothered to look for any scars where should have had them? “No, it’s in her file”. I was trying to fight back “Don’t you think my fiancé and family would have noticed if I had suddenly disappeared for weeks?”. “When it was supposed to have happened I was having a round of fertility treatment at a hospital” and “I work at the shopping centre and know the security guards. They would have said something!’
They were still looking at us like we were liars. At this point, my Mom grabbed me and said that we were leaving and that she wanted to see someone else. But that was it, couldn’t see anyone else, time was up. No help, no diagnosis, no prognosis, no medication, no explanation, just being accused of being a complete liar. Did they even listen to a word of me pouring my heart out? A complete waste of time and energy that also made my mental health spiral even more into a dark abyss. Thank goodness my Mom was there to back me up and get me out of there as we dread to think what could have happened. I am eternally grateful to her.
I have no recollection of what happened next but my Mom phoned the main CMHT, explained what had happened and complained about our treatment. She was reluctantly told that they would send a crisis team out to see me the next day. Crisis, that’s one word for it!
Again the next day was a bit of a blur as I was still traumatised and numb. I remember two mental health nurses came. They were aware of the basics of what had happened but asked if I could explain. To cut a long story short, it was realised that someone else could have used my details while in crisis. Who knew that it would be possible to have my identity stolen for use medically! The nurses apologised and couldn’t explain how/why this had happened. I was then asked if I had any distinguishing marks or tattoo’s which they took notes of and took pictures to put in my file to prove my identity.
I then found out that male I saw the day before was a psychiatrist but the lady was another doctor to witness and sign for me to be sectioned (again)! The nurses, however, decided that I didn’t need to be sectioned at this point as I had a good support network around me (plus there was a shortage of beds). I was to wait for an appointment to see a different psychiatrist and start again. Oh, Joy! If I wasn’t so desperate for help, this experience could have made me refuse to see anyone ever again.
I was dreading the new appointment but the lady I saw was lovely, patient and understanding. She also confirmed that the person sectioned before was definitely not me as she was the consultant who saw the woman at the hospital and remembered her and that she had dark hair. It was a relief to be believed at last but was told that even though the old notes were about an imposter, that they have to stay in my file. They still are to this day, but with a big notice on them to explain. Apparently “These things can happen and that I was unlucky”. The whole experience still haunts me and struggle to understand who the woman was and how it was possible to use all of my details on admittance. I do have a couple of suspects and suspicions but I’ll just never know.
What a crazy, crazy experience! I will talk about more CMHT experiences and my diagnoses in other blog posts. I must say that I hope my first experience doesn’t put you off finding help if/when needed. It was just an unlucky experience. Please take a look at my resources page where you can find contact details for various people who can give help and advice.
As always thank you for taking the time to read this. It means a lot. I would love if you could leave me any comments or feedback etc. x