Mental Health Services · NHS

Doctor No Show got me all riled up!

Sometimes I think about quitting therapy, quitting treatment and just getting on with things myself. Usually because treatment is difficult, therapy is difficult, taking drugs is difficult, opening up to people is difficult. Occasionally, I feel like quitting therapy, quitting treatment, because trying to get therapy and treatment is too bloody stressful. Days like today, it just doesn’t feel worth it.

I know I am very lucky to be getting treatment at all, and I probably wouldn’t be alive without the support I’ve had to date, but by god is it frustrating trying to access that support.

Two months post discharge, I still don’t have a CPN in place. After my last appointment with the psychiatrist, he was to chase it up, which he did. I was sent out an appointment, and a few days before I was due to meet her, it was cancelled. I was told the CPN was off for two weeks holidays and would contact me when she got back. So far, she hasn’t.

Today, I was supposed to see the psychiatrist again. I sit for thirty minutes in the waiting room, working myself into a state, wondering if I have got the wrong date, the wrong time, the wrong place. I read and re read my appointment letter, over and over. My leg is jigging and my eyes are brimming with tears and I am on the verge of a panic attack and I am afraid that I am going to start sobbing, right there in the waiting room. Thirty minutes after my appointment is due to have started, the receptionist comes and asks me which doctor it is I am supposed to be seeing. As it turns out, it is not the new consultant I’ve seen two times previously as an outpatient, and am expecting to see today, but yet another psychiatrist I’ve never met. Which is frustrating in itself (he will be psychiatrist 9 or 10 I’ve seen as an adult outpatient in the last few years, bearing in mind I average maybe 3 or 4 appointments a year).

So the receptionist sets about trying to track down this Other doctor, and I hear her snap on the phone to someone that this is the second time this has happened this week (it is Wednesday). She comes back and tells me that the CMHT ‘cannot locate him’ (the psych outpatients clinic is on the hospital site), which means he could be on his way. By 12.10, forty minutes after my appointment time, he is not here, not answering his phone, and I have to leave for work.

The receptionist is very apologetic, asks me thoughtfully if I’d been hanging on for/needing/really wanting the appointment today. Mood wise, I didn’t really. But I had a few other bits I’d needed to get sorted- medical clearance to get my driving license back, an evidence letter for university applications, the CPN issue. And while my mood, which is the ‘big’ thing is ok, there are other things which aren’t, other things that are bothering me that I’d really wanted to bring up with him- specifically him because he is a psychiatrist and knowledgable on mood disorders, which my mum and therapist are not. So it is still frustrating.

And again, it just seems like it’s down to luck. It is lucky that I wasn’t in dire need of that appointment- because I know there have been times in the past when things like this were hugely distressing, where things like this would have, and did, throw me off. Just like it is lucky that I have my therapist while I wait for a CPN to be put in place. Just like it was lucky that last summer when my old CPN left, while I was ‘between services’, my mood was high/stable and I was able to manage with no support. And I know this kind of stuff happens all the time, that every. single. day, people get messed around and pissed on and let down by mental health services. And while I am lucky, that my mood is ok, that I have a supportive mum, that I will be seeing my therapist tomorrow anyway, there are thousands of people who aren’t lucky, and that makes me really, really fucking cross. Luck shouldn’t come into it. Being let down on a ‘good day’ shouldn’t be a justification for shitty mental health care. 

The receptionist tells me she will arrange another appointment for me, as soon as possible. She is sympathetic, rolls her eyes and tuts at the doctor.

I go to work and leave to find a voicemail from the doctor’s secretary asking me to contact her. There is no apology or explanation on the voicemail, or when I ring (!) her back. She tells me the doctor can see me this afternoon. I have two jobs, and am in the car on my way to the second. I tell her I have work. Really and truly, it is too short notice to tell them. I know that if I asked, they probably would accommodate it, and I am mulling this all over, wondering how I could try make it work, when she tells me that’s fine, she’ll send something out in the post.

At the same time, I miss a call from the PD team. I was offered DBT last summer. So I said yes and was put on a waiting list. So I miss a call, then am sent a text asking me to come tomorrow at 10am for an individual appointment with the PD team doctor. Which I can’t make, because I already have an appointment at 10am tomorrow. So I text my therapist’s secretary and I ask if I could change my appointment, and she can’t, and I think- do I say yes to DBT or say yes to my therapist, who at this stage, I am bloody desperate to see. And I am at work and having to do the whole ‘toilet trip’ thing to try and organise all this and in the end I say yes to my therapist and ask the DBT lady if she is free before or after I have therapy. If she’s not, then stuff it.

So I am stressed. All day, I have wanted and needed to CRY. And it probably sounds really stupid and trivial and I am probably coming across as very entitled, but AHHHHH. I am just cross. Psychiatrist appointments make me anxious. Making phonecalls makes me anxious. Ringing people to make psychiatrist appointments makes me most anxious. So I am stressed and jittery and panicky and tearful, even hours later. And again, I just feel like it is me that has to orchestrate my treatment, me that has to chase things up, communicate things. Three different secretaries I spoke to today from three different services. I kind of feel like I am spinning plates? Constantly having to run around and check that the right people are doing the right things so I can get the treatment that I have been promised. Because no one else is trying to do it for me.

And I think, why am I running? Why am I sitting in waiting rooms for doctors that aren’t going to show up? Why am I asking for treatment, accepting treatment, when actually getting treatment requires stumbling through the anxiety olympics first?

Ok, I’ll stop moaning now. I am seeing my therapist in the morning and I am  very, very glad.



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