Angela Bayley as a little girl, enjoying an ice lolly.

This is me as a little girl. How I would love to get back to that state of innocent happiness. It's difficult when even those in so-called caring professions can't even be bothered to ask me how I am. At least the police were friendly today.

Hi, everyone.

I hope you have all had a good day.

Relief

The day for me has been somewhat stressful and it’s a relief that it’s nearly over. I am feeling very tired but realise you as readers may be wondering what happened with the police. Therefore I am just going to try and explain what happened in brief.  I may try to expand on things tomorrow.

Hospital cocked up again… feeling alone

Yet again the hospital cocked up with the arrangements of my interview, but fortunately I spoke to my solicitor first thing this morning who confirmed the interview was scheduled for 11 a.m. and not 10. Andrew took me to the police station and not one member of staff on the ward wished me good luck or wished me well before I left. I felt so alone and uncared for, and had it not been for Andrew’s support I think I’d have crumbled and gone into emotional meltdown. Andrew encouraged me to stay strong and just tell the truth.

Police kind and sympathetic

We arrived at the police station in good time and waited for my solicitor and the interviewing officers in the main reception area. I felt so ashamed when I had to tell the receptionist that I was there to answer bail. The officers arrived at 11 sharp, one male and one female. They appeared kind and sympathetic, introduced themselves by first names and said they worked in the child abuse unit. The male officer asked if I wanted a drink and I accepted his offer of a cup of tea. They said they would come and get me when my solicitor arrived.

Agonising wait

At approximately 11.15 the female officer came to see me with what she said was “bad news”. My solicitor had rung to say he would be forty-five minutes late due to being stuck in court. I felt sick to the stomach at the thought of having a further agonising wait. Andrew supported me until my solicitor arrived. All I wanted to do was get things over and done with. I was petrified that the officers would put me under pressure, try to trick me or accuse me of lying. I felt too fragile to cope with huge amounts of stress but did want to defend myself…. “Where was my solicitor?”

Under arrest

At noon he arrived. He was very confident in his manner and seemed efficient despite being late, which he apologised for. He was expecting me to be in custody but the two officers had been kind enough not to put me through the ordeal of being shoved into a cell. My solicitor said he would go and speak to the police and then come back and get me. Minutes later he was back and took me to the custody area. I had to be booked in again and was informed that I was back under arrest. I was read my rights by the custody sergeant, who was kind and gentle. The female officer then took me into a cell to search me, apologising for the procedure. She kept chatting to me throughout the booking in process, I think in an attempt to reassure me. The male officer made me a drink and then I had a private meeting with my solicitor. He took some history and I gave him an explanation of why I had said, whilst feeling irrational, that I wanted to commit suicide and wanted to take the girls with me. Talking about it made me feel really ashamed of myself, and cold – how I could possibly even harm my daughters in the slightest way? The solicitor talked through the interview process, telling me that I would be cautioned and that everything would be on tape. We then went to the interview room with the two officers.

Capable of killing the girls?

If I tell you about the whole interview it would take as long as the interview itself (which was and hour and a half), and you might find it too long to read. Therefore I will tell you in brief. The male officer asked all the questions and the female officer made notes, as did my solicitor. Initially everything was very formal; I was read my rights and had to say my name, date of birth and address. The officer then enquired about my mental health history, asking how I was feeling at the time of saying what I did and what my real intentions had been. We had a lengthy discussion about my memory of the event (which was very little) and whether I was capable of killing the girls – and did I know how I would do it?-  to which I gave a resounding NO! Work was mentioned, and my access to drugs, and I was asked if I could use them to kill myself and the girls. I said I could do it to myself but wouldn’t know how to do it to the girls and never would. I said I’d been a paramedic with the Trust I’m with for five years and had never once taken any drugs myself, or attempted to. I did admit to having thoughts about the drugs at times, but that’s all they were, and my professional conscience would never allow me to do it;  I would go off sick if I felt like doing such a thing.

Compassionate

Throughout the interview the officers were thoughtful, understanding and compassionate. Whilst they didn’t comment on the outcome of the case they  informed me about what would happen next. The interview finished, and although at times I had been tearful and upset I hadn’t felt too distressed or under any great pressure at any point.

Conditions

The custody sergeant bailed me to appear at the police station in six weeks, on 12 August 2010 at noon. He asked me various questions about my detention and my health. I asked him if there were any conditions to my bail and he said, “Yes!” I was stunned and then immediately relieved when he said, “Yes, get yourself better and stay well!” He was just being kind. He said no to any conditions, I shook hands with the solicitor, and the police officers took me back to the hospital.

No greeting, no lunch, and a dig from my consultant

I arrived on the ward and not a word was said by the staff. No one had saved me any lunch either. Andrew came to see me and to attend the multi-disciplinary team meeting, which was quite stressful. I was angry at the lack of care and voiced it to my consultant. She refused me leave, reverting back to her reasons for assessment (dissociative episodes that might be monitored). I told her the assessment was a waste of time, as I explained in my previous blog, but it fell on deaf ears. My consultant wanted dates and times when Rob would be at home so she could consider leave, but she also had a dig at me, saying that her time had been taken up by meetings concerning myself. I left the meeting fuming as well as feeling let down.

Six hours’ wait for a kind word

At 9.00 p.m. one member of staff, who is my named nurse, asked how I was and how things had gone at the police station. I’d been on the ward six hours, feeling fragile and battling with the feelings that came out of the interview before someone could enquire as to how I was.

Contacted my MP

I emailed my MP tonight, asking for his help to get me the therapy I need. I will let you all know if I hear anything.

Suspension

I also received a call from my union rep telling me that on Friday I will be formally suspended. If am allowed to talk about my case I will also let you know about that too.

Thanks!

Thank goodness for Andrew and Laura coming to see me, spending the evening with me and supporting me with everything I’ve talked about so far.

Thank you to you as readers, for listening to me and sending your comments too. This blog is really helping me stay focussed and it helps knowing people are actually listening to me and that it could help others too.

I will speak to you all soon.

Love and best wishes

Angela x

With my teddy when I was a baby

With my teddy when I was a baby. It listened to me far more than the appeals panel did today.

Hi, everyone.

I hope you’re all well and enjoyed your weekend.

Unfair and traumatic appeal

Some of you may be wondering how my appeal went today. To be honest, it was a foregone conclusion. Sadly, I lost it and the panel (the same as last week’s) decided not to lift the section two. I won’t bore you with all the details of today’s appeal. However, I do want to discuss how unfair and traumatic the process was.

Whilst I accept the possible reasons for my original detention under the Mental Health Act, I do not understand why services can only provide containment instead of therapy for me, and support and help to maintain a healthy environment for me and my family.

Today, the appeal consisted of the three panel members (an independent psychiatrist, a judge and a lay person), plus a social worker, a ward nurse manager, my consultant and my solicitor. I might as well not have been in the meeting. Let me explain why I feel like this…

Everyone asked… except me

Before entering the room, my solicitor asked me to keep my cool. We entered the room and sat in the same seats as before, the judge opposite me. He started by clearly stating that no one was to speak unless spoken to, nor interrupt people as they were speaking. He introduced himself  and his panel again, and then asked everyone for an opinion – with the exception of myself.

Contradictory evidence

I sat in silence and listened to the judge and had to keep my mouth shut. Each party was questioned by the panel and then questioned by my solicitor. A good fifty minutes to an hour later, I was still silent. My consultant shocked me with some of her answers to the questions she was asked. To summarise:  her report and verbal evidence were contradictory. On the one hand, she wanted me to remain on the section due to the alleged risk “I posed to myself and others”. On the other hand, she was the one who allowed me to have section 17 home leave for five days last week.

Hurtful and inaccurate

Much of what the ward manager said was what my consultant had written in her report and what she had said to the panel. (A lot of what my consultant had written in her report had originally come from my book, Disruptive.) Meanwhile, I remained silent while they made some very hurtful comments about me, with many inaccuracies, as they recounted traumatic events.

Errors and miscommunication

Then the nurse was questioned, and all he really  did was repeat (parrot!) my consultant’s answers to the questions, with the odd comment about me absconding from the ward last week and a few nursing comments to the effect that I had been compliant with treatment on the ward. My solicitor was really good at this point, and delved deeply into my absconding, pointing out the reasons for it. The nurse in charge eventually confirmed the cock-up made about my contact with the girls and explained that I’d been caught up in various errors and miscommunications.

Social worker had only met me once

Next it was the social worker’s turn. The panel asked him questions and he agreed that because he didn’t write the report he couldn’t comment an awful lot. He also confirmed that he didn’t know me very well and that he had only met me on one occasion. He then rabbited on about risk and safety and said that it had been confirmed by the children’s and young people’s service that if I were to return home it would not be deemed to be a child protection issue. What then became confusing was that he continued to bleat on about risk and safety and how Andrew couldn’t look after me or protect the girls properly as he has to sleep at night!

Making no sense

I glanced across at the panel and saw the psychiatrist’s eyes closing and his head dropping. He was obviously bored as the social worker was making no sense. My solicitor asked him various questions about him knowing me, care in the community and what the needs of child services really were. The social worker had real difficulty in committing to anything, and it was evident that he really hadn’t got a clue about my case, just a judgemental view on it.

Misquoted my husband

Within the social circumstances report there is a section about the nearest relative. According to the report, Andrew had said he wanted me to remain on the section. Seeing the report before the meeting, I had been horrified until I had spoken with Andrew to clarify things, a fact that was revealed to the panel, my solicitor making it clear that he too had spoken with Andrew before the hearing. Andrew, incidentally had also been horrified when I told him what was in the report, because, in fact, Andrew had said that “if remaining on the section means Angela will get the treatment she needs, I will agree to it”. However, Andrew had also said that he wanted me home as it was disruptive to the family my being in hospital and he was willing to care for me.

Only solicitor positive

I felt so frustrated sat in the middle of all the so-called experts, not being able to challenge any of their theories or opinions. This silence triggered so many unpleasant feelings for me, and at one point the whole thing really felt like abuse all over again. Because I had to remain silent for so long, the “silence message” was ingrained on my brain so that when questioned by my solicitor I struggled to answer – I just knew I’d lost before I’d started. Not one positive comment was made in that room by anyone but my solicitor when he did his summing up. He did say I was willing to remain a voluntary patient and was even requesting further help (which wasn’t forthcoming from the services). He also questioned “the risk” expressed by the experts, and challenged my consultant as I had had a period of five days’ leave prior to the hearing.

Hospital assessment of dissociative state not practical

Leave was challenged as I’d been honest and said I’d had some difficulties with dissociating on the Sunday night and problems connected with this. Little did I know, this would be held against me at the time of the hearing. My consultant stated she still wanted me in hospital for “assessment” so my dissociated behaviour could be assessed… Pretty difficult when it normally happens at home and with limited company as opposed to on a busy ward with lots of people!

Not going to lift section

At 16.30 the hearing drew to a close and we were asked to leave the room. We were instructed that the panel would deliberate and make their decision and would inform us as soon as they had reached it. One representative from the hospital had to be present as well as me and my solicitor. At 16.55 we were called back in, minus my consultant – amazing how she was able to cause such a fuss and leave such carnage behind and then not be there for the verdict! The judge instructed me that after listening to everyone and having taken a while to reach a decision they had agreed that they were not going to lift the section. They said their goodbyes and we left the room.

Expected to let them abuse me all over again!

I was disappointed but not surprised as it felt like a foregone conclusion from the outset. I had a brief chat with my solicitor who said he was going to come back and see me in a few days. The social worker disappeared and so did the nurse. To say I posed such a risk to people that I needed to remain locked up seemed ridiculous. Up to this stage, I have been allowed to go off the ward whenever I feel like it and not one nurse has ever asked me how I am and if I need to talk. It seems I’m still expected to remain silent, and sit back and let services abuse me all over again!

Andrew has visited tonight to tell me of another hurdle to get over. The police want to interview me tomorrow at 10 a.m. with a view to charging me, if they can, for threatening to kill. My job is still hanging in the balance and had it not been for my husband, my daughters and this blog, I would be very ill, if not dead. This blog is allowing me, like my book, to break my silence.

I will be in touch tomorrow and let you know how the day’s events pan out and what my future holds.

Take care everyone, and thank you so much for listening to me.

Love and best wishes

Angela

[This entry was written late at night and posted the following day.]

Angela Bayley in the sunshine as a baby

This is me as a baby enjoying the sunshine, much as I did on Sunday 11 July 2010!

Dear All

Today has been a lovely day and I hope you have benefited from the glorious sunshine.

Like I said I would, I have spent most of the day thinking. One of the comments posted really helped me to try and understand how services respond and why. Responding to situations or problems should be done in a more balanced way as opposed to a chaotic way. I have decided to sort out my mental health problems during this crisis and then tackle work and child protection issues.

Dissociating as a response to stress

This is just a short message tonight as I’m pretty tired and need to go to bed. If I stay up I would be putting myself at risk as my episodes of dissociating are on the increase and the hours go by and once I become fully oriented I find it difficult to recall anything. My psychiatrist wants me back in hospital today so the staff can record the episodes of dissociation. My named nurse has said what I am doing is a response to stress and will pass.

Thank you for your comments!

Today I received several  blog entry comments. Thank you everyone who has visited my site and left comments!  It means so much to me and the advice I have been given so far is very interesting and useful.

I will blog again tomorrow.

Good night and sleep well.

Love and best wishes

Angela x

Good morning, everyone.

Apologies for not getting back to you at the end of my day yesterday. Not long after I had posted yesterday’s entry the post arrived and two letters for me did not make enjoyable reading. One was from my solicitor representing me for the police issue and the other was from the Health Professionals Council (HPC). They both reminded me of the mess that I am in and worried me all day. The HPC letter said there had been a complaint made against me by the ambulance service about my “fitness to practice”. The complaint stems from the Nottinghamshire County Council Emergency Duty Team contacting my employer stating I was “mentally unstable and a risk to myself and others”. Therefore my employers have a procedure to follow and one of their actions has to be making the HPC aware of the inter-agencies’ concerns. Whilst the letter did say I can still practise as a paramedic until the HPC carry out an investigation, the whole idea of my career being on the line makes me feel sick to the stomach with worry and anxiety.

Close to breaking point

As for the police issue, reading between the lines it seems that case may well be dropped and no further action will be taken. However, the idea of being in trouble with the police frightens me and if I do receive a caution or conviction I will instantly lose my job and the decent income it brings. I feel I have so many mountains to climb before I get near to any kind of normality. Knowing that I have a million and one things to sort out in respect of my home circumstances, my health and my career is emotionally draining and frustrating. I really don’t know how much more I can take and I am fearing that I am close to breaking point.

I don’t want to start the day on a downer or impact on anyone who is feeling low so I’m going to try and be positive. I got up early this morning as I’d struggled sleeping and was having some vivid and distressing dreams. The sun is out again with a nice cool breeze. I’m sitting in the garden admiring the work Andrew and I did yesterday and trying to feel good about it. I am a big believer that there is always a solution to a problem so I’m trying to work out what I can do to ease my distress and worries about my current situation. I think today has to be a thinking day to try and come up with ways forward to sort out the mess I am in as opposed to dwelling on it.

Advice appreciated

Today is a day when I would really appreciate comments from you all with any advice. Maybe you have found yourself in a similar situation and managed to overcome it in a healthy, practical and positive way? I would love to hear any advice or support which may help me through this difficult time. Meanwhile I’ll keep twanging my elastic band, enjoying the sunshine and thinking about how I can solve my problems.

I’d just like to thank those who are reading my blog and taking the time out to do so. Your support is much appreciated and I hope I’m not boring you with my tales of woe. Telling your friends about the blog and my book would also be appreciated. Focusing on a second and third book is also helping me to remain positive.

I look forward to hearing from you soon

Love and best wishes

Angela

10 July 2010

Yesterday I wrote to you all and for some strange reason only half of what I had written ended up being posted. Therefore I apologise for such an abrupt ending. To briefly fill you in, I had meant to tell you about the appeal and tribunal process and to conclude with a request for you all to keep your fingers crossed for me and hope I would have my chance to have my case heard fairly, be discharged from the section and subsequently from the hospital so that I could try and get back to some normality as well as address the issues I still have at home and work.

Wasted wish

If anyone had wished me good luck yesterday it would have been a wasted wish as the whole hearing was a shambles.

The process should have been as follows:

  • The case would have been heard by an independent psychiatrist, a judge and a lay person.
  • The psychiatrist would have interviewed me before the hearing and three reports would have been presented to the panel: one from my named nurse, one from my psychiatrist and one from Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) social services department.
  • My solicitor would have presented my case to the panel and cross-examined the three professional bodies who wrote the reports
  • The panel would have heard all the evidence and then have made a decision about my detention and/or have recommendations about my care.

This is what SHOULD have happened!!!

In reality, this is what did happen:

I met with my solicitor following a stressful interview with the psychiatrist. He had looked through my nursing notes and the report from my named nurse. So far so good! He was very positive about how I had been on the ward despite all the stresses I had had to deal with due to NCC social services.

Bonkers

The hearing was scheduled for 14.00. At 13.30 we had still not had a copy of my psychiatrist’s report or the social services report. My nerves were mounting and I felt like my stomach was in knots. I had had very little sleep the previous night as I was so worried about the appeal. At 13.50 my psychiatrist’s report was given to us and the ink on the paper had hardly had time to dry. As I cast my eyes over the first paragraph my blood ran cold and the feeling “I’m doomed” entered my head at a 100 miles per hour. As well as mistakes with timelines, dates, names and places, the report read more and more negatively. Had the report been about someone else I would have interpreted it as meaning that the patient was seriously ill, in fact – dare I say it? – “bonkers”.

No social worker

I was stunned to read at the end of the report that my consultant’s recommendations were that I remain on a section 2 with a view to being put on a section 3 (section 3 is for treatment and lasts six months). At 14.00 my solicitor and I made our way to the room where the tribunal panel were waiting to hear my appeal. We had still not received the social services report and, lo and behold, there was no sign of any social worker.

No social services report

I walked into the room and was instructed to sit in the middle of the row of chairs with my solicitor to my left. Opposite me on the other side of the tables was the judge with a panel member to either side of him. The judge introduced himself and the panel members and asked what I’d liked to be called. So far so good! Everything felt very formal, although the judge did say that the hearing would be informal. The judge then said he had discussed the psychiatrist’s assessment of me, read the nursing report and also my consultant’s. He then raised the question as to where the social worker’s report was and, indeed, where the social worker was. No one could answer.

Ignored

I then found myself sitting helpless while everyone else decided how to proceed. I tried to speak, but the judge completely ignored anything I had to say and also had the ignorance to speak over the top of me. Six people in the room were battling about whose job it was to do what and how. I began to feel as though I didn’t exist and when I said, “Social services has made several important mistakes over the past two weeks,”  the judge flippantly said – without making eye contact – “Well, that happens sometimes!” Basically, he had a “get-used-to-it” sort of attitude.

Blood boiling

By this time my blood was boiling. Yet again, services – especially NCC social services – were letting me down, which again was  having a huge impact on my future. The panel had to decide whether they could hear my appeal without the social services report. The judge said it clearly stated in his book that for the appeals procedure to be valid those three reports were required. We were all asked to leave the room whilst the panel decided whether to continue with the appeal or not. Feelings of distress started to manifest within me, and  feelings of  abandonment and hopelessness were creeping in.

Still ignored

Ten minutes passed and we all reconvened. The judge informed everyone that the appeal would have to be adjourned until the social services report had been written. Then a debate took place on who was going to initiate the report and who the appropriate person would be to write it. On several occasions I tried to speak. I wanted to inform everyone who I felt would be the best person for the job. I was stunned by how I was completely and utterly ignored by the judge as well as everyone else. Then dates for the next appeal were discussed and everyone but me was asked if  next Tuesday was convenient. I raised my hand to try and say it was no good for me, but yet again I was ignored. Tuesday 13 July at 14.00 was agreed between all parties and booked.

Rudeness

I put my hand up and asked the judge if I could raise a question. The answer I got from him was “Wait!” Eventually, after he had concluded and the tribunal closed, he addressed me with “So what is your question?” By this time the hairs had stood up on the back of my neck due to the judge’s rudeness and lack of manners. I said, “You asked everyone if Tuesday was OK for the hearing but failed to ask me if it was convenient.”

Had to cancel operation

The judge responded in a really defensive manner, informing my that the appeal is a part of deciding on my civil liberties and it’s not for me to decide whether times are convenient or not. I was livid with his attitude, and really raised my voice, telling him I wasn’t willing to argue with him. I merely wanted to let him know that I was due to have surgery on my hand that day. He wasn’t interested, and said his goodbyes. Therefore I would have to cancel my operation.

Emotional abuse again

My childhood memories played in my mind all afternoon. There is a strategy meeting about me on Monday and Tuesday morning which I’m not involved in and the hearing Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday is a Multi Disciplinary Team meeting where my care is reviewed. These meetings were triggering painful childhood memories of case conferences, reviews and school meetings where I was excluded. Mental health and social services seem to be allowing history to repeat itself and are inflicting emotional abuse all over again. I felt they were being so inconsiderate of my feelings by excluding me, abandoning me and letting me down. Surely someone would see this and realise I can only take so much and I’m not as resilient as they think? I felt bullied and harassed by the whole system, and unimportant to anyone.

Positive

Last night I felt quite low and worn out with the emotions of the day’s events. When I make entries on the blog I feel its important I do so when I’m in a positive frame of mind. Last night this wasn’t the case, so I felt it would be unfair for you all to read negativity as this can have an impact on the mood of others. If anyone reading my blog had been feeling low I could have exacerbated their feelings and emotions. That’s why I delayed updating you until today, when I’m in a more positive frame of mind.

Gardening therapy

The sun is shining and Andrew is in the garden tidying the flowerbeds. We have decided to spend the day together, enjoying the weather and our surroundings. Today I feel my medicine for creating positive feelings will come through achievement and enjoyment. Therefore I’m going to help Andrew with the garden and make it look pretty and ready for us to sit in tonight and relax together as a family.

I will try and report on my day’s events tonight, and I hope you all have a lovely day in the glorious sunshine.

Take care everyone (especially with the suncream) and I’ll be back soon.

Love and best wishes

Angela x

Angela Bayley in her paramedic jacket.

Me in my paramedic jacket. I enjoy my job and hope to get back to it soon.

It’s 9 July at 08.45.

Good morning, everyone.

Today’s the day when I find out if I will be given back my freedom and can try and get back to some normality.

I’m pleased to say I coped pretty well last night with my mixture of emotions, and took myself off to bed as soon as any feelings started to spiral out of control. Again I felt proud that I dealt with my feelings effectively, without being self-destructive, which has helped keep the spring in my step.

Rudeness!

My consultant asked me to return to the hospital ward this morning to see her at 09.30. On my arrival, the nursing staff asked if I could stay on the ward as my consultant now wanted to see me at 12.30. I feel so frustrated at the way healthcare professionals just change their appointments at the drop of a hat without consulting you. Andrew came with me to the hospital for the 09.30 appointment for support, and sadly has had to go to work and can’t return at 12.30 due to work commitments. He has taken so much time off work over the years to look after me and the girls so I can’t be disappointed at him for not being with me today. My disappointment and frustration is aimed at the people working for the NHS and how rude and inconsiderate they can be.

Sedation

My nerves about this afternoon’s tribunal feel overwhelming just now. Now I’m at the hospital I can feel myself heading towards avoidance to deal with these feelings by asking the nursing staff for sedative medication (service-users would know this as PRN).

More later…

Hi, everyone.

I hope you are all feeling well.

My daughter is driving

My time at home on leave is going really well, despite the odd interruptions from services. Last night my husband, Andrew, and my daughter,  Laura, drove to Leeds to pick up Laura’s first new car (a Mini). She was so thrilled when she got home, and the pleasure I felt to see her face was amazing. Today Andrew and I were driven by Laura on a twenty-mile journey to her friend’s house, and she made only a couple of minor mistakes. I can’t believe she is doing so well with her lessons, and at some point in the imminent future she will be mobile and independent. That’s when the worries will start and I’ll be wishing she was the 5lb baby laid in her crib, safe and secure, seventeen years ago.

Laura also shocked me today by telling me she would like to go to Edinburgh Uni. I worry how I’ll cope when she flies the nest –  especially so far away. It is exciting, though, to see her develop and flourish. My other daughter, Jenifer, is also happy as she flies to Marbella on Sunday with her friends for a fortnight, which is another motherly concern. It’s lovely to see her so happy and excited.

Happy family

Andrew seems more settled, which makes a change. He’s gone about his manly duties, mowing the lawn, cleaning the car and putting the bins out. I’m trying to hold on to my advice to everyone earlier on in the week about remaining positive. Today I’ve made a conscious effort to only focus on the nice experiences I have felt  today as my day hasn’t all been good. The pleasure of seeing my family more settled and happy helped me to share their happiness and made me feel good.

Section to continue?

I had a lovely lie-in this morning, after a good night’s sleep, which makes a change. I woke up and checked my phone to see numerous missed calls and messages. The messages were from my solicitor who is representing me for my appeal against my section, and from my consultant. They were ringing to inform me that a tribunal had been arranged for tomorrow at 2 p.m. My consultant wanted to talk about my section so she could make a decision as to what to recommend – whether I stay on the section and go onto a section 3 or would she be happy to lift the section 2 and discharge me. She seemed to favour continuing the section and asked for my opinion. Naturally, I’ll favour no section, but surely the purpose of the tribunal is for that description to be made by an independent panel.

Positive circle

Talking about my future with my consultant and then later with my solicitor sent me on a “downer”, and the voices and thoughts became more apparent. I tugged at my elastic band several times to try and remind me that having a “positive mental attitude” would keep me well and allow me to function better. It was hard work to stop myself from entering a dissociative state or doing something destructive, but I feel proud to say that I managed it. Today’s feelings of apprehension about how I’m going to face the future felt grim. However, facing the negative thoughts I was feeling actually made me feel happy that I had managed to tackle my worries and anxieties head-on and overcome the horrible symptoms I was having. Therefore, what would normally be a negative vicious circle has turned into a “positive circle”. All I have to do now is tackle the nerves I am feeling about tomorrow and what future holds.

Will be back tomorrow to fill you in on the day’s events and the outcome of my hearing. Oh, and more importantly how I cope with the stresses I experience.

Good night everyone and sleep well.

Love and best wishes

Angela

This morning Andrew came to the ward at 09.30, dropping everything at his work. After a long discussion with my consultant I was given two days’ leave. Ahhh! It feels so good to be at home. However, I have to be realistic and realise it is only temporary, and I still have to sort out the mess caused by Nottinghamshire County Council’s handling of my case. I’m remaining positive, and I shall keep fighting for justice and to have a life worth living.

My thanks to you, Andrew, for being my rock, to the girls, for being so loyal, and to you, the readers, for helping me to keep going.

Keep positive everyone!

Love and best wishes

Angela

[This post was written on the evening of Tuesday 6 July 2010, and posted the following morning.]

Hi, everyone.

I hope all is well with you all.

A new way of coping with borderline personality disorder

I thought I should begin with a quick explanation of why I didn’t blog yesterday. Due to some stresses I was experiencing I began to present with a psychosis i.e experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations. Part of my therapy was to be in a low-stimulus environment and have an early night, hence no entries to the blog. You may ask why I’m being so public about myself on a subject which sadly today is still a taboo subject. Well, my reason is so others with borderline personality disorder (BPD) will no longer feel alone, and it also reflects the fact that I have discovered a new way of coping.

Derogatory voices

Normally when I’m distressed I feel helpless, and because of this I push what limited services there are away, saying they are useless and can’t help. When I started with my symptoms this time, instead of reaching for the drugs and trying to knock myself out I decided to face the horrible symptoms head-on, and whilst I was feeling rational I kept telling myself they were not real. I then told my named nurse quickly before anything got out of hand. Together we formulated a staged plan, focusing on recovery instead of avoidance. I kept myself in public areas, was allocated a member of staff to stay with me to try and talk through how I was feeling. I used methods of distraction and my elastic band (see the end of this post). In my head I spoke to the derogatory voices, telling them to go away and that they were not real.

The Mansfield Chad article on my experiences.

This was how my story was recently covered in a newspaper. It will give you some idea of what lies beyone my present circumstances.

Verge of self-harming

In the afternoon I spent some time alone and, recognising when I was on the verge of self-harming, I sought help again and asked to see a doctor. The doctor came and prescribed some injections to dampen the voices and the anxiety. We agreed that although drugs can be sometimes an avoidance technique; it demonstrated to me that drugs are not the immediate answer and, in a way, experiencing distress also helped me realise that it can be dealt with in lots of ways, and the more I feel such symptoms for longer the more I will “desensitise” them and the less they will affect me.

Stopping and thinking

Tackling my illness head-on and “stopping and thinking” before I do anything destructive or maladaptive is a real way forward for me. I feel proud I haven’t self-harmed and that I dealt with things in a healthy way. If just one person reading this adopts my new way of coping then that will be one fewer person getting hurt.

Pampering and some hope

Today – Tuesday – has been a mixture of emotions. This morning I spent sleeping and then self-soothing by pampering myself a bit with lotions and potions. This afternoon I did some art and craft, which really helped take my mind off the MDT (multidisciplinary team) meeting between 14.00 and 16.00. I eventually saw my consultant, who was adamant she was going to continue to keep me in a very contained “well”, due to EDT (Nottinghamshire County Council) influence. My named nurse was with me and really supported me when I challenged my consultant’s decisions and actions. I wanted some leave and the section lifted. After a big debate, she agreed that I could be on a lower level of observations and that she would review leave tomorrow, discussing it with Andrew (my husband). While I was disappointed, a quick tug at the band on my wrist helped me stay positive and focus on making arrangements for tomorrow’s meeting.

I hope tonight, by expressing my own feelings and way of coping, I can help other people do the same or understand others.

Night night, everyone!

Love and best wishes

Angela

P.S. You may wish to read about other people’s experiences.

An extract from the coverage my story received in the Mansfield Chad newspaper.

An extract from the coverage my story received in the Mansfield Chad newspaper.

Hi, everyone!

Following my entry yesterday… writing the blog made me feel good and more positive. My job as a paramedic involves helping others and I’m hoping that writing this blog will go some way to helping others. Hey, maybe it could develop into a kind of support network for fellow survivors, carers and healthcare professionals?

Over the past week I have had a real battle on the ward. The ward staff here are fabulous and really caring and supportive. However, when they are ruled by Notts County Council and Higher Management in the hospital they are unable to care for me properly.

Absconded

I’ll briefly explain. I came into hospital just over a week ago. Since then the emergency duty team (Notts County Council) gradually, over the week, ground me down to the extent where I could take no more and absconded from the ward (which is against the rules of the section).

Forbidden to see my daughters

Anyway, the week started well. I had loads of support from my named nurse, A, who was trusting. That, and continuing support from my husband Andrew, began to provide me with the safety I needed. By Thursday, however, things had deteriorated. I couldn’t have any section 17 leave, had to remain on ten-minute observations (they checked me every ten minutes, depriving me of privacy), I couldn’t leave the ward to go into the garden without a member of staff, and contact with my children was prohibited. I decided to abscond (or as fellow service-users would say, “leg it”) and insisted that I would not return to the ward until the ridiculous constraints were justified or resolved. I informed Andrew I was safe, a police search party was organised, the police searched my house and stayed at the address until 3.00 a.m. They rang my friends and family and continued the search until the next day. Meanwhile, I was with friends offloading my stress over a glass of wine. I can hear you all say that is shocking and irresponsible of me. However, Andrew constantly told the police I was safe, at a friend’s and would return to the hospital once I had calmed down and he had spoken to NCC social services department to find out why they were controlling my care and failing to provide a therapeutic environment.

Portrayed as a child-killer

Friday 3rd July 2010, 9.00 a.m. I rang Andrew straightaway to say I was still safe and well. By 11.00 Andrew had spoken to social services, the Notts Healthcare NHS Trust Manager, the Chief Executive of the safeguarding team at the hospital and the ward manager. It transpired that NCC emergency duty were interfering and portraying me as some kind of child-killer.

At 11.30 I returned to the ward, to be greeted by M, my other named nurse, who is also fab, and he and the ward manager informed me that contact with my children was back on and I could see them off the ward. I agreed that due to my consultant being on leave that I would have to remain on my section and my observations would remain the same until 6th July 2010. I would have agreed to anything so long as I could see my girls!

Painful memories

Over the past few weeks I have been conscious of the 4th of July being my Grandma’s birthday as well as American Independence Day. For those of you who haven’t read my book, I was very close to her and she died a few years ago. I understand fellow survivors find significant events and dates are a real negative trigger that affects our mood. Whilst most people feel a little sad and then move on, we spend a lot of time dwelling on painful memories and struggle with what to do with those memories and emotions which then leads to destructive/maladaptive behaviours. We internalise our feelings which then causes further pain. The actual trigger itself is no longer painful; it’s the emotions that come with that trigger. That’s my take on it anyway, and I hope it makes sense.

Being positive

Yesterday I decided to deal with the emotional trigger of 4 July in a different way. I read Dr Chris’s chapter (in Disruptive) and took his advice of trying to move on and focus on the positives instead of the negatives. I turned that round and decided to make a conscious decision to be happy on my Grandma’s birthday and keep reminding myself that she would be disappointed if I was distressed.

All day I have had to force myself to be positive and happy, and do you know what? It really has worked, and right now I’m feeling good and proud that I have got through a difficult day without harming myself emotionally or physically.

Elastic band therapy

The moral of my story tonight is no matter how hard things are, you have to keep fighting in a positive way. Anyone reading this who can relate to some of what I have written, can I ask a big favour? From now on, can you go to bed and tell yourself no matter what you are going to have a positive day and do positive things and enjoy what you are feeling or doing? If need be put an elastic band round your wrist and just twang each time you get a negative feeling, and make sure you tell yourself you have to “crack on” and “keep smiling”. See how long you can do it for, and I’ll do the same and report back soon.

Take care everyone and love and best wishes to you all!

Angela
P.S. Please feel free to post a comment. I’d love to have your responses!