Archives for posts with tag: mental health

Hi, everyone.

Case dismissed!

Good news at last! The police rang me on Friday to tell me that the CPS have discharged the case against me and said they are not pressing charges. The relief I felt was amazing and the investigating officer even sounded pleased that I was finally free of the stress the whole case had caused me.

Names, places and facts wrong

Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) social services visited Friday also. They came to show us the report they are submitting to Monday’s child protection conference. As a family we had all received letters inviting us to the conference. Bizarrely,  however, they got names, places and facts wrong. Laura received a letter to say she was going into care but the conference was about her sister. I received a letter detailing the girls names incorrectly and inviting a GP, whose name is unknown to us, and who is certainly not at our practice, to attend the meeting. Andrew received a letter saying Jennifer was the child being investigated and not Laura, and Jennifer received a letter detailing the purpose of the conference on a leaflet titled “For parents”.

The wrong parents described in report!

The social worker presented me with the report she was submitting. As I cast my eyes over it I wasn’t phased by the errors jumping out at me straight away. Dates, times and names were wrong, as well as grammar. NCC had spoken to Jennifer’s school and managed to write a report about the wrong parents. Facts about all of us were incorrect and both social workers seemed embarrassed. They kept reminding us of the complaints procedure when I kept mentioning all the errors that were being made. I was furious and said, “NCC have a nerve to question our parenting abilities. They can’t even write a report correctly. How on earth are we expected to have faith in the system?”

I also queried a key element in the report, which was their supposed concern about my daughters’ emotional wellbeing. I raised the question, “If you are so concerned, where have you been for the past seven years, never mind the past six weeks for that matter?” I have been experiencing mental health problems for seven years. During this time we have pulled together as a family and helped look after each other. We have never been offered any help or support by social services, even in the past six weeks when they started all this trouble. Surely if they were so concerned they would have done something to help? Instead they waste time writing silly and incorrect letters and reports.

Again I was told to highlight my concerns with the chair of the conference on Monday and follow the complaints procedure. Surely the time that has been spent on our case, and dealing with any complaints we have, would be better spent on protecting children who are starved to death by their parents?!

One failing authority assigned to prop up another?

The shocking fact is that the social worker who has been assigned to our family is from Birmingham. She claims she has been asked to work for NCC as they are a failing organisation! Again, they don’t make any sense and, to be honest, the whole service has been a joke. Birmingham has been big in the news as a failing authority, so God help us if NCC have requested their social workers to come to our area.

Conference will be a shambles

Tomorrow at 14.00hrs the child protection conference is taking place. There have been fifteen people invited to discuss concerns about the girls and to decide if they are placed on the child protection register. All this sounds very formal and official! In reality, I imagine that the conference will be a shambles. I think we will be the only ones on the invitation list to turn up, and the conference will consist of us questioning the authorities’ abilities and them making themselves look foolish. Let’s wait and see?

Will keep you all posted.

Love and best wishes

Angela x

Hi,  everyone.

The last time we spoke I was still in hospital waiting to be discharged or be reassessed for a further Section 3. On Friday 23 July I was discharged at 16.00hrs. I attended a care plan meeting to discuss my future care. Various health professionals were present. A representative from Nottinghamshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Department arrived late, during the meeting.

Minimal care on offer

I presented to the professionals a care plan I had written myself, and after a lengthy discussion I agreed to what care was on offer (which was very minimal). A potential admission to The Retreat was discussed, but I was told it would be some time before funding could be secured, if any. The psychologist I have been seeing explained he would have to cut my therapy short as he was leaving, and he admitted there was no one to replace him. Therefore I was left with an open out-patients appointment with my psychiatrist, 72-hour support from the crisis team if needed, and then admission to the acute ward if necessary.

Daughter considered to be at risk

The social worker said a child protection conference had been arranged for the following week. Whilst I had been in hospital there had been an agreement in place between Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC)  and Andrew to the effect that I couldn’t be left unsupervised with my daughters when home on leave. I informed the social worker that now I was discharged from hospital I wouldn’t be adhering to the agreement. She asked if I could remain an in-patient at hospital until the date of the child protection conference. I was horrified, and explained that a hospital bed is for someone who is ill, not to be used as a babysitting service for NCC. The social worker said that as one of my daughters was considered to be “at risk of harm” (because of her age), she would have to speak to her managers. The meeting ended, and I left thinking, “At last I can start to get on with my life again!”

Frustrated and offended

No such luck! I’d been at home an hour and the social worker rang to tell me the child protection conference had been cancelled and her managers would be in touch on Monday to discuss the agreement. I felt so frustrated and offended. The authorities were claiming that my younger daughter was deemed to be at emotional and physical risk because of my mental health. Andrew and I have done everything for the girls, and made sure their emotional and physical needs were met. I thought social services had a cheek as I have been suffering with mental health problems for the past seven years and there has never been any contact with services or offers of help with parenting and the like.

Feeling victimised by NCC

It seems so coincidental that NCC has become heavily involved in my life and instigated other agencies’ involvement only since I decided to sue them (for placing me in the care of paedophiles when I was at their mercy as a child). I may be wrong, but I can’t help feeling victimised as there have been some serious errors made by the Department and they appear to be doing everything in their power to cause me stress and worsen my mental health. Furthermore, NCC has never once offered any family support, which would have been the obvious thing to do if they had truly been concerned about my family’s wellbeing.

Left to enjoy family life last week

Anyway, last week I spent most of my time catching up with household chores and enjoying my daughters’ company. The social workers’ manager didn’t ring. In fact, we heard nothing at all from them, so much of last week was pretty calm and we were able to settle down as a family to our old routine. Feeling mentally and physically well, I spoke to my employer and reported fit for duty, even though I am still suspended.

Over the weekend I took stock of what I have to face in the imminent future:

  • I have a medical with occupational health on 12 August so the doctor can pass me fit for work.
  • In order to go back to work, I need a decision from the police on whether they are going to charge me or not (with threatening my daughters’ lives).

Ten years in prison!

Thinking about the second item, I rang the investigation officer to take some advice, as it is worrying knowing that if I am charged, depending on the sentence, I could lose my job. I rang on numerous occasions and left messages but had no luck in reaching him. I set about doing some research on the Crown Prosecution Sevice (CPS) website and my blood ran cold when I saw what sentence I could receive if I’m charged: ten years!!! In prison!!! I felt sick all weekend, hoping and praying the CPS would throw the case out. As I hadn’t heard anything from social services I assumed we had heard the last of them. I just hoped and prayed Monday would bring some positive answers.

No advice, no answers to calls

Monday was just a day of frustration. I spent most of it on the phone ringing people and leaving messages. I wanted advice from the police about how the investigation is going and the prospect of being charged. I tried my solicitor, dealing with the criminal case, but he wasn’t available. My worries about my future increased. I couldn’t face prison and losing my job. I also rang social services, as I wanted to confirm that the case with them had closed. Again there was no answer there too, and my calls were not returned.  I tried to put my anxieties to the back of my mind and hoped that I would get some answers the following day.

Police seeking evidence!

On Tuesday morning there was a message on my answerphone from the police. It said that the CPS had requested further information and their investigations are ongoing. Therefore I still have to answer my bail on 12 August. I was worried! My solicitor had previously said the case wouldn’t go anywhere, yet they are obviously taking things seriously by wanting more evidence. I rang my solicitor, who couldn’t give me any answers or speculate as to the outcome of the police case. I asked him about what sentences I could receive and he just said it would depend on what I am charged with.

NCC persist in claim that my daughter is at risk, after leaving us alone for eleven days!

The post arrived.  There was a letter addressed to me.  Andrew kindly read it for me, and told me that we had been invited to a child protection conference next Monday, 9 August. You can’t imagine how angry I felt. The authorities were claiming in the letter that one of my daughters is at risk of harm or abuse. It stated that the social worker would have to write a report about our family circumstances. I’m puzzled as social services have known I’ve been at home for eleven days. I’ve had no offers of help or support and, as for the written report, I can’t understand how the social worker can write anything about my family as she has only met me once briefly and the same for Andrew and the girls. Again, if my daughter is placed on the Child Protection Register I stand to lose my job. I rang social services all day leaving messages. I wanted to discuss why the conference had been set up and what to expect. Again, no one returned my calls, so I’m left with feeling alone and in a world of the unknown.

All I want is to try and get on with my life with Andrew and the girls, and have some positive news for a change

I will keep you all posted as the next week’s events unfold.

Love and best wishes

Angela

The Acorn Programme at The Retreat

The Acorn Programme at The Retreat, York. After a long struggle it looks as if I might get the funding I need to go on this excellent programme, which offers specialist treatment to women suffering from complex post-traumatic stress disorder, such as myself. A big part of the treatment is the therapeutic community approach.

Hi, again.

Qualified staff tied up

Over the last four weeks I have spent time thinking about my care and the future, which felt bleak. During my admission, I have met some very nice people and on numerous occasions we sat together complaining about our level of care and our feelings of hopelessness. One of the main complaints was the lack of therapy and treatment, and it was apparent that the way the acute ward is run is based on observations, containment and medication. The qualified staff were tied up with administrative duties, and the support staff spent time with those patients who were under observation and needed personal care such as washing, dressing and feeding.

Patients left to cope with anxieties themselves

Those patients who didn’t need observations and personal care were expected to occupy themselves during the long days with very little to do, and to cope with their anxieties and mental health symptoms themselves. Support from most of the staff was limited, as staff reguarly claimed they were too busy. At times there was a lot of noise on the ward due to patients trying to abscond or presenting with psychotic symptoms. Staff often seemed to use control and restraint procedures and drugs to calm down the most challenging patients. Over the weeks it seemed that the only support some of us were getting was from each other, or from one of the activity groups coordinated by a lovely lady from an organisation called Rainbow Learning.

When I moved areas four years ago, funding for my care at The Retreat was withdrawn, and I had to access local services. Although the Primary Care Trust (PCT) states that its employees should not be treated locally, my new consultant was insistent that the local services in the area in which I work were the only option available to me. Services that were available were:

  • out-patient appointments with my new consultant
  • 72hr crisis support, and
  • admission to the local acute ward.

Focus on containment, not therapy

My new “care-provider” seemed to focus only on containment and not on therapy and treatment. I have endured various admissions to our local acute ward, formally and informally, and while the staff are generally pleasant (although not all of them always engage with me), I have never had any therapy or treatment during my stays. My fluctuating condition, which I think is best described as complex post-traumatic stress disorder (the same thing many war veterans are afflicted with), has therefore tended to deteriorate over recent years, and ultimate recovery has seemed doubtful.

Therapeutic communities and aspecialist programme focused on recovery

During the present admission I reflected on The Retreat Hospital and the type of care they provide. My experiences in the acute ward at my new hospital are hugely different to my experiences at the acute ward at The Retreat. There were many types of group therapy during the day, as well as regular one-to-one care with variously qualified members of staff. As patients, we were encouraged to look after each other too, and the ward was described as a “therapeutic community”. The Retreat also runs a specialist programme –  the Acorn Programme – for women who suffer with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, such as sexual abuse survivors. The programme operates as a therapeutic community, and there is even more group and individual therapy than the acute ward. The main ethos of the programme, in my opinion, is that everyone works together during therapy and supports each other in or out of therapy. The programme is about recovery, and is run by some excellent therapists.

A suggestion

During my current admission I have noticed how we as patients have been supporting each other and sharing our experiences. This type of interaction between us as patients has got me thinking. Surely if patients are lucid, orientated and want to recover from their illness would it not be more cost-effective to run more therapeutic communities in hospitals, to provide therapy groups throughout the day and daily one-to-one therapies, and to focus on recovery before discharge? Surely this would reduce admissions to hospital and the drain on resources in the community, A&E and general medical and surgical wards who provide care for those who have repeatedly self-harmed?

Consultant now looking for in-patient treatment for me

Talking of therapeutic communities, following the MDT meeting on Tuesday when my consultant asked to see me she gave me the news I had so longed for. She discussed my care over the last four years and voiced her concern that my admissions to hospital had increased and that my condition seemed to be getting worse. Out of the blue she began to tell me that she felt that all local services available to me had been exhausted, and she feels I would benefit from in-patient therapy. She told me she had made enquiries at St Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton who run a specialised programme for women. However, they only accept patients who are on a section 3.

News got better but four years wasted

The news got even better! She then told me that she had also made enquiries at The Retreat Hospital about the Acorn Programme, and was willing to apply for funding from the PCT for me so I could have The Retreat’s specialised treatment. I couldn’t believe what she was telling me! The sense of relief flowing through my body was amazing. The light at the end of the tunnel had finally appeared. Although I realise the process of gaining funding and waiting for admission will take some time, just the thought of knowing that treatment will eventually be available has made me feel more positive about the future. If one had applied a common-sense approach to my needs, then surely I would have been referred to the Acorn Programme years ago?  The money that has already been spent on my admissions to hospital over the past four years plus on medication, the use of  the local crisis team and admissions to hospital generally, would have amounted to far more than the Acorn Programme would have? I can’t help feeling aggrieved that I have wasted the past four years of my life because it has taken that long for a consultant to realise the treatment I need is specialised and that a therapeutic community is more appropriate for me. I can’t help but worry that there are many others like me who are still only receiving minimal and inadequate services and that recovery is therefore not an option for them just now.

Local treatment inappropriate

In order to strengthen my case to the PCT, my MP is writing to the PCT to support my application. The solicitor I have been using, who specialises in mental health, has written to my consultant informing her that it is inappropriate that I am treated locally in the future. I have had to treat many patients during my duties as a paramedic and then to have to see them again in hospital as a patient is not only embarrassing but I feel it could also compromise my professional position. Thank goodness I work with very supportive colleagues, a fact that helps enromously and means a lot to me!

My consultant granted me home leave Tuesday to Thursday, and requested that I see her on Thursday morning at 9.15 to discuss discharge and the future. In a new post I will let you know how that meeting went and what further hurdles I have to face over the next few months.

Love and best wishes

Angela x

Hi, everyone.

I hope all is well.

MDTs – humiliating and intimidating

As you may be aware from my previous posts, Tuesday afternoons are when the Multi Disciplinary Team meetings (MDT) for patients under my consultant are held. Personally, I find these meetings intimidating and humiliating, due to the number of people in the room. They cause me further stress rather than serve a therapeutic purpose.

If you don’t attend, what little voice you have won’t be heard

On Monday 19 J uly 2010 I had a think about how I could avoid the stress of the meeting, and although I had previously asked to meet with my ccnsultant alone she had insisted that she needed certain staff members to be present in the MDT. I was in a quandary as to what to do, which was causing me anxiety in itself. I then realised that the best way I communicate is through my writing, so I formulated a plan. It is not compulsory that one attends the MDT.  However, if you don’t attend, what little voice you have won’t be heard. Therefore, I set to and hand wrote a letter to the team, detailing my apologies, my reasons for not attending, and what my requests and intentions were.  I ended my letter saying I would be happy to discuss any points in the meeting with my Consultant on a one-to-one basis. The letter was photocopied by my named nurse and I asked him to hand it in to the team on Tuesday afternoon.

At last I had been listened to!

Throughout the afternoon I was calm and relaxed, as opposed to feeling worried about a forthcoming MDT. It felt really good that I had taken back some control. At 16.30 my consultant approached me asking if she could see me. At last I had been listened to!  I discovered during my meeting with her that she had done far more than listen. At last services planned to do something helpful and were beginning to think about my future. Details in my next post!

Love and best wishes

Angela

19 July 2010

Care worker “suspended for affair with patient”

I was sitting in the garden at the hospital with some of the patients and I asked if anyone knew where one of the male staff members was, as I’d not seen him since my admission. One of the women I’d become friends with said, “Oh, he has been suspended due to having an affair with a patient who is a friend of mine, and he has now left his wife for her.”

…For the second time

A male patient who has known the staff member very well for some years said, “Yeah, it’s the second time he’s been suspended. At a previous mental health establishment he worked at he was caught doing the same thing, and he’s been out with numerous patients.”

Came on to me when I was sedated – disgust

My blood ran cold. About a year ago I was admitted to the same ward during the night and was very poorly and distressed. A female staff nurse on duty sectioned me until a dcotor arrived and administered intramuscular tranquillizers to calm me down. The male member of staff in question took me downstairs to the garden for a cigarette and sat me down on the bench, put his arm round me and tried comforting me – or that’s what I thought he was trying to do! He asked how things were at home and I confessed that things were difficult between Andrew and I, due to his frustration related to the pressures of my illness.

I mumbled on about the abuse I had suffered and how it was affecting me as an adult, and became quite distressed. The staff member’s arm moved further round and he pulled me close. Although I felt uncomfortable, I had difficulty resisting him due to my sedation. For a second, however, I really thought this cuddle was genuine and that the support worker was just comforting me until he suggested we go out together when I was discharged. I remember feeling horrified but was unable to express my disgust. Despite me being nearly half the man’s age, and being married, he had stepped over the line of being a healthcare professional. I asked to go back up to the ward and went to bed.

Made excuses for his behaviour

The following morning I tried to reflect on the previous night, which included the staff member’s behaviour. Because of my previous experiences (of not being believed, at best, and setting myself up for further abuse, at worst) I put the incident to the back of my mind, and decided simply to steer clear of him. He continued to be tactile when he could, and was with other female patients too, but never explicitly came on to me again, so I put my experience down to the effects of the drugs I’d been given and internally made excuses for his behaviour.

Rescued from his clutches on another occasion

A few months later and a while after I’d been discharged from hospital, I was at work one day and in the A&E department cleaning the stretcher. I felt someone’s arms slide round my waist from behind. I thought nothing of it, as I thought it was just my crew mate messing around as the patient we had dropped off thought we were married. You can imagine my horror when I turned round, laughing, to see it was the support worker who had hit on me during my last admission! Fortunately, my crew mate arrived in the nick of time and rescued me from his clutches. That was the last I saw of him.

To report him or not?

Whilst listening to the patients I battled with myself as to whether I should say something to the ward manager. I felt I owed it to any other vulnerable women who might come into contact with him if he was allowed back to work again. However, my experience of speaking out is that it almost always caused me more problems, and if the new allegations were found not to be true I might be made to look pretty stupid. A part of me felt relieved that this man had abused his position of trust with other women, but only because that made me feel I wasn’t the only one, not because I wanted anyone to come to any harm!

Relieved and proud

I decided to speak out, very tactfully and carefully. I asked to speak to the assistant ward manager in private. I explained to him what I heard and told him that I understood that he was unable to confirm the support worker’s suspension or discuss anything concerning the member of staff. I also explained that I felt compelled to speak out in case the allegations were true . I then briefly told him what I had experienced. The assistant manager was surprisingly supportive, saying that he appreciated me coming forward and understood how difficult it was for me to do so. He explained that the information would form part of an ongoing investigation and at some point in the future I would be asked to give a statement. I felt so relieved and proud that I had maybe helped protect other female patients.

Views and opinions?

This episode just goes to show that abusers still manage to work in such positions of trust. Surely it’s about time the authorities tightened up their screening of applicants wanting to work with vulnerable adults, and then provided training setting out clear boundaries between patients and staff? Nothing seems to have changed since I was a child, apart from the introduction of the CRB check. If anyone has any ideas on how the authorities could improve their screening process I’d be interested to hear your views and opinions!

Love and best wishes

Angela x

Angela Bayley with Father Christmas

Here I am with Santa. Many children are traumatised by meeting Father Christmas (Santa Claus). However, what caused my complex post-traumatic stress disorder (or borderline personality disorder) was far more disturbing. In this posting I discuss these diagnoses. I hope healthcare workers will read it.

Hi, everyone.

I hope your weekend has been as good as mine.

Off like a shot

I didn’t tell you in my last posting, but I had originally thought I would be leaving the ward at 10 a.m. yesterday, not 1 p.m. I was set ready to go home at 9.30, full of excitement, and so I was absolutely horrified to hear that my section 17 leave was to start at 1 p.m. Like I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, time passed slowly, but Andrew eventually appeared at 12.45 and as soon as the clock struck one I was off like a shot.

A cuddle and a whirlwind

I arrived home and the first thing I did was cuddle Laura. Her face was a picture of happiness to see me home. I felt motivated to crack on with the chores Andrew hadn’t managed to get done due to the pressures of work, caring for the girls and visiting me. It’s been a long since I felt interested in my surroundings or motivated to look after the home we have built together. Yesterday I was ready for action and determined to get back to normal, put my Mum and wife head back on, and make up for the things I had overlooked. I went through the house like a whirlwind, cleaning, washing, ironing and changing beds. The house felt clean and fresh and I was looking forward to getting into a nice clean bed.

Mid-afternoon, Sarah and Charlie (my childhood social worker and her husband) came to see how I was before they went on holiday, and they brought me a lovely scented candle for the lounge. We all sat together in the kitchen, putting the world to rights, and we also discussed my current situation with the police, social services, mental health services and work.

Positive – no flashbacks or alcohol

For once I managed to engage in a positive conversation and not be haunted by flashbacks and avoidance tactics, like medication, self-harm and alcohol. Andrew had bought me a bottle of wine, based on our agreement that I would only drink at weekends. I managed to forget it was sat in the fridge.  Compare this to a few weeks ago when I’d have finished it within hours of it being bought and would be well onto my second bottle! With Andrew’s support, I was determined to stay focused and positive as well as tackle my problems head-on.

My stepmother is harmless now

Not long after Sarah and Charlie had gone, a blue car pulled up outside the house. My heart sank as I saw Lillian (the stepmother whom I describe at length in Disruptive) get out the car with her mother. I didn’t want anything to ruin my weekend, and I knew her presence could trigger bad thoughts and feelings. Although she is harmless now, and has certainly repented her sins, she is a clear reminder that I had a troubled childhood and that my father abandoned me on more than one occasion.

Not swamped by uncomfortable feelings

Anyway, I opened the front door with a big smile and told myself that Lillian’s visit was with good intentions and she wasn’t going to trigger my emotions or cause me any harm. She handed me some beautiful flowers and I led her and her mother to the kitchen for another cuppa. We had a good natter about “this and that”, and then she told me my father had been in touch with her to tell her about my book Disruptive, which she hasn’t read. This was the first time it had been mentioned since I had started writing it. I managed to push my anxieties to the back of my mind and explain the process of my writing and how useful it had been. I told Lillian what my aim was – that it wasn’t to apportion blame but to help me understand things that had happened to me in the past as well as help other survivors similar to me. I really stood my ground, whereas normally I would pussyfoot around Lillian, feeling guilty if I upset her and caused any disruption. It was an achievement to believe in myself and not be swamped with uncomfortable feelings and maladaptive behaviours.

Enjoying the moment

Andrew, Laura and I managed to sit down on the sofas with our pizzas round about 8 p.m. Andrew cracked open my bottle of wine as well as getting himself some pear cider. Laura wanted to watch “Casualty” so we selected the film we wanted which we put on at 9.30 p.m. It was so nice to just relax all evening with my family, climb into my own bed and enjoy the moment instead of dwelling on my difficulties.

The diagnoses of “Borderline Personality Disorder” and “complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” and health workers’ reactions

Talking of difficulties, one thing I struggle to get to grips with is the label I’ve been given: “Borderline Personality Disorder” (BPD). One of the kind comments on the blog talks about mental health workers only able to care for those with simple mental health diagnoses, such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.  My consultant when I was at The Retreat, Dr Chris, was very sensitive about the label BPD, and would use a kinder label “complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (complex PTSD). My experience of mental health workers’ reactions when I tell them of that diagnosis is so different – it’s a lot more sympathetic! This just goes to show how discriminated against we sufferers of BPD are, and why there is such a lack of care.

Stigma: “attention-seeking and a nuisance”

NICE guidelines for some years now have included clear instructions for people with PTSD. However, it’s only recently that NICE recognised BPD, and, whilst they suggest that people with BPD are the highest risk group for suicide and that they can have terrible mental health symptoms, they are not very clear about treatment and appropriate care. Sadly, there’s a limited number of establishments that specialise in BPD, and they are usually private hospitals. The stigma of mental health is bad enough and workers are always wanting negative opinions to change. However, many mental health workers frown upon people with BPD, labelling them as attention-seekers and a nuisance. It’s clear that they have little training in this area of mental health and find it hard to understand or implement treatment. The feelings of not being understood are raw for people like me with BPD. I think services should start educating workers more in this area of mental health to prevent ignorance, discrimination and judgemental attitudes.

Please read about BPD!

As an NHS worker myself, I realise that many of us would like more training to deal with difficult situations and diagnoses but it’s seldom available due to cost implications and lack of resources. Therefore can I ask anyone who has an interest in mental health or works with people with mental health difficulties just to take a few moments to read up on BPD, and on how you can help? You would be amazed what a difference it makes to someone’s mood when they feel understood. Only 1% of people suffer with BPD but it would be useful if those 1% were taken more seriously.

User-friendly complex PTSD?

Maybe we should ditch the American label “Borderline Personality Disorder” and change it to the more user-friendly diagnosis, “complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”? I would be interested to know what your thoughts and views are. I hope you can help.

Promised to be home soon

Today has been an easy day. I’ve done some more chores to ease the burden for Andrew. I also cooked a huge Sunday lunch, finished off with homemade apple and blackberry crumble and custard. It felt good to look after the family without considering it to be a big effort or chore. Time passed so quickly and before I knew it, it was 5.30 p.m. and time to go back to the hospital ward. I kissed Laura goodbye and promised I would be home soon.

Abusers have controlled my life for too long

Andrew dropped me off at the hospital and spent an hour with me. He seemed pleased that I was feeling better and encouraged me to stay in a more positive frame of mind. My abusers have controlled my life for too long and at times nearly beaten me. However, I’m still fighting and I am going to try and keep doing so.

I look forward to hearing your comments.

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

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