Single post
After everybody goes

The Space Between // Waiting For Diagnosis

So my last post was an anxiety-fuelled essay about some of my struggles with mental health, and particularly to do with what I thought was going to be a definitive diagnosis (either yes or no) with 24 hours of making that post.

Spoiler; it was the first half of my diagnosis appointment.

One of the problems with Mental Illness is awareness. Sometimes people refuse to believe in these often invisible disorders, as showcased by this beautifully written (and timely) post by The Blogess. ADHD and other executive function disorders easily fall squarely into this camp. Just as with depression and ‘everyone getting a bit down sometimes’, ADHD symptoms are sprinkled liberally through the brains of the general population. It’s a disorder associated with the highly visible and disruptive behaviour of hyperactive young children.

Not only that, the medication used to manage symptoms it is widely vilified and described as being ‘over-prescribed’ in the media. This isn’t just a problem for ADHD meds, but for any medication used to treat psychiatric and mood disorders. Depression, Anxiety, any Meds – there’s always an implication that you’ve somehow failed if you have to resort to meds.

And if you’re in the pre-diagnosis phase? Well, the implications can be that you’re drug seeking.

That you’re faking. That your symptoms aren’t severe enough to warrant help. Sometimes I wonder if that’s why NHS waiting lists for certain experts are so long (although I know it is simply due to the horrendous cuts that the mental health services continue to experience.) Everyone experiences and has issues dealing with day-to-day tasks and productivity – surely I’m just whiny for seeking the extra help?

It gets worse when I describe my job to people – by the standards of many I am successful, working for a great company in a junior manager role. And everyone has regrets, and things they weren’t capable of doing, rights? Right. This ambiguity of living without a diagnosis has caused more stress than I realised.

It’s a big deal in my head. I’m reading resources and groups designed for people with a diagnosis, benefit from the experience and strategies of others, yet not really able to hold my hand up and say ‘me too’. I feel like a ghost in communities – not yet legitimized, and carrying the fear that I may never be. Benefiting from, but shut out until the NHS diagnosis appointment happens, or perhaps shut out forever. It’s an odd sort of limbo land, and I’ve been in it since I first plucked up the courage to go to my GP back in February of this year. My final diagnostic appointment, I hope, is the first week of December of this year.

I am not moaning, let me be clear. The mental health services are under more pressure than ever before, with severe cases rising and beds being cut. I’m lucky that I don’t have to worry about finances (when it comes to treatment costs) and that I have a supportive enough spouse that I am able to manage and remain stable until the appointment becomes available.

The NHS Mental Health Guidelines, announced in February 2015, has the following goals

Also from April 2016, 75 per cent of patients with depression or anxiety disorders needing access to psychological therapies are to be treated within six weeks of referral, and 95 per cent in 18 weeks. By 2020 all hospitals are to have effective liaison mental health services in place across acute settings.

Alongside my potential diagnosis for ADHD, I am also waiting for access to Talking Therapy for anxiety and depression. I was seen initially by the local MH specific services within 6 weeks of referral by my GP. I’m still waiting for treatment over 8 months later. The professionals I have dealt with have been nothing but kind, non-judgemental, and competent, all doing their best with the resources they have.

The emotional limbo continues. It’s a limbo we don’t really talk about either, so the processes of diagnosis are somewhat mysterious because of that. No one wants to reveal they thought they needed psychiatric evaluation but were then told it was unnecessary. The diagnosis process is valuable and important, and should be better understood. It both safeguards the vulnerable person seeking help, from getting the wrong treatment, the health professionals themselves, and the budgets of the overall service.

Perhaps if the process was more visible, those needing help might be more inclined to seek it earlier.

theme by teslathemes
%d bloggers like this: