During my 4 year battle with anxiety and depression (early on), I was in a position where I had to turn to the NHS to help get me better. This started as a doctors appointment, where after numbering a few boxes she felt capable of prescribing me with medication, no further questions asked, and sent me on my way. As I decided medication wasn’t for me, I was referred to a therapist, and after a 9 week wait, there I was, sat in the room with her.
She suggested I try CBT, which would retrain my thoughts and realign brain – but sadly that wasn’t the case and around 6 months after, I relapsed, and relapsed bad. I was in total darkness, solitary misery just dragging my lifeless body from one day to the next.
It was then I realised something wasn’t right and I needed more help. I was able to refer myself, and after answering some questions on the phone and spending 10 minutes trying to convince her that it would just require a quick phone call (I was too anxious to even go), I was booked in. 12 weeks later, I met the woman that, unbeknownst to me, would change my life and help me to shape my future.
It was intense CBT. 50 minutes in a room with a woman who’s job it was to push my boundaries so far, yet stay with me and support me every step of the way.
Since then, I’m a changed person. Yes, I have down days as we all do, but I’m now able to control the physical symptoms. I went from a bench of fear to the person I am now, trying to live each day as it comes.
My point, is that without this service, I 100% wouldn’t be here today. 12 weeks wait was long enough, I can’t imagine anything longer than that. So it saddens me to hear from many people just how long the waiting list really is.
I get a lot of people coming to me on a daily basis for advice, guidance or just to talk – and it’s great. It’s through these people that I’m learning so much about varying mental illnesses, treatments and lack there of.
As someone who benefited from such an amazing service, I can’t comprehend how people with similar/worse mental illnesses have to live with the fact that they may not get help for 12 months, 18 months or even 2 years. If someone had told me ‘you’ve got 18 months to wait’ I’m not sure what would have happened, so I’m terrified that some people are in that position.
I feel mental health is currently given a back seat, only sweetened by false promises of a better service by the government from the NHS (I love the NHS. I hate what’s happened to it). It’s time the government took responsibility and ensured this was available within fair time frames, without judgement and in our best interests.
Until then, don’t worry. Although you’ve probably got a long way to go before your therapy, there are so many different places you can reach out to, and it’s important you do.
One day, mental illness will get the recognition it needs and the people who suffer will get the treatment they deserve.