The UK mental health system kinda sucks. It doesn’t completely suck, because at least we actually have one, so we’re doing better than some places at least. But from what I’ve experienced the one we do have is, like the rest of the NHS, is under-funded and over-subscribed.
I’ve had a long history with various forms of therapy over the years. The first time I was about 15, and it was some form of group counselling that my school organised. They never actually told me what it was, just told me it was some form of new project that they were trying, that they thought I would benefit from. It’s only looking back that I realised what it probably was.
The second experience I had with counselling was again organised through the school when I was 17, when I was going through a particularly rocky time. I hated it. Mostly because I spent most of the time colouring in rainbows and suns and being told I was doing “surprisingly well given the circumstances,” despite the fact I didn’t feel like I was, I was just good at putting on an act. The whole experience just made me feel incredibly patronised, and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s feeling like I’m being patronised.
Once I started uni I found a different counselling service, got referred to a therapist, and started a course of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). It was actually pretty good, and I found that it helped a great deal. It was the first time I was diagnosed with social anxiety, and for me having a label gave me something to actually work on. Unfortunately, due to whatever rules and regulations the service I went through had, I could only have 12 weeks of therapy. If I wanted more I’d have to go through a different avenue.
A similar thing happened when I went through the counselling services my university provided after my Dad died. I had a few months on a waiting list, and then when I was assigned a therapist I was only allowed six 1-hour sessions. I mean I get it, it’s a big university, with finite resources, and they have to make sure every student that needs it can be seen as soon as possible. I spaced my sessions out, so I was technically in therapy for longer, but realistically it wasn’t enough.
My mental health has been pretty shaky for the past 18 months or so, but last October/November time I hit a real low point. I contacted my GP to try and get some sort of help as I knew I couldn’t keep going on that way. I was signed on to a waiting list for a consult, and after a couple of weeks I was assessed. They put me on the waiting list for therapy, but they did advise me it was a pretty long wait.
That was around four months ago. I’m lucky I reckon, my mental healthy has gotten better over recent months. I’ve been happier in myself, had fewer screwed up nightmares, and generally been in a lot better mental place. So much so that people close to me have actually noticed the difference.
I might be doing a lot better, but I know full well I’m far from perfect. It’s still pretty hit and miss. My anxiety has been playing up a lot recently, especially over stupid little shit. Just this week I had a great time with my anxiety, pounding heart, shaky hands, blurry vision, my usual nervous verbal diarrhoea, all because we had a new manager at work. It wasn’t even like my new manager was someone I didn’t know. I’ve met her loads of times before, and realistically I knew there was nothing to even be anxious about. But I guess that’s kind of the point of anxiety, it’s not exactly rational.
I still have good days and bad days, high points and low points. I’ve just got to keep trudging along and hopefully I’ll get a call to sort out therapy sometime in the next few months. For now, I’m just gonna keep on doing what I’m doing and hope it’s good enough.