A bad week

You won’t be getting a full post this week, my catch up with scheduling posts coincided with a bad week.

However despite my focus on positivity and recovery I’m not going to shy away from owning up to the tough times, the times I don’t succeed. Because we all have them, and it is nothing to be ashamed of.

This week I’ve cried hysterically at work, at home while brushing my teeth, and at the doctors during two useless visits. I’ve had shooting pains, joint pains, migraines and just generally felt really rubbish.

The road to recovery is not smooth, there are potholes and wrong turns.

But I know not to let this week define me. One bad week doesn’t mean I should give up. Next week will surely be better, and the fact this was only a week rather than a month means I am miles ahead of where I was a year ago.

It’s okay to not be okay sometimes, it’s okay to find it all a bit much. Just don’t let that drown out all the good you’ve accomplished.

A Broken System – Mental Health in the UK

People are often divided on opinions regarding the NHS, it is inefficient and often poorly run, but free healthcare is a fundamental part of our country and the staff on the ground work long hours to keep us healthy. I’ve experienced both the NHS and private health insurance, and I can tell you neither works when it comes to mental health.

The NHS

It took from November 2015 to December 2016 to get my CFS diagnosis. I had to queue up in the freezing cold 45minutes before the GP opened to get an appointment.

I was sent to A&E twice because the GP said the first time they weren’t thorough enough with their tests (and as it wasn’t urgent both times I waited 7+hours).

I was referred to a respiratory specialist, waited 4 months for the appointment, only for her in 30seconds to say I should have been referred elsewhere as it wasn’t respiratory.

I was given drugs on the off chance it was gastric, which made me incredibly ill within an hour of taking them.

I was told by a Muscular Skeletal consultant “it could be CFS”, but then just left, my GP unable to refer me to a CFS unit because I was technically still under the consultant’s care.

The CFS unit I was eventually referred to was on the 2nd floor, I travelled for an hour to get there, then had to drag myself up large steps to reach them. It seemed a foolish oversight, you wouldn’t put a service for broken legs up there!

Even after officially getting the diagnosis I’ve had pretty much no support. When I complained to my GP she said I could have whatever I wanted… What did I want? I researched a treatment and came back, but she then expected me to know my nearest provider too! I have had to become an expert in NHS bureaucracy in order to get anything done, at times my own CFS expert too.

In the meantime, I have spent all of my savings on private therapist s with CFS specialisms. I have pushed and struggled whilst feeling barely able to function. At my lowest ebbs I had to be tough and demanding, because otherwise I fell through the cracks in the system. I can’t help but think about all the people who are not as lucky as I am, who don’t have a strong support network to get them through these struggles. It is so easy to give up.

Private Health Insurance

When someone close to me had a breakdown, I recommended they use their private insurance, as the NHS had been so slow for me. Sadly we quickly discovered the private sector was no better. Due to liabilities the insurance company wouldn’t give us the name of a therapist, we had to research them ourselves then ask if they were on the “approved list”. After the first two not being on the list, the person became overwhelmed and didn’t want to continue.

I spoke for them and argued that they had the list and the postcode, why couldn’t they just tell us who was closest. I had several phone calls and emails arguing for this, but it is against policy, they would not budge. It seems like such a simple request and I strongly remember once crying tears of rage as I argued with the person on the phone – how could the person going through crisis manage when I was so overwhelmed?

I was lucky that the company’s twitter manager was more helpful – they looked into it and gave us a name. It took an hour, when I had previously been fighting for a week. I lodged a complaint, but received a letter saying that since we had booked to see a therapist my complaint had been resolved. It had not, the system that caused so much stress was still in place. They didn’t care.

What is needed

When looking for help with mental health, a person is usually in a vulnerable state.  They need guidance and neither of the two options offer that. Long waits for treatment, a lack of options, it all makes you feel defeated before you even start.

It is nothing to do with the NHS being underfunded, as the private sector is just as bad. The systems in place should be set up with patients at the centre, considering their needs so that the healthcare can make them better instead of worse!

In some areas patient centred healthcare is being trialled, and is proven to work. But the industry is old and slow, such drastic rethinking of services is unlikely to happen any time soon.

Failure is an option!

A few weeks ago I wrote a draft blog for work about the importance of sharing failures in my industry. Since then the thought has stuck with me and grown. Failure isn’t just a thing that happens to companies, it happens to all of us in our daily lives. It’s something every single person has one example of, big or small.

But most importantly it’s okay! We should be proud not ashamed!

If we failed at something it means we tried. Trying is much more important that avoiding failure. If we never tried new things we wouldn’t have art or science! If we never tried in our lives, we wouldn’t have learnt to walk or talk, to live our lives! We wouldn’t know any of the skills that make us who we are as individuals.

Personally, I have a habit of using humour to defuse situations that make me stressed. This means I’m often very open about my personal failings, because I make them into a joke, this makes them smaller, not so serious and scary. I know that doesn’t suit everyone, but I do think it’s important we all find ways to shrug off the times when things go wrong. Our failures do not define us, it’s how we react to them – do we blame other people? Or do we learn the lesson and move forward?

Failure is a great opportunity to learn from our mistakes, to find better ways to do things, or even ways to be a better person generally. If you say something in a conversation and it doesn’t go down well, now you know more about the other person and how to interact with them. If you run out of time on a project, next time you know to start earlier, or use your time better. Whatever the situation you will take something away, a piece of knowledge you didn’t have before. Even if that’s something huge like “this isn’t for me” or “I’m not good at that”. Those can seem scary, but armed with that knowledge you can lead your life differently.

Even when things go well, you usually have the feeling that, in hindsight, it could have gone even better. That’s because through that experience we have learnt and grown. We are not the same person who went in, we are more. Failure is no different. We just need to look at it with a more positive lens.

Every experience you have in life is building you up, you need to stop knocking yourself down and appreciate how far you have come.