Mental ME

I have depression. I get stuck in a spiral of negative thoughts until I reach the point of wanting to die. It happens often, and has been going on for about a year. A few months ago I asked my GP to refer me to a mental health team for more in-depth help as anti-depressants alone were not working.  My GP wrote to the mental health team asking for help with my suicidal thoughts, and she listed some of my circumstances too – imminent homelessness, massive housing benefit screw-up, and suffering from ME and lots of other diseases.

The three times that I have seen a psychiatrist have been rubbish. I talked about that in a previous blog post. Basically, the psychiatrist focussed on my fatigue and would talk about nothing else. I even said to him “I’ve had M.E. for eleven years and know how to manage it, but I really need to know how to stop the loops of negative thought and the suicidal thoughts.” I was ignored. He decided to treat my fatigue by giving me amitriptyline, which is the first drug used in cases of M.E. even though I have tried many similar drugs over the years to no effect. Amitriptyline caused me to lose two entire weeks because it made me sleep all day every day, so I cut it down and then stopped it.

I went back to my GP to find an alternative to this useless psychiatrist. She gave me a copy of the letter that he had sent to her. Here is what it says:

Diagnosis: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Current Mental State/Progress:
Unchanged, symptoms of fatigue.

Risk profile (+Crisis Plan if applicable):

There is no mention of the periods of despair, the suicidal thoughts, the risk to myself that my GP had told them about. Just a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I have pointed out on this blog many times before that my illness is ME/CFS which is a physical condition. As such, my psychiatrist has no business writing CFS as my diagnosis for my mental health problems because it’s not a mental health problem.

I had a bit of a freak out this morning because I suddenly realised that this psychiatrist will be asked about my condition for my application for Disability Living Allowance. That could be disastrous if he tells them his version of what is wrong with me rather than my official diagnosis of M.E. by the neurologist that I saw years ago. However, after panicking for a few hours I have managed to call the mental health hospital and explain my problem. The manager there was extremely helpful and nice about it. My next appointment there will be with the Consultant Psychiatrist who is in charge rather than the idiot that I have previously seen, and because my DLA claim is imminent I will be called in earlier if there are any cancellations. She has also made a note that they must see me before replying to any letters about my DLA claim.

Hopefully that’s one less thing to worry about. The last thing I need is clueless doctors making my life even more stressful.

Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

3 thoughts on “Mental ME”

  1. I’ve had one episode with a psych she was asking me questions when she asked what I did for a living I told her I was a painter and decorator she said oh and asked me some more questions then said did I do work on the side and could I give her a price for decorating her lounge and staircase I stood up and quietly walked out thinking what a waste of time that was anyway I wish you well and unlike Theresa mays my story was true

  2. I empathise about the clueless idiots. I had an Occupational Health report written by someone who had never even met me. It said that due to my M.E. I was unlikely to be able to hold down my job and so my boss dismissed me, despite the fact that I my GP and consultant supported me staying in work. 

  3. You may have been seen by a trainee registrar. I’ve had to sit in A&E and explain what Borderline Personality Disorder is to a registrar who had just started his training at the hospital and he admitted he knew nothing about it. I’ve often heard or been involved in discussions with mental health professionals about ME debating whether it’s psychological, physiological or somewhere in between. Regardless of that, you didn’t have an accurate risk assessment and depression should have been dealt with whether it had anything to do with ME or not in someone’s opinion. I’m really glad that you’ve had contact with a sensible manager and that you can have another assessment, I’m surprised you’ve been to a psychiatrist before having an IAPT intervention. A handy free resource from the Scottish NHS (but free to the whole world!) is the Living Life To the Full site – there are depression and anxiety rating scales that you can choose to share with a health professional if you wish. They’re getting some good feedback on supporting people with chronic illnesses, that’s an extra booklet which I had to purchase but I’ve found it useful. I felt apoplectic when a report came out yesterday about MPs feeling stressed and their mental health being affected by the new expenses rules – yet the stress with it’s mental and physical health impacts of the welfare reforms are not taken as serious enough for changing or suspending them.  

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