Yesterday, I took another step in my journey. I had my assessment telephone call with IAPT.
So after a bit of reading on just what IAPT is, it stands for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies. It deals with those who primarily feel stressed, anxious, low in mood or depressed, and then provide talking therapies for them.
Before my phone call I had to do a self-referral. This consisted of me filling in multiple forms. That’s all I seemed to have done this past week, answer questions about my thoughts and how I’ve felt and circle a number between 0-3 depending on how often I have felt that way in the past two weeks.
There were 7 sections including; the PHQ-9, GAd-7, Risk assessment and Work and Social Adjustment. When I first filled in the PHQ-9 at the Doctors I had a score of 21 out of 27, it only went up one when I filled it in for the IAPT. The statements of the problems on the PHQ-9 are pretty bog standard I suppose when talking about mental health. There’s questions asking how often you feel down, depressed or hopeless, feeling tired, feel that you’re a failure and thoughts that you would be better off dead or hurting yourself.
I won’t say how I scored on these, but I will say that none of the statements given received a 0 for not at all and only one scored 1 for feeling it several days. The others ranged from more than half the days and nearly every day. The thing with these statements is that they’re just words on paper. They don’t truly convey just how much these thoughts barricade in your mind. They don’t show the real effect that these thoughts have.
I suppose they use this method of judging mental health to record the severity of depression and because it can be taken multiple times, it can also record the response of the patient to any treatment that they do receive once they have been diagnosed.
After a bit of googling, I have noted that I was placed in severe depression and that is why I am on both antidepressants and been referred to psychotherapy. Depending on your score, there are different routes of treatment.
The GAD-7 section, as the number suggests included 7 question and I think the GAD stands for General Anxiety Disorder. Again the questions included how often in the past 2 weeks you have felt nervous, anxious or on edge, feeling afraid as if something awful might happen and not being able to stop or control worrying.
The risk assessment basically assessed how much your life in your current state of mind put your life or other’s lives at risk. Although I have had moments where I do want to harm myself and I have even thought about ending it all, I know deep down, that I don’t have it in me. I don’t have the drive or the want enough to end my life. This is a good thing because I know no matter how bad the thoughts I get, I physically won’t be able to end it all. I clearly, self consciously, know I have so much more to gain from life and have a reason to live even if I can’t see it right now. One day I will and I will be so grateful for not ending it all.
Finally the Work and Social adjustment. Pretty self explanatory. How my state of mind was affecting work, my social leisure activities and family and relationships. The highest scoring section for me was the impact on Family and Relationships. This has been the hardest thing for me to cope with. This is the time when you need your family and those who you’ve built up a relationship with around you, but instead they become distant. It’s hard to talk to them when they either don’t understand or refuse to believe there’s anything wrong. Even those that do understand don’t want to hear about it and find it hard to deal with, that they end up becoming distant and leaving me without their support.
This is why I want the treatment. This is why I want to get better.I want my relationships back.
Anyway, back on to the assessment. I sure do love a good description of stuff! I always start with the intention of only writing the basics but then the detail just keeps coming haha.
So yes, I had my assessment with Jamie yesterday. 3.30pm on the dot may I add. I was adamant I wouldn’t cry and become all breathy and weird on the phone but my brain clearly had other plans. Poor Jamie, that is all I can say. I suppose he must be used to it. I bloody hope he is used to it and I wasn’t that weirdo girl on the other end of the line. I’ll give it to Jamie, he was soothing and calming and I was able to express how I felt and even when I couldn’t always put into words just what it was that I was thinking and feeling, he soon came to my rescue and understood just what it was and tried his best to offer his understanding of how I felt. He hit the nail on the head a lot and not once was there a single judgemental tone in his voice. After twenty minutes, and a billion tears and ‘urms’ later, it was done. I was deemed anxious and depressed (or should I just say mad!) enough that I would benefit from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
I wasn’t too sure what this would entail. I vaguely remembered learning about it in Psychology back when I was at school and that’s going back at least five or six years, (Showing my age now!) but I couldn’t recall what it exactly entailed. Jamie did explain it a bit. The gist I got was that it changes your behaviour. It is a talking therapy that can help manage your problems and change the way you think and behave. For example, it will replace negative behaviour responses with positive ones.
I don’t know how I feel about this. But got to give everything a try at least once right? I don’t know when I will get my appointment as currently there is a 6-8 week waiting time for my local area. Despite me being available whenever and having no restrictions, it is still going to take at least a month and a half before anything can start.
I think at first you get 4-6 sessions, and these can be both on the phone and face-to-face and held in your local area. I am dreading it. I hate talking at the best of times. I hate being an open book. I hate the vulnerability that comes with being so open. But it’s necessary. As much as I hate all of the above, my want and need to get better is far greater.
I haven’t spoken with F yet about my phone call, but I am seeing him tonight so will give him a bit of an update then. I told my Mum and Dad and they didn’t really respond to it. I had to remind them that I had the phone call and only then did Mum ask how it went in passing. I told her about the CBT and that I was placed on the waiting list and I got nothing. No words of praise or encouragement. No questions. Nothing. Just an ‘okay’ and a change of subject. I don’t know why I’m surprised every time, just thought they might have come to terms with it all a bit more now. Obviously not.
Yesterday was a heavy day and my anxiety was through the roof from the minute I woke up. I also found something out about something my boyfriend liked on Social Media that didn’t help matters. I couldn’t move from my bed until the afternoon and that was only because I knew I had my phone call at half three. Before the phone call, I had a sudden bout of, not confidence, but determination that I wasn’t going to be sat around crying and anxious all bloody day. Instead I got in touch with an old friend who I haven’t spoken to in six years and organised to meet up with her and her horses, one of which I used to loan many years ago. Luckily she was about that afternoon and I was more than welcome to go and see her and the horses and help her out.
I knew seeing my old horse, Hamlet, would make me feel better. He always calmed me down and just spending time with him would help. After my phone call, I did a drive I’ve never done before. I pushed my anxiety to the back of my head and dealt with the drive as I did it. I got lost. I got panicked but I made it.
I had a good afternoon. It was good to see my friend again. I was open to her about everything that was going on in my life. I told her about the anxiety and depression and the tablets I was on, the therapy that I was waiting for. She didn’t push to know more, nor tell me it would be okay. She just listened. We took turns catching up. It was great to hear how well she had done and how much had changed for her. It was like we had never stopped talking. How lucky was I to have found a good friend like that all them years ago?
I spent hours down there and reluctantly came home but not before seeing her old dog, who to my surprise remembered me and was excited to see me. Normally she growls at strangers but with me she couldn’t have been more friendly.
Seeing Hamlet was the highlight of my day. He took a while to remember me, but I think he did towards the end. I know it sounds silly, but I felt our connection that we used to have all those years ago. He is just the definition of comfort.
I better go. I have to go get ready as I’m seeing the boyfriend later and we’re going to see Kaleo and I need to get ready. (Yes, I’m still sat in my pyjamas and in need of a shower, even though it is ten minutes to one in the afternoon. Disgusting, I know!)
I’ll do a blog on Kaleo tomorrow or Thursday so keep tuned 🙂
Not Quite Made Girl