This is the process for being ‘ill’ and / or ‘in crisis’ in the UK today. I have in the past been told that, if necessary, I am to go to Casualty or ring 999 and ask for an ambulance. As I don’t think I could possibly cope with the wait of several hours for either (assuming either of these would be interested).
My GP surgery has changed the rules for seeing a doctor. Before last month you could turn up at the door for opening time at 8am then wait with the rest of the queue until a GP is free. Or you could try to book an appointment over the phone; often there would be none free for the next 2 weeks. If there was an appointment free it would invariably be 2 weeks away.
I have a number for the mental health team. Referral appointments for a psychiatrist have always been up to 2 months away.
To reiterate, if I am suicidal and exhibiting other signs of crisis relating to my bipolar / anxiety / OCD I must wait a fortnight to see a doctor.
I have already self-certified myself for having a week off work just before the half term break last week. Which means I must go to work tomorrow or I won’t be paid. I am nowhere near being well enough, mentally (and physically – because mental illnesses have their own physiological friends), to do my job at the standard I have set for myself. That is, as well as anyone else there who doesn’t have a ‘severe mental illness’ such as bipolar disorder.
Technically, I shouldn’t be driving while I am ill, either.
When I do see a GP in 9 days time there will only be two options, because talking therapy is never on the cards: change my meds; sign me off work for x amount of weeks.
Having spent three years trying to get along with quetiapine, Epilim and fluoxetine I am not about to spend the next few months going through withdrawal- and side effects. And I don’t want to put the burden on other staff to cover me in work, even though my manager is very empathetic and helpful (within the realms of employment law). I never think of myself as having a ‘disability’, though this is exactly what I have.
So.. I only have one option, and that is to turn up for work tomorrow, suicidal or not. I am suffering from fatigue, I find it almost impossible to get out of bed, I am trembling, I am confused, I sometimes see shadows, and I continue to put on weight – which makes me feel even more worthless.
Anything could happen in the next nine days. And it probably will.