Darren is leaving. You spend the best part of a year getting to know someone, and then they selfishly move to Canada with their family. Obviously I take it personally. He did tell me he would more than likely be my psychiatrist whilst I remained in mental health services. He told me he wasn't planning on going anywhere. I am miffed and also worried about who might turn up in his place. I am not best pleased that I'm going to have to explain my whole history and diagnosis all over again either. I'm also informed that if they cannot recruit an immediate candidate, they will employ a locum and continue to advertise the post. This throws me completely as you build a relationship with your health professionals and any change can be very unsettling. Styles differ, clinical knowledge and opinions vary, and some people you see you just don't like.
And this is my experience at my next psychiatric appointment with "The Locum". He is spanish, lacks charisma, doesn't know anything about me and cannot wait to get me out of his office. He keeps glancing at his watch every time I speak, or looks at the clock on the wall. I'm sure he is "Huffing" too. Both my CPN and I are disappointed and agree that the sooner the NHS recruit a permanent member of staff the better. I'm glad it wasn't just me who thought he was dreadful. At least I still have contact with my cpn on a regular basis for support. Heaven help me if the Spaniard stays.
Thankfully I've got 4 months between now and my next psychiatric appointment, and I also have a referral appointment with the psychotherapy team. The consensus is that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is very useful for recovery from depression, and offers strategies to minimise relapse. Its a practical, solution based approach, which thankfully, does not involve dredging up the nasty memories of the past and flagellating myself with shame and guilt. When I ring to confirm my appointment, they give me the address of where to go and who I am seeing. On the day of my referral appointment, I get there on time but stare at the building for a while before I go in. The building is imposing with red brick frontage and bars on the window. The entry door is thick and heavy, with no window and a CCTV buzzer entry system that you have to speak into. I'm depressed, not dangerous. When I actually get into the building there is a thick glass panel with a little hole to speak through, and a jobs worth receptionist with a face like a shrunken prune. Its stereotypical beyond even what I can imagine. I sit in the waiting area with a few other "Victims" and all us us try not to make eye contact with anyone else. I feel like I've been invited to attend room 101. Maybe I'll go in and come out like a lobotomized robot!
Thankfully the therapist I see is approachable, friendly and honest. She also has good taste in shoes. I like this. This is why I cry my way through most of the interview (not the shoes, the other stuff),and we both come to the conclusion that therapy will be a good thing. She feels that I am ready to engage with treatment and understand the commitment involved. The only problem is, its group therapy and I'll have to wait 6-12 months. That is a long time to be living without any healthy coping mechanisms. But, I'm back at work, I've got my cpn, family and friends, and hopefully, a new psychiatrist to get me through. I promised myself I would do whatever it takes. So, I'll wait and try to stay well in the mean time.
I try to speculate what a group therapy session might be like. All I can't muster is the feeling of being completely exposed with a load of nutters, just like me, all in the same room. God help me.