Through the eyes of a carer for someone with a mental illness

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They can put things in place when they want to.

Something I have noticed recently has made me come to the conclusion that things that I have wanted and that have needed to happen in the past with Chris only happen when he doesn’t actually need it. For example just before Christmas he was admitted onto a psychiatric ward but I didn’t actually think he needed to be, then on his ward round I had them ring me asking my opinion on them sectioning him… yet a few months before I had begged this doctor to do something and he just sent him home. Then when detention under the mental health act seemed outrageous they wanted to?

All the times Chris has taken overdoses and I have wanted our GP to do something but they have always said ‘there is nothing we can do’ yet this other GP convinced Chris to go to a&e because she phoned ahead to a&e and told them all about him. Basically if Chris didn’t go we would end up with them on the phone, ambulances, maybe even a ‘welfare check’ and he didn’t want that so he had to go up there.

Then while he was up there baring in my he had only taken a few more benzo’s than he should have done and didn’t warrant a&e on those grounds (unless he was feeling particularly unwell) like our GP was trying to imply (now I am thinking she did it to get him up there for him to be seen more psychiatrically) they had security keeping a close eye on him. When he went to go for a smoke they said ‘Alright Chris where are you going?’ to which he thought you must have been told about me to know my name. This was enough to stop him doing a runner in the first place. Now where was this when he had taken a more substantial amount of tablets and was even more at risk to himself? I mean I didn’t think he needed hospital admission but I need think it was wise he saw a psychiatrist even if he was just given access to the crisis team. That is where it ended anyway the psychiatrist just sent him home telling him to talk to his CPN the following day. Basically the whole thing was a waste of time.

So why is it when he actually warrants these reactions does he get left and when there really isn’t so much of a need or a lot lesser need they put it all in place?


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Trust, or lack of.

At the beginning of 2011 Chris was rather unwell and I remember feeling exactly as I do at the moment but although he wasn’t getting any support I had an amazing health visitor, a community nurse, a fantastic GP, so if it all got a bit much for me I could ring/see one of them and get some support myself. Even if they couldn’t do anything they did support me and made an attempt at understanding, it also meant I was listened to. However I lost my health visitor a month before Cora was born because she moved areas and I have a new one now, my community nurse has just taken three weeks leave and my GP is on maternity leave. Add to this his CPN still being very new to us, Chris has only had her since after Cora was born (Cora is 7weeks old) because his social worker changed roles and that wasn’t handled very well at the time either. I don’t know if I can trust his CPN yet, it is something we need to build on that will take time.

So there’s two GP’s at our doctors at the moment that know about Chris and his history and one of those has just taken three weeks off and the other one who is pretty new herself covering the maternity leave, I asked yesterday for an appointment for but I couldnt see until the week of the 3rd September. I actually turned around, walked out and cried. There is basically no one, well that is what it feels like, and it is no good telling me to talk to a different one, because when life is as complicated as ours I don’t want to have to explain everything over again, I want to deal with someone who already knows or at least knows a little bit about things.

A bit of a change in support would be fine but ours has been ripped apart and completely put back together with entirely different people. My trust has gone, can you blame me? We have been let down, lied too, too many times before for me to immediately trust anyone.


‘If I had a magic wand’

Correct me if I am wrong here but it appears ‘if I had a magic wand’ must be in Health Workers training because I have given up counting the number of times I have heard it said to me, to Chris, to others I know. But why? I sure as hell don’t want to hear it because it is obvious you don’t and if you did you wouldn’t be in your job basically as there wouldn’t be a need. So how is wishing you had a magic wand going to help me? Comfort me? Or make anyone feel better? It’s not.

You might as well be saying ‘I want to help you but there isn’t anything else I can do without a miracle.’ Oh that’s so what I want to hear right about now. So you can take your wish for a magic wand and tell it to someone that cares.

Magic wand rant over.


A letter

Dear Chris’ CPN (obviously her name would be here but I am not disclosing that)

Sorry I couldn’t be there today to talk to you in person, we couldn’t get anyone to look after the girls so I have taken them out. As you know we don’t like them hearing conversations regarding Chris’ health because of the topics that could arise.

I don’t really feel at the moment that anyone has the right picture about what is going on with Chris at the moment. This is partly because he struggles to explain how he is doing; he won’t give full answers unless the questions are clear for example if you ask how he is he will answer how he is at that moment in time. If you want how he has been since you last saw him you need to ask for that specifically or he won’t tell you. He also doesn’t have a very good memory and just forgets to mention things that are very relevant. I also haven’t been able to speak up as much as I normally would, I am not sure why, only think that having such a change in support could have caused it. Not only did we lose his social worker, I had a change of health visitor and my GP went on maternity leave as well. Since all this has happened I haven’t spoken up as much as I should have done.

Another problem is that Chris just won’t see people when he is at his worst, hence walking out of the doctors last week. It is rare then that anyone but me sees’s it. Same reason he doesn’t go to a&e when he is really bad or he walks out. As you know he has been very bad of late and has had me very concerned. Starting from last week when I got really worried about just how bad he had become. Rapidly going from happy and like dealing with an excited little child to low, depressed, suicidal, angry and agitated. Making him very unpredictable from one moment to the next. His first overdose he was trying to attempt suicide, the only reason he never succeeded was because I caught him taking the tablets and and took them away but he still had a huge concoction left to take. The following three were all self harm from what he had told me. Having me holding onto the key to the safe only works to an extent, I won’t keep hold of the key if he decides he’s having it back, if he is pushing me for it, I’m not causing myself risk over it, I have the girls to think about too. I also can’t guard it while I am asleep, I do my best but I do have limitations.

‘Go to a&e’ is fine when I don’t have such a young baby, I can’t take her with me at 10 o’clock at night because he is unwell and he won’t take himself, nor is there anyone else to go with him. I don’t think people realise this leaves us with quite a problem and is why he often doesn’t seek help after an overdose. I try and prevent things with Chris, I did warn both his social worker and our GP months back that I saw the same worrying patterns that I have in the past. I still feel we are heading in the wrong direction. The trouble is I don’t always know how best to help him but sometimes it feels like everything is left up to me and right now with four young children as well it is pretty difficult. I feel people forget that I am the person at the end of his anger, frustration, his pain, I pay the consequences of him overspending all the time. I end up trying to keep him safe when he can’t keep himself safe and end up with very little sleep not because of Cora but him. Sometimes I am once again left feeling like there isn’t much more I can do to help him or if there is it will start negatively affecting me. Chris isn’t the only person involved here, it affects our whole family.

I have always maintained the fact that the girls have to come first, they only have us to protect them where as he is an adult. I don’t have much help with them from friends or relatives at the moment which adds to the pressure. Things should be easier when they are at school and playgroup and I don’t have to continuously worry about splitting myself into five.

Chris at the moment finds it really hard to distract himself, he struggles even being out, we tried to go out with his camera but he was overwhelmed, struggled to focus and handed the camera to me instead. His ability to distract himself varies, sleeping at the moment appears to be the only thing that works but then he spends most of his time asleep. Then when his mood is more ‘up’ he can’t sleep or doesn’t sleep very well continuously waking up. He doesn’t feel able to enjoy the company of the girls at all and pushes me away often. He doesn’t want to be close to anyone at the moment.

What more do I think I can do? Well not a lot more than I currently am doing at the moment unless anyone else has any ideas. I am always willing for other people to try and help me in ways to look after him.

What do I think he can do? Try explaining how he has been better so you have more of an idea about how bad things are/have been.

What else could be done? More support when things are awful to take a bit of the pressure off me. It puts a lot of strain on our relationship at times. Out of hours causes the biggest concern, I feel completely hopeless in what I can do. It is all well and good saying how ‘we can help him/we can do this/that/other’ but at the weekends, or in the night it is ME on my own. This weekend is a bank holiday, Chris really struggles with them, always has, maybe I am just more aware because of the choice of getting help out of hours usually consists of hours of waiting in a&e by which time he has normally walked out anyway and taken himself home. Or a&e after overdose consists of him usually remaining in for 12hours obs and then me spending he following day convincing him to say and see someone from psychiatry. I have been there so many times before. Except having a young baby at the moment would prevent me from doing an awful lot because she has to come first.

Right now things are as you can see very tough. I hope you now have a better understanding of how hard things really are at the moment.

Thank you,


I dont plan on showing this to anyone at all but felt it might help some what in expressing how I feel. It has made me feel a little better for getting out anyway.

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Is anyone listening to me?

At the moment I am feeling far from listened to and rather frustrated, Chris has continued to be very mixed and extremely unpredictable in mood. I have spoken to both his CPN and our community nurse from the doctor’s surgery and I just don’t feel like I am being listened too. They seem to be very unable to believe anything that isn’t in front of their eyes. Trouble is if Chris was in a very bad way he wouldn’t even attend the appointment, he walked out the doctors last week for a start, then he wouldn’t attend a&e a good couple of times. He doesn’t always remain the same, one moment he seems ok and the next he’s taking an overdose. Why they can’t understand this I don’t know!

So today we are talking things over with his regular GP a male (not to be confused with the female he saw last week) and he is trying to make out that everything seems ok and commented how he hadn’t needed to use the crisis team yet etc. Well that was going to happen last week but shock horror who did it fall to, to try and avoid that? You guessed it… me. The exact words of his CPN last Thursday were ‘I would like the three of us to try and get him to his psych appointment on Wednesday’ This to me translates into.. it’s ok Sarah we are going to leave you to manage things with Chris until Wednesday because don’t forget I can go to bed tonight with no worries and spend the weekends how I wish without a second thought about you all. Right now I can’t just run up to A&E with him at silly o’clock in the morning because I would have to take Cora with me as well, she is breastfed so can’t be left with anyone, it leaves me in a right predicament as to what to do. His last three overdoses he’s just refused to do anything and I have felt entirely powerless and unable to do much to help to be honest. At least if he had a number to phone when he was struggling it could well prevent him overdosing or getting as severely agitated as I can’t always help him.

I think they forget I am a human being, a mum to four children aged five and under and yes I will do everything I can to help Chris and keep him safe but I am no means invincible and I am not a professional.. I have been here before, I have felt this before and I was praying this wouldn’t happen again…. Roll on Wednesday!

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Here I am again…

As I sit here this evening, girls all tucked up fast asleep, the baby snuggled in front of me and Chris asleep on the sofa beside me, I find myself thinking and feeling exactly how I did a year ago, something I never wished to feel again. Chris hasn’t had a very good couple of months but the past couple of weeks I have been getting increasingly concerned, rapid shifts in mood, one moment fine and the next really distressed. I have mentioned it before to his CPN but yesterday was horrendous and I started to see a lot of similarities to how he was before spending a few weeks in hospital. He even refused to sit and wait after a while of sitting in the doctors, I could have cried. Why was this happening again and more importantly why am I feeling again like not a person in the world cares or will help.

For the first time ever I have found myself wishing he still had his social worker, she always knew when I was saying Chris really wasn’t well, that he was exactly that, she knew I had spent the previous year’s being ignored, she didn’t do that. However his CPN doesn’t really know either of us very well and Chris saw her while he was relatively ok today, if a little elated so of course that must mean he is fine even though I couldn’t predict him from one moment to the next. Let’s just say the rest of the day has been horrendous and evenings are the worst when oh yes there is no help, it is all out of hours and no ‘go to a and e’ isn’t good enough when I have four children one being five weeks old, very little support and he won’t go himself.

As I now sit here, in tears, thinking about how I used to feel and how I hope this doesn’t go again I can hear a gorgeous baby girl crying for a feed and a cuddle. I shall go and do that and I pray tomorrow someone will put a little more support in place.

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Quiet recently.

I have been a little quiet of late, this is because I am preparing to move house, yes only I could have been offered a house move right after having a baby, while Chris has been his most wobbly in a long time and while there is so much upheaval already. Trouble is I couldn’t say no or put it off because I know that this won’t come up again and if it did, not for a long time. So I have been trying to pack up my house in just over a week, with four children, one newborn, on their summer holidays with Chris to look after and no help. Well no help until my wonderful mum saved the day and is coming back up today to stay and help me out, even for me doing it all on my own was waaay more than I could do.

Chris hasn’t been well in a few weeks but he’s slowly getting worse, I am trying my hardest to keep him on an even keel and I’m failing. These past few days he has been getting slowly worse, his use of prn medication has soared. The weekend was very difficult with him letting me know he was so suicidal it was scaring him. His CPN has brought his appointment forward so it is now today, which is a good thing because last night he decided to go and get his prescription, something he never does himself normally and take half of it, then refuse to go and be seen medically. So I have had the job of keeping a close eye on him again, so I have hardly slept and this can’t keep happening. Overdoses are wrecking his body, it is quite scary the damage he is doing slowly over time.

So we shall see what today holds and thank goodness for mum coming, it is a huge relief.