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

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Crisis care? What is that?

Tuesday, Chris was continuing to get more and more unwell, he had seen his social worker in the morning who hadn’t been overly helpful. It reached the afternoon and he rated his suicidal thoughts a 10, never has he scored himself so high before and he was looking for ways to harm himself. I suggested he ring his social worker and explain how bad things were. After a lot of persuasion he rang her and she asked if hospital would be a good idea, he agreed (that is huge for Chris) she said she would speak to the Gate keep of beds and if not would see about a referral to the Home Treatment Team. She said she would call back once she had made some phone calls.

After waiting for some time she rang back at about 2 o’clock and said both her and his other social worker would be out in half an hour to come and see him before they decide what to do. I had to go out at that time and collect my eldest daughter from school, upon our return home both of them were here and talking with Chris. I took the girls into the kitchen as I didn’t want them to hear the conversation that was taking place in the living room. Before they left they wanted to fill me in on ‘the plan’ you know the one that involves the carer but is never discussed with them? Yes? That one.

They said they didn’t feel the Home Treatment team would accept the referral, basically Chris is like this all the time and it just needs better management in the normal community team and that they wouldn’t look into hospital as he then didn’t really want to go and he said he would only as a last resort. I didn’t agree with their reasons for not involving the Home treatment team and could prove their point was invalid. They then left saying one of them would be out the following day, being Wednesday, someone would phone him on Thursday and then the other of them would be out on Friday. In the mean time, go to accident and emergency, ring the duty team or even phone an ambulance were the suggestions.( @diagnosisLOB would love to play taxi to us I am sure. )

Following their departure I sat and composed the following letter ready to hand to his social worker who was visiting the following day, it read…

To whom this may concern,

I am writing this letter in the hope you may better understand my thoughts around my partner Chris. I shall be busy with the children when you arrive to review him, as I feel it is important they are not around to hear the topic of conversation that will occur.

I have thought about what was discussed yesterday regarding the home treatment team and admission and would like to make you aware of my opinions regarding this.

Firstly you said that for Chris this is an ongoing problem that we all need to learn to manage. I don’t agree with this, his suicidal thoughts I agree are there most of the time which he more or less keeps in control of, with scoring his suicidal thought severity of 4’s and 5’s out of a possible 10 being worst, we accept that is an ongoing part of having ‘Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder’. We also agree that occasionally he will have the odd bad day where he will struggle to control those thoughts with a possibility of hitting 6’s 7’s and even the odd 8 out of a possible 10 for his thoughts. However at the moment Chris has remained suicidal for several days with his scores getting progressively worse, this has been triggered by an unexpected meeting of his Uncle who caused him trauma to as a young child. As you can respect this has been a massive emotional trigger for Chris.

While I respect that his EUPD is an ongoing problem, his current presentation is extremely different and has significantly changed. Since seeing his Uncle there have been a number of changes including flashbacks which he hasn’t had problems with for a long time, he has been having recurrent nightmares about his uncle following him and waking up terrified. He has started using alcohol before going to bed, drinking as much as two large bottles of WKD a night, or a bottle of Malibu straight, to name a few. He has started to skip medication not only because he was drinking but because he didn’t feel it was helping him anyway so didn’t see he needed to bother taking it.

Therefore I don’t feel you can regard this as an ongoing problem, again things are significantly different now than normal. I would regard this at the moment as a period of crisis.

Secondly at the moment Chris is having periods of severe agitation, struggling to sit still preferring to be moving, even pacing. I have not seen him as bad as this, this year, not even before his last overdose. He has on more than one occasion actively tried to get into the safe to take all his medication and become emotionally distressed when he couldn’t. He disappeared at the weekend without a word after telling me he was suicidal and struggling, he didn’t tell me he was going let alone where he had gone, thankfully he returned just before I was about to report him missing and at risk to the Police. This isn’t rapid shifts in his mood this is currently low mood, suicidal thoughts, agitation and anxiety with no look at the moment that anything is improving.

As you can respect it is taking an awful lot out of me dealing with everything alone. I felt it important you understand exactly where I am coming from which can sometimes be difficult to explain at the time when I’m caught up with varying emotions.

I hope you will take some of what I have said into consideration, you are welcome to contact me anytime if you want to discuss anything further.

Yours sincerely,


I then copied his GP onto the bottom of it and sent the letter to her as well, so she could follow what has been going on and my opinion around what they were choosing to do about it. I fully expected to hand it to his social worker the following day to give my thoughts and opinions clearly to them in black and white so no one could argue they didn’t know the full situation or how I was feeling about things.

Stay tuned… more to follows on ‘Crisis Care? What is that? Part Two’


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Caring, how it affects me.

Sitting here after a long and tiring day, listening to the gentle sounds of Cora’s breathing combined with the exact opposite of that that is, Chris snoring, the little hum of the computer and ‘I’m A Celebrity’ on the television. My eyes are heavy and my head is spinning with things I need to get done, have already done, worries and fears. Tiredness is starting to consume me and my bed was calling me back more or less from the moment I pulled myself out of it this morning.

The past couple of weeks have been increasingly difficult for me; Chris has been struggling after an unexpected meeting of the person who caused him a lot of trauma in his childhood, he has been getting worse and over the last week has entered a period of crisis. As always our mental health services couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery let alone get Crisis care right or at the moment in place at all. I am getting fed up of hearing the line ‘The home treatment team would probably not take you on because you have BPD and it’s an ongoing problem of which you need to learn to manage with your usual services’ or words to that effect. I wrote a letter to Chris Social Worker yesterday outlining my reasons on exactly why I didn’t agree with his current thoughts, feelings; presentation being ‘ongoing’ and that he was in a period of Crisis caused by xyz. So far it would appear it has fallen on deaf ears, because they don’t appear to be listening as they haven’t acted on anything I had said. I will see about adding the letter in a future blog for you all to read.

At the moment I am dealing with lack of sleep which then leads to problems in me remembering things, makes me grumpy, more stressed and my eyes would give a panda a run for its money. Also must admit eating is hit and miss, I am eating mainly on the go, all the wrong things and keeping my sugar intake high to help me stay alert while I am so tired. I feel like I am juggling twenty things at once all of the time and at any one point someone comes along and causes me to drop one, smashes it to bits and then adds all the pieces onto the juggling pile. Chris is difficult while in Crisis, he isn’t always communicating with me choosing to almost expect me to be reading his mind and getting upset when I just haven’t a clue what it is I am meant to understand. He also is walking around often almost half asleep, he is suicidal with periods of actively seeking ways he could possibly harm himself to name just a few issues at the moment. It is extremely difficult to be dealing with your own emotions when you are also helping to carry someone else’s as well, I carry a heavier load than most people and few understand.

So now I have sat for awhile, and wound down before bed, I will go and turn off the hum of the computer, push the button to switch off the television and turn off all the lights. Once I have got into a nice comfy set of pyjamas, climbed into my soft, warm, cosy bed, I shall lay my head  on the pillow and stare into darkness until my eyes drop into the only little bit of peace I seem to find at the moment. I need to get every wink of sleep I can, for I know tomorrow will hold the same kind of challenges and emotions as today.

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Out of the blue, a Choir!

Things have been a bit difficult for me lately since I was unwell; however I am trying to get back on track. This week I received a phone call from my doctor’s surgery to inform me that my name had been put down on a list of people to phone regarding a choir someone was setting up in our area. Hearing the word choir my ears immediately pricked up and I really tuned into the conversation. I love singing, I wouldn’t say I am very good but I love nothing more than turning up some music and singing my lungs out to it, because for me music makes me feel good. I just get lost in my own world and it takes me away from my problems. So when asked if I would indeed be interested I said yes, I was then informed the first one was ‘a little short notice’ well forget a little, more like a lot as it was for the same evening so agreed to have my name put forward as a question mark.

The more I pondered with the possibility of joining a choir the more I was getting excited and agreed I would attend that evening even if only to find out more about what their ideas and plans were and if I would fit in with that. Being the evening, it was perfect, the girls would all be in bed before I left and I could ask Chris dad to sit in with him, this was finally looking like something I could do for me, as Sarah, and that was a nice feeling. Chris dad agreed to sit in with them and when the time came I took myself to where the choir was to meet, nervous but equally excited. Once I had completed the rather dark but short walk I took a deep breath and entered through an extremely squeaky door. It turns out they are mainly gathering interest at the moment, we sang a couple of songs and agreed to all meet again the next week bringing anyone interested along as well.

I walked home, for the hour and a half I had been away although short to some was huge to me and I felt recharged, like life had just got that little bit easier. I held my music and reaching the house thought someone somewhere was looking after me, it couldn’t have come at a better time, I needed this now more than ever. I agreed with Chris and his dad that I would be attending again the following week and as many as I could thereafter. Maybe just maybe I could be Sarah, even just for a little while.