Why my mental health care fails

I’ve struggled a lot in the mind for a long time.  It wasn’t until a breakdown in 2010 when I lived in Australia that I begun treatment from psychiatry. As a result of my mental illness, my relationship in Australia ended and I returned to the UK in 2013 to be with family. Before I departed, I was informed of a diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder.

Much of my psychiatric history between 2010-5 was one of depression and burn out. The usual pattern was I would return to work after a suicide attempt. I returned because I needed the income and family pressure. Once back at work I would be unable to handle the social pressure and relentlessness of it all, so I would then take my own life. I would often quit jobs in between these gaps because there was sometimes pressure to get rid of me. I had no energy to fight my employer for my job as well.

I was told for many years by many doctors and therapists that my answers were finding the right medication and doing therapy. I took a total of 5 different anti-depressants until 2016.  These were Escitalopram, Cymbalta, Desvenlafaxine, Mirtazapine and Venlafaxine. Since 2015 after Electroconvulsive therapy I have taken Lithium. I have taken 9 different anti-psychotics since 2010 these were Olanzapine, Risperidone, Ziprasidone, Abilify, Asenapine, Haloperidol, Quetiapine and presently Paliperidone. I wouldn’t say I always had a choice in taking these medications. When I was sectioned I had no right to choose and when I wasn’t sectioned it was clear I would be sectioned if I didn’t take them. The only time to stop medication is when your home but that can be dangerous as your body is by then dependant on them. There isn’t support for coming off medication slowly.

I have met many therapists in my time. Many of them practice Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and/or some psychoanalysis based on the theories of Sigmund Freud. However, they have usually been a short-term thing because I lack the money and the state lacks the resources. After I became diagnosed with Autism in 2019, I realised why none of this was fitting me. There has been too much pressure to make me into a full-time employee that can navigate the social world and look after my health at home alone without support. It’s clear I can’t handle that, and I don’t believe any medication or therapist can solve that. Pathologising my failings wasn’t helpful.  At present I can’t work full time and much of the part time work out there are people roles. If I could find a part time job where I could return to doing some programming remotely at home, I would jump at the chance and give it a try.

What would help me, whether I’m working or not is a stable relationship with someone. We probably all need that and many people get that from a partner or family members.  I have no one. My Mother died in 2016 and my Stepdad in 2019, they weren’t great relationships but it was better than nothing. What I need is someone who isn’t quite a therapist but can be a long term contact person for emotional support when I need it. Like the mentor I had during my university course in 2019-20.  I need someone I have relationship with and can learn to trust. If I have an autistic meltdown or a psychosis episode (whatever they want to call it) then someone I can call and see who is there for me would make the difference.  It would also be useful to the paramedics or police to contact this person, at present they just section me as they don’t know how to help and then the hospital puts me on another new mind altering medication before ejecting me.

I don’t believe impersonal care and hotlines work long term. No relationship means I don’t know them, and they don’t know me. I have become a valueless commodity to mental health services that gets passed around occasionally. If I become a public nuisance, then I am forcibly medicated and ejected again. I am a diagnosis and a disorder not a person most of the time. Rinse and repeat. That is what my life has become.