Thursday, 17 May 2007

2004 - Agoraphobia & NHS etc.

Marie's agoraphobia, OCD and general anxiety didn't change much during 2003, but by 2004, the effects of her post traumatic stress disorder were decreasing. We still had to make sure all the doors were locked in the evenings and nights, but she wasn't just as insistent on this during the days, as long as someone else was in the house. (In our area, with very little crime, people frequently leave their doors unlocked all day.)

Then, early in the year, along came Marie's appointment with the local mental health team. We had been waiting for this for about 3 months (which is normal, such is the state of the National Health Service), and we had to wait yet another month for the day of the appointment to arrive. Marie had been referred for psychiatric treatment in her teens, but it had been a waste of time. The drugs they tried had made her feel more anxious, and the "talking therapy" had had no effect. We were assured by our doctor that the mental health team in this area had had "good results" with panic/anxiety disorder patients, so Marie had high hopes that things would begin to improve.

First we had a home visit by a member of the team - to assess which team professional(s) should see Marie. Then we heard nothing for months...

In the meantime, Marie had passed her driving test. This was quite a feat for her, because her examiner was (as is normal) a complete stranger to her, i.e. not one of her "safe" people, and this would usualy mean that she couldn't go out in the car with him alone. Although I had agreed to go in the car while she was taking her test, on the day she decided to go it alone.

But she didn't drive her car home on her own...she wasn't ready for
that yet!

Five months later, the mental health team contacted Marie again. They had decided that she should see the Psychiatric Nurse on a weekly basis. Quite what this was meant to achieve, I could not fathom, but we knew that the Pschyciatric Nurse could recommend other treatments with other members of the team, so once a week I went with Marie to see this lady.

Jean, the Psychiatric Nurse, was a friendly-but-firm, soft-spoken, unintentionally patronising lady in her 40's who oozed middle-class upbringing. She and Marie explored Marie's daily routine (or, in reality, the lack of it), self-confidence issues, her PTSD-induced insecurity, her childhood and adolescence....ooh! and occasionally, her agoraphobia.

Three months later, with no improvement in Marie's condition, the sessions stopped and the team didn't contact her again that year.


Ruby said...

Hi Robert and Marie
It sounds like you have had the same runaround that I had for the first 7 years of my illness. Where I never got to see the right people or the treatment/drugs wasn't right. I ended up giving up, which is when the Agoraphobia set in as my only way of coping was using avoidance. It wasn't until 1999 (12 years after the onset of chronic anxiety) that I was finally given the right medication for my condition, and when I started feeling part human for the first time in years.
I hope that you eventually find treatment that suits you best.


Robert said...

Hi Ruby -
You are absolutely right. And there is more runaround to come...