Please note, this is a personal experience and may not be how your experience will be. Things are changing so please see this blog post only as a personal experience to the founder, a GP may get you the correct support you need.
I felt it is important to understand that one reason I set up this website was because the support and help I received from the UK state both in health and welfare was beyond diabolical in my personal opinion and I am going to discuss exactly what I experienced as I reached levels of severe depression and at high risk of suicide in the hope that it can help others realise they are not alone and that there are strategies to heal yourself if you too experience a difficult situation.
Going to my GP and having my mental health assessed
I remember the day. still quite clearly, that I felt like I didn’t want to be here anymore.
It happened several times during a time of great difficulty between 2008 and 2011 but I managed to conceal my emotional and mental pain from my family until it all became too much. My mind began to race, my body would shiver in cold sweats and I couldn’t see anything in my life ever improving.
I was at the lowest of the low, hugely in debt due to an education I wasn’t going to use in Architecture ( because it had been too long since I practiced ) and in teaching ( a profession with a very high level of stress and bullying ), a relationship that had been very high pressured on my shoulders for a long time and feeling like there is no work for what I am qualified too and over qualified for just a normal job.
I felt trapped, trapped in all situations with no way out of this misery.
I attended the doctors with a list of everything that was bothering me….it must have had at least 20 to 30 items that were causing me mental instability when as I spoke about how I felt I burst into tears and began to rock backwards and forwards with total misery and darkness pouring out of my being.
At the time there was a medical student in the room but I didn’t care who knew how I felt, I was so close to ending all the pain that what people thought of me didn’t matter anymore.
My GP , obviously concerned by mental state tried to keep me calm and gave me an assessment of my risk of suicide…
It was like an oral exam, tick these boxes to see if you win the prize of being at risk of suicide.
Eventually I scored a very high score with only a few points off being at extremes risk of suicide. Knowing this I was given 40mg of citalopram to try and rebalance the hormones in my brain and alleviate the feelings of despair. She also arranged an appointment for the outreach team at the mental health hospital in Liverpool and I was also put on the list for some CBT ( cognitive behaviour therapy).
She was a great GP but not had much experience with people with severe depression like me. She was kind and what she had done all sounded very positive and gave me a small glimmer of hope that I may begin to heal with some support from health professionals but maybe I was wrong…
MY experience of the NHS mental health dep in 2012
I was at very high risk of suicide but yet had to wait 3 months before I managed to see a mental health nurse to assess my situation.
I became very annoyed at this waiting time and felt the support for someone who felt the same as me but with little or no outside support may become so despondent and angry that people in worst situations would be suffering alone and may do the unthinkable.
My CBT was also a little bit disappointing.
I had to wait a few months for that to start as well of which I had 5 1 hours sessions and although useful to talk to someone about how you feel whilst also having someone say ‘rather than think about it in this negative way think about it in ain a positive way’ ( I will be discussing some of these strategies in my next blog post).
Lots and lots of sleep
My mind was totally zapped by everything. When I had my mental breakdown after my second degree and I had poured my emotions and thoughts out to my doctor, a lot of my initial recovery was spent sleeping on the sofa at my family home.
During this time my mother and I applied for disability allowance ( a welfare scheme in the UK ) of which I received during my waiting time for assessment and during my CBT but then 5 months after my breakdown I was called in by the UK government to ‘be assessed’ whether I was ‘disabled enough’ not to be in work.
The UK Government contracts my disability living allowance
As you have gathered, I was mentally unstable as well as at high risk of suicide and had also began suffering with social anxiety due to my negative thoughts plaguing my mind and what I had experienced.
Yet I had to make my way into town to be assessed by the government to see if I was in enough discomfort.
Again, like the suicide questionnaire it was a point scoring system.
Waiting to be seen by somebody from the government my mother and I sat in a waiting room with no windows, no pictures on the wall, basic furnishings and a couple of big heavy guards.
I could have actually mistaken the place for a prison but no it was a government building.
On the calling of my name I made my way to the room to be assessed by somebody working in the government health department.
He began to ask me questions like ‘can you make toast’, ‘can you boil an egg?’ , ‘how often do you take a shower?’ and ‘what time do you get out of bed?’.
Being a totally honest person I answered the questions truthly, were as someone who wanted to twist the system to suit their needs and take the money could have easily done so.
Received a letter about my assessment
A couple of weeks later I received a letter from the government informing me that my disability living allowance has been taken away because I was still 2 points away from being deemed ‘ill enough’.
To say I was furious would be an understatement!
I knew of many people who trick the system to get what they want and here I was, a person in real need of help to get back on his feet and they had taken the little bit of support away from me.
Still taking 40mg citalopram, still sleeping often and trying to overcome my negative thoughts and anxiety I was on my own again and apparently ‘ready for work’ in the eyes of government.
My anger and frustration drove me on
I was sick of my situation, sick of accepting what had happened to me due to bad decisions and believing that an education would lead to a better future when in fact it led to my demise…or did it?
All this pain, anger , frustration of being an honest and kind person had led me to a place of numbness and darkness that I then harnessed into motivation to say in my mind ‘I don’t give a f*ck!’.
I don’t give a f*ck, time to rely on myself!
I began to drive myself to change my luck around because I had realised I had to rely on myself. I was 27, I had been in further education for 6 years and in a deep dark pit.
I became determined to dig myself back out of it and I was preparing myself to apply for jobs all over the world to use my education somewhere and not waste it.
I travelled to Colombia, alone, where I was considering teaching english to university students with my teaching degree but the thought of being a classroom after all I had experienced became too much, it was a place I didn’t want to be at that point in time due to past experiences.
In the future, maybe, maybe somewhere in the world were people really want education or need it I will use that part of my education but for this time in my life it is just a skill I have admast for the future.
My true passion lay in the arts and computers so I began teaching myself how to code, how to create graphics and build my own portfolio site and websites for several small businesses.
Whilst doing this I also enhanced my physical health using wii fit and taking Harry the family dog for long walks.
I got myself in shape and my physical health began to have a knock on effect on my mental health, I was finally becoming the old John again!
Now I was ready to take on the world, I started applying for jobs 3 months after I had been taken off the sick!
My family slightly concerned with my ambition and rather quick recovery convinced me to apply for jobs in the UK first so I did so and to my surprise landed one of the jobs I applied for within a week of applying but….200 miles away in London.
I love my hometown and my family but I didn’t care anymore,My dream was to be a part of my city and do great things for it when i studied architecture but I decided I was ready to move away and that dream of doing something great for Liverpool had to be put on hold,
I had to start my career and this was the chance so I took it with both hands!
At this stage I knew if things didn’t work out I could always move back home so it was never a bad opportunity in fact it gave purpose to my life again and a sense of finally someone seeing that I have talent to give to their business.
Job helps heal me
Having a job helped me to feel better and yes, I was still on citalopram 40mg but working with people and moving away from all I knew felt liberating and a powerful message that if you really want to heal you have to rely on yourself and be the one that makes change happen.
Reassessed by a different mental health nurse
Due to problems in my past it was suggested to me by loved ones that I may be bipolar and I kind of see what they were suggesting, it was possible, so thought I should be assessed.
I did get assessed but my mental health nurse assumed after talking to me that I sounded more OCD than bipolar but I don’t think she was listening properly and she didn’t know my whole story because I spoke to a different GP and mental health nurse in a different part of the country.
Even so, I was sick of the NHS and lack of support so I walked away from them and decided the best thing to do is to look out for myself and learn more about how the mind works and coping strategies in order to help myself but then, in time, after experimentation and things working, also help others…
Why Battle of Mind was founded
I founded Battle of Mind because I have experienced, first hand, real difficult situations in my life. Not just financial, but pressured relationships and feelings of hopelessness even when you try hard to be honest and hardworking.
I know the pain of having depression and anxiety can cause and when there is nowhere or no one to turn to help you just get back on your feet, in order to find yourself again and you don’t have any idea what to do to help yourself it is very hard. I also know that in the USA and many other countries it costs a lot of money to get medical attention so a platform that offers free self help may be beneficial to a lot of people so I hope to keep this website as free as I can do through using my own money and advertising to fund its promotion and upkeep.
Please note, I can never diagnose anyone with an illness, I can never advise you on your personal situation but I can say what has worked for me when suffering with severe depression.
Assessing or advising you on your health is not what this site is about, this site is about finding strategies and techniques that have been used by others to help yourself on your own journey so when you feel alone you can find something to help you cope with your life situation, depression, anxiety and in time other conditions from other people’s perspectives.
Battle of mind is a site to help you find the best way possible to ‘helping yourself’.
Not only this but I am trying to promote non-chemical ways of helping yourself heal from depression because the side effects of antidepressants, when studied, far outway the 1 benefit of taking them.
I used Citalopram for 1 year and a half after my breakdown and it probably did have a positive impact in helping me on the road again but as soon as I was in a fairly good state of mind in my working position I knew I wanted to come off them so with discussion with my GP we agreed to ween myself off and instead I began to use self coping strategies and methods when dealing with anxiety or when depression begins to lurk its dark ugly head around the corner.
I hope you find this section of my life story interesting and useful to you in some way. If you have any thoughts please feel free to comment in the box below.
You are not alone and you can still change your life around no matter what has happened in your past.
Believe. In. Yourself!