Psychiatric Assessment – My experience

A few days ago a comment was left on my blog by twenty7zero3, asking me what happened during my diagnosis assessment – so I said that I’d write a post about it.

First of all, it’s worth mentioning a little bit of background. I’d really struggled to get the help that I required from the NHS and the doctors that I were seeing weren’t referring me to the correct people. I’m a university student who was also on my placement year which made life fifty times harder as well, and at the time it turned out that I lived in three different counties with three different doctor’s surgeries and three different sets of opinions on what was right for me.

Every time I moved from one place to another, I had to re-register and start the process all over again, and then a few months later I’d need help in another place and had to re-register again. It’s a massive problem that university students that live away from home have and a big flaw in the system only being able to be registered at one surgery at a time when students have multiple homes.

No one was listening. No one was helping, and I just got to a point where I’d had enough. There was one particular night which forced me in my own mind to get the help I needed, and that was after having stood in the middle of a dual carriageway near my house waiting for a car to wipe me out.

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The NHS wasn’t working for me in this instance, and luckily I was fortunate enough at the time to be able to afford a private assessment (now I wouldn’t be so lucky!). At the time I wasn’t too far from London, so I did a bit of Googling and came across Clinical Partners which have an office near Oxford Circus, as well as offices in other major cities across the UK.

I don’t know if they were the best place to go or whether this is a good way of gaining a diagnosis; I’m not somebody that is able and trained to give such an opinion. But what I do know, is that they did for me what I need them to do. They gave me answers.

The actual assessment was about two hours long, I think. I’d previously filled out mountains of paperwork about how I was feeling, my experiences and what I wanted to achieve out of the session which they had read through before my arrival. But the assessment was just a general talk – about me and my life. It was very much just telling the psychiatrist my issues and them trying to understand in the best way that they could in the restricted time available.

I was incredibly nervous when I first got there but as the conversation started to flow I calmed right down and it wasn’t an unpleasant experience at all. When the session was almost over, emotional instability was mentioned and possible Bipolar tendencies – but nothing was set in stone.

Then came the wait. Around a week later I received a folder through the post with information on suggested treatments and the diagnosis’ I dreamt of getting. Some people hate the idea of being labelled with something, and I agree if it’s a negative stereotype, but for me at that time I was just relieved that I had some answers.

Answers = Solutions.

I’m sure you’re all aware, but that day I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Cyclothymia – and getting those diagnosis’ has been just as useful as I had anticipated.

I think it’s disgusting that it takes knowing what you have to get a doctor to listen to you, but that’s what’s happened. My referrals are quicker, they pay more attention, and everything runs more smoothly. No one wants to be liable for a tragedy and the fact of the matter is, a diagnosed Borderline-Cyclothymic could be on the edge of one.

I remember the first time I went to the doctor after my assessment so clearly. It made me laugh at their idiocy but the irony infuriated me. They won’t listen to us until we have a disorder. But most people can’t get the name of the disorder without them listening.

When I first began to explain what my problems were, the doctor sat facing the computer and barely looked at me. They typed away, but no eye contact was made and they barely said a word. As I carried on, I began to explain my disorders, and as soon as I name-dropped them, the doctor swiveled round on their chair and turned to face me.

I got everything I asked for in that appointment for the first time in ten years. For the first time since I have begun suffering, they were eager to help.

So that was my experience with my assessment and what the answers have meant for me. They’ve made life easier in terms of being heard, getting solutions and being at comfort in the knowing that I’m not the only one. I wouldn’t take back my assessment (and my £400!) for anything.

lovelauren

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13 thoughts on “Psychiatric Assessment – My experience

  1. stuffthatneedssaying says:

    My initial assessment was free, but I didn’t get my official diagnosis until a few weeks later after a very expensive inpatient stay. This is not the fault of anyone within the organization – they have a policy of not referring people for potential medication until after 3 therapy appointments (completely logical), but I was so intensely suicidal after 2 appointments that I had to be locked up for my own safety. So I got my diagnosis there instead of waiting a couple of weeks for an outpatient appointment.

    I never had trouble getting people to take me seriously though. I knew I was bipolar long before it was diagnosed, and when it finally reached the point of a cop coming to check on me and take me to the ER, both he and all the hospital staff were totally understanding when I said “I think I’m bipolar.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. lifeofmiblog says:

    Yes it’s amazing what a difference having a name to attach to your feelings can do. It didn’t cure me but at least I knew why. I see other people struggling with their emotions etc and I think, if only they would get help, if only they would accept their situation, they would be a lot better off. Thanks for your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. sassycare says:

    It’s an interesting read sharing your story. So many of you good writers have suffered or are still suffering from this. Maybe you can write more about what Borderline-Cyclothymic is and your personal experiences with it. That would give us, who are looking into your world from the outside, an insight as to what’s it like to deal with such.

    Like

  4. twenty7zero3 says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. I am so glad you found a way to get help and be heard. I think that a massive problem all across the NHS, not just in Mental Health. It’s hard to be listened and believed. It’s hard to find a decent GP who will hear you and help. I am so pleased that you managed to take action and take control of this.
    It’s got me thinking about the way I manage my own health. Maybe I need to believe in myself the way I used to, in the same way you did, when you took charge and went private to get answers.
    In regards to process, it sounds simple enough and not scary. That is very reassuring to hear.
    Thanks again for writing this. It’s given me lots to think about 🙂

    Like

  5. Things That Never Made It Into Print... says:

    It’s hard to “Like” this post as it expresses the nightmares of having a medical condition that brings with it loads of stigma.

    It is not unusual to be misdiagnosed, either. For 15 years, they thought I had Major Depression. Then I found a neuropsychiatrist who actually listened as I related my experiences. His diagnosis was the correct one: Bipolar II. And he arrived at the diagnosis by being humane and empathetic, just when I had sunk so low, I never thought I would come back up again.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Iridescent Spirits says:

    I agree with you that answer is solution, and although I didn’t want to be labelled as well, when I finally got my panic disorder diagnosis I felt much better. It really can be a relief even after people tell you a lot that you just think too much and imagine all those things that bother you. And yes, sadly it takes too much time to get treated the you should be.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. KMaria says:

    I can really relate to your story. I was misdiagnosed with many things and I thought it was always treating symptoms and not the real source. It took the hospital almost a month to really determine what I had- but before then the therapy consisted of treating just one aspect- despite the fact there were many other symptoms. It seemed the doctors brushed off what I was trying to say until I could concentrate on a label (depression, anxiety, PTSD…)

    I hate labels as well, but the benefit to a label is (a) the feeling of connection- we are not alone in feeling this way and (b) we are able to narrow the focus of treatment for the disorder.

    It’s like saying a diabetic refuses to acknowledge his specific problem; he just says there is a problem with his body. Well he can’t get treatment if doctor’s cant isolate specifics to create a treatment plan. If someone with a ‘real’ medical illness has no problem specifying where the disease is, mental health diagnosis deserve to be treated with the same respect. In my opinion, anyways.

    Like

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