I would like to share my experience with Shetland’s mental health department in the hope that something can be changed so that other people do not have to go through the gruelling experience of trying to get help and being rejected.
Having been abused repeatedly in London by a group of high profile paedophiles as a child, I was left with life long mental health issues.
Hard work and a determination to survive and gain back my shattered life has only been possible with the help of some very caring and dedicated people.
The Shetland group supporting survivors of sexual abuse was my primary help along with a dedicated CPN (community psychiatric nurse). That CPN spent time and money furthering training in order to support myself and others whose lives had been shattered by trauma.
The mental health department in Shetland helped fund that training aiming to set up a trauma centre, a goal that was never achieved.
The experiences of my past led to a condition where my mind had developed in a fragmented way. I grew to be a high achiever who was multi skilled, but anything that came into my life and triggered parts of my brain to relive the experiences resulted in me dissociating and unable to function in everyday life.
What a waste. Yes, years of my life destroyed.
The therapy I received from the psychological therapist in Shetland began to enable me to discover what it is like to live and to function.
Then all was shattered last year when the newly appointed psychiatrist told myself and many others like me that there was no psychological service in Shetland and I was to be put on an unmet needs list.
I am lucky that my medication was not cut, I know others who have had their medication and support cut because they do not fall into the category of ‘clinical mental illness’.
I have had several psychiatric evaluations and assessments. One instigated by the metropolitan police during the case in London concerning my childhood experiences, another two hour assessment by a psychiatrist brought to Shetland for the purpose of deciding what therapy would be best to continue the work I was doing when my therapist left to retire.
Both assessments recommended long term therapy for the safety and well being of my mental health.
I do not choose to be a mental health patient, I want to be someone who can live my life to the full and be a caring member of my Shetland community.
Therapy enabled me to begin to do this, giving me a structure to deal with the inevitable disabling triggers from the past in a safe space.
Until 2009, when this therapy began, I had many, many suicide attempts, none since that date.
I have now had to pay privately for therapy, despite struggling with debt, because it is the only way I can continue to survive and also do some work as a disabled person in the supported persons category of ESA (employment and support allowance).
Many of those who have lost their support from Shetland mental health are unable to do this because of the severe deterioration of their well being as services are brutally and radically cut.
I did this last year and endured several lengthy and gruelling meetings around a table with several people present. I was promised a number of possible support plans.
I had to re iterate what happened to me in London, speak yet again about what happens to me when I do not have support, examine the negative aspects of life without support, in these meetings.
Such exposure and intense situations led to further vulnerability and ultimately in being told that there is no appropriate support for victims of trauma in Shetland.
This could be any trauma deemed as having a psychological impact: war trauma, car accident, victims of violent crime, domestic violence…….
Not all mental illness fits into the tick boxes on a psychiatrist’s white sheet of paper. Human beings are creative souls and those who have been damaged by severe trauma surely have the right to be supported by the NHS.
People with physical illness deserve treatment; what an outrage it would be if they were all told that services were being cut and their ongoing treatment was to be terminated, yet that is no different to the abrupt termination of treatment for mental health patients with psychological needs in Shetland.
I cannot trust the mental health service in Shetland so I will continue to live with debts and find the therapy that I need to survive.
What will happen to those who cannot do this?