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My World Suicide Prevention Day 2019 – A Fifteen Day Stay in a Mental Health Ward

By HealthNo Comments
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I got admitted to a Mental Health Ward for a fifteen day stay on World Suicide Prevention Day 2019.

On Tuesday 10th September 2019 it was World Suicide Prevention Day. It is organised by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and is supported by the World Health Organization. Suicide is a complex issue, but in many cases it can be prevented. Warning signs that someone is contemplating or planning suicide can include:

  • Talking about wanting to die, saying that they feel everything is pointless.
  • Talking about being in unbearable pain.
  • Lacking any apparent care for themselves. Having no plans and avoiding making plans for the future.
  • Having a diagnosed mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc.
  • Being anxious, irritable, angry or socially withdrawn.
  • Reporting difficulties with sleeping or sleeping for a large number of hours and still feeling exhausted.
  • Increase in alcohol or drug use.
  • Previous suicide attempts.
  • Giving away a lot of possessions.
  • Saying Goodbye to people, as if they will never see them again.

Back to me. I’d been struggling with my mental health for some time. My mood was (and still is at times) so low. I was/still am at times in a very dark place. Showing some of the warning signs above.

So I went to my GP. I was very honest about how I was feeling. My GP referred me to the Crisis Team for immediate assessment. After being assessed by them, I waited to be seen by the Home Treatment Team. I waited for what seemed like forever and just wanted to go home to bed. However I was warned that if I left the Police would be called to bring me back. I saw someone from the Home Treatment Team and in under 5 minutes she decided that I needed an admission to a Mental Health Ward.

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A green observation light directly above my head in bed. Unable to be turned off and required for staff observations, it did not help me get to sleep or stay asleep.

I spent fifteen days mostly waiting on the ward. Waiting for the next meal, the next medication, the next time I would be reviewed by a doctor. There were activities, but I just wasn’t well enough to participate in them, especially at the start of my stay. My limited concentration span and extreme tiredness being restrictive.

The care that I received during my admission, as well as the care I observed other patients receive was quite frankly unsafe and caused physical, mental and emotional harm. There were some good aspects to the care – like that most of the staff were kind and compassionate. But these good aspects did not make up for the poorer aspects of care. I’m still not well, after a fifteen day admission they still haven’t managed to sort out my medication to fully balance my mood.

I plan to write an exposé report with the issues I experienced or observed other patients experience in relation to the care on the ward, along with suggestions on how they could improve the care given. This is a brave thing to do, especially as I will do it knowing I may end up requiring care on this ward again in the future. But as a Nurse I feel it is my duty to do so and that it would be unethical to say or do nothing.

So the update:

  • I’m now on 3 mood stablisers: Aripiprazole (External Link to HeadMeds) – new for me, Depakote (started on this earlier this year) and Quetiapine (put back on this).
  • My mood is good in the morning, but then crashes and is very low in the evening and at night.
  • I’m now struggling to remain asleep and often wake up wide awake several times in the early hours of the morning.
  • I’m seeing someone from the Recovery Team later this week and have already requested a medication review.
  • Steve, my mum and my sister-in-law to be have all been amazing.
  • Worryingly I still see the same warning signs that I was displaying before being admitted to hospital.

That was my World Suicide Prevention Day 2019 and what’s happened since. Take Care & Blog Soon,

Antony

P.S – Whilst researching more about World Suicide Prevention Day for this blog post, I came across this really good Infographic, that you might find useful to know about, by the Mental Health Foundation:

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Click for Full Size Image. Copyright © Mental Health Foundation, 2019.

P.P.S – A plug for my book:

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Medication Changes: A really TOUGH time

By HealthNo Comments
Depakote-Box

From Quetiapine to Depakote.

To lose control of your thoughts, moods and behaviours is a terrible thing. But that’s what its been like.

The Psychiatrist I’m seeing made the decision was made to switch my mood stabliser, from Quetiapine to Depakote. This was necessary as Quetiapine was no longer effective in managing my moods.

It has been a really TOUGH time. Much tougher than I ever thought it would be.

But I’m getting there. Slowly.

Hopefully normal service shall resume shortly.

Blog soon,

Antony

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Autism & Asperger’s Syndrome Series – What they are, Signs/Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment Approaches

By Education, Friends & Family, Life, ThinkingNo Comments

During my working and personal life I have met people who have told me that they are on the autistic spectrum or have been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. But I’ll be honest, I don’t know that much about autism or Asperger’s syndrome.

So I’m writing this Autism & Asperger’s Syndrome Series to educate myself and others.

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a range of similar conditions, including Asperger syndrome, that affect a person’s social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.

In children with ASD, the symptoms are present before three years of age, although a diagnosis can sometimes be made after the age of three.

It’s estimated that about 1 in every 100 people in the UK has ASD. More boys are diagnosed with the condition than girls.

(From: NHS Choices – Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), last accessed: Sunday 15th July 2018.)

Here’s a video that explains more:

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What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Asperger’s Syndrome is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder that falls within the autistic spectrum. It is a life-long condition, which affects about 1 in 200 people, more commonly in men than women. Those with Asperger’s Syndrome are usually of average or above average intelligence.

The condition is characterised by difficulties with Social Interaction, Social Communication and Flexibility of Thinking or Imagination. In addition, there may be sensory, motor and organisational difficulties.

(From: Asperger’s Syndrome Foundation – What is Asperger’s Syndrome, last accessed: Sunday 15th July 2018.)


Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms include difficulties interacting with others and unusual thinking patterns. Behaviour is likely to be affected, as explained below:

Examples of Autism Spectrum Behaviours:

Communication

  • Echoing words/phrases without context
  • Taking an adult to the biscuit tin rather than asking or pointing
  • Taking language too literally

Social Interactions

  • Preference to play alone
  • Difficulty relating to other people
  • Not understanding other’s thoughts and emotions

Repetitive behaviours

  • Hand flapping
  • Toe walking
  • Spinning wheels
  • Lining up cars

Restrictive behaviour

  • Eating only yellow food
  • Insisting on walking the same route
  • Only watching Thomas the Tank Engine

People with autism may or may not have the following:

  • Exceptional attention to detail
  • Sensory differences, this is most noticeable when children are over-sensitive to stimuli e.g. distress at loud noises
  • Trouble with co-ordination
  • Unusual eating behaviour such as only eating certain foods
  • Additional learning disabilities
  • A very small percentage have unusual abilities for example with music or memory

(From: Child Autism – Symptoms, last accessed: Sunday 15th July 2018.)

People with autism and Asperger’s syndrome are at higher risk of developing or have these other conditions: learning disabilities, ADHD, epilepsy, dyspraxia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, OCD, depression, anxiety, bipolar, sleeping problems, Tourette’s syndrome or other tick disorders.

Autism-Spectrum-Disorder

Image From & Copyright © Dream Health – Autism Spectrum Disorder, 2014.

Diagnosis
People get diagnosed with autism or Asperger’s syndrome by their GP referring them to a Specialist Team. These days people are often diagnosed as children. The specialist team usually includes a Paediatrician, a Psychologist, a Psychiatrist, a Speech & Language Therapist and a Occupational Therapist.

Treatment Approaches
As every person with autism or Asperger’s syndrome is different, the treatment for each person is different; depending on the individual’s needs. However treatment includes interventions around developing communication skills, interaction skills, the ability to imagine and traditional academic skills.

It is also useful for parents/carers and other family members to go on a parenting and autism course. This is because these courses are packed with strategies to best support a child with autism.

Parents/carers and other family members can also get peer support which will help them feel less isolated and give them opportunities to learn from others at a local support group. If there isn’t a group locally, there’s lots of message boards online.

In the next post in this Autism & Asperger’s Syndrome Series I’ll be listing useful websites around autism and Asperger’s syndrome.

Write soon,

Antony

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The People that are Ignored or Forgotten – Homelessness in the UK

By Life, ThinkingNo Comments
homelessness-in-the-UK Whenever the temperature really drops, like it has today, I think of people that are homeless. No scratch that, I think of people who I see as homeless – those that sleep on the streets.

I usually donate to my local homelessness project The Brick and hope that those sleeping on the street keep themselves warm enough to survive the bitter and bleak night.

If I’m totally honest: I find it utterly shocking that the UK, as one of the richest countries in the world, has homelessness and rough/street sleeping. At first glance homelessness could be easily resolved by ensuring suitable accommodation for everyone.

But the truth is that homelessness is a complex issue. Why? Because people are complex. There are also a range of complex issues that lead to people becoming and remaining homelessness.

The causes of homelessness or contributing factors include:

  • Poverty, being unemployed, being underemployed or losing source of income.
  • Unmanageable debt.
  • Addiction to alcohol, drugs or gambling.
  • Mental illness – including depression, anxiety, bipolar, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and personality disorder.
  • Domestic Abuse – including violence.
  • Breakdown of relationships – both romantic and with family, friends or others.
  • Chronic physical illnesses or diseases.
  • Physical, emotional, sexual, financial abuse or neglect.
  • Having a family history of homelessness (according to Shelter).
  • Transformation or regeneration of areas – leading to unaffordable house prices, mortgages or rents.
  • Criminal and/or antisocial behaviour including being in prison.
  • Being in the care of Social Care or being in the Armed Forces.
  • Changes to benefits and social security administration and/or payments.
  • Poor social support networks or isolation.
  • Death of carers for dependents.
  • Having no right to work or claim benefits/social security.
  • A combination of the above.

There are two different types of homelessness: 1. People that are sleeping rough on the streets, park benches or doorways. 2. People that are living in temporary accommodation. People in temporary accommodation maybe housed by their local authority in a bed and breakfast or cheap hotel, or maybe sofa surfing staying with relatives or friends.

We don’t have a handle on homelessness in the UK. We don’t have accurate figures of people that are sleeping on the street. Local Authorities are once a year required to go out and survey the population of people who are sleeping rough in their communities.

However in 2010 the Government changed the rules for local authorities (see Evaluating the Extend of Rough Sleeping by the Department for Communities and Local Government). These changes have impacted the annual reporting of homelessness, significantly reducing the numbers of people counted as rough sleeping or people that are sleeping in the street.

It is too easy to ignore or forget about people that are homeless. I’ve ignored people sat on the street when I’ve walked through the High Street of various town centres. The cold weather triggers me to think about people who are sleeping on the streets. But most of the time, if I don’t go into town centres, I forget about people who are homeless.

Here are some ways, that wont cost you a penny, to prevent people that are homeless from being ignored or forgotten:

  • Educate yourself and others around homelessness.
  • Use your skills, talents or hobbies to promote awareness of homelessness. A good example is this blog post, I’ve written it to raise awareness.
  • Email your local politician and ask them to campaign for people that are homeless and raise the issue in parliament. Politicians have the power to make positive changes to reduce and prevent homelessness.
  • Donate old items to charity shops that specifically support homelessness projects.
  • Volunteer your time in homeless projects.

I once heard someone say: You are only ever two paydays away from being homeless. I can’t remember who told me this, or the find the first person to say this on the internet. But I believe it to be true.

Like I believe that anyone could end up becoming homeless, it would just require the right causes or circumstances to become present in your life.

So take action for people that are homeless, because one day it could happen to you. Or to someone that you love. You wouldn’t want yourself or someone that you love to be ignored or forgotten.

Take care,

Antony

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I aim for posts on this blog to be informative, educational and entertaining. If you have found this post useful or enjoyable, please consider making a contribution by Paypal:


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