Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter

I feel like those words should be inscribed over the door of Community Mental Health.

Ok, maybe I’m not being fair. Maybe there are people who get all the help they need from CMH and come out healthy and well again, ready and able to tackle whatever life throws at them. Those people are not me.

I’ve felt for a long time that every time I have contact with CMH, I end up sicker than when I go in. It’s not because of the new diagnoses – they are often helpful, letting me understand what’s going on in my head better, and giving me new directions to look at in my path to being as well as I can be.

It’s the regular appointments, the multiplying people that I have contact with, and the often negative feelings that come out of these appointments.

Even when an appointment goes well, I come out feeling battered, drained, exhausted. It wipes out the rest of my day, as I try to deal with whatever has happened in that appointment.

When an appointment goes badly, it’s even worse. I come out feeling defeated and hopeless. I fight against internalising the negative messages that I’ve heard, and I spend a lot of time trying to reverse the feelings that a bad appointment has generated.

The longer I spend in the clutches of CMH, the less able I feel to cope with my everyday life. I feel more and more like I’m sick, and that my ways of dealing with my illness aren’t good enough. The fact that I usually deal with my illness quite well fades into the background, and  I spiral deeper into helplessness. Every meeting focuses on something I can do better, a new technique to deal with things. What I end up feeling is that the things I already do aren’t really good enough, that my coping strategies are bad, wrong or inadequate.

I know that these people are trying to help me, but I come away feeling like I’m not good enough, and they are trying to fix me because I’m broken. I don’t want to feel broken, and I’m not sure how to frame CMH in a more positive way. I just want to escape from them. I feel more in control of my illness when I’m not ‘in treatment’.

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