Today I had to go for my therapy assessment. Was a big old building, not very welcoming as the door had several buzzer systems, a massive door knob and a few separate locks.
Could be worse, plenty of improvement space though. I pressed the buzzer marked “reception” and say hi I’ve got an appointment. She replies OK then, but fails to let my in. I try a few times. Feel vulnerable and stupid stood on the doorstep of this building, massive mental health signs on the fence. Three students sat on the high steps of a Victorian house on the other side of the road, I might as well have been wearing a dunce hat with CRAZY in flashing neon lights. Could hear their comments, wasn’t a pleasant place to be.
Luckily a patient (I assume as she had no badges or NHS pass card lanyard thingy “doctors” normally have) walked out of the door. I said can I come in, she looked confused and said OK then.
Inside were several doors, all closed. I turn on the spot looking for some clue where I should be. Reception is written in card on a locked door. I knock, and say “I’m here for my appointment, Julie at 1pm”. She snatches the letter from my hand “oh right I’ll tell xxxxxx you are here. Sit in the room over there.” pointing and walks off.
This is the waiting room. It was a tiny room, like a spare box bedroom. It’s the whole wall in the photo that shows the door, it’s not often a room is taller than it is wide (except a loo). Prison bars on the window and a Chubb key lock and a bolt on the OUTSIDE of the door. Poorly lit as well, everything seemed grey, gloomy.
This is a place for delicate people. Locks on the outside, you are freaking kidding me?? I can’t be the only patient in a therapy place to have been locked into a room as a punishment/abuse.
I had to sit on the chair nearest the door as I was afraid a patient or staff member might lock that door and I might be able to grab it fast if anyone touched the door. I wanted to stand in the corridor instead, but didn’t want to look stupid, loitering in a hallway. Tiny, cold, nastiness it had to be then.
After the problem of even getting into the building I thought (wrongly) that I would get called through to see the counsellor pretty fast. If I was in that tiny room with someone else I would have really got very stressed and most likely gone straight home instead.
When I was called at quarter past it turns out the counsellor was running late as her computer wasn’t working. So she had no access to my file.
The light in her room wouldn’t work, another darkened, grey feeling room, again with bars on the windows even though this room was upstairs.
Had to start from the beginning due to the computer problem. My whole life story again. She looked genuinely upset at times by things I was saying.
I was fidgety as heck. I did not like it there. The whole place was oppressive and nasty, although slightly better than the waiting room. Magnolia paint over mouldy damp wood chip paper, massively high ceilings but small room. Then obviously the topic of conversation was far from nice.
I sat here telling her about some of the abuse towards me, how I can’t relate to people or make friends in person but can online, how I’ve had a few breakdown situations over the years and doctors ignored it, how I am sometimes suicidal, how my phobias mess up everyday things….
My face was burning, like embarrassment that I’ve had so many problems. That I’m so cut off, so isolated. And here I am, in this cold hostile room, with poor lighting, uncomfortable chairs and telling a stranger loads of personal stuff. The appointment letter said it was all down to this appointment, I had to show why I need support or therapies.
Is this really the way to “treat” mental health problems. I waited months for this appointment, in this “prison” of a place, having to fight to get enough detail out to qualify for help?
Oh and she said PTSD too, and that she doesn’t usually say anything about diagnosis on the first meeting.
I left there and just felt ill, shaking and fragile. Straight to Greggs, needed sugar and to cry. Couldn’t cry though as was almost school run time. So I cycle back from town towards the school, and my tyre had been let down. Completely deflated so I had to walk the whole way.
Lovely day! Tomorrow must be better right!?