To Be a Mother (originally written in 2018)

To be a mother,
Is to have my soul opened up to a world of wonderful changes.
Unconditional love,
Innocence and beauty,
A reflection of my soul and the soul of my beloved.
To be a mother,
Is to know that,
If at first my world does not feel wonderful,
Or I am left wondering what unconditional love is,
That I am not alone.
To be a mother,
Is to stop comparing myself with the unidentified, “other”,
To accept that we all have our own struggles,
And to understand that whenever I feel low,
It does not mean that I am a bad mother.
To be a mother,
Is to know that there is no such thing as the perfect mother,
To allow myself to feel whatever I feel,
Without shame or guilt taking over.
To be a mother is to be a mother,
I am good enough,
And you are good enough,
To be a mother.

There Are Times (originally written in 2018)

There are times,
Often late at night,
When I sit up and look over at my beautiful sleeping baby,
resting peacefully in his cot.
I feel the warmth in my heart,
As if I were sunbathing on a beach,
And I feel the waves of unconditional love,
As if they were splashing against my body.
I embrace it fully,
And smile to myself,
Thinking about how lucky I am to have this ever growing bond with my darling baby boy.
There are times,
Often during the day,
When I watch my child play with his toys.
I feel his happiness inside of me,
And I feel truly blessed.
I begin to wonder to myself,
Did my mother feel this way about me,
When I was sleeping peacefully in my cot,
Or smiling up at her with my big blue eyes?
Did she love and look after me in the way that I do with my own baby?
There are times,
Often whilst feeding my son,
When I think back to my childhood memories,
And wonder what went wrong.
At what point did I change
from the innocent sweet little girl,
In to the monster I always assumed I must have been?
Often there are times,
Now that I am an adult and my mother is no longer a part of my life,
When I wonder if she still sees me as her little baby girl.
Does she think back to those memories?
Does she miss me?
For most of my adult life,
I looked at myself through my mother’s eyes,
Yet now I am able to look at myself with my own eyes, as a mother.
I will always put my child first,
And I will never understand why my own mother could not do the same for me.
There are times,
Often when I’m sitting alone with my thoughts,
Where I imagine myself seeing my mum again,
And having her hold me tightly and gently stroking my cheeks, as she did when I was a child.
I know that this will never happen,
And so when I’m sitting with my son and cuddling him tight,
I yearn for a mummy cuddle of my own.
There are times,
When my heart aches,
But the love I have for my baby will always shine through.

Confidentiality in the NHS: Exactly how many professionals have had access to my Mental Health Medical Records?

Following on from the several threads I have made on Twitter regarding confidentiality in NHS Mental Health services, I have decided to write a blog post highlighting exactly how far my personal information, including childhood sexual abuse disclosures, have travelled across several services within the NHS, and also outside of the NHS.

These numbers include all Mental Health professionals/other professionals who have had access to my medical records since I was first referred to the Community Mental Health Team towards the end of 2011 up until the present day.

Professionals from within the Community Mental Health Team:

5 Care Coordinators

1 Support Worker

1 Occupational Therapist 

1 Psychologist 

6 Psychiatrists

An unknown number of extra professionals as a result of MDT’s/team meetings/team formulations

At least 15+ different crisis team workers 

Professionals from within the Crisis Team Services:

5 Crisis Team Psychiatrists

1 Psychologist (just coming to talk to me about whether I felt ready for a possible therapy referral)

At least 6 junior doctors present across several CPA’s, who typed up notes for the main doctors in charge of the meetings

Unknown number of extra professionals as a result of MDT’s/team meetings/team formulations

Professionals from within a council led Mental Health Service:

As a result of the council service obtaining a copy of my latest risk assessment (without which the referral could not be processed) the following professionals had access to incredibly personal and private information about me:

2 Support Workers

An unknown number of council workers responsible for deciding who is allowed to access their service based on viewing risk assessments during team meetings

Professionals from within Perinatal Mental Health Services:

2 Midwives

2 Care Coordinators 

4 Psychiatrists

Unknown number of extra professionals as a result of any MDT’s/team meetings/formulations/ward rounds on the mother and baby unit

2 Obstetricians

Professionals from within GP surgeries:

9 GP’s (across 3 different surgeries)

2 Health Care Assistants 

2 Community Midwives

1 Practice Nurse

An unknown number of professionals from one GP surgery as a result of a Cognitive Analytical Therapy Formulation being sent to the wrong GP surgery due to admin error

At least 1 member of the public, as a result of a Cognitive Analytical Therapy Formulation being sent to the wrong NHS patient’s address due to admin error

Miscellaneous:

Unknown number of administrative staff across all of the above services due to any work involved in gathering and organising medical notes/letters etc

At least 10 student nurses across all of the above services who attended appointments with professionals when I was too unwell/frightened to ask them to leave

It was never properly explained to me, when I was first referred to the CMHT, the true extent of how far my personal disclosures of childhood sexual abuse (and other personal information) would travel. In terms of confidentiality, I was given the usual information regarding how confidentiality would be breached if they had knowledge that myself or others were at risk of harm in some way, but nothing beyond that. I didn’t understand at the time that letters would be written up from every single psychiatrist appointment and then sent to my GP and held in my permanent medical records. I didn’t understand at the time that all Mental Health Professionals would make notes of any appointments with me and that they would be placed in my permanent medical records. I didn’t know at the time of my very first disclosure of childhood sexual abuse to a Mental Health Professional, that several other Mental Health Professionals would inevitably end up reading that disclosure. I naively assumed it would stay between me and the professional I trusted enough to confide in. I didn’t know that the diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder would be permanently written (in bold) in the diagnosis section of my summarised notes, meaning that anyone from a specialised mental health professional to a random health care assistant doing a blood test on me at a GP surgery one day, would be able to see that Mental Health Professionals decided my personality was disordered. I didn’t know that detailed notes of my psychological therapy sessions would be made. I didn’t know that a “psychological formulation” would be made about me and then sent to other mental health professionals without my true consent. I again naively assumed that what was said between me and the psychologist would stay between us. I didn’t know a lot of things.

Was having all of these professionals accessing my personal medical notes across the years worth it, in terms of the NHS mental health specialist treatment I would go on to receive to help me cope with the aftermath of childhood sexual abuse? The answer to that is sadly no. 6 months of Cognitive Analytical Therapy was not enough to balance out the damaging effects of losing control over who found out about the abuse I endured as a child. And I say this as someone who is acutely aware that I’m actually one of the lucky ones in terms of how many sessions of therapy I had. Lots of people do not get access to this. 

I have had a look at the numbers of professionals I have recorded in this blog post and worked out that, of the professionals I *know* have seen my personal information about me so far,  there have been:

At least 75 professionals

This figure is likely to increase way beyond 100 when you factor in the amount of unknown professionals who have seen my medical records as a result of team meetings etc, as recorded above for each service encountered.

If somebody was able to tell me at my very first appointment with the CMHT, that over 100 NHS professionals would likely see personal information about me and my mental health, including my incredibly personal disclosures of childhood sexual abuse, I would never have continued with the service. I will forever regret sharing some of the things I did. And I will never stop trying to raise awareness of how important it is to fully explain confidentiality to patients, and how potentially damaging it can be to not have it fully explained.

Thank you for reading if you have.

Some spoken word poetry about Team Formulation.

There’s no “I” in Team.

Go look at my Formulation and you’ll soon know what I mean.

They say it’s routine

to rewrite my history in a way I could not have foreseen.

It’s obscene,

And quite frankly, they should know better.

They wish to place emphasis on what happened

Whilst at the same time forgetting that it happened to ME

There’s no “I” in Person Centred Care.

It’s my story to tell

My truth to share

And only I should get to decide who hears it and where.

I should be in control.

You don’t get to dictate my goals

Or define your role

In MY life.

The power should belong to me.

I don’t need you to empower me.

I need you to respect me,

and acknowledge that your power affects me.

To consider how it affects me

And take suitable steps to gain informed consent from me.

I don’t need a permanent medical record of the trauma I endured.

Yes I am sure.

If you’re still unsure

Of exactly why I am wary of Formulation, after hearing these words –

I can’t make you listen

But I’ll make myself heard.

True collaboration cannot exist if it is enforced.

Any treatment will not be helpful simply because it is endorsed

By you.

Or any of your friends.

Erase my life from your system,

Let me get some power back from your hands.

Give me control

Give me choice

And quit acting like this is an unreasonable demand.

Yes I was sexually abused,

And Yes, it messed up my head,

Yes, I wanted support from you

But I was horribly misled.

The entire system,

of which you are a part of,

Has ripped my truth apart

From the very start.

First blog post – Some spoken word poetry in written form.

I’ve decided to start a new blog so that I can keep copies of my writing all in one place. I often prefer to write twitter threads or poetry, rather than a big blog post, because I’m busy looking after my two beautiful babies. So sometimes I will just copy a thread or poem in to a blog post and save it here that way. I might also see if I can dig out old blog posts from years ago to add here, and I’ll occasionally write new blogs. If you read any of my writing, then thank you in advance 🙂

I’ve been on Twitter for many years now. I’ve had different accounts along the way, but I’ve been a part of the Mental Health Twitter community for a while. With that in mind, I think my first blog post here should include the piece of spoken word poetry that I recently shared in written form on Twitter. Many in the Mental Health community have expressed their thoughts on NHS mental health services over the years. We have also lost several friends as a result of suicide, who were also let down by services in different ways. This piece of writing gathers together the things a lot of us have been trying to raise awareness of over the years. I’m pretty sure I can say with confidence that we have all had enough. It’s not Time To Talk, but Time to Act.

*

*

*

They call me things like survivor or thriver

But deep down I don’t think I truly relate to either 

It’s frowned upon to call myself a victim despite being a victim of a crime

But this wasn’t your experience. It was mine 

It happened to me

And only I can know how that made me feel

My eyes scream at you with the words my mouth dare not speak. 

This does not mean that I am weak.

Instead of building resilience, I build walls

I try to shelter myself from the blame they place on me.

It’s my fault. 

It’s My responsibility.

To fix what’s wrong with me.

Or be discharged imminently.

They call this Trauma informed care

And pretend that this is all it takes

To ask us

What happened to you?

Asking how many ACE’s are in the pack

Whilst patting themselves on the back.

Forgetting all of their previous mistakes 

It’s so wrong it actually physically aches

Trauma informed care

When the care isn’t actually there.

They punish me with a label of Personality Disorder,

Treating me as though I’m some kind of performer

They say, “just ignore her!”

I say, It’s out of order.

They treat me as though I’m a drain on society. Without even considering the effect this could have on me

Stop trying to put a price on me,

You do not get to define me.

No I do not want a cup of tea

And I already had a bath

Mindfulness is not appropriate here

And I have already tried to distract.

They’re telling me I need to be more resilient 

They’re telling me I’m manipulative

Saying I’m too ill for therapy

Saying I’m too well for therapy

Pretending that adequate therapy even exists to start with

They also attempt to put a time limit on my recovery

What is this skulduggery?

I deserve better than this

We all do 

They call me things like

Complex

Difficult

Dependant on services

Not engaging with services

Splitting the team

“Alleging” sexual abuse

Even though I’m not alleging anything

It’s the truth.

You will not silence me

Lessons will be learned, they say

But who will be the teacher?

When all those with the correct knowledge 

End up in a meeting with the grim reaper?

Did you even hear her?

Inquest after inquest after inquest

She was emotionally unstable 

We tried to help her but we were unable 

She wasn’t trying hard enough. She wasn’t fully engaging. Stop with this shit now

We’re all fucking raging.

They deserved better. We all do.

For Alice

For Helen

For JL

For Katie

For Sarah

For Cynthia

For any other person who died by suicide when those who were supposed to help them, Failed them.

Fuck this shit.

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