They Closed My Local Mental Home and Bipolar Pregnancies?

So I had a few things I wanted to talk about today before the noise from next door forced me out again.

  1. They closed my local mental hospital.
  2. I attended a meeting with the psychiatrist at the National Health Service on Thursday to complain.
  3. I have serious questions about mood stabilizers and pregnancy.

1. They closed the local mental hospital.

I have super mixed feelings about this because half of me is like “YESSS! NOW I DON’T NEED TO FEAR GOING THERE FOR EVALUATIONS AGAIN”  but half of me is like “they did WHAAAAT???”

They have literally declared it unsafe, closed it and discharged anyone they can “into the community” (leaving the relatives that dobbed them in to look after them, oh that’s gonna go down so well).  All in the same week.  Anyone for whom it was a one-way trip has been transferred to other hospitals.  Namely Leeds and Hull.  These are not places I want to go if I lose my marbles because they are FAR AWAY and my husband wouldn’t be able to visit because he does not drive.  I can’t believe they’re not going to, I don’t know, repair the building then re-open it again.  That would make sense.  But then, that would mean spending money on mental health services, and as EVERYBODY is ONLY too keen to tell me over and over, “you can just get some pills and be totally fine and normal again like everyone else, so what are you complaining about?”  This has of course flooded the community mental health team so now I can’t be bounced to them for any free assistance with my crazy shit.

Here’s an interesting article (not about the closure) about the treatment of bipolar disorder in the UK in 2001 that I think really sums up the state of mental health services in this country.  It’s 14 years after this article was written and nothing’s changed:  Article here

And because there are no private mental hospitals in York either, because private healthcare in this country is under-developed, I can’t even go private if I get sectioned (admitted as an inpatient).  This will be important when we talk about point 3.

What bullshit.

So this leads nicely onto my next thing:

2. I went for a meeting on Thursday with the psychiatrist who misdiagnosed me.  I made my complaint.  My husband accompanied me to make sure I didn’t get fobbed off.  He (the psych, not my husband) apologised profusely, said meeting me now when I was not the way I’d been when he’d seen me, he could categorically say I didn’t have a personality disorder and that trauma SHOULD have been considered.  Then he went on to say that because of the dire state of mental health services in York (due to closure of above hospital) I would not be able to access the level of therapy that I needed for the complexity of my case, so basically I can pay for treatment myself or I can not get any help.

He said that the psychosis team were not remotely going to be able to help me (after being with them since April) and that there were no specialist services in York for trauma-related stuff, or in Leeds, or anywhere outside London (about 180 miles away).  So basically, because I *have* paid for my own psychiatry and because I am paying for my psychotherapy (which I have been having weekly for the last 4 weeks, next one tomorrow), and because I am paying for my EMDR counselling (which is on hold until near the end of October), I can keep doing this.  Mmm… okay but where’s the money coming from when I’m not working?

The trouble is, it’s not that they don’t *want* to help, it’s that they don’t have the right trained staff.  I need to see someone who is at least a psychologist or psychotherapist, not a counsellor, and all you can get for free on the NHS is counselling for less complex (but still disabling) problems such as anxiety and depression.  There is so much of this available that  the waiting time is a paltry 6 months, whereas I would be looking at waiting for at least three years to see a psychologist:  I don’t know if you have this distinction in the USA, but in the UK anyone with a certificate can be a counsellor, and they generally haven’t studied counselling to full degree level (there are exceptions to this but this is the minimum), let alone a psychology degree (and psychologists have an MA and usually a doctorate in a psychology (such as clinical or child psychology) to be registered as a clinical psychologist as opposed to a research psychologist, and psychologists get no funding from the NHS to train because that’s how little they’re valued, whereas psychiatrists are doctors who then go on to study psychiatry which I think is the same as in the USA.  LUCKILY there are a couple of private psychologists and psychotherapists in York (where there are no psychiatrists – I had to do a videoconference to get my diagnosis and letter and therapy/medication recommendations) and I got a good appointment time with my psychotherapist.  But I’m still left paying £90 a week for therapy which I just can’t afford.

3. The big bipolar meds and pregnancy question:  I want to get pregnant before I’m 30.  Don’t ask me why, I can’t explain it because it’s very longwinded and probably only makes sense to me.  But I want it to happen.  And now I’m on Seroquel, I’ve been looking into whether this will be possible.

Here’s what the internet told me:

a) Of all the mood stabilizers, Seroquel is considered by the FDA and NHS to be the “safest” for pregnancy.

b) Many people have anecdotal evidence that they got pregnant and gave birth, and either took it at the beginning, end or throughout their pregnancy.  Apparently there have only been 8 studies done on atypical antipsychotics and pregnancy (in every single one, the participants were on any antipsychotic and some of the participants were on Seroquel), and these have all shown no birth defects and no increased risk of miscarriage or chromosomal disorder.  There was a slight delay in the learning of children who were born to mothers on high doses of atypical antipsychotics but by 18 months these children were indistinguishable from their peers born to mothers not on any medication during pregnancy.  There has been some reports of withdrawal symptoms in babies whose mother took seroquel during the third trimester.

Here’s what my heart tells me:

a) Pregnancy and post partum is one of the most triggering times for people with bipolar disorder.  I don’t want to put my unborn child at risk by stopping medication.

BUT

b) I do not want to put my unborn child at risk by continuing to take medication that may cause the baby any harm.

BUT

c) That’s for a given value of harm.  I am on 25mg of seroquel.  It doesn’t flatten my affect by it dulls my shit down enough that I am able to generally keep it together.  People on the internet were on 250-600mg of seroquel during pregnancy and they were fine and had healthy babies without any issues.  The main concern is lack of information because for the longest time women who had mood disorders were extremely discouraged from getting pregnant to stop them spreading their crazy genes, and what better way to appeal to an emotional woman’s emotions than to lay it on her that if she gets pregnant, she’ll end up with a defective baby that she has to care for all of the child’s life or institutionalize (the two options at the time)?  It would put the “genetically inferior” people off of reproducing, right?  So I don’t know how much of this stuff is carried over from that and how much of it is “if you have paracetamol, AND allergy tablets, AND drink the “permissible” glass of wine (don’t even get me started on how that advice to people in my country pisses me off)  AND smoke AND take antacids, THEN your baby will have two heads.”  Because when paracetamol and benadryl have the same warning as my seroquel about pregnancy, it doesn’t make me take notice of it as much on the seroquel, especially when I know someone who was on tramadol and co-codamol and zopiclone and citalopram and amitryptylene and actively got pregnant (and some of those are proven to be FAR worse during pregnancy than seroquel, which hasn’t been shown repeatably to have any problems aside from in the third trimester), who refused to even try and taper off them and has produced an apparently healthy child.  And I think, can my tiny amount of seroquel make THAT much of a difference compared to all the drugs and booze that many pregnant women ingest?  Will my baby really be inferior if I continue my medication?  Surely they’d be more at risk from me getting sectioned and them being born in a psychiatric hospital (like I was, I found out recently).  And as a result of that, them never getting to meet their father until me and baby were both let out (or worse, knowing my luck, social services might just snatch them away once the umbilical cord’s cut).  I know now why I didn’t bond with my dad.  It’s because I spent the first six months of my life in a mental hospital, and that’s why my mother didn’t breastfeed me (meds, that is).  No wonder I’m terrified of psych hospitals.  No wonder she was.  But surely even after I was out, even if they let me keep my baby, the high dose of whatever they’d put me on and the side effects would leave me with no time, energy or affect to shower my littlepon with affection?  They tend to put you on “typical” antipsychotics such as haloperidol if you’re pregnant, not because these are remotely safer for you or the baby, but because there’s been clinical trials done on pregnant women with these meds and they know what will be wrong with your baby when it comes out.

So I have a million questions as you can see about getting pregnant, and this is particularly important because my aforementioned local mental hospital’s been completely closed (its function has joined the choir eternal, if you will) and that means if I go manic or depressed whilst pregnant (which is more likely anyway, and even MORE likely if I come off the meds), I would get shipped to Leeds or Hull and my husband wouldn’t be able to come and visit me, and the absolute last thing I want is to be ripped from my life, forced to give birth scared and alone on a plethora of drugs in a psychiatric hospital where I may or may not be allowed to keep the baby.  So if staying on mood stabilisers isn’t an excessive risk to the baby I’d rather take them and be able to be there, and enable my husband to be there, for my baby’s first few months of life.  This stands whenever I get pregnant not just right now.

Also apparently for the ones that are actually bad for your baby they make you have the contraceptive pill??  Is that true?  I would never take it but it wasn’t suggested, offered or mentioned so am I in the clear??

Does anyone have experience of pregnancy on bipolar meds (or ideally specifically seroquel but if you don’t mind telling me what you were on I’d consider changing drug if there’s a better one out there).  Most of what I can find that’s on the net is from psychiatrists and they don’t have to live with the consequences, but they seem to go with seroquel as a first choice for pregnant bipolar women, is this anyone’s experience??

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Author: MsAdventure

I am a twentysomething travel, photography and beauty blogger who occasionally writes about other topics. Within travel, I tend to write mostly about Europe because all the other travel bloggers seem to write about South East Asia. As a writer, I have written articles that are published in Offbeat Bride and on Buzzfeed, and as a photographer, I have taken photographs that are published in local and national news outlets in the UK. I have a blog at www.delightandinspire.com

22 thoughts on “They Closed My Local Mental Home and Bipolar Pregnancies?”

  1. Thank you for sharing this link, I cannot believe that NOTHING has changed at all, it’s as though this article was written in 2015.

    The worst part? I’m not even shocked, being thrown back isn’t the mental health care as an adult is terrifying, I seem to be allowed no say in my care or what medication I take. They talk about my illness as though I’ll get past this tough time, despite my records full of relapses into doom. It’s not a cold or flu, and it will always be there. I get sick of meeting people in this ‘mental healthy community’ that make me question how they got their jobs in the first place, the last few months have been a real eye opener for me, and not in a good way.

    And on we struggle…..

    Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing, I’m sorry you’ve had a similar experience to mine (yours sounds much worse), I told the CPN I was off hunting treasure in some silver mines when she wanted an appointment and instead of flagging this up as abject mania, she told me to have a nice holiday!!! That’s the sort of thing that I was complaining about. So they have said they can’t help and discharged me. That article’s eerily timeless though, I fully agree.

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      1. Hahaha I had this the other week, and the stupid **** that I had the misfortune of seeing that day kept telling me my manic behaviour was my own choice, spending money was my choice, not sleeping? Yep of course my choice too! And then at the end she was the same as your person – have fun today you seem so happy! Waves me out the door.

        The thing I seem to be battling with at the moment is that ‘they’ keep telling me to phone when I’m having extreme suicidal thoughts and by not using their service they can’t help me, but what no one seems to grasp is that talking does NOT help or change my mood, they seem to be getting a bit pissed off that I won’t phone up. Talking might help for some people but you’d think by now being 25 I’d know as my own person what helps? I may as well be talking to the wall! Haha got to laugh I suppose.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. LOL they just don’t understand (I spent £3000 last month because of mania and they said that was my choice I was like, NO, my CHOICE would have been to do my Master’s degree with that money because I’ll never have that much again then they started saying “it’s what your father would have wanted” (it was inheritance) and I was like, you never even met the man or spoke to him!!! How would you know???)…And all the Americans are jealous of our free healthcare, unsuspecting that it appears to be the same as their free stuff with a few extra false promises.
        Yeah the phone service issues were a big part of my complaint actually – I was suicidal in August and my husband phoned the crisis number 3 times but they didn’t pick up or pass the message on. Best part? I had an appt that day with the CPN so she clearly had a spare hour where she could have called me back. What a bunch of jokers. Also I don’t talk either – sort of glad it’s not just me – I just act impulsively when I’m suicidal, which is why it wasn’t me phoning them.

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      3. Hahaha – un fucking believable. We couldn’t make this shit up! I’ve tried every which way to explain what my choices are and what my mind tells me to do, but I may as well speak Japanese. All of this does not for my aggravation.

        Yeah absolutely, here’s a good one that will make you laugh – one of the nurses/therapists whatever you call them – said to me the other day “did you know that America are ten years behind with their mental health services? You are so lucky for the support you’re getting! Imagine living there!” There we go again, have to be grateful for whatever shitty service you’re given……..

        I want to say I can’t believe they didn’t answer the phone, but I am not at all surprised – what the fuck is going on? And again I agree with you on the impulsivity, it’s a huge problem of mine, it just comes on me out of nowhere and bam there’s no time for thought or reasoning.

        I really wish something more would be done for our mental health system, on the outside they pretend that they want to listen but then once you get in there you realise it’s one big lie, no one wants to hear us, only tell us what to feel and how that their magical answers should fix all our problems.

        I feel sort of relieved to have read your post and know I’m not the only one, at the moment it’s a daily frustration with these people.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Sorry, had to go to bed and I’ve got a doctor’s appointment in a min. Apparently now they’re letting nurse practicioners change doses and prescribe antipsychotics. I just don’t know what to do as I want to have a baby soon but they have conflicting advice to the American advice. You’re absolutely right there’s no support at all, they may as well train people to smile and nod at you (and the thing about American health being behind ours: LOLOLOLOL) (well, no support unless you live in the “right” area of London which is probably where all the studies to compare us to America come from). Also I have an apology to make I’ve had you on my following list for ages and for some reason your posts don’t flag up on my reader. I thought you weren’t updating but I’ve just checked and you definitely are. I will put you on Feedly instead (I had the same problem with Dyane’s blog for a while but Feedly fixed it – it’s like reader but not just for wordpress).

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Morning, I hope you get some real sense about the medication you’re on and how it will effect your baby in the future. It is imperative that they give you the right information because your pregnancy is the most important thing. Be really nice to be given the right information for a change!

        Hey no problem, I’ve had the same thing happen – I’ve got the WordPress app and it’s a bit screwy and often won’t flag up new posts even though I’ve chosen it to, dammit it drives me to insanity.
        Xx

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Hi no I got spoken to like a two-year-old because the nurse called me Vicky and I told her that wasn’t my name, and that it never was (it never was!! That’s why I changed it!!) and that they’d already had the name change stuff so what the fuck. I got the same prescription as before and sent on my way. Prescription’s in my old name. FUCKSAKE! My psychotherapist (who I also saw this am) was more helpful and supportive (I guess that’s why I pay him, because he helps) although he couldn’t help with the actual prescription information.
        Re wordpress: it told me yesterday about a comment it held for moderation a month ago!!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Oh for Christ’s sake, you know I had the exact same thing – still have, they’ve left part of my old name on everything and no matter how many times I’ve changed it or asked, it remains the same. I’ve given up.

        So sorry to hear you had a shitty time, nothing’s easy is it 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been a bit behind on reading your blogs ATM due to going back to work and everything being hectic, but this post really struck a chord with me. I’m off my meds and stable at the moment (long may it last!) But pregnancy planning is on my mind too and it worries me that now I’m off meds and out of services, and also with services in York taking a nose dive this month, that they’ll look at me and go ‘sane, healthy human’ instead of recognising the risks involved and managing them before it gets to a crisis point… Sigh…

    Also with regards to bank accounts and spending I think I read something about being able to set limits on your accounts if you have a known condition that causes impulsive spending. Might be worth looking into for the future if you get a chance? Anyway hugs and love to you both. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think if you tell the doctor about your psychiatric history (because they never read notes lol) then they should mark you as “high risk pregnancy” and treat you accordingly. Although what they should be doing for you and what you actually get are often two different things, I’ve noticed. I do have a written retraction now from Dr W. wherein he’s retracted the original diagnonsense letter and apologised about it.

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      1. Yeah, that age old problem… Well if you get to that point before I do, I would be very interested to hear any advice etc. Maybe there are social/ info groups somewhere nearby for this sort of thing? If not, there should be!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It sounds like a good idea although I don’t know if I’d have enough energy to run anything/organize. Part of my problem is a lack of executive function. 😦 I’m potentially starting a new job on Monday (work trial at Bagel place) so I may not have time for things either.

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      3. No! Don’t worry about that! I have a very bad habit of cycling between building up the number of things I’m doing to a point where I can no longer manage them all and then crash because I’m burnt out from everything I’m trying to do… Being able to say you’re too busy is an impressive feat in my book… I always feel guilty when I say it… It might be something to request the local mind group to organise… I will look into it if I have chance but don’t hold your breath (determined to break the afformentioned cycle…) Also good luck for Monday! Bagels are yummy!

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      4. Yes, I do it all the time which is why I’m so worried about it atm. Even going to a normal 8 hour job two weeks ago was more than I could chew! And yes to bagels, I may have to go there tomorrow and find out how they do things so I aren’t going into the total unknown on Monday. I do love a good bagel, I used to love making them on the breakfast shift at McDonalds.

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