I have been very ill – an episode triggered by the theft of my car.
I had been suffering from depression. The car wasn’t recovered and
the insurance quibbled about paying out on a fully comprehensive
policy. I needed the help of the Citizens Advice Bureau before they
finally paid out £300.
During this time I stayed in bed, not eating or even attending to
my toilet needs for ages. I tried to contact the mental health team
I was supposed to be under the care of but nobody got back to me.
It was unprofessional and discourteous. The community psychiatric
nurse (CPN) I had been handed over to because of a change of staff
had said that he could see I was very low. He was going on holiday
for a week and said he’d contact me when he got back.
He didn’t. I truly feel that if it hadn’t been for the occasional
call from the Shaw Trust charity where I do voluntary work, I would
have died – either by my own hand or by lack of personal care.
Eventually I got myself out of bed, cleaned up and went back to my
voluntary work. When I spoke to the secretary on the mental health
team she told me my CPN had left and there was an allocations
meeting that day on me. I was so upset and cross. I tried to
explain how I’d been and that I’d left messages. They had no
recollection of any messages although I was in such a state I don’t
know if I left my messages properly.
I felt so angry and let down by a service that I had 100 per cent
faith in, both as a patient and as a social care professional – I
used to be a psychiatric nurse. I used to manage a caseload so I
know exactly what I am talking about. I had my clients’ contact
details on a board above my phone in case of any eventuality.
I met with my psychiatrist, who apologised and agreed it was not
good practice. I also put my feelings in writing and have been
allocated another CPN. But since then, that CPN has left and I have
been told there are no resources to allocate me another despite my
obvious need for support.
The other reasons the mental health team cited for my not being
reallocated are the support I’m getting from the Shaw Trust and my
regular voluntary work with Mind. I am also planning on going back
This experience has strengthened my resolve to work, in some
capacity, with those less able to cope. I am sure there are people
out there floundering, without the wherewithal to push
So I have decided to finish the degree I started prior to
hospitalisation and homelessness as I feel a professional
qualification will help. I just hope I can get funding. Although I
am involved in charity work I still find everyday life difficult
and I am plodding on.
Long term, I also need to move away from London, I’m not here by
choice – I was simply rehoused here. My flat is definitely not
conducive to my managing the depression or long-term
Glenda Cardy uses mental health services