Today I called the Samaritans … (Blog 1)

Today I called the Samaritans.  And then I called Breathing Space.  My anxiety about nothing in particular, has consumed me, along with a feeling of dread that something bad is going to happen. Which makes no sense whatsoever, because I know nothing bad is going to happen! Lol

I am fragile just now, so much so, that I fear a minor incident or stressful moment could shatter me into a million pieces. 

It was always going to be tough moving back to Falkirk.  The last time I lived here I had a full breakdown; the result of therapy gone wrong, when a therapist used CBT to groom me, rather than solely dealing with the anxiety, caused when a car knocked me off my bike.  In-fact, that was the only other time in my life that I had called the Samaritans … though … I had called them a lot back then because I had really wanted to die. 

Safe to say, with so many bad memories and triggers, Falkirk was not an entirely sensible choice of town for me to move to.  It felt like I’d be taking giant leaps backwards, towards the darkness that belonged to my past, rather than stepping forward even further into the light of the new life I had created.  

Finding a local authority with an obligation to house me would be the deciding factor.  In October of last year, I called Stirling Council, but was told I’d have to get rid of Maria to access homeless accommodation.  I got off the call and burst out crying.  Then I called Falkirk Council and I have to say I found their homeless department nothing short of outstanding.  To hear the words, we will do everything we can to house you and your dog.  If I could have reached through the phone and hugged the person on the other end I would have.

Of course, I had warning bells in the pit of my stomach about moving back to Falkirk, but it meant I could keep Maria.  I waited only one week for a flat and didn’t even need to go into a homeless unit, which after my experiences of homeless units when I was younger, was a huge relief.  I’m so incredibly grateful to everyone who donated furniture!  You gave me the best moving in present ever because when I look around all I see is human kindness!

I have achieved my goal … I have a home!  And I do love my home! 

But I wonder.  Is it worth it?  Is having a home worth the decline in my mental health?  I’m pretty sure everything would be better again if I packed up my life and got back on the road to cycle the world, with Maria in her dog trailer.  But I want to choose to cycle the world, rather than having to.

It was mid-January, when I visited my local GP’s surgery.  It’s always a big deal.  The first time you go to your GP to fess up to your mental health.  It’s a big deal because you’re taking responsibility and standing up to the world in that GP’s office and saying I am worth it. 

The GP agreed to send a referral for a psychiatric evaluation.  Referrals these days are done electronically, which takes minutes and is received instantly at the other end.

I knew it would take around two months to get an appointment, maybe longer, but my desperation meant I waited only one week, before calling to make sure everything was fine with my referral and that it had been received. 

For me it’s one of the scariest things in the world … witnessing your own mental health deteriorate and wondering what state you’ll be in when you finally get an appointment.

The psychiatry unit told me they had no record of me yet.  I called back the GP’s surgery and was assured the referral had been sent.  I waited a couple of weeks, then called the psychiatric unit again.  They definitely didn’t have a referral for me.  I panicked.  I called my GP’s surgery.  After investigation it was explained, with an apology, that the GP’s workload meant he hadn’t put my referral through.  It was now three weeks after I visited my GP, fessing up to my mental health and asking for help. 

A few weeks later and I got the letter with an appointment! My psychiatric assessment is the end of March.  Is it normal to be so excited for a psychiatric assessment??? Because I am very excited! To be taking action. To be moving forward. To be a hero with my mental health!

I have so many incredible opportunities opening up in front of me and I’m damn well going to make sure my mental health doesn’t keep me from experiencing them.  Just like I’ve rescued street dogs … I’ve turned the rescue cap on for myself.   

And even if the self rescue mission is unsuccessful, then at least I have an amazing life waiting for me …. exploring the world on my bicycle with my dog.  Not a bad back up plan! 

Ishbel x

Please note each blog post is written 5 days prior to publication to minimize people’s worry when my mental health is at low points.

33 Replies to “Today I called the Samaritans … (Blog 1)”

  1. Hi ishbel
    I hope that you are getting the help you need, I have been going through my own problems lately and have had to reach out to a organisation local to me about my mental health. They have been nothing short of amazing and I am waiting for an appointment to see them,they have also given me the address of some charity organisations to call to meet people with anxiety and depression issues. You are an amazing young woman keep strong and healthy I wish you all the best.

    1. Thank you so much Darren … so awesome you took action and put the support in place! Wishing you all the best in your journey back to health 🙂 You have taken responsibility and you are taking action so well bloody done!

  2. Just wondering if you suffered from debilitating attacks when you were on route travelling.
    Whenever I came back I’d slump into a bit of a depression for a few months but would eventually climb out of them. Coming home is a lot harder than leaving.
    Hope your burden lifts soon.

    1. Hi Dave – I had a very low mood phase when I was last i Brazil but then I met Maria and she needed my help so that pulled me out of where I was. That’s such a great point you make and not one that gets talked about all that much – it is tougher coming home than leaving x

  3. So sorry to hear you are struggling, I feel your pain. If you ever need somewhere, safe, warm, & full of calm, come to Chorley, my spare room is perfect for you & lovely Maria, I’m serious!!!. Your Amazing, keep strong ❤️❤️❤️. Hugs for you & Maria xxxx

    1. Thank you so much! So awesomingly kind of you! I have a lot of appointments just now and bits of public speaking but I’m not taking bookings after June so would be freer for a wee road trip then!x

  4. Well I work in emergency psychiatry and I cannot say enough that you don’t underestimate past bad habits which probably helped you cope then and the need to replace these with better habits, all takes time, be patient and easy on yourself and best wishes

    1. Thanks so much Felix – to be honest I’m unsure what’s wrong … it could be hormone rooted or past traumas. The great thing about writing my book was I got an advance which I used for therapy – good therapy teaching me lots of new skills. I don’t use all of them every day but perhaps that would be a good wee goal to have … to introduce one new coping skill each month and stay consistant.

  5. Hi

    Look, you don’t know me from Adam, but you write this on my birthday. A day when I was looking through web sites on the most definite way I could kill myself.
    I learned, unfortunately, that it’s only a 40/1 chance an overdose will actually work. Not great odds. A gun shot to the temple is the most effective way, obviously that causes a problem!!

    This is not new. I’ve suffered for many years, but not normally as bad as this. I should be worried, scared etc but I’m not……….which is scary??
    I read your book. It was is the most emotional thing I’ve ever read. I like cycling and I LOVE? my rescue dog Patch, so your story resonates greatly with me.

    Now all this, me saying stuff is all very well, but the bottom line is, what can I actually do to help. I want to help. I know if someone had said that to me in the past and meant it, it would have meant sooooo much to me.

    It probably wouldn’t now, but I hope it does to you. Words can and do help but it’s what we actually DO that means the most, and I guess if I can help, the it helps me as it gives me meaning.
    I’m serious. What can we do to help.

    Mark and Patch??

    1. Hi Mark (and Patch!lol) Thank you so much for your honesty. And glad you didn’t try overdose or gun to temple on your birthday. You’re a long timer at this … same as me … but have to check that you have support in place just now … just that you’re not scared or worried … that’s the dangerous bit as I’ve been there myself. I don’t think anyone can help me with this … well to be honest just people’s positive response to this blog has been a huge help. All that worry about stigma I had has vanished and I’m free to just be me exactly as I am to the world which is so liberating. Out of curiosity did you find any support out there that you found helpful? Any organisations or resources? Sending you and Patch big virtual hugs. xxx

  6. Ishbel well done on sharing your experiences and feelings so honestly. This is such a courageous thing to do. I hope you get the help you need to move forward and enjoy you’re new home with Maria.
    I’ve only met you once but you had a hugely positive impact on everyone around you.

    1. I’ve wanted to blog openly about my mental health for some time now but I kinda chickened out … fear of stigma … but it just feels right to do so and everyone’s amazingly positive response has taken away any fear I had. Thank you so much for your words xxx

  7. Ishbel you are one of the most amazing people that I have followed in your adventures .I loved everything you have achieved in your life after all the sadness .we are all here for you .lots of hugs Fiona x

  8. Isabel, this is distressing to read so god knows what it’s like to experience. How sad that you are back in such a place, physically and metaphorically. I hope you have well meaning friends around you. You need people who understand and who can listen without judging. Social media is all very well but human contact is vital. It’s not long to your psychiatric assessment so hang in there. Be kind to yourself. Take care of Maria too. Xx

  9. Oh my dearest Ishbel – I had no idea you were feeling at such a low ebb. I do hope younare managing to cope with your anxiety. Can you try to see a local councillor and go through your whole situation with them, also perhaps give them a copy of your book to read so as they can try to understand the position you now find yourself in. Surely there is another area in Scotland where you can get council accommodation that allows dogs. I know the couple next door to me live in a Council house and have a Japanese Akita, also the flats on the other side of my street in Livingston have dogs. I know this for a fact as I talk to anyone round about my house who have dogs!! I don’t know if it would be of any help to you but you and Maria are more than welcome to drop in to have a blether with myself and Shirley any weekend that is suitable to you. Just have to make sure Shirley has nothing on that weekend. Any weekend would suit me. It’s maybe something you would like to consider but if it’s not your thing, then no worries honestly. Sometimes being able to talk to someone with a pathetic ear could help in some small way . Sorry I don’t have transport to pick you up so don’t know if you can get here with Maria in her carrier. Just a thought but the invitation is there any time you might want to take us up on it.
    Please take care of yourself and you can always PM me if that would be of any help to you. We need to get you out of that flat and get you settled in a safer environment. Do look after yourself and please be careful. If we all got together we could maybe come up with some plan to get the ball rolling to get you safer accommodation. Hope you don’t think I’m being too pushy but I do genuinely care about you and Maria ‘s welfare. Stay safe. Thinking of you. June xxx

    1. Hey June thank you so much! I so much feel your love and compassion .. always have throughout my journey .. you and your daughter always cheer me up! The no dogs rule applied to homeless accommodation to then get a council home … Maria is allowed in the actual council homes. Yes let’s arrange a meet up I’d like that very much … we could arrange a date perhaps next month? xxx

  10. There are so many roads to health, for me, CBT was fantastic in keeping a record of my negative thoughts, identifying who or what was I reacting to, asking myself did I need to react that way, answering no and understanding taking a different perspective on the third parties or situations that were the source.

    Also setting small daily goals to achieve and mentally rewarding yourself for achieving them.

    Count your blessings, count them one by one.

    If all else fails take a prescribed bedtime Zispin soltab orodispersible, for a good nights sleep, a feel-good feeling and a healthy appetite. I started with 30mg pernight but now regularly take 15mg tablet per night. I have that happy contented feeling. I hope you soon will have that too.

    Take care, love yourself x

    1. Hey Faye … thank you so much! Great advice from your own experiences and I’ll defo check out the zispin 🙂 xxx

  11. You say that having a home is the cause of your mental health issue right now. Maybe the fear of losing all you now have is what’s adding to your anxieties. Bloody well done for dealing with it whatever the underlying cause. It can be resolved and you are more than capable of kicking its ass into shape! You’ll be absolutely back on top in no time. And yes, get excited! New exciting journey with a great destination x x x

    1. Thanks so much Angie! I don’t think it’s the home part but maybe the staying in the one place and the Falkirk thing but it could be hormones also … looking forward to this journey of finding out or trying to find out. I had such a fear of blogging publicly but after publishing this blog post I have no fear now … everyone’s response has been fantastic … no negative judgements just support and acceptance. Thank you x

  12. Ishbel! Briefl reply, I know your pain! Anxiety is sh*t. Always remember hown far you have come! Your book was one massive inspiration to me! I love my dog and I love my bike! Traumatic. Childhood etc! This is about you though,. I discovered Headspace, which is an app written by Andy puddicone , basically the message you get is above the clouds the sun always shines and things pass! It is a mindfulness technique, I spent a year doing it and it helped me , nothing takes away the way your mind works but this taught me how to control my thoughts! I still suffer from anxiety and depression but no where near as bad. Try the free trial. He has a lovely soothing English voice! More than happy to get the app for you if you think it may help. It made so much sense to me! Keep being the lovely inspiring person you are. Take care and if you like the app let me know and I will happily get you a years subscription! Much love to you and María, she looks so much like my dog molly lol xxxx

    1. Hi Karen! Wow amazing feedback! Thank you! Yes I defo will try that app thank you! Aww Molly must be a cute girl then! I’ll share that app on my blog so people are benefiting from what I’m learning too from my readers 🙂 xxx

  13. A few weeks back I walked into my doctors surgery and broke down completely.
    You go through life sometimes pretending you’re coping, and, to the outside world you are. But, at the end of the day you just can’t outrun mental health issues. Going back on the road is you running away from this and that’s fine, providing you know that each time you run away, the harder it might be to heal.
    You are an inspiring young woman with so my courage and strength inside you. I hope one day you can close the book on the darkness that haunts you.
    In the meantime take comfort in those around you …. and dogs.
    Why do you think I love what I do so much?!? Xx

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