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Cat - Interview 31

Age at interview: 23
Brief Outline: Cat was diagnosed with depression when she was 14, as a result of severe physical and mental bullying in school. During her teenage years Cat attempted suicide several times and was finally referred for counselling which helped her. When Cat was 19, her drink was spiked in a nightclub. This incident has left Cat with both mental and physical effects she still battles with daily. After years of struggle with the NHS, she's decided in the end to go privately for counselling and appropriate support
Background: See 'Brief outline'

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Cat was diagnosed with depression at 14, as a result of years of severe physical and mental bullying in school. Cat says her school were aware of the bullying but didn’t intervene adequately. Cat was also self-harming, she stopped eating properly and things got so bad she attempted suicide. After this, she was referred to a psychiatrist and prescribed antidepressants.
 
Cat says she missed her “whole childhood” as she was either being bullied, or bunking lessons to avoid the bullying or going to see the psychiatrist. She never saw a psychologist which she says would have made a huge difference to her and prevented a lot of problems building up. During her teenage years, Cat attempted suicide several times. She was finally referred for CBT when she turned 18 - this was “a turning point” for her. Cat got on brilliantly with her counsellor and she started gaining weight. She was discharged in late 2004 and “was the happiest girl alive”.
 
In early 2005, everything changed for Cat. On a night out in town with her friends, her drink was spiked. That night turned into “living hell”; Cat ended up in A&E, having a life threatening seizure and lost all memory of the night. It was only 8 months later that she was suggested by an expert that her drink might have been spiked that night. The mental and physical consequences of the drink spiking have been extreme for Cat. She either walks with a stick or uses a wheelchair and has to wear a spinal brace, she is incontinent and suffers from epileptic seizures which also affect her speech. She’s been cared for fulltime by her family. Her social life has been destroyed and many of her friends disappeared. She now suffers from depression and panic attacks.
 
The biggest struggle for Cat has been getting appropriate help and support from the local services. She’s had to wait for years to be assessed and her family still haven’t received any family counselling. She has a great social worker who supports her but she says for everything she and her family have had to fight for themselves. Cat says the postcode lottery means that if she lived a few miles down the road, she’d have a complete different access to help in mental health and social services.
 
After years of struggle with the public health care, Cat’s decided to go down the private route. She says it’s “killed her financially” but even the first sessions of CBT have made a huge difference to her mental wellbeing. Cat is active in raising awareness of drink spiking so that other people know to be more aware of the long term risks. She says she’s finally on “the right road”, even though she feels it will be a long one.
 

Cat has been diagnosed with food phobia.

Cat has been diagnosed with food phobia.

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With regards to my eating, it’s all become back as an issue because my eating has been a problem in the last six months, which I thought was signs of my eating disorder coming back, but it’s not and they have diagnosed me with this “Food phobic”. When I’m anxious and depressed I stop eating. Because and that I’m scared of feeling the happy factor that food gives and I can’t deal with the overwhelming feeling of being happy. So I’m food phobic avoid it. And I’m now undergoing CBT at [place name], which costs £117 per session, for the next week for the next six months.
 
I mean the issue now and going through psychotherapy with CBT, is that they’ve now, we’ve now come up now, that we’ve now found a link with my eating that my eating disorder was not treated when I was 14 that we thought it was. Because the issue of my eating, it was all about, when, when I was having CBT the first time, it was all about we’ve got to get your weight to a safe level, but not why I’m not eating in the first place, not why I’ve got the issue with the food in the first place. So we’ve now gone further now I’ve got food phobia, so there’s that link, and when I was little I had issues with food when I was a baby, which I’ve only just found out about from my parents. So, that was never picked up on as a child, so, it’s as, we’re now going backwards all the way through, the links are being made.
 

Cat explains how problems with eating affected her school.

Cat explains how problems with eating affected her school.

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No one was aware of my eating. As I’m very well known now, I’m a good liar. And I at the time it was when the fashion came in of all baggy clothes, baggy trousers, so I kind of deliberately got into that fashion to hide it. And it wasn’t, I mean I left, left school, I managed to get out of there through my GCSE’s. I mean I was predicted the normal Cs and whatever, I left there with one C, and the rest Ds and Es and everything, I, all I wanted was a C in English, so I could get through on my Media. That was all I wanted. And unfortunately that wasn’t enough to get me into college because I spent more time seeing the psychiatrist, bunking off school, not wanting to go to school, bunking off in lessons to avoid the bullying. So it just affected my whole school life.
 

Cat talks about the night when her drink was spiked.

Cat talks about the night when her drink was spiked.

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I’m not one for heavy drinking, never have been. And we, me and her met up with a couple of other girls that she knows,
 
And, the difference being you know the, the girls you know are quite big drinkers and they all kind of like to get absolutely hammered, and, I was like okay, you know, had a few, had a couple of drinks Alco pops, bearing in mind they’re more colouring and lemonade than vodka in them these days, and you know, carried on partying and whatever. And this was before the new licensing laws kicked in, so it was still 11 o’clock kick out.
 
And I was partying away, dancing on the dance floor, and two of the girls went to the bar and bought a pitcher drink of Sex On The Beach, now didn’t not pick this up on the night that it happened, I just wish I had but we can all wish things. and the girls brought it back and as it usually is with four straws and all of that and the two girls that bought it wouldn’t drink it. Now why would you pay eight quid for a drink you won’t drink? But really, really didn’t think it that night. Really didn’t. Did not cross my mind at all.
 
And, drunk it yeah me and my, you know drunk it. And, the girls, once we, you know it had been last orders and everything and I remember nothing else at all from that night, at all. And the girls were all gonna go clubbing, I’m not really a clubby girl and I said well I’d arranged to meet my now, which was my boyfriend at the time, we’re now exes, gonna meet him halfway, and then go back to my parents, and the girls carried on clubbing and I went home. I do not remember how the hell I got home. I know now that I walked home and I met him half way.
 
His impression, his first impression was I was absolutely paralytic. Now I could not work out how, having had three Alco pops and it takes a lot of those to make me drunk. And he got me home, my parents weren’t impressed, ‘cos obviously the first thing they see is daughter comes through the door, drunk, yeah, usual so parents weren’t impressed, and from then on the night became a living nightmare.
 
That after about half an hour of me being home, I started fitting, and having not had one in my life before rather a big shock to the system. I ended up in a-25-minute seizure, ambulance was called, paramedics were also in quite a state of shock, and obviously I was taken to hospital, blues and twos, straight to hospital, where they spent six hours trying to save my life.
 
And I think that whole night was the most, quickest blur, ‘cos you’ve just literally gone from complete dancing around to complete nothing. And they managed to stabilise the seizures and everything and I woke up screaming that I couldn’t feel my leg.
 
And they couldn’t initially work out why, I was, once I was stabilised I was moved onto a ward, but I continued to deteriorate, I was having seizures every hour, and they just could not control it. And they just had no answers. We had no answers, they had no answers. Everyone was just as confused as everyone else.
 

Cat has had to pay for private counselling which has been great but has “financially killed” her.

Cat has had to pay for private counselling which has been great but has “financially killed” her.

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I’m now undergoing CBT at [place name], which costs £117 per session, for the next week for the next six months. Three to six months. and that’s the difference in going private, is that there is no length of time, in CBT. In NHS you only get 10, private it’s as long as you need it. Which I feel is so much better because there is no pressure on; “you’ve got to be better by 10 weeks. You’ve got to be in recovery by 10 weeks”, that’s it, whereas I’m in session, well I’ll be coming up to session 3 and I’m nowhere near completion, nowhere near. So it’s like there’s no actual end, it’s, it ends when you feel it needs to end. but financially it killed me, it’s killed me financially already, but it’s been a choice between money or life. And what do you do if you can’t, you can’t choose it? But then as a result of me going private the NHS have pulled me off the list, they have pulled my family off that family counselling.
 
They sent us a very nasty letter to say that as a result of me going private they’d now cancelled the family consultation that we’ve been waiting four years for. Which I’m astounded by.
 

Cat says having CBT was “a changing point” for her. She was later refused CBT on the NHS because...

Cat says having CBT was “a changing point” for her. She was later refused CBT on the NHS because...

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Within a couple of weeks I then turned 18, on the 5th January and kind of moved over to the Adult Mental Health Services and kind of a few weeks later started CBT with a fantastic psychologist and we clicked from the moment I walked in there and it was the best thing anyone could have done. was to put me on CBT that was the changing point.

 

And I had CBT every week, it was supposed to be only 10 sessions, 10 points, 10 sessions on the NHS which I feel is disgusting on the NHS, the waiting list for CBT is beyond a joke. The length that you get it for is just unreal. Now I had supposedly for 10 weeks, but because of just this sheer amount of problems that the system and the Child Adolescent Care had left me with, that it was gonna take a lot longer. So it eventually went to 20 weeks, but it was then, it was every week for 10 weeks and then it was moved to every 2 weeks for the next 10, for the next 10.
 
And I was put on an eating programme, so my weight was checked, and I had to record what I was eating, when I was throwing up. and it was focussing on my thought processing and everything. And it really really did help. It’s one of the things I do recommend. It’s definitely something that I feel should be more available worldwide, nationally, locally, everywhere.
 
 
My social worker has got in contact with my psychiatrist and everything and we have been refused CBT on the grounds that I’d actually, ‘cos I’d had it when I was 18, I’m not allowed it again. And it all comes down to money at the end of the day. It does, it comes down to money. And even though the situations different, the issues are different, the age is different, no. They don’t seem to think I warrant CBT again. Even though my medical reports say different. We think different. 
 

Cat lost her social life and all her friends when she got ill.

Cat lost her social life and all her friends when she got ill.

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I had no social life, all my friends walked out of my life the day that I got ill when the spiking happened. It was a range of answers that I’ve had, most didn’t want to be seen with me because I was now disabled and in a wheelchair, some didn’t want to be seen with me ‘cos they were too scared. Some didn’t want to be seen with me because of my epilepsy. It was various answers, some just couldn’t be bothered, they were quite happy to talk to me on MSN and Facebook, but when it comes to seeing me face to face it’s a whole different story. So, I stopped going out, I stopped seeing people. So I literally became stuck in this place really. I avoided going out, but because of the spiking, my anxiety against pubs and clubs never went away.
 
And I’m only in my twenties and that’s what I’m supposed to do, go and have fun, you know, socially drinking and going out and everything. And it was, it just wasn’t happening. And it was killing me, absolutely killing me because you know friends were inviting, friends that I did have would invite me out for a drink but I just couldn’t do it. It was just killing me mentally.
 

Cat hopes to raise awareness of mental health issues and help change the care system for the better.

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Cat hopes to raise awareness of mental health issues and help change the care system for the better.

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I’m hoping that now, once awareness is made of a situation that something is done about it,  because something’s gotta change, because it’s not fair on the rest of us, well I’m only 23, I want a life. That okay for the last four years has been trapped, and it going to take a long, long time to get the mental health issues sorted. , but then I’ve got to think about well if I get that sorted, what can I do with it. , but also the actual system’s gotta change with it because I want to go back to full time education, but the system doesn’t allow full time education and people on benefit. You either have to be one, or the other. So then what? You know I can’t afford because I can’t move back home because of my disability that I have to be on benefit to afford my flat.
 

Cat says that if you don’t have the right brands and wear the right clothes, you’re “a sitting...

Cat says that if you don’t have the right brands and wear the right clothes, you’re “a sitting...

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And at the time I thought it was normal, it was a part of reality of life, didn’t think it was a problem. And it then became when I started year 10, the bullying got physical and it became to the point of I was beaten up, had cracked ribs, was beaten home from, home from school, I was made to sit on chairs with drawing pins, on my last day of GCSE exam I was pelted with stones and bricks, that was outside, just outside the school gates. And it was just pointless. There was no means for it, but if the way that it was, it was like if you don’t wear the right hair band, the right trainers, the right brands, that’s it, you’re a sitting target. If you’re not, if you’re not popular, that’s it, you just don’t meet the needs for it and that’s unfortunately I was a sitting target.
 
And through the physical bullying, I mean one of the worst experiences that I had and I still remember it to this day, I actually had, I was pinned against the wall with two girls and had toilet tissue with liquid soap wrapped round it and stuffed in my mouth to make me choke. And I still remember it as if it was yesterday. I used, had a lot of anger against it. I don’t anymore, but it still is a big issue.
 

Cat says having to change doctors every three months was “detrimental” to her recovery.

Cat says having to change doctors every three months was “detrimental” to her recovery.

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Unfortunately the mental health system in this area, and maybe other areas as well, the place that I was under work on a-three-month-locum system, so you will see them for three months, they go, get another one for three months, they go. So by the time you’d built up a trust you’d built the bond they’ve gone. And I feel that that has been detrimental to my recovery, because I have seen, I have lost count in how many psychiatrists, psychologists I have seen, in, since I was 14.
 
And not also in the locum side of things, and whether it’s against ageism, sexism I don’t care, but it’s easier for a woman to talk to another woman than it is for a woman to talk to a man sometimes.
 

Cat says she was “spoken to like a child” and treated inflexibly. When she wasn’t allowed to...

Cat says she was “spoken to like a child” and treated inflexibly. When she wasn’t allowed to...

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I was supposed to be on the, the government thing of the Care Programme Approach, CPA, which is supposed to be done when you’re, when you move over to that. I’ve actually never had one, I’ve got one, but it was never signed because it was never agreeable because they wouldn’t change it. The way that I was spoken to I was treated like a child. Appointment dates were arranged around them and not me. I had messages continually left on my home phone, “The dates I’m free are,” when again they were aware of my physical health and it leaves me back to you can’t have both, you just can’t have both because they do not take into consideration that because of my seizures are regular I can’t, each day’s different. I could be fine today; I could be really rubbish tomorrow. I was rubbish last night, I’m okay this morning. So, things are so unpredictable you just don’t know.
 
And that’s also the same how depression works. You know it’s a complete cycle, which they don’t, they didn’t understand that. And it was making me more and more stressed and more and more depressed and more and more anxiety, you know my anxiety was going through the roof.
 
And I asked to change case workers, ‘cos I checked with my social worker if I’m entitled to do that and she said, “Of course you are.” She said, “Any, any professional, you’re allowed to change GP, you’re allowed to change consultant, you’re allowed to change hospitals, you can change anything.” She said in her line of work, she said that you know, it all ranges, you know if you don’t get on with your social worker you can change. It doesn’t you know, it works like that, that’s how it is.
 
They refused it. They would not let me move. And they, we, I had it in writing, I asked in writing three times, I asked nicely twice, I even sweet talked to them on the phone, nope, it was refused. I then had it in letter, letter form refusal, in a really nasty kind of way, and that was the last straw. That was it. But I can’t deal with it anymore. If I can’t work with my case worker how am I gonna recover, I can’t, they had the cheek to turn round to me and say, “Well why don’t you talk to us?” Well how can I talk to you if I can’t talk to the person I’m supposed to be working with.
 
It doesn’t, it makes no sense to me at all. And the issue was a big care meeting was called, over my care because I kicked off, I literally kicked off.
 

Cat and her family want family support to cope with her parents suddenly becoming fulltime carers...

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Cat and her family want family support to cope with her parents suddenly becoming fulltime carers...

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And we have been fighting for the last four years for my family to have family counselling, family support to help our family come to terms with having a disabled child in the family. Because all of a sudden we’ve gone from having, whatever you class as normal, I don’t know what other word you would call it, an abled, like abled person family, it’s turned up all our lives upside down. Because at the time I was working, I was at college, possibly heading into university, going you know, studying journalism, everything. And all of a sudden my parents now find them full time carers, my sister’s now a full time carer, so it’s like now what? What are we supposed to do?
 

Cat's GP took her to the mental health unit in his own car because she was desperate for help.

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Cat's GP took her to the mental health unit in his own car because she was desperate for help.

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And it ended up in a very, very difficult situation, it ended up, I’d just taken my 18th suicide attempt, and three of those I had meant, the rest had been cries for help of where I had taken tablets and I have called up friends and gone, “I have taken them, what do I do? I just need help.” And it’s literally been cries for help. Three I have meant, and you know where I’ve told no-one and I have seriously meant it.
 
And the 18th one, was the last straw and I actually I turned up at my GP’s surgery. I sat on the door step and I wouldn’t move and I said, “I don’t care, I don’t care what you do, I don’t care anymore.” And I’ve never ever seen my GP run so quick. He called the police; got me in his car and he drove me to the in-patient mental health unit. And he put me up there and he said, “I’m not leaving until you see her.” And we stayed there for hours and hours and hours and it took him to do that for them to wake up and realise I needed help.
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