So yesterday, on Wednesday 15th August, I finally visited Maudsley Hospital in London to meet Elaine Hunter, the clinical lead of the depersonalisation disorder service. I’d pretty much been waiting for this as soon as I found out these hell-bent symptoms had a name, and after I stumbled upon the name of the place where professionals actually attempt to tackle it. In a scary world of having an unknown disorder that many professionals haven’t heard of, knowing of such a place made it seem like fuckin’ Narnia. I think it would have been easier to access through a bloody wardrobe than going through the longwinded NHS referral system though.
I was told to expect the assessment to last around 2 hours, but I was in there for three, which was reassuring, knowing that I wasn’t being rushed or cut short, especially after such a gruelling process to get there. Prior to the appointment, I had to fill out 6 forms, including the Cambridge depersonalisation scale, among other question related forms. I also sent a poem I had written on my blog which I posted in April, called “Through The Looking Glass” which I believe goes in to some depth of the symptoms I experience everyday. Elaine said that she liked it too.
Many of the questions were to get an understanding of my life from the past, as early as I could remember, which was towards the end of primary school, up to present day. I spoke about my relationship with my family, the awful bullying I endured throughout my education, where during college to study for my GCSE’s, there were at the very least, 50 people who would always pass me in the corridoors , and say really upsetting things about my appearance, which had a huge impact on my already shattered self confidence. I’d be called names in class where many teachers would turn a blind eye, and in certain classes I got punched at the back of the classroom when teachers weren’t looking. I still did well in college, and achieved some decent grades, but when it came to the colleges I went on to after, for my A levels, I never stayed for the whole 2 years because I always wanted a fresh start, in hope that I’d strike lucky and be among a whole class of decent people that weren’t bullies. But I was wrong, and my reputation as a reputable student and high achiever took the back seat, because I couldn’t get by everyday trying to build a future for myself because at the same time, the weak structure of my mental health was also getting broken down.
And finally, I went through my three short lived relationships. Where the first was perhaps the biggest knock ever to my mental health. After being told by bullies that I’d die alone and that nobody would ever want to be with me, I always pretended to my parents and friends that I wasn’t interested in girls, so that they didn’t think something was wrong with me. But actually, all I ever wanted was to be in love. It was only about a month after leaving college to start an apprenticeship that I started talking to her, and we met exactly a week before my 20th birthday. I trusted her with everything I had, and confided in her about all of the bullying I had gone through, and that it had ruined me. But somehow she was able to make me forget about all of that in an instant. It was like a reward at the end of making it through it all, as if everything had happened for a reason. But after this relationship ended, I was never the same again. My heart wasn’t the only thing that broke, and I remember it all being the most physically and emotionally painful thing I have ever felt in my life.
Elaine believed that with this, and my childhood life at home and school combined, they were the main causative factors to developing depersonalisation disorder. I told her about smoking Marijuana for 2 years socially, about once a week. But she strongly felt that Marijuana was right at the bottom of the scale of what actually triggered this disorder for me.
She has said that counselling would be beneficial for myself in the meantime, as unfortunately there is a year long waiting list for the DP/DR specific treatment at Maudsley hospital. Which was pretty disappointing to hear, but there is nothing I can do, but try my best to hold on again. I had told her that I’ve tried countless times to get some counselling arranged, but my doctors, psychiatrists and crisis team’s have all said my issues are too complicated to be helped through counselling. However she will be writing a report to my doctors and psychiatrist to inform them that I need counselling as I am a high risk patient. And I couldn’t agree with that more.
Anyway, it was a huge pleasure to have met Elaine, who is perhaps one of the most involved and educated people around, for the treatment and learning of this disorder, among other dissociative problems.