Katie was referred to CAMHS at age 14 suffering with Anorexia, her relationship with her doctor and psychologist was strained. She soon meet Annabelle, a CAMHS nurse who inspired her and made her feel hopeful. Anabelle reminded her that all was possible. Katie is sharing her story with us for Children's Mental Health Week.
In her own words....
I was referred into CAMHS by both my GP and the school nurse at the age of 14 where I was diagnosed with Anorexia. My time at CAMHS at this point was filled with strained relationships with both my doctor and my psychologist. They worked closely with my Mum to ensure I was following my meal plan and then involved my school with supported lunches, until eventually I was forced to have lunches at home. During this period of time my mood took a turn for the worse and I began experiencing intense suicidal thoughts which I attempted to hide from all those close to me. Things became progressively worse until my Mum and my school teachers began to notice things weren’t right and again reached out to CAMHS with concerns.
After numerous attempts to manage my mood had failed and things were becoming worse, the Home Treatment Team became involved and I was seen by a number of professionals within the team, all of whom I refused to engage with, so they decided I should be seen by someone else. This continued until I was seen by Annabelle.
I began by feeling extremely sceptical of her and attempted to push her away using all of the methods that had worked before; sarcastic responses, silent treatment and just point blank refusal. This however didn’t work in the slightest and I was left feeling extremely frustrated and wondering why she hadn’t given up. In spite of my difficult attitude to treatment, Annabelle continued to visit me and would spend time just chatting away, attempting to get to know me and engage in some kind of conversation. As well as this, she would speak about the future that everyone but me believed I would have and I remember her talking about how, one day in the future, I would be visiting universities with my Mum and deciding on where I would study. She said this was all possible if I listened to those around me and fought through what I was dealing with now.
Despite my attempts to disagree with everything she said and advised, I found myself beginning to like Annabelle and even trust her, resulting in me attempting some of the techniques she described to me. One of the most memorable being the “jar of positives” – in which every time something happened that made me feel positive I would write it down and place it in the jar. On our last session she wrote me a little note for my jar. This is something I have kept for almost 4 years and still look at from time to time.
I realise now that although I found Annabelle’s positive outlook on things somewhat infuriating she was one of the many people who supported me through a time when I never believed I would change and she will always be the nurse who refused to give up on me. It is because of my experience at CAMHS I have decided to study psychology at university, with the hope that I can work in mental health and help others in the way that Annabelle helped me.
It is also one of the reasons that I work with Niki in Service User Participation because despite my difficulties with CAMHS I realise that it was vital in shaping my future and dealing with issues that I presented with. Therefore I want to use my experiences to make CAMHS better for other young people coming into the service. Already I can see positive changes that have arisen since Niki and the service user group have become involved in improving the care given by CAMHS and I am extremely grateful to be a part of this.
For more information and CAMHS and what we can help with visit https://camhs.elft.nhs.uk/