My experience with CAMHS

I have been in and out of mental health services since the age of 16. From the age of 12, I was offered anger management counselling at school 3 times. I would get urges to hit people, even if they had done nothing to provoke it. And I did hit people. A lot.

When I started my A-Levels at sixth form everything went pear shaped. Throughout secondary school I was obsessed with certain people I knew, one a time. I would ring them every day, even after following them around school for 6 hours. I needed to know everything about them and I would feel lost and rejected if they weren’t in or I couldn’t speak to them.

I also had a set of coloured pens that had to be in the right order. No one could touch them and if I lost one of them or they were out of place I would have a melt down. I remember one time I was in my psychology lesson and I had left the red pen in my music lesson just before hand. I started hysterically crying and went to the toilet and proceeded to scream and hit my head against the wall.

I was suicidal and getting intrusive thoughts at the time as well. My head of sixth form told me that if I didn’t tell my parents, she would. I told my mom eventually, but it was really hard. One day after that I got locked in the head of sixth form’s office and wasn’t allowed to leave. She rang my parents and my dad came to pick me up. I got sent home only to be told I had to come back later because I had a written assessment to do in the afternoon.

After that my mom took me to see my GP. He said to me that I probably had OCD. From there he referred me to counselling. I saw councillor twice and it was more than she could deal with and she referred me to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

I can’t remember how long I was on the waiting list for. This was a blurry time in my life and I don’t remember much of my childhood anyway. My first appointment was with a lovely nurse called who shared my name and went to the same primary school as me.  All I can remember about it was that she asked my mom to leave the room and I told her I was suicidal.

From there I saw a psychologist, psychiatrist and a speech and language therapist who did lots of assessments and eventually I had an assessment for autism. The assessment took months and I had to go back appointment after appointment to complete it. It probably took so long because I was too anxious to answer any questions so whenever I was asked something, I would look at my mom and she would answer for me. I was put on Fluoxetine (Prozac) for my anxiety.

Eventually, I was diagnosed with autism in October 2011, aged 17. By the new year, I was told that because I was nearly 18 I had the choice to stay with CAMHS and continue psychology, be transferred to adult services or be discharged. I didn’t want to be transferred because I didn’t want to have to speak to anyone else and I didn’t really like the psychologist so I chose to be discharged.

My strongest memory of CAMHS was having an assessment for dyslexia in the art room and I was more interested in playing with the dinosaurs than the assessment itself. My attention span hasn’t really got any better.

I can’t really give an overall impression of how I was treated in CAMHS as I don’t remember much of it. Just like with anything, I got on well with some of the team and not so well with others. My experience wasn’t particularly good or bad and I wish it went as well for others as it did for me. I got a diagnosis out of it, which at the time was really useful because it meant I got extra time in exams for my last year of A-Levels and hopefully I’ll get the same when I go to uni.

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