ignis, glacies et pertinacia

A Walter Mitty Character #1

In A Walter Mitty Character, Autism Research Unit, CBT, Commentary, Department of Psychology, Mall Quart D'Heur on July 16, 2009 at 10:04 pm

So, I had an appointment today with some kind of “low intensity worker” as part of the mental health community outreach team or something. I don’t even much listen anymore I’ve been passed around so much. So, finally, having found a piece of paper I had mislaid with the appointment time and place (never the same place twice), I turn up at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. The place looks squalid. It could be a squat. The signs outside the door haven’t been touched for ten to fifteen years. The place looks appalling. The door is closed, studded at random with rusted drawing pins and covered in flaking paint last applied over a decade ago by the looks of it. Nobody answers the doorbell. And when I find the phone number on a tatty skewiff print out in the window and retire to the five-years-vacant old barbers I used to go to to get my regulation bowlhead cut as a boy the phone is constantly busy. Fially, ten minutes after the appointment is due to begin a diminutive young woman comes to the door, cursorily looks at me, rings, and gets let in.

I knock, and as I hear an internal door close on a sturdy lock, finally now get let in. I’m shown through to a waiting room with no two plastic chairs the same. This is a truly shambolic hodge podge of a building. Characterless municipality does not get any more depressing than this, and I would hate to need advice from anybody who can tolerate to spend their hours there.

In any case, this tiny young girl comes through to talk through my problems, and I can’t help but feel (and there have to date been few times in my life when I could say this, what will soon enough be a commonplace) that how could a young girl like that, who barely looks twenty two, have any kind of undergrad degree in Psychology, let alone any working knowledge. So, she introduces herself as a low intensity worker, and some other nonsense string of verbiage, and gets out the paperwork. It seems I will have to go over everything again. And I will. I have been passed on. And this will be the stopgap before the “high intensity work” begins.

She asks what I want from this service.

I tell her. I want to be taken seriously. I want to be listened to. I have not had that so far. I will not have my experiences dismissed or incorrectly categorised into some specious concept beloved of academics and pharmacologists who listen too little to patients. And I want a diagnosis.

I then spend some time discussing my problems, again, the busy mind, and its conection to food, in a way that leaves me buzzing as I leave.

She tells me it would be beneficial for me to keep a thoughts diary. I describe to her my fitful attempts to do so, with “The Unforgiving Minutes” and similar diaries. I leave and buy a notepad from W H SMith. I have started it, and plan to maintain it. I have for a long time, after all, thought it would be a useful record for me. It is something indeed I have wanted to do for years. That much may be a step forward.

In summary, though, I told her that I do not hold out much hope for CBT. On one level I want to experience it, because I want to review it. The government has put all of its resources into CBT, and some people, like, for example, Oliver James, have been very critical of such programmes. Years ago I looked into CBT, and for years I held in my head a short story, Mall Quart D’Heur, which I had planed, and still at some point hope to write, which was to try and track some of my thoughts, to replicate them, and which was, also, to take apart CBT by having this stream of consciousness punctuated by these monitoring interjections of the conscious mind. That was my experience for a long time, this anarchy of thoughts, and then this additional interjection of policing thoughts. I described this to the girl, that such attempts to moderate and monitor my thoughts lead only to additional thoughts.

She agreed with me that there is not a one size fits all solution to psychological problems and that CBT is not for everyone. She agreed too that the government is putting all its money into CBT. I’m pretty angry about that. When I think about the state of the service that I have experienced, both in terms of the lack of integration between the various subsets of the NHS, and the absolutely incompatable viewpoints of those in the mental health service and those in the “nutrition”-based areas, it is utterly appalling. The dieticians knew absolutely nothing about Candida, for example, and any conceivable problems food and inattention, and were simply incompetant even before I factor in the fact that I saw so many different people in the short time I was seeing them.

I’m seeing the girl again next week and she says she will endeavour to try to find me a referral to a place that might be able to diagnose me. I believe her. She seemed sincere in that. And I slagged off enough of her colleagues and the NHS in general that I think she’ll try and pull out the stops. I don’t intend to waste my time any more.

  1. Hi ADD, ADHD and autism are very interesting areas and we are way way behind the States in looking at them. Have you come across the work of Dr Amen by any chance? He works only a little with diet but a lot with what he calls brain pollution, cigarettes, caffeine, cocaine, alcohol and scans patients brains then treats accordingly …. not yet on the NHS as we know … also with brains damaged by falls/bumps etc … also interesting is work around attachment with people like Dr Allan Schore, basically the brain develops in response to the mother’s gaze and regulation so if you have a disregulated childhood the right hand side of the brain is storing a lot of trauma which then ‘interferes’ with the cortical processing of the later developing of the left hand side of the brain … most specialists unfortunately seem to work in one area but really all three have relevance (in my opinion) You may have childhood trauma and reduced cerebral vascular flow due to poor posture etc etc which can be helped with cranio-osteopathy etc etc … hope some of this helps …. I would also look at Sally Fallon Morrell which if you google NCM they are speaking at the same conference Wise Traditions put on by the Weston A Price Foundation on vimeo … SFM talks about how we are the 3rd generation eating a rubbish diet and how this affects the physiology – head gets longer, less room for the brain whose function is compromised … very interesting viewpoint …

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