ignis, glacies et pertinacia

Cats among the Pigeons time

In Letters on February 5, 2010 at 3:55 pm

The following was sent to my psychiatrist, a number of people at Dudley PCT (some of them, admittedly, addressed only as ‘The Big Cheese’, ‘Deputy to the Big Cheese’, ‘Deputy Arse Licker to the Big Cheese’ etc., to my MP, and GP. It is an angry letter with numerous errors of grammar etc. No doubt it is impenetrable in places. But it got written. I have tried to write this letter before and it didn’t get written. I sent it at around 1:30 last night.

Gav Belcher

The University of Gav

The Ever-so-slightly-Uglier House

Capel Curig

LL24 0EL

Dear Dr Cretenne II,

You have my as yet undiagnosed (or was it my now diagnosed, without my knowledge), certainly untreated attention deficit disorder to thank for my not having written to you sooner. Were I not now so determined to get your attention and that of your peers, superiors and other miscellaneous contiguous culprits, I have no doubt that you could rely on the very same for years to come – such a tenacity as mine and a capacity to fight you have not encountered in your whole life so far, believe me, without it I would not have come as far as I have come and got this far with the casual (or lazy) observer able to tell me how well I am coping. I have been ringing your office and been passed through the Kafkaesque switchboards of the Dudley Primary Care Trust over the last month or so with the plaint that I have been seeing somebody at High Strung House for the last 18 months to 2 years with absolutely no diagnosis or coherent treatment. As you perhaps know and have perhaps had cause to celebrate that I did not, it has been longer by a factor of two; such is the way my life is slipping away in a confused blur. I found an appointment card today for August 2006! It was by no means the first. Ben Jonson had it that a just anger puts life in man. There’s a lot of life in me right now as there has been a lot of misdirected life in me for years and years just waiting to get out. It may not be professional to say so, but to hell with it, I’ve got to get this letter out now or it will stall on me, and besides, I’m not a professional and may never now be despite my intelligence, so here it is: I’ve been fighting for years and years, more than anybody will ever know, and if I have to turn my fight on to you good people to stop fighting so hard so much – fighting with my head every minute of every day – then you are going to have to find out exactly how hard I have had to fight to turn up at your door in a state which enables you to fob me off with a few fatuous perfunctory statements about how well I am coping.

I am dictating this letter into the computer with the aid of a voice recognition program. This is one of the few strategies that have been suggested to me by others, in this case the good people of the Study Support Centre at Scabville University with Tippex in their hair in the summer of the second year when I stayed in an empty house over the holidays to get some respite from the relentless challenges of the social world and when I spent day after day sitting in the medical library reading and rereading sentence after sentence not because of the complicated vocabulary (that I can deal with) but because even such a momentary pause such as the shift in my eyes from the end of a line to the next would set me off on a prolonged intricate intrusive daydream. It is the tenacity I speak of that led to me learning a hell of a lot from that summer, the foundation of a knowledge that rivals and even surpasses that of many supposed experts in the field, and which led to me gaining a degree which, however it may have been rigged in my favour, was a degree nonetheless and a first-class one at that, at a time when I quite literally could not hold a conversation with anybody but perhaps the five people who lived in my house. It is one of many many strategies I have in place which you and your peers have consistently chosen to overlook when you assess me. Consequently, my own efforts to ameliorate my condition have worked against it being recognised. Safe to say, this riles me and in my mind over and over I have stormed out of your office, and those of your peers, slamming the door and wheel spinning away in my car while we discuss these strategies. Such discussions are the intrusive daydreams I speak of. Many of them are angry, and have always been. These are the ones that make me most irritable, impossible to speak to. But whatever they are they blot out everything to a heartbreaking degree. I have sleep walked through my life, Dr Cretenne, and it is a matter of implacable rage to me that two years can become four, four years eight, eight sixteen, and on and on, with me not waking up to take notice of what is happening around me. Friends of mine from childhood are dying, getting married, having children, buying houses, progressing in their careers, and all the while they are doing so at a distance. I won’t see them from month to month, year to year, and then five, six, seven, eight years at a stretch, because I am so caught up in my own daydreams there is literally no space for anything else, and still bills don’t get paid, forms filled in, bins put out, cars fixed, dentists applied for (five years and counting on the to do list), and all of these other things in life that these others seem to do so effortlessly. And all the while I am ‘coping so well’. And clearly I am ‘very intelligent’.

Let me put it to you straight and in a language that I am familiar with (those formative years of compulsive swearing and idiosyncratic speech replete with spoonerisms, malapropisms, neologisms and indeed sound effects, has made me utterly intolerant of the kind of effortlessly articulate, educated types who frown on the earthy language of people who didn’t have it as easy as they did themselves): you and your people have dropped a bollock. Big time. I have been informed by the PCT that up until this summer just gone, Dudley Primary Care Trust had a contract with the Maudsley hospital in London, a Centre of Excellence in Adult ADHD, for referrals. Summer 2009! I’ll be generous and will ignore for a moment the fact that I had seen Dr Kretenow at Hill House numerous times before that appointment of August 2006. You had three years in which to refer me, AT NO EXTRA COST TO THE PCT (the contract was inclusive, paid in one lump sum for any number of referrals), to the preeminent specialist centre in the country! That three years was wasted. You allowed an ideal opportunity to lapse leaving me to fester now in the situation I am in which is that the PCT does not know if it recognises adult ADHD (I certainly got no coherent response on this point), does know that it has a policy of not referring outside of the region and that, oh, there exists no specialist centre in the region, in addition to which, it knows that its handling of Asperger’s in adults is piss poor (I paraphrase), and has created a committee to look into the problem, meaning no doubt, that I can wait another few years to hear anything.

I repeat: you dropped a bollock.

To compound this problem, I was condescended to a little too often in my time at High Strung House. I was not kept informed of any step in the process, to the degree that a letter of referral made 2-3 years ago never received a response, and I never heard a thing.

I expect nothing less than a belated referral to the Maudsley hospital for a diagnosis of ADHD and a coherent treatment plan. Similarly, I expect nothing less than a referral to a specialist in Asperger’s syndrome. If either of these conditions are not met in very short order (the ADHD being first in order of priorities), then I intend to do my best to publicise what I consider to be the manifest failings of the Dudley PCT and mental health services to treat a condition that has been considered eminently treatable for years. Perhaps I wouldn’t succeed in such an aim. Perhaps you could rely on my diagnosed/undiagnosed untreated ADHD to stand in the way once again. Perhaps. But believe me, it’s a fight to write this letter (a fight at this juncture I know too well I have far from succeeded yet), just as it is a fight to get through the day without losing myself to anger and restless anxiety, a mortifying social faux pas, depression or disillusionment, obsession, compulsion or agitated insomnia. Each of these is a fight I sometimes win, sometimes lose, but nobody who knows me well (and few do) would bet against me in anything I set my mind to.

This letter, as I remarked above, is not professional or formal. If it were, it wouldn’t have been written at all. For this I apologise. However, I have spent too long frequenting doctor’s surgeries and holding back all of the rage and the frustration and the frustration and trying to speak as articulately and as politely as I can, and all that has happened is that I have been condescended to, dismissed and fobbed off. I’m sick of it. I am angry. I have been angry for a very long time and it’s not going away. I want to start my life. I want to contribute to the society I live in. Plenty of the people you see on a daily basis don’t want to do that.

This letter will be copied to a number of people, including my MP, my GP, my cognitive Behavioural Therapist, my “Gatekeeper” who exists on some kind of bureaucratic quantum plane I don’t understand, and various people at the Dudley Primary Care Trust. It will be published, with names removed, on my blog, and discussed on a recent video diary I have begun to document my struggles with ADHD/Asperger’s and this fight for diagnosis that nobody with any sense could ever have predicted would have taken so long, depleted so much energy, and seen a nervous breakdown and recovery, so many broken relationships and .

Doctor, I am angry and frustrated and if you think I am difficult to deal with, then just imagine how difficult I am to BE. I live in this head. You merely visit. I came to you and your people for help and, as far as I am concerned, I have received none. Quite the opposite in many cases. Consider that before you judge me. I don’t take pleasure in being difficult (well, not at first anyway, I have to be pushed into that, and it takes a lot to push me to the edge), but I’m not getting anywhere being easy to deal with, and if there’s one thing I learned during and after my last, preventable, nervous breakdown, it’s not to be a doormat to anybody, but to stick up for myself. Besides, writing shitty letters is a damn sight less difficult than many of the fates that were sure to await me if I hadn’t done as much as I have. How many people in prison for unspeakable crimes needn’t be there. If only they had known about nutrition (yes, nutrition), and if only they had known some of the strategies I have learned. One day I will have some influence in helping people like that, but right now I need help to start my life at last.

Doctor, my patience, and my energy for fighting with my head every day of my life has ran out. Do something. Now.

And you suits reading this, don’t think for one second that the heat’s off you. I don’t understand all too well what your jobs are for any more than I understand why so many pen pushers in HR are the last to be hit by the recession, but I expect you to show me. Now.


Gav Belcher

  1. Admirable diplomacy Belcher! You want these people to help you so you send them angry letters, have them Google you up to see if it’s just another aspergic clogging up the interweb and then call them all a bunch of cretins. Bravo!

    Really, I do know Graham Robb’s Rimbaud is on the reading list, but for that reason alone I scarcely expected you to read it, let alone take it as an object lesson in biting the hand that feeds you.

    Gav, seriously, you’re only ever going to get so far with this ‘je suis un autre’. You’re hurting, you’re angry and you’re frustrated, and I know you have reason. I know you trust no one right now, and sometimes I think you have just cause, but I think you’re going to have to find another way to fight than take these people on like this. You’re too ready with a ‘fuck you’ sometimes. This is a punk take on ‘anarchy’. This is a spitting in the air, “I want to destroy, possibly” kind of vacuity, and it’s beneath you.

  2. I’ve called them worse in my head enough times. You can give a man plaudits for honesty at least.

    Besides. They might be hard working. I don’t know. But it’s an incredible arrogance at work. It may not always be intended but its there. You can’t get away with that most places, but you can condescend to a mentally ill individual, you can dismiss them, and you can certainly force them to adhere to a preconceived stereotype.

    Anyway, I’ve written enough halves of letters to these people, polite and otherwise. They can step into my fucking world for a minute.

    Spitting in the air it may be but sometimes a guy with Tourettes has to let it all out in one go and that’s what this is. And, seriously, it’s what I spend so much of my time covering up. I fight with my head so much to keep it all under wraps. I walk into a doctor’s office and talk politely for ten minutes when for days beforehand I’ve been furious, talking to myself with clenched fists with the anger and anxiety of it all.

    “Je suis un autre” might be beneath me. It all might be. But perhaps you don’t know how much of what I do and say, and how I treat the people around me is beneath me too, and how much it pains me. And if I’m treating these people poorly now (and I would maintain they have treated me pretty shabbily and really failed to listen when I told them my life was falling down around me while they were taking it all as evidence of functioning so well), then it’s because I need that to stop.

    One day my life won’t be beneath me. Sorry if it offends you. Sorry if it offends whoever the hell it offends. I didn’t seek this out. But I’ll say it again, if I have to fight these people to get on to the right track, I’ll do it. And besides, somebody’s going to have to listen for everything that has happened. They owe me that at least. And if all they have to listen to is a thousand circumlocutions of fuck you, so be it. These people chose to work with people. If they ain’t people people they ought to have chose something else. As it is they ought to be treating people like people.

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