24 January 2019

Chase Emotional Wellbeing (Initial Assessment)

On the 18th (Friday) I went for my Chase Emotional Wellbeing initial assessment (Chase Emotional Wellbeing or CEW is my local mental health service). I was seen by the service last year for support with my anxiety and a past traumatic event and I found it very beneficial (the only downside being the limited number of counselling sessions due to the service's limited funding).

I received at phone call at the beginning of the month, checking in on how I was doing and wanting to know if I needed anymore support. I decided to take this opportunity to reach out and seek professional help and support for my OCD. It has progressively gotten worse over the years to the point where those around me have now started to notice that something is 'wrong' and it's impacting my life in a big way. As I'd never told any of my doctors about this before I hadn't been officially diagnosed so I thought this was the right time to get my official diagnosis.

I was rather anxious on the day of the assessment, I didn't know who I'd be seeing as their name wasn't mentioned on my appointment letter or during the phone call. The service had moved premises since I was last there too and I wasn't entirely familiar with the area.

When we arrived, despite my initial worries, we found the building fairly easily thanks to some photos on the back of the appointment letter. Even though the new building is technically wheelchair accessible (unlike the old one) we still had problems navigating it due tight turns, steep ramps and doors that swing towards you. We made it upstairs eventually though (that's where the reception and consultation rooms are) and I signed in.

I was given some paperwork to fill in (17 pages!). I struggle filling in paperwork so it was taking me quite a while and before I knew it the lady who was carrying out my assessment came into the waiting room and asked how I was getting on. I said that I was nearly done and apologized for taking so long, explaining that I struggle filling in paperwork. She was lovely about it and said that she'd help me fill in the rest.

I was taken through to a lovely room which contained two comfy looking armchairs (I didn't sit in one as I use a wheelchair). The room felt like a mini lounge and was quieter than the waiting room so I started to feel a bit more relaxed. My grandad left the room and the assessment started.

She skimmed through the paperwork that I'd already filled in and saw that I wanted help with OCD. I explained that I hadn't been officially diagnosed but I was pretty sure that I did have OCD. I showed her my symptom list (I'd typed everything up and printed it out) and as soon as she read through it she said "Yeah you have OCD". We discussed my complusions in more detail and my emotions surrounding them.

We also discussed the possibility that my OCD has developed as a coping mechanism to help me deal with my chronic illnesses (I can't control my health so I'm subconsciously trying to control other parts of my life). It would make sense as the OCD started around the same time that my health first started to deteriorate.

I also mentioned that I was pursuing my official Autism diagnosis. I showed her my list of traits and other evidence and she agreed that I more than likely am Autistic but CEW can't officially diagnose me. She recommended that I speak to my GP and she can refer me to someone who can. (So when I can pluck up the courage I'll be visiting the GP to discuss that).

After we'd finished discussing how my OCD affects me we talked about what I wanted to achieve from the service and how we'd go about achieving that. The overall aim is to start and get some control over my OCD instead of my OCD controlling me. The service can only offer 4 hours of 1 to 1 sessions due to its limited funding and as my OCD will need longer than that we'll be doing phone consultations as well. We'll tailor the appointments to meet my needs (for example they'll always be in the afternoon as I struggle to wake up in the morning) and if I can't manage a full hour session we can break it down into smaller half hour sessions.

At the end of the assessment she helped me fill in the rest of the paperwork (she asked me the questions then she filled it out). She also gave me some extra sheets to fill in about how my chronic illnesses affect me (those were only one sided though so didn't take too long). We arranged a phone call for the 8th of February to make sure that I still want to access the service (new protocol) and arrange my first appointment.

Summary:
• Appointment went well.
• I got my official OCD diagnosis.
• The assessor was really nice. She was disabled herself so she understood firsthand what living with a disability and chronic illnesses is like.
• I'll be doing both 1 to 1 sessions and phone consultations.

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