In December 2015 my referral to what is known as the Community Rehabilitation Team was finalised, I had been through an assessment and was accepted. At that point in time being referred into this team was an alternative to inpatient treatment and was my lifeline to the real world. The catch, because of its intensive nature it is only ever provided as a limited service for one year.
I went into it sceptical, but glad that they took a more holistic approach than the NHS. The service is provided by a local charity, funded by the NHS, and they have a much more flexible approach providing intensive support. Instead of the one half hour visit every month I received from the Recovery team who didn’t have the capacity to support me any further than that, now I was receiving three two-hour visits every week.
With this support we were able to realistically and practically tackle issues like my anxiety by taking on graded exposure. I had support for practical ways to manage living with Bipolar which I have implemented into day to day life. They taught me mindfulness and how I can use it in different situations. And they were there when I needed to talk, or hit a crisis point. I also had a nurse-prescriber as my CPN to help keep an eye on the meds which has been a god-send.
Now though, my year is up, I’m doing so much better than I was. the psychiatrist in the team was in no doubt I have Bipolar as the team have witnessed the changes in my moods through the year (the diagnosis is something I have consistently had trouble with) he put me on Lithium and whilst it’s not a wonder drug, it has vastly improved things, reigning my moods in from the extremes.
I was given a stay of execution as there is a medication issue which they want to resolve, but once that is sorted I will be discharged. And so lies the catch 22, you see they’ve done a great job, I am now functioning better than I have in a while. But because of this I am too well to be referred back to Recovery, they would refuse me as I don’t meet their criteria. So I will go from having had intensive support for a year to nothing at all.
I have been told I will be given rapid access back to the team in case of emergency but this feels like a Hail Mary. There is no middle ground with support for people who are “almost there” and just need a hand to hold while they figure things out.
We all know how quickly OK can unravel into bad and I guess this is my fear. Once I am on my own again without good people guiding my path does it all just fall apart? I will do my best to keep it all together and keep in play everything I have learned but damn this is really scary.