I thought I would update you on how things are going on my end. For those who are not aware of my story, I posted this blog back in May:
and received really supportive and kind feedback. Here is me coming back for more ;).
A week after the meeting I described in the comments below my blog post, the chief clinician sent me a letter summarising the meeting. The letter wasn't particularly good, he was unapologetic and adamant they had done everything they could at the time with my best interest in mind (yeah right). Conveniently, there was no mention of how my diagnosis of personality disorder had predated my time with them. So I replied to the letter, asking him to confirm this point as well as 3 others: 2. how the picture on the ward was "mixed", 3. how my current psychiatrist had the benefit of hindsight and 4. how there was no record of my behaviour and my GP friend's conversation with one of the nurses after my discharge review.
He should have responded within 20 working days but 2 weeks ago, I still hadn't heard back so decided to chase it up. As it turns out, he had been waiting for my perinatal casenotes from the M&B Unit, which is interesting when you consider how confident he was at the meeting that I had been diagnosed with a personality disorder there. The thing is, he didn't actually need the M&B Unit notes to reply to my letter but never mind. Anyway, these perinatal notes had taken a while to arrive and he had gone on holiday but now he was back so I would hear back very soon.
I did and his second letter was as bad as the first one, he just waffled about points 2 and 3, confirmed point 4 (as well as stating it would be impossible to find out who was working that day because it was so long ago - as a matter of fact, a friend of mine who works as a CSW for the NHS has told me rotas are kept for years so this is potentially a lie). As for point 1, well, surprise surprise, there is indeed no mention of a personality disorder in the perinatal notes but according to his services' own notes, his consultant had once spoken to the perinatal psychiatrist (presumably on the phone) who had told her she felt I had a personality disorder.
I feel quite deflated about the whole thing now. I know I can't give up - I would never forgive myself if I did - but then I look at the Ombudsman form and am quite daunted by the task ahead. I am going to have to be both thorough (in the main body of the complaint) and concise (they also ask you to summarise the 5 main points of your complaint).
So I am once again turning to you for help and support, fellow APP bloggers. What are your thoughts? What do you think should definitely feature in the top 5 of my complaint? Something I am trying to articulate but find it hard to put into words: there is something really offensive about the fact that my behaviour on their ward was interpreted as being ‘normal’ for me and as part of my disordered personality rather than being a sign of a psychotic episode. I mean, what did they know about me to make that judgment? They certainly did not try to talk to or listen to those who *really* knew me. My best friend waited for the best part of the day for someone to speak to her and no one ever came and as I said before, the nurse my GP friend talked to never bothered recording their conversation. We are talking about a medical professional who is effectively family: her husband (also a GP) is actually my next of kin and I have lived and worked (mainly cared for their children) on and off with them for over 13 years.
Another thing is the ambiguity. On the one hand, they maintain that their diagnosis of personality disorder was the best working diagnosis they could come up with at the time. On the other hand, they do not deny that I did indeed suffer from PP, only that I was not presenting psychotic symptoms at the time I was with them. So, in their mind, yes, I had PP but developed it after they discharged me. Which is untrue. I had symptoms, they just failed to spot them. They also failed to provide a coherent list of criteria I had met for personality disorder. Instead they claim my condition somehow progressed from personality disorder to PP in a very short space of time. And because of this idea that “diagnoses evolve all the time” (chief clinician’s words at the meeting), they can add a note at the end of my casenotes but cannot retract the original diagnosis because it isn’t in itself ‘wrong’. Except it is. Personality disorders are not known to morph into something else and then disappear. You either have a personality disorder or you don’t. If you were diagnosed with a personality disorder 18 months ago, you would still have it now. They are lifelong conditions. And according to my current psychiatrist, my GP, my CPN and everyone else who knows me, I definitely don’t have a personality disorder.
On another note, contact with my daughter is improving. She will start staying overnight next week and as I have family visiting for her 2nd birthday this month, she is going to stay with us for 3 days in a row, which is really exciting. Our bond is growing and my ex partner – who could have potentially moved away for professional reasons – is set to work here for at least the next 5 years. And after having to break up with someone who was blatantly uncomfortable when I told him what had happened to me, I met a wonderful man who is incredibly kind and supportive.
So things are looking up but I do need to get myself together and crack on with the Ombudsman application. Any word of encouragement, advice, thought, feedback, no matter how small would be really appreciated. Sorry for rambling and thank you for reading!