Abbie is in her early twenties and lives with depression and anxiety. When she began to experience intrusive thoughts, she tried to access psychological wellbeing support, but was met with a long waiting list.
“Since I can remember I’ve always had mental health issues, and I have taken medication to help with my depression and anxiety for a long time.
“In the summer last year I started to get really bad intrusive thoughts. They were very disturbing: I think there was a lot of built up stress that I had just been pushing back that led to me becoming overwhelmed.
“I thought – right, I need some help to deal with this because this is beyond the pale, I’ve been able to muddle through throughout the years but I need help with this - so I phoned my GP. I have a great relationship with him, he’s really helpful and understanding and he referred me to psychological therapies.
“I got a screening call with a clinician around a month after referral, and I told them how much I was struggling and how I was really thinking I’ve broken my brain, I can’t think normally, if this goes on forever I’m going to kill myself.
“It was a relief to hear that I qualified for talking therapies and I was told it would be within 16 weeks. I thought well that will be around December and will be hard, but maybe I can focus on other things in the meantime. But we are well over 16 weeks now and I still haven’t heard a thing.
“While I was waiting I felt like I wasn’t dealing with how I was feeling, just avoiding it. Eventually, my manager mentioned I could get subsidised access to private therapy through work and I thought, well I have to give it a try, because I can’t keep waiting like this. It just felt like a never ending uphill battle trying to access services through the NHS, like there was no urgency or care. It’s really disappointing, I wouldn’t have sought out help unless I really needed it.
“In December I finally had my first appointment with a private therapist. Even after a few sessions it has already made a huge difference. I’ve never felt more understood or accepted and it has given me some really helpful mindfulness techniques to help me to deal with my intrusive thoughts.”