Author: Beth, 17
About: Beth shares her journey to support for anxiety, depression, OCD and emetophobia. She describes her experience of receiving help from her GP and CAMHS.
I was first referred to CAMHS aged ten after experiencing anxiety. Poor mental health had always been in my family and had been something I’d grown up around. My mum suffers with schizoaffective disorder and was able to tell that anxiety was something I was struggling with, so made sure I got help.
My first experience at CAMHS age 10
Every time you go to CAMHS they get you to fill in a questionnaire that highlights the possible issues a young person might be struggling with. This is so they have an idea before they meet you on how best to treat you. The first one I ever did highlighted that I was struggling with anxiety and periods of depression. But during my initial meeting they spent more time speaking to me about my mum and then spoke with my mum for longer than they did with me. After all of that, I was discharged from CAMHS with no treatment with the hope that what I was struggling with would just go away with age.
I was discharged from CAMHS with no treatment with the hope that what I was struggling with would just go away with age.
Talk therapy with Relate age 12
I was 12 when I next went to CAMHS, and their initial assessment again highlighted issues with anxiety and depression, but this time with a mild issue of OCD. I was referred to a private talking therapy and relationship service called Relate. I don’t remember much about my experience there, but the talking therapy worked and I remember feeling a lot less anxious afterwards.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) age 15
However, after experiencing some severe bullying and then the first coronavirus lockdown, I went back to CAMHS aged 15 after I found I couldn’t stop crying and was having more and more periods of low mood. CAMHS’ initial assessment showed similar issues to the last time I had been, however this time they had gotten worse.
Therapy in person works a lot better for me and I’ve also found that the person delivering the therapy makes a difference.
All my appointments were over the phone due to covid, including the CBT I received from CAMHS. I found that CBT over the phone didn’t work for me. Therapy in person works a lot better for me and I’ve also found that the person delivering the therapy makes a difference. After 6-8 weeks, I finished CBT feeling a little better.
Steps2WellBeing age 16
Two more lockdowns later, I was aged 16 and told my mum that I needed help again, but asked to get help directly from Relate instead of CAMHS. I received talking therapy from Relate and come October, my therapist and I decided I was doing a lot better. However, due to events occurring in relationships with people close to me, I quickly found my mental health spiralling. Around December 2021 I found I was feeling the lowest I’d ever felt and, after speaking to my mum, my GP referred me back to CAMHS.
I waited a month to have my initial assessment in which anxiety, depression and OCD were highlighted again. After the initial assessment I heard back from CAMHS multiple times, each time telling me they were still debating what to do with me but I would hear back soon.
CAMHS have a waiting list of two years, so they thought it would be best to refer me to Steps2Wellbeing as it only had a waiting list of six months.
Eventually I had a call from a service called Steps2Wellbeing. They told me CAMHS had referred me to them, because if I stayed with CAMHS I would be an adult by the time I received treatment with them. CAMHS have a waiting list of two years, so they thought it would be best to refer me to Steps2Wellbeing as it only had a waiting list of six months.
Treatment for OCD and emetophobia
Steps2Wellbeing’s initial assessment highlighted the same issues as CAMHS – general anxiety disorder (GAD), depression and OCD. During both my initial meeting and first session of therapy, both people I spoke to were confused that not once in all the times I had been to CAMHS or Relate had I received treatment for OCD. It was later disclosed to me that anything above a score of 35 on the OCD assessment was considered ‘severe’ and I had scored around 120.
It is safe to say that although I have not been at Steps2Wellbeing long, I have found it better than CAMHS. I am currently receiving exposure therapy for emetophobia, which I’m finding quite scary and never thought that my fear of sick was worthy of therapy. I knew it was bad, but had no idea that I needed therapy to treat it. I am also receiving exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP) for OCD.
I am currently receiving exposure therapy for emetophobia, which I’m finding quite scary and never thought that my fear of sick was worthy of therapy.
My GP surgery has never been all that helpful regarding mental health, although my GP has sent me some mindfulness techniques in the past. My mum and I feel that medication may help some of the other issues I experience. However, every GP I have spoken to has refused to prescribe me medication for poor mental health due to me being 17.
Although I continue to struggle, I have hope for the future now that I am receiving treatment that works for me.
More information and advice
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Where to get help
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