Adventures in Psychiatry : working together, getting what you need

So.... I thought today would be a good time to talk about working with your team - which in my case is a psychiatrist, GP, senior occupational therapist and charge nurse. Of course, this is the NHS and there is an element of flexibility, but these are the people who are going to hear about any incidents or changes going on whether I speak to them directly or not. 

The issue I needed to deal with was asking for medication; specifically, I needed a repeat prescription of buspirone. It's an alternative to diazepam/valium for addicts, basically! It's on my notes from my prescribing psychiatrist at Addaction to use this drug in times of extra stress for short periods of time. I used it to get me through the Christmas period, so the chances of my GP thinking I was "med-seeking" in the traditional sense are next-to-none. Sadly, this is something I'm going to encounter with doctors for the rest of my life but it's alright. I know once I build a relationship and familiarity with my doctor they'll know when I'm really in trouble or just being a shit.

I can imagine most people think the idea of approaching a doctor for a specific medication is either just not the done thing - as I did - or pointless because they'll treat you like an idiot that's spent too much time on google. As I have said in my other posts in this series, one of the best things you can do if you find yourself in mental health services is learn as much as you can. Knowledge is your friend and your GP should be in some sense too. Your doctors should be more than happy to discuss medicine with you, if they're not, I'd be tempted to question why they are still practicing as a medical doctor.

Anyway. I needed buspirone to be able to endure being at Gatwick Airport, on a plane, in a foreign country where I don't speak the language... Reasonable enough reasons, right?

My first port of call was my occupational therapist at the day hospital, as I wasn't sure who was dealing with my prescriptions at all. In a day hospital setting what usually happens is a psychiatrist will start a new medication and then hand the repeat prescriptions over to the GP, but any dose changes will have to go via the psychiatrist unless the GP and/or patient has enough experience with the drug in question. As buspirone is a bit of an unusual medication in a general practice setting, I wasn't sure who'd be dealing with the green piece of paper. It turns out my GP had the pleasure this time.

There are usually two options here; I can either try and get a face-to-face appointment or ask for a telephone appointment. As I needed a clearance letter to take my prescription medication in my carry-on luggage, I decided to include the request for buspirone in my written letter. It's procedure to ask for doctors letters in writing, and to pay for them before they get written.

As it turns out, my GP is away on annual leave the next 2 weeks. Sod's law! I don't have much contact with any other doctors at my surgery, but my notes are pretty extensive and my letter request was definitely clear enough about why I needed the buspirone. I love letters. I'm so much better at communicating this way. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got way back when I first got poorly and basically lost the ability to speak, was to write letters or notes to whoever I had to see. I still do this now if it's something very difficult.

My GP surgery is wonderful. I had someone call me about my letter on Friday - the day after I handed it in - explain that my GP was away and that she'd find the next available GP to give me a call on Monday. As I needed my clearance letter quickly she'd also have to get a message across to the people that deal with them and have someone call me to see how much it'd cost and do an over-the-phone payment to speed the process along. She assured me we'd get it all sorted in time and they're there to help me get on my first flight!

I had the weekend to worry about whether or not this unfamiliar GP would refuse my request or suggest something I hadn't researched as an alternative. I can't have histamines as they give me awful restlessness.

I had to wait until 3pm today for the call! I was just about to call the surgery to see if they'd forgotten about me! The GP was nice enough and didn't have any real issue with me having the medicine. Win! He did mention that holidays are supposed to be relaxing, to which I just laughed. I don't know how many he has given me, or what dose. I'll find out on Thursday when I go to collect them, along with my other medicines.

The whole thing was pretty painless this time around, but it has been a real fight to get some medicines over the years.

This week I am trying to keep myself distracted, and well medicated! I'm taking an extra 25mg of quetiapine now, which I will notify the day hospital of on Thursday. I can still call them any time if I need to, but I'm hoping my night-time anxiety won't lead to that. But they're there if I need them and we work together to get through the problem.

It gives me strength knowing that I have people on my side, and are really wanting me to progress and achieve what I'm setting out to. I also have support set up at Gatwick Airport, which is absolutely amazing. More people to add to my little team of 'keeping Sami's shit together'. It takes the heat off of the boyfriend and I will have someone with me who has been specially trained in dealing with panic attacks of an epic variety.

My mother has been less than supportive about all this, predictably, but I know I'm doing the right thing. She knows nothing about my situation really. She knows what my diagnosis is, and what I say about it, but when any 'special treatment' comes into play, she's dead against it and makes me feel like a total asshole.


I wasn't sure how to notify easyjet about my condition and concerns, but I just called the special assistance number and it was a breeze! They must hear the same thing so many times!! I wasn't expecting any mobility assistance but I will have a wheelchair to get me through the airport. It's a huge relief, as I will be sedated to the point of crawling and I have been told that Gatwick is huuuuuge!

I'll write more about all this once I'm back from my trip I think. It's an amazing service!!

What I've learned over the past couple of years is that it's perfectly ok to ask for help, or answers to questions you might have. This used to be such a huge taboo. We're only human, and I'm pretty sure that if someone came to you for help you wouldn't tell them off and send them away. Just be honest, say what you think you need and take it from there.

I'm planning to record my first flight experience, from start to finish. It won't be pretty but hopefully it'll be helpful.... We'll see.

I'm going to shut up now! ;)

Until next time <3

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