“I don’t want to take a place off someone else who needs it more”
I hear this statement so much from people enquiring about the BTG Respite Programs. And time and time again I tell people, there is no minimum entry requirement. If you don’t feel mentally well, if you feel like there’s a heavy feeling you just can’t shift, or a sense of worry that’s starting to eat you up. Then you are absolutely “sick enough” to take part in this program.
One of my favourite analogies to help people understand is to use a physical health example.
If you cut your arm on a piece of glass, you’d probably wash it, pop a plaster over it and keep an eye on it. If in a couple of days it wasn’t looking much better and had started to ooze and swell, you’d see a Dr and get more treatment.
What you wouldn’t do, is wait until your arm was falling off and you were dying of sepsis.
Unfortunately, when it comes to mental health most of us aren’t educated in identifying the signs of deterioration and all too often people leave it far too late to seek help and that limits the treatment options available.
When I founded Bridging the Gap, the aim was to do just that, bridge the gap in mental healthcare, and stop people slipping all the way down. It's a long and hard road back up to normal once you’ve hit the bottom.
Mental health is a sliding scale, no one is 100% healthy all the time. What’s important is knowing when and what help you need. A rough guide from my personal experience is:
(Cut on arm)
Low mood or worry that lasts maybe 2-4 days but you start to feel better with some self care.
It might be linked to a particular life event but you have acknowledged it and have plans in place to resolve it.
Self care can look different for everyone but some examples could be: time with friends, exercise, a fun hobby, mediation, massage, getting out in nature, reading etc. It’s normal and healthy to feel a range of emotions both good and bad and as long as you feel in control and know how to improve your mood then all is well.
It’s often helpful to record when these episodes happen, to see if you spot a trend.
(Oozing and infected)
Low mood or worry that doesn’t seem to have a particular cause, or you know what the cause is but it’s beyond your control and you can’t find a resolution on your own. The feeling is sticking around for more than 5-7 days and is starting to affect how you think and function. Usual activities that make you feel better aren’t having an effect.
This is the point where you need support, before it gets worse, see your GP and get in touch with BTG.
(Septic and arm falling off)
Panick attacks and suicidal thoughts, feeling completely hopeless or deep panic and dread at the thought of performing basic life activities. Unable to fully function.
You need professional help and fast, speaking to your GP is the first step or presenting to A&E, you’re likely to need medication at this point and they should put you in touch with a crisis team.
If you get in touch with BTG the counsellors will perform a triage and assessment but sadly at this point people are often beyond the remit of our care.
This is a devastating fact but we have to stay within the scope of our practice and we unfortunately don’t have psychiatrists or medical professionals on our team to give you the right care. Once you’ve received some treatment and are on the road to recovery then you can get in touch with BTG about a program.
If you or someone you know is struggling then it is always better to get in touch sooner rather than later.