Written by Harriet Dyer


The Life Palavers of Harriet Dyer

Harriet Dyer was a human catastrophe: drugs, drink and institutions. She’s back on her feet and has some life lessons to share so people don’t make the same mistakes she did.

I recently read an article about a man who had taken his own life but no-one around him understood why because even though he suffered with depression, things seemed like they were improving.

From my experience, when mental health is involved all bets are off. Thoughts and actions can be totally contradictory and unpredictable in no time at all.

I could be doing the Macarena and high-fiving anybody with a hand one minute, and crying whilst cuddling a stuffed animal, wondering if it’s possible to fashion a noose out of a scart lead the next.

Something that stood out to me with this story was he had apparently been assessed and told he’d be likely to make a full recovery with the recommended help, but there was a four-month waiting list. It was four months too long.

It’s a massive thing to admit when you need professional help, so it feels like an ultimate smack in the chops when you’re told it’s not as simple as that. It should be.

I recently admitted that I needed to try counselling to deal with some past palavers – I finally couldn’t ignore problems that were shimmying back up again after years of squashing them down. I think we’re all a bit guilty of this from time to time.

When I went to see a counsellor I was told there was a six-month waiting list. This made me want to punch a goose, which is not a common emotion for me.

Such hindrance when it comes to getting help makes you feel like no-one cares, and that’s how I felt. This is one of the worst feelings you can have when you’re suffering with mental health issues. It can trigger the conjuring of destructive thoughts, which can end in disaster, without the right help.

I’ve had doctors that have lost my files, counsellors that would rather have me as a drinking buddy and one cognitive behavioural therapist that I ENDED UP COUNSELLING. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to move back to India or not so I ended up compiling a list with the pros and cons of each outcome for her.

After this, I gave up on ‘professional help’ for years.

Most recently, I went to a crisis centre-type place to talk about the counselling and once I listened to the woman assessing me, I couldn’t remain angry.

She was upset and concerned at the current state of the system. When she first started, the waiting time was eight weeks. Now it stands at six months… a sad symptom of so many more people going through horrible times, I suppose.

To be honest, I don’t know what the answer is. I can’t even sign up to a suitable doctor’s surgery at the moment because of my current postcode, which is flipping ridiculous.

Even when the six-month wait has passed for my counselling, I still won’t be able to go unless I’m registered with a GP.

I called NHS direct and they said I seem to be suffering with depression, anxiety and bipolar. They said I still seem very self-aware and logical though, so I guess the only thing I can do is take each day as it comes and in the meantime just accept as much support/help I need from the people that are closest to me.

But what happens to those going through the same who don’t have that support network? It’s unthinkable.

It’s a massive thing to admit when you need professional help, so it feels like an ultimate smack in the chops when you’re told it’s not as simple as that. It should be.

One method I won’t be returning to is the old favourite of trying to drink the problem away. It’s so easily done but can have such catastrophic results.

Even when you think you’re numbing everything, that morose fog still manages to sneak in, which makes it worse the next morning. You’re essentially depressing an already depressed mind, so if you’re anywhere near it, please step away from the shandy!

I’m still actively trying to sort the doctor situation, it does bother me when all I want is a bit of help but it seems like a Krypton Factor assault course to get it. It makes my soul feel a little sad and weary.

Hopefully the doctor situation shall be resolved, meaning one less life palaver on my list.

This little bugger shall not give up.

A live recording of Harriet Dyer’s debut solo Edinburgh Fringe show, Barking at Aeroplanes is available here (http://harrietdyer.bandcamp.com/album/barking-at-aeroplanes)

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Written by Harriet Dyer

Harriet Dyer is an eccentric and full of life palavers human being that originally hails from the land of Cornwall.