Half-baked Soufflé

My grandson has suffered a variety of mental illnesses since, at the age of fourteen, he fell off a rope swing and landed on his head. Prior to that accident, he was the sweetest child you could ever wish to meet. His character changed completely.

I won’t list his every diagnosed and undiagnosed condition here but, if you list your idea of the top ten most prevalent mental illnesses, you probably have it.

He is twenty-seven now. Over the years, he has been in and out of hospital, often on an enforced, secure section. Sometimes, he was the victim of what is now called ‘inappropriate out of area placement’, which meant that we had to travel miles to visit him. You can imagine how much distress this caused, both for him and for his family. At one point, he was held in a distant remand prison, alongside murderers, because there were no available beds in NHS mental health facilities.

Before he was released back into society, often with minimal support, the psychiatric team would hold an assessment meeting. I attended a few.

Memories of one such an occasion still trouble me.

The lead psychiatrist was very arrogant. Only her opinion mattered. Despite many conversations that I’d had with the nurses who treated my grandson on a daily basis, they kept silent in the meeting as I challenged the psychiatrist’s opinion. They had agreed with me and had informed me, before we entered that room, yet they refused to back me up. It was obvious that they were scared of her.

The main reason that was given to us for that particular section was so that his medications could be stabilised. In my opinion, and the opinions of his nurses outside of that room, the job had not been completed. He had only been there for ten days and was still showing many alarming signs of his illness.

I dared to tell the psychiatrist, “The problem is that he is a half-baked soufflé. Just when you are doing a great job of producing a satisfactory result, you remove him from the oven and he collapses in a horrible heap. This is a cycle of dismal failures.”

Her response was, “No! The real problem is that this is the difference between the opinion of a layman,” pointing at me, “and an expert,” pointing at herself. How arrogant!

With that, she excused herself from the meeting as she had another meeting to get to.

Incidentally, in the same meeting but no less relevant, that psychiatrist brusquely informed me, when I proposed that my grandson exhibited the majority of the well-documented symptoms of adult ADHD, that “There is no such thing as adult ADHD.”

# # # # #

A few years on, and I am suffering my own mental health problems.

For most of my life, I have been considered to be inspirational, a great motivator and the person to go to with any problems that required empathy and resolution. I would always be able to help. You only need to look at the recommendations on my LinkedIn profile to confirm that this is true.

I have also always been massively self-motivated. I would wake up early in the morning, full of enthusiasm for the coming day. I was excited about my work, my running, my writing, my interactions with the people who would fill my day, and many other things. I couldn’t wait to leap out of bed to get on with my day.

Now, I lay awake, worrying and thinking too much. I sometimes cry before I get up. During the day, when everything seems to go well, I suddenly feel sad and start crying for, apparently, no reason. I have panic attacks, but I have learned to control them.

Recently, I have started talking therapy with a very experienced and capable psychologist. She is wonderful. We struck up an instant rapport. She is very kind and is able to talk through my issues without making me feel under pressure of interrogation. He understands me and is non-judgemental. She has taught me some coping techniques which work. We have talked through the traumas and issues in my life, going all the way back to the beginning. I never knew that I had so many! It is a long list.

After about eight sessions, when I thought that we might be getting to the most significant issues and might soon start to address them and get be back to being the man that I once was, she has decided to refer me to a specialist. She believes that the most significant factors in my dark depression are related to sexual abuse and traumas that I suffered in my early life and in my adult life. She could be right. This is not her speciality.

So my sessions with the therapist who was my great hope for recovery have suddenly stopped. My company’s private healthcare insurance will find me a psychosexual therapist. It could take weeks. Then, I am going to have to start therapy from square one. It will be difficult for them, as my therapist has to be female. Because of what happened to me as a child, I can only speak with a female therapist. Even the thought of speaking with a male therapist makes me feel ill. 

I am scared!

I have fallen over the edge of a cliff. I am a little boy lost, I want to curl up in a dark corner and cut myself off from this horrible world. Having descended the snake to square one, I don’t know how long I can wait to start climbing the ladder again. My hope has evaporated.

Today, I am not even a half-baked soufflé. I am a sloppy, cheesy, eggy mess, sitting in the bottom of a cold baking dish in the middle of an oven which the chef forgot to turn on. Eventually, somebody will come and scrape me out and tip my mouldy remains down the waste pipe.


About Lance Greenfield

Blog: lancegreenfield.wordpress.com email: lancegmitchell@outlook.com I published my debut novel in December 2014: Eleven Miles. My second novel went live in February 2016: Knitting Can Walk!
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12 Responses to Half-baked Soufflé

  1. Ohhh. So sad and scary for you. I hope you get the help you need quickly. 🕯

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As I re-read my post, two songs and a poem come into my mind.

    Major Tom by David Bowie.
    Angie Baby by Helen Reddy.
    Gone by Lance Greenfield.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Living with someone who has mental health issues I know how difficult it is being passed from one person to the next. The person I know has PTSD but the psychiatrist specialised in manic depression. We tried to explain it wasn’t but believed until we had to do a mood diary. Unlike manic depression the mood swings were up and down and all over the place every day. Not a long period of mania followed by a long depression. Unfortunately the psychiatrist then became less interested and referred my friend back to the GP instead of sending him for more talking therapy (that had been helping)….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. TanGental says:

    Lance I do hope you get all you need and soon. You’re right about inspiring. You holding that sign on the station was extraordinary: grit, humour, resilience all there in a very public place. Others keeping similar issues private may have taken heart from your chutzpah. I cannot know what came before for you, but since we bashed together 6 years ago you’ve shown us so much. You are worthy, my friend.
    PS and I’ve adored those bit of overcooked cheese on the floor of a baking tray… take very good care please. Being totally selfish I’m very keen on more Lance

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Eva Hnizdo says:

    It’s hard.But you have your personality and creativity to get through this. And you have your private medical insurance. Which I hate to admit as a doctor who worked for 30 years as a NHS Gp, is a blessing. Good luck to you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. beth says:

    best of luck to both of you, the systems are set up so terribly, and even worse here in the states, that it is a huge challenge to get the consistent care for someone suffering from mental illness. I’m sorry you have to endure this, in the midst of all you are going through, and hope that you find the support you need, sooner rather than later.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Rebekah Tobias says:

    I’ve met you a couple of times at Swanwick and appreciated how involved and enthusiastic you were/are. I live with someone who suffered sexual abuse as a young person and had buried it, not ever wanting anyone to ever know. When he faced his trauma he began outselling. Two years down the line I think there is light at the end of the tunnel, sometimes. It may be a long journey, but as long and as painful the journey is, every step is closer to the light

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Latest update.
    I waited almost six weeks for my first therapy session with a new therapist who is based in Southampton, almost one hour drive from my home. We got off to a good start but, after just 3 hours of therapy, she announced that she is off to America for the whole of October and November.
    Yet again, I am being reallocated and am told that it may take 6-8 weeks to find a suitable therapist.
    In the meantime, I have sunk even lower. I feel that I cannot cope any more. I have resisted taking any time off work, until now. I have never had a day off sick, either from work or from school, in my life. Tomorrow, I am running an early remote meeting with a client in Japan, then I have told my boss that I’ll assess how I feel and may have to take the rest of the day off. I’d already booked the afternoon off to attend my final session with my current therapist.
    I feel lost and hopeless and totally overwhelmed.
    On the plus side, an old friend of mine, well we’ve often spoken on the local radio station where she was a presenter, has offered to go for a walk with me. She understands what I need, and I may take her up on it.


  9. alexajpohl says:

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Well done on being brave and sharing what you’re going through so openly. And for seeking help. It’s not easy. I pray that day by day you will find the hope and light you thought was lost. That little boy inside you deserves love!

    Liked by 1 person

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