TW: contains references to self-harm and suicidal behaviours. Please proceed with care.
Anyone who follows my Twitter feed will know I’ve had a pretty rough ride over the past couple of weeks. There is no one thing that I can put my finger on, no definitive reason why I have suddenly found myself back near the bottom of that hole with the rickety ladder, the ladder whose rungs occasionally snap underfoot as I try to climb out.
It’s difficult to describe MH crisis to those who have never experienced it. People who’ve never struggled with mental illness tend to equate feeling unwell to having a throat infection, or a stomach virus. It’s not easy to make these people understand the torture of a malfunctioning mind, the anguish and despair that define an episode of severe Depression. For me, a MH crisis hurts my heart. It makes me feel dead inside, hopeless, and like it will never end. When the Diazepam kicks in and it subsides a little, when I settle and have time to reflect, I feel like a fraud. I think ‘…what was all the fuss about…?’, and berate myself for ‘bothering people’ when there are others ‘worse off than myself’. These thoughts, feelings and emotions take on a pattern that is cyclical in nature, a pattern that takes enormous effort to break.
Of course none of this is helped by the CMHT, who appear to operate a ‘reactive approach’ when a ‘proactive approach’ would be far more effective. Several times recently, either I have phoned my CPN or the Duty Service, or this has been done on my behalf (when I have been at my worst and therefore unable to communicate very well). To take yesterday as an example…
Without wanting to provide details, my SH behaviours have become increasingly more dangerous of late. My intentions are not suicidal but to gain some kind of release and, unfortunately, this now requires more serious injuries. So serious, in fact, that although not actively suicidal, my actions may be described as ‘suicidal behaviour’ (there is a difference). So yesterday my cousin (and main, non-professional, support) decided that we should contact the CMHT to keep them in the loop, and to ask whether my support might be stepped up slightly. Unable to make the call myself, she did so on my behalf but, of course, the nurse on duty asked to speak to me. In short, once she established that I had no imminent plan to end my life, I became a non-urgent case and was fobbed of with the usual promises of a follow-up call on Monday morning and a note on my file to the effect that I was struggling more than usual, should I have to contact out-of-hours over the weekend.
So it would seem that, unless I can provide a detailed account of how I plan to make an attempt on my life, with a note already written, I do not qualify for any extra help. To be clear, I am not claiming that I am more worthy of care than others but surely it would be better to step in now, rather than wait until things get even more desperate. Is that really the most efficient way to operate? To spend tax payers’ money? I think not. Why sit at a desk waiting for a reason to react, when they could save hospital admissions or lives, even, by being proactive?
I know that it (along with everything else) comes down to a lack manpower and resources, and that this in turn comes down to a lack of funding. But there must be something that can be done to improve the current system…lives are at stake, for Goodness sake.