“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”
― Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden
On the first of this month after twenty-four hours of hell, caused by two separate family drama’s which both dramatically came to a head at the same time and both somehow putting me at the centre, I tried to take my life, and unlike previous attempts, almost succeeded.
Several hours before the attempt, while I was still feeling the desperation bearing down on me from having my world ripped apart and some of this publicly, I attempted to get help from my mental health team only to have the door slammed in my face.
To explain in more detail, as a patient within the mental health services, I’m encouraged to use what they call their crisis helpline when I feel I am not coping. This line is a freephone number which is operational 24/7 and connects you to psychiatric nurses who can speak to you about your situation and if necessary come to your home for support. I’ve used them before and they’ve helped bring me off the ledge, so to speak.
On this day however, the person who answered the phone though, just told me they couldn’t help and gave me the number for the office my psychiatrist works at. When I called there I was told they couldn’t help because they were closing in 20-mins.
We all know what it takes to pick up the phone and ask for help, especially when we feel desperate and suicidal. To have been turned away twice pushed me over the edge and a few hours later having lost my own battle to keep going I was in an ambulance being rushed to hospital.
My Husband and I decided that we had to complain about the service I had received that day. Had someone helped when I had asked for it, I may never have ended up trying to take my life. As it is we will never know that, but to be treated so negatively by the services which have supposedly been put in place to help patients like me who need help at times which aren’t convenient to our regular appointments was unacceptable and we felt it was important that the people answering the phones that day understood the consequences of their dismissals.
Today, we had to go to the hospital to meet with the manager tasked with investigating our complaint. I’ve been a wreck for a few days about this. Dreading having to re-live what I was feeling that day, how I was made to feel. I have been feeling physically sick at the thought of having to go and speak to somebody and my anxiety levels went through the roof today at having to leave the house.
The meeting was uncomfortable as expected but the manager made me feel validated in complaining. I shouldn’t have to go through that again, and I hope that the people involved will now be held accountable for their actions and truly understand they are working within mental health services, if someone calls saying they need help and are crying its’s a sure sign something is wrong and they need help.
Mental health services in this country leave a lot to be desired, the least they can do is get the one’s we have right!