NO COPS IN CRISIS CARE. The rollout and delivery of High Intensity Network’s SIM model needs to be stopped. It criminalises mental illness, it’s coercive, and harmful. SIM targets those with ‘complex needs’ and ‘PD’ diagnosis. I am terrified because I ‘fit’ their criteria. It means I could be threatened with arrest for being suicidal/SH and prevented from accessing treatment (e.g. A&E, crisis services, CMHT). Mental illness is not a crime. Please sign the #StopSIM petition on change.org/StopSIMPetition. Thank you to the Stop SIM coalition for the work they are doing – stopsim.co.uk.
Please remember to sign the petition and share it around.
People are so unaware and uneducated about the reality of mental health care. Truth is mental health care is either non-existent or further damaging/traumatic. People living with mental illness are ignored, shamed, and many of us have been suffering for years. Having a chronic mental illness and/or being neurodivergent makes the pain even worse. We are not believed. Our lived experiences are dismissed. People tell us to talk, we do but no-one is listening. People tell us to reach out and ask for ‘help’, we do but ‘help’ doesn’t exist. We are unwell and ‘self care’ is not enough. We need to move past superficial words/phrases. Listen to those with lived experience and educate yourself, please.
The first time I approached a GP about my mental health was 7 years ago. I was hopeful but as the years went on this hope reduced and as of present I have none left. Not to discount the many charities that offer mental health support (they do important work) sadly it’s often not enough for those with chronic mental illness and complex issues. We often require long-term support and specialist treatment. I am fuming at the state of mental health services in the UK. Disgraceful and unconscionable.
I have given up and I promise you it’s not without reason. I need help but it doesn’t exist [for me] and if you think I’m overreacting please read this entire post before making any judgments. This is my truth, my experience of mental health care, it’s real and it’s disturbing.
Note: I’d feel good if I could name and shame but I can’t take that chance (for now at least). It’s also crucial to mention that I have a diagnosis of EUPD (emotionally unstable personality disorder or borderline personality disorder) which is heavily stigmatised. To the extent that “in 2003 the National Institute for Mental Health England published the landmark document Personality Disorder: no longer a diagnosis of exclusion. The document recognised the systemic failings of statutory services to meet the needs of those given a diagnosis of personality disorder.” Despite this we continue to be excluded.
When I spoke about feeling depressed my GP said I needed to “think positive” and “focus on the things going well”. At first I thought he’s right, I was at university doing well. I soon graduated, started a job and further studies, but I was still miserable. Actually it was worse because although I continued to do well in my job and studies there was a lack of motivation, I had no energy, I was unhappy. My GP repeated “you’re doing so well focus on that”. The point was that I couldn’t because of how depressed I was, he didn’t seem to understand. He suggested I contact IAPT services for talking therapy but my issues were too complex.
I was then assessed for secondary mental health services. Instead of receiving further help for my depression and anxiety, I was sent for eating disorder treatment. Food is difficult and I am underweight but considering my mood has a huge impact on my eating this was the wrong approach. The ED service was horror. The threats of getting my family involved when I didn’t want to were so routine I was scared to attend my appointments. It was very unpleasant so I had to discharge myself.
The CMHT (community mental health team) offered no support except seeing a psychiatrist every 6 months who mostly just changed or increased my medication. During all of this I have self harmed and attempted suicide but it was seen as ‘not serious enough’. I tried counselling offered by a local charity but after 3 months I stopped, it wasn’t helping. My mental health was getting worse. I noticed struggling with work and studies but I never let it reflect on my productivity/results. No-one suspected a thing. And then I crashed from what I now know to be burnout.
My treatment and access to mental health services drastically changed from hereon. Life was put on hold whilst I was in hospital. At that point I had a bit of hope about things changing for the better (how naïve) except it was about to get much worse. I wasn’t seen by a doctor/consultant until the third day, no information about my rights was given or explained (only after asking multiple times), and my medication was changed without my knowledge. I requested help getting an advocate which was ignored until I spoke to a specific nurse who sorted it within hours. I was told by the doctor: “if you really wanted to end your life, you would be dead, not here”. They really didn’t care, it was obvious.
A liar. I was accused of lying without the doctor directly saying it. Post discharge I was moved under the care of the CMHT where I once again had no support except seeing a psychiatrist. I did receive 6 sessions of MBT which was useful in that transition from hospital and the therapist was good too. It’s that kind of support I need long-term but I don’t think it’s possible. Private is unaffordable. I visited the hospital a couple of times post discharge to see patients and particular staff. I was invited by them to the ward Christmas party but the doctor didn’t know. She asked me in a displeasing tone “I’m surprised to see you here”. This doctor then said something which I don’t think any professional should say to a patient, and which made it very clear what she thought of me.
“I feel sorry for you. I feel so sorry for the way you think.”
That hurt. A few days prior I received copies of some of the medical notes I had requested but I didn’t get around to reading them. Her comment hit so hard as soon as I got home I started going through my notes. The sad part is I wasn’t even shocked. Manipulative. Attention-seeking. Dramatic. I was not the liar, the doctors were. Not manipulative, I needed and was asking for help that I deserve. Not attention-seeking, rather support-seeking. Dramatic? No. I was angry and rightfully so. This was all a part of the huge stigma and negative stereotypes around the diagnosis of EUPD (emotionally unstable personality disorder), a diagnosis that was on my record since 2015 yet I was unaware.
Some of the duty workers at the CMHT were helpful and until COVID hit I would often go there to speak to someone. It was one of them who noted I needed a support worker and arranged for one to be assigned in quick time. After everything that had happened up to this point I still hoped having a support worker would be helpful. Spoiler alert: it got worse. I was assigned a care coordinator along with a support worker (these are two separate roles right?). The first few months in I realised we were having the same conversations each time, I was repeating myself and they were repeating the same ‘advice’. Just because I was able to speak and dress well it meant [to them] I didn’t need help.
Are these mental health ‘professionals’? I have my doubts. They were not understanding so I thought I’d write it down in an email but they didn’t read it. I specifically mentioned reading everything in the email and taking the time they need to respond. When I questioned why they didn’t read it the care coordinator said “you don’t expect us to read everything do you”. Well, yes, I do. It’s part of what you’re paid to do. The support worker got defensive, unable to take on feedback/constructive criticism, and just exited himself out of the situation. Literally. Never heard a word from him since. The care coordinator on the other hand asked me to choose a specific issue I needed help with, ‘one thing’. Her role means coordinating the different aspects of my care. It doesn’t make sense.
One at a time I thought, if I could get help with even one thing at that point it was a lot so I said okay. I need help with housing. Since then she only got in touch about 5 times, briefly asking how I am (no mention of housing) and once to cancel an in-person meeting less than 24 hours to go. Tired. I was giving up the little hope left. January 2021 the manager of the CMHT and I had a meeting to discuss my concerns. He seemed to understand and said he’d speak to my care coordinator and support worker. He never did. My emails were ignored, phone calls unanswered. Well, time for an official complaint. Sent through and acknowledged in the same month. Surprise surprise, no response since. One email was answered saying I’d hear something soon. One call citing delays due to ‘COVID’. It’s been THREE MONTHS and I have ZERO updates. Zilch.
And that actually goes against their own complaints policy. I don’t think I will ever get the help and support I need. If that’s not enough and you want to signpost me to mental health hotlines and charities, please don’t. Charities are good but do not have resources to provide substantial support for complex needs. I’ve used hotlines in the past Samaritans in particular but never again. Crisis line (at least the one I’m under) say things like, “have you tried taking a shower”, “watch your favourite TV show”, “make yourself a cup of tea”, “go for a walk”. Ouch! Totally cured my suicidal thoughts and mental illnesses (NOT). My last contact with Samaritans I was told (can’t remember word for word):
It seems you are very certain in your words and made your plans. We support you in your decision to end your life.
Thanks, Samaritans! This post has taken so much energy to write, this isn’t even half of the harm I’ve experienced from mental health services. Don’t tell me to reach out and ask for help. Don’t tell me to call a hotline. Don’t tell me to take a walk. Definitely do not tell me things will get better. I remained hopeful in the darkest and hardest of circumstances. I did everything people said and suggested. Where am I now? No IRL (in real life) friends, no mental health support, nothing. If this is to be my life please take it away.
As much as I hate people, I also love people. It’s because of many beautiful and amazing people that I have made it this far in life. People who help others out of the kindness of their heart, not just because it’s a job. Genuine people. Real people. I don’t write about this because I like to keep it close in my heart, but when I read ‘To The Strangers Who Kept Me Going‘ by Sigrid, I was inspired to share. The world could always do with reminders that good people exist.
There are two people I have omitted because of mixed feelings. They have done far more than just one or two things and have had a significant impact on my life. I am deeply attached. By no fault of theirs I am in pain, the presence they had in my life now hurts me. It’s incredibly distressing grieving this loss. I will never get over it, the pain will never ease, my heart will forever be wounded. I appreciate these two people, I do. Yet I hate them. I hate them because of how much I love them. And I hate myself for hating them because they don’t deserve it. I am sorry.
Here’s my attempt at restoring faith in humanity. My memory is terrible so I’m surprised at how much I recalled (it’s chronological!). To all the good humans who have made me smile, helped me, cared for me, and above all else for noticing me. Thank you so much! I love you and I appreciate you. You are fabulous!
The primary school teacher who looked beyond my academic abilities to recognise I still had support needs. I’d visit him every Friday even after moving to secondary school, sadly he left within a few months.
The Spanish teacher who let me off on two weeks of homework because she sensed I wasn’t okay (I didn’t even have to say anything).
The sixth form tutor who sat on the floor by my side whilst I cried for over 30 mins. Sometimes a comforting presence is better than words.
The mentor who sat with me for several hours in A&E (going into the night) when I had attempted suicide.
The strangers who guided me with parallel parking when I was a new driver (I’m good with it now, I think).
The mentor who remained kind and caring even after I had been rude and dismissive. Her compassion was something else. I had become so depressed I cut her off and deleted her number, but I never forgot her. I thought about her a lot when I graduated because I knew she would be so happy for me so I tried to find her contact details. I sent her an email, I was so nervous because it had been almost two years. I received the most kind-hearted response (she had saved my number!). We are in touch but she moved abroad.
The colleague who helped me clean up when I dropped my lunch (I blame the table!).
The colleague who complimented my shoes (I didn’t think much of them to be honest).
The awesome guy at the garage who reduced my stress of car maintenance with his helpful approach and free advice. His service is brilliant, I’d not take my car anywhere else.
The colleague who began her day by wishing me good morning. She even told me it felt different on the days I wasn’t in.
The colleague/mentor who supported me at work in every way possible. She spoke on my behalf when I struggled to speak up making sure my voice was heard.
The safeguarding person who is truly amazing and was a real help during my apprenticeship. A great listener. She was always happy to have a chat and we had some great conversations. When I informed her of leaving the apprenticeship, before I could ask she herself offered to keep in touch and that means so much (which reminds me I could drop her an email).
The pharmacist worker who would notice me in the queue and have my medication ready before I even said a word. Sadly he no longer works there.
The Costa barista who memorised my name and order so my coffee wait was never long.
The guy from the nearby car wash who helped me unscrew my tyre caps because my hands were frozen (winter life with Raynaud’s is pain).
The psychologist on the psych ward who was always there for me, even staying hours past her shift on one occasion when I was in a very bad state.
The life skills coach on the psych ward who is super kind and awesome. I miss our coffee chats! He said I almost made him cry on my last day. If it wasn’t for professional boundaries we would definitely be friends.
The nurse on the psych ward who somehow always understood me. Talking to her was so helpful, she would always challenge my thoughts but in a gentle way.
The OT on the psych ward who never gave up on me and continued trying to get me out of my shell (it worked!). We had some really good conversations.
The colleagues who offered to take me on walks and/or join them when I didn’t feel safe alone.
The social worker who was so compassionate and empathetic about my BPD (borderline personality disorder) diagnosis. She refused to let me blame myself and constantly reminded me that I wasn’t at fault. If only mental health professionals could show even 1% of such understanding (it’s a fantasy at this point).
The colleague who described me as a little gem (she was always so kind!).
The care coordinator who was mature enough to take feedback/criticism and willing to have sensible discussions and apologise when needed. This helped build trust and strengthened our relationship. Alas, just when I began to feel comfortable she left. I’ll never forget her warm hug. She really wanted to keep in touch but professional boundaries left her helpless. She actually said this to me and I knew she meant it.
The person from HR who did my paperwork checking up on me once a month even though she doesn’t need to.