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.
We hope and believe that things won’t always be this way. It will get better and you will find your place in the world. You matter and the world needs you. You make this world a better place simply by being in it. I know these words have provided light and comfort to many people because they hold a lot of meaning. These words are made of powerful truths that have saved thousands of lives. That will, and should, continue.
Here’s a thought: what if there are some people for whom these words never ring true? What if I am not meant for this world?
Your immediate reaction may be to say of course that is not true, and that’s valid. I would say the same. However, the more I think about this concept, I just can’t relate. I don’t know whether I make a difference in this world, but I know that I deserve happiness. We all do. Can it be that my version of happiness is death?
Okay, I know what you’re likely to say, please keep reading to maybe understand why I think this way. I’ve had a difficult childhood, and coming from a highly dysfunctional family the environment was very hostile. Suicidal ideation has lived in my mind since I was 10. Over the years these thoughts only grew stronger after I had experiences of bullying, family pressures, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and a lack of support. A lot of my experiences have been traumatic, and I fully recognise that healing will never be easy. In fact, it is probably a lifelong process. These experiences have definitely contributed to and exacerbated my suicidal thoughts, but are not the reason why every day I think about ending my life. I am chronically suicidal because of loneliness.
Humans are wired for connection, and feeling connected to others is important for our health. The lack of connection is harmful, and an absence of it is even more dangerous because loneliness kills. The feeling of loneliness is incredibly painful. I know I am not alone in this experience as there is possibly a loneliness epidemic. The intensity of my emotions cannot be expressed in words but it hurts, so much.
A while back I came across a comment on YouTube that said, “I have the issue that I want to be emotionally intimate with everyone in my life and they freak out”. Yes, being emotionally intimate is what was my problem. I have been craving close relationships for most of my life, but it wasn’t until I received a diagnosis of EUPD (emotionally unstable personality disorder or borderline personality disorder) last December that I begun to understand this.
It may not sound like much of an issue but in truth it is. Last month my care coordinator left and during our last meeting before we said goodbye, she gave me a hug. I will never forget how cared for I felt in that moment. I truly felt like I was going to have an emotional breakdown because of the lump in my throat. When I got home the emotions hit hard and I cried; the last time someone had given me such a heartfelt hug was a year ago by another health professional. To be honest it was then that I realised how lonely I really was. Why could I not have these relationships outside of professional boundaries?
Loneliness often comes hand in hand with feelings of not being enough, and definitely I have felt this too. I have questioned my worth and whether I am a bad person. If we go by rational thinking, I know I am not a bad person. However, I think emotionally not rationally so I end up believing that I don’t deserve to be loved. It often leads to feelings of such aching hurt, the only way I can distract myself is by inflicting physical pain.
I have friends though so how can I be lonely? This is possibly the worst part when you feel alone despite having people around you (kind of). Some people say internet friends aren’t real friends but that is far from the truth, because they are the ones who have kept me going. The only three people that I regularly talk to, and who actually check in on me are you guessed it my internet friends. They help me in every possible way and I wouldn’t be here without them, but sadly what we can’t have is a physical connection. The lack of physical emotional intimacy is slowly killing me.
I’ve had IRL (in real life) friends too but truthfully speaking they make me feel worse. Over the past few months I have been going through my conversations with these friends to realise that most of them are initiated by me, and that is sad. Once in a while I vent post on my social media which may prompt someone to reach out, but otherwise I’m always the one to communicate first. I feel like I am begging and being desperate (which I sort of am?) but this isn’t what friendship should look like, at least not to me. Unfortunately they are harming not helping my mental health.
Why do people describe me as being worthy, kind, friendly, helpful, etc. yet not a single person ever wants to be close friends? Why do people say they care but not support you when you need them? Why do I have so many people (IRL) who have told me they will always be there for me, yet when I’m having a breakdown at 3AM thinking about killing myself there’s not a single person who I feel comfortable enough to reach out to? Do you know how much it hurts when professionals ask me about friends who may be able to assist me in an appointment? Friends who I can go out with? Do you realise how painfully lonely it feels to have “friends” but not have friends? Apparently I am a good person, but obviously and clearly I am not good enough for people to want to engage with me any more than a simple text message that I have to initiate.
Back to the thought: what if I am not meant for this world? Loneliness kills. I am lonely. Suicidal ideation is my only friend. Please let me go. I am seemingly living and taking steps to improve my life, at the very same time I also continue making suicide plans. I am here out of helplessness, because I know there will come a time I will do it not talk about it. I don’t know whether it will be weeks, months, or years, but I am certain that one day suicide will take me. I may never experience emotional intimacy and it’s heartbreaking that death by loneliness seems more likely than anything else, for I am Perfectly Alone.