I wouldn't usually put a “Trigger Warning” on my Blogposts but this one definitely needs one. It contains thoughts of a Disturbing Nature as well as touching on the subject of Suicide.
There are two things about me which can become apparent very quickly in certain situations – I will fight for my friends and I am stubborn. When I say the second one I definitely mean it – let's just say that I wouldn't waste my breath trying to talk me out of something if I really want to do it, if I were you.
My stubbornness can be a very bad thing (especially if you are at the opposite side of it) but it did indirectly save someone's life.
I have got a friend who has an Alphabet Soup of Mental Health issues (and when I say “Alphabet Soup” I mean I have lost track of the acronyms for them). I am not going to name my friend, or give any identifying details about them, because they are not really relevant to the blog post – what I will say is that they gave their permission for me to write this blog post,
When it comes to Mental Health I fall into the “Uneducated Idiot” category. As in – I have suffered from Depression myself, I have friends who have Mental Health issues, and one of my friends is a Clinical Psychologist, but that is the extent of my knowledge of the subject. Basically – I am the last person you would put in charge of a situation where someone is suicidal because I am not qualified to deal with it – at least, given a choice between me and a group of Mental Health Professionals, I hope people would go with the Mental Health Professionals. And I would hope the Mental Health (and medical) Professionals would actually do their job.
Unfortunately, personal experience of finding myself on “Suicide Watch” via Twitter, on someone living in Cornwall (not very useful seeing as I live in Leicester), in the early hours of last Friday morning, tells me a totally different story.
The really heartbreaking thing is that the situation could have been stopped from getting so bad on Thursday afternoon (the fact that the situation could have been prevented from getting anywhere near that stage years ago is beside the point). All my friend's former GP had to do was to prescribe something called “PRN” when my friend asked them to. Instead the GP said they couldn't do it without speaking to my friend's Psychiatrist.
A side note is that my friend had asked his Mental Health Co-ordinator (aka Social Worker) to ask his GP not to prescribe a month's worth of tablets because my friend knew they were at risk of overdosing – the message was not passed on – with foreseeable consequences.
The funny thing is – before Thursday night/Friday morning my friend had kept trying to get rid of me because (according to them) “everybody else leaves me”. (Hmm, not exactly the best thing to say to me when you are in a vulnerable state – you get more attention not less.)
I feel really uncomfortable in situations where I don't know what on Earth I am supposed to be doing – and trying to keep someone alive long distance is definitely a situation where I hadn't got a clue. (Luckily a mixture of fear, determination, and adrenaline, kicked in – I wasn't going to let my friend die on my watch.) So I kept my friend talking and distracting them.
It was only when I went to bed on Friday night that I started to think that I could actually have made the situation a whole lot worse if I had said the wrong thing.
One good thing has come out of the situation though (apart from my friend not dying on me) – at least now my friend realises that I won't walk away when the going gets tough (I get more chatty instead).
It is a damning indictment of the Mental Health Services where my friend lives when someone like me is, in effect, left to do their job from so far away.
I could talk about the lack of resources as far as Mental Health Services are concerned – and many people would agree with me. However – from where I am sitting as I type this – that is not the only problem. The other problem is that Mental Health should be seen as a vocation instead of a career. There are too many Professionals in the Mental Health “Industry” who really are not suited to the work because they are not “people-oriented”. We are dealing with the lives of very vulnerable people here. Before you ask – no I wouldn't want to do the job of a Mental Health professional because I am honestly not cut out for it.
We need a properly resourced Mental Health Service – both in terms of financial resources and human resources.
You may think that me typing this blog post is inappropriate and I should leave it to people with personal experience of Mental Health Services (as in Service Users or Professionals) but I would say you are totally wrong. I have another friend who has Bipolar and I have seen her wearing a t-shirt with a very appropriate slogan on it “We all have Mental Health”. I understood this to mean that we all also have a responsibility to speak up for those who are unable to speak up for themselves.
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