I was published in the Guardian yesterday! If you haven’t seen it you can check out the piece here http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/01/suicidal-detained-safety-mental-health-therapy and overall the response to it has been great.
However, it is also readily apparent from a small but loud group of comments that a lot of work is still left to be done in regards to destigmatising mental illness. To a certain extent though, because the internet is the internet, you expect people to say asinine things like why didn’t you pull your socks up? Why don’t you hug a tree instead? If you pray your depression will go away! Repeat ad infinitum.
The most worrying comments though are of a more subtle nature. The most common point I see being made is that I received stellar care, and what more have been done in the circumstances? The answer, as though it needs to be stated, is more could have been done. It was months before I saw anyone period, for my mental health, by which time I’d descended too far. And when I did see someone, they sent me away with fucking leaflets on depression when I made it known that I was suicidal.
Even when (eventually) a more regular regime of treatment was implemented, it was the crisis team. To make myself clear, I’m sure many great nurses/doctors are working today. However it seems as though for every good one you see you get three horrible experiences in exchange. The crisis team are especially open to problems of miscommunication, which was present for me in surplus. Asking a depressed person to explain themselves over and over again each day is akin to asking them to go through a crucible.
Furthermore, after weeks of feeling like I’d become a permanent resident at the bottom of the world, I saw the local mental health team’s psychiatrist. To put it lightly, this guy was a fucking asshole. He clearly hadn’t read my notes, I told him I was suicidal and he responded by saying that the crisis team could do nothing to help me, and that I didn’t need the crisis team at all. He told me I was fine and left.
Also, even when I eventually ended up in hospital the experience was far from perfect. The lack of information, the short notices, the fact that therapy never happened even though it was scheduled several times a day. The fact that staff would threaten a mentally ill young person in order to scare them into submission. And in the first place, a young person, or indeed anyone, shouldn’t have to travel hundreds of miles from their home to receive treatment. The ward was vile, volatile and violent. The idea that anyone thinks that my care was stellar makes me livid.