How crisis care gave me hope
Posted Thursday 15 November 2012
Sitting in darkness in the early hours of the morning, I know that I am losing control. Monstrous shapes lunge out of the shadows, eerie cries pierce the air. Slowly my will is being sucked out of me. The fear of going back down the road of in-patient care stops me from asking for help. But being alone invites the marauding demons to enter at night. They soar through the air with their webbed feet and flapping wings, whispering past me and catching my hair with their claws.
Deep down I know that I don’t want to fight any more. I spiral into hopelessness. I begin thinking about ways to end my life. It seems the only way to escape the demons that have broken through my mind into the real world. I tell myself that the next time they swoop down and catch my hair I will take my own life.
In previous years, the arrival of screaming demon birds would herald an admission to hospital. But there are no beds to speak of, so for the first time I am receiving community-based crisis care and for me, it has been a lifeline.
I saw my psychiatrist on Monday and he prescribed some extra medication along with input from the crisis team. My first instinct was to resist any intervention, especially sizing up a cocktail of drugs that would easily knock out a giant. I know from experience that whilst medication might dampen down the flames of mental pain, it also stubs out my creativity. I need a certain amount of raw feeling and intensity to be able to write. But I know something has got to give. Reassured that this is a temporary setback, I agreed to give the medication a try and to let the crisis team into my home.
Later that evening I was visited by two members of the team. I felt relieved that they were informal and also that their task is to keep me out of hospital, not trick me into going in. Part of me began to contemplate that maybe I might get through this bad patch unscathed. I took my medication on Monday night and woke up the next morning with a furry throat and a head which was swimming. My muscles felt stiff and I wondered how on earth I was going to take my guide dog to the vets at midday. Yet I realised that although I was feeling groggy, I did not feel tormented. I had slept for almost eight hours with no demon birds intruding into my world. Eight hours of solid peace.
Another visit from the crisis team confirmed that this intervention is intended to be short-term. We discussed putting in place a practical safety plan so that when I am besieged by unwanted thoughts or waves of suicidal despair, I will know exactly what to do. Talking to the two members of the team yesterday, I realised how much I love my dog, and how she has kept me going over the last four years. She helps me to live for the present and this is what I had begun to lose hold of.
I have just had a third visit from the crisis team and I recorded the safety plan on my digital recorder so that it’s instantly accessible in an emergency. Recording the plan helped me to put things in perspective and to confirm why I want to stay alive. I tried to capture that feeling to remind myself that, had I committed suicide on Sunday, I would never have experienced this feeling of hope today. When I think back over the last few days, I can see how close I was to falling off the edge of the world. I no longer feel that sense of hopelessness.
I wholeheartedly support Mind’s crisis care campaign as I know that crisis care has helped me to keep hold of everything that is dear to me. It is extremely sad that crisis care varies considerably depending on where a person lives. Crisis care is about life and death, and everyone deserves an equal chance to stay safe.
You can also follow Claire on Twitter @Clairetrude
If you are in crisis and need help, find out what you can do and how to get the support you need.
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