A&E just didn't want to know
Posted Wednesday 28 November 2012
Please read carefully, you might find this blog triggering.
Imagine you are at your lowest point and on the verge of taking your own life. All you want to do is escape. I got to this point about 4 years ago and it was then that I had my first experience of psychiatric care for those in crisis.
I had made a suicide attempt and then stopped answering calls from concerned friends, which led to them contacting the police to locate and help me. I was cornered by two male police officers from the armed response team of my local police force. They were kind to me and I was then passed to another pair of police officers who continued to look after me and question me about many different things.
I was told they were going to take me to A&E as a voluntary patient, otherwise they would have to section me and I "...would not like the place where you would have to go as it is really horrible." This scared me into accepting and we set off in the police car to A&E.
When we arrived at A&E, we checked in at about 10pm and sat down to wait it out. The police and my parents were with me. Fear of being hospitalised was now coursing through me as my anxiety rose sitting in the very crowded A&E waiting room. I was then called to the triage area where a nurse asked why I was there. When I responded by saying I had made a suicide attempt, I was asked what I expected from them and quite honestly I couldn’t find an answer. I already felt that I did not deserve anything from them and this just totally flummoxed me. What could I expect from them, when I knew I was worth nothing?
I returned to the waiting room where the male police officer with us decided he could entertain me with card tricks. He was amazing towards me and I will be forever grateful to him, and the female officer with him, as they helped with my anxiety in the situation, to some degree.
My wait continued until just before 1am when I was taken through to the majors area. My chat with the doctor was very quick and I was told I’d require blood tests and to see a nurse from the psychiatric team. I had to wait until about 1.30am before I saw the psychiatric nurse who took me off for a chat.
As we sat down in the room, the first words the psychiatric nurse said to me were that I had not been serious about suicide and therefore they would not admit me. He asked me a bit about my background and when I explained I was a student teacher, he started asking me about his children’s education. Within 10 minutes the conversation was over and I was told to wait for my blood tests and then see my GP in a month. My blood tests came back just after 2am and I was discharged home.
I felt stupid and alone. If it was possible, I felt worse than before I was taken into A&E. I really wanted to prove I was serious. I was already planning another attempt. I knew there was no point now in telling a professional as they would just say I wasn’t serious about dying. The only thing that actually stopped me was that my friends and family decided to keep a close watch on me and took me to my GP sooner than was suggested in A&E.
I wonder what may have happened if I hadn’t had their support. Could I have tried again and been successful? Would my death have been seen as unpreventable because of my mental state? Was it something I said that made them feel I wasn’t serious? Who knows the answers but the poor care I received could have led to a very different outcome for me. This is why I’m supporting Mind’s campaign for better crisis care.
Like Joanna, too many people tell us they can't get help when they desperately needed it. That’s not acceptable. That's why we're campaigning for excellent crisis care for everyone.
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