*Trigger Warning* Before continuing, please note, this post contains some emotional content and discussion of suicidal ideation and self-harm behaviour which can be a potential trigger
My cutting is no longer limited to only razor blades and knives anymore. On my last cutting episode, I resorted to breaking picture frames so I could use the broken glass and also using the lids of tin cans to harm myself.
I have to say, it’s been over two months since I last had a cutting episode. This is the longest in a while, so I’m really quite proud of that. However, the urges are still here, and now it’s not so much razors that the voices in my head tell me to use, but new and alternative items (such as a tin can lid).
I shared this concern at my last A&E “visit” (the word visit is too pleasant for how & why we end up in A&E in times of crisis), but not much help or advice came from the professionals at my local A&E department.
My mum had to call an ambulance out for me during this last episode; when they arrived the paramedics were calm, understanding, patient and compassionate. They held my hand whilst I was panicking & hyperventilating; they attended to my cuts as best they could and talked to me about treatment. Their advice was that I stay in hospital. I didn’t like that and so ignored it.
Once we arrived at the A&E department, things changed drastically and quickly. I was put on a chair and shoved in an empty room, for 4 hours, and then a mental health nurse came to assess my mental state.
He concluded that I’m a very sensitive individual, my thoughts were “no shit Sherlock”. I was in pyjamas still, covered in blood and holding a big cuddly teddy bear. I think it was pretty obvious that I was a tad fragile! I was also in a state of dissociation; I could hardly get any words out so he wrote in my notes that I was “settled” and even though I told him about my constant urges to self-harm and my suicidal ideation, he stated that I was “in control” and “no longer a risk” to myself. His reasoning for this is that he didn’t think I would do well in a hospital, which is fine as I am terrified of going into hospital anyway.
But, the problem is, I was then discharged with no treatment in place, no help, no promise of an appointment, with nothing but a suggestion that the very next morning I ask my GP to prescribe me some anti-psychotic medication.
Once this “lovely” gentleman complete his assessment, I was then left to wait a further 4 hours for a doctor to sort me out with stitches. With me still sat on the same chair, a junior doctor turned up and started rubbing my cuts with some liquid and gauze (with the aim of cleaning it), luckily a more senior doctor soon came in and told her to stop, and numb the area before rubbing my sore wounds so roughly! Oh the pain!
Within a few minutes into all this, I started to pass out. My mum begged for a bed, but there was nothing. So she held my head whilst two doctors continued to prod and stitch away, with me still slowly passing out on a chair. Thirty or so stitches later, I was done. With me half passed out and feeling nothing but complete numbness everywhere & exhaustion, the doctor then got annoyed with me because she tried to give me antibiotics that I am actually allergic to. As if that’s my fault!
The treatment I received that day didn’t completely sink in until the day after, when I woke up feeling very sore, tired and traumatised if I’m being completely honest. I couldn’t believe the treatment I received in an A&E in London; a city in a first world country.
As advised, I went to see my GP first thing, and it was kindly explained to me that my GP could not prescribe anti-psychotic medication and this is in fact something which only a psychiatrist could do for me. After three years of waiting to be been seen by a Psychiatrist, I thought surely after this I would be given an appointment with one. But I was wrong; the following months were filled with me showing up at my local community mental health team begging and fighting for an appointment with a psychiatrist. This was no help though, it was only after I had two GPs angrily calling and writing to my local mental health team regularly, that I was given an appointment with a psychiatrist.
It just shouldn’t be like this.
I’m not, like the system likes to think I am, “difficult” or “manipulative”; I’m simply ill and doing my best to get help. Patients with a mental illness deserve the same treatment as those with a physical illness. It’s so wrong to go into an emergency department with wounds and feeling completely broken, hopeless & vulnerable, only to be judged and treated as if you are a burden on the system, and the service you are receiving is a huge favour. When in fact we pay for the NHS, and it should work for us rather than treat us like something society wants to throw up.
Now, I have finally seen a consultant psychiatrist. Hurrah! This feels like being given access to a higher power! I took notes into my assessment, I didn’t want to forget or miss anything. And I would recommend this to anyone going into a medical assessment, write notes down over a few days; pay close attention to what is going with you and keep record of your symptoms; what you’re feeling; what you’re scared of; what you are thinking; everything! And take that shit in with you to these assessments. If I had done this the first time, it wouldn’t have taken me this long to see a psychiatrist. My first assessment was a mess of tears and “I don’t know” responses to everything the mental health nurse was asking me, because I didn’t know what was going on at all, and it resulted in a very inaccurate report/account of me and my mental health. Had I seen a psychiatrist to start off with, I doubt we would’ve reached the shit situation I ended up in, but unfortunately, a specialist can’t always be guaranteed and you may well end up having a life changing health assessment with someone who won’t know how to properly diagnose you.
At the end of my assessment, the doctor gave me a summary of what he believes is happening; “What you have told me very much supports a diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, and the voices & hallucinations you are experiencing are symptoms of Pseudo Psychosis”…and finally I received a clear explanation. He then confirmed that anti-psychotics could help with the intensity of my emotions, my anxiety & the paranoia. My thoughts: If it could help, I’ll take it!