A while ago I joined the North Service User and Carer Forum (NSUCF) which is part of my local NHS Trust who provide mental health services in my locality: Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW). At our most recent meeting, we had a Psychiatrist from CNTW’s Crisis Team join us and each Forum member asked questions and put forward ideas. In part of the discussion, myself and one of the Service Users came to the realisation that we really had different definitions of a mental health ‘crisis’ and it inspired me to write this blog post…
For me, I deem myself to be in a mental health crisis when I can no longer keep myself safe. Like, if I struggle and feel unsafe, but I can manage it myself and use the healthy coping skills I’ve been taught in therapy, then I wouldn’t label it a crisis or call anyone for help or support. Me calling the Crisis Team or a professional, usually means I’m unsafe and that I feel as though the hallucinations are in control. As though I have no say in whether I self-harm or attempt suicide because if I did, I wouldn’t do those things. When I’m me, and when it is my thoughts that take up the majority of my mind, I don’t want to die. I don’t want to hurt.
One difficulty in having different definitions is the worry as to whether you’re really ‘entitled’ to speak up or ask for help because there’s the concern that there’ll be people who might judge your crisis in comparison with others. And that they might come to the conclusion that it is completely minor and unworthy of any help or support. That in looking at it alongside another person’s crisis, it really shouldn’t be a big deal and it wasn’t deserving of help and support from others, particularly where this meant the use of NHS resources.