Friday, 24 January 2014

A Letter to the Crisis Team

[note: this post contains discussion of suicidal ideation and self-harm]

I just thought I'd let you all see the letter I've wrote for my local Crisis Team. I want it to give hope to my MH readers who are in the community and might be struggling with the support- or lack of, that they're getting. You can see that there's still a chance you'll get the right support. Don't give up hope because a few professionals make some judgement errors; because in the grand scheme of things, are they worth it?

To the Crisis Team Manager,
Hi, my name is Aimee Wilson; you may or may not have heard of me since I’ve been told the Team have a new manager since I moved out of the area. I’m writing to tell you about my experience of the Crisis Team.
I’d like to say it was varied but it really wasn’t; I think there were about two members of staff on it that I had a positive response from. My worst experiences were after months of lectures that I should speak to someone before self-harming, I called the Team with a handful of paracetamol and was told ‘why don’t you paint your nails instead?’ Another time, the Police called the Team from my home and one of the staff actually put the phone down on the Officer. The PC ended up saying that if they continued to refuse to assess me then they’d 136 me so they had no choice. The people who were the least trained in the situation were the ones who wanted the best for me. There was even once that the Team told the Police that I ‘wanted’ to be sectioned. That made it sound like I was an attention seeker and to be honest, I felt like that was what the Team thought of me. The thing is, you all need to know how that feels; I felt judged and, since the Team are there for out-of-hours crisis, I was so worried that I was alone during the hardest parts of the day. In the beginning, when the Crisis Team were actually trying to help me, it was like having a comfort blanket – the knowledge that if it was 2am there was still someone there. Towards the end, it became the opposite as I would either hide my true feelings and struggles at night-time since I felt I had no support for them and then it would all come out during the day, or I’d feel so completely alone and felt all I could do was self-harm since there was no one to make me think of something else.
I think the worst thing that the Crisis Team ever did was to view my self-harm as a pattern. My Mum would call them to say I was missing and she’d be told ‘well she always turns up in the end.’ With behaviours that put someone’s life in danger, I’m not sure that looking at it as a pattern is the right attitude because how can you always be 100% sure that each situation will end the same way? And to be honest, the fact the Team would quite often take that risk with me, was an insult. It screamed that they didn’t care if it didn’t work out the way it usually did, they didn’t care if I did die because it’d be once less revolving-door service user.
I’d really appreciate it if you could tell the staff who have worked with me that I’ve been in ******, on a ward specializing in my diagnosis of BPD, for almost two years and I’m actually getting better! This place has literally saved my life and as much as I’d like to say that for the Crisis Team, I really can’t. I think the Team failed me, I genuinely do. Here’s what they were wrong about: I never wanted to be sectioned; I wanted to get better! Painting my nails was NOT a realistic alternative to taking an overdose. I would not ‘learn my lesson’ if my Mum threw me out of our home and, it wasn’t that being an inpatient made me worse. It was that the wards I was put on and the staff on them, made me worse. No one had any idea when it came to BPD, not just the Crisis Team but the acute wards too and it’s unfair that the care you receive is based on your diagnosis. I’ve heard that the Team have had specialist training in working with BPD and I genuinely hope its being put to good use because you might’ve all failed me, but I’m still alive. If you failed another person, they might not be so lucky as to find professionals who actually have faith in their recovery and believe they deserve it.
This letter, is not a formal complaint and it is not meant to instigate any investigations. I guess, I’m writing this mainly for my own peace of mind but it’d be nice to have the letter acknowledged and although I don’t ‘expect’ an apology, it would be lovely if you could simply realise that the Crisis Team didn’t help me as much or in the way that she should have and there is no excuse for this.