On Thursday 15th September, the Enhancing Mental Health Multi-agency Partnerships event will be held (details in above photo) and I've been asked to deliver a presentation on my experiences (good and bad) with the Police in regards to mental health. So on every day for the next three days, there will be a post about the event.
To keep up with the excitement, plans, thoughts, questions and general goings-on, use the hashtag #multiagencyNE on Twitter.
When I began I'm NOT Disordered, I decided that rather than write one long rambling post about the previous years of my life/mental health 'journey' at the beginning; I would, instead, tell you all as it came up. And so, many of you might not know the ins and outs of the three poorly years that led up to the long-term admission where this little gem began... I was on first-name basis with the Police. Basically.
The first time that I had contact with a Police Officer, was June 2009. I'd taken my first overdose in School (Sixth Form), passed out, was taken to A&E and then the voice that no one knew I could hear, got angry. So I left. I had never been to the town which the A&E was in and I can remember finally coming across some shops and the first thing I saw was a parked Police car. I can remember almost smiling with relief and thinking 'I'm safe now. I can go to them for help.' The Officers detained me under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983, and so it began...
Naturally, over the next three years, I had both positive and negative experiences with the Police...
Example of a negative experience: I was sat in a little room in A&E with two Police Officers who'd detained me under a section 136, when two female Officers came in to 'relieve' (Police speak basically for swapping places) the others. From the outset they were repeatedly telling me that if I'd allow my partner to come to the Hospital then they could leave. Firstly, I knew this wasn't true; the previous Officers used a 136 so they couldn't leave until I was assessed under the Mental Health Act - by this point I was so experienced with the whole 136 situation that I knew the ins and outs of it. And secondly, I felt too embarrassed with the whole mess to see my partner. Needless to say the Officers stood outside the door (but directly in front of it) and the next time it opened it was one of the Police letting my partner in. I told them that they had no right and was met with "you don't have the capacity to decide that." I countered with "if I don't have capacity and I'm under 136 then why would having by boyfriend here mean that you could leave?" At which point both Officers rushed at me, pinned me down on the hospital bed/trolley, one shouted in my face that I was a 'spoilt cow' before whipping out the handcuffs; whilst the other, who was restraining my legs, added "you're one of those people that should be locked away in those hospitals forever; so that everyone's lives get easier!"
Example of a positive experience: I was sat in a room in A&E with an Officer who'd just detained me under 136 (yes, three years of my life pretty much became this pattern) and he was finishing his shift so a female Officer came to 'relieve' him, as he left he called out to me: "good luck! You'll be fine!" During my time with the female Officer, there became a point where I was hallucinating rabbits under a chair in the room. I remember staring at their muddy fur and drifting off to a stereotypical scary wood; like the one from Beauty and the Beast, and then someone was calling my name and asking what I could see. The last thing I expected was for the Police Officer to pick up the little wooden chair and stamp her massive, black, shiny, boot all over the scary, dirty, evil, rabbits. But for her, there was nothing there. For her, she was stamping on thin air. But she believed me.
And the positive experiences, make me want to do all that I can to show my gratitude for the organization who, on many occasions, saved my life.Because in those times when my life was saved; I wasn't grateful. I didn't thank them. I did the opposite, really. I was rude and obnoxious. They were stopping me from doing what I wanted to do; the thing that I believed would make me truly happy; suicide. Death. But in doing this, they gave me the opportunity to access the help that I needed to go into recovery. They believed that I was worth saving. That I had a chance at recovering. And I'm 100% certain that they can do this for so many other people. And they are now! And it's such a great honour to be able to witness this happening.