I honestly can’t believe what I’m about to blog about… I mean, it happened over a week ago, but it still feels surreal. And I still find it extremely difficult to actually even just say the words because they continue to feel dramatic and unbelievable. I mean, a little while after I first became poorly – and right around the time I was given the Personality Disorder diagnosis! – I was labelled an attention-seeker and dramatic countless times by mental health professionals. And in all honesty, the sentence I’m about to say feels like I’m fulfilling all those remarks… In the early hours of Friday 8th December 2023, I jumped from a bridge…

Why I decided to interrupt Blogmas Unboxed with this post:

1.       On Awareness dates around various illnesses and experiences etc, there seems to be two schools of people; the first, use the dates as a huge opportunity and platform to talk about something that is really important to them and which they feel passionately about. The second school of people, have the attitude that there shouldn’t have to be a designated ‘date’ to be aware and to talk about the cause and believe that a lot of people sometimes take the occasion as a publicity opportunity more so than having a genuine experience or really meaningful thoughts and feelings around it. And so, with this in mind and the fact that I’m NOT Disordered is known for the honesty and openness of its content, I decided that I want to really get across the fact that mental illness doesn’t just ‘go away’ at Christmastime. That just because I’m publishing a series of lovely festive posts; it doesn’t mean I’m not struggling – remember: what you see on a person’s social media and blog and YouTube channel and whatever else, is what they want you to see.

2.       Since having the Police write down my statement and account of the abuse I experienced when I was younger, I’ve found writing helpful for my mental health – I mean, I likely wouldn’t have been a blogger for almost eleven years if it wasn’t, would I? There have been a number of instances since I experienced that notion of relief when I saw everything out of my head and in actual words outside of it, where I have felt that I could write about something I was struggling with more efficiently and honestly than if I talked about it. And this meant that, especially when I was in a psychiatric hospital, I would write notes and letters to the staff to explain the reasons for my actions. When I started blogging though, I also came to realise that writing wasn’t just therapeutic in a relieving sense, it was also an incredibly useful way to actually process and thoroughly consider my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. For this reason, I developed the belief that writing this blog post would be incredibly beneficial to improving my understanding and ability to cope with what I have done, and I consider this, so much more important than telling you what I was going to gift one of my best-friends for Christmas!

3.       Since the very first comment I received from a reader giving her thanks to the fact that a piece of the content I had created had been beneficial for her in some way, I’ve recognised that I’m NOT Disordered can help others. This also gave me a fear though, that if it can be true, then surely, it’s equally true and practical that my content could upset someone or – in some way – leave a reader feeling worse…? And the thought of having this level of influence has been – and sometimes still is – intimidating. It has occasionally left me with some sort of reluctance to publish content at fear I have worded something wrong or that someone might think I have treated a topic incorrectly in one of the one million other ways that make writing about ‘mental health’ – in any shape or form – an absolute minefield. So, in all honesty, I’m seriously hoping that my decision to publish this post as an interruption to Blogmas Unboxed, will help at least one person other than myself (whilst recognising the importance of helping myself too!). I hope that it reassures someone that it’s not abnormal to still struggle at Christmas and that it encourages someone to feel that despite this being ‘the happiest time of the year,’ they can still talk about their mental health and can still get help to face any similar experiences, thoughts, and feelings to those I’ll talk about in this post.

How it started:

Last weekend, I developed some pain in my tummy and having taken an overdose a few days prior to it, and the pain being where my liver is, I thought perhaps something was wrong with it and so I went to hospital (also under the impression that there’d be nothing they could do about the overdose). After some blood tests and some IV anti-sickness medication and painkillers, I was diagnosed with Biliary Colic as a result of gall stones I was diagnosed with a number of years ago. The Doctor explained that it typically clears up in a few days and I went home.

However, he also warned me that this illness can lead to infection and so, when I began getting a temperature on the Thursday evening, I called my GP, and she advised me to go to hospital for a surgical review. So, I attended A&E and after being triaged, I found myself thinking things through, and realised that even if I was diagnosed with the infection, I wouldn’t want treatment for it; I would want to die from it. And the largest reason for me feeling that way was because I’m literally so drained from trying to ignore the strange, weird thoughts that I’m experiencing in part of my Psychosis diagnosis and I’m starting to feel fairly hopeless with the thought that perhaps this will never improve. So, I told a Healthcare Assistant in A&E that I was leaving and went home.

Just after midnight on the Friday morning though, I was feeling so rough and wondered whether the Crisis Team would be able to talk me through the feelings and help me to find the strength to go back to A&E and get any necessary tests and treatment/surgery. When I called, I recognised the Call Handler’s name and so when she took my details but then didn’t ask why I was calling I didn’t think much of it because she had never done wrong by me before. She told me “I’ll put you on the call-back list and one of the Nurses will call you back. It shouldn’t be too long.”

Three hours later, I rang again and said that things in my head were feeling worse – I was becoming more and more desperate to escape the strange thoughts and beliefs I was experiencing – and asked her to cancel my callback. She told me that there’d been a ‘clinical incident’ and there were still three people in front of me to be phoned back, so I said that perhaps if she’d asked why I was ringing, the Nurse might have phoned me earlier than this ‘incident’ taking place and explained to her that there was something medical going on too. Her response? That I ‘never’ tell her why I’m ringing and that I ‘always’ say that I’d rather just tell the Nurse. As soon as she said it, I felt my jaw drop and immediately turned on the video on my iPad and asked her to repeat herself because straight away I knew I’d put in a complaint and – sadly – I was worried she would then just totally deny saying it.

After repeating herself, I pointed out that if I had never told her in the past, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have if she’d asked me this time. Then she said she would tell the Nurse not to call me back, I told her I’d recorded her comment and would be putting a complaint in, and she said (word for word as it’s from the recording) “that’s alright then Aimee, thank you” and put the phone down. And as soon as that call ended, it was like a switch in my had turned off. Like the strength and bravery to stay alive was gone and all I was left with was a hugely overwhelming sense of loneliness, isolation, and the sense I had just been massively dismissed. And so, I put a coat on and headed to the iron bridge near my home which used to pass over a train track to work as a shortcut from the housing estate to this huge hill and the woodland covering the majority of it. However, it now just passes over the derelict train tracks that have become massively overgrown by weeds, thorn bushes, stones, bricks, and logs etc.

What happened:

When I had almost reached the bridge, I realised that it wasn’t how I’d remembered it in that the highest point of the bridge was actually completely caged reaching overhead too. So, I ended up climbing over the metal barrier following the edge of the lower part to the bridge and stood on the ledge of the highest point of that. I made the decision to call 999, requested an Ambulance and told the Call Handler that I was about to jump and that I was only calling because I didn’t want to put random strangers through the experience of finding my body. She asked my name, and which bridge I was on and then I hung up and jumped. All I can remember from the actual jump was darkness – I think more so because I closed my eyes rather than the fact the sky was still dark – and a harsh stinging sensation on my cheeks from the air whipping past my face as I fell… And then pure blackness for goodness knows how long.

My next memory is… You know when you close your eyes, but they still feel as though they’re open somehow, so that if there’s a bright light or a flashing light it you can still sort of see it? I remember having my eyes closed but being able to see a blue flashing light and then blackness again. And then a really bright white light filled my vision and I remember thinking ‘I’m bleeding inside and now I’m dying. Please say I’m dying!’ But then I coughed, and I heard a man’s voice shout “where are you?” as the light flicked back over me and without feeling like I even had to think it through, the sense popped into my head that I wasn’t dying; a Policeman or a Paramedic or someone had a torch and was trying to find me. Equally easily, I also knew exactly where I was; I knew I had jumped. I could feel thorns scratching across my left cheek at the slightest movement, there was something hard under my back, and what felt like a log under my left ankle.

I moved to sit up, but a pain seared through my back, my left ankle, and the bottom of my ribs on the left-hand side, and I lay back down and turned my head to the side to vomit. The Police seemed to use the sound of me being sick to finally figure out where I was and before I knew it, they all had their lights on me, and I could hear three sets of feet making their way through the undergrowth and heading in my direction.

For what felt like forever, the Police were on their radios updating the control room that my ankle was kind of bent funny, that my back was hurting, and that I felt like I couldn’t take a deep breath. They kept saying that I needed to keep talking and I asked whether I should have died from the height I had jumped, and they said that it probably depended on how I landed and I remember feeling the distinct urge to roll my eyes and ask why I can’t seem to kill myself, but I felt too exhausted.

Numerous times I heard them asking what the ETA was for the ‘Fire and Ambulance’ and I remember asking why we needed a fire engine when I wasn’t on fire and an Officer explained it was just to be able to move me out of the ditch. The Fire Engine arrived, and then we had to wait for the Ambulance to give the all-clear that I could be moved so someone put one of those foil ‘blankets’ on me to warm me up because by that point it was about 5am and I had been lying on the ground in the freezing cold for around an hour.

Shortly before the Ambulance arrived, I remember saying that I felt like everything was hurting more and the Police said it was likely because the shock of the entire thing was wearing off so that meant all the pain could come forward and my injuries would become more obvious. And I just kept my eyes squeezed shut like a little kid making a Birthday wish, but I was wishing that I could just somehow get back to that shock so that I wouldn’t be feeling like I needed some serious painkillers to a point that I was crying and started screaming whenever I even slightly moved or breathed too deeply. Fortunately, that didn’t last too long before the Ambulance came and once the Paramedics got down the bank to me and saw how much pain I was in, they drew up an injection of Morphine and gave me some gas and air (laughing gas or Entonox). Then – eventually – everyone helped put me on this really hard board the and I was carried up the ditch and into the Ambulance which immediately headed for my local A&E department/hospital.

After being there less than an hour, still in pain, and being told I needed an X-ray that might take a while to be called for; I asked if I could go home. The Nurse said she would have to go and speak to a Doctor then came back and said “yes, get yourself away!” I was kind of shocked… I mean, of course I wanted to go home, and I appreciated them saying I could, but surely, I shouldn’t have? Like, shouldn’t I have seen – or even at least just been offered the opportunity to see – the Psychiatric Liaison Team (PLT) in A&E? I mean, I’ve never done what I did, and it actually felt really scary and almost traumatic; to a point where I was shocked that I didn’t see PLT for this. Yet I’ve been properly made to see them before I was allowed to leave the hospital, numerous times and for instances that I would class as minor compared to this because they were a hell of a lot less dangerous!

All the thoughts I had whilst sat on a chair in the waiting room:

1.     I have a choice to make…

So, I remember hobbling out of A&E on my sore ankle which I could barely put weight on, but if I didn’t, the angle I then had to walk on meant my ribs – which the Paramedics diagnosed as two of them being broken – hurt even more! Plus, I was still pretty hysterically crying and on imagining I must look a right mess, I was very grateful to find that the enormous A&E waiting room I had to walk through to get out, was almost completely empty! And with every twisted, painful step, I found my mind turning over and over trying to decide whether to go and continue with my mission or call a taxi and go home. It sounds sort of strange to say that when I was standing on the ledge of a bridge, I didn’t feel faced with a choice so much as I did right there and then in A&E. But I guess that’s part of the point when it comes to suicide – you feel that there’s really no other way to make anything better or to even just prevent things from getting any worse.

I felt like my head was going to implode if I didn’t make a decision because in it, all of these reasons and motivations and protective factors and rationale were turning over and over again. They were going round and round in a circle that started to flood out of my head and encase my entire body in a way that was so powerful I felt like I couldn’t move anymore so I sat on a chair in the waiting room debating whether to ring a taxi or turn it off and find a higher ledge… And it was in that exact place – the waiting room chair – that I just felt as though someone had hit me in the face with the words…

2.     I don’t really want to die…

Now, this is actually a remark I’ve had others make to me before; back when they – and I – didn’t really understand my mental health and the auditory hallucinations I used to experience. It happened because the voices would be either telling me to attempt suicide or their presence made me want to. But then, I would do something and once it was done my head would go quiet and I’d recognise that if things stayed that way, I didn’t actually want to die; so, I would go and get help for whatever I had done/taken. However, almost every time I had asked for help or self-presented at hospital, either the voices would come back and be really abusive and angry at me or I’d be treated poorly by staff and wish I hadn’t gone. So, I’d leave or refuse treatment.

This pattern was often interpreted as attention seeking because professionals would be like “if you really wanted to die you wouldn’t have told us what you’d done, and if you really wanted help and weren’t just doing it for attention, then you wouldn’t cause a fuss and drama after doing so, by running off or needing to be restrained and sedated.” Of course, this was quite wrong of them to say this, but it was actually sort of helpful because it made me feel forced into gaining some sort of understanding of my mental health so that I could explain things to professionals and not be branded an attention-seeker.

3.     Why do I always have to learn things the hard way?

It felt almost ironic that on all those instances where people have questioned my true motivation for making a suicide attempt, I’ve fought against it, but I managed to come to asking myself sort-of similar questions and coming to a sort-of similar conclusion… I’m one of those people anyway though – those people who have to learn something for themselves – typically, this means I tend to have to learn things the ‘hard way’ before they really stick with me to the point where I feel there has been a change in one of my thought processes I have or in my opinions and my actions etc.

I just think that arriving at the same conclusion by myself, means a lot more to me than someone sitting there and trying to convince me of it. In a lot of ways, I think that this is similar to mental health training with professionals who often state that the most educational, interesting, and convincing part was when they heard from someone who had a mental illness and who had actually been in the exact situations that the professionals were being taught how to respond to.

4.     It took a lot for me to gain any sense of hope and to experience any notion of recovery…

I think that the largest reason for me being able to have the instance of realisation that I had previously been unable to gain or experience, was because back then – in the three years of my mental health being at its absolute worst (2009 – 2012) – I had completely forgotten there was a life out there which didn’t revolve around my illness, instances of self-harm, and hospital admissions. More than that though, I had forgotten that I could have a life without all these horrible experiences and this intense and overwhelming sadness that seemed to over-power any ‘good’ in my life and squash it down until it was tiny, unimportant, and forgettable. However, in 2012, I made a suicide attempt that resulted in me being put on life support under the Mental Capacity Act and when I woke from the sedation, I was admitted to a private psychiatric hospital over 100 miles away from home and which specialised in my diagnosis of a Personality Disorder.

I spent two and a half years sectioned under the 1983 Mental Health Act at this hospital, having Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Self-Harm Awareness Sessions, some 1:1 Trauma Therapy, and doing general therapeutic activity groups on the timetable. After just under a year, I began to experience the sensation that I was finally making steps in the right direction, forwards! Gaining that notion, motivated me to create I’m NOT Disordered, and I began blogging on January 6th, 2013, as a means of recording my progress in a way that my loved ones could also follow it despite the huge distance that now stood between us.

Going into recovery and my enormously helpful experience in being a blogger meant that I now know how it feels to be doing well. I now know it’s possible. And so, upon recognising that I didn’t really want to die whilst sat there in the waiting room, the second hardest part to deciding what to do next came with tears because it was the realisation that no one was going to stop me from leaving there and continuing to make another suicide attempt.

5.     Am I still suicidal though?

Now, if you’ve ever been to hospital, you’ll know that a common method professionals use to determine the need for medical treatment like prescribing painkillers or doing scans etc. is by asking you to rate your pain on a scale of 0 – 10 (with 0 being no pain at all).  Based on the success and efficiency of doing this, it left me considering whether a must-ask questions with mental health professionals interacting with or assessing someone who has said they feel suicidal an/or have made an attempt, should be to ask the person to rate their thoughts and feelings on a scale of 0 – 10.

I’ve seen mental health professionals hand out therapy ‘homework’ sheets which ask you to rate your mood in this way, but I don’t recall ever being asked to do that in terms of my suicidality. And I think that it’s pretty safe to say that perhaps the key reason for this is that people might often think that if someone is suicidal, then that’s it – that’s all that they’re feeling. All they’re thinking about. All that they want to do. It’s like it almost becomes a definition of the person. I actually once heard a Nurse saying to a Doctor “are you seeing the suicidal girl?” But I’ve heard – and known – there are so many people who describe feeling suicidal but that they actually don’t want to be, and so they don’t want to act upon it. And I think this is a good illustration of my point that having a scale can help the professional asking for the answer to be able to gain a better understanding and appreciation of both just how unsafe a person is and what the right/best response would be.

So, when I was standing on the ledge of the bridge, I’d have rated myself as being at a 10 on the scale, and sat in that chair in the waiting room, I was a 6 – which meant I was still on the scale, just not as convinced it was the best thing to do, not as vulnerable, nor as unsafe. And in that moment, I came to realise that actually, those 4 bits of difference that stood between me as I felt there and then to me as I was back on that ledge, were actually what really mattered the most. They were so important because they symbolised an opportunity to either make myself safer and head towards 0 or – equally meaningfully showed – that there was the potential to find myself struggling even more that it would lead me back to a 10.

6.     Recognising and utilising my strength...

As I became more and more passionate, dedicated, and ambitious in my blogging career, I found contemplating myself ways to increase the size of my audience in a bid to be able to help more people. In gaining this goal, I recognised that to achieve it, I really needed to have some level of confidence to be brave enough to talk to others about my blog, so I ended up using the ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ motto and just ignored and put to side any reluctance or doubt. I used this method and thought process when I began to send out press releases and collaboration requests, but I learnt that actually, you don’t get very far in making connections in the blogging world if you don’t pay attention or mention your statistics. Learning this, made me very uncomfortable because it felt that it might appear quite obnoxious, and I worried it’d seem as though I was ‘showing off.’

After a little bit of time though, I finally accepted that this was just the way the blogging industry worked. That this is what the priorities have to be for organisations who determine a blog collaboration as a business or PR opportunity and recognise that it can be influential in many ways that might vary from financially to their reputation to their social media following and their general website traffic. So, I took on board my Mum’s wise words; “shy bairns get nowt” and threw out all uncertainty and began adding the statistics of my blog’s daily amount of traffic and all-time reader count to my press releases and collaboration requests/pitches. I was reassured that this had been the missing component when – from that point on – I have never had a pitch turned down…

In fact, these days, I tend to be the one who receives them from the organisations rather than the other way around! And, in fairness, when someone approaches me with a collaboration idea, I do obviously like to research them before deciding; but I’ve ended up not just considering the work they do and their cause…  Now – similarly, to when I was the one sending the pitches and how mine were viewed and considered – I also prioritise the gravity of their following and their reputation in the media and in the industry on a whole!

Gaining this confidence to recognise my strengths (and my blog’s strengths and achievements), you’d think that perhaps I would be able to do that when it comes to my mental health. But, through this instance with the bridge, I have really learnt that I do actually dismiss and genuinely fail to recognise the strength I have within me. And I think a huge contributing factor to this has been the comments of others who have branded me – and others who attempt or commit suicide – as ‘weak’ because they deem suicide to be the ‘easy way out.’ As though going against the most basic human instinct to fight for survival is straightforward and not at all challenging?! As if you don’t have to go through the worst, most absolutely, enduring, and incredible pain in order to reach a point even remotely close to being suicidal?!

Having a mental illness, I feel that I’ve become extremely experienced in feeling that I’m being discriminated against, disrespected, stigmatised, patronised, insulted, misunderstood, judged… I mean, these are all incredibly common actions, attitudes, comments, and behaviours that those with no real knowledge, understanding, or experience of mental illnesses can exhibit. They have become so frequently discussed and publicised that not so long ago, I reached a point where I came to recognise that such comments and actions don’t need to be inflicted upon me for me to be affected by them. That actually, I could just be having a normal interaction with someone new and even if they’re totally silent, just being aware there are people out there who believe these things, leaves me feeling very conscious that any person I’m interacting with, might be thinking those things and/or are in agreement with them.

In sitting on that seat in A&E, I recognised that if it was true (the realisation I talked about earlier that I really didn’t want to die) then I needed to find the strength inside me, because otherwise, I really would end up killing myself. I mean, in discharging me from hospital after barely being there an hour and not having any sort of mental health assessment or help and support, I felt that clearly, no one was going to stop – or even help – me to stop me from doing that…  

The aftermath:

The largest challenge I feel I’m experiencing at the moment is that because of these strange thoughts and beliefs that are coming from the psychosis and the suicidal feelings that are a result of trying to rationalise them; I’m reacting or responding in those moments and then I make it through them and I’m left dealing with the consequences. And sadly, when I’m on the verge of doing these behaviours and coping in these unsafe ways, I can’t think about the fact that I might survive it and consider what I would do then… It feels kind of ironic, actually – the recognition that you do something dangerous for so many reasons, but then those reasons go and instead of relieve, you can end up finding new reasons purely in the consequences of what you’ve done! And so, this is why the aftermath of a suicide attempt or self-harm instance can be so important…

1.     Is there anyone to blame?

I feel like as a result of the abuse I experienced and because of my position in the mental health world, I have become incredibly – and at times overwhelmingly – aware of the word ‘responsibility.’ I mean to the point where it’s stopped sounding like a word! It’s like when you try to type or write a word and you keep spelling it wrong so many times that you begin wondering whether the word you’re trying to spell even exists! The whole topic of responsibility in mental health and especially in suicide attempts, is something which I feel professionals (psychiatric and others) have totally rammed down my throat and used to deafen my ears until it’s all I can think about in a lot of situations where I previously wouldn’t have – sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes it’s not.

In this attempt, I feel that I’ve found a balance in my thoughts and opinions on responsibility because I 100% recognise that, when all is said and done at the end of the day, it was me who jumped from the bridge. I would say that someone pushed me and that someone led me there; but I don’t mean for those things to be considered in physical and literal terms – it’s more in so far as my feelings that other people have been influential in an emotional and psychological sense. And this actually reminds me of one thing about making a suicide attempt that I hate… When there’s someone else telling you “you can’t blame it on them” or “how can you say that you wouldn’t have done it if that hadn’t happened?!” The reason I can’t stand such comments is because it’s not their bloody attempt! There’s this part in a TV series I used to watch called Lost where one character throws a rock at another, and he says it hurt his knee and the girl who threw it said, “your knee can’t hurt that bad” and the injured guy said “it’s my knee! I’ll tell you how much it hurts!” Same thing – how can a Police Officer or a Doctor who wasn’t even present when I jumped nor when I was treat poorly from that Call Handler at the Crisis Team, tell me anything about MY suicide attempt?

So, with that being said, I very obviously do portion some level of responsibility to what I did on that Call Handler (whose name I know and have had to think hard on whether to disclose it, but in the end, I worried that doing so – with the level of following I’m NOT Disordered has – could potentially lead to a number of terrible consequences). The way I see it is that yes, I’ve responded the way I have, but if she hadn’t made the comments she made and treat me the way she did, I would have had nothing to respond to! I mean, when I called the Crisis Team after recognising in A&E that I wouldn’t want help for the infection, there wasn’t a single thought in my head around jumping from a bridge! So, if I wasn’t already struggling with that, how can anyone say that it would have still happened without that Call Handlers response?

2.     Making a complaint

That bit about responsibility has actually led me on really nicely to the second bit of the aftermath which is about my thoughts and feelings around putting a complaint in against the Call Handler… When she first made the comment about how I ‘never’ tell her why I’m calling, I knew immediately that if I were to survive that night, I would put a complaint in about her and what she had said. I also knew that if I did, she would deny the entire thing and that was such a sad notion because, in my opinion, making a ‘mistake’ or receiving a complaint or bad feedback should be deemed as an opportunity to learn and to take this on board in order to improve and to not let that happen again. It shouldn’t be a chance to deny things and make excuses for your decisions, your behaviour, your attitude…

After turning my iPad onto video and making out like I hadn’t heard her so I asked her to repeat herself so that I would have the proof, all the thoughts about making a complaint were very obviously put on the backburner whilst I went ahead and did what I did and then went through everything that happened in A&E. After I had a little sleep back at home, I looked up the phone number for the Complaints Department of the NHS Trust who are the employer of the Call Handler and called them. The girl who answered was so lovely, and as I was telling her what had been said she said “can I just stop you there? I’m sorry, I just need a moment because I really can’t believe this has happened!” And she meant as in, it was so terrible and not that she thought I was lying, but I offered to play the recording down the phone anyway and she listened and said she had added that I had that evidence to the complaint and then she asked what the impact had been for me… This was actually something I hadn’t considered in making the decision to put a complaint in – the fact that I’d likely have to relive a lot of it in order to provide the right information. Having found that a few hours after the actual jump, I felt the distinct notion that I’d been in a level of shock that had enabled me to still function immediately after it. As it seemed to wear off though, I experienced a number of thoughts and feelings which I feel indicated that I viewed the entire situation as traumatic. Now, having experienced abuse, I really don’t use that word (‘trauma’) often or lightly, so I hope that says a lot about the gravity and power of my memories from that night.

Having talked about the abuse numerous times and in a whole variety of situations, I’ve learnt that talking about something traumatic can be helpful, and so I told the Complaints staff what I had done in response to the comments and explained that I recognise it was my response, but if the Call Handler hadn’t made the comments or treat me the way she did, I would have had nothing to respond to! I mean, yes, I had been ringing because I felt suicidal, but there were no thoughts in my head to go ahead and actually make an attempt – it had purely been about refusing medical treatment – never mind anything to do with a bridge! The Complaints Department explained that because of the severity of the impact it had, the complaint should be fast-tracked to an Investigator who would call me back to ask more questions before looking into the entire incident, speaking to the Call Handler, and then they’d put a report/response together.

Now, because it has taken me so long to write this post (almost two weeks!) I actually received the phone call from the Investigator the other day and he asked me to repeat what had happened, what my thoughts and feelings were about that, and what my motivations were for making the complaint. We talked about the resolution I might like from the complaint, and I told him that speaking up wasn’t about getting the Call Handler into ‘trouble,’ and that I’d like a written apology either from her or from the Team but acknowledging who had been responsible. Some people might think that this is quite a trivial expectation considering the gravity and seriousness of everything that happened, but I have so much respect and appreciation for people who apologise for their actions or attitude. Having had ‘responsibility’ drilled into me over the years, apologising is something which I deem to come hand-in-hand with that, and it’s actually something which I used to find really difficult – purely because I’m sometimes quite a stubborn person and I don’t like to be wrong. However, my Mum raised me with the belief that you should treat others how you want to be treated and if I would hold importance to someone acknowledging their wrongdoing, then why shouldn’t I extend the same courtesy when I’m in the wrong too?

After my phone call with the Investigator, I was messaging someone who has also been under the care of the same Crisis Team from time to time and I told her what had happened, and she replied with ‘was it a female Call Handler by any chance?’ and I genuinely felt sick because knew straightaway what I was about to learn… This other person has previously made a complaint against this same Call Handler! And so, with my hands shaking with anger, I called the Investigator back and told him what I’d learnt and that I recognised he wouldn’t be able to talk about it, but that I wanted him to know that due to gaining this piece of information, I would now like it recorded that I would want disciplinary action against her to come from my complaint. I just thought ‘stuff the apology! She probably said ‘sorry’ with the last complaint against her and doing so, has clearly taught her nothing!’ I mean, really, I don’t know that there’s not even more people than the two of us who have complained about her too – to be fair, the amount of service users the Trust has, I find it hard to imagine that only two of us have been treat poorly by her. A sad but realistic thought…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

3.     Can I ever call the Crisis Team again?

 One of my first comments to the Complaint Department after telling them what had happened, was basically asking how on earth I could ever call the Crisis Team again! See, this wouldn’t have been an issue if it had been a Nurse that said it because I could ring and just ask that I not be passed to them, but because she was a Call Handler; I wouldn’t have a choice as to whether I talk to her or not if she were to answer the phone.

That was a hard realisation because I actually, have mostly found the Crisis Team helpful – to the point where I actually gave them chocolates and a card to say thank you after being under their care earlier this year! So, with that in mind, I didn’t want to feel that I’d lost that support just because of one member of their staff, but; I also think it’s so important to recognise that one person working for an organisation is representing that entire organisation and so their behaviour and attitude reflects – deservedly or not – upon all their colleagues.

Fortunately, the Complaints Department came up with the idea of me calling the Crisis Team for a nearby town, but which is still within the same NHS Trust, and speaking to their Call Handler who could then refer me to the Nurses in my area. And who could then check if the Call Handler in question is on shift and if not, then I can ring direct to my area from then on. So, I’ve done that twice now and after each time I’ve talked about how lovely the Call Handlers from this other Team were and it became a sort of sad thought too because really, they are treating me how I should be treat – especially from a service like this! And so, it shouldn’t really be something you’re ‘grateful’ for – it should be the norm.

What I want to be taken from this:

To be honest, one thought that was making me somewhat reluctant to post this piece was the worry that people will read this and will feel dubious in calling their own Crisis Team – especially, if they haven’t spoken to them already and so they have no prior experience or knowledge as to whether their local Team is of a similar attitude/standard. I worry that this will mean they’re now filled with the worry that they’ll be treat this way too…

So, instead of having these thoughts, the one thing I’d like people to take from this post is the encouragement to speak up if you’re treat – no matter who by – poorly and to work your damned hardest to not let that experience worsen your mental or physical health in any way. Please always know that you and your life are worth so much more and are way too special to be destroyed by something like this.

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