It shouldn’t be so hard to find ways to stay alive.
As I continue in my recovery, I keep thinking about how hard I tried to get help before my suicide attempt.
When I recognised my mental health was worsening I arranged an appointment with a GP. I told him I felt like I was in crisis and wasn’t coping (in those exact words) and that I had had to call my husband home from work the previous week because I was so suicidal. I was put on a 6 month waiting list for support. 6 months. In crisis.
I think that because I was articulate about what I was looking for, I looked normal, I was still working full time and expressed my desire to keep working, I came across as being more mentally healthy than I actually was (but you would think that breaking down into tears when I was told to persevere might have been a hint that I wasn’t doing so well).
I think I eventually gave up on getting support after googling every single day for weeks, trying to find something that would help. I came up against barrier after barrier — “this service is for those with severe and enduring mental health conditions”, “you must reside in Glasgow to access this” and so on and so forth.
I eventually decided to put a story about the GP on Patient Opinion because I was so dismayed at the fact he had not listened to me and I knew that he had not done what he should have for me. I got a wonderful response from a member of staff in NHS Ayrshire and Arran who went well over and above to help me and get me referred to the Community Mental Health Team, but it was a 2 week wait, and 2 weeks was too long.
I gave up hope and gave in to The Darkness. And then I was still left with 8 days without support when Death wouldn’t take me. 8 days when you have just tried to commit suicide is not something you can comprehend. If it were not for my family and friends rallying around me, I would not have survived those 8 days.
We are told to reach out for help when we are feeling at our lowest, and I tried — the response I received was far from satisfactory. I still can’t decide if I am more angry or just sad about this. I know our NHS is stretched, I know that mental health support is under-resourced, but I had no idea to what level until this happened to me.
I am lucky. I survived, not unscathed, but I am here and I am determined to do what I can to ensure others don’t have to go through the same. Something needs to change, people who ask for support should not have to wait as long as I did. It should not be so hard to find ways to keep yourself alive.