A and E Crisis Care (Originally written for Mind)

This blog was originally published by Mind in support of their campaign for better Crisis Care. For more information on this and other campaigns please check out their website. A link can be found in the useful websites post.

A and E Crisis Care

Imagine you are at your lowest point and on the verge of committing suicide. All you want to do is escape. About 4 years ago I got to this point and it was then that I had my first experience of Psychiatric care for those in crisis.

I had made a suicide attempt and then stopped answering calls from concerned friends which led to them contacting the police in order to locate and help me. I was cornered by two male police officers from the armed response team of my local police force as they were physically the closest pair to my whereabouts. However they were kind and I was then passed to another pair of police officers who continued to look after me and question me about many different things. I was then told they were going to take me to A and E as a voluntary patient otherwise they would have to section me and I “would not like the place where you would have to go as it is really horrible”. This scared me into accepting and we set off in the police car to A and E.

When we arrived at A and E we checked in about 10pm and sat down to wait it out. The police and my parents were with me. Fear of being hospitalised was now coursing through me as my anxiety rose sitting in the very crowded A and E waiting room. I was then asked to the triage area where a nurse asked why I was there. When I responded by saying I had made a suicide attempt I was asked what I expected from them and quite honestly I couldn’t find an answer. I felt already that I did not deserve anything from them and this just totally flummoxed me. What could I expect from them, when I knew I was worth nothing?

I returned to the waiting room where the male police officer with us decided he could entertain me with card tricks. He was amazing towards me and I will be forever grateful to him, and the female officer with him, as they helped with my anxiety in the situation to some degree. My wait continued till just before 1 am when I was taken through to majors. My chat with the doctor was very quick and I was told I’d require blood tests and to see a nurse from the psychiatric team. I had to wait until about half 1 before I saw the psychiatric nurse who took me off for a chat.

As we sat down in the room the first words the psychiatric nurse said to me was that I had not been serious about suicide and therefore they would not admit me. He asked me a bit about my background and when I explained I was a student teacher he started asking me about his children’s education. Within 10 minutes the conversation was over and I was told to wait for my blood tests and then see my GP in a month. My blood tests came back just after 2 am and I was discharged home.

I felt stupid and alone. If it was possible I felt worse than before I was taken into A and E. I really wanted to prove I was serious. I was already planning another attempt. I knew there was no point now in telling a professional as I wasn’t serious about dying. At the time I think part of me saw it as an opportunity as I really wanted to be dead. The only thing that actually stopped me was that my friends and family decided to keep a close watch on me and took me to my GP sooner than was suggested in the Emergency Department. I wonder what may of happened if I hadn’t had their support. Could I of tried again and been successful? Would my death of been seen as unpreventable because of my mental state? Was it something I said that made them feel I wasn’t serious? Who knows the answers but it could have been a very different outcome and this is why I’m supporting the campaign for better crisis care.

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