Approximately 12 years ago (2003) I had suicidal thoughts and huge amounts of emotional trauma which made me feel very unstable. I felt suicidal and needed support.
The Samaritans had helped before, however this time my problems seemed even beyond their capabilities. A telephone call would not be enough this time. I felt I needed some kind of intervention.
I tried to think of options. Where could I get support? I realised I needed to go to Accident & Emergency at the local hospital (Addenbrookes in Cambridge). This was an emergency because I was in a life threatening situation. In short my life was at risk. I hate wasting the time of medical staff, so I didn’t take this decision lightly. It really felt like my only option at that time.
So I headed down (it was 2am or some time like that). When I got there the nurse on reception asked what was wrong with me. I said that I was feeling extremely high levels of emotional trauma and distress, and that I felt highly destabilised. I felt suicidal. She said that there was no-one on duty who could help me. I was perplexed, my mind was reeling. I was begging for support. She begrudgingly asked me to sit down and wait. I waited four hours. All the people, even those with minor physical injuries, got seen before me. I was a low priority according to their triage system.
[As I write this I can feel a lot of anger arise. I could have died due to their medical negligence. I should sue the bastards and get compensation. Ignorant scum!]
They eventually managed to get a psychiatrist to come in (they didn’t have any on duty or on call!). He had a small teddy bear shoved in his pocket. I initially assumed he’d therefore be caring and compassionate. What a cognitive error that was! He asked how I was feeling. He kept saying ‘You seem fine to me’. He said this over and over. I said I felt suicidal. He kept saying I seemed fine. He asked me what I wanted him to do. I told him that he was the expert, and that I needed help. He then said that he wasn’t sure how he could help me. Wow!
Eventually I was fobbed off. I received zero support, and indeed felt even more deflated and desperate after the traumatic wait with zero empathy. I started walking back to my car that was in the multi-storey car park on the hospital grounds. It was almost 6am by now, and it was starting to get a bit lighter. I went to try and pay for my ticket in the ticket machine. I was a bit confused. A parking attendant, a guy in his late fifties or early sixties or so, asked if I was ok. I said that I was feeling mentally unwell. He started talking with me. He gave off such kindness. He just listened to me and gave me time. Amazingly after 30 minutes I was feeling far more stable. His compassion had eased my suffering and my panic. He reinstated my faith in humanity.
So to conclude, a whole hospital of medical staff were not only useless, and medically negligent but also cruel and heartless. All their training meant nothing. Instead a kind stranger with zero training, and a kind heart, who was unpaid to help mental health patients, helped me.
Sometimes I still get angry with the NHS when it comes to their continued medical negligence not only with my mental health but also the medical negligence I have seen with a lot of other friend’s mental health.
Have you had similar experiences? Please leave comments below.
Update: Check out a positive experience of A&E and mental health in 2015 (12 years later).
Copyright MEN HEAL 2015.
If you are ever feeling distressed or suicidal try finding a helpline number here: http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html
Although I said in this article that I didn’t feel The Samaritans (UK suicide helpline) couldn’t help me that time, every other time they have really helped me. So please try calling a helpline or visit http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/