Crisis services – my experience 

I read about out of hours services today and it led to me to thinking about my experience with crisis services in the past. The first time I encountered a crisis team or out of hours service my experience wasn’t great they seemed to totally misconstrue me and failed to help or support in any way. I can recall one time when they visited me at home and having decided that I was safe leaving me there in a crisis and in chaos. I was suicidal and desperate and so clearly losing time and switching, but they didn’t see that they just me as inadequate, dysfunctional and a nuisance.

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They left me alone and still suicidal and so intent on dying that in desperation I tried to harm and then I dissociated, during which time I took off only to surface a few hours later some 60 plus miles from my home. I was picked up by the police for my own safety after they saw the distress that I was in and I was taken to a nearby hospital, they assessed me and admitted me to hospital.

Crisis at home had failed me, sadly it is often what happens, for me at least.
There was the occasion when I couldn’t live at home and had no where to go, I had been in hospital and discharged just a few days earlier but I had no place to stay. I had self harmed and the police had taken me for an assessment at the hospital, I sat waiting until the crisis team arrived and then they didn’t even talk to me except to give me a list of hostels. I hadn’t gone to hospital because I wanted a place to stay, I wanted to die, I had gone there by force and against my will and yet I was treated like I was a nuisance.

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Then on one occasion I was at home and struggling, crisis care was put in place and so for a couple of days they visited me. I saw a different person on each day, I never saw the same person twice and after a couple of visits I was put onto telephone calls only. The calls would be brief, wanting to know how I felt and then not really being able to offer any guidance or support really when I said how bad things were. By day four I was discharged from the crisis team to my regular mental health team, I wasn’t any better yet the crisis team support was only meant to be brief. I guess it didn’t matter that it didn’t work, or that discharge to me seemed too soon, too swift. Two days later I was seen by my community team and they admitted to hospital, I spent six months in hospital on that occasion, so crisis clearly couldn’t help prevent my downward spiral.

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The crisis team in recent times has just been telephone support, but if I’m honest I avoid calling them unless it’s absolutely dire. If Samaritans are not able to help and I’ve tried everyone else I can think of, then and only then will I call crisis, it is a last ditch attempt. The last two occasions have been pretty much the same really, I call, I say I’m struggling and they go through a list of techniques to try. ‘Take a warm bath, have a hot milky drink, try a nice walk or have you watched TV, tried to distract yourself?’ these are their usual lines.
They never assume I might have tried these things before, that I might have already thought of them myself. It never occurs to them that I don’t actually ring them when a crisis starts, or that they are usually the last person I try. It’s as if the staff manning these services are reading off a predetermined script and are unable to offer any person centred approach of any kind.

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The last time I called I was desperately trying not to self harm, struggling with grief and the difficulties of accepting my trauma. I needed some help to try and keep me safe, I didn’t want wrapping up in cotton wool I just needed some guidance to help me, help myself. Some advice to point me in the right direction to prevent that slide back into harming. I was desperate not to self harm, desperately busting a gut as I fought to resist the urges growing ever stronger. I had already tried all their suggestions before I even called them. In the end the only advice was have another drink, try some art maybe and call back if your struggling still.

About an hour later I did call back, this time I got a different person who initially went through all the same familiar suggestions. Then I heard another phone ringing and the nurse on the end of the line basically told me she was hanging up on me as there was another call and she couldn’t help me. In the end I stayed safe but only thanks to the support of those on social media and then later my family. The crisis team didn’t even inform my local community mental health team that I’d contacted them and was struggling, how is that joined up care.

The crisis service were and I believe are unable to offer any support or guidance that is of use to me, after all they don’t even know my diagnosis.

In the past decade my encounters with the crisis team of two separate hospital trusts have shown me that their understanding of dissociative disorders is limited. Their ability to assist and offer support is limited, in fact for me they are not there in a crisis because they can’t comprehend me or my diagnosis and without that they appear to be unable to help when I need them most.

In the future when I call, if I call, I will explain what I need which is usually someone to help me mentalize things, someone to just listen, to know my pain. I don’t need pointers like a bath or a drink I just need five minutes of their time and for them to hear me. From now on I aim to take control of my interactions with Crisis services and hopefully that will educate them as we go. Maybe this way they can help me when I need it most, only time will tell.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

Community Mental Health Teams – In Crisis!

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For the past few months my regular Care Co-ordinator/CPN has been absent, they have been off sick since the very beginning of March. I usually saw this person every few weeks and had been trying to work with them in a more open and mutually respectful way.

Now psychiatric services within the NHS are stretched at the best of times, but I have over recent weeks realised that there is no longer any give in the system. Staff are working to maximum capacity and every last morsel of energy and work time is being squeezed out of every single one of the staff who make up the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT).

Once my CPN was off sick I quickly realised that there were no contingency provisions available for those people who like me were on the client workload of the now absent member of staff. I also understand that each one of those people who no longer had a service, were most probably vulnerable and in need of support from the Community team. The reality sadly is that I can only assume that like me, many of them were failed for a period of time and like me struggled on without that support until they could no longer cope.

A few weeks ago I had to call the Crisis Team in the middle of the night, they in turn flagged me up to the CMHT and as a result one week after my crisis I was called back. Now I don’t know what the services expected me to do in that week long gap between the crisis call and them making contact, but I know it wasn’t easy. Yet I had the benefit of my Psychologist appointments and my support workers and family, imagine if I had no one would I have survived that week?

After I eventually spoke to the CMHT on a couple of occasions I asked if someone could visit me at home, to offer some kind of mental health support in the interim. I had realised I benefited from seeing my now absent CPN and that I needed that kind of provision again. They allocated me a person who would visit on a temporary basis and so far we have had two meetings, which I have found helpful. I don’t know if these visits are going to continue throughout my regular CPN’s absence, yet I feel that I need them too.

The truth being my CPN still has no return date as far as I know and they have been off now for some months. Yet the reality is also very clear that the service hasn’t got the ability to provide cover from existing staffing resources. The services have in recent years seemingly been stripped to the bone, staffing levels reduced and workloads increased.

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It’s no wonder there are staff absences within CMHT’s, that they don’t have the ability to operate a contingency plan to cover for such absences. It’s no wonder that service users/clients are left a week between being flagged up by Crisis and any contact from the community team.

When I first began working with community mental health team the services were very different, my first CPN became a part of my life when I was just 16 years old. Child Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) didn’t exist back in those days, once you left school and the remit of the school psychiatry team you came under adult services. Now I am not advocating that was better far from it, but CMHT’s were just different back then. They saw a wider age range of clients and yet there staffing numbers seemed much larger, I could easily get an appointment with a CPN every week. The CPN was far more relaxed and easily accessible, they’d meet me for coffee during my lunch break. We use to have my appointments away from my home and the stresses of a dominating mum, my meetings were secret the family never knew. As a result sometimes I would need to cancel last minute and I always spoke to my CPN when I called, she seemed to have a smaller case load.

In fact even 5 years ago, the community teams looked much better equipped and that’s my concern. We seem to be rationalising Mental Health services both in the number of inpatient beds available and the community provision too. But at some point, will we not cut too thinly, will we not end up squeezing the system at both ends and end up causing more harm and in turn more demand for services?

In my area a few years back the CMHT’s were rationalised, some services were amalgamated and that has meant less Doctors and less CPN’s. I no longer see my psychiatrist unless I’m deemed to need an appointment, so when I am particularly unwell the person I meet feels like a stranger instead of a familiar face. If I was to go to hospital I would now have a different psychiatrist to my not so regular one in the community, even more confusion and disruption for clients.

The lack of CMHT staff mean they have bigger workloads and less time to go around, thus appointments are less frequent and often shorter. It’s impossible usually to call the CMHT and speak to your own CPN unless of course they are on duty. But then they are too busy to talk or help, instead they are probably running around trying to do the impossible for ever growing numbers of people. I can’t imagine the strain these staff are under, but I can see that it’s intense and it’s not good for them or the clients they are desperately trying to help.

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It feels like it has all gone too far, the services are being placed under constant attack and overwhelming pressure. In Shropshire the number of beds has been cut just like in many areas and so searching for a bed is a mammoth task these days, you are no longer admitted to hospital until you are more unwell. Now I’m not so sure that this is a good thing especially given community provision is also under attack.

If CMHT’s are stretched to breaking point, how can they help the growing numbers of people needing services. It’s simple maths really, less beds with the same, if not growing numbers of clients means more clients needing to be picked up by community services. Less staff in those community teams means a lesser ability to deal with the increasing demands being placed upon them.

Of course we all know who suffers, yes the staff do clearly but the main losers in all of this are the clients, people like me who suddenly find themselves adrift from community provision and support. In my case staff sickness meant no CPN visits for over 3 months, now that cannot be right.

I don’t blame the staff, in fact I feel sorry for them if I’m honest, I’d hate to face the intolerable strains of increasing demand amidst less resources. But I do blame the people at the next tier and above, managers and trust executives who seem to be allowing the situation to go on unchallenged and who undertake these restructuring exercises. But most of all I blame the Government who clearly cannot comprehend that they have a duty of care to those with Mental Health problems, who talk about parity of care, but don’t deliver.

My CMHT couldn’t meet my needs when faced with a sickness absence, but I don’t blame them it’s not their fault, it’s the fault of those who squeeze the NHS time and time again.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

NHS cuts – a former Patients response

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Sending patients hundreds of miles away or to inappropriate placements…….that happened to me.

‘Cuts hit Mental Health patients’ was this weeks headline that caused a stir in my household, yet more proof that patients are being sent miles from home to get treatment. It’s not a new phenomenon it has happened for years it’s just now more and more people are being affected.

Personally I believe that the constant cuts in beds is making it more and more difficult to cope with the volume of people requiring admission. Now I cannot say if the number of people needing help is rising, but I do know that basic maths tell me if you keep making cuts yet have the same level of demand it’s going to end up creating a bed crisis.

The latest statistics quoted on the BBC news article state 3,000 patients were sent out of area for a bed last year is the right way to treat people, in my opinion the answer is a resounding NO! I was therefore surprised to hear Martin McShane from NHS England advocate on Radio 4 that it was ok for people to travel for treatment, I wonder if Mr McShane has been on the receiving end of an out of area placement.

I know the impact been sent hundreds of miles from home costs, the damage it does not just to the patient but the family too. I also know what it’s like to be placed in an inappropriate setting, on a ward totally unsuited to your needs and I can assure you it isn’t a positive experience.

In 2007 I was sent approximately 250 miles from my home to receive psychiatric care, this was a planned move by my team to move me out of county for trauma treatment, so no sudden rash decision. But I now realise finances played a big part in their decision making and it freed up an acute ward bed by moving me to a different service. I was moved 12 days before Christmas to a unit run by the private sector, it meant I was moved away from my three teenage children who in all truth desperately needed me their mum.

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The move impacted the whole family, it was impossible for them to visit me daily has they had been doing instead we were suddenly catapulted into a routine of monthly visits and in some cases less frequent ones. Each journey would take my children over 10 hours of travelling for approximately 2 hours of time spent with me. The cost was horrendously high and the financial burden was only partially covered by the hospital. The emotional cost and the time commitment needed by the family was totally ignored, no one seemed bothered my daughter had a nightmare of a journey starting at 7am and end at 8.30pm allowing for rest breaks on route.

The impact upon my relationship with my children was huge, I had no privacy to make phone calls and they were time limited too and cost was again a factor. I wasn’t able to share in key moments of my children’s life’s and I wasn’t able to attend events which I so wish I could. My youngest son celebrating when he got his college results, choosing his university, my daughter finding out she had graduated, their birthdays, christmas and so much more. All this would have been possible if I had been closer to home and yet was now impossible, it disenfranchised me from the family and from those I love.

My daughter would visit monthly without fail, she tried to call frequently but it was often impossible to get through on the ward telephone: I wasn’t allowed my own phone. it was her who took on the surrogate role of substitute mum to her siblings, she also graduated whilst I was away, she took care of the family home and dealt with her brothers issues as they arose. Both my sons would visit less frequent, one lived away at university and the other was initially at college then uni too, so they would see me every 2 -3 months. Calls were a couple of times a week but were brief and thus our relationships suffered, they did in all honesty deteriorate and have had to be rebuilt.

The impact upon me was horrible, I felt isolated, alone and empty, I felt a failure as a parent and out of touch with everything going on in their lives. I had limited support as a result of the distance and I no longer felt like a parent but I guess a stranger really invading their lives. In the whole time I was away nearly 18 months the PCT funded just 1 day visit home; well to the nearest mainline station town, as time didn’t allow me to actually go home. I met my family in a pub restaurant for lunch with no privacy, our visit lasted just a few hours.

The friendships I had were now by letter and not in person, though I will always be grateful to my friends who took the time to write. Distance was a huge issue and the cost was that some friendships were lost forever.

When I came back home I had to begin rebuilding the damage done by professionals deciding to send me away, learn to be a mum again to be involved in my children’s lives. They had to learn to accept me once again, my sons had to learn that they could turn to me and not there sister now. Initially it was tough and I took the role of friend rather than mum, I think that helped all of us but it really wasn’t easy. Yet it hurt so much when one day one of my sons told me he was getting his sister a Mother’s Day card because well in all truth she had been more of a mum than I was! He wasn’t been intentionally hurtful just truthful, I had missed out on key things in those recent years and she had taken on a role I could have carried on doing if I hadn’t been sent so far away.

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Does Martin McShane realise the damage his idea that sending patients away is acceptable, is doing to families, to patients, to relationships, I very much doubt it. If you were utilising specialist equipment I can see the point of regional central services, but this is mental health the services can be and should be delivered locally there is no excuse.

Inappropriate placements hurt too, I was once placed on an Alcohol and drug detox unit because they had no beds in a mental health ward. I wasn’t in need of a detox it wasn’t one of my issues, but they had a bed, no one else did so someone made a decision it would be ok. I felt punished, misunderstood and in more turmoil than when it was decided I need to go into hospital.
It was only for a couple of nights but it wasn’t right in fact it was wholly inappropriate, to hear such things still go is horrendous.

During one admission the acute ward I was on suddenly changed from being a female ward to a male overspill. Most females were moved to another already overcrowded female ward, but myself and initially one other patient were left behind. We were placed in the HDU (High Dependency Unit) of the ward; behind locked doors at night, as it was deemed essential by management. I spent from July to November in that male ward, I became the only female there and I did have to spend time with the male patients. I had to mix with them if I wanted a drink, or food or to collect medication, if I wanted to enter or exit the ward or see nursing staff. I had to encounter male patients in acute psychiatric need, It wasn’t easy and looking back I realise how vulnerable I was in that place. If beds and staffing had been available to accommodate me on a female ward it would in hindsight have been much better and safer.

The reduction of beds in mental health services can only create more patients in need being placed in inappropriate settings, or being located far from home, this has to stop. It’s time services were properly funded and adequate bed numbers maintained, it’s time people like Martin McShane and Norman Lamb realised the damage being done by cuts in bed numbers. I hear all the talk and I wonder will this situation ever change, I hope so, because until it does vulnerable people at times of crisis are being treated intolerably and sadly I know the impact that has.

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Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

Self harm and the attitudes of medical professionals

Self harm and the attitudes of medical professionals

 

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This week I heard from a friend who had to attend her local hospital to receive treatment as a result of self harm and her treatment was unfortunately not very helpful. This led me to thinking about the times I either attended A & E or was taken there by the police for treatment, usually as a result of self harming or being deemed mentally unwell and requiring treatment.

It is nearly ten years since my first ever hospital admission, but for many months before I had hidden the self harm that was taking place. I tried hard to wear long sleeves to hide the cuts and dressings which I needed to stem bleeding etc. I was determined not to require anyone to know that I felt so desperate and confused that I could only survive by self harming. This was in the form of cuts, burns, starvation, restricting my fluid intake or overdoses, by the time I was admitted to hospital my self harm was a daily occurrence such was the turmoil I found myself in.

I hid my self harm from medical professionals, my family and my friends no one but me; I thought, knew I was living this life. I can recall going out for days with the children carrying implements in my bag ready to harm, and hibernating in bathrooms and cutting during these days out. I would feel myself getting so distressed during the day that I couldn’t survive any longer and so self harm took place. Yet once it was done and I felt a wave of release that I had punished myself which I felt I deserved I could then calmly walk back out and carry on with life.

I was confused to such an extent that I believed I needed to punish myself because that way I would be safe from others hurting me, and I was terrified that past abusers would come and hunt me down and hurt me. I even had a notion that because one of my abusers was my mother that I was bad as I had her blood inside me, thus if I bled enough I would rid myself of her badness.

Now all this time no one knew how much I was struggling, the GP knew I wasn’t too great but all they kept saying was ‘take time out and relax more’, and ‘all women go through these phases’.
They never asked if I felt suicidal or what scale my mood was, they did eventually arrange for me to see a doctor and thereafter just told me I was on a waiting list to see a psychiatrist. Yet in the meantime I was continually told to ‘hang in there’, occasionally they’d tell me things would improve.

Of course things just kept getting worse and when I attended the GP one day and I saw a different doctor who asked to test my blood pressure; because I looked like I was going to faint, he saw the wounds that by now littered my arms. Recent cuts had been deeper and the blood loss alongside starving myself wasn’t helping me feel any better. It was then that he made the call and I was suddenly being sent to the local psychiatric unit for assessment. At this time I realised my eldest child had sensed something was wrong and had suspected I was self injuring, but we had both said nothing until I was en-route to the unit.

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A & E staff from the start were slightly arrogant and mainly uncaring, if I had to attend as a result of cutting I lost count of the times I felt to blame by their attitude towards me. It was as if they weren’t best pleased to be treating me after all in their eyes I had self inflicted this injury upon myself, they never looked beyond the injury to the person. On only one occasion can I recall a doctor being helpful, he was actually concerned for me wanting to know why I hurt and was I getting help for my mental health. He treated me like a human being and not an attention seeking time waster which is what many other medical professionals seemed to treat me as.

The sad fact is the attitudes that I faced ten years ago still exist today, that means the medical profession has failed to learn about or understand self harming behaviours in a decade. That concerns me because I am aware of the efforts of so many different groups including government health organisations whose aim was to educate about self harm and improve outcomes for patients. A decade ago these organisation were trying to produce guidance to end the stigma that exists around those who self harm, if attitudes haven’t changed does that mean their efforts failed?

Self harm is not something we should ignore or take for granted for behind every scar, every injury there is human suffering. I didn’t harm for the fun of it and if I wanted to seek attention believe me I can think of lots of better ways of doing that. I wasn’t time wasting either, I was in acute emotional distress and I needed help. I couldn’t explain the anguish I was going through, the only way I could find to deal with the turmoil that was my life was to inflict injuries upon my own body.

Be that cutting, burning, overdosing or restricting the amount of food or fluids I took in, each act was either an attempt to deal with intense pain and turmoil, or the result of irrational thoughts. I wasn’t doing this because I enjoyed it, truth be known I hated myself for doing it, in fact I loathed my scars. The reality was I tried so desperately to avoid seeking medical attention as the last place I wanted to go to was A & E where I would be made to feel even more ashamed and be stigmatised.

Self harm controlled me a decade ago and at times of crisis it can still take control of my life today, it is sadly my default position when the pain is too much. Now when I lapse back into self harming I tend to injure in other ways in the hope it’s less visual, but it’s still harming all the same. Now I am not proud of the fact I self harm and I don’t want these feelings either, I would like to be free of self harm and yet I now understand it is a symptom of the life I lived as a child. A life which caused untold damage and will take a long time to deal with and heal from, my self harming is a symptom of my mental health not the cause.

The cause is my past and today I am having to face the harsh reality that I was betrayed, abused and psychologically damaged. Currently I am feeling emotions for the first time and I am starting to grieve over the fact I was hurt, I’m starting to come to terms with the dawning realisation that the horrific memories I hold and continue to recall don’t belong to my alters at all. They just carry my memories, and it was this body, it was me as a child and a teenager who the abusers defiled. Believe me that’s tough, it’s a harsh journey survivors walk there is a lot of pain and anguish that has to be processed and dealt with.

Perhaps when dealing with a person who is self harming instead of vilifying them and judging them medical professionals should remember to gently seek out the cause of this symptom. They should in my opinion treat those who self harm with the dignity, care and respect they so badly need, and they should afford them the right treatment to help them move forwards.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

 

 

 

Stepping in to save a life….why its important to help

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All the media attention this week highlighting suicide has led me to thinking about the times when I was at the point of wanting to end my life, its been really inspiring this week to hear of the current campaign in the UK to ‘Find Mike’ . The campaign is a search by Jonny Benjamin for the person who helped him in his hour of need which prevented him from committing suicide in 2008 so he can now say Thank You face to face.

Its heart warming to hear that in Jonny’s case someone did stop and did help, but how many times do people just keep walking on by someone who is clearly distressed and in need of help whether suicidal or not, it seems society has lost in some ways the human touch of reaching out to those in need. Now I know that it is not everyone who has become like this many people will stop and ask if someone is ok, or if they need help, but isn’t it something that we should all do?

Not many years ago I walked the same path that Jonny did, I would make the decision to take my life make a plan and then when I was able to I would act upon it, there were many times when people simply ignored me or just walked on by. In 2006 I travelled by train to the place where I had decided I would simply take my pills and go to sleep, it was a special place for me and held memories dear to my heart so in my illogical and irrational state it seemed a logical thing to do. The journey involved some 100 miles and 3 train journeys, I was dressed totally inappropriately for the weather, a lack of medication had caused me to have side effects so there I was on a busy train in the height of summer wearing a thick winter coat, carrying a teddy and a huge blanket for extra warmth. I was deeply distressed, sobbing for most of the journey, I can recall sitting on the  first train hoping no one would notice  me, and no one did not even the train staff who just walked on by, they didn’t even ask for a ticket, though I did have one. The other passengers kept a safe distance, in fact I was aware that people were avoiding me, there were seats across from me and next to me and yet they remained empty whilst people stood. But no one asked was I ok, did I need help, no everyone decided avoidance was the best course of action.

The second train was jammed to full and people did sit near me, but not once did any of those passengers ask if I needed help or was I ok, I remember losing time on the journey drifting in and out of awareness and struggling to just keep focused upon my mission in hand, being out in public was causing me massive anxiety and I wasn’t in any position to manage those symptoms of panic. As we got nearer to my destination I remember feeling a sense of calm as I realised I wasn’t far from my then goal. I arrived at the station in a large northern city and I was absolutely thrown into confusion when I found a small station I had previously used and was my final, final point, had been decommissioned, trains were no longer running there. I remember wandering around lost, confused and in sheer panic as I realised I couldn’t think how else to get to the final point, I must have looked a sight and yet not one person stopped.

I sat on a bench in the station because I felt so faint and weak, the side effects of withdrawal were really kicking in, I had been missing doses of my medication for a while as i needed to store supplies for this final mission, so on that day I had none, and had gone for over 24 hours with no medication. As I sat there people walked by, oblivious I think to this women who sat a few feet from their path and was crying and shaking and struggling with life, I tried to rationalise my thinking in the hope of finding a solution to get me to my final point, but my head was also busy dealing with trying to ignore the vibrations from my phone as my family frantically tried to make contact, I had been gone a number of hours and the family had by now realised I was missing, I didn’t want to switch it off, as on it was the picture of the people I loved the most and that matter to me, so in an absolute frenzy of confusion and turmoil I decided I would walk the rest of the journey.

Thankfully it was at this point someone decided to intervene, it wasn’t the people of my age nor the train station staff who took action, but a young woman who simply marched over to the bench, bent down to my level and asked gentle was I ok, because I didn’t look ok and she thought I might need help.

Looking back I estimate hundreds if not more people had either seen me on my journey or passed by the bench, they had all ignored me, or more likely avoided me. This one persons act saved my life and gave me a future that i enjoy today, yes it probably took her a great deal of courage to approach a random stranger clearly upset and behaving in an odd manner. Many people might have thought of the potential risk implications, but I doubt whether that even crossed her mind because the way she approached the situation and took charge of it showed compassion and understanding, it was as if she knew what I was thinking and she knew I needed help.

There were many times before her intervention and a few after, were people walked on by and didn’t choose to help, not that I wanted them to stop back then, but my family desperately wanted people to stop me. They desperately wanted me to live, to see that life was worth living and fighting for, to see that I wasn’t the burden that I felt I was to them. Many times it was the police who came to mine and my family’s rescue, they would find me and intervene and help me on the journey back towards life.

Looking back I can see that so many people did walk by, turned the other cheek and decided it wasn’t their problem so they wouldn’t get involved. I know how I would react to those situations today I certainly wouldn’t walk by, I’d help in any way I could no matter what the risk, for I would see the person as someones wife, mother, husband, father, son or daughter with a life worth fighting for, a life that is worth going that one extra step.

You see without those people who did help, did show concern, genuine concern, I would not be writing this blog, I wouldn’t have seen the sun rise this morning or hear the singing of birds, nor would I have seen my children graduate or celebrate their 18th or 21st birthdays. I wouldn’t have got to enjoy the many happy times I have been blessed to share with my family since those dark days. I owe all of those people who did help and/or intervene so much, that words seem simply inadequate, I know I will always be grateful for their efforts and their help and I hope they realise just how much their willingness to step in and help, means to me and my family.

I now know that suicide is not the panacea those in distress think it is, it doesn’t solve anything in fact it just robs you of a future and the right to happiness.

Please if you see someone who is clearly distressed, clearly needs help or you even think might need help, don’t you owe it to them and to yourself to stop and ask, a few simple words are all it takes and you could save someones life, If you don’t feel comfortable approaching the person at least get help from someone who can. Your actions are critical and tomorrow it might be someone who you love who needs that kind of help, every victim of suicide is someones relative and the impact of suicide is vast.

Don’t assume someone else will stop, because I know from my own experience that If that young woman had walked on past that June day its highly unlikely anyone else would have stopped?