On the 26th August 2016 my life as I knew it stopped, yet the world still continued to move and time did not stop, On the morning of the 26th I woke with a 101 things needed an wanted to do planned phone my sister see if she needed me go back across an see her and help sort out her housing issues, I have a big mouth an person in my family known shout and get people heard, catch up around the house , try do something fun with my son, knew I had to phone my brother Timothy check up on if he was ok as had a missed call the day before upset and pleading for help that voicemail will now forever haunt me. Even though I knew I wanted phone my brother for some reason I kept dawdling putting off when woke was telling myself will do but first Katie need sort Myles. Whilst Myles managed was having his breakfast I thought I’d take 5 have my coffee then phone Tim my mobile rang it was my Nanna’s number that came up for a moment before answering in my heart I prayed my grandad was ok as part of me thought she was phoning about him. Nothing could prepare me for me for what she said I won’t fully divulge the full details but enough just to say my brother had taken his own life, I’m not sure if was because didn’t hear her say first time or because zoned out to what she was saying or stupidly didn’t know how respond to but I had to ask her repeat what she said the first time and it was then in that moment that instant I knew my brother an best friend had gone an From that moment on life changed for a long time for me life has stopped even though is moving around past me but me for me the world stopped that day as I’ve not wanted move on nor ready to I struggle accept Tim’s gone not ready face that harsh reality an reality of why I convince myself he’s busy he’s happy but he’s ok I suppose they’re the things I like believe he has found in Heaven. I don’t view my friendships, my relationships in the same way as I used to I don’t seem bothered for idle gossip, coffee an play date catch ups and selfishly no interest in other people’s life’s as am purely focused now on protecting my own little family unit an that of my immediate family my mum, my brother, my sisters an our children I feel I owe it them play big bro and big sis and I owe it Tim to keep his memory alive. We don’t call the actions Tim took as Suicide as we see it his death could have been prevented the 21/2 years leading up to that date showed my brother’s fight for Recovery to be him again he reached out so many times asking for help us as a family did too spent many a night with him in a and e as did the local police force taking him down to be assessed but time and time again even when free from still ignored his Mental Health needs and blamed the drugs or the things he was obsessing over and paranoid about were social matters and couldn’t help yes you could because they’d took over his Mental Functioning he became tormented by a doll that he first thought was his protector but then it took hold an control it spoke to him, bullied him and controlled him to point morphed into that persona but apparently that too got overlooked he engaged with volunteering wanted go back to work, wanted a place call home, wanted feel human again most importantly he wanted be Tim again an he did fight so hard to have that but sadly he became to dependant on one key worker and probably dependant on Crypt an lighthouse his safe space became sanctuary and his bubble. Services sadly enabled that too happen they didn’t take him on their recovery bus help him with his Self Care, identify an address his triggers what to do when crisis hit an were to go when needed help but yet at crisis told him he had to ask for I used to thing they were either a) blindly ignorant orb) extremely stupid as he’s here can’t you see him he’s asking I can see, I can hear why not you. Right up until the day he died he was screaming for help I’ll never understand why when he was taken to a and e why never admitted, never understand neither why his gp only offered him coffee an biscuits you saw he was broken why didn’t you get him help. Where he was living they advertised provided crisis an respite support and will never understand why they didn’t offer him an nor will I accept that they’re not partly accountable as how can you just be private landlords if we’re he was living was under assessment an classed as a transitional home a place supporting people with needs like Tims is probably why I don’t accept is Suicide as because I know more could have been done an I know Tim I know the act he carried out he did was because most drastic the one that would get them really see he was screaming out for help also I suppose I don’t call suicide because I’m not ready accept he didn’t want to be hear no more, not ready accept he wanted to leave us and nor ready accept it was his Time. They’res loads been spoken of at the moment about suicide an zero alliance a zero attitude to suicide I kind of feel that doesn’t relate to my brother as he and the family knew the signs even told people providing Tims care what look out for an when he was in extreme distress he wasn’t a danger to others but himself, Tim also had suspected LD was a recovering addict around 12 months free of substance misuse he was also someone who ended up past from pillar to post and a vulnerable adult and was known to services an should have been supported I feel that the zero alliance is looking at suicide prevention from people that are not known so what do you do for people that are known an how do you help them an how do you help families like mine come to terms an face the harsh reality they’ve lost a loved one to suicide so for the time being ill fight for answers for him, try make Services work better to support people like him, I’ll keep his memory alive an I’ll keep campaigning more should have been done an I’ll continue shout his death was not suicide but a preventable one an ill do that for him in the hope others do not become lost and that through him others maybe found an that people like him they’re lives are made to matter an not tossed to one side an so that people like him have the oppurtunities to be a part of society, be human again but most importantly be a person as Tim he just wanted be Tim again x
On Wednesday I’m going to Westminster with National Mind an the MP’s to their bring to the table event to discuss Mental Health Going Forward and what needs be done, theirs lots been highlighted about austerity, of postcode lottery, even the diagnosis lottery an conveyor belt. These issues are complex, challenging and have crippling impact to individuals affected by Mental Health. I’ve been asked to represent Yorkshire an Humber I will to an extent highlight my brother’s death and failings in his care. I have also spoke with my friends at Lighthouse Academy in Leeds an to my friends at Healthy Minds in Calderdale and I was alarmed at some of concerns raised and highlighted and that as much as we shout out for better mental health care we are so far from it.
Services are been closed without proper consultation to the service users that access and they’re unable be referred into alternative therapies as they don’t fit the recovery timescales, diagnosis to complex been told all has been to try help them and worst of all they’re now struggling find private alternatives because that one thing that made a difference has been took away.
For some accessing treatment and support and getting the foot in the door is hard specifically for rehab for overcoming addiction and I see regularly individuals, friends, little communities forming trying to support each other overcoming addiction and it breaks my heart to see them stumble because you know they are desperately trying following things like routine, keep busy, avoid temptation but the underlying issues not addressed, no support to detox, withdraw and overcome addiction and the space an Time and safe place to do and rehab is what would make all that difference but for some they are sadly overlooked, the waiting lists are too long that people are told waits of up to 2 years no point referring you in. Why then are their no alternatives why are we not demanding more specialised services why are we overlooking this vulnerable client group. Is it because they don’t deserve help, is it because society says they don’t fit just as services say we can’t help because we can’t fit you into a box. Austerity is penalising these individuals setting them up to fail be persecuted, isolated, attacked and further dehumanised and sadly why so many life’s are lost and in today’s society we should be holding up those most vulnerable.
People’s mental wellbeing is been impacted by austerity people know it’s good to volunteer, want to volunteer are told by professionals do it will aid your recovery and then they do volunteer and do little bits building themselves up, getting skills may not necessarily have an then bam DWP is taking them of benefits that awarded because of their conditions an impact has an been told well you can volunteer you can go on Job seekers or some universal credit been set up to fail not supported sanctioned if don’t apply for x amount of Jobs, write cvs do job searches and get x amount of interviews and many get passed up, employers won’t take on an so they get hit with sanction after sanction money stopped go without food, heating, hot water, basic provisions, spiral further into debt trying keep a roof over heads and the pressure of and lacking basic needs is detrimental to their health and we are turning our backs on them what are we doing to challenge the hardest hit be supported we’re are we fighting for their right to health equality not inequality.
One guy mentioned to me he wanted work volunteer be phased an supported in he’s not worked in a long time just finding his feet got placed on Job Seekers could I ask for more supported employment programmes I wished I could but sadly those services are few an far between an waiting lists get on are high so for him I pray he doesn’t stumble because of the dwp system setting people up to fail. DWP shouldn’t be allowed treat people in the inhumane way they are they are having a detrimental impact on health.
Mental Health is impacted by physical, housing, social, financial influences, influences that government need address especially if mental health support has a chance to change improve an save lives as part of the 5 year forward strategy on Wednesday when I take people’s voices to the table I’ll try ensure heard because I can’t sit back an watch the most vulnerable be forgot about anymore.
Last year I lost my brother to one of the biggest killers of Males under 45, I’ve discovered that their is Stigma an Shame attached to how he died, I feel the stigma of because people don’t want to ask how I am, I don’t know if it’s because they don’t know how to, I don’t know if it’s because they’re afraid to ask and fear upset me, I’ve discovered people know do keep their distance have the look in eye’s it’s Katie, the look please don’t stop say hello ask am ok because if do am obliged ask back and depending on what say won’t know how respond. When I see that look or pick up on that feeling it breaks my heart, makes me feel invisible and alone, makes me feel have to put on a mask pretend ok, makes it harder for me to deal with my emotions and keep a lid on them an wearing a mask is exhausting so When lid goes can spontaneously get upset or react in anger and having own Mental Health needs intensifies that. I get that life is busy people are busy an time has to move on, but for me an my family it hasn’t we’ve not begun the grieving process as we’re still struggling to face what happened an why, and why when tried ask for help it not given and so because of a complex process to get that we can’t and so day by day it’s a battle of wits just face each day, I feel deeply for my mum because the brave face I put on I see she puts on, I wish she didn’t have to wish could change things but can’t, wish we didn’t have to pretend we’re ok and wish my family didn’t have to hide our pain and upset away in silence but we do, we get told your doing remarkably well considering then the pause, since My brother died yes we are , but the voice in my head screams we’ve no choice. I don’t say how my brother died it’s not because I’m ashamed it’s because I know more could have been done for him and he didn’t mean do he was however stupid he drastically did something to cry for help and so the anger I have is for them not him, I do feel shame but the shame I feel is that I wished I’d done more when he asked for help got it as it breaks my heart knowing he asked so many times and it wasn’t their, Losing someone to how I lost my brother is one of the worst unimaginable ways to lose someone you can’t ever prepare for nor properly say goodbye and nor know are they really at peace you try convince themselves they are, I talk to my brother everyday, everyday I tell him I’m Sorry, Tell him that he won’t be another statistic that his life mattered and lessons will be learned, I tell him what my day will be like and at end of day What I’ve done if I’ve broke down I ask him why he didn’t zap me with a bolt of lightning, I ask him is their live after death, are u at peace, what’s heaven like are you raving or are you looking after Marybeth. He doesn’t answer though even though I will with all my heart and might. I wish people did talk to my mum and my family about my brother it’d help us in our pain, reassure us his life mattered, I wish people asked we’re ok because it’s very lonely and isolating and why we know start to keep ourselves to ourselves in our own little circle and hate the world that little bit more. Even in our darkest days we still try function, make the effort because we know we have to and so it wouldn’t hurt to expect that back, but most importantly if we’re not ok how do we say we’re not and get help and support because we’ve not had that dialect or interaction. It puts the stigma and shame on something that shouldn’t be their, triggers me into hating the it’s ok to talk, it’s ok ask for help as they’re really great initiatives brought out of pain an suffering but also because I feel the stigma and shame off I question why, why do they try if people not standing up, taking notice and listening, and when I say listening it’s listening to what someone potentially
I say, what are they hiding inside as much as what they vocally may say. I struggle now at times interact with those who know me because of that invisible awkwardness, the pretending ok becomes crippling just like the voice in my head that goes of, so Why do people not talk more about how my brother died, Why isn’t more been done to prevent how he died and, How do you support people who’ve lost loved ones like how I lost my brother. September is Suicide Prevention Month and so this month I hope people actually do listen, stand up and take notice because then for those affected by may open door for it too be talked about and it make the difference to someone who needs. It’s too late for my brother and my family but it doesn’t have to be that way for other’s x x x
On social Media I’ve seen people debating Patient Safety in relation to my brother I’ve realised that more could have been done for him and that Patient Safety did not come into his care. To help me come to terms with his passing I’ve to understand an process why and find the solutions to could have what made a difference it is what manages my self care an also putting pen to paper gets my thoughts an ideas out an mapped out. So today while I’ve had an empty house an cleared up house listening to the song that played at the start of my brother’s funeral I listened to the song ” How to Save A Life by the Fray and asked myself that question. I asked myself how Services from a Patient Safety point of View could have saved a Life and been all Tim needed and here’s what I came up with.
1.See me as a Person
2.See my Circumstances
3.Include my family and Friends in my Care
4.All Services needed to work together an not in Isolation
5. Choice an Opportunities
6. The important one Listen When I ask 4 Help
7.Judgement Free Care
8.Check my Records be it Safeguarding,Crisis,Suicide Prevention,Care Plans and Recovery Plans are all up to date, working an implemented an everyone including Me an My Family were made aware off.
9.Take Responsibility Don’t keep passing me to service to service from Pillar to Post.
10. Carry out All assessments
11. Don’t exclude me from Services Because of Labels Attached to Me
12. Support through Major transitions
13 Finally Compassion an Understanding as Human Beings we are all entitled to having that met.
These things don’t seem like much but to my brother they’d have made a big difference and he’d still be here for all those looking at Patient Safety please look at this and ask yourselves could you have been All Tim Needed.
Theirs been lots in the media debating the pro’s an cons of taking Medication for Depression, BBC Panorama highlighted the dangerous of an how individuals became mass murderer’s an that’s in extremities.
I suffer from a Dysthmic Disorder in layman terms a neurotic mood disorder, Depression,Anxiety, Obsessive and Compulsive Behaviours, I have complex PTSD hear voices and Dissociate.
I don’t take medication for my conditions I used to they were harmful for my physical health I ballooned to just under 19 stone was a walking zombie did not interact, engage the world passed in a blur and still I was seen as disengaging by services it wasn’t that I was disengaging but the needs completely shut of all my receptors so I couldn’t engage.
The conditions I have are the result of Childhood Abuse, Losing a Child Born Still Born and the result of been a revolving door patient on an off throughout my teens to my early thirties. The medications I were on varied from Anti-Deppresant’s, Mood Stabilizer’s, Anti-Psychotics, Relaxant’s and Sleeping Pills. The medications just sedated my so called behaviours to me their now just my traits be it survival, be it instinct, be it my defensive mechanisms. Dissociation at times though can be a pain when things in my locked box want to surface as that hits when am at my most vulnerable an most risk and I’ve just to ride it out.
It’s been hard not been on medication and not easy but I try face each day as I can medication will only plaster over the scars of my past, therapy can help me address but the unstable emotions and how I handle things they’re what I’ve to learn to address, I recently nearly ended up back on medication I struggled with coping with my brother’s passing thought long an hard and in my heart knew wrong as it may take the pain away numb it but eventually have to face it and so may as well fight may way through it now but also the anger side of my cptsd has come in handy as I’m using that part of my grieve to fight for him wished did more when he was alive, also if agreed go back on the slow cocktail of men’s would build up again I’d be talked into needing more for different things and different behaviours an probably extra Dx and my son he needs me, he needs me to be strong for him be brave for him most importantly be alert and functioning and be all he needs so as hard as the days are I throw myself into It theirs days I feel mentally drained, exhausted, on edge, thoughts scrambling but for my son I attack each day, I also do for my family, I do for my brother too as he so wanted overcome his past.
Medication can help mask things and give me a rest from but in the end they’ll stop me from seeing the beauty in the world even though theirs too sadness in it, the voice i thought so hard to re-find would too agin be lost and one thing I’ll always tell my son fight for what you want well if I’m not living it he can’t practice it.
Don’t get me wrong it’s not easy theirs days when I can just drag myself up ready, Myles though he’s always immaculate, theirs days I’ve snapped my anger lids burst an that’s not been good for person who got brunt off, theirs days I have just crumbled just broke look liked a car wreck and all around gets to much and times to preserve myself I’ve to shut out the world keep my bubble to myself .
I’m not telling people to stop taking mess nor if they help you to stop believing that they don’t an to stop.
I’m asking that as I respect medications for you please respect though it’s not for me an in fact has been life altering an harmful an I don’t want that for me, I also need you to respect that just because I say no also does not mean I don’t have my conditions an my experiences an opinions like well you can’t be that bad if you don’t take because I can be.
The brave face people see is just a mask as if accepted people a) don’t get or understand me so I give up trying explain, b) if I don’t try I give up an where does that leave my son an family and c) if I go on meds the world will be shut out again.
If their was better monitoring of my help, safeguards an provisions that stopped me going on more an more mess then maybe, but I know for me I have to address my pain be it therapy, be it pretending life’s ok or be it writing my blog like now, I’m exploring having faith in my life that’s been a challenge an battle of perseverance, I throw myself into soft play just as much as Myles an that s my anger energy, we do crafts, go for walks we play the child in me likes that as that’s reminded sometimes life is good, being an activist for awhile was hard but then I missed it so am slowly going to re-dip my toes in the water and look to do again as my heart an a part within me missed that an so listening to myself keeps me going.
I suppose because I didn’t feel listened too an knowing my brother wasn’t listened to is why I’ll always shy away from medication in time that may change I’ve to meet that one person who will listen and give me the perfect care package so till then I’ve just got to listen to myself.
Whilst I do that though please don’t shame me an belittle my depression, my pain just as I don’t pill-shame you an vocalise the drugs are bad. It is these debates that create divides in the mh community an we need to be supporting each other and each getting the support that works it’s time focus on getting it right for everyone as at present services aren’t working and we need to work together to get that so let’s #endthepillsdebate.
If I wrote hurt all my pain down, folded it up like a scroll and put it in a bottle and let out by the riverside would you make it drown to the bottom of the river bed, or will you carry the bottle up stream and it flow right on by,
If I drew a picture of what the damage inside me looks like and put in a ballon and released into the sky would a bird be sent to pop the balloon and the picture fly down n land on top a heap of mess or would the balloon flow through the clouds, an glide past a rainbow and be free,
if I sang a sad song would it sound like a broken record, would the cords go would it have rhythm and melody would the music carry the tears and sadness away,
if I said a prayer God asking you how do I heal, how can I get you to help carry my pain away will you shut me out like I did you, or would you show me a sign, whisper something in my ear, send me a vision a guide, teach me how to forgive move on an live for the now what would you do as its time I no longer hide and let it take over its time to heal and take away my pain from the past
Marybeth my first born child, my daughter, my angel in heaven, I still long to hold you one More time, stroke your face feel you close up against my skin cheek to cheek smell your baby smell tell you I love you and would have loved watch seen how you’ld grow,
Myles my second born child a second child with a difference as he is an only child my first born living son, I watch you grow each day you are your own unique person, a character with attitude more toddler now than baby at bed time that’s when you need me more we snuggle up I wrap my arm around you whilst you fall asleep, breathe in your baby smell I strangely tell you to slow down on the growing not ready for you to stop been a baby just yet,
Marybeth you make me so proud you may have only been in my life a short time but you made a big impact I wasn’t ready see at time that I was a good person, of pure heart but I was you knew you was to be an Angel but still wanted to be born you picked me as that person an that makes me trually blessed,
Myles everyday you make me proud you too have made a big impact on my life your showing me what it’s like to be a child again, to laugh, to be brave, to learn to trust to see the world in a different light an that to is a precious gift anyone can share so my son too I thank you as that too makes me trually blessed,
My children it dosent matter if your here with me in the present or light years away in the heaven, in my heart I hold both of you and will always love and nurture you and hope that you are safe and happy and get the best be it in this life or as for Marybeth in Heaven an her be one of God’s Chosen Angels because as your Mum all I can do is hope and try to give you my best, my all an hope you know how blessed you’ve both made me feel my daughter, my son Mummy loves you x X X
Marybeth Ann Garritty born sleeping 24/03/2002
Myles Andrew Griffin-Robinson 15/12/2013 now aged 2 x