"My cousin overdosed after her diagnosis"
About: Manchester Mental Health And Social Care Trust / Adult mental health Manchester Mental Health And Social Care Trust Adult mental health M21 9UN Manchester Royal Infirmary / Accident and emergency Manchester Royal Infirmary Accident and emergency Manchester M13 9WL
Posted by CLestrade (as ),
My cousin has recently been diagnosed with bipolar II, after years of being treated for depression, anxiety and OCD. On giving the diagnosis, her doctor withdrew her medication and left her to deal with it on her own - no support, no counselling, only the assurance that she was "on a waiting list" for an assessment, which could take 18 months.
A few weeks later I went to stay with her. She has been writing a play about mental health to try and raise awareness, and had just heard she'd been rejected for an arts grant. When I went to see her in the morning, she told me she hadn't slept, and that she wanted to die. She was crying. I hugged her, told her to get some sleep, and we'd talk properly about it later. Next thing - she knocked on my bedroom door, telling me she'd taken an overdose. I immediately rang NHS Direct, who got an ambulance to her in half an hour. The paramedics were professional and kind, and insisted on taking her into hospital even though she'd vomited by this time and kept saying, "They won't do anything to help me anyway. "
We got to A&E, where she was assessed, had an ECG and was put in a private room in the observation ward - pretty dismal, with no natural light or even windows. A nurse came to take her vitals, listed the pills she'd taken. After a couple of hours she said she wanted to be alone, so I went home, having heard the nurse say she would see the doctor and mental health team in a couple of hours. The next morning, she was still on the same ward, with no progress having been made. Finally a 'gatekeeper', as they are called, came to see her, and in my cousin's words, bullied her saying, You didn't want to die, did you. My cousin found this very distressing. Thankfully, a friend was visiting and told the staff my cousin didn't feel safe at home, so they agreed to keep her in, possibly transferring her to the psychiatric ward.
Eventually, my cousin saw an exceptionally kind mental health worker, who spent over an hour with her. This MH worker said she didn't think the psych ward would help her, but that she wouldn't let her be sent home without support, so my cousin agreed to go home. It was at this point she realised she should have been given support for her condition, but her doctor had failed to inform her of this or arrange for it to be put in place.
She is now back at home, again with no support, no medication (beyond the three days she was palmed off with), and still facing an 18-month wait for the assessment alone - never mind any treatment.
I just feel so upset and disgusted that it was allowed to get to this stage. My cousin was not naturally suicidal, but ended up taking desperate measures to try and get the treatment she needed. Regardless of her intentions when she took that overdose, it could still have killed her. She should have had sufficient support way before that point. I think the whole process, from misdiagnosis at the beginning, to the treatment of her 'crisis', showcases what feels like the extremely poor mental health provision in the Manchester area.