When people talk about people with “mental health issues” slipping through the net it’s usually because a person with a mental health diagnosis has killed somebody or they’ve committed suicide after they’ve been in the system and discharged or thought not to be a risk but there is another side to it.
I’ve been in the system three or four times but I’ve never been hospitalised or sectioned because I’m outwardly competent if inside a wreck and because I manage my illness well even though I cope with it badly.
I need help but I fall out of the remit of all the services available. I’m not in a crisis that’s severe enough (I am not in danger of taking my own life but I am close to self harm) so I can’t be referred to a psychiatrist. If I become suicidal or in real danger of self harming badly then I can get in touch with a Crisis Team who, on one occasion, told me if I could verbalise the way I felt then I wasn’t truly suicidal (bastards).
I’d like help in my home but I fall out of the way that Social Services help even if they accepted my referral and I know they wouldn’t.
A group on Twitter in the town where I live want to do “good things”. I need my living room redecorating & I’d like laminate flooring laid. I’ve money to pay for the paint etc. but I need to get estimates and estimates come at around £80 a pop and I can’t afford to spend that to get ripped off. I volunteered myself to this group and was turned down as not being a “real cause”. By that they meant they want photos in the paper of a frail old lady being overwhelmed with gratitude or a “plucky” child in a hospital bed and an article lauding the group. If you want that then you’re not into doing good things, you’re into be praised for them. It’s a barely disguised form of discrimination.
Yesterday a neighbour stopped me in the street to fish for gossip and I let her fish. She asked me outright if I’d been “cured” (I’m not a side of bacon) because I seemed so cheerful. I was manic and tried to explain to her it was a high mood and that I wasn’t cheerful, I was out of control. She looked away from me and muttered words to the effect that I looked all right to her.
And that’s the rub. I spend my life looking okay on the outside and on the inside I’m a peeled baby inside a suit of armour. My greatest fault is being able to mask my illness too well and because people with mental health problems aren’t considered to be in physical need then through those gigantic holes in the net I fall again. And again and again and again.