Guest Blog: One mans mental health struggle

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(Last Updated On: December 1, 2014)
Some of you may remember the news article in a local paper about the man that set fire to himself in the connections office in Torquay in December 2012.

Well, that man was me now 20 and still fighting a losing battle with mental health issues.

I’m not a torquay local however came to reside there after fleeing domestic violence. There was some build up to the event in connections which starts with me taking an overdose planning to kill myself….

Attempt number 34 (as I’m able to write this it’s obvious that it failed I just slept for 3 days) I then woke and went to visit a friend who lives in chelston whilst there I prevented an elderly lady (Landlady of temporary accommodation I’ve stayed in before) being hit by another lady in her 40s that was being made homeless by the council.

I took that lady back to my property so that she was safe and wouldn’t get into trouble I then asked the security of  supported accommodation to allow her to stay that one night and they said that she couldn’t. I pleaded but to no avail I then black out and have no recollection of what happened next….

I awoke in a police cell where my clothes had been taken from me and I was completely naked the police returned my clothes to me and I got dressed and was released without charge….

I then went to my property where I was met by security and the buildings manager where I was informed that the previous night I had assaulted a police officer and the security officer of the building and was therefore served with an immediate eviction notice so I once again found myself homeless.

I went to the council office to see what could be done where I was informed that they were not going to help me even though they were aware of my mental health issues. I then blackout and awake in the back of an ambulance where I immediately ask “where am I?”
I am told that I set myself on fire, to which I must admit I was shocked.

In the A and E of the hospital I saw a psychiatrist who gave me a few pills and sent me on my way as he deemed me not to be a risk (how anyone could deem me not to be a risk at this point is beyond me but nevertheless) I left a&e and went to a friend’s where I stayed and spoke the night away.

In the morning I went to the council and requested accommodation to which I was refused again, so I went back to my friends and came up with a plan whilst drinking tea outside in the cold as it turned out that I couldn’t enter his property due to his building managers rules (he had received a telling off for allowing me to stay the previous night) so with a plan formed I cycled from Torquay to Teignmouth.

In Teignmouth I slept on a bench at the train station. Once I awoke I went to a cafe and got a cup of tea to warm up, I then got the first train to Exeter where I could get a coach to Birmingham (where I have family). It turned out that megabus tickets (which were all I could afford) could only be bought online so I found myself  stuck in Exeter so I went and got a coffee and came up with another plan.

 I went to the train station and illegally boarded a train. I was desperate at this point, I got as far as Bristol Temple Meads train station before I was asked to leave the train so I did. Halfway to my destination I found myself once again stranded in a strange city so I went to another platform and got another train that only had one stop before my destination at this point I knew I was going to get there.

I boarded the train and sat down when the ticket inspector arrived I told him that I had no ticket and that all I was trying to do was get to somewhere safe he was sympathetic with my plight and allowed me to travel to Birmingham. Once there I slept on a bench in a park as I was exhausted. When I woke, I went to a friends and contacted family members from there who were unable/unwilling to help me so I requested my friends sofa – they were only too happy to help.

I stayed there for 4 days and got a call from the council asking me to go to connections within an hour – that would have been an impossible feat so I requested it to be postponed until the following day which they did so having been paid my ESA I got a train and went to the council and got rehoused into temporary accommodation.

Then 6 weeks later  the council offered to assist me to move into a house share, it was in a diabolical state there was only 1 working toilet (and even that looked as though it had never seen a bottle of bleach) for 7 people to use and 1 shower that barely worked and when it did  it would occasionally squirt out a black fluid that smelt horrible (I wish I was making this up). However, I was advised by a council worker that if I didn’t accept this property they would remove me from the temporary accommodation and I would be back on the street so I accepted and then complained to both environmental health and the landlord to no avail. I then moved in with a friend as their sofa was more preferable than the hellhole the Council deemed acceptable accommodation.

Something needs to be done to address mental health in the U.K –  It’s not just a torquay issue. I have been under mental health services since I was sectioned at 14. I was made homeless at 16 so had to prioritize somewhere to live over my health; the lack of support I have received since I was 16 has been disgraceful I haven’t been able to hold a job down, or any real accommodation either.

The waiting lists for mental health services is in my experience an average of 3-6 months and by the time I get my first appointment I have moved address. I have been severely unstable, I have lived in 28 different locations in the last 4 years due to many differing factors the main one has always been my mental health, it’s very difficult to live alone when you suffer from mental health issues even more so when you have physical issues as well like myself.

I’m now living back in Birmingham going through the long waiting process for referrals to be made to mental health services, you hear of cases where people just get lost in the system and I strongly feel that I am one of those cases. I wish I could end this with saying its all good now everything is fine but the truth is, it’s not and for many people with mental health issues its never all fine at the end. Life is a constant battle for everyone. More so for those with health issues whether they are physical or mental. So people please spare a thought for those who are ill in any form.

Useful contacts:
Samaritans – http://www.samaritans.org/
MIND – http://www.mind.org.uk/
Childline – http://www.childline.org.uk/

(Author)

Team account for We Are South Devon.