Previous Post: My Own Darkness
On Tuesday the 9th of May 2016 I had my first visit to the Mental Health Crisis Team. I had no idea what to expect…I had visions of being spoken to and then carted off to an asylum somewhere for an assessment and a concoction of drugs that would stabilise my brain and catapult me back into the world of normality…whatever that was !!
As I walked the 200 metres to the mental health centre I was thinking about those psychotic hospitals I use to work in, when I was in Britain some 37 years ago. Back in the late 70’s I worked for two years in an old British lunatic asylum where everyone from geriatrics to children with ADHD were condemned to a life of powdered eggs and a daily dose of bromide to curb labido. Once committed they were administered lithium to paralyse the brain and two months after I had wheeled them onto a ward in a wheelchair I was rolling them out in a mortuary trolley. Most couldn’t face the drudgery of life in one of those places and if they ended up there for any length of time then most of it was spent dribbling from the side of their mouth and being spoon fed porridge that even Oliver Twist wouldn’t have touched. These places were awful and in some warped way I thought I might end up in a place like that if I didn’t pull myself together.
During the night I’d had a restless sleep and I was anxious about what my appointment would reveal about my current state of mind. I remember how hard it was in those first days to even raise myself out of bed. I was a mess because my mind wasn’t even functional. I had no thoughts of work, problems or issues as my world was a blank and all I could think about was the moment I was in, because in reality I couldnt concentrate on anything else. That was about to change as the nurses I was to engage with over the next couple of weeks began to dig away at the issues that had driven me to my overdose.
I walked into the mental health building and approached reception, I gave them my name and sat down amongst others who were there for their own reasons. I remember thinking to myself, surely I shouldn’t be here, I’m a policeman I dont have mental health issues, this is a place for crazy people. Sitting there amongst a range of personalities was a stark reminder of where I was in my life and just how bad I had got. This was no longer just some phase I was going through, this was now a reality and what I had done on Wednesday wasn’t something a sane policeman does and now I was going to pay the price and the police would look at me completely different.
I was met by two male nurses who ushered me into a small room with some comfy chairs and nothing I could hang myself with….. They were really nice guys who asked me to run over the events of the past few days. It was mind-draining telling the story as the events rose to the top of my thoughts and brought with them all the stress, anxiety and negativity that had accompanied me over the previous few months. I broke down and cried as I began to realise what was happening to me, what I had done and all the people I had let down. For the first time I began to think of myself as a failure, someone who couldn’t cope with the pressures of life and the pressures of the police. In front of two strangers I became a shadow of the person I thought I was…..I was now filled with self doubt about myself as a person and as a police officer and I was baring all my inadequacies to two people I didn’t know.
After an hour of mental torture I said goodbye to them and left the building with a strange sort of relief. The crisis team were to ring me everyday to check on my well-being for the next week until I saw them again. What happened after that initial meeting was a rapid fall into depression. Previously I had no thoughts of taking my life but that scenario was to become something that I thought about a lot more over the next couple of weeks and every time I thought about it the flood gates opened and hastened my trip to a place I didn’t want to go.
Its strange really because I thought that taking those tablets in Wainuiomata a week earlier was rock-bottom for me and my cry for help. I was to realise over the next few days that it was nothing like a cry for help or rock bottom. Rock bottom was to come two weeks later and my cries for help had been occurring for months previously in all the booze I was drinking, all the indecisive job applications, all my sleepless nights and all the procrastination that I implemented in my personal and police life.
My life had now changed and I was about to embark on a trip that I had never been on before…a time of my life that I had no real control over and culminated in a trip to respite care and the darkest place I had ever been……
Categories: My Story 2016