Totally Mental: My World, Gone Mad

************Please note that there may be swear words in the following Piece.*********

As my head hit the gently yielding turf, I thanked God – not for the first time – that the keeper of the churchyard lawn had done their job well. The force of being taken to ground by four well-built officers of the law was cushioned beautifully by surprisingly soft greenery.
It is a fact universally … oh no I feel a cliche coming on. It is necessary to fill on the backstory to this event a little. I trust you will have patience with me while I do so.

It is no secret that the police, as a profession are not my preferred cup of tea. Have a policeman come into your home, saying they have a search warrant (it turns out they do not) looking for stolen items from the shop where you work, having them search out and ogle photos of your bikini-clad partner, then telling you that ‘…you don’t love your partner, you are only fucking her to get her money..’ – whatever that might mean – and then continuing to look through your photo album, despite your protestations … And you may start to feel what I felt, and now feel.
Having them then take you to the station for questioning, telling you they are ‘arresting’ you, and keeping you there for a few hours without offering a lawyer, or access to drink or food, while saying things like ‘We haven’t beaten you up have we? YET?’ And your feelings may then be even more anxious.
(I wasn’t innocent, completely. I had taken a car radio cassette, an iron, and another item I cannot remember. I didn’t tell them at that interview. Their tactics didn’t work. Apparently 40,000£ worth of stock was missing, including some chest freezers.)
This was, if I recall correctly 1978-9. I paid my fine and my debt to society.
I haven’t been off their radar since. I’m apparently capable of much more evil things. I won’t go into detail. I haven’t had so much as a caution since the first episode. When I was assaulted by a neighbour, they came into my house demanding to know why. Had spoken to someone about the incident, as it was sub judice. I had been assaulted, I was the victim, but I was the one in the wrong.
This may help you understand why I have a fear of and a mistrust of the police. To the extent of PTSD. I have lived with this fear for well over thirty years.

My other bête noir is being sectioned.
When I was in my early twenties, a girlfriend dumped me! It happens. I then saw her in her parents’ car an hour later, complete with ex-boyfriend ( hers not mine! ). I stood on the pavement, and hyperventilated with a panic attack. Of course, I passed out. For a moment.
Someone saw me and called an ambulance. I told the ambulance crew I did not want to go to A&E, as I was a student nurse, and it would be too embarrassing. They insisted, and took me.
Once there, it was apparent I was quite anxious! I was given – without consent – ‘some Valium’ (so they said) in an IM injection. I went, quite quickly, to sleep.
I was awoken by a man in a suit asking me how I felt.
I remember my slurred words. “If I go to sleep and never wake up, I won’t be too disappointed.”

He made some notes and said he thought I should come to the local mental hospital. I told him I had no intention of going, but he said that it wasn’t an invitation. He had got a social worker ( who had never even seen me, not awake at least!) to countersign a Section 28 of the Mental Health Act. I never saw him again. I was duly transported to the mental hospital, stripped, given hospital pyjamas, and told if I absconded, I would be brought back by the police, and placed in a locked ward.
I spent, if I recall, 3 days there. I then had a board before a large number of ‘health professionals’ – daunting in the extreme. I managed to act my way out of the hospital. At no time was I offered any therapy, counselling, never told my rights (my parents said they would take care of me at their home, but they would not release me), never offered an advocate.
It was, as I recall, 1977.
You may see why I mistrusted psychiatrists, and mental health professionals after that.

And so to the day in question. Thank you for your patience.

I parked in the small principal town, expecting to get my medication, buy some meat, and go home.
In the pharmacy – I know the people there personally – they said they had not had any prescription back, even though it had been submitted 22 days earlier! Things were not looking good, I began to get nervous.
It had been a tough week. My CPN of 10 years was being sidelined, she had to cancel our meeting that Friday. I had had an ominous call from a band 7 manager at the CMHT, telling me to come to a meeting ‘to discuss my future with CMHT’ on 1st November. My wife, a sister, had been working 9, 10, 11 hours days because of staff shortages and management idiocy. I was battling with the DWP and ATOS and they had declared me ‘fit for work with a year’ . The money was tight in the budget.
I was at the end of my tether, really.
They passed me the phone in the pharmacy – the surgery ‘wanted to speak with me’. They told me a lie (you have never been prescribed that while at this surgery), became sulky and informed me I would have to ‘see a doctor’ to get some of the meds I had been asking for 5 years or more.
I shouted rather loudly down the phone in extremely forthright language. Told them to get someone who had authority on the phone. Shouted again.
I suddenly realised where I was, and, embarrassed, fled the shop, expression my apologies for my shouting as I did so.

I didn’t reach my car before agoraphobia set in – I sat on a bench in the square, and curled up into a ball, trying to shut the bigness of the world out.

I rocked for comfort. I batted my head a few times with my hand. I remained curled up.
I realised people were staring. Embarrassed, I realised the was no easy way to get out of the situation. I became more anxious.
Someone must have phoned the police. A few minutes later the was a tap on my shoulder, and I looked up into the eyes of a Community Support Officer.
I fled. The police! I was visible again.
I curled up in the churchyard up the road., just inside the Lychgate.
I heard someone shout ‘there he is!’, looked up, and saw two policemen wheel round to face me.
They had there arms outstretched , calling me to ‘come here’. I shouted for them to go away. To fuck off.
I looked for an escape, saw two others blocking my way, shouting for me to get down, calm down.
‘Get on the floor!’
I went to run, and failed. Four policemen on top of me, one with his knee on my back after they turned me face down, and his weight causing me difficulty in breathing. I shouted for him to get off, I was old to ‘calm down’ as they wrenched my arms behind my back, and handcuffed me. I shouted again that I could not breathe, and for him to get the fuck off me. I was panicking and gulping for air. They eventually bundled me into a police car. I actually felt better as I was in a smaller space!

They then took me to a waiting ambulance, two nice ladies who took my obs and blood sugar, asked me questions. I was still handcuffed. One of the policemen said ‘what did I expect, I had put my fists up to him’. I had done no such thing. I never offered any violent action toward them or anyone else.
The police told me I might get a bit better from them if I stopped ‘being rude toward them’.
I was told the options. Either A&E under escort, or they would take me to the police station under section 136 of the Mental Health Act, up to 72 hours.
I wanted neither. But no other option was given. I elected to go to A&E, but I insisted they took the handcuffs off before I went. After a few minutes discussion outside, they did so, but I sat in the ambulance with a police officer and two police behind in a police escort. They offered to take my car to casualty. I had to find £2 for the parking.

I arrived in casualty to be assessed by the mental health ‘crisis team’. The ambulance girl brought me water. She was very kind, as was her partner. I was taken into a side room at A&E, and sat there with the police constable.
My wife came down from her ward, a little angry. he cares me at times! The police left, leaving only one of their number behind in the room with me. I was then left alone, bizarrely, with a trolley full of needles and scalpel blades in the room!
The ordinary A&E doctor came in. Not the crisis team, they were hours away. She asked me questions to find out if I had capacity (I did), and whether I was likely to harm myself. After approx 10 minutes she was satisfied. I was ‘free to go’.

My wife and I negotiated my ‘release’ – we would go have a cuppa for me to ‘get straight’ and then I would drive us home.

We went home after the tea. I’m not sure I can come to terms with how an intelligent , articulate person, with an ILLNESS can be treated so. It seems to have become a crime to be ill – mentally ill – in the street, without hurting or in any way intruding on others’ lives.

My two worst nightmares – injustice and threatened sectioning – had come true on one day.

It has put me back 10 years. 20 years. But I bet CMHT will still want to sign me off their books on 1st November. I’ll pay odds on it, but they’ll be pretty short. Odds-on.

G-d help me.
I feel sick now I have written this out.
I’ll get hate mail, no doubt.
But that is the true account as I saw it.
E&OE

I had to write.
I couldn’t not write.
I can only write.

They may yet return, says my brain. They may wait for darkness. They may wait for sleep.
I no longer feel safe.
I no longer sleep.
I am.
Just am.

Roger, 27th Oct 2012

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14 comments on “Totally Mental: My World, Gone Mad

  1. horatia54 says:

    Dear Roger,

    Words escape me ATM. I just wanted to acknowledge your blog and the great courage and pain that it took to write it. xxxd

  2. Nomadic_Man says:

    Roger..like Horatia54 I am totally at a loss for words. I can only guess at how difficult it must have been to write this, let alone how dreadful the whole experience was.

    Stay strong my friend.

  3. I can kinda sympathise with the police in the recent incident – they have no way to know what approach to make to someone, and then when they run away… rock and a hard place for the police, on the info they had there is no course of action they could take that would be safe from criticism.

    Everything else around it is ridiculous, though. If we handled MH stuff better, as a society, we wouldn’t end up with the police being faced by situations like that (or at least, not as often).

    • I forgot to include the more personal, emotional response (I have a bad habit of getting analytical about everything and neglecting the human side, possibly related to my own MH issues)…

      I hope that you’re getting along okay now, and that things start getting better again. Who knows, the CMHT might just be doing a review to make sure you’re getting the right support. It’s been known to happen.

      • vetican2 says:

        That’s quite alright, but thank you for your corollary.
        Am I ok? I don’t know. This may put me back ten years, it might help me. I think I’m probably in shock.
        Thanks for asking.
        I am unsure if I spelled corollary right, though.

        R.

    • vetican2 says:

      I’m not sure I can agree with you on all points, but your opinion is welcome.
      If you saw me – I’m 5’6′ and under 12 stone! – you would see how I might wonder about the force applied to ‘restrain’ me ( 4 policemen, I would think none under five-ten and 15 stone, with batons and pepper spray ) and, indeed, being handcuffed for such a length of time, or even at all.
      It is not yet a crime to simply ‘run away from a policeman’ I hope.

      But thank you for your time in commenting.
      I’m willing to look at all sides!

      Best regards
      R.

      • I’m really not doing well at expressing myself today… I missed out a fair chunk of my thought! I can sympathise with their decision to use *some* force, but the amount they used was clearly excessive. Your behaviour sounds, to me, like it was obviously indicative of MH issues, not necessarily criminality, so they need better training and methods in how to handle this.

  4. Mark says:

    Hello Roger. I was debating with myself about posting as the last thing I want to do is have you think I am in any way unsympathetic. In fact I think you have been treated dreadfully and that it might set you back a considerable amount is utterly tragic. I just thought if I put down how it might have looked to an outsider it might bring some degree of understanding .,,but just know that my sympathy is with you……
    So…..this all happened because someone at a doctors surgery gave inaccurate information. We know that it was wrong information because you may be ill but you are not deluded and I am sure you know in great detail what medication you have been taking. Chances are that whoever was on the other end of the phone read something wrong, had the wrong record on the computer and an attitude that went….’I am the professional and know best’. The attitude is wrong, the mistake is theirs but you perceived it as an attack on you. An example of officialdom having it in for you, a confirmation that “they” were against you. It triggers your sense of injustice which is strong. Indeed it would have triggered mine. If you weren’t ill you might have been able to discuss this calmly and its possible the person at the end of the phone would have taken a moment to realise they had something wrong. But you couldn’t help being annoyed. From then on its a cascade of escalating misunderstandings. You realised that you were being loud and drawing attention to yourself. The fight or flight response kicks in. If you weren’t ill, you might have been able to take a deep breath and smile and say ‘goodness I’m sorry I went off on one there didn’t I’. But you aren’t well and the impression – IMPRESSION is of someone who is off the rails and looking angry and to be honest behaving quite worryingly. Then you attract the attention of officialdom. A CSO has no power to detain, no power of arrest but they look like they do. I can’t speak for how this CSO behaved but they ought to have just asked if you were ok and if you weren’t ill you would have looked at them and said yes …I had a bit of a shock but I’ll be ok in a few minutes thank you for asking. But you are not well. You run. The CSO thinks you are behaving worryingly. They call it in. The police are summoned. They have heard of mentally ill people who are a risk to public safety. (here in Lancashire – to show I know how dim some PCs can be – some idiot Policeman tasered a gentleman who was blind and finding his way round with a white stick – they thought he had a samurai sword …heaven only knows how they thought that but the gentleman concerned rejects the apology and quite rightly is suing) Anyway the police feel they have to find you and prevent you from hurting others or yourself. They have no way of knowing how you are ill. They overreact massively. You overreact too…because you are ill. You swear at them. They exaggerate your actions, you are faced with your worst fear so OF COURSE you over react. But at each point of this escalation nobody knows who you are, what you suffer from or why you are running away …they can’t know. They can’t ask as you ran off people running away from police officers are generally felt to be doing something they shouldn’t I’m afraid. Everyone is trying from their point of view to do the right thing. Policemen and CSOs aren’t as a rule evil. Officious yes …that’s their job…over cautious …yes because if you harm yourself or someone else they will be criticised so they overdo it. They don’t know you. Your record such as it is, is ancient and is frankly utterly trivial, no police officer is going to mistake you for a hardened criminal …no really they don’t.
    Perspective is all in this. You weren’t targeted because you are ill, you were targeted (and you WERE targeted) because your illness made you behave in a way that people who aren’t ill don’t. It wasn’t your fault but…..I am not sure it was anyone’s fault as such. I would hope that it might be possible to bring some perspective to this but I fear it will be a tough thing to do. Its very very wrong that various dealings with officialdom have created this problem – things shouldn’t happen like this but they do. If it is possible to believe it possible that they aren’t all like that…maybe there’s a start. I think it will be impossible but the best thing that could happen is for you to speak to the officers who tackled you and to have a chance for you to speak to them and explain your illness. It would help them, it would help you but its a bit like the way they tackle phobias – confronting your fears and its very hard to do……

    Anyway – I don’t suppose that helps – its only what I thought anyway and I do sympathise very much….Injustice and abuse of power are things that wind me up too.

    • vetican2 says:

      Dear Mark

      Thank you so much for spending so much time on your comment. I can see, in your volume, how you have put in extra caveats at each stage in order to avoid being in any way hurtful.
      For that, I am very grateful. I am not sure exactly where I am right now.

      Though some details are a little awry – how could they not be, you were not there – the thrust of what you say has veracity, may even have a lot of it. And I am – these days! – more open to listening than I was to points of view other than my own, especially politely and sensitively put.

      So, I thank you for your ideas, which I shall certainly mull over, and not discount. They will give me food for thought in the days to come, as I pick my way carefully through the hours toward – hopefully – recovery.
      And I thank you for the time this must have taken you, a not inconsiderable amount, I think.
      And for having the courage to send it.

      Your friend

      R.

  5. Mark says:

    Glad to be of some use anyway! 🙂

  6. […] following the assault by the police, and handcuffing, in Wellington (see this blog ), I’m not even going to get into the Job Centre, because I simply cannot go into […]

  7. Sharon says:

    Your an honest man to the core Roger, and you didn’t deserve what happened to you on either account. I can understand how hard today must have been for you, but ‘You’ did it and i’m so happy for you that you aren’t going to let them hold you back anymore! Life is too short and we all have a great friend ‘You’ Peace remain with you x

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