Crisis support

I am sure that if the asylums were still open, if they had not been shut down by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980's and 1990's, that I would have spent time back inside over the last 20 years. Fortunately that option is now no longer available and so I have not wasted more time on the revolving door of repeated admissions and readmissions. In the early 2000's I had a major crisis, involving my accommodation and neighbours. It got to the point where I began to spend nights in my car. I thought: Why bother with this, it's only an old flat, I can do without the aggravation that is coming with it. I'd be better getting a good night's sleep in my car. I've done it before and I can do it again. Fortunately that time I shared my difficulties with my caregivers, and it was my fortune that they understood my predicament. Had Hellingly asylum still been open, I am sure that I would have then spent more time inside. I would have been readmitted, been put on injections, spent some more time I could not account for, and I would have been regurgitated to some town in East Sussex or Kent, or some other place, I could not know where I would have ended up to restart life again. I would have had to withstand another assault under the medical model, and there would have been certainty that if I had been put back on those mind-bending injections, another episode of vagrancy would have followed. The revolving door would spin again.

However, things are now different. There is crisis support and supported accommodation, where your state of mental health can be considered to be managed, and your difficulties recognised as in a separate category. In fact during the first years of community care after 1990, there was encouragement for service users to be involved in creating the environment for caregiving, and I had been a service user consultant in the setting up of a crisis house. When we set it up, its remit was to give people short term support, where their difficulties were primarily not of a psychiatric nature, but where support could be used to resolve other issues. I had no issues with my medication. I had continued to take my tablet medication over the years since my last hospitalisation in 1991. I did not therefore suffer symptoms of paranoia or delusions. For me, the key factor too was that as the medication was in tablet form rather that injections, I did not suffer the excruciating side effect of akathisia - constant restlessness. This was the factor that drove my revolving door, that the injections caused akathisia, and this was the reason I did not take medication. Tablets were not offered until I negotiated in 1991 to have medication by tablet. My difficulty was with the accommodation. So I was glad of the local crisis house and the support it gave me in the early 2000's. I continued with my tablets and at the crisis house I was assessed and given a care plan. I agreed totally with this process and the dilligence shown by Jane H, the community worker who drew up my care plan over a two hour session at the crisis house. I felt an atmosphere of friendship and family, of closeness with the caregivers at the sanctuary house and at the day service in my home town. I kept my local links. My days were occupied with coping with my difficulty, with enjoying the closeness of the support I received, and with establishing a new future. At the sanctuary I was able to apply for a place at local supported accommodation. This was arranged and after a short time of about a week or so at the crisis house I was transferred to supported accommodation in an almost new building in the town where I had lived already for twelve years. There was great support all round and my morale was boosted. I did not have to endure another abusive admission to Hellingly, I did not have to live in my car, and I did not have to leave the town where I had establlished over ten years of living. I felt like I belonged.