I was born with a soul that is way too sensitive for this cold, noisy and ugly world. I have always felt things deeply and differently than most people. I want to go home, to my true spiritual home. It is not here. I have suffered most of my life and I am tired. This is why I tried to kill myself Saturday evening. The dog next door wouldn’t stop barking and I felt like there was no escape. I was tired of suffering.
I walked out the door and headed for the train tracks. I went to the same spot a victim of domestic violence tried to kill herself (and her baby) a year ago. The baby died but she survived. People left a gigantic teddy bear at the spot in memory of the baby. I don’t know why but I called one of my support workers. I am lucky she picked up. The railway line was in a sort of valley and I sat at the top. I was scared to jump. My worker called psych triage, but was left waiting for almost an hour before she got an automated message saying they were not available. She also called an ambulance. I hung up as I waited for the ambulance to contact me. I slid down the valley and got onto the tracks. Then I climbed back up the valley before a train came. People say suicide is the easy way out. I don’t think those people have ever tried to kill themselves before. There is nothing easy about killing yourself. You must fight against all your instincts to stay alive. A number of trains passed me on Saturday night. I sat there close enough that I felt the wind blow furiously against me as they passed. It was angry, just like me. It felt good to do something so reckless. To flirt with death.
I waited an hour for the ambulance to contact me. Finally I got a call. The woman said there were no ambulances available (I’d hate to actually be dying that night). I was told that since I’d called someone I probably didn’t really want to die. She wanted to call my parents, but I asked her not to. “Do you want to make them worry?” she accused. Despite her attitude, she put me onto one of their mental health clinicians. This lady, in contrast, took me seriously. She could hear all the trains passing in the background. She organised for a taxi to take me to the emergency department. I was sent to a specific hospital which had mental health facilities.
When I entered I was given a special blue mask since I hadn’t been vaccinated. The woman at reception asked why I was there. I told her I wanted to jump in front of a train. She asked for my Medicare card but I didn’t have my wallet on me. I had barely anything on me. She let psych triage know I was there and asked me to take a seat.
I waited all night to see someone. I was surrounded by people who were extremely sick. People were coughing, sneezing, crying, asking for vomit bags, sitting against the wall, and sprawled across the seats. It was a sauna of misery. I felt like I was going to pass out. For a while there was nobody at reception. People were standing around waiting endlessly for someone to return. There was a young girl and guy sitting in front of me. She had her arm around him and was stroking him. A surge of envy hit me. I wished I had someone like that in my life. Eventually the young girl and guy got up and left. They never came back. I almost left too, just for a breather, but I didn’t want to miss the clinician. A part of me had hope that maybe death wasn’t my only option, that this ghastly place in which I had been detained six years ago might be able to help me.
Finally, at 4am, a man of colour and solid build called my name. It was like the first flower of spring after an endless winter. I bolted towards him. He took me into a small, bright room next to the waiting room. I think it was even PART of the waiting room. The wall bordering the room where everyone else sat was made entirely of glass. I was breaking down and felt like I had an entire audience. I sat there shaking and told him I felt like I had no privacy. He said he’d go get us another space. I then freaked out that he would never return. He promised to return. About ten minutes later he returned with two tablets of diazepam and some water. I struggled to even take the tablets but I managed to take them. I asked if I could lie down on the floor. He let me lie down and left me there. I lay on the floor as my whole body shook. Eventually the shaking passed. The man returned and said he’d got us another space. I followed him into a curtained area. I was now a lot more “together”, but I knew I was far from ok. I was like an ocean rip, flat and still on the surface while a strong current below pulled me out to sea.
The man told me that the emergency department was for people with broken bones etc and he was going to send me home. I couldn’t believe it. The whole reason I had been sent there was because of their psych facilities. “What about the inpatient unit or the short stay psychiatric ward?” I asked him. I had been in the emergency department here before and given a bed in one of their psychiatric wards. But he still refused to admit me. He told me admissions do nothing for me, that I was in the short stay psychiatric ward a week ago and now look at me. He said these wards are not for “this”. How fucking useless then, I thought. What are they there for if not for people having serious mental health crises? But I said nothing. I told him my worker would not be happy with him sending me home. Despite my worker being the one who takes my distressing phone calls, who has to talk me out of jumping in front of a train, who has known me for far longer than this prick I’d only just met, he told me he was the expert, that he’d been working in the field for 20 years and he was going to send me home. It just made me want to kill myself even more. I didn’t wait all night to be seen for ten minutes, given drugs to shut me up, and be sent on my merry way back to the situation making me want to kill myself. He told me he had other people to see now and left me in the room with the big glass wall and light you couldn’t turn off, where he said I could stay until the morning. “Nice to meet you” he said. He left me some blankets and disappeared.
The room didn’t even have a bed. I lay on the hard floor and cried. There were people in the room next door but no one gave a shit. It was one of the loneliest moments of my life. I was meant to be in a place that helps people yet I was just left there on the floor to suffer, alongside all the other poor people on the other side of the glass. One girl had been there when I arrived, and was still there when I left that morning. I overheard her on the phone to someone crying. She was having a similar crisis to me. She said she had overdosed recently, was in pain and just wanted to sleep.
So there we have it, the healthcare system in a first world country. It was election day and this really should have been an election issue. I have rarely had good experiences with these hospitals. I find they do one of two things: force you to stay there and treat you against your will, or abandon you when you most need help. Both are traumatic. They don’t give a shit about your suffering or even your life. They only seem to be containers for people who are disrupting society in some way, who are brought in by the police, who are threatening people, or who are psychotic. I haven’t been right since this trip to the emergency department. I’ve been weak, nauseous, faint, and have had a headache. I don’t know whether it’s from being in such a toxic place or from my self-destruction. I’ve been starving myself, but they don’t give a shit about that.