You are currently viewing It’s Time To Listen

It’s Time To Listen

Earlier this week a National Mental Health campaign took place. The Time To Talk initiative is an annual promotion advocated by the Mental Health charity Time To Change.  The aim is to reduce stigma that often seems common place with mental illness whilst encouraging people to speak out and seek help and support for any mental health issues they may be experiencing.

Back in January 2015, I had a breakdown. This breakdown was a culmination of a year of high level anxiety and depression that I was experiencing.  I’d tried with my best efforts to gloss over my feelings, thoughts and fears.  However, after 13 months of pretending like all was OK, my energy became depleted, my hopes for one day waking up and feeling better were in vain and I could no longer cope.

I hit rock bottom.

I was lucky, however. I met with quite possibly the best GP I have ever interacted with, she took my situation incredibly seriously and made it her duty to ensure I received the very best treatment and support possible.  She listened, recognised and knew exactly what to do. For that I am eternally grateful.

It was with extreme sadness and anger I read an article on Tuesday of this week. As soon as I saw the headline my heart sank and I felt my palms begin to sweat slightly.  Perhaps that sounds like an extreme way to react upon seeing a news item, however the story I’m about to describe to you is one that should never have happened.  It need never have been reported.  And that is the thing I can’t get out of my head.

In September 2015 a woman called Rachel gave birth to her second baby. In the weeks after the birth she began to suffer from extreme anxiety. She was experiencing visions and was in an agitated state.  Serious symptoms being displayed by a woman who had very recently given birth.

Rachel visited the maternity ward of the hospital she had given birth in to be informed she could not be seen as she had been discharged some weeks previous.   When things did not improve Rachel visited her GP, she had the awareness of the illness Postpartum Psychosis; a severe mental illness that can develop in the days and weeks after giving birth.  Discussing mental health care with her GP she was told “you don’t want to go down that route”.

Um, what?

“You don’t want to go down that route?”

No-one WANTS to be suffering from a mental illness any more than they’d want to break their ankle or suffer a heart attack. What a ridiculous statement for a person in the profession of health care to say.

Rachel was prescribed medicine for depression yet her Mother said she became increasingly paranoid about ‘losing her mind’. Concerned, her family and friends stayed with her for 24 hours a day.  However, in October 2015 Rachel locked herself in her bedroom and cut her wrists.

This wasn’t the only suicide attempt Rachel made.

What Rachel wanted was to be referred to a Mother and Baby Unit at a hospital. This referral was made, but for reasons unknown Social Services blocked the move.

Over the subsequent months Rachel’s mental state became worse and in April 2016 she was sectioned and admitted to hospital. She was promised that she would be able to have her medication reviewed.  Rachel waited three days for this review to take place.  But it never did.

On April 16th 2016 Rachel was found hanged in her hospital room.  She died eight days later.

My stomach sank when I read those words.

Anger rose within me.

Rachel asked for help. Rachel had the awareness that she was suffering from a serious mental health condition, she knew what treatment she needed better than those who are supposed to be in the know.

This has left me with questions.

How loudly did she have to shout to ensure she was heard?

Why did social services block the move to the Mother and Baby unit?

Will lessons be learnt from this awful situation?

Throughout this week I’ve watched as celebrities, high profile individuals, charities, bloggers, journalists, pretty much everyone have verbalised the words “it’s time to talk”. And of course I agree, everyone needs to be encouraged to talk, the stigma needs to be smashed to smithereens, people need to open up about their mental health.  But having read Rachel’s story, right now, the words that reverberate around my brain are “it’s time to listen”.

Rachel deserved better.

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Charlie OBrien

    I too read this article about poor Rachel and felt angry and appalled. Her and her family were failed. Well done writing about this xx

  2. God this is so powerful – yes it’s time to listen. Very well said. What a poor, desperate situation. I feel so very sorry for Rachel’s family and friends – my heart goes out to them. I hadn’t read the story so was taken aback by it – this SHOULD NOT be happening in the 21st century. xx

  3. Anna

    This is such an unhappy read. You’re right, we can do all the talking we like but if people aren’t listening and acting it’s a fruitless task. This story broke my heart, I hadn’t read about it. The worse thing is it won’t be the only story like this, Rachel and her family won’t be the only people ignored and let down.
    It may be time to talk but it’s also time to listen and most importantly, time to change. #postsfromtheheart

  4. Whoa. Postpartum Psychosis was such a fear of mine in one pregnancy that I was basically incapacitated. I had such high levels of anxiety – this posts gives me chills.

  5. Kerry

    I never read this story, how utterly appalling. The mental health services in this country are shocking, and most GP’s (in my opinion) don’t know how to deal with it. I had severe anxiety and intrusive thoughts after I gave birth, but my doctor treated me for depression (I wasn’t depressed). I was given a phone number to call for mental health support, but was deemed not ill enough to access their service! I found all the help I needed by myself online and in books. Then I started my blog to raise awareness for others. The government needs to step up, and quickly. Great post Rach x

  6. Time to listen is such a great response to this sad and horrific story. It happens all too often. People trying to get help and getting pushed away. So very sad for her, for her family and her wee one. Time to listen indeed. Vey powerful post. There should be no stigma in asking for help #BigPinkLink xoxo

  7. Lucy

    I feel devastated for Rachel-she really did deserve better and then some. I hope there is a huge inquiry into everyone involved in her care, and people are held accountable for what their actions (or lack of) came to. I just find it incredible that mental health funding and solutions are still so lacking, when you look at the statistics of the number of people hit by a mental health issue. It all needs overhauling. Your Dr sounds amazing, it’s such a shame that a lot of GPs are dismissive-whether that’s a lack of training or lack of concern, I’m not sure. It really is time to change. X

  8. This is heartbreaking. It really does make you wonder why some people become doctors in the first place. I can’t even begin to imagine what that poor woman went through or how angry her family must be feeling. People shouldn’t have to fight to get the help they need. I would hope that her story has an impact on the profession and changes are made, but sadly I fear it will get brushed under the carpet. I think you’re right, it really is time to listen x

  9. My heart goes out to Rachel’s family – I wish things had ended differently. GP’s really should have better training and tools for situations like this, they, after all, are usually the first contact for asking help. Rachel, and everybody, definitely deserve better.

  10. I haven’t read the article but it is appauling that mental health get hidden away and hope it gets better on its own without help. It’s shocking that this is becoming a bigger issue.

  11. Chloe

    Gosh what a powerful though provoking post. I had not heard about Rachel before. You are right it is time to listern #BestandWorst

  12. Helene

    This is so sad to read! It’s really time not only to listen but to help with whatever power we have as human beings. Your wrote a great story here. I am going to share it, needs to be heard as much as possible.

  13. Thank you for posting this article – It must have been hard and emotional to write. Depression and the mental health illnesses are not something somebody should feel the need to hide. In this day and age there should be the help for those that need it.

  14. What an honest, heartfelt piece and so great to highlight that it’s listening that is also so important. I have written a post on my blog this week to highlight Children’s Mental Health Week, much from personal experience, and listening is so key. Rachel’s story is so sad, and it’s tragic that she wasn’t heard. Thank you for sharing #PostsFromTheHeart

  15. There is not enough understanding and support regarding mental health, what a lot of people don’t realise those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression is that asking for help is not easy, I’m very fortunate to have a GP who was very active and supportive when I hit rock bottom. Rachel’s story is heartbreaking to read

  16. Oh my goodness this is just so devastating to read. It breaks my heart that a new mum was crying out for help and that nobody was listening or giving her the support that she needed and deserved. You have absolutely hit the nail on the head. What is the point in empowering people to speak out about mental health if the right people aren’t ready to listen. Such a tragedy. Thank you for sharing this with #DreamTeam x

  17. Wow, what a devastating story!! Yes, I couldn’t agree more, it’s time to listen!!! #globalblogging

  18. I remember reading this last week and thinking WTF. That poor Rachel and in this day and age. She was royally let down. How could no one listen? I hope her poor story is a message to all and this never happens again. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst x

  19. I was having this discussion with my hubby the other night, I get so angry about it! My best friend took her life too, and after previous attempts they went her home to the care of her elderly grandmother because there was no room for her in the hospital. She took a walk and hung herself with her scarf from a tree in the middle of winter with no one there to care. I was away when I got the call, I was angry at the system, angry for being away, and angry that no one had even told me about her previous attempt a few days before so i could have come home and watched her, been with her, let her know she was loved and needed! I was heavily pregnant with my youngest at the time, it breaks my heart she never met him, and every day I miss her.

    I too suffer anxiety and 2 and a half years ago I was so low, I became so weak and felt so worthless. I walked into the doctors office, I couldn’t even speak They took me to a back treatment room and supported me. Thank God there are some great people out there! we need more! #mg

  20. Lord how chilling.Mental health care is so vital and yet each year there seems to be more & more cuts.I struggled with a form of PND after my daughter became critically ill and i asked for help. My emergency appointment was rescheduled 3 times by the department before i got to see anyone. #postsfromtheheart

  21. adam

    This is all too familiar. Having had a breakdown last year and having a lot of friends with mental health conditions, I hear this all the time. Patients are just statistics not people and gp’s don’t have the time or patience to listen to people either.

    I’ve been waiting for counselling for 7 months now. Last week I got a letter asking if I still want to go on the waiting list (so i’m not even on the waiting list yet). It also said if i didn’t reply within 14 days i’d be released from the list. The letter was dated 13th February. I didn’t even get it until 17th March. I’ve been told that because i didn’t reply in time (with my time machine obv) then I need to see my GP and get a referral letter (which he insists on charging for now) but because I released myself I won’t be considered a priority. I DIDN’T !!! The system is broken and it’s easy for them to bump the statistics by blaming and ignoring the patients.

    A friend of mine is disabled and bi-polar. Because of her physical disability she is hard to understand when speaking so she relies on the internet where she can respond and be as funny as the best of us. It’s her lifeline. Recently she was sexually assaulted, because she is hard to understand it is easier to dismiss, because she is bipolar it’s easier to say she’s just having an episode (of what?). She is currently sectioned as being mentally ill with the bipolar and has had access to the internet taken from her. She is angry and upset because she’s been assaulted, is vulnerable and nobody is taking her seriously because it’s easier not to. Add in the injustice of being sectioned because her mother is an awful human being and it’s inconvenient to her middle class lifestyle and I’D BE FUCKING RAGING TOO because i’ve been assaulted, not because i’m mentally ill.
    The final indignity is that due to cuts the unit is now an hour away from here and due to not driving and childcare, I can’t visit and she can’t keep in touch with anyone online. Fairweather friends have told me it’s all too much hassle and it’s probably the best place for her (i.e. most convenient for them so they don’t need to deal with icky issues). I can tell you now from the times i’ve seen her. She is not having any kind of episode. She’s as normal as ever, she’s just been attacked. FFS. What is wrong with this country?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.