"Need Improvement In Dealing With Self-Harm at St George's Hospital Tooting"
About: St George's Healthcare NHS Trust St George's Healthcare NHS Trust London SW17 0QT
Posted by Human Being not just another patient (as ),
It was National Self-Injury Awareness Day on 1 March, and I wanted to raise awareness and reflect on my own experiences. It was a very painful post to write, hence why it has taken me a while.
Self-harm is something I have done intermittently. I feel I have consistently encountered negative attitudes from staff. In my view, I am made to feel like an attention-seeker and waste of time. I attended A&E (only because a GP advised me to do so) following self-harm. This did not require physical treatment, but I was very suicidal. I ended up waiting for hours, only to be grilled by a Psychiatric Liaison Nurse who in my view thought they were a therapist. They made me talk about my deepest and most unpleasant feelings and life history, which just brought up even more painful feelings and left me feeling worse. I didn't need to talk - and especially not to someone I didn't know, it wasn't as if I had built a therapeutic relationship with this person. I felt at real risk of attempting suicide and this frightened me. This nurse told me that I must find the suicidal thoughts a release and comfort as I could always escape if things got too bad. Actually I found the thoughts intrusive, unwanted and frightening.
I didn't feel I could say any of this. I was all too aware of the negative assumptions that are made about service users who self-harm, and didn't want to be seen as even more difficult or not co-operating.
I was at no time asked what I needed or wanted - which was to be kept safe. I didn't want to talk when I was already massively in pain. They even asked me after the session if I felt better - I could hardly have said no, even though that would have been the honest answer, I would just have been seen as rude and unengaged!
I actually ended up in hospital a few weeks later due to a suicide attempt.
I felt that I wasn't taken seriously, that I was seen as one of those service users who just talk and don't act on the suicidal thoughts. Actually my self-harm was escalating and this was a sign that I was suicidal.
It was after midnight by the time I was allowed to leave, and I was left to go home alone.
I self-harmed more severely since, but I have never sought medical help for it although on at least two of the occasions I probably should have had stitches or something. The above experience, as well as the Home Treatment Team charmingly in my view sneering that I had only superficially cut my wrists when I was being discharged from hospital, have really discouraged me from doing so. The last thing I wanted to face was more stigmatising and degrading treatment. I therefore treated the wounds myself. This has left me with quite severe physical scars, to add to the mental ones.