Sometime ago, Vixens was contacted by the woman whose piece below you will read shortly. She would not consider herself a writer, but yet felt compelled to write her experience after watching a news report. It was moving reading, sent to us in parts – the way we will carry it over the next few days. We have of course agreed to anonymity, due to the sensitivities concerned.
We are aware that reading such experiences can be traumatic for some people, if you feel you need to you can contact Lifeline (NI) on 0808 808 8000 , or in ROI, 1life Suicide Helpline on 1800 247 100 .
Having watched the report on BBC Newsline by Tara Mills on 2nd July, I feel compelled to write about my own experiences when dealing with Teenage Mental Health Issues in Northern Ireland today.
On Tuesday, 25th March, my life, my husband’s life, my family’s life changed forever.
I had asked my husband to wake our 14 year old daughter at 7.20am. I could hear him calling her name. Then I heard him call my name.
Internally I screamed “Can he not do anything I ask?” and sighed. I stomped up the stairs muttering and yelling every step of the way.
“I can’t wake her?!?” I heard him say as I flicked passed him on the stairs.
I went over, shaking her and telling her “enough is enough!” , “Stop carrying on!” I lifted her up. Still nothing. I kept thinking ‘wow, she’s really playing this well today.’
Our house phone rang and my husband went to get it. Early morning calls were never a good sign.
I dragged our daughter out of bed. I could hear my husband shouting down the telephone, a new record, a 7.25 sales call!!!
I stood my daughter up on her feet, she was a dead weight. She dropped like a stone. I screamed at my husband to call 999.
“What shall I say?”
“We can’t wake her”
I tried to lift her up so many times, i wanted her to move, I wanted her to respond, I wanted her to talk\yell\scream\fight back ………..anything. Just a tiny sign of life.
“What are the symptoms?” the operator asked
“Barely breathing, dilated pupils, totally non responsive” came our reply.
“Try not to get upset, she may hear you”
Try not to get upset…seems simple – doesn’t it? But, when you are looking and holding your 14 year old daughter’s lifeless body it’s very difficult. I have to admit, i was rubbish at pulling myself together. We took it in turns to get dressed. The operator never left us as we waited for our ambulance.
The crew arrived. They started working on her immediately. They were asking questions. What were they talking about, my daughter wouldn’t have taken drugs.
“Go and check her room, for anything”
We obliterated the room. What were we looking for? Drugs. We were looking for drugs.
We went back to the ambulance crew, we found nothing.
They couldn’t stabilise her breathing. We needed to get to hospital. A crew member checked her bedroom for clues. Nothing. That was good, wasn’t it?
Before i stepped into the ambulance, i asked a crew member to step outside “what are the signs for drug taking, is she displaying them?”
I climbed into the ambulance. A crew member showed me my daughter’s arm. “Do you know what these marks are?”
I look. “Is that not where she was lying on her sheet?”
“Ok” came the reply.
I sat down on my seat. Put my seatbelt on. The crew continued to work on my daughter.
I removed my seatbelt, stood up, I could hear the words “let me see that again?”
Self harming. I was looking at self harming. My daughter had scars up her arm. Not deep, but definitely scars
“…..she’s been cutting herself”
“did you not know?”
“Has she tried to kill herself?” I hear myself asking.
“We think so.”
Blue flashing lights …….. sirens ……. and idiots, don’t forget the idiots on the road during rush hour. People pulling out in front of the ambulance from side streets. Racing the ambulance off the roundabout. Not moving into the inside lane on the carriageway. Blocking the filter lane into the hospital!!!!!! Next time you see an ambulance, ask yourself this – what if your loved one was behind those closed doors. How would you feel watching a society not paying any heed to basic highway code rules. It’s amazing what you think about in the back of an ambulance, especially when your daughter is struggling to breathe.
Meanwhile my husband is travelling behind us, alone in his car.
The crew ask me to go to reception as they take her into the Emergency Department. When I return to the ED I’m taken to the relatives room. Suddenly I’m having flashbacks from Casualty. Why was I here? A doctor comes in. He works in resus. He gets down on his knees beside me. I’m still thinking about Casualty. My husband bursts through the doors.
She wasn’t dead. Phew, unlike the television, the relatives room doesn’t necessarily mean death – but they believed she attempted suicide. What tablets are in the house? Could we go home and count missing tablets? What could she have taken?
Nine hours in resus. Nine. Her machine flatlined on four occasions, my husband says five – we don’t argue this statistic. Have you ever been in a hospital, listening for the reassuring beep, and it’s not there?
Part Two of this story coming tomorrow. If you would like to contact us, or send through your own pieces of writing for Vixens, firstname.lastname@example.org