Locked up

The other night, I was locked up in the Police holding cells.  I wasn’t under arrest… I was being assessed under the Mental Health Act. I’m still struggling to see how this is an appropriate way to respond to someone with mental health issues.

The events leading up to my detainment are fairly complex, but the event which triggered the Police involvement was when I abruptly ended a call to the crisis team.  I know that wasn’t the wisest thing to do, and even though I said “goodbye”, the end of the call was abrupt.  This hasn’t been an issue in the past, but for some reason, this time they contacted the Police.

A unit was sent to my house to “assess me”.  As I had stamped everything back down after talking to the crisis team, I felt sure that this would be nothing more than a formality… I was wrong.  The two Police who turned up, said that I didn’t appear happy; so they suggested that they take me back to the station for an assessment by one of the local crisis team.  As I knew that this “suggestion” was not really a suggestion, I went along with them.

This is when things started to get really weird… I was sitting in the back of the police car with the female officer, and she read me my rights – my criminal rights… you know those ones they recite to people in handcuffs in television programs… the ones where I have the right to remain silent, and everything that you say or do can, and will, be taken down and used in a court of law… those rights.

I sat there rather stunned, but agreed that I understood my rights.  She assured me that I wasn’t under arrest, but that assurance came too late… my mind raced to when my father used to take me to the police station with him for the raffle draws, and specifically the time when the policeman put me in the cells to show me what happened to “bad girls”.

When we got to the Police station, things became surreal… I was processed – my property inventoried; my jacket taken (because it had ties); my shoes and earrings removed.  I asked to keep my phone because of my anxieties, but that request was denied.

I was then taken from the intake area to the desk, where I stood within the red square on the floor, and was questioned about my criminal past (or lack thereof).  Thankfully I was wearing jeans which are about two sizes too big, so I could drag the excess material down and stand on that, rather than the cold concrete floor.

Then one of the worst things I have ever experienced… I was taken to a holding cell.  The sound that the door made as they locked me in was incredible.

I sat on the stainless steel bench, shivering uncontrollably, trying to keep it together.  I tried to focus on a spot on the floor of the cell and stay present.  The internal noise was incredible… screaming… yelling that this is what you get for telling the secrets… voices saying to shut up… urges to self-injure… everything came in a rush.

When the crisis team came to assess me, he joined me in the cell.  A man I didn’t know sitting between me and the door, in a small, locked cell.

He asked all of the usual questions, and I reassured him in all the usual ways.  All I wanted to do was go home… that became my goal.  Anything to leave that cell.

He agreed that I could go home.

I know that the crisis team, and the police need to be aware of the safety of their staff… but how is this an appropriate way to handle someone with mental health issues?  At no point was I violent.  I never raised my voice.  I never even looked any of them in they eye.  I was compliant and answered all of their questions.  So why was I put in a locked cell which is usually used for criminal suspects?  I don’t understand.

I remember asking if I was under arrest when they were processing my property.  The policewoman said that I wasn’t… but yet, I was being treated like a criminal.

All I did wrong, was ask for help.  Don’t worry, I won’t be doing that again.

Now playing: Audioslave – Doesn’t Remind Me
via FoxyTunes


70 thoughts on “Locked up

  1. I don’t know what to say other than that this is utterly disgusting. This can do nothing good for someone’s mental health – only bad. Very bad.

    The MHA should be modified to only allow anything like this in the most extreme circumstances (knife-wielding with intent, something like that).

    God, it makes me so angry. I’m really sorry this happened to you.

    Take care


    • Hi Pan,

      I don’t see how this treatment would do anything but make the situation worse… It seemed standard procedure, and probably the only way it would vary, is if the person was violent – in which case they would probably be tasered and restrained as well. So I don’t think it’s tied with the Act, I think it’s become their process as a way to keep their staff safe.

      I started to wonder if I could have asked the Police to leave when they came to my house, but I don’t think I could. I think they have the right to detain someone under the Act, but I’m going to check on that.

      Thanks and take care,

  2. (ugh)

    So ridiculously insensitive and inappropriate of them. I hope you have an opportunity to talk to someone you can trust who will act as your advocate. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this, especially at a time when you asked for help.

    • Hi Eliza,

      I imagine they saw this as doing their job, and nothing more. I think that makes it worse, as there seems to be little understanding of what that process will do to the mental health client.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting…

      Take care,

  3. When I read this, then I have to fight back tears. Such treatment in a “civilized” country. I can’t understand it. I can’t 😦 I’m so sorry, CG. So sorry 😦
    You can be proud how you have handled this terrible situation to get out. We couldn’t have done it. We would have collapsed in the police station. The procedure at the beginning would have been enough. It’s so humiliating.
    I understand, that you have great problems to ask for help ever again. But please, stay safe.
    You all deserve a great reward for surviving this traumatic night. I hope you find something, which is soothing for everyone.
    Warmest safe hugs to all who want them (((((CG)))))

    • Hi LSC,

      I knew that the only way out of there, was to appear in control. If I’d collapsed, or reacted in any way, I would have been sectioned under the Act. I would’ve ended up in hospital, or locked up in that cell for longer. All I could think of, was staying on guard, and getting out of that cell.

      As soon as I got home, I had to try and wash the smell and feel of the cell away, but it didn’t work… I can still smell it.

      Take care, and with (((warm safe hugs))) to those who want them,

  4. OMG CG, that is horrible! What a horrific way to treat someone! I’m so sorry that happened to you.
    The thing that really drives me nuts is that I’m guessing that is “normal procedure”. How can anyone think that is an appropriate way to deal with someone who is hurting and in no way dangerous to any other human being? What kind of society do we live in? Why are we (society) so inhumane?
    Thinking of you,

    • Hi Bay,

      What’s scary, is that this standard procedure, was obviously constructed with the approval of mental health services. It was one of their team that came and assessed me, so they were obviously involved in the decision-making around the process of bringing an at risk person into the system.

      It does make you wonder about our society… the mark of a society is how they treat their most vulnerable, and this can’t be considered fair or just, by any standard.

      Take care,

  5. Awwwwwww CG
    I am soooooooooooo sorry that this happened to you I just want to send you safe hugs
    (((((((( C G )))))))) if you want them.

    i don’t understand why they would do something like this to you. I am soooo sorry.

    I don’t have any wise comments / advice or anything, I just want you to know I am here with you.


    • Hi Maryann,

      It’s funny how something that should be designed to help, is so seriously traumatising for anyone who would have to go through it… sure sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

      Take care,

  6. OMG! I am so sorry, CG! This was totally and completely mishandled. Please share this with your counselor, and ask her what might be done to change the process. That experience might have been enough to send anyone else over the edge into going through with self harm, or into becoming violent with the officers. It is outrageous that you were treated in this fashion. Something needs to change in the system, because I too fail to see how “detaining” someone with a mental health issue in the same fashion that a criminal would be arrested serves to be at all helpful. I am completely appalled, and just want to give all of you very very safe hugs. And you need to have someone you can ask for help, you might ask your counselor if she has any suggestion s in that regard as well, since you would understandably NOT want to repeat this experience. You also do not need to feel like you have no support either.

    • Hi Storm Dweller,

      I doubt that Allison would have any power to do anything about this process… it’s obviously an agreement between the Police and mental health services. I look back and wonder how someone else with a different diagnosis would cope with that… what if you could tell you were entering psychosis and asked for help, how would you cope with being locked up? They had no idea about anxiety, so what if you were claustrophobic? It is a very blunt instrument that won’t really suit anyone – if the person was violent when the Police arrived, they would odds are take them straight up to the hospital for sedation. If you weren’t violent, being detained like that could be enough to push you over the edge. Then people like me will be more likely to not want to run the risk of ever experiencing that again, so will be more likely to complete a suicide, than reach out for help.

      I’ve already asked Allison about what my options are for after hours care, and the hotlines or the crisis team are it. Usually the hotlines are too busy to get through on, so it leaves you with the crisis team. The joys of living in a small country!

      Take care,

  7. I am sorry to hear this happened to you. It seems inconceivable that the Police and the government mental health services would agree to that as standard practice. In fact I would not be surprised if there was no standard practice and the officers involved had no idea about mental health issues and had no training on how to manage those people.

    You or Allison could complain to the Police station involved or the IPCA about this. It may not immediately get anything done or repair the damage already done, but at least it may make them aware there is a major flaw in their procedures. I would hope if the Senior Sergeant of the station was informed that their staff did something wrong even though they followed some sort of procedure they would want to remedy it.

    Take care and don’t give up on help. This country (and the rest of the world) is still learning albeit slowly.

    • Hi Ringonz,

      I wish I shared your feeling that it wasn’t standard practice. But, when I asked to keep my phone due to anxiety, this request was refused by the officer in charge – well, I’m assuming that the officer who brought me in asked, may be she didn’t.

      I imagine the officers had the usual training. So I really don’t think that they consider they did anything wrong in this instance… that’s what makes it so scary. I really couldn’t stop shaking. I know I was in shock, but all I could think of was how to get out of there. This again, is where the dissociative coping “fools” the assessing team… I was a total and utter mess, yet they released me with no follow-up.

      I’ll talk to Allison about it on Monday, and see what she thinks.

      Thanks for the support.

      Take care,

  8. I wasn’t meaning to say it wasn’t standard practice, just it seems stupid that government mental health services agreed to it. Mind you some of their specialists leave something to be desired.

    With my experiences with Government (dis)organisations there is a good chance they did not have specific training for this and they used normal policing procedures taught many years ago in Police college. Then again some monkey may have dreamed it up as standard operating procedure without listening to private specialists.

    Take care and take it easy over the weekend and I hope all goes well with Allison on Monday.

    • Hey, why change procedures that we’ve used to degrade an humiliate criminals when they’ve been working for the last 10 odd years?? People with mental health issues are just problems anyway…

      That’s possibly the sort of thinking that went into the procedures. I’ve been to courses on “how to deal with difficult customers”, that have been run by ex-policemen, and their attitude towards those with mental health issues was pretty cavemanish – “they’re all about to get out an axe and kill you” or “they’re all unstable”, seemed to be the common theme.

      I imagine that the consultation with the mental health field was based on establishing procedures for the worst case scenario, rather than suicidal people who have no intention of hurting others.

      It’s been interesting seeing how the responses have changed over the years… it used to be that you were taken up to the psychiatric ward for an assessment by a resident; then it moved to being held in the Police interview rooms, and assessed by an attending psychiatrist; now you’re processed, put in the holding cells, and assessed by one of the nurses. I imagine funding and safety were the drivers behind making those changes. What seems to have got lost, is how the client is coping with any of it. While I was huddled on the bench, shivering in shock… a young guy who was being processed for criminal issues, was fair bounding around the intake area as if it was a bit of fun.

      It was all so surreal.

      Hope you have a great weekend… bundle up against the cold snap that’s coming our way.

      Take care,

  9. Maybe it’s the new New Zealand “Scare the Mental Illness Out of ‘Em” technique….. That’s just so f***ed up.

    I’m so sorry. Send them a thank you card –
    “Dear Police,

    After careful reconsideration of my recent incarceration I have resolved to never seek outside help for any future personal/mental health crises. My faith in government-sponsored crisis team assistance is crushed. It is obvious to me that your department’s decision to revert to 19th-century “poorhouse” practices is detrimental and dehumanizing…………” …..I don’t know. Something like that.

    I feel terrible that you had to call somebody and those somebodys did that. (I was thrown into a locked psych ward for several hours once because a psychiatrist thought the threat would help our therapy somehow)

    I’d like to send you some mega-adorableness from our 4 new kittens. They mew, they’re fuzzy, and you can squish them on your cheeks. I hope you feel okay soon.


    • Hi Lisa,

      4 new kittens!! That’s a bundle of goodness, that is 🙂

      You’re card has potential, and a part of me really wants to question what happened with the Human Rights Commission, Independent Police Complaints Authority, and the Mental Health Commission… but a part of me just wants to keep on having showers and hide away. I wasn’t balancing the crazy all that well before this, but now it’s tipped the scales into full on crazyland.

      Why do some mental health professionals think that locking you up, and taking away any sort of free will, is going to fix things? It’s that sort of thing that got us into this place to start with… we don’t need more of it.

      Take care of yourself and keep cuddling cute kittens,

  10. Oh my god! I am in complete shock and absolutely furious! If I was rich I would actually fly over there and make the biggest stink they’ve ever seen! I’m not kidding.

    This is horrifying and there is no possible way that their procedures would be helpful to anyone. To treat someone who is hurting like a common criminal, even reading you your rights, is beyond insulting and inhumane!

    I would have freaked out the second they came to my door! You kept an incredible cool on the surface so that you could get out of there and I wish I could hug you right now. You were incredibly brave and strong CG!

    I can only imagine how many other people they do that to everyday. It reminded me of my last hospitalization here in the States and being in the same unit with that man who was there because he had killed someone. He was so violent and angry, the feeling of being unsafe was overwhelming. I can’t imagine how you felt being locked up in a cell when you didn’t do anything to anyone!

    My worry is that now you may feel like you have no options when you’re in crisis. I sincerely hope that Allison can provide some ideas, maybe something new r something you guys haven’t considered before.

    Sending my sincerest affection and safe hugs (if you like)

    • Hi tai,

      There’s a joke that the Police are the biggest gang in the country… so it sort of pays to go along with what they want. When they “suggested” that I go with them, my response was to say “I suppose I have to, because it’s not really a suggestion, is it?” They said it wasn’t. So I had to go. It wasn’t a matter of being brave, it was self-preservation.

      That’s what gets me tai… how often do they do this? When did this become acceptable?

      I’m so sorry you were put on a ward that also had people in their for murder, that was just wrong. Don’t they have forensic or secure units over there?

      Of course I won’t ask for help again, and more importantly, this has shown parts of the system that the abusers were right – I told some of the secrets, which led to me being treated like a criminal, and locked up. Any trust I had in healing has gone. Everything has to be stuffed back down, and I just need to get on with it.

      Thanks tai, and (((warm safe hugs))) if they are wanted,

  11. OMG CG!!!! I am so sorry to hear that you were treated like this! It is wrong on all levels and not even an angle to justify it from! I have a criminal justice degree and have worked in the mental health field before so I can tell you why they do something like that here.
    When they do it here they call it “deterence”. Between the mental health person on the phone and the police they are hoping that this will deter you from calling again. Plus the mental health person on the phone probably had some spite issues of his/her own and wanted to “teach you a lesson” about their power. I have seen this done. What makes this happen is the wrong mix of people on duty at the same time. They were all wrong at the mental health and law enforcement levels. You don’t do this to people and shame on them! They are trying to reduce their case loads and have probably traumatized you enough that you’ll never call any of them for help again. AND I wouldn’t blame you on that one! Bunch of untrained assholes is what they are and I am so sorry that this mix of assholes were on duty at the same time when you called.
    I wish there was a system similar to the one Paul has found that could really help you heal. This rotten cycle continues to hurt you more and there is nothing healing about any of it. I wish I was there…we could just sit and say nothing for as long as you wanted or we could talk too. What you need is people in your life that empower you and help you gain strenth and confidence in yourself. You are a good person that terrible things happened to. It would serve them well to remember this.
    Hang in there….we are all here cheering for you and my heart goes out to you!

    • Hi Nansie,

      I honestly don’t think it was personal, I think it’s now their standard practice. Although when my GP has contacted the crisis team in the past, when they’ve heard who she was calling about, they said “Oh, her!”… so yeah, they are totally impartial and treat everyone fairly *cough cough*

      Just sitting sounds really good… I can’t talk anymore, and I don’t have anyone who doesn’t mind quiet… quiet means safety to me.

      I feel anything but good…

      Take care,

      • I don’t blame you a bit CG…buy yourself some special shower gel that will wash this off and the cruddy way they made you feel. Use that for your magic shower gel for the little parts that felt so helpless. Sometimes I like quiet too….nothing needs to be said during times like that. Give yourself some time to get passed this and heal from this experience. How awful…I am so sad that this is what you got when you asked for help. I would hug you to pieces if it was ok?

        • Nothing will wash this off… the areas in the Police station I was taken to were all concrete, and that was a trigger to the concrete places where I was abused in the past… all I can smell is urine, and it’s disgusting. I’m too disgusting to touch. I’m too disgusting to be near.

          I know that’s old thinking, but it’s all I have at the moment.

          Thank you for your kindness Nansie, you are so lovely.

          Take care,

  12. Hi CG, what a terrible thing to go through as a result of asking for help! I also suffer with a number of mental disorders. I can only imagine and empathize with how that would have made you feel. The Crisis team (CAT team?) are the worst organisation I’ve ever had the misfortune of encountering. I would never recommend their services to anyone with mental health issues of any kind. After seeking help from the Crisis team for suicidal ideation and self harm, I was told I’m just looking for attention. I left their offices feeling worse rather than better. After a suicide attempt, while still in hospital I had the (compulsory?) interview with their team again. I had a WTF moment when they grilled me about the possibility of me harming others. Respite through CAT team is also a useless and complete waste of time. I also vowed I would never seek help for my illness again. As a result of my reluctance to get professional help, I spent a lot of time in and out of hospital for suicide attempts, self-harm and domestic abuse from a partner who couldn’t handle my illness. 5 years later and I can finally say I found the help I needed when I was provided with an Occupational Therapist and Psychologist who help me cope with avoidance, agoraphobia and ptsd/depression/bpd. Its still a work in progress, but there have been vast improvements in my quality of life. Please don’t give up! I understand what you’re going through.

    • Hi Lisa,

      Yes, the crisis team is CATT… I know they’re understaffed and underfunded, but they are also wrongly staffed in many areas.

      It’s interesting how they ask about harming others, mainly because it comes as such a shock to those of us who would never consider it – that is, most of the population. I know it’s one of the things they have to ask, but they do it in such a clumsy way, it’s incredible.

      I’ve been in respite a couple of times, and found it really helpful once, but not so much the other time. The main problem I had was that they didn’t allow me to stay for as long as I wanted when it was working. I was getting back onto solid ground, and they told me to leave without anything more than a phone conversation. So odd.

      I’m sorry you were subjected to domestic abuse, I hope you’re free of that situation now.

      I’m glad you’ve found a therapeutic team that is helping you make progress. It can be slow going, but the rewards are worth it.

      Take care,

  13. Hi CG, thank your for your reply. I agree that CATT are wrongly staffed. A lot of the people I met from CATT were poorly trained and lacked any obvious understanding of mental illness (in my opinion).
    I’ve not heard of any success stories using their services, which I think is quite saddening considering that for most of us this is the first point of contact with Mental Health services.

    Yes exactly! I was very shocked and upset that I was perceived as a possible threat to others. I would never dream of hurting another person. I felt incredibly misunderstood by those who are supposedly qualified to help treat those with depression (CATT).

    I found the team at respite lovely, but fail to see how short term help without any follow up is supposed to help rehabilitate me.
    Its great to hear that you found respite really helpful in your recovery. At the same time, its frustrating to hear that your stay was ended so abruptly. Indeed, that is very odd.

    Thanks for your kind words CG, I appreciate it and I’m very happy to say that I ended the relationship a few years ago.
    Although I’m still on the road to recovery the rewards have definitely been worth it.
    I hope others can find help also. Reaching out to others for help is so hard but I’m glad I did.

    Take care too =)

    • Hi Lisa,

      I imagine that many of the CATT personal are very jaded from what they see every day. They might start to see manipulative behaviour in people, when there’s none… but because they’ve been burned before, it’s easier to go in with a tough exterior, rather than leave yourself open to being hurt again.

      I think one of the big problems is their funding. If their funding was more appropriate, then they would be able to attract, train and retain good people. Even the good ones in the current teams must be feeling demoralised as they fight within a system that doesn’t really seem to suit anyone.

      I was told that respite care was a short-term alternative to inpatient care. So it’s not meant to do anything but give you a safe place for a while, to allow you to get back onto solid ground. So unless you were in quite a different set-up to what I experienced, it isn’t meant to be about rehabilitation, but instead it’s part of that rehabilitation plan within the greater therapeutic relationship.

      I’m glad you’re out of that negative relationship, and now on a positive path.

      Take care,

  14. This really sickens me, CG. What they did is wrong on so many levels. You handled yourself with so much control, and in my book, you’re a rock star for that. If that had been me, they would have had a fight on their hands just getting me out of my apartment. And working for a prosecutor’s office, I know better, but I still don’t think I would have been able to control myself.

    When I was a teenager, I was put in a juvenile jail for 2 weeks for running away from my abusive home. It was very much like you described. Surrounded by cement, and cold metal surfaces. I was strip searched, probed, fingerprinted, mug shot, etc., etc. They had to struggle with me to get handcuffs on me, and then they hit my head on the squad car as they were pushing me inside. When they were leading me into the police station, my father was standing inside. I’ll never forget the smirk he had on his face. It was like this is what I get for trying to run away. Instead of talking to me, and trying to get down to the root of why I wanted to run away from home, they treated me like I was a criminal. I hated the police after that. Still do. I guess that’s why I wanted to work in the justice system. As sick as it makes me, I wanted to bear witness. I hoped to one day make a difference, but I was naive to think I had the power to make a difference, so all I can do is witness, and make suggestions to my prosecutor when I see a kid who desperately needs help, and not punishment, and hope that he listens to me when he presents the case to the magistrate.
    Sorry to ramble, but damn, this really hits home for me, and it pains me to know that it happened to you. You didn’t deserve any of that, and I don’t want this to set you back, you know? But it’s hard to not be set back, when you’re treated like a criminal. What they did is so f***ed up.

    All I can say is that I’m very sorry. My thoughts are with you, CG.
    ~ Mareeya

    • Hi Mareeya,

      I was in the cell for over an hour, and there were plenty of urges to self-injure… but I knew that if I did, then I’d be there for longer, or sent up to the psychiatric hospital. It really was all about self-preservation, so it wasn’t brave, just necessary.

      I’m stunned reading what happened to you. Absolutely stunned. It’s amazing how people can degrade others, seemingly without thought or reason. I can just imagine the sort of stories your father had been telling the officers… So wrong.

      I can totally understand your hatred of the Police. I’ve met a couple of good ones, but also some really rotten ones… just like any population, there’s good and bad. The thing is, the prevailing culture of the place will attract a certain type of behaviour.

      Don’t you think you’re doing good by making those suggestions? I think you are. Even if your suggestions aren’t followed, there is someone on the side of the kid who might understand a little of where they’ve come from. I’d say that is doing good. It’s that whole thing about every little thing we do, makes a difference in this world. Your words might make someone look at that kid a little differently. That’s making a positive impact.

      I honestly don’t know where to go from here.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences, that was really brave and honest. I hate that you went through that, but I’m glad you made it through.

      Take care,

      • I think that my intentions are good when I make those suggestions. I don’t think what I say has really made a difference, though. It’s all pretty much done by the book. In other words, they don’t look at ‘why’ a child might be acting out. They often have Children Services look into a home, but the Children’s Services Dept. is so overwhelmed with cases, and understaffed, that most kids slip through the cracks of this extremely flawed system.

        Yes, my father told stories all right. Usually the same story… the story of how crazy I am. He did the same thing with my ex-husband. Whenever my ex and I would have a fight, my ex would call my father, and they would talk about how crazy I am. It made me feel so isolated, because I had both my ex and my father spreading stories about me. My mother knew better, but she kept quiet.

        Where you go from here? Well, it’s going to take some time for the shock of this to subside, and even when the shock passes, this will stay with you.

        It’s been so many years since my experience, but somewhere in my head, the fact that it happened at all still sends me the message that I’m bad. It’s hard to fight those intruding thoughts. It also impacts my ability to trust, which was already an issue. (I know that is an issue for you, too.)

        So for me, I focus on my work, mostly so that I can prove to myself, and to everyone else that I am responsible, and can take care of myself.
        Even when I am falling apart, I try to give the ‘appearance’ that I can hold my life together. Then when I’m not working, I do ‘a lot’ of distracting.
        I’m sure you can relate to all of this.

        I’m sorry that I can’t really sugar coat it for you. I really am.
        And I know that it’s not necessarily good to distract yourself all of the time, but in my case, that’s the only thing that holds me together.

        I’ll be interested in knowing how you hold up in the upcoming weeks and months, and so on. I know everyone handles things differently. Just know that I am sending positive thoughts your way, okay?

        Take it easy. ~ Mareeya

        • Hi Mareeya,

          I still think you do good, even if it doesn’t feel that way… You could be considered sort of like having a conscience standing there talking. I know the system is flawed, and will only manage to pick up on a small percentage of the kids being hurt, but if we don’t make the effort, those few who are saved, would be lost too.

          I stupidly rang the crisis team today to ask why I was treated as I was. I was told that I need to accept responsibility for my actions. Thing is, I’m happy to accept that there are consequences, and that I am responsible for them; but only when they are in keeping with my actions.

          I realised after talking with the crisis woman, that I am in a live version of One flew over the cuckoo’s nest.

          Don’t worry, I wouldn’t have believed you if you had tried to sugar coat it 🙂

          I know what you mean about trust, distraction and the way you live. That describes my life pretty well too. It’s sad, but then, we can keep on healing and hopefully that will change.

          I’m sorry that you were the subject of their lies and manipulation. The person I know you to be is gentle, honest and caring.

          Take care,

  15. OMG I’m so so sorry this happened to you. I hate that they treated you like that – just unbelievable. I hope you’re ok. ((hugs)) if wanted, please take gentle care.

  16. I was sobbing while reading reading this post. I have to wonder sometimes what people are thinking when they come up with policies regarding the treatment of those with mental illness.

    I’ve been hospitalized involuntarily three times (72-hour-hold). I experienced an immense amount of trauma during these hospitalizations! Each one has its own horror story that I’ve not recovered from, which is why I think I cried so much when I read your post.

    I suffer with major depressive disorder and DID. I also self injure and I’ve been suicidal. I can manage all these separately without getting myself into too much trouble. However, when my depression is particularly bad and it collides with my dissociation, I sometimes irrationally think that if I kill myself I won’t die.

    To date, I’ve never been so irrational that I haven’t been able to understand on some level what is happening. But, it’s sad that the options are limited when trying to decide what to do when I feel this way.

    It’s an impossible choice. Taking myself to the emergency room -to possibly save my life- and be involuntarily committed and traumatized again… or seeing if I can manage myself and hope I live. I sleep a lot!!!

    I’m lucky I have an understanding therapist who is willing to work with me and not just hospitalize me. But it is sometimes very frightening when it’s after hours and I’m on my own.

    CG, I hope you are able to heal from that awful experience. It’s sad what they do to us in the name of helping us. I’m so sorry you had to endure that experience!

    Please be very very gentle with yourself the next few weeks and months. I lashed out at myself in awful ways each time I was released. After all, it was my fault I was there in the first place (a hospital staff member actually told me that one time).

    Please, be gentle and careful with yourself. You didn’t deserve to be treated that way. Even though we logically know people were trying to help us, it doesn’t negate the fact that they hurt us. And, it wasn’t our fault. We didn’t ask to have a mental illness. We were trying to get help.

    Ouch, this hurts!

    Please take care,

    • Hi rl,

      I’m so sorry for the trauma you experienced, and the re-traumatisation of the hospital stays. I have a huge fear of hospitals, so I can understand a little of what you went through.

      I hope you manage to find a way through your mental health system, and find a way which will help you. Sometimes I think we need that safety net, and if it’s absent, then we’re in trouble.

      I have been told that the Police response was my fault. Part of me is holding onto that. Will see what happens over the next few weeks.

      Please take care,

  17. What a horrible experience. Whatever the standard operating procedure, it’s clear that you were treated very poorly, and it’s impressive that you held it together so well.

    I know a few cops. The ones I know are all very thoughtful, considerate people, but I can see that they sometimes have to pick their words with care when I ask them about police culture. It’s understandable that police officers, having to deal with very difficult situations every day, can tend to develop a bit of a siege mentality. The uniform can make them a target for all sorts of abuse, and it’s safest to shut down emotionally while they’re wearing it, and concentrate on doing things impersonally and by the book.

    My impression is that there are a lot of officers who are concerned about this culture, including some who are now in fairly senior positions. It’s quite possible that a polite, matter-of-fact letter to the local police would do a lot of good. Constructive criticism is a rarity from most of the people they deal with, after all.

    Of course, I don’t know your situation, and only you can judge whether this might be worthwhile. If it’s not a good idea, it’s not a good idea. But I think what you’ve written here would be very useful information the next time they review their procedures.

    Kia kaha.

    • Kia ora Isaac,

      I have known a few good cops, I hope I made that clear, I hate broad generalisations that reinforce a stereotype. The young constable who interviewed me after my ex broke the conditions of the Protection Order was particularly nice and empathetic. The Police who took me to the station and processed me were also not monsters, they were just doing their job as they knew it. It wasn’t personal, and I don’t think they say anything wrong with what they were doing… it was just standard procedure. Which in some ways makes it scarier, as these weren’t “baddies abusing power”, they were just following the procedure to the letter.

      The Police do see the worst in society, there is no doubt about it. I sure wouldn’t want to be subjected to what they are – even the pieces we see on the reality television programs are scary enough. I also know that some develop a protective layer in order to be able to cope with what they see… the problem, like with any organisation, is when that protective layer becomes hardened and bitter. If you can see it happen to front line service staff, it can sure happen to the Police.

      I’d like to think that I could write a letter, but I need a bit more distance from it all before that is possible. I know that my hurt and confusion would get in the way at the moment. After talking to the crisis line again yesterday about it, they considered it normal consequences, so may be I just need to accept that, and walk away. Lesson learned.

      Thank you for stopping by… I don’t think we’ll ever convert Kerro to the malty goodness of the lolly cake, but it was worth a shot 🙂

      Kia kaha

      • Hi,

        You’re right, what I wrote previously could easily be interpreted as a generalisation about the people behind the uniform, rather than what they are expected to do. For that, I apologise. I don’t like what happened that night, but the Police involved were consistently polite and obviously just doing their job.

        There are bad cops out there… but there are bad people in any profession. I do worry about the culture of the Police, but that’s not to say that each officer buys into, or agrees with that culture. That they aren’t doing their bit to change it.

        So again, I apologise for the apparently confusing statements… a case of hating the game, but not necessarily the player (so to speak).

        Take care,

  18. I was scrolling past images in your polyvore box and I came across the one that I was fairly sure had to do with being locked up. So, I went to that site to see it more clearly. It’s so beautiful but gut-wrenchingly sad.

    I noticed your comment about someone telling you it was your fault. It was NOT your fault!

    You were seeking help -just like I’m sure you’ve been encouraged to do a million times. It’s the system of help that is at fault for the pain you just endured!

    I was told it way my fault too. It’s so easy to believe it is our fault. But if you’re anything like me, believing we are at fault leads to the need for punishment. Please, please do not punish yourself.

    Having the cops show up and take you to jail was NOT your fault. It was the fault of faulty system of help. You did everything right. You called for help when you felt you needed it.

    I hope nothing I’ve written has caused you any additional pain. Take care of yourself.


  19. I am so sorry this happened. This has happened before though. At least something similar. I know they have horrible procedures where you are that need to be addressed. That response when someone is asking for help is totally inappropriate. The problem is that the police should not be handling taking care of people who are suicidal. They only have one set of procedures, and unfortunately, those are criminally-based.

    I am so sorry.

    • The only thing similar between the two assessments I’ve experienced at the Police station, are that they were in the same building. They took place in quite different parts of the building, one was the interview rooms, the other the intake area. There were quite different attitudes and procedures for each. The previous assessment was traumatic, but I could accept it as a consequence of the space I was in… this latest one wasn’t.

      I can’t change the system, and I obviously can’t use it, so I have to decide what to do.

  20. it is a very difficult situation. the cells are not the right place – i agree. that is rather disgusting really.
    the question though is this :
    what do you hope to achieve from calling the crisis team ?
    they either admit you which achieves nothing
    or they try to talk you into feeling better – which is temporary if at all possible.
    one thing out of it is that you were in a very bad place emotionally when you called them and they put you in a worse place physically and you survived without harming yourself.
    it would therefore be likely that you would have survived better on your own without having called the crisis team in the first place.
    the crisis team are good for things like acute psychosis, acute mania,attempted suicides.
    but for what you need they are next to no use.
    in more connected communities what might help better would be real life friends, the church if religion was not an issue, just being with normal people – who yes i know do not understand but they give us something to do / think about other than it.
    nothing and no-one will ever take away what happened or the consequences of that – no-one can help.
    so we either curl up and die or we seek out normal healthy people [as difficult as that can be] and try and integrate.
    i write all this thinking oh my goodness i hope she does not take it the wrong way. i hope that you know i care deeply about you and that i do understand feelings that come with the territory of the similar experiences we have had. please take care. i am thinking of you.

    • Hi Grace,

      I was seeking respite care with the phone call. I doubted my ability to keep myself safe, and needed a safe place to try and settle things down. I say that, knowing that the odds of being granted respite care was next to zero, but I was trying. They have told me in the past that respite is not available to those who have self-harmed in any way, so I was trying to get help before that happened.

      I know what you mean about integrating into the community. I don’t expect others to understand what I’m experiencing, and I sure wouldn’t tell them. So may be I’m better off curling up and dieing. I’ve never been able to make connections with people, even as a child. The attempts that I have made recently have been disasters. I know that means that I need to try again.

      I know your intentions are positive Grace, and I didn’t take it the wrong way. I know you are right, I just don’t think I’m capable of it.

      Take care,

      • Hi CG,

        You wrote: “…but I was trying.” Thank you for continuing to try. It reminds me to continue to try. It’s all we can do really. Even when trying to get help results in getting hurt, we can’t stop trying.

        My therapist and psychiatrist encourage me to call the office after hours when I’m going to self-injure. But, my therapist is only on-call about one week out of the year. I would just get a random therapist who, not knowing me, would encourage me to go to the hospital! What’s the point of calling?

        I understand your feelings about integrating into the community. Mostly, I don’t like people. I don’t mind the concept of there being other people in the world. I just don’t like them in my world. Any and all attempts to make friends either failed or resulted in my being used and/or abused.

        And, I think you’re right, the things we do and the pain we feel is not something an ordinary person can understand. My own family does not know I self injure! So, I became friends with a bunch of horses. They understand.

        On the urging of my therapist, I contacted a horse rescue nearby. It’s the most dumpy little ranch you’ve ever seen. But, I’d never been around horses, so what did I know. I love, love, love being around horses! They are absolutely the most amazing creatures. I have no desire to ride one. I just go stand in the middle of the pasture and hang out with them!

        There are people I have to deal with at the ranch, which was a problem once, but the connection I feel with these animals is actually worth existing in the same world with other people. (As long as I can quickly go out and be amongst the herd!)

        During dark times, I think of certain horses. They love me and that’s amazing. I have those connections.

        I just thought I would share my experience. Perhaps, you might could find some sort of animal rescue or zoo or nature preserve that would allow you to volunteer with just the animals or plants. (Be VERY firm with what you are willing and not willing to do.)

        I went to therapy yesterday. I’ve self-injured for the past two weeks in a row. Last week I was severely depressed. I didn’t go out to the ranch. So, my homework this week is to go! No excuses -have to go! I know I will feel a tiny slice of happy each time I kiss one of them on the nose.

        Thinking of you & hoping you are taking care.

        • Hi rl,

          Sometimes the point of calling is to divert our attention, and help us get through the moment… sometimes that’s what we need.

          I’m glad you’ve found solace and comfort amongst the horses… I’ve heard of equine based therapy, so it makes sense. One of my childhood friends family had a horse racing farm, and it was calming to be amongst them… horses have a gentleness and calm that is relaxing.

          I’m sorry about your self-injury, I hope you can find the underlying cause and ease the need soon.

          Take care,

  21. respite care is a good idea !
    i didn’t think of that.
    please do NOT curl up and die.
    i didn’t mean it – omg i wish i had not written it like that – that was not what i meant at all – i do NOT want you to do anything of the sort !
    perhaps you could try for respite care through your GP ??

  22. Hey CG…
    Does your mental health system provide respite care? I am wondering if Allison could help you set up a contact person you can call at a respite place when you feel like this. Then you could bypass the hotline…call this person and then go there to gain the safety you need at times like this? You shouldn’t have to be victimized by a system that doesn’t know how to help people. Hugs for you!

  23. This is absilutely insane, really just insane. They don’t stop to think about anything but proceedure and in doing so they overlook human understanding. It totally pisses me off to no end when proceedure and policy trump understanding.


    • Hi Faith,

      I can still hear the cell door slamming as they locked me in. You see and hear it on television, but it’s totally different experiencing it in real life.

      I can’t believe it either. I’m not strong enough to question it, so they will keep on doing it. I doubt procedure would change, even if I did question it.

      Take care,

    • Hi rl,

      Thanks for dropping by 🙂

      We didn’t get any snow where I live – we were very disappointed… But seeing the people enjoying themselves in the snow on tv was great.

      Take care,

  24. Hi CG, from across the Ditch in Oz.
    Just came across your blog. Thanks for writing.
    I had a similar, but wasn’t so criminally viewed. After becoming distressed, I went wandering around a regional city and eventually presented myself at the A&E (9pm) asking to speak to their mental health staff. Before i finished giving details to reseption, a police officer was standing next to me. They had been looking fo me for 8 hours. We waited for half a hour in the waiting room, befor the officer told me he was taking me back to the police station as they didn’t know how long it would be before an assessment. I wasn’t given a choice. Into the divie van and away we went, passively.
    On arriving, all personal posetions, belt, shoes, phone etc. was taken from me. I asked to make a call to my family – refused. Asked for a cup of tea -refused. Cell door locked. Wait for an hour, asked for a drink of water, 20min later it arrived and was told I had to drink it infront of the officer. Waited another 2 hours then was returned to the hospital, but had to remind them for my personal possessions back.
    The long wait was because the closest psych on call was 200km away from a city of population 20,000.
    I was admitted at 5am to the psych ward.
    The following day I asked to be transferred back to my home city (state capital) only to be told “No, because it was a self admission, but you can be discharged and catch the train back home (3hrs).” I didn’t think that was a good idea in my current state on mind.
    I was eventually discharged 36hrs after admission and organizing for a family member to pick me up, 6hr round trip. I then had to present at my local A&E and go through another assessment. They weren’t told I was coming.

    Long and short of it it’s no better in Oz.

    You have my empathy and sympathy by the truck load.

    When will the system change their way and treat us with some dignity and humanity. Maybe we should reverse the rolls or put the politicians through ringer. 🙂

    Best for the future 🙂

    • Hi David,

      What an ordeal! I’m so sorry that happened to you when you were already vulnerable.

      I really don’t think that the Police should be involved in mental health care, unless there is a threat of violence. I can understand why they are – because there have been violent clients in the past, but it’s a situation which adds stress to everyone.

      I was once taken to hospital for an assessment by an ex-neighbour who happened to be a policeman. It was a totally different experience to the one I described above, mainly because he knew me, and I’d babysat for his daughters. I wasn’t a “mental health issue” to him, I was an individual. It must be really difficult for the Police to keep each person as an individual when they see so much bad stuff – same with the mental health professionals too.

      So we, the clients, sort of get caught in the cross-fire. We are processed in a way which doesn’t suit anyone – including the Police and mental health professionals. This means that we are less likely to ask for help as readily the next time we need it, so a situation which could have been more easily resolved, escalates unnecessarily. It’s unsatisfactory all around. I think we have a long way to go in the treatment of mental health clients around the world – I’ve yet to hear of any consistently good systems.

      How are you doing now? Are you feeling better? Back home – whether that be in your home state or town you were living?

      Please take care, and please ask for help if you need it… don’t let that experience put you off from asking again.
      Wishing you all the best,

  25. Pingback: Asking for help | Scattered pieces

  26. Pingback: Purple Death | Scattered pieces

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