My sister (2 years older) has been mentally ill since 1995.
My mother picked her up from Nottingham where she was staying that the time and was badly into all sorts of psychadelics. She was taken back home and went into hospital voluntarily with drug induced psychosis; in hosptial for over a year with the doctors trying to sort her head out. Voices coming from the radiators were telling her to do all sorts of things or they will hurt the people close to her. The medication she was on seemed to helping at the time.
She then went onto day release where we could take her out for the day. On one particular occasion while she and my father where waiting at a train station for me, the voices came back and my father had to save her from jumping infront of the next train coming through the station.
As you can imagine when I got off the train she was nowhere to be seen as my father had to rush her back up to the hospital.
She spent more time at the hospital (without day release this time) and the family continued to support her whenever we could.
Gradually her health got better and she was allowed out of hospital and given her own housing association flat, now being only diagnosed with schizophrenia, and manic depression, and still on millions of pills aday to keep the voices etc at bay.
The family and NHS support workers visited her often, and she seemed to be coping well, or thats what she told us and them anyway. But things seemed to be going well and both our family and support workers agreed that she did not need to be visited that often as she seemed to be doing fine by herself and was openly very happy with her life.
About a year ago though she was rushed into hosptial with a blood clot on the lung. Tests also confirmed she had not been taking her medication when she should have been (if at all) and was also diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver (alcohol being a substitute for drugs?), manic depression and diabetes.
Back into psych ward she went for a few months. Myself and my mother went around to her flat to see how she had been living and words could not describe the state of her flat. We stayed there tidying and cleaning for two to three days, making sure that the place was habitable for when she was released from hospital.
A week before her release a major meeting took place between the family and NHS officials where her health was discussed and what support the NHS and family believed she needed from now on.
The main results from this meeting were that she was assigned a psychatric nurse who would be visiting her every other day to make sure she was on track and taking her medication. A financial helper was also on hand to help her debt situations etc (she had been living with no heating or hot water for quite a few months) and other supporters were also on hand to give her counselling etc when needed.
The whole family explained to all the NHS big wigs at this time that my sister had a tendency to lie convincingly which was one of the reasons why she had been admitted to the hospital yet again. Self denial maybe that she was feeling ill again, but the family were convinced that the NHS supporters, especially her psychiatric nurse would have been able to spot this a mile off.
She moved back into her flat, had hardly any visits from her psychiatric nurse and blatantly pretended that everything was okay.
2 weeks ago her neighbour was worried about her and let herself into my sisters flat.
My sister had been lying on her carpet that was covered in her own blood after she had tried to slit her wrists, after failing this she had decided to use a barbers razor (she had bought two weeks previously) and three times had slashed her own throat.
Luckily she had not sliced the jugular, but had been lying there for two days bleeding.
After telling the medics that she "just wanted to go" she was admitted back into hospital for surgery on her neck and a 12 hour blood tranfusion, then voluntarily admitting herself into the psychiatric hospital next door yet again, but acting as though nothing had ever happened.
Going to visit her now is hard, seeing the mess that she did to herself and that fact that she was telling everyone that everything was okay.
The fact that she had pre-planned what she was going to do is also very hard to come to terms with due to the fact she won't open up and speak to anyone about how she feels. She often gives one worded answers or just changes the subject.
The family are very concerned that the NHS are going to be "all words and no action" yet again. My sister is in a very happy mood at present and can't wait to be released to go back to her flat. At the back of our minds we suspect she might be playing the game and might only want to go back to her flat for one particular reason.
I'm no saint where drugs are concerned but I still cannot understand what she must be experiencing or feeling. I definitely have trouble understanding the reasons why she did what she did, and its hurting the whole family.
I'm currently off sick from work prescribed meds for stress, there has been a lot of upset in the family lately; including my father with lung cancer and an aortic aneurysm. Work has been just as stressful as we are currently going through some major changes...
Having time off from one area of stress has given me the chance to concentrate and think about the other areas of stress that are currently happening. Dads cancer after radio-therapy has neither shrunk or grown (good thing I guess) he is unable to have chemo due to heart disease. His aortic aneurysm is a concern though.
But regards to my sister, I cannot help but think both the family and the NHS have failed her badly. I know it doesn't help that she was forever telling us that she was okay but we should have still regularly visited her to make absolutely sure.
And where was this psychiatric nurse she was promised all those months ago? Surely if he had done his job properly in the first place my sister would not be currently where she is, again.
I'm not sure why all this has happened. I'm not even sure why she also decided to take all those drugs in the first place, (although I have a fairly good idea on that one) but at least while I have been signed off sick fom work I will now have the chance to think about all of the above and hopefully come to some sort of a conclusion that will hopefully help my sister and the rest of my family.
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NHS or Family Failure...
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