It was a small personal victory when I finally went to the Doctors to admit out loud, for one of the first times, I was suicidal. To explain how, hours before, I lay awake at night from trying to talk myself out of walking to the nearest bridge and just jumping. Or that I wouldn’t mindlessly think about walking onto the train tracks and let nature do the rest. I finally had someone else listening, rather than my inner self telling me I was being pathetic! That I deserved this suffocating fog I couldn’t get out of! I was 16. And I know lots of teens claim to be depressed, when they’re feeling slightly down, and, because of that, I felt I was being silly, ridiculous even. I was clearly weak for allowing this feeling to take over my thoughts.
For those of us who have the pleasure of knowing of CAMH’s existence often understand it feels like the last place to turn. Even walking to my appointment, I thought I was being absurd. I was one of the time wasters who just needed to “grow up”. I remember this waiting room looked like a Child’s art project had thrown up all over the place, a colour scheme I’m sure was meant to bring some sort of comfort, but all it did was make me feel even more out of the picture. The Lady I saw was late, and eating soup from a mug unapologetically even though she had me in tears within 10 minutes of being in a room with her. She berated me for not bringing my guardian to the appointment even though the letters explicitly said I was old enough to go without an adult. I didn’t want my Mum there and my Mum didn’t feel it was her place to be there anyway, and yet I got lectured at like a five year old for not bringing her because this woman, who had never met me, WANTED to talk to my mum. In fact, this woman then blamed my mum’s parenting skill as to why I felt this way. Last time I checked my mum could have been superwoman – that that still wouldn’t have made the feeling of eliminating myself from this existence seem like the best option.
Like the sorting hat from Harry Potter – you’re either in or you’re out, and, clearly, I was out. It felt like this woman had judged me from my age before even meeting me. Was I just a teenager seeking attention? I will always remember her sneering at me, claiming she ‘wasn’t going to diagnose me just so I could throw the title around and use it as an excuse!’. And with that, I was sent on my merry way.
A couple of days later it was revealed this person had called my Mum to talk about my appointment, even though I’d signed a piece of paper saying I did not want what was said, in the supposed security of those four walls, shared. Why were my wishes not being respected? Am I not my own person? In the one place I should have had my own voice, it had been taken away. I’d reached out for help to try and save me, but this service just teasingly held its hand out of reach and seemed to not care if the black waves caved over me.
If GCSE English had taught me anything over the painful reading of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was the duality of man. Sure this person wasn’t a hideous prowling creature of Victorian London, but there were two people and two sides. The one I deserved and the one I unfortunately got the pleasure of meeting that day. It does make me wonder how many people like me spoke out about what was going on in their heads and had been sent away, scolded for even daring to bother them.
The question really is did I slip through the net or was I given the old battered net that wouldn’t have even caught a whale?