In 2012 I was really unwell – I was having a bad psychotic episode – and ended up in A&E. I told the mental health team there that I couldn’t keep myself safe and asked them to admit me. I was hearing voices telling me to set myself on fire in order to save the world.
“It was terrifying. I really believed that tens of thousands of people would die unless I did what the voices said.
“The staff were helpful enough. But they said there was no mental health bed available anywhere in the whole north-east, so they sent me home. They said they would send the crisis team to see me, but not on which day or at what time. I was in crisis there and then. In fact the crisis team didn’t arrive for three days, by which time I had already been sectioned.
“When I got home I found a can of petrol in the garage and was standing there with it and some matches. I tried to get the lid off but couldn’t. That’s really lucky, because I planned to set myself on fire. If the lid had been less rusty I’d have done that. That’s how close I came to killing myself.
“It was a really frightening experience because I was so close to being dead. I was clearly very unwell and needed to be in hospital, but there were no beds.
“NHS care for people having a mental health crisis is really patchy. I’m lucky because I didn’t manage to kill myself and did end up in hospital and did eventually get help from an early intervention in psychosis team.
“But it shouldn’t be about luck. It should be about everybody in that situation getting the help and care they need every time.