Through the eyes of a carer for someone with a mental illness

Assessment under the Mental Health Act


cnphotography2Yesterday is definitely up there on the list of the hardest days of my life, it all started really, late Thursday night when unbeknownst to me Chris had left the house at almost midnight and I didn’t know where he had gone. This time I didn’t panic, I told myself he would be ok; he would probably go to his brother’s house and return at some point in the morning. I kept waking up with worry, each time trying to reassure myself, wondering if I should call the police or not, I really didn’t want to bother anyone, but at the same time I was worried. I woke to a gentle tapping on my shoulder; I glared over at my phone to get some sense of the time, it was almost four in the morning. I squinted and rolled over, where sat behind me was Chris, he didn’t look good, not good at all. He told me I needed to stay awake, he said he was scared, by this point in my head I was freaking out, on the outside I was trying to be calm and all I knew was to listen to what he was telling me. I asked him if  he was ok, I could feel the bed shaking, he couldn’t keep still, I could just make out his face in the shadow of the small amount of light shining through the curtains, he looked very distressed. He then went on to explain he didn’t feel safe, he wanted to take all the tablets, he wanted to run away and throw himself into a quarry, he wanted to die. I held his hand, told him I was there for him and suggested we sit together for awhile.

Needless to say I wasn’t going to be going back to sleep. I sat up, pushing my pillow back again the hard wood of our bed, I knew there wasn’t much I could do except listen, and I did, for a good half an hour while he talked, not always did he make sense. He grew more and more restless, going up and down the stairs for a smoke, then to try drinking a brew, then because he simply didn’t know what to do with himself. Now the clock was approaching five in the morning, I knew his social worker was due out at half past nine and we just needed to somehow get to then, I suggested he take a haloperidol, he had already taken one so I was starting to run out of ideas, I just kept talking with him and listening. On the outside I was ok, inside my heart was breaking.

Around six o’clock the girls were rising and I had already managed to grab a quick shower while Chris was sleepy enough to just stay where he was and not attempt anything. Now I was going to have to juggle the girls, a very unwell Chris and the morning routine of getting them to school and the little ones to Grandad’s while we saw his social worker. I was quietly wishing to myself that I had indeed a couple more sets of hands because this task wasn’t the easiest on the best of days. Anyway I managed it with ten minutes to spare, I got everyone to where they should be with just enough time to get home and tidy up any aftermath of the morning before his social worker was due to arrive. Chris was still in a state, he couldn’t keep still, I was conscious not to take my eyes away from him for too long because he was on the edge and it didn’t take a genius to see that. I had just managed to make him a brew when I heard a ‘knock knock’ on the door.

I was relieved to see his social worker standing in front of me and promptly let her in, Chris at that moment in time was still standing in the kitchen. I showed her into the living room and told her to take a seat, she asked where Chris was and then asked how things had been. I told her to put it simply things had been a nightmare; I was very worried and didn’t know what on earth to say. Chris came walking in, shaking, and sat down on the sofa, his social worker went on to ask him how he was, what had been happening. It became very clear to her very quickly that Chris needed help, and asked if he would be admitted into hospital, she wasn’t happy to just leave him at home when she deemed the risks to be so high. Chris wouldn’t go to hospital, he refused, and he kind of agreed he could see that is where he needed to be but that wasn’t where he was going to willingly go. His social worker then make the decision after only being here about fifteen minutes, to get back to the office and speak with an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) for advice before she put in a referral for a Mental Health Act (MHA) assessment. She said she would be in contact with me shortly to let me know what was happening and spoke to Chris to make sure he was going to stay at the house and not wonder off anywhere.

Shortly after she left I was talking to Chris and realised he was about to take another tablet, as far as I was aware he had already had the maximum amount of tablets he is prescribed so anything more he was now taking was technically an overdose. He told me it was Haloperidol, I went to the safe where the medication is kept, and checked the box, there was far more missing than should be. It turned out he had taken six now by around half past ten, so I locked them up and put the key safely into my back pocket before texting his social worker to let her know. She replied to thank me for the information and she was just waiting to speak to an AMHP.

Meanwhile my health visitor showed up, I have a great relationship with her, she is very understanding and supportive and whatever is going on she makes sure to record. Chris was safely asleep after having three times the daily amount of Haloperidol he had been prescribed. It was nice to just sit down and chat to someone, get out my thoughts on what had been going on and she just listened, after all there isn’t that much more she can do. Before she was about to leave the phone began to ring, I went to answer it, it was the AMHP he asked what had been happening and decided we had reason to set up an assessment, after explaining how it all worked, he said he would ring me back when he had managed to set it up.

At eleven forty-five or there about, the telephone once again rang, I answered, it was the AMHP, he had set up the assessment and to my amazement it was for twelve forty, while he hadn’t managed to get our GP out because they were busy, the on call psychiatrist was actually Chris consultant and the section 12 doctor was the same one that had been involved in his previous assessment that led to his section at the beginning of the year. He said he would see us shortly; I thanked him and hung up the phone. I made my way up the stairs, casting my eyes out of the window to see the drizzly rain falling from the sky, I went to our bedroom where Chris lay asleep on the bed, and I tapped his shoulder gently and asked him to come downstairs. It took some convincing and I said he would be able to sleep on the sofa but eventually he made his way down the stairs and into the living room where he sat down, swung his legs around and lay his head on the soft cushions.myeye

Just after twelve thirty there was a knock on the door and to my surprise his social worker was standing there, I was confused for a moment until she said that some of them where here so they would come in but the section 12 doctor was on his way. I showed them through into the living room where they gathered on our corner sofa and the AHMP drew up a chair from the table.  His social worker offered me her seat which I politely declined. Chris had sat up and was uncontrollably rubbing and shaking his legs; he almost looked close to tears. His consultant started to ask a few questions while the AMHP went to our front door and showed the last of them into the living room. I sat down on the floor opposite Chris as they continued to discuss recent events, the conversation was bouncing back and forth, all the time Chris staring into my eyes. The conversation turned to me, I explained what had happened the past few days and the events that morning leading to where we were, I said I felt I had done everything I could but I could no longer keep him safe. The AMHP said that he had made a call to our home treatment team before they came out but that wouldn’t be an option because they ‘have no spaces left.’ I said we didn’t find them much help anyway, that they couldn’t usually provide the support Chris needed in these circumstances and his consultant agreed before turning to everyone and saying I think we need admission to hospital. They asked Chris if he would go of his own accord, to which he gave a firm no. The AMHP turned round to everyone and said ok then Chris we are going to detain you under section three of the mental health act, all the time making sure Chris was aware what was happening. I looked into his eyes, eyes that hadn’t moved from mine, I was really struggling to hold it together, in my head all I could say to him was ‘I am sorry’ not because I could carry on like this, not because I didn’t think this was for the best but because until you have been me you will never understand how truly difficult doing this to your partner is and you will never understand. His social worker just knew I wasn’t ok as I stared into the wooden grain on the floor, while everyone was filling in paperwork she turned round to me and said ‘are you ok Sarah?’ I simply said I was just tired and thankfully her phone rang.

The wait for a bed now began…


Author: acarerseyes

I am a mum to four gorgeous girls, and a carer to my former partner of eight years, Chris who has a mental illness, BPD. I blog my experiences.. life is tough! We live in Greater Manchester, UK.

2 thoughts on “Assessment under the Mental Health Act

  1. Much love:) I’m a carer to my partner who is also mentally ill, so I can empathise.

  2. ((hugs)), Sharon your strength really does amaze me, your love shines through and your love radiates, I am so sorry that things are such an uphill battle for you at the moment, all I can offer is my support, and to let you know that someone out here in the world wide web read your words toady and was totally touched and lost with how to reply.
    ((hugs)) stay strong honey, all my love Angel

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