If you are feeling unsafe and/or are having thoughts or plans to seriously harm yourself, or take your own life, then it is really important that you get the help you need and deserve right now.
A mental health emergency is as serious as any medical emergency.
Unlike in a physical emergency, it is common for people in mental health crisis to mistakenly believe we don't deserve support.
Or, to blame ourselves for something that is not our fault.
This makes us even more vulnerable than people who are having a physical emergency.
What to do right now if you're having a mental health emergency / are in crisis
A mental health emergency is as serious as a medical emergency. If you or someone you know feels immediately unsafe, at risk of taking your own life or of seriously self harming, then call 999.
If you can get to A&E safely, go there immediately and tell them how you are feeling. Tell them what sort of thoughts you've been having and how long they have been going on.
They can get someone from the mental health team to come and see you. From there you will be on course to receive the specialist mental health support you may need. This may be a referral to a crisis team, respite house, hospital, or psychiatry for assessment and diagnosis. Similarly, you can call the GP and ask for an emergency appointment, stating you are in crisis.
Keep your phone with you and contact someone you trust and tell them how you are feeling and ask them to help you get help, try not to be alone and ask a person you trust to be with you, or to stay on the phone with you.
You may feel like a burden for doing this or guilty - I did - but, trust me, you are not. And,
they would rather you tell them so that they can help you, than you act on how you feel.
If you can safely get to them then do so.
If you can't get to A&E or call 999, and aren't able to contact somebody you know, then prioritise keeping yourself safe until you can. Do whatever works for you to get through the moment and try - as hard as it is - to show compassion to yourself. You are doing the best you can and this is not your fault. What you are going through is hell, but you can and will get through it.
Safety / WRAP plan - if you have one, refer to it.
Medication: If you have medication prescribed which might help, then take the dose prescribed - this can really help and it is what it is there for.
Mental health team: if you are under a mental health team or crisis team - contact them; you deserve support.
Distraction: put on a familiar, light TV show/audio-book, colouring/drawing.
Self-comfort: This is not your fault. You may feel like it, but it isn't.
You are not a burden. You may feel like you are, but you are not.
Grounding: This aims to shift focus from your mind into the present.
Grounding tends to focus on using the 5 senses: things you can see, touch, taste, smell, or hear.
Look around for things which are a certain colour, or shape, or beginning with a certain letter.
Try the 5,4,3,2,1 technique; name 5 things you can see around you, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste.
Some people find concentrating on breathing helpful. I would avoid this if you have a history of trauma,
but it is something to work on when not in crisis, which can help.
Avoidance: Sleep. Sleep can be the best gift in the world, if you are able to sleep.
Alcohol or drugs can be tempting, because you want to stop feeling this way.
but they make it more difficult to regulate emotions, increase anxiety, and lower mood further.
Processing: Write down how you are feeling.
Planning: Plan something nice in the future to look forward to; this might be something to do this week,
but sometimes longer term is easier - e.g., the idea of traveling or doing something that you
have had joy from in the past, and will do again.
You can find the nearest crisis support service to you by clicking on the button below and entering your location.
Samaritans has a free to call service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, if you want to talk to someone in confidence about how you are feeling. Call them on 116 123
Your brain feels threatened and is trying to escape.
It's trying to help and doing its best, but doesn't realise there are other options.
There are always other options.
Tell yourself you are safe. Keep telling yourself "I am safe".
Tell yourself you are doing the best you can. If you weren't, you wouldn't be reading this.
If someone you cared about felt like this, what would you say to them to comfort them?
Try to imagine saying this to yourself, perhaps to a younger version of yourself.
Try a bath for its warmth, or putting on something comfortable and get into bed. I would wrap myself in a duvet to help feel safe. Make the lighting more comfortable. Whatever works for you.
This will pass.
Note for people who have faced barriers accessing services
If any healthcare professional cites "having capacity", or suggests that you hurting yourself or ending your life "is your choice", "up to you" or "your decision", please know they are wrong, and they shouldn't be in this position of power. I promise there are good ones out there and it is worth finding them.
The mental health act overrides the mental capacity act.
This means that if you are not safe because of your mental health, then they need to give you support.
That is their professional duty.
People can be scared of the mental health act - just to clarify, this doesn't mean that you need to have a 'section'.
What it does mean is that professionals need to work with you to help you stay safe.
What is happening right now is nothing to do with the mental capacity act.