Reaching a crisis point: how carers having your back can matter most

Marsha McAdam describes how appropriate support helped her to cope in a crisis

Marsha McAdam describes how appropriate support helped her to cope in a crisis

I recently went through a difficult time, which resulted in me emailing the manager of my care agency and cancelling my care package. I finished the email saying that the agency’s office staff, who know of my borderline personality disorder, had made my life unbearable.

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The next day I found myself calling Crisis Point in Manchester, and referred myself for help. I remember saying that I was falling into a big black hole and the member of staff said: ‘I’ve got you now’. I was so thankful hearing her say that.

I arrived at Crisis Point for my assessment in the hope I would be admitted for the initial three nights, with the possibility of extending this for a further seven nights if I showed I was using my time productively to work through my crisis.

Self punishment

On the first night of my stay, while trying to make a healthy meal with the support from a member of staff, I broke down, crying in pain and frustration. I was unable to stand up for the few minutes it took to prepare the food. A member of staff carried on preparing my meal, while I sat in the communal area. 

The next night I ordered a Chinese takeaway: first, because I didn’t want to bother the staff again, and second, because I wanted to harm myself by eating food impacting my type 2 diabetes, liver disease and the fibromyalgia.

'I want to thank all the staff at Crisis Point who made me realise that it is okay to be kind to myself'

During the initial assessment you set out what each of your daily one-to-one sessions will be tailored towards. My things to overcome were flashbacks, using food as a weapon to punish myself, and feelings of hopelessness about going through three domiciliary care agencies in three years after having arguments with managers.

These arguments have been about a number of issues: I have witnessed carers crying, being harassed by the office staff to take on extra calls and being penalised for calling in sick; and then having their zero contract hours reduced because they have called in sick. The carers only found out two days in advance whether they were due to work on Christmas day. With the last agency I was with, two of my named carers went off sick with long-term stress because of pressure from the office.

A cry for help

On the Friday before I was due to go home on the Monday, I called my care agency advising them that I was due home and wanted the care package to start again. Despite the local authority arranging for my care to restart, the care agency called back to say they could no longer meet my needs as I had sent an email cancelling the package the week before. When I had cancelled my care, it had been a cry for help, but the care agency had not recognised that – I was distraught as I was going home on the Monday with no care package in place.

Crisis Point helped me through the weekend and I left for home on the Monday feeling whole. It took three weeks for a new agency to start, and in that time, I lived on takeaways, which meant my blood sugar and personal care suffered.

I want to thank all the staff at Crisis Point, who made me realise that it is okay to be kind to myself, and all the people in Manchester who are working hard to address the shortfalls in home care.

About the author

Marsha McAdam is a service user and a member of the Mental Health Practice editorial advisory board


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