I'm supposed to be writing an essay about human rights law, but I've had to stop because it was pissing me off too much to write about how prisoners should be treated so well, by law. Not that I have anything against treating prisoners well, but tell me where the clause is about treatment of the mentally ill?
On Saturday night, I was dragged into an ambulance by several policemen, paramedics, security staff... to an audience of other students at my university, quite literally shouting and screaming. I had my wrists and ankles cuffed and my knees and shins restrained, with long straps of velcro. I was taken to the nearest hospital, where I spent a good six or seven hours completely terrified and utterly confused as to why I was there, shouting, screaming, writhing, begging for release. Being dragged by the cuffs and restraints, every time I tried to move. Being forced onto my back, then my front, then my back, lifted by the cuffs or straps- whichever suited the six police officers who were holding me in a room that was empty but for me, them, my boyfriend and a bare mattress.
I know you don't believe I did nothing wrong. Or maybe you don't believe quite how bad it was. Maybe you think that the fact that I'll openly admit how hard I fought shows that I needed to be restrained. I've been told that I smacked one paramedic and attempted to bite another; so now maybe you think I'm lucky that I didn't get taken to the police station instead of the hospital. So how about I tell you the story from my point of view, and you try to imagine you're a twenty year old with mental health problems, just trying to be a normal student?
Actually, you know what? I'm not even going to go into it. Because the point stands, whatever I say- if I'd have been arrested, they couldn't have treated me so roughly. But because the police were acting on their power to remove 'a mentally ill person from a public place to a place of safety' (Section 136), I was fair game. But I wasn't safe, I was less safe with them- my entire body is now covered in bruises and cuts from the fight and I ache. God, I ache. And all I remember mentally, is the absolute fear of being held and not knowing what was going to happen or when I'd be free. Every time I asked why I was there, they told me they'd told me previously and that I was proving that I wasn't safe to be free.
But who gets that choice? Who makes that choice?