Monday, 30 January 2012

(Lack of) professionalism of police.

I wrote here about how unprofessional doctors can be when it comes to dealing with the mentally ill, so I suppose this is sort of the second in the series. Let me just give you a bit of boring background, pleeeease. Under the Mental Health Act (that's the bit of law that allows for mentally ill people to be forcibly detained, 'sectioned', in a hospital or whatever), there's a section, Section 136, where the police can take a mentally ill person to a place of safety and can hold them for up to 72 hours. I can't even count the amount of Section 136s I have had, but almost all have been pretty uniform experiences. In fact, that's maybe why I don't remember them, I suppose you don't take a lot of notice of the relatively mundane, not when there's so much that's brilliant and amazing and beautiful and terrible and painful and shocking out there, but yanno, it's a bit shitty, to put it bluntly, that the experiences I've had don't count as terrible and painful and shocking, really.

SO, this is a list of some of the EVER-SO-SLIGHTLY unprofessional things that have been said to/about me by the police. These are the things that appear on no notes and you won't find them taught as examples in training. This isn't even a comprehensive list because after an episode it's really, really hard to remember it as anything less than a bad dream. I think, really, that that makes these so much the worse- the fact that I DO remember them being said:

-You're an attention-seeking, spoilt brat.
-I have a ten year old Autistic son who behaves better than you.
-Time waster (that's been said in a million different ways, by a million different police officers, but I'll just use this to sum up the various forms. Much like idiot/moron/childish).
-Cut off her bracelets, see how quickly she calms down when we start cutting her shit.
-If she keeps trying to move, tighten the restraints. She won't move if she's in pain or her circulation is being cut off.
-Just drag her by the handcuffs, you can lift her by them pretty easily.
-You need the toilet? Fine, do it there. You can lie in your own shit.

And my personal favourite:
-If you don't shut the fuck up, I'll use the taser.

I also have loads of almost screen-shot memories of being shouted at, at them getting their head down to my level and shouting at me, about what an idiot I am or whatever. But anyway, just so you don't think I'm taking things out of context, there's two things you need to know. One is what I've done that has ended up with me sectioned in a cell, and the other is the way I was treated on Saturday night, which was the last time I was held under a 136.

My anxiety attacks aren't your standard anxiety attacks. I'm a headbanger. When I'm really anxious, and this happens especially when I feel trapped for whatever reason (like when I'm in hospital) and, I'll be honest, when I've drank too much, I seek out any hard surface I can find and bang my head repeatedly. If that seems a funny image, that's absolutely fine- just know that in the moment, it's really horrific. Then, when I'm being restrained because of it, I feel even more trapped and that makes me need to bang my head EVEN MORE. See the issue here? Gold star, hahahaha. And that's the position the police usually find me in. The drink isn't always a feature, there have been a couple where I've lost myself and got 136'd when I've been sober, but generally the sober incidents happen in the sanctuary of my own room, and are unnoticed, as opposed to drunken episodes. But I'll be trying all I can to find anything I can hit my head on, fighting them with all I am, usually crying, and completely unreachable.

The violence usually shown to me by the police, and I usually walk out absolutely black and blue from where they've smacked and pushed me, dragged me about and thrown me down by velcro restraints, and even sat on me, is contrasted completely by the way I was treated on Saturday. I think I'm probably going to write to Essex police because the men who looked after me were so lovely, they genuinely did look after me. I'm bruised, the tops of my arms have bruises from the holding me down and me struggling, but that's to be expected- they had to stop me hurting myself, and they did. Usually (it makes me sad that it's happened so many times that I can even say 'usually'), the police use the excuse of protecting me to unleash any anger or frustration they have, often chastising me for how this shouldn't be part of their job, as if I begged them to throw me around. So you see by this, it is not at all necessary to treat me so awfully, when I'm in their 'care'- the officers on Saturday didn't need to, the ones in the past should have never needed to, yet they did. No need for the physical and vocal attacks; it's not professional and it's not acceptable to treat a person with so little respect, mental health issues or not.

There's something a bit more scary about the lack of professionalism of police, than the lack of doctors. Or no, not more scary... just scary in a different way. When it's a doctor, they're often dismissing of mental health, they'd rather be treating those they see with 'real' problems, or ones that aren't deemed self-inflicted. When it's a police officer, it's because they'd rather be catching baddies, off being heroes or whatever. When it's a doctor, they're a member of the freakishly clever elite and usually are a bit, well... a bit socially inept. Or just separate, if I'm being more fair; held as somewhat above the rest of us. The scary thing about the police though, is that they're not. The police are more representative of the general public in terms of gender, age, family background, education, socio-economics... probably most demographics are better found in the police, than the medics. The police are you and me (although probably less me, given the attitude to mental health). And they have more leeway to commit atrocities- doctors can be rude, offensive and tactless, but the police can be physically abusive. The police are in a better position to unleash whatever they, or maybe even you, as a member of the public, think about mental health.

We are not seeking attention, spoilt, nor brattish. Not badly behaved, trying to waste your time, idiotic, moronic nor childish. We do not deserve to be hurt, nor to have our things broken or cut. And we sure as hell don't deserve to lay in our own shit nor be bloody tasered. Chances are, all you want to do to us, we want to do worse, or we have done worse, to ourselves. Whatever you hurt us with, we have been through twenty times worse, stuck with our demons. We do not deserve to be treated any less than anybody else. We don't want special treatment, we just want to be allowed to live like anybody else. We are ill and that is all.

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