A lot has happened since my last post, so I will try to update things without making it too long winded.
Firsts- they have a great significance in all our lives, our first kiss, our first childhood memories, the first steps your children walk. First anniversaries of someone passing away, their funeral etc is no different, however what is different is the fact that it doesn’t become less significant as time goes past. That day, 9th October, will forever be etched in my mind from waking up to when I was eventually let back into my house. You see it’s not the fact that it’s the first anniversary, it’s the significance of that day and the memories it holds. Someone recently said to me ‘ it’s been a year, when are you ever going to move on’. Harsh I know, but probably what a lot of people think. Who really has the right to tell you that something that so profoundly affected every inch of your life should just be wiped out or the effects of it lessened just because you survived the first year. I chose that word survive for a reason, because when someone you love decides to take their own life, all you do for a very,very long time is survive. Sometimes, that very survival is enough. It may not be enough to some people, but they are not living your truth, so they have absolutely no right to pass judgment or dictate to you how you should manage your feelings, your survival or any aspect of your grief. Grief is different for everyone.
Following Dave’s #Inquest, a #Regulation28 was issued, and the responses from the relevant Health Authorities are now published on the #ChiefCoroner’s web site. I’m pleased that the missed opportunities to save his life and to listen to his family have been acknowledged, along with other items such as lack of communication and the sheer amount of agencies involved in his care have been given the relevant focus. Dave’s case will form #mandatory learning for #BirminghamandSolihullTrust, regardless of the team or rank of all employees. The focus will be on recognising the accumulative effects of mental health and suicide prevention. I would say that in fact, his case needs to be mandatory for all #NHS Trusts, because the effect of the ‘bigger picture’ of someone’s mental health is an important and prevalent case for all mental health, but particularly those members of society with #service #attributed mental health issues (#PTSD). You see Dave was very good in covering up his #mentalhealth for short periods of time, especially if he didn’t trust the person or know them. So, if I wasn’t present for a consultation, he would skim over the actual facts and just say ‘yes, everything is fine’. He used to joke that if they really wanted to know the truth, they should ask me or have me present because he couldn’t lie then. I also found that people would take this 10 minute ‘snap-shot’ and tick the box saying they had completed their assessment and everything was fine that day, but it is vitally important that the whole picture is looked at. #Mentalhealth isn’t just present for 10 minutes in a day. When you see the effects of the peaks and troughs and realise that overall, the 10 minute ‘snap-shot’ was actually all there was in that day, it might help to case a different picture over someone’s capability to make rational and reasonable decisions. The links to the responses are at the bottom of the screen.
I recently started a campaign to have all those who die from service attributed deaths to be formally recognised by the #MOD and have their name entered onto the #RollOfHonour and the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Arboretum. Dave and all the other men and women like him died due to their service, they brought the battle home with them and they continued to fight it long after the battleground had psychically closed. I think in some ways, Dave would have preferred to have died on the battle ground as half of his battle was the guilt attributed to surviving when so many of his friends didn’t, he didn’t think he should be worthy of living compared to them, he somehow thought of himself as a lesser person, less worthy to live. He used to always say dying didn’t scare him, that everyone had a bullet with their name written on it somewhere and that no matter how hard he tried to find that bullet, it never found him. His death is recognised by two different MOD Medical examiners that his death was attributed to service, therefore he has as much right, as do all the others, to have his service and sacrifice recognosied in the same manner as his comrades. If there truly is no stigma, no shame in saying it’s nothing to be ashamed about to have a mental health condition, then honouring those who have died through #PTSD is absolutely the right thing to do. We are not doing them a favour, it is what they are entitled to,and if you know anyone with #PTSD you will know how much of a struggle it is to live with and to survive each day. By honouring those who have died, we are honouring the service and sacrifice of them all.