This week’s post is by Sarah Gordon, a research fellow in psychological medicine in New Zealand. She also founded the International Association of Service User Academia. This is a speech she delivered at a memorial service for families bereaved by suicide:
Approximately six years ago, a 34-year old woman killed herself. But the paramedics managed to revive her. Waking up from a coma two days later and being assessed as having no long-term mental or physical injury as a result of the suicide attempt, the woman was discharged from the intensive care unit to a psychiatric unit. After two months with this service, the woman asked to be discharged. She felt that this request was quite reasonable: Her immediate acute mental illness symptoms had been addressed.
The psychiatrist refused to entertain any notion of discharge at this time, her reason being that the woman was not in relationship with anyone or anything. You see, she argued, being in relationship with people is absolutely fundamental to living well. So that is what the woman spent the remainder of her time with the unit, a further five months, doing: working on re-learning and practicing being in relationship with herself, her family, her friends and her community.
And what is she doing now? Actively engaging in her roles as a mother and wife, working, dancing, writing, holidaying and shopping _ something which I particularly enjoy.