In September 2018 I was detained under S136 of the Mental Health Act, and taken to the Place of Safety (S136) suite at The Cedars in Exeter. After my initial assessment, over the next 24 hours Devon Partnership Trust spent every minute trying to find me a bed in a mental health inpatient unit to keep me safe and help me begin my road to recovery. Eventually a bed was found on Moorland View ward at North Devon District Hospital. I spent 3 weeks there before being discharged to continue my recovery in the community. I remain a service user and patient under DPT's care, and the fact that I am writing this is a testament to the work DPT have done to keep me safe and well.
The NHS is struggling. DPT's resources are so stretched that following a suicide attempt in July 2018, they were unable to allocate me a care coordinator until October 2018. It took me to breaking point and an inpatient admission to be able to access the help I so desperately needed. I was told that if I went on overnight leave when I was feeling better, there was no guarantee my bed would be available upon my return. At one point, it looked like I would have to be sent over 300 miles away to a hospital in Harrogate, before the bed at NDDH became available.
Whilst in hospital, I received excellent care in a nurturing and supportive environment where I was able to make the first steps in my recovery and set me up for my continued recovery upon discharge. I continue to be a DPT service user and they continue to support me and look after me.
But there are thousands of people out there who DPT are unable to help because their resources are stretched beyond recognition. It should never take someone to be on the precipice of suicide to be able to access the help they so acutely need. By being a charity in addition to the NHS side, DPT are able to provide more services and help to more people. They are able to provide complementary services such as employment support, complementary therapies and recovery sessions across the county.
My love of open water and wild swimming has contributed significantly to my mental health recovery, and it seems only fitting that I challenge myself to not one, but two beautiful moorland swims to give back to the Trust who saved my life.
The Twin Moor Swims take place in 2019 in Roadford Lake, Dartmoor (July 16th) and Wimbleball Lake, Exmoor (September 29th). I have only ever done a 1km open water swim, so two 2km swims, in skins (no wetsuit!) will be a great personal challenge for me.
The charity is registered as Devon Partnership NHS Trust Special Charity and gives hope and support to those with mental health and learning disability needs across Devon and nationally. Our charity raises funds to make a difference to the people we care for and provides a platform which encourages recovery, well-being and draws closer links to the community.