London Metropolitan Police,
The Police Station,
Dear Officers, Sergeants and Constables,
Prior to moving to London I had never been in a police car, I had never been in an ambulance, nor a police van. I moved to London 5 years ago now. Now though, I have lost count of how many times I’ve been in emergency vehicles. Now though, the local police station have a file on me. Now though, they know my face and name; we have a history.
One way that could be read into is that perhaps I may have gotten involved in criminal behaviour. It could be drugs maybe, if you took into consideration that I moved to London for university. Maybe I just like to cause trouble? However, none of these are true. The truth is, my numerous trips in emergency vehicles have been a result of my being unwell: mentally unwell.
I have had to face up to a lot of difficulties, and I understand that not everyone can fully empathise, or even begin to imagine what life is and has been like for me. I understand the difficulty in understanding something so far from an average reality, and normal experiences: the feelings of being unreal, the voices commanding and screaming at me that no-one else can hear, the unusual behaviour, uncomfortable words and challenging character that my mental illness brings out in me. It must be hard, and sometimes quite shocking, but this can be frustrating for me.
I frustrate myself with being unwell. My behaviour sometimes scares me, but most of all it irritates me. I often wish, more than anything else, that I didn’t have to spend so much of my life enduring and navigating mental unwellness. This is why I really appreciate your approach to me so far, from the individuals who have taken the time to help me, and the force as a whole who have been very supportive during crisis interventions. I mean that: no irony – I am not about to go on an angry ironic rant.
I feel guilty for each time you’ve used helicopters, vans and police dogs to find me and transport me. I feel bad for giving you more paper work to fill and file. I feel bad for taking up so much of your time, and even though I know very deep within myself that I can’t help it because I am unwell, I feel a pang of guilt for each time that someone went without help because I was having a crisis. None of your officers though have ever made me feel this way though. They have always been kind, considerate, and re-assuring. They have also been supportive to my partner during these difficult situations, which I can only thank you more for. So this is a letter of ‘Thank You’.
Thank You for every time an officer took the time to talk with me, in the car, the waiting room, or my home. Thank You for protecting me when I was vulnerable and unknowing to that fact. Thank You for being gentle, kind and empathetic to something – that from the look on your face – you find a little uncomfortable, concerning or shocking. Thank You for not shouting at me, or scaring me, or making any mental health crisis you have been involved in even more traumatic.
Finally, Thank You for making me laugh in a shit situation, but mostly for helping to keep me safe.
About the series, ‘Letters: Everything I Couldn’t Say’