I don’t talk about my childhood much. Partly because I don’t want to upset my readers, but also because it is not my story alone to tell. The people who did so much harm to me as a child also caused harm to others that I love immensely. A sad part of my life is that as a result of the harm done to me, I made choices in my life that hurt those people I loved. I don’t blame myself, but I also haven’t quite reach the point where I can release myself from the sense that I need to make reparations.
Something that I think is really important to talk about however, is the way I was failed by professionals who very well could have turned my life around. I am happy with my life now, but I do wonder what it might have looked like had I not been left to drown by a service that was meant to be my saviour. That service was the UK’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
The worst part isn’t even that they ignored my mother’s pleas to assess me for autism. It’s not the time that they tried to put me on Ritalin after a five minute conversation. It’s the way they were nearly complicit in my surrender to the suffering that I experienced. I’m a suicide survivor, and CAMHS didn’t care.
I came to them, beaten and bruised, I laid before them my trauma, my pain, my isolation, my disdain for every aspect of myself. I told them that I couldn’t cope, that I was scared to wake up each day. I told them things about my past that I can’t bring myself to say publicly, even to this day. I was met with silence. Cold, uncaring silence. They did nothing. They labelled me a school refuser. They still refused to assess me for autism.
Is it any wonder then that I found solace in the steel trap of drugs and alcohol? What can one do in the face of unending suffering than desperately scramble to drown out the noise. The noise was inescapable. The voices in my head would scream at me daily. I was paranoid and distrustful of everyone, even those that I loved dearly. CAMHS allowed my psychological wellbeing to deteriorate to the point that I could no longer cope with existing. I resigned myself to an early grave.
Some might ask why this is relevant, I am a man in his thirties, surely this was a long time ago?
This is still happening. Everyday, thousands upon thousands of families are forced to watch on as CAMHS allow their children to suffer. If you want to know why so many Autistic people die by suicide, start by taking a look at this (dis)service. CAMHS are complicit in an untold number of deaths. Each data point in those statistics represents a story untold. A future unrealised. With each child lost by the negligence of those meant to help them, our future becomes a little bit darker.
I am happy today, but it hurts. It hurts to know that my child and millions like them do not have this service in a good working order should they need it. I want a world that protects my child and seeks to heal wounds and change worlds. It’s the least they can do for our precious children.
My name is David, and I’m a CAMHS survivor.
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