An Open Letter to Arlene Foster

The following letter was penned in response to Arlene Foster’s recent self congratulatory tweet naming a number of services in Northern Ireland, including Mental Health Services.

Dear Ms Foster

Although some years ago I was facing regular battles with your Health Ministers, you will not know who I am.

My story will not concern you, as I am not a DUP voter, and I do not uphold a conservative “lifestyle”. I am instead a bisexual single mother whose daughter was born out of wedlock. However, I do not see that these factors justify me being left to die while on a two year waiting list for a long overdue treatment for a mental illness that has gone undiagnosed for several years due to mental health services that aren’t fit for purpose, and haven’t been for some time.

The treatment I am referring to is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). This is the main treatment for an illness known as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD).

This illness has plagued me for some years, and unfortunately became unmanageable once more following the birth of my daughter in February of this year. I have regrettably used countless police hours, sitting in A&E departments under police escort. It strikes me, not for the first time, that the police are not equipped for such matters. So why, pray tell, have they been of more help for me than the few mental health services (exclusively short term crisis services) that are still functional?

I refuse to place the blame on the shoulders of hard working NHS staff, who are doing their utmost to support people who are silently suffering whilst politicians largely continue to ignore the plight of their constituents, the very people who give them a job, and ultimately pay their wages. I’m sure if I were to ask you where the blame lies, you would simply name another political party in an effort to pass the buck and deflect responsibility, so I shan’t bother, given that a Green and Orange tit-for-tat debate will not improve my health, or get me appropriate treatment any quicker.

I suppose that raises the question of why I am writing this? The truth is, I’m not sure. I highly doubt I will receive a response. I doubt suicide rates will decline. And I’m almost certain that if I were to receive a response, it would be a copy and paste job, consisting solely of figures that are meaningless to those unable to access treatment for their mental health, and again, passing the buck.

I guess I’m simply writing to make you aware of what is happening in the real world, amongst those of us who cannot afford private treatment, who are doing their best to get to the end of the day without killing themselves, let alone trying to look after their families while social workers tell us we’re not doing good enough, and that we aren’t cooperating simply because we can’t feasibly access services to help us avoid further nervous breakdowns and suicide attempts.

I hope that this letter has been enlightening for you. Know that in doing nothing to improve matters in response to this confrontation, you will be contributing to the rising death toll in Northern Ireland.

Yours Sincerely

Megan Potts