A Dundee mum has made a desperate cry for help after she was given a leaflet when she told mental health professionals she was suicidal.
Sam Jordan said she felt she faced a choice between self-harm and suicide but was “sent away” when she begged for help.
The 35-year-old from Linlathen visited Carseview, Dundee’s mental health unit, after hurting herself and asked to be committed but said she was then sent home with a leaflet about breathing techniques and a promise to increase her medication.
Now, the mother of five has opened up about her experience in a desperate bid for more help.
TRIGGER WARNING: This article discusses self-harm, suicidal thoughts and abuse.
Sam said when she harmed herself last weekend, she felt like it was a choice between that and suicide.
“The only thing that prevented me doing that was the thought of leaving my kids without their mum,” she said.
‘I am desperate’
“I am desperate for help because I am absolutely terrified that is what’s going to happen – that I am going to do something and I will no longer be around for them.”
After a difficult upbringing, Sam is now in a stable relationship with a supportive partner and dotes on her children, aged between two and 15.
But she is terrified her mental health issues may soon drive her to suicide.
Last weekend, Sam made several calls to ask for help before injuring herself.
Police visited her at home and the next day she attended Carseview.
She said: “I phoned NHS 24 three times and told them I was going to kill myself.
“At Carseview they said I had to stop doing these things, told me they would increase my medication and sent me away.
“I was then given a letter by a community psychiatric nurse.
“They have absolutely no idea.
“If someone is at that absolute point of crisis where they feel they want to end everything there is no way you are going to stop to read a leaflet that tells you to ‘take a breath’ and ‘see the bigger picture’ – two of the instructions.”
‘I want to smile again’
More than anything else, Sam said she simply wants to feel happy again.
“I want to laugh and smile again,” she said.
“I want to get my life back, I want the old me again.”
Sam believes her mental illness is a result of a traumatic childhood.
Growing up in the Hilltown, Sam explained she had led a chaotic life, surrounded by drug addiction.
“It was up to me to look after my younger brother, cook his tea and making sure he was clean and went to bed.”
“I would run away to my gran and tell her everything.
“She was the one person I could rely on and turn to for support and help but she died when I was 12.”
‘Heals the soul’
Sam used singing as an escape growing up and while at school she played the role of Fantine in Les Miserables when she was a part of Dundee Youth Theatre.
She has won numerous awards for singing, appeared on stage on several occasions and even performed in Germany and the US.
Sam said: “That’s the person I want back. Not this person who is terrified she is going to kill herself and leave her kids without their mum.
“I love music. I really believes it heals the soul but I am very far removed from that person right now.
“That was the one part of my young life that was really good and I’d love to feel like singing again. Right now I have no idea if that day will ever come back.”
Sam was offered a place studying musical performance at college but felt she couldn’t escape her dreadful childhood and was desperate to try to make up for it by creating what she hoped would be the perfect family of her own.
She said: “I craved attention, affection and love and wanted to have normal family relationships.”
But when her previous relationships broke down, Sam began to spiral.
“I was not in a safe, stable place at all and ended up turning to drugs and alcohol,” Sam added.
In 2013, aged 27, Sam tried to end her life.
Since then she has been on medication for depression and anxiety but admits she has, on occasion, also continued to use drugs and alcohol “on and off”.
‘Not getting the help I need’
Last weekend things reached boiling point and that was when she ended up in Carseview.
She said: “I’m not getting the support and help I need. I got to speak to a psychiatrist on the phone but I have never spoken to anyone face to face.
“I’ve been waiting to see a psychologist for two years. I just don’t know where to turn next.
“I have beautiful children and want to be here for them and make a happy home for them. I’m begging for help to do that.
“I’m speaking out of desperation because I don’t know what else to do.
“I don’t know how else I’m going to get the help and support I need to turn my life around.”
Sam has echoed calls for a dedicated self-referral crisis centre in Dundee.
Proposals for a centre of this kind are under review.
Sam said: “For people like me, living with a daily fear that they could do something terrible to themselves, that would be a lifeline.
“For me it needs to happen quickly though.”
A spokesperson for Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership said they cannot discuss individual cases due to patient confidentiality.
“All patients experiencing a mental health issue are clinically assessed and appropriate treatment is provided based on their needs,” they said.
“Many people experiencing mental health problems have a history of adverse events in childhood or as adults. An initial period of work is often necessary before more intensive treatments, such as psychological therapy can be introduced. A range of staff are available to offer this help.
“We would encourage anyone who is waiting for a particular treatment who considers their situation to be worsening to contact their current service and supports directly to discuss this.
“Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership is committed to continuing to work towards developing a range of support for people who are experiencing mental ill health.”
A spokesperson for NHS Tayside added: “Due to patient confidentiality we cannot comment on individual cases.
“Patients attending Carseview experiencing a mental health crisis are clinically assessed. Care and treatment options are provided based on assessed need.”