Do you remember the first pandemic film? Not the 2007 Will Smith version the original Omega Man, Charlton Heston (candidly the original was with Vincent Price, but I didn’t see that one), who is the only human left in the world following an epidemic. The rest of humanity were either turned into zombies or had been eaten. – Let us hope a new variant strain of Covid doesn’t result in those effects. – So, there is the opening sequence when he takes a ride through a deserted New York, and if you get up early you can run through your town or city and feel the same consciousness. It is a fun game, I used to play on my Sunday morning paper around, in 1971.
Sadly we then have to return home to perhaps, the reality of self isolation. That might be a continuation of the Omega Man’s life, alone in a small flat lost in the vast expanse of loneliness. Or maybe into bedlam. Children climbing up the walls of your home for lack of somewhere else to expend their energy. It might be the stress of someone with learning difficulties having a much harder time coming to terms with the new reality than we are. A partner who was found the solution to mounting family concerns, in a bottle.
If your home environment is less than harmonious, the following are sources of help for yourself or others.
Are you in a crisis now?
- Go to your local A&E department. Despite Covid it is likely to be far safer to go for help, then the consequences of allowing the problem to build up.
- Ask for an emergency GP appointment. Currently, these are often done over the phone so you can still get the help without having a concern of visiting your surgery.
- Call NHS 111, or NHS direct on 0845 4647 in Wales. These services are not just taking calls about Covid, they are still available for your other medical concerns.
- Contact your local crisis team (CRHT) if you’re under their care.
Is it a crisis you’re having?
We might feel reluctant to bother someone, we might feel is just not that important. If you are feeling some of these symptoms -suicidal thoughts, self-harm, panic attacks, flashbacks, mania or psychosis such as hearing voices- then call someone now.
If you’re still uncertain, or reluctant to call NHS staff, hard pressed in this corona virus crisis, try instead contacting a listening service.
What is a listening service?
Many national and local organisations run helplines can call. Talking to one of their trained listeners can give you support and help you make sense of what is happening to you. By letting you talk through your feelings without judging you or telling you what to do, they will let you talk about your problems for as long as you need.
Is there anything I should do before I call?
- First check what time is it that they are open.
- Check it’s free to call or if there is a cost attached to the code your calling.
- Is what you say confidential.
- What would you do if the line is busy. It’s worth having a plan to call later or have a different service as a backup.
- If you’re not sure, always ask the advisor at the beginning of the call to clarify any queries you have.
Who can I contact?
- To talk about anything that is upsetting you, you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone), email email@example.com or visit some branches in person. You can also call the Welsh Language Line on 0300 123 3011 (7pm–11pm every day).
- If you’re experiencing a mental health problem or supporting someone else, you can call SANEline on 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm–10.30pm every day).
- If you’re under 25, you can call The Mix on 0808 808 4994 (Sunday-Friday 2pm–11pm), request support by email using this form on The Mix website or use their crisis text messenger service.
- If you’re under 35 and struggling with suicidal feelings, or concerned about a young person who might be struggling, you can call Papyrus HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141 (weekdays 10am-10pm, weekends 2pm-10pm and bank holidays 2pm–10pm), email firstname.lastname@example.org or text 07786 209 697.
- If you identify as male, you can call the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) on 0800 58 58 58 (5pm–midnight every day) or use their webchat service.
- If you’re a student, you can look on the Nightline website to see if your university or college offers a night-time listening service. Nightline phone operators are all students too.
- If you identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you can call Switchboard on 0300 330 0630 (10am–10pm every day), email email@example.com or use their webchat service. Phone operators all identify as LGBT+.
- If you live in Wales, you can call the Community Advice and Listening Line (C.A.L.L.) on 0800 132 737 (open 24/7) or you can text ‘help’ followed by a question to 81066.
- For more options, visit the Helplines Partnership website for a comprehensive directory of UK helplines. Mind’s Infoline can also help you find services that can support you. “Once a girl actually answered the phone and kept me talking through my thoughts and suicidal feelings for almost three hours! To her I shall be eternally grateful!”
What if you can’t talk on the phone?
- If you have difficulty hearing or speaking, it might help to use the Next Generation Text Service (NGTS) Typetalk/Text Relay app on a mobile device or computer.
- If you need a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter, you could ask appa me Ltd 0330 9999 111
You feel okay today, but can you plan for a crisis tomorrow?
- Planning for something that might not happen might not seem like the best idea, but it could help you think about what you might do if you felt vulnerable in the future.
You could explore possible options for support if things were to get difficult. Then you would have the information ready when you need it. Talk to your GP about treatment and support that could be made available. Make a list of the listening services available, how to contact them and when there open, write it down so you have it at hand. Talk to people who have had similar experiences they could help you find out about different services that might be useful.
Make informal plans with friends or family. Talk to people close to you and let them know how you would prefer to manage crisis. Write down what you said, so everyone remembers. This could include how they might spot the signs of a crisis, how you would like them to help you, who they could contact and what treatment you would prefer.
Thank you to mind.org.uk for providing this useful information. For a more comprehensive guide read their full information sheet. https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/2897/crisis-services-2018.pdf
It’s important to remember what the Omega Man discovered, that beyond all the zombies and the terrors, there are people that you can talk to. If you’re feeling bad call someone. If you’re feeling good, call someone, and listen to them.