Over the past couple of weeks I couldn't help but wonder what is happening to the people of this little nation of ours?
Not a day goes by, it seems, that we can't turn on our radios in the morning, or sleepily scroll down our twitter pages, without hearing some dreadful news. A stabbing here, a death by drug-overdose there or an accidental death somewhere else.
The most disturbing news of all was the deaths of two children, with both their mothers found in serious conditions nearby. Both incidents occurring mere weeks, yet miles, apart and while the full facts of both cases are not yet known, the mind boggles at how this can be.
What is happening here, in this little nation steeped in austerity measures, with approx 450,000 unemployed and no apparent end in sight?
A nation in economic recession and depression?
Or maybe that's the answer, right there and what we're seeing is the desperation of a nation?
I know that these occurrences are always evident in a society but they definitely increase in difficult times with increased burglaries, murders and suicides.
People and families surviving on Social Welfare, or the working poor who are being taxed to the hilt with more austere cuts and tax increases to follow.
And all to save our banks and to keep opportune and unsecured bondholders free from any risk whatsoever.
People are at risk though and they get desperate. And react accordingly.
Maybe they have no-one to turn to? There is most definitely a lack of services, that's for sure.
Recently we, as a nation, totally supported those with Disabilities who took to the streets to fight against the proposed cuts to their services. They were successful in this, despite some cock and bull from the Minister saying these cuts were never going to happen in the first place!
The savings that these-cuts-that-were-never-going-to-be would generate will now have to be found elsewhere in the health budget we're told, with the area of Mental Health being the most likely target.
Perhaps that will also prove to be a figment of our collective imaginations, who knows?
But it makes sense doesn't it? Reducing the already poor Mental Health services in a country which seems to be struggling emotionally.
Mental Health services haven't changed much over the years, including the Celtic Tiger era when the funds were more likely to be available.
No-one should ever under-estimate how a person with mental illness will behave, no matter how sweet and gentle their normal personality can be. Especially when they are in crisis with no-one to help and no services to rely on.
Especially at the weekend.
And no-one should presume that you can just ring for an ambulance for a mentally ill patient and have them transported forthwith to the nearest hospital. Perhaps that might work for a heart attack or car-accident patient but not so for a psychiatric one. Referral from a GP and prior acceptance from the relevant hospital must be obtained first, if there's a bed available. You have no idea how long this process can take.
Especially at weekends.
There's no psychiatric equivalent of an A & E you see and you'll find that the medically ill patient won't usually require a Garda escort either. Of course if the patient refuses to get into the ambulance then that's the end of that.
The patient should re-schedule their nervous breakdown for a more convenient time, thank you very much.
Preferably not on a weekend.
Perhaps the patient might be good enough to stall their mental breakdown until the next available community clinic, a week hence?
And if the mentally ill patient should also have the audacity to present with a co-morbid (most likely - but not always - psychiatrically related) then and only then, can you order an ambulance and get thee hence to the nearest acute hospital, which of course will not be co-located with a psychiatric one . There will be psychiatric services available though. Eventually.
As I've written before, I would rather have broken bones than a broken mind in this country.
Especially at weekends.
So, what can we do?
Over the weekend I noticed a little group of mothers in the facebook community I'm part of, banding together and sharing phone numbers. No one should ever feel they have no-one to talk to, they reason. There will always be someone online for them.
Especially at weekends, I hope.
We cannot manifest official full weekend services nor can we sprout 'pop-up' co-located hospitals overnight, but we can come together to help and keep an eye out for each other, online or in our local communities.
I thought that was such a positive and practical move by these fabulous facebook ladies.
Yet for some inexplicable reason it also made me feel a little sad.
Possibly because it's born out of necessity, a sense of if we don't help ourselves who will?
Not our Government and certainly not Angela Merkel who's of the illusion that Ireland 'is on a good path.'
However, Governments and delusional Troikas aside, we should try to collectively remain positive and restore our community values.
And mind ourselves.
PS: Normal upbeat services will resume shortly!