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I Owe the NHS My Life

30/03/2016 16:48 | Updated 30 March 2016

It's too easy to dwell on the past and bemoan the mistakes, missteps and muddy paths trod. It's easy fantasise about the 'what ifs, buts and maybes'. It's easy to blame others for the stumbles, stutters and strains. It's easy to cry out at the world for its injustice and unfairness. It's easy to fester and allow bitterness to creep its putrid hand around your heart so your life no longer beats with love but loathing. It's easy hate.

There is another way though.

I am ill. I am mentally ill. I am always walking the tightrope of depression where a misstep could lead to self harm or, worse, suicide. That tightrope though has been made much wider because of the NHS. With the wonder of the NHS I do not walk a path where I cry out in hate but smile in gratitude. Depression always tries to steer the rudder toward storms but the NHS has helped me steer my mind toward positivity. It's not easy to walk the path of optimism but it's enlightening to do it and the NHS has enabled me to do that.

We can get so bogged down by the media's depiction of the NHS and the bureaucracy that plagues it we forget the beauty of this wonderful National Health Service. I don't go for overt acts of patriotism because it feels hijacked by the likes of morons from Britain First but I am immensely proud, as a British citizen, of our health service. It was created after a horrific war to care for all. It mattered not your social standing, political leanings or religious affiliation; what mattered was if you needed medical care, you would get it. That is a fantastic beacon of hope for the rest of the world to see. I never really appreciated how beautiful an acronym could be until I needed it the most. The NHS, to me, stands for No Hope, Shattered. When I had lost all hope, professionals in the health service shattered that illusion and made me realise I can always cling on to hope, no matter how miniscule. The NHS saved my life.

Saints in uniforms have worked tirelessly with me to guide me, love me, care for me and enable me to stand (if not a little wobbly) back on my own two feet again. There has been no judgement from them but a simple desire to guide me to a place of wholeness and healing. When I tried to kill myself all I felt was shame, guilt and hopelessness. Those who cared for me during and after the suicide attempt only made me feel loved and nurtured. They gave me a sense of hopefulness not hopelessness, love not loathing, affection not aggression. For all the effort and attention they gave I would not have enough money in the world to give them but this all comes from people who work for a wage that is hardly something to shout about.

I am forever thankful to the paramedics who gently helped me to the ambulance but then had enough foresight to get me to the hospital before I died. I am forever thankful to the emergency team who kept me alive at hospital. I forever thankful to the team in the High Observation Unit who monitored me whilst I drifted in an out of lucidity. I am forever thankful to the nurses who took my blood pressure and spoke to me like a normal human being. I am forever thankful to the mental health team who guided me and loved me. I am forever thankful for a health service that saved my life.

One of the truly exceptional elements to the NHS is its representation of the unity of us as human beings. The old adage is that we can all be certain of death and taxes, which is rather dour. We can also be certain of the NHS. As opposed to death (and taxes) we will have to put effort in to sustain it and care for it and keep it, but as British citizens we can currently affirm the wonder of the NHS. Regardless of who we are, when we get ill we will encounter the NHS. It won't always be hopeful or pretty or even fault free, but it will still be something truly unique. I lost the will to live but many NHS staff still willed me to live.

As with anything man made, it will be flawed and struggle to cope with the gargantuan task of caring for an entire population, but this underfunded, misrepresented, red tape strangled service brought me back from the brink of death. When you owe your life to such an iconic service only gratitude should come from your lips.

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