Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is There Hope Out There? – Part One

It is with a sense of weariness and resignation that I write this post today. More than a week has gone by since my last post and I have spent much of that time thinking about the experience I talked about in my last post.

I’ve had comments and emails wondering about the medical system here in Canada which in turns makes one wonder about their own doesn't it?

Alberta is the richest province in Canada. When the recession hit and spread around the world, we saw a mass input of people from other provinces arrive in sunny Alberta. This put a huge strain on our already overtaxed medical system and especially on the inadequate psychiatric department.

People are falling down under the strain of life all over the world. We are nothing unusual here in Alberta. However – like Las Vegas – the hopes of striking it rich and making a good income can be dashed quicker here than anywhere else. People arrive with expectations. We are just a province with oil sands in the north – a province not unlike the others in this great nation - except for the oil sands.

When the influx started there was a lack of housing and people were living in tents in parks or camping out under trees that lined major thoroughfares in cities. We could not build fast enough to accommodate all that were arriving.

Now add medicine into the mixture and the whole system crumbles. Not only because we don’t have enough doctors to begin with – one of my former doctors headed south to the United States to make the big bucks – but the influx of people is like a tree now overripe and dropping its fruit onto the ground.

That fruit usually ends up being the mentally ill. People whose hopes have been dashed as they wash out their clothing in the river – no hope for housing – chances of a (great) job slim…..

There are so many of us who crack under the strain. It’s nothing to be ashamed of – it happens. It may happen to you – don’t say never – never is for Neverland.

So here we are – with only so many psychiatrists to start with – with only so many beds on a psychiatric ward – and suddenly Alberta is seen as the land of milk and honey and no system can hold it all.

I believe dropping through the cracks is something the mentally ill will always do. Will doctors ever understand how the brain works? I doubt it. It is too obscure. It’s not like a broken bone that can be mended. It’s not a gastric problem that can be discovered with a little camera and surgically repaired. There is nothing short of lobotomy (and thank God they don’t often do that anymore) that can fix a broken brain. Not even time heals it.

Being ‘cured’ of a mental illness is often like being on the alcoholic wagon. Years may go by after you are ‘healed’ or discharged from the hospital and you suddenly lose it. Then the long process to get our brain back to where we could function half-normally starts once again.

I look at myself with the above analogy. In 1998 I had a meltdown. My psychiatrist (the one on the phone) said I would never get better. I wanted to prove him wrong and over the years I slowly weaned myself off the medication and I thought I functioned not too badly. Just this last year – 10 years later – I wanted to kill myself. It haunted me every single day and I had it planned out to the exact detail.

Since then I have had to start all over again. Not with medication but with my own steel will and dedication to healing myself.

It happens to many of us. Years go by and suddenly something happens and it is too much. We want out – more than we want to run. It is too hard for us. And do you think we want to go for help on this at that time? No. We are secretive and ashamed of how we feel. I’m not going to go sit in a waiting room so I can tell my doctor I’ve got my own death planned. I’m not going to go ask for help because as I see it there is no help. There is only wanting out.

Again – Part One.

Addendum - again. Please note that my suicidal thoughts were last winter - 2008. They lasted for over a month but I've got a hold of that now. I wrote about it back then - and yes - the writing helped - the blogging world helped. All my friends here helped with my sadness and desperation. However - that is not how I feel today. Right now I am just worn down by the desperate need for help in the field of mental illness. Today I am enjoying making my jewelry and learning new things about that. Thank you to those who posted comments thinking I was suicidal. Thank you for caring. I'll know where to turn if I slide back there once again. I'm working hard at not doing that.


Maggie May said...

Aims ..... you are a strong person because you have gone through so much.
Everyone feels really helpless to read how you feel and I beg of you to go and get some help.

England is crowded to the hilt as the country gives out to all & sundry and we are being bled dry.

Aims do tell someone in the medical field how you feel. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
Luv & hugs. X

Leslie: said...

I’m not going to go sit in a waiting room so I can tell my doctor I’ve got my own death planned. I’m not going to go ask for help because as I see it there is no help. There is only wanting out.

Aims, you've reached out to us in cyberspace because you DON'T want out. You DO want help.

If you don't feel confident with this doctor, then find another, or another or another. Get back on your proper medications and stop trying to wean yourself off. If you had diabetes, you'd have to take insulin the rest of your life, if you have high blood pressure you have to take something for that, etc.

And do NOT feel ashamed! Psychiatric illnesses are physical illnesses because something has gone awry in the brain. It is a brain disease. It's just so much harder to fix (if it's ever fixable at all) and harder to live with.

If you continue to feel ashamed of your illness and try to hide it, you will validate the ignorance of others who do not understand this most mysterious disease.

Please get help - we all would like to see Part Two as the steps you've taken to overcome.

God Bless.

Sugar Creek Beads said...

Please don't give up! You mean a lot to many more people than you realize and we all want only the best for you. Keep trying, you are worth it and if you have to go to Doctor to Doctor do it. Think of this as any other illness you would try to fix and don't give up on yourself, just keep going and telling yourself "I am worth fixing, I am special, I am Aims"!

Friend of the Bear said...

Hi. I don't know if you have access to a CPN or similar where you are. I've had one since I had a breakdown end of 2000 and I've always found them a lot more use than a psychiatrist who is only there to hand out pills or approve a treatment strategy auggested the CPN.

My CPN is there mainly to listen but also to make practical suggestions.

But I get your point of not wanting to tell anyone when you're suicidal. I DO tell my CPN but ultimately only I can make the decision about whether my life is worth living or not. I believe it is for each individual to decide whether they want to carry on the fight or not.

I think your blogging shows that you have a lot of fight left in you yet!

Keep blogging.
Best wishes,
Bearfriend xx

rosiero said...

Aims - there are so many people who are rooting for you and want you to be well and happy. Please don't give up. You only get one chance at life and surely it's worth fighting for. Cyber hugs. Rosiero x

The Woman who Can said...

Aims, you continue today to touch as many people as when I last left a comment, which is no mean feat. The first step towards getting help is realising that you need help, you know this as well as I; that first move is always the most difficult.

And I came back to tell you I'm back blogging,

Tina (ex of Too Young For a Midlife)

smiles4u said...

I just found your blog recently and because I haven't been feeling well, I wasn't able to comment on those posts. I must come out and say that your words reach out to me across the computor screen and grab me. My heart is sad for your desperateness. I can relate far too well to your words here. I understand wanting everything to stop and just be done. I get it. Because I have been there and I have been there with others as they felt the same way. It sucks. I hope and pray with all my soul that you don't give up...that you hang on in these moments of desperation and wait it out and let these shitty feelings pass. I understand the shame of it all...I understand the shame that comes with honesty and reaching out. Don't let it beat you. Don't let these things win. Please don't let part 2 be your ending. Let part 2 be your new beginning. My life is full of new's why I am still here. You deserve a life above how you feel today, in the here and now. Please reach out for it!!! I just want to give you a hug right now. Keep reaching out and up! Lori

Dr.John said...

I do understand your reluctance to talk to a Doctor. But talk to somebody you trust. Talk to somebody you know won't judge and will listen.

Junebug said...

Aims, I truly believe this passage in the Bible. I am truly not trying to preach to you either. I just love this promise from God.
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40: 28-31
I pray that you can find this hope.

Maggie May said...

Aims.... I have been coming back here regularly to see other people's comments and I am so pleased that you put in that footnote about it being LAST year that you were talking about and that you are well on the way to recovery again now.
Just goes to show, that recovery can be just around the corner and that anyone feeling so desperate should really try to hang in there because in a few weeks the situation could have changed right round.
Hugs X

Anonymous said...

I agree with Leslie:- Do NOT be ashamed. Mental illness is just as valid as physical illness and often the two go hand in hand. Just as lifeling medication is needed to stabilise physical conditions (diabetes etc) it can also be needed to stabilise the chemicals in the brain which can contribute to psychiatric conditions. Just because any illness cannot be seen by others does not mean it isn't there or is any less important. It is so hard to function when you start that downward spiral, but having someone (doctor / nurse / family / friends) who are understanding and supportive can be the lifeline that you need when you start to sink.

Some of the greatest people who ever lived were manic depressives, yet they achieved so much and were admired by so many.

Here in the UK, almost half of all people who are out of work and claiming sickness benefits are doing so because of mental health problems. They are in the majority.

We are all here for you Aims. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

P.S. When you are looking for hope, look at your creations, your jewellery, your bears - they are beautiful! Look for the wild flowers, the rainbow in the sky, sunrises or sunsets.

Lola said...

When I worked with psychotherapists, one of the senior clinicians said that psychiatry to fix the brain was like trying to fix a VCR with a sledgehammer.

I am sure your writing not only helps you, but helps many other people that you have reached.

softinthehead said...

Aims everyone else had pretty much summed up how we feel about you so stay strong. BTW I love your jewellery, so beautiful. Somehow I missed that you were doing that but I will be checking on that blog from now on, well done.

Henry North London said...

Get your Vitamin D levels checked If they are low you will feel low too

Make sure they are optimal 65-90 ng per mls

Anonymous said...

WOW Aims your jewellery is lush , I love it do u sell it on line
I am in love with blue stones at the moment , Lapis and turquiose and american indian stuff
You are one talented woman

grandmamargie said...

Love to you, Aims.

Akelamalu said...

You know the signs at least. I can understand you being reluctant to see a doctor but what about a counsellor just to talk it over? I'm sending positive thoughts and oodles of Reiki Aims. xx

Daryl said...

Aims ... keep the faith ... oxo

Leatherdykeuk said...

You are an amazing woman, my friend.

travelling, but not in love said...

Aims, take care sweetie, and find someone to talk it all through with - I'm sure there's a great counsellor out there waiting to help.

But apart from that, know that you are loved by many.


Anonymous said...

It is so easy for people to give advice on something they know little about. We all become experts in a field only a very small minority will experience. But you do a great job telling us and teaching us. I'm glad you know we're with you. Because we are.

CJ xx

Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor said...

Aims, It makes me sad to hear you've struggled so hard. I have really enjoyed your company at my blog and can not imagine someone as kindhearted as you, feeling that way about life. Keep reaching out as you have. Put your mind and your heart into your jewelry making and other things that bring you happiness. And know inside that there are many who care very much for you. Personally, I think the world is a better place, with you here. :-)

Paula said...

You have gone through so much and I know how it feels, the mental, verbal and physical abuse. My mother delivered mme to my step father for the abuse - obvioulsy I had problems - major ones - with the figure mother, the figure woman and trust is no a concept in my life. Well, itwasnt til I went into therapy. It helped, still I had the feeling there was something more, a sort of nagging feeling which I couldnt really finger point. Now 12 years on I am waiting for one of the few place at trauma therapy. Munich is like Alberta, the dream of many, East Europeans seeking asylum and bringing the socila security system and the federal health system to their knees. We arent just surviviors, we are winners. WE endured so many thigns and we are still around. Often depressed, and around. I can feel your strength. Wish you well and keep you in my thoughts.

sallymandy said...

Your honesty is much appreciated. There has got to be a reason why sensitive, smart people like you go through this. You touch more people than you know with your writing...people who might otherwise feel they were alone.