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.