I’m glad there’s been a lot of talk this past week about the state of mental health services. The reason it was brought to the front page is beyond horrific, but maybe some change will come out of this terrible tragedy. And it’s not just the United States who are guilty of such deplorable services- It’s everywhere. After the week/month/year I’ve had I think I’m qualified to make this assertion.
Which brings me to the point of this blog. I’ve spent most of this evening going back and forth on whether or not to write it, and ultimately decided I need to. I don’t want to, but I need to.
You see, I’m a hypocrite. But I’m doing my best to fight it. I am so embarrassed and ashamed about this huge part of myself that I’m actually crying as I write this. Most of you know the facts. You know that I have anxiety, panic disorder, and depression. I’ve tried to talk openly about it, about what it means. Some of you have even come to me to thank or applaud or discuss it. And that means a lot. But, I still can’t help but feel mortified about what you really think. Because along with the shame and embarrassment is the guilt and the hatred.
I hate that I have to live like this. I hate it. I hate how weak it makes me look, how broken I must seem to so many of you out there. I hate that I can’t fully explain what it’s like, or even tell the whole truth about it. I hate that I can’t live a normal life, or make it go away. Most of all, I hate that I can’t get help.
I went to a UK mental health service office today. It took me months to build up the nerve to go. Even after all these years it still takes me this long to just go and ask for help. When I arrived I was told that the wait list was so long that they’ve suspended registration. They said I should come back in February, at which point I could register and be put on the wait list. The wait list to talk to someone is 6 months…
And this is the paid service, not even the free one.
Of course, it’s better than nothing. I’d already been turned away from the NHS service who said they could only help people in life-or-death crisis. So, in 8 months I can go and talk to someone about what’s going on with me. But what am I supposed to do until then? My own strategies aren’t getting me anywhere, which is why I went to them. I can’t function right now. I need help. And I don’t know how to get it.
I had 3 panic attacks today. I hadn’t had any in weeks. Is this what my life has come to? Alternating weeks of functionality and non? I could live like this as a student. Barely, but I made it through. I don’t know how to do it in the real world. How am I supposed to hold down a job? Well, lesson learned these past few months- I can’t. But try telling that to my landlord, or credit card company, or OSAP.
Dear TD Visa,
I’d love more than anything to pay a chunk of you off this month, but, unfortunately, I can’t seem to leave the house to go to work to earn the money I owe you. When I wake up in the morning and get ready for the day I start to break down. My vision blurs, I can’t breath, and lately my knees have started giving out when I start walking. And, if I’m extra lucky that day, it will morph in to a full-on panic attack. So, as desperately as I want these things to not happen and get on with my day, it doesn’t quite work out that way most of the time. I’ll hit you next time? Yes? Gee, thanks!
Yeah, I don’t think that will work…
I’m coming to understand that the longer people can’t function day-to-day, the more desperate their situations become. Money for rent and food has to come from somewhere. And when you’re in a bind, unfortunately expenses for things like medication probably go at some point. I found myself in this situation earlier this year, and it was tough. I opted to keep on with my meds (plus, some of them are non-negotiable), but all I did was rack up thousands of dollars on my Visa, which I now owe. Thankfully being in the UK prescriptions are covered, so I don’t have to pay $500 a month like I was in Canada. But back home, and in the US, this isn’t an option. People are faced with this decision. It’s not fair.
When do you give up? When do I give up?
I honestly don’t know what to do next. I’m angry and scared and frustrated. Another 8 months of this sounds unbearable, but what choice do I have, other than to move home. But I’ve exhausted all but one option there.
I know there’s no “cure”. This is something I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life. But there has to be some way to get by. I have to hold on to that hope.