Recently a friend of mine was feeling off. She called her therapist and after speaking with her therapist it was decided she should go to the mental health hospital. She was not suicidal. She was sent away. She was essentially sent away because she was not suicidal so therefore fine. We were discussing how this is so vastly unfair. Further reflection led me to say, “This only goes to further feed the mental health stigma. You are either sane or not sane. There is no in between.” I know most of that boils down to funding. I am not finding fault with the mental health hospital itself. It is the system. It needs to start from the highest level. Government needs to start stating openly, mental health is just as important as physical health.
When I worked in probation I saw how broken the system was. I saw how many probationers were really mental health clients that could not receive help. Most often I heard they will give me medications but they won’t give me therapy. This in turns fuels the stigma that there is a “magic” pill that fixes the mental imbalance. While medications are part of the answer. They are not the only answer.
Mental health tends to be more like a puzzle. The problem is it is not just one puzzle. It is a puzzle based on each individual. Finding out how that person’s puzzle can be put back together , is the hard part. It also doesn’t help that you can’t glue the puzzle together so it stays together. It can and often does fall apart and has to be reconfigured. This makes it frustrating not only to the Doctor treating it but, also the person dealing with it. It is easy for the person dealing with the mental health issue to think there is nothing wrong. The system really does encourage that. I know this all too well.
I am estranged from my Mother and youngest sister. I had already been in therapy for four years by the time the ties were cut. When it was pointed out that I was relying on medication in order for me to deal with this situation I knew something had to be done. If nothing else this showed me how toxic it was for me. Not just emotionally, physically as well. No medication is completely side effect free. I had chronic pain issues on top of this. My kidneys and liver were not happy. Where as physical abuse is so much more obvious, Emotional abuse is much more subtle. Verbal abuse as well. We tend to tolerate a lot more from close friends and family than we ever would others. It came time though for me to love myself more. I am not going to get into the specifics. It is not for public consumption. The details don’t really matter to others.I often reflect on the situation. I do hear things here and there. What I hear still convinces me it was the right decision. We need to realize that emotional physical verbal and social all tie together in our health. They can not be out of balance.
Three years later and my kidneys and liver are back within normal ranges. I am on much less medication. I am aware I won’t get completely medication free. I understand it is a chemical imbalance in part. I am also completely okay with the fact that I will probably be in and out of therapy for the rest of my life. I don’t understand so much of the stigma around admitting to a mental illness. I don’t understand admitting an imbalance and working to improve that imbalance being a weakness. It is something that has to start from the top levels of our government AND from the bottom level of every day interactions with people. It is way past time for us to realize this.
I struggled with this when I was on medicaid and dependent on the system for my mental health care. Luckily I had years of private insurance therapy first. I knew what I did need and what I didn’t. Still they tried over medicating me. I won’t lie, I did go along with it for a bit. It took me a while to realize that over medicating is just as bad as under medicating. It is a balance. The problem is when you are in the middle of psychosis and are over medicated, it is really hard to realize that. It is easy to see why people go off medication. Over medication made me feel like a zombie. It increased my brain fog. It made my mood swings even more unpredictable. I was lucky that we were able to get back on insurance. I was lucky that I found a physician who listened to me. Who was willing to fine tune medications to the right mixture. Having gone through the medicaid system I know how hard it is. I understand how broken the system is. I had to go off all my medications for two months because I was not suicidal. They didn’t know how long it would take me to get through the waiting list. I was just needing maintenance. The problem is if medication is part of your maintenance and you are denied that medication, you are no longer maintaining.
We need to fix our broken system in all the areas, not just physical health. We need to let people know there IS an in between. There is a work in progress level. That mental health is so much more than sane and not sane.