The newest shooter at Fort Hood makes me sad but does not shock me with the way we treat our mentally ill in this country.
I kind of just rolled my eyes when I heard President Obama say that our sense of safety was broken again. First, there is no safe place. Thank you very much. Second, why not take care of your soldiers? Finally, maybe if we paid more attention to the mentally ill in this country, we could reduce these incidents of violence.
It is very easy for a mentally ill person to get lost. We basically have no treatment. They either lock you up or throw you on the street. You are left to figure everything out for yourself. Most people turn to drugs and alcohol. So many people keep their illness to themselves; too scared to get treatment. A lot of cases end tragically with the person killing themselves and/or others.
And, don’t get me started about how people are in such denial about what they are working with because we do nothing to lessen the sting of prejudice of being mentally ill. Not too long ago we used to lock people like me up in insane asylums. I have it in my own family where they are fruitier than a fruit cake but think they have no problem whatsoever. In fact, I’ve heard them say they don’t have what I have. Yeah, right!
I can’t imagine having this condition and having to keep it hidden, not having easy access to treatment or not having insight to your own personality. It’s impossible. You would just go crazy (like so many people have).
It would also be very hard to keep this hidden with a once a week doctor’s visit. My doctor assures me it’s just like any condition that requires a lot of attention but I know that’s not how the world sees it. I know a boss would fire me if I told them I needed to be off every Thursday morning for mental health treatment.
I’m not just on a rant. Today happens to be my mental health treatment day. Every Thursday, I see my psychiatrist, pick up medication and/or have a therapy session with my clinician. I am one of the lucky ones. I have a wonderful place to go and they treat me with dignity and without judgment. I do not have to keep my treatment secret from my community or my job. I can proudly walk into this clinic and I can get the help I need. It wasn’t always like that. And, it is not like that for everyone. I had to work to get to this point.
When I had my very first episode at 33, I was thrown in a regular hospital, given a bed and released when my family got to me. The psychiatrist simply said I may have bipolar disorder and that my work as an attorney probably stressed me out. The End. Within two days, I had another breakdown and was in an adult crisis unit. I literally thought the apocalypse was coming and was completely out of my mind. My brother was amazed. Adult crisis center!?! Did you know about them? We sure didn’t! Well, I’ll be damned.
I barely remember anything; mostly, my mom hugging me tight and praying. When I was released from there, I found myself right back in the facility within 24 hours. We went to a psychiatrist to get my medication right and he locked us in his office and called the police. He told my brother I needed to go right back to the adult crisis unit. We were so new to this and no one was explaining anything. The third time I got released, my family didn’t even hesitate. They bundled me into the car heavily drugged and unconscious and we headed straight to my home state of Louisiana and to my stepfather. I woke up in my parent’s guest room. My stepfather knew exactly where I was going. He had already asked around. And, our small town people were more than happy to help. They had figured this poor girl just got too much city life and needed some green grass under her feet. I wasn’t crazy at all and I was going to be just fine once our small town doctors helped me.
And, it was true. It is only here in this small town that I have gotten the treatment to stabilize me. I am truly blessed to be in a small town with a very knowledgeable mental health staff. And, they have been treating me for free while I fight to get Medicaid and wait for Medicare. I get the treatment and the medication I need without any problems. And, they care about me. I can pick up the phone and they will help me. My family is no longer left wondering what to do. It is not like this in the city. When we first went for help in Florida, the clinic was crowded, chaotic and confusing.
Here, my visits are like visiting gentle soft spoken friends.
My visits with my doctor are mostly the same. He is always concerned about my welfare:
• How are you sleeping? Any all nighters? Any racing thoughts?
• Are you active? Have you been taking walks? Going to the gym? You know these medications cause weight gain. You have to stay on top of it.
The goal: For me to be productive without obsessive. A friend once told me that if I decided to climb a mountain, I would pick Everest. Precisely. Who wouldn’t?
I told my doctor I was blogging and he asked, “With a website?” Yes, I told him, a real website. Then, he cautioned me not to get OBSESSED with my website. It’s true. That’s exactly who I am. I was already looking and researching the best books to teach me to be a better blogger. I am starting to look at other fancy blogs. He joked a little about me learning to code and would be making video games and websites next month. Well, kind of. But, I have a ton of other stuff to do or believe it or not, I would be. I assured my doctor that I was being very good. My blog was simple and this project was not getting out of hand. A friend told me yesterday it was very cute and I was warmed by that compliment.
I told the doc about my garden; how I practically tilled up my parent’s whole back yard and was growing a ton of vegetables. 1) for exercise 2) for fresh vegetables and 3) for a healthy diet. If you can’t find what you need, make it. I told him how I made an angel garden in the front. He was very happy with this. You can’t get an unhealthy obsession with gardening.
Oh, and we can’t forget the scrapbooking. That is still happening. I am now going through old pictures to do a few cute scrapbook pages of old times.
Then, we have my latest project. I have already left the doctor’s office, by the way. I did not want to bore him with all my projects.
The next project: I want to make a physical book of my blog. So, I got a notebook, some paper, and a printer cartridge. I’m going to print out the pages and make a book/scrapbook like thing. I haven’t fully developed the idea but I did want my thoughts in paper form that I could just open up as a book.
Well, that’s all folks. I know it’s a lot.