Mental Health is Not Just A Hashtag ###

Yesterday was Bell’s Let’s Talk Day, where they donated 5 cents for mass communications on their platform to Mental Health Services.

Mental Health is not just a one day event. You cannot cure Mental Health with a hashtag, nor can you pay it away either. Mental Health is an everyday part of life for many people, including myself and my husband.

Many years ago, when I first met my husband, he was a happy go lucky, smart and funny young man. We had a few months of bliss, before the gauntlet fell down, and our lives were turned upside down.

He was employed at the time but that was to end abruptly. He suffered a major breakdown and ended up falling apart. We got him the help he needed, maybe because we were lucky then, or maybe the right person was in the right place, at the right time.

Hubby was diagnosed as Bi-Polar Two Rapid Cycling. Now we knew what the problem was, we had to then figure out what we were going to do about it. Treatment was in the offing.

What I did not know on the outset of that treatment was this; the man who went in, was not the man who came out the other end.

For ten months, hubby lay comatose on the sofa. I was a full time student in university, I was hitting meetings, doing all the shopping, cooking, laundry, cleaning, bathing, dressing, and feeding my husband.

He could not do anything but lay on the sofa, till the day the doctors found the right pill to give him, to get him to rise from his stupor.

And let me tell you, I screamed from the rooftops that night when he rose from the dead !!!

Mental illness is a daily struggle. And some days are better than others. I’ve learned many things about mental illness, because we live with it. We cannot just turn the tap off when we would like, or have happy days on end. That just does not happen.

Bi-Polar is an illness that takes a second set of eyes. And I believe this with all my heart:

ANYONE SUFFERING FROM ANY MENTAL ILLNESS SHOULD HAVE A SECOND SET OF EYES ON THEM, BECAUSE MANY PEOPLE SUFFER ALONE. DOCTORS GIVE THEM PILLS AND SET THEM ON THEIR WAYS. WITH NARY A WORD AFTERWARDS. SOMEONE NEEDS TO LOOK AFTER THEM.

Thankfully hubby had that second set of eyes on him, and still does to this very day. Observation is the name of the game. Because when things get dicey, you can see it from the outside looking in. And you can tweak medication or get help, if an issue arises that needs to be addressed.

Like I said, above, the man who went into treatment was not the same man who came out the other end. When he finally got up and we assessed what was left, I found that a good portion of who hubby was, was gone. And I asked the doctors where he was, and they told me,

“Well, this is what you get, deal with it.”

I was angry for a long time. Because aspects of our relationship have been missing or gone for many years. The life I had, and thought I wanted, was not the life I ended up with. And sometimes I get really resentful at that, but it is what it is and I had to accept the outcome.

When hubby got sick, I was not going to leave him, nor toss him to the curb. I stayed with him, loved him hard, took care of him and got him the help he needed, so badly.

Yes, he is not the man I met all those years ago, but he has carved his own life out of the wreckage of mental illness that took him apart. He is a two degree university graduate with a Masters Degree in Sociology. He has a career and a life that is beyond measure now.

We built a home, and a life together.

We got married in 2004, basically as a celebration of hubby rising from the dead. He got up in the month of September 2004, and we were married in November of that year, in front of family and friends.

Many people with mental illness suffer alone, many people do not get the advantage of having a second set of eyes on them to make sure they are alright. That is a gift of relationships and friendships that we can be that second set of eyes on our fellow men and women.

I see mental illness every day in our rooms. I attend meetings at the Old Brewery Mission on Sundays, and see countless homeless men and women who suffer alone because they do not have access to the kind of help we, here at home, get.

Mental illness s a scourge on the landscape.

Kids suffer too. In school, in life and with their friends, and also on social media. Bullying is another scourge on our kids. The stigma of mental illness is a problem because if you say something, kids are more likely to begin the cavalcade of stupidity and reckless abuse of their friends, so kids suffer and many of them do not make it and end up killing themselves because of the stress of suffering and the fact that they said something and kids and others turned on them and forced them into a No Win Scenario…

We must stop this kind of social abuse.

We must help our kids.

We must change the way we deal with mental illness.

And we need MORE professionals who can help those in need. We need money to pay for those services, and for the many medications people so badly need and for the most part, cannot afford because drugs are so damned expensive.

And Firstly, getting a simple appointment for mental health screenings are so hard to get. I mean people wait for days, weeks, and months just for an appointment. There aren’t enough mental health professionals out there.

And not every mental health practitioner is the right fit for everyone. Finding the right doctor is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

We’ve dealt with major pill pushers in our day. For Real !!!

It is far too easy to push pills and abuse a patient. That happened to us and we had to find other means of treatment.

One must be picky about who treats them. Because not all doctors are created equal and not every doctor is an upstanding physician in their chosen field, and that is a FACT.

But, beggars cannot be choosers in this world, I know that. So this is my advice

BUYER BEWARE !!!

Call your friends, call your kids. Ask them if they are ok.

There is NO SHAME in saying that “NO, I AM NOT OKAY!”

That’s the first thing we must teach our kids. It is OK to say, that things are not ok.

I HEARD FROM A SPEAKER ONCE THAT:
THE ONLY THING OUR FEELINGS WANT ARE TO BE FELT.

Too many people suffer in silence because they cannot talk openly or feel safe in saying that, IT IS NOT OKAY!

We must teach our kids that it is ok to talk, AND WE NEED TO SIT DOWN AND FUCKING LISTEN TO THEM.

Put down you god damned phones and take time to check on your kids, and your friends and your family members. We ignore people to our own peril, because if we don’t check up on them and they get worse,

SUICIDE IS A FORGONE OPTION for MANY !!!

Been there, Done that, Got the T-shirt to prove it too.

Mental illness is not just a hashtag.

Pay attention. Listen and help.

We are humans who need to be cared for and loved.

Life is wasted, if we cannot do those things for others, AND for ourselves.

If you suffer and you need to talk

I AM HERE, I WILL LISTEN. I CAN TRY TO HELP.

Because I am Responsible.

A Story:

An elderly man walked into an emergency room, needing stitches removed from his hand. He was jittery and fumbling with his watch. A nurse was watching him fidget, and after a while, spoke to him and asked him what he needed. And the old man told him he needed stitches out.

They set down for the job. The old man was still fidgety, like he needed to be somewhere else at that very moment. The nurse picked up on that and asked him if he needed to be somewhere and the elderly man replied, Yes, I do.

The conversation continued, and the elderly man said that he needed to go have breakfast with his wife. That he had breakfast with his wife every day.

The nurse was surprised. And the man went on…

You see, my wife has Alzheimers and she does not know who I am.

The nurse was perplexed. And asked why, if his wife did not know who the man was, why was he still having breakfast with her every day?

The old man replied… SHE MIGHT NOT KNOW WHO I AM TODAY, BUT I REMEMBER WHO SHE IS.

That story changed my life, which was why I stayed with my husband, because he might not be the man I got in the end, but I remember who he was and I know who he is today …


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