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 …


Wednesday: Bell Let’s Talk Day: Let’s Talk About Mental Health

1477751682088

 

Today is a very special day. The day Canada and other places, shed light on a very important topic, that still, seems to be Taboo in many places.

The topic is Mental Health.

If you’ve ever suffered from something tragic in your life, or know someone who has, or you just know someone who is over their heads in the water and they can’t seem to find solid ground, or you have that friend or family member who is suffering in silence, there is something we can do, for us and for them, We Can Talk …

You never know when a conversation will happen that might change a life in ways, we could not imagine.

I’ve just finished reading Romeo Dallaire’s book, Waiting for First Light, my ongoing battle with PTSD. War is a place we see in the movies or on the news, it does not affect us directly, but it does affect many, who have been to conflict zones, or war zones, or on peace keeping missions, war for them is real.

You cannot imagine the visuals that they have seen, the atrocities they witnessed, seeing men, women and children die all around them, and watching their brothers and sisters in arms get killed in action.

And when they come home, they are shattered human beings. And we as a society have failed these brave men and women, over and over again. The Canadian Military has continually failed their own people.

PTSD is something the military has yet to fully comprehend and do something about in concrete ways and means.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of men and women suffer with unimaginable horrors and night terrors, and addictive behavior to quench the pain with drugs and alcohol.

Some take their own lives in Suicide because they have no way out of the pain.

PTSD is an old problem. But in decades past, we had different names for it.

In the Viet Nam Era, when my father came home from the war, in stories he had told me, he and many others came back and they were Shell Shocked.

But in reading Romeo’s book, I see very similar parallels in what happened, and how my father coped with his issues. He never talked about it, until one season when I was in High School, he actually had film, photos and a story to tell.

Meanwhile at home he was drinking himself to death, and abusing his wife and children.

All those men who came back from that war, were bad mouthed, and ridiculed. What happened ? They went without, and many went to their graves mentally cracked.

Living through the scourge of AIDS, was terrible. For many of us who were on the front lines, dealing with terrible sicknesses and ailments, then watching families, churches, friends and lovers, toss their sick partners into the gutter to die alone and penniless, without an ounce of dignity, was horrifying.

I’ve witnessed my share of tragedy. And suffered my own bouts with depression due to Suicide, AIDS and almost loosing my own life. I would not say that I would call my problems PTSD, but tragic sickness and death is part of my story.

Soon after my diagnosis my doctor hooked me up with a good psychiatrist. Along with medicines, and therapy, I was put on an anti-depressant regimen, that I am still on to this day.

I lived, thankfully. I am also clean and sober, which only enhances my life and my personal well-being. I had people to talk to. Therapists, Psychiatrists, Counselors, Todd, and the myriad of people who have been involved in my sobriety.

A few months after I met hubby, he got very sick. And he was cycling rapidly, over and over again, obsessively. A few weeks in, he had a nervous breakdown, and fell to pieces. Doctors and shrinks came on board, and he was diagnosed as Bi-Polar Rapid Cycling.

For ten long and arduous months we plied him with pill after pill, trying to find the right mixture of a “Little bit of this and a Little bit of that…” until we found the mix that worked for him. For that almost year, I was chief cook, cleaner and chief bottle washer.

I got him out of bed, fed him, got him on the sofa.

And at night, I fed him, bathed him, and put him to bed.

A ritual that still exists to this very day.

I was going to school full-time, taking care of house and home, going to meetings, and taking care of hubby, who was comatose on the sofa for the entire ten month period, catatonic.

I remember the night that we had found the magic pill … The next morning he got up, he was coherent, lucid and alive.

It was like Lazarus, rising from the grave.

There was still working to do, to bring him back into full participation in his own life.
And that stared with simple occupational therapy, to get him to do simple things, that led to him getting back into the saddle and living once again.

Mental health is a top issue in our home. Having two people who have mental issues is a task in itself.

I believe that a human who suffers from a mental illness NEEDS a SECOND set of eyes on them all the time. So that they aren’t doing it themselves. That there is someone else actively involved with their daily care and to watch their medical progress with whatever medication a doctor puts them on, because we don’t necessarily catch things on our own, we need that SECOND set of eyes on the case.

I have worked with kids with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism. That is some of my most rewarding work, to date. I have sponsees who have mental illnesses as well. Depression, PTSD and Schizophrenia. Everybody needs to be loved and cared for. My time is not only invested in helping men and women stay sober, I also try to help them to stay sane.

To make sure they are on their meds, seeing their doctors and case workers and making sure that they are taking care of themselves, and each other, as well taking care that their homes are safe, clean and void of drugs and alcohol.

Mental Illness is a scourge on our city. many, MANY of our homeless men, women and kids, (read: Young People) on the street, suffer from mental illness, and they go about their lives, and nobody really gives a damn, unless you see them on the street.

We don’t have the amount of resources that the city needs to tackle that problem, because not only do you have mental illness to contend with you also have addiction to alcohol and drugs as well. So you have a triple cocktail of sadness …

Too many of our young people are killing themselves over bullying and mental illness.

What are we teaching our kids, when so many of them are dying and nobody knew about what was going on with them! We have to talk to our kids and actually give a damn about them instead of leaving them to their own devices and video games and their phones.

SUICIDE IS NEVER AN OPTION – EVER !!!

Give a kid a chance … talk to them for God’s Sake.

There is help. There are solutions. You don’t have to be alone. We are here.

We will help you in any way we can. All you have to do is ASK …

Let’s Talk …