Monday, April 1, 2013
More Mental Health Stuff
Thank you for your kind words on my last post. Mental health and self care and recovery and survival are really fucking hard. And really fucking vital. So I'm going to continue talking about it as honestly as I can.
Over the past year and a half since moving to Regina my mental health has gotten worse and worse, to the point where I think I'm having the same feelings and thoughts I did at 15 and 16, pre-diagnosis/treatment/counseling. To feel that so much hard work to "get better" had been wasted is really scary. I think there are a lot of reasons why it's gotten to this point and while I'd like to blame it entirely on the lack of mental health care in this city (oh my god is it lacking) I've also postponed trying to access services more than I should have. Moving to a new city was a huge signifier of a adulthood, and it's so ingrained that being depressed and/or having the desire to self harm are only for teenagers, and people should just grow out of those feelings. And sometimes it feels like if you can just convince yourself hard enough that things are okay, that you are not actually that crazy, then these things will be true. Which is really just a long, roundabout way to say that I had secretly hoped that I could (and should) just get over my mental illness.
This is not to say that the poor mental health care in this city hasn't also been a huge problem. It is really frustrating to, while experiencing deep depression, try to make all the right phone calls to all the right people and still get no where. I think that being able to say "these feelings are overwhelming, I want to remain safe, I want to access help" is so incredibly powerful and being met with absolutely nothing in return is awful. Regina does not have enough psychiatrists, psychologists, or counselors of any kind. The waiting time with the health region's mental health clinic can take over a year, but after a year without any service they close your file. Total catch 22. After 9 months of waiting I got an appointment with a psychiatrist who changed my medications without a follow-up. A few week later I was CC'd a letter that stated that I "no longer needed psychiatric care" (as if I had gotten any at all). I was filled with rage and burst into tears, and still feel like that appointment and letter did more harm than good.
This is really just an example as to how frustrating trying to access mental health care can be. I certainly don't mean to suggest that it's easy in any Canadian city, but in Regina the services just do not exist and that is endlessly frustrating. Still, survival and recovery are my top priorities right now, and after a lot of patience and an unfortunate hospital visit, I actually have a referral to a psychiatrist for the first week in July. I've also started seeing someone through my university's counseling services, and I hope I'll be able to see a counselor on a weekly basis, at least for a while. This sort of mental health care isn't right for everyone, but it's something I need right now, so I'm gritting my teeth and practicing patience and doing everything I can to survive. I am surviving, and sometimes that's the most important thing.