“Seem like every time you stop and turn around
Something else just hit the ground
Broken cutters broken saws
Broken buckles broken laws
Broken bodies broken bones
Broken voices on broken phones
Take a deep breath feel like you’re chokin’
Everything is broken.” Bob Dylan
Can I apply those lyrics to the state of mental health in this country? I think I sure can. Today I almost lost it. I deal with fall out from mental health issues and sometimes mental health crises on a daily basis. Daily. My son wakes up most mornings and says, “F$@# you, Mom, I hate you”….this is his process, and he ends leaving for school with a hug. This is a behavioral aspect of tuberous sclerosis complex but it is also mental illness….we are coping, but this is not fun. Just last week we called a mobile crisis unit and had an emergency psychological evaluation performed at our house. This is a wonderful service but the follow thru….well, not to mince words, but it sucked. I called mobile crisis again yesterday as I felt he might need a short term hospitalization and was told that because of his medical issues….(Tuberous Sclerosis Complex related…past history of seizures….the last seizure over 2 years ago…), no local programs will take him. Now this had not been mentioned in his psych eval and it was my sense that the next time I felt the need to call, inpatient treatment would be available. Apparently not.
My 19 year old daughter, also with TSC and on the Autism Spectrum, was supposed to meet with a mental health counselor on Monday for intake, after being on the waiting list for this particular program for months.So Monday morning, I got a call from the therapist scheduled to come to the house explaining that intake would have to be put off until some sort of prior authorization related to insurance was put through. Ok….breathing…..I understand….but not really. My daughter lost her job on Monday due to a statement she made stemming from her Autism Spectrum Disorder related obsession. Long story, but it was brutal, losing a job, and now this.
It’s excruciating to walk through these low places with loved ones. Many days I feel as if I am pulling my daughter back from the brink of the hell that can creep in to her own mind. And my son, the anger explodes, but he always always ends dissolving into tears, no matter how mean and volatile he gets. They don’t want to live in these dark places in their heads and treat others and/or themselves with such cruelty, but they do.
So what about the caregivers? I’ve often found myself in my car. In tears. Or at the gym, on the stairmaster. Or running in the woods on the rail trail and in my head, I am always on my knees asking for help, from the universe, as it seems there’s no human power big enough to handle all this. I’ve learned to use these tools, after years of personal struggle coping with my own mental illness. I feel I am medicated into calm placidity at times and this doesn’t seem right either, but it is better than the alternative. I guess. I can tell you that this morning I felt as close to “burn out” as I have felt in a long time. Fortunately, I have a great support system, friends and family I can reach out to and the aforementioned tools, and I come through, better, stronger but not without cracks.
There is something very very wrong with the state of mental health and mental health care in this country and as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I believe the drug problem in the news every day now, is more of yet another manifestation of the mental health crisis and the problem with the way mentally ill, desperate people called addicts are viewed and treated than a “drug problem”. It seems to be coming to a head and finally getting the attention it deserves. Which is good, as it’s all connected. You can’t push “perfect” too far and we seem to love to spin the idealized images of what’s perfect and beautiful in this country leaving little room for the masses. I wish I could write the worst Yelp EVER for the whole umbrella of mental health care, like I do for the local Quicklane that did a less than stellar job on my car, or the mexican restaurant down the street that has poor service….if it were just that simple.
I am not surprised at all to hear of these school shootings, racial unrest, drug overdoses, child abuse and neglect flashing over and over again in the headlines. Not surprised at all. It’s going to keep happening and blaming, whether the blame is attributed to guns or bad parenting or poor morality isn’t helping either. I guess I don’t have the solution but I know it needs to change and if by sharing my experiences I can be one more voice that says it’s not working, America, land of the free, home of the brave, it simply ain’t working. Playing the national anthem before a cheerleading tournament seems to sum up the mass irony of the whole situation. Not that intent is bad, it’s just the message we get, over and over and over. Perfect is attainable. It’s not, because perfect is non existent.
I’ll keep on keepin’ on, this, my mental health stump and raise my voice and remember again, love wins, go deep and ditch the perfect crap. #IAMTSC