I find it so very hard to write about our awful experiences with the people we turn to when we need help for mental health. The words stick in my throat and make me feel angry. I tend to turn away from the grim reality of it all and do my best to try and bring each hideous email or phone call up to a higher level of energy than the one being blatantly blasted to me from the people who are are meant to help.
I’ve just put the phone down to another person who will get paid today for failing to do his job. He will get away with being ignorant and causing me more upset because ‘you can’t fight em all’, so I’m going to offload here.
I can’t help but ask myself, do these people do these jobs because they care?
Does the government, who ultimately provide this free service for mental health, have an overall goal to help people get better? Or is the goal to send us all round the bend because that is the outcome for many of us, normally pretty robust and strong parents, advocating for PDA and caring for very vulnerable children.
Have Doctors become so used to handing out pills, that a computer may as well be doing their job instead?
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of suicide in the civilized world. 668 people took their own lives in one year and yet we have a population of just 4.8 million. Look around and you will see wide open, beautiful spaces, nature and an abundance of all the ingredients you would attribute to strong and happy mental health. So whats gone so wrong and why are we still being treated like numbers as apposed to individuals? Why do we feel so isolated, lonely, unheard, blamed and judged by the Doctors and people employed within the services that we are sent to when we need additional help to get through each day? Why are we left feeling worse not better when we ask for help?
There are new reports out after a big investigation into mental health here in NZ. Our new lady PM, all smiling, all motherly leader called for an investigation into the current services and state of the nations mind set and as far as I know, the outcomes were not something a tight little country like ours should be proud of. More money seems to be the only remedy that politicians can think of to sort the massive problems we have, but really, it’s the people who are on the ground that need to be retrained in empathy and care and it’s the very systems themselves which need to be brought out of the dark ages. The money I see being spent is being wasted and yet on arrival to one of my appointments, which I have to attend alone because my girl cannot leave the house currently, I was offered tea in a cup that the case officer had to search through broken cupboards to find. The sugar was put in on the end of a knife because ‘they didn’t have enough budget to pay for spoons’.
Technology and all it’s wonders and speed are not being utilized. We still wait for appointments and reports to come in the mail. We waited almost 2 years on a waiting list for autism support services. With the accessibility of one to one video phone chats, surely 9 to 5 hours are irrelevant, offices unnecessary, paper work, building hire, all of these things can be re thought. Why do psychiatrists need salaries of over $217,000?
Doctors listen to the symptoms and pick a drug that ‘might’ best suit. Natural meds are laughed at, though they have no side effects and results can be permanent and just as effective as medications. For mental health drugs, side effects can be horrendous but they won’t tell you that part, just a really big encouraging story about how the system works, what the system offers and a generic handout sheet with tiny print to explain the possible weight gain, the suicidal thoughts, the increased rages, the inability to eat or sleep. They do not tell you the downfalls and they have no intention of considering a plan to come off in a few years down the line. They do not tell you the stats for success or the stats for people who have had bad experiences on the meds. Some children as young as 8 can be taking cocktails of up to 6 different drugs, before they have looked at the reasons behind the unwanted behaviors and difficulties. With PDA, we know that huge improvements can be gained by the correct strategies, diet and environments, yet Doctors are seeing anxiety, not as a symptom of unrest, but a disability to be hidden with anti depressants or anti psychotics. They happily hand out meds that have no research on long term effects on children brains. They tweak and trial without knowing or caring about the dangers that can come. Once you are on the slippery slope of the world of pharmaceuticals, it’s very, very hard to come away and so we have a nation of depressed people, reliant on hand outs and too scared to stop.
My daughters condition of obsessive compulsive disorder is explained as a chemical imbalance, but they aren’t really sure and the additional treatment is putting the patient into more anxiety to ‘burst the anxiety circle’. Never mind if she becomes suicidal when we increase the medication, just keep going they say. A mother on her knees with grief and worry and tiredness, not knowing if her daughter will be there when she wakes for a new day and yet no concern, no check up calls, no communication, no new ideas.
Why are governments not backing the choice to natural medications and supplements? Why are the governments not going to food as a front line healer? Why are options so few and funding for alternative therapies non existent? Why can we not have help in the home out of hours, when we need it, in the dead of night when things are at their worst?
Why is it that when you call an advocacy group that are linked to the ministry of health, they have not even heard of the service you are with and their Indian accent is so strong you feel completely disconnected and alone? What happens to those people that have spent days plucking up the strength and courage to seek help and that crucial phone call is taken by a person who is meant to be on call for emergencies and yet they are having a dinner party and laughing with their friends in the background? Yes, that was my experience. Enough to end it all, yes it is.
Why should we accept a hospital admission when the plaster on the walls of the rooms they offer as home from home are scraped out with previous patients battle scars, where children who have ASD meltdowns are locked away in a padded room until they calm down. Where we have to sign a form to agree to restraint, but no guarantee is made that the staff are not the ones to instigate the meltdown in the first place. Why should we leave our child in hospital to get better when the food they serve is made of rubbish and strict rules have to be followed.
6 weeks in, enough time for the meds to hopefully work, a lot of bull on paper to cover our tracks and off you go back into the world as we need the 6 beds for the next lot. It’s a joke, an absolute failure and we are letting them get away with it. Banking on the families being too scared, ill equipped or exhausted to fight back.
But it’s not fight we need, it’s love. It’s not systems we need, it’s individual plans. It’s not excuses we need, but new ideas. It’s not the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff we need, it’s permanent recovery and prevention. It’s not medication to line the pockets of the big companies, it’s empowerment to make healthy choices from the inside out, not the outside in.
My mission going forward this year is to shine light on the things we can no longer go on ignoring. I will work my way through every Doctor in this town if I have to, until I start to find those who really do care about healing others by stepping out of the confines that our outdated and not working. Healing is the answer to living and we cannot do that if we carry on like sheep.
This is a hard hitting post today, but one that I needed to vent. I know I am not alone in my experiences or frustrations. I welcome comments below so that it is clear I am not the only one asking these questions and hearing no answers.
Don’t forget, love is the thing that will pull us though. xx