This is not a pretty blog post. It’s one I wrote almost five years ago feeling alone and unsupported, silently battling the system. I am nothing, if not persistent. Gladly life is on the mend in my family. It’s a long road to recovery and we are on it, one day at a time.
It’s a bloody big lie that the mental health system supports our loved ones with serious mental health issues. We remain so silent on it because we are so damn desperate for any kind of help. The waiting lists are huge, the care from doctors and nursing staff is generally so sub standard that you would not want your dog to check in to that facility.
There’s a sense of hopelessness families have when faced with the urgency of a loved one who is so unwell and it appears that no ones cares. It’s an intensely lonely place to be. Financial resources are drained while we wait for yet another psychiatrist appointment only to find that Dr is no longer taking patients.
Organisations who proclaim to support those mentally ill in our community are trying to stay afloat. They compete for funding and are often headed up by a psychiatrist who is working hard to further his own career.
The waiting list in the public system is so long it’s not funny and the programs that work in the private system can only be referred if the patient is seeing the resident psychiatrist. Expensive? you bet.
Our loved ones are so unwell, there are often not able to make an appointment themselves to see the psychiatrist. When a family member does it, we are dismissed and told they must call themselves. Catch 22. Leads to frustration and at times losing of temper, if you know what I mean.
It’s a secret. A dirty smelly secret. Someone in the family has serious mental health issues and we simply can not discuss it. Who’s fault is it? It is genetic? Are you a bad parent for having a mentally ill child? Who did this? Seems human beings need someone to blame. None of this assists with recovery and yet we focus there. The shame and blame smell really bad.
I have a dream. I dream that one day we will have a system that cares about the one they are set up to support. That they will treat that person as a human being and not a number, not a swipe of their top health insurance plastic card, not another study for their white paper to enhance their career. I dream that psych nurses will learn how to genuinely connect with patients and not lose faith that they can have a major impact in recovery for a human being.
I dream that our politicians will experience personally what goes on in care facilities for their loved ones with mental health conditions. For then, maybe, things will change.
I dream that we will cease the blame and shame that comes with being mentally ill and have compassion for those who suffer.
I dream of support from family and friends, genuine, loving care and support. Until then, I persist.
If you have loved ones with mental health concerns, there is help. Don’t give up on them. They have already given up on themselves. You are stronger than you think.