WARNING: Some of the contents of this post may be confronting and upsetting, if you feel depressed and need assistance, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636.
I think I have given the wrong impression to some. Yes I am starting to recover, but every day is a real challenge to keep going, to not think about giving up, to not struggle with the demons that have plagued me most of my life, I could so easily just crawl back into bed and stay there for a lifetime, because that would be easier than being on struggle street every day that I wake.
Yes, I am fortunate to have private health insurance now, and this has resulted in me receiving a level of care and treatment that unfortunately a lot of people like me, who live with depression, go without because they simply can not afford it. I was one of these people for many years, I couldn’t afford insurance, and therefore I wasn’t entitled to the treatment that the private sector could offer. Back then I didn’t even know there was a difference between the treatment of patients with and without health insurance. The fact of the matter is there shouldn’t be a difference, we should all have the right to the appropriate treatment no matter what the costs to get well.
Don’t get me wrong I am so thankful for the soul mate who when I was in a public hospital went and researched the treatment that I could receive in the private sector, and went and got me private health insurance. Before this, I went through hell, and quiet simply this struggle nearly took my life on several occasions.
I went to endless amounts of doctors before I found one that actually took the time with me to understand me and diagnose me appropriately, I tried endless counselors, psychologists as part of the mental health plan that you are assigned to in the public system, I battled with every anti-depressant that there was. For years, I went on a rollercoaster of depression, feeling like nothing was working and that I was totally alone, with no hope of ever feeling well again. Even after a suicide attempt that nearly claimed my life, I still did not receive any further treatment than I had previously, I wasn’t referred to a psychologist or a psychiatrist either while in hospital or when I was discharged, my medications were not reviewed, I was not referred to a psychiatric ward to deal with the fact that I had tried to take my life, I was sent home with absolutely no follow up from the hospital or any medical professional. How is it possible that someone attempts suicide, is discharged when physically you are well enough to go home, and absolutely nobody in the medical profession sees it necessary to refer you to someone to work through the issues that caused you to end up in ICU? How many people every day are faced with this lack of treatment, care, and help? How many of these people end up succeeding in taking their lives because even though they could have received the treatment they needed, they didn’t? You certainly wouldn’t be sent home under these circumstances if you had suffered a heart attack, or if you had cancer, or if you had any other illness, so why is it appropriate that after a suicide attempt that has resulted from severe depression, it is okay to send a patient home with no follow up treatment?
Until I had someone in my life, the soul mate, to actually fight for me to get appropriate treatment after the fifth time I tried to take my life, I didn’t not receive any treatment that showed any sign of helping me to get better. Don’t get me wrong my GP tried everything that he was entitled to provide to me as a public patient. I admit that some of the referrals under my mental health plan were not easy for me to continue with, counseling I found extremely hard and still do, and in this area I failed, but that shouldn’t be the end of it.
After my third attempt at suicide, and the obvious results of serious cutting, I was shipped off to a public psychiatric ward under duress. Nobody explained to me what was going on, nobody helped me when I was too upset and distressed to function, nobody bothered to sow up my wrist that was clearly in need of stiches until three days later. I was there three days, I didn’t see a counselor, I had to beg to be put back on my medications, I received absolutely no treatment, and yet I was in a psychiatric ward. After three days I was discharged with no explanation, no medications, and no referrals to anyone. My experience of this psychiatric ward, which was in the public system, was nothing I had ever seen or experienced. It literally felt like I was in jail! The other patients were coming of drug highs, some were violent and abusive, others seemed so doped up they were like zombies. The bedding was the left overs of the other hospital wards, and were mostly old and broken. We were allowed outside into a court yard which resembled a jail exercise yard. The staff clearly unhappy to be at work had no care for their patients, in fact it was rare you actually had any contact with a staff member, and there was no assistance to patients who were clearly distressed and not coping. This place put the fear of God into me and left me with nothing but bad memories and a determination that I would never find myself there again.
Unfortunately this determination didn’t make me any better I continued to battle constant demons, and I struggled to make it through the day, with no referrals or follow up treatment.
So when I hear people say you are so fortunate, you are so lucky to be recovering, it hasn’t been without a battle to get there. I was lucky that during this dark time in my life I found my soul mate, who has taken control of my health, and has fought for me, ensured I receive adequate treatment, he has paid for the insurance we couldn’t afford but that was the only option for me to receive higher level of care. Without the soul mate by my side, I wouldn’t be able to keep going every day, I wouldn’t be on the road to recovery, even though I could quietly take a turn down a side street to meet my Black Dog again. I know I am on the precipice of either staying on a road to recovery, and falling down again into the pits of depression, somewhere I don’t want to go again, but where the stressors of daily life threaten to take me again. Yes I am lucky that I can finally start to write about good times, about aspects of getting well, but underneath the writing isn’t the person you think I am, I am still a depressive fighting my demons every day, hoping to keep going but feeling like it is all way too hard.