But It Never Goes Away

Mental Health Awareness Ribbon
Mental Health Awareness Ribbon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I overheard this statement yesterday after Sean’s service.  I was standing at the back-end of the reception area, just observing  the room.  Not far from me there are two people who were reflecting on Sean’s illness and whether or not had he gotten better treatment that could that have saved his life.  Unfortunately, I have heard this about myself more than once, trust me when I say that the word Stigma is for a reason. These two people figured that because “it never goes away” that perhaps he was in a better place?! 

I can tell you, that receiving medical care here in Canada is inconsistent. At one time,  you would be able to see a psychiatrist for more than 5 visits or a therapist for that matter. You wouldn’t wait years as you do now, to be seen by one. Just as therapy programs didn’t have long waiting lists like they do now.  As an example, I am in a program now, that has a waiting list of 40 people! The next phase of that program is a year’s wait, before you even get the chance to know if you will be part of the first phase of the program! This is just not acceptable! People are hurting and taking their own lives!!

Times have changed, people are  seen at their local mental health office, which is to cut down the wait times for doctors and therapists in private practice. Yet this also tells me of the critical crisis point we are at with our mental health system. 

Sean’s medical care was with a psychiatrist who figured that “pushing” Sean’s medication on him, even AFTER Sean had voiced that the medication wasn’t doing anything and combined with being bipolar, when Sean felt his moods improve, he would not take his medication. Now, before anyone and everyone writes me telling me how angry they are about this, I want you to all know that individuals with Bipolar, discontinue their medication during a manic phase.  This is a vicious cycle that seldom has a good outcome.

The only reason I still take my medication  is because I did go through years without my medication when I was training in my martial arts. At that time my body over produce the natural chemical Serotonin which is what the brain needs and often those with a diagnosis of mental illness, are naturally lacking. When someone with Bipolar is on a “high” it isn’t from drugs or alcohol, it is from the chemical imbalance that is within the brain, but the reaction from the person living with the disorder truly feels invincible. It is often when at these times, that there is a huge increase in spending of large quantities of money and reckless behavior. 

So while it is true that Bipolar “doesn’t go away”, it also doesn’t have to define us either.  

Sometimes and I wish it weren’t like this, we, the patient(s), get lucky and find the right caregiver that will help us get on the right track.  As I said to my Uncle last night, I struggle with wanting to understand how I “got lucky” and Sean didn’t.