11 October 2017

World Mental Health Day

It's #worldmentalhealthday.

As someone disabled by mental injury later in life, I know how important it is for people to have ready access to care. I was able to call my community mental health centre and speak with a counsellor that day. I had to do my own research to find a psychiatrist, but he answered my email enquiry and accepted a referral from my psychologist - who adjusted her fees to ensure I could continue to see her as often as I needed. 

What would I like to see change? 

- Disability benefits shouldn't be so hard to come by. I worked for 20+ years, but because my decline was gradual, CPP isn't available to me, though I've contributed all my adult life. Had I crashed hard and needed admission, they probably would have put me on disability. Because I tried hard for four years to find a way to continue working, even part time, I am considered not to have been *really disabled*. I strongly suspect that if I had say, a seizure disorder that gradually got out of control, it wouldn't be such a challenge. 

- Those of us who do everything we can to stay functional need support to do so. I would like to have access to say, a housekeeping visit once a month, or an accountant to help with the paperwork. I am fortunate to have excellent family and social support, but that's hardly true of everyone - and if my disability were more visible (say I needed physio or crutches or a wheelchair), there would be help available. My illness is just as real even though you can't see it. 

- National prescription coverage. I pay $2 *a day* for the one drug that lets me sleep... Never mind the antidepressant that keeps me alive, the mood stabilizer that counters the mixed states I regularly fall into, the anti nightmare drugs that keep me from waking up screaming, the stimulant that helps me focus, and the marijuana that helps take the edge off the jitters I feel every day. My prescription costs run in the thousands of dollars each year. 

I know I am unwell. My family knows it. My friends know it. I have a service dog who helps keep me balanced. I am disabled by complex chronic PTSD.

But because I'm a civilian who was injured by a messy life, not a first responder or a soldier, because I tried my damndest to do as much as I could, because I look okay and have no xrays or blood tests or brain scans... The programs available to people with disabilities are generally NOT available to me. 

I don't think that's right. 

I am trying my best. This is what coping looks like. Having Someone  Important say "yep you are disabled, here are the programs that could help you" would ease my journey and lighten the load on my family. 

But I'm just a civilian who had a messy life, and if I just took some more meds surely I could hold down a job. So say the powers that be. 

They should have to live a week in my head. 

They'd sign the papers just to end the experience.