Word Press Post A Day – When was the last time you experienced writer’s block? What do you think brought it about — and how did you dig your way out of it?
I just started doing these Post A Day things from Word Press – I thought it might help me expand on my topics – bring in new ideas to relate to mental health…which is what my blog is about. For the most part, I think it has helped a bit. I think most of them I have been able to relate to mental health/illness in some way, even if it has been a bit of a stretch at times. Except Unlikely Pairing – that one, nope, I just couldn’t tie in. I wrote about it anyway, just to write.
I am passionate about mental health though. I have been affected with mental illness my whole life. There is so much stigma associated with mental illness though. You rarely hear about the great people that have mental illness, just the horrible stories related to it. Everyone just gets a bad picture.
I created this blog to show my struggles, but also my triumphs over my disorders – my bipolar, my borderline personality disorder, and my PTSD. All of which I struggle with daily. I also overcome it everyday though.
Each day I get up, I write on here. I write about what mental illness is, or how to cope with it, quotes related to it, how it has affected me, how it might be affecting me that day, what I am going to do in the future to overcome a challenge that I faced because of it, suicide, sexual abuse, past traumas, therapy, etc.
I’m sure I had writers block in high school related to some silly essay my AP English teacher wanted me to write. When it comes down to something that I am interested in though, something I am passionate about – no, I haven’t had it. I am sure it might come eventually, but so far, it hasn’t hit me. I hope it doesn’t because this is a topic that needs to be spoken up for and needs to be heard.
This is my coping skill. It’s keeping me mentally healthy right now. Or as much as it can anyway.
Stigma. Stigma creates so many barriers for those of us with mental illness. I know it has prevented me from sharing my illness with people, at least when I was first diagnosed. Although that quickly changed. I was in nursing school – and I ended up in the psych hospital —- the same semester we were doing psych clinicals. So, all my fellow students walked in there ready to work with the patients, and I was one of them. I couldn’t hide it anymore. I was so freaked out. I ran to the room and shut the door and refused to come out. It didn’t matter though, my name was up on the board and they had my chart. My whole history!
After that, there was no point in hiding it. I just decided to be open. Of course, I still was in denial at this point and was in and out of the hospital. I had dropped out of school for the semester after my first hospitalization, but still saw my fellow students throughout all my hospitalizations. I was open with them about what was going on with me. They never talked bad about me to my face and I think they were understanding.
Stigma really hurts though. There are two types of stigma:
1. Social stigma – this is the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that other individuals direct towards those with mental illness
2. Self stigma – this is when the person with mental illness perceives the discrimination in their own way and internalizes it – leading to poor self esteem, guilt, shame, etc
Because of self stigma and social stigma, those with mental illness avoid treatment for fear of how they will be treated. They do not want to be diagnosed with something that might make them “different” from others. They do not want a diagnosis that will cause others to be scared of them. Many people often think that those with mental illness are “dangerous” when in reality, people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence (by someone else or to themselves, i.e. self harm or suicide) than to be violent towards someone else (shooting, murder, all those stories they show on the media, etc).
The only way to get rid of stigma is to continue to educate those around us about mental health and mental illness. People might not want to hear about it. We cannot push people to hear about it. But we can bring it up here and there. We can be honest about our struggles instead of hiding them. If someone asks how we are doing, we can tell them, we can be truthful. We can take off our masks and tell them we have bipolar or ptsd or anxiety or whatever we might have and explain we are having a rough day. We can write to our leaders in government to help expand funding to mental health resources. We can leave brochures at libraries or other public places about support groups. We can make a difference in helping defeat the “bad name” that these disorders have gotten.
There is such a lack of mental health services and even if there are resources available access to them is quite hard. For example, I live in a larger city (Tampa, FL), and there are quite a few psychiatrists and therapists around. Many of them do not accept insurance at all (only self pay), many only take a few insurance plans, and those that do accept most insurance plans have long waiting periods to even get an appointment (3-6 months to get an intake).
What are you supposed to do when you need medication but you cannot get in to see your doctor? Go to a hospital? You aren’t suicidal and you don’t have insurance – but the only way to get your medication is by getting admitted to a psych hospital? And in some areas, they do not even have enough psychiatric beds in hospitals even if you are suicidal, so they simply send you home when you are in danger (sadly, this does happen).
I was lucky enough to live in a town in Indiana for 6 years where I obtained great services. I unfortunately was not functioning well enough to get much help from them, but they provided therapy 2x a week, case management 3x a week, psychiatry 1x a month, a clubhouse that was open 7:30am-3pm, and on call services 24 hours a day. They had their own hospital affiliated with their clinic. When I had insurance they accepted it. When I didn’t have insurance they worked with me for a reduced rate ($11/apt). This was completely unavailable when I moved to Florida though. I left the state hospital in Indiana and moved to Florida with absolutely no services for the most part. I had a 3 month wait for the psychiatrist (luckily it was set up while I was still in the hospital, but I still had 1 month after I moved here). This office was horrible though. My appointment would be at 1pm, but I wouldn’t see the psychiatrist til 5 or 6pm. And this was a regular occurrence – I wouldn’t actually see the psychiatrist until 4-6 hours after my schedule appointment time. I couldn’t handle it and finally scheduled an appointment with another psychiatrist, but it took a 3 month weight, and of course, this one didn’t take my insurance so I am self pay.
There are just far too few mental healthcare professionals today. They are one of the lowest paid specialties in the medical field. With the high cost of medical school, few people choose to go into the field. In many areas, there are only private practices as well and not community mental health clinics. Private practice clinics do not offer many of the services that a community mental health clinic can offer such as case managers, medication management, and most importantly a reduced/sliding scale fee that many people may need.
More attention needs to be focused on increasing resources geared towards mental health. Not simply just creating awareness, but actually doing something about it. Fixing the system. Adding more healthcare providers. Getting people more inspired to go into the field. Adding more psychiatric nurse practioner programs to help aid reducing the time patients have to wait to see someone. Increasing funding for hospitals so that patients are not turned away. If someone goes to a hospital for help, they should not be told that they cannot get it.
This lack of mental health resources needs to be addressed.
I know a lot of us are sick of hearing “Let it Go” from Disney’s movie Frozen. But when you listen to it, it really has some interesting lyrics. I read this article a few weeks ago, and after reading it I decided to actually listen to the lyrics of the song instead of being irritated by the constant playing of it on the radio and kids singing it at the movie theatre and stores. I thought, “Wow! This actually kind of relates to me and my feelings.”
I haven’t seen the movie itself, and hearing the song repeatedly is still a little annoying to me after hearing it so often in the beginning, but I still do enjoy thinking about the song when I feel a little down.
Here is a link to the article. It was written by Nadia Ali, Ph.D. She is a health psychologist on faculty at Emory University’s School of Medicine, in the Department of Human Genetics. She has over 15 years experience providing psychological care with medically ill populations