It has been a week now and the shift is small, but it’s there.
A slight increase in my Abilify prescription, a half a tablet more, and my mind is no longer a dangerous place.
I’m not happy, not exactly, though I have moments of happiness and laughter that I didn’t before. I’m calmer, and ready to face the mornings without a sense of dread. My stomach no longer aches. And though I’m having problems with my memory, my mind works better than it did.
But still, I’m angry.
Angry at how little the system can do for me, for others like me, or those in worse straits.
We are lucky to live in Canada. We can visit a psychiatrist for free, and even get free medication if we can’t afford it. This is huge, and I know things wouldn’t be nearly as good next door.
But that’s as far as it goes. Other than CBT programs that take place during the work day, there isn’t any free or affordable therapy here in Burnaby. Some therapists operate on a sliding scale, but they aren’t easy to find, nor are they cheap.
I’ve opted to go the online therapy route, as it is more affordable and accessible. I don’t have to take time off work for it, once I find work.
But even that is outside the realm of possibility for many people. The cost is just too much.
From what I’ve been told, in-patient care for mentally ill people here does not involve any therapy, either. It is more like a babysitting service for those who cannot look after themselves for a time. But nothing is fixed there, nothing is resolved.
Many have to settle for advice from those without a true understanding of mental illness.
“You need to exercise for an hour a day.” “You need to consider your spirituality – maybe try Buddhism?” etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
And so we read books – I think the self-help industry has stood in for proper medical care for people with mental illnesses for decades now – and we get care where we can. Often from extremely caring people who are doing their best, but it isn’t enough.
I was recently told I have Borderline Personality Disorder traits, though not the disorder itself. However, DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) was suggested.
I’ve looked in my area. The process usually involves group therapy weekly for 26 weeks, as well as individual therapy on a weekly basis. This would cost somewhere around $850-950+ per month, not including (at one clinic) a $405 assessment fee.
If I actually had the disorder, I’d be SOL. While we have some coverage under my husband’s plan, it only includes $800 for therapy for the year. And his plan is a relatively good one.
My point is, there should be more emphasis on healing and helping people with mental illnesses rather than just maintaining a baseline where they don’t harm themselves or others. That’s not enough. People who are suffering should be helped.
So, while I am grateful for my medication, I wish there was something beyond a pill to help me, and others like me, through the hard times.