Posted by: Jack Hope | Wednesday May 16, 2012

Hurry Up and Wait

Dear Terry,

The most frustrating element of this entire experience is the constant ongoing waiting for something to happen.  Mental health patients it seems always are expected to wait for relief, dropped down the priority queue the moment we’re not a danger to ourselves or to others.

Waiting is just an inevitable consequence of any healthcare system (even idiotic pseudo-free market systems) and that’s never going to be completely eliminated.  It can’t be.  There will always be people with more urgent needs and they in any proper, well run healthcare system must be first in line.  I know I’m not suffering as much as a lot of other people are.

Still, too many who suffer from mental health issues are dropped to the bottom of the queue it seems.  I’m on a waiting list right now to start seeing a psychiatrist here in Calgary.  Despite the fact that I was seeing one regularly in Vancouver, I am treated as a brand new patient by Alberta’s healthcare system.  I effectively have to start all over again.

Hence I’m still more than a month a way from seeing someone here.  So I’m stuck in that inevitable waiting period.

I’d say most of the time that I’ve spent in the mental healthcare system, both here and in British Columbia has been made up of waiting for someone to help me.

I’m not going to die if it takes a month for me to see a psychiatrist.  I’m just going to be idle, unable to move forward on getting treatment.  Unable to move forward with my life.

I’m sure this is the point where some  unenlightened yahoo would like to jump in and say that it’s ‘within my own power’ to jump start my life.  And good luck dealing with the cancer of yours without professional help!

I’m just so angry about it.

I want my life back.  More than that, I want to unleash the real potential that I think I have, that I’ve realized I might be able to achieve.  There’s been something inside of me, something chained up and held down for so long.  It’s no longer tied down as much, but it still hasn’t broken free either.

It’s going to take a lot of hard work on my part too, but I can’t do that without professional help either.

Without professional help I’m just left spinning my wheels trying to shake free of my problems.  More than that, I don’t just want to get free only to be sucked back in but I want to find some real, permanent solutions to my Depression.  The last thing I need is some placebo that gives me temporary relief but leaves me at risk of falling back into a major episode a year or two from now.

But right now, I’m just stuck in a holding pattern.  Again.

So much of my time has been consumed by this.  So much of my life has been consumed by depression and now even more is being consumed by waiting for treatment.

I wonder what the real cost is for people like me who have been idled by mental illness?  The cost to our employers, families, healthcare systems?

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, I really don’t.  I have come a long way, both in terms of improving my mood and more than that, understanding what’s happening to me and how to manage it.  I owe so much to some of the amazing medical professionals who helped me.  The especially kind psychiatrist at St. Paul’s emergency who helped me not once, but twice.  My regular psychiatrist in Vancouver.

But none of that changes the waiting.  There’s no aspirin for mental anguish.  When someone is physically injured we can give them painkillers to help tide them over till they heal.  There’s no such option for people with mental illness.  No relief without treatment.

So, I’m stuck waiting, languishing while life passes me by.

I’m so frustrated and angry and I just don’t know what to do about it anymore.

I hope you’re doing better than I am.




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