Yesterday I had a very interesting discussion while in the waiting room to see my therapist. I was just using my phone on Twitter and passing the time away when who would come in but somebody that I recognized from my hospitalization last year in May. We both recognized each other because the two of us had some really good discussions about life and mental illness and hope. Let’s just say that hope is in awfully short supply right now. Anyhow I asked Julie how she was doing and she said that she was hospitalized in February and that she is struggling. I told her that I too was in the hospital basically from Thanksgiving through the New Year.
We talked about our current treatment regiments and how they are not really working. For a while, electroconvulsive therapy was working for us both but the brain adapts and the therapy stops working. In the end, the forced seizures end up being hard and invasive on the body. Julie said that she was getting ECT twice weekly since February and it just was not working anymore. It worked for her for a very long time while it only worked for me for about two months and such as life.
I happened to bring up my personal frustrations with Medicare and Social Security Disability about how it is difficult to get state of the art treatment for mental illness. I also related my frustrations with healthcare for mental illness in general. Sadly, her experience was much the same way. I asked her if she sometimes thinks that the rest of our lives are destined to be simply interludes between hospitalizations because I often feel this way. She related that thought had crossed her mind as well. Julie then said something that made me change my mind about resisting going to the hospital, “I actually feel better after being hospitalized, even if it does not last forever.” She made a good point as I do feel a lot better after the hospitalizations and after all, isn’t that the point of being hospitalized is to feel better?
It is absolutely true too! I told Julie how I was almost re-admitted last Tuesday when my psychiatrists probably saw how awful I looked. They wanted to admit me and I fought it. Julie had me wondering why I fought it when I feel better after being hospitalized. She took a much less bleak look at being in the hospital and it is preferable to suffering. As she points out, self-care is much easier because all we have to do is shower and brush our teeth. Our meals and daily routines are taken care of, freeing us to work on our mental health. It is just a shame that there aren’t better outpatient services for people with severe, pervasive episodic depression. Few care much about mental health and it is refreshing that Christiana Care actually has very comprehensive mental health services. I would argue that it is the best in the PA, NJ, and DE area and Julie agreed.
Julie and I really hoped that COVID-19 would shed some serious light on mental health and make it a priority in healthcare. Psychiatric medicine moves at a glacially slow pace. It’s even more classist than other forms of medicine. The wealthy get vastly better psychiatric care than the poor and have access to some of the latest and greatest treatments. The divide isn’t as great in other forms of medicine. We are both sick and tired of suffering. If only people understood just how hard we are fighting for stability and fighting to get better. It is not the case that we are not trying hard enough or praying hard enough. We are pulling out all stops to try and get better.