Back when I was living in Arizona, I had court ordered mental health treatment following a near fatal overdose in April. Though I do not remember much from the incident, I do know how I felt post-overdose, while on a high dose of a various anti-depressants and sleep aides.
I felt depressed.
I tried doing everything I had been told to to help get me out of my rut. From hanging out with friends, to exercising and eating right, to ensuring I got eight to ten hours of sleep a night. I took my pills as prescribed, and even started coloring with crayons (no joke). But nothing seemed to work. I was broken hearted, in a relationship with a guy I wanted more than anything to love but didn’t, and more or less homeless. But I took my anti-depressants consistently and attended the court-ordered counseling.
Nothing was working. The court-ordered counseling sucked, and was really a thirty minute appointment to ensure that the medication was “being effective” (though, if you’re taking an anti-depressant and are depressed, I think they are in fact not being effective at all, but doctors disagreed with me).
Finally, I had it. When I asked my case manager if I could move to New York for my mental health, Arizona had to many painful memories and dangerous temptations, they said no. They said it would violate my court ordered treatment. It took them four days to return my repetitive phone calls to tell me something they should have known before hand. But no, they don’t have the manpower to return phone calls, much less spend a moment trying to truly help you.
The Arizona Republic just ran an article detailing how the state budget cuts will greatly effect mental health services in Arizona. The article says it’ll cost the state jobs. But what about the lives of those who are trying so hard to get better?
When I realized that I needed to leave Arizona, I just left. Come hell or high water, I left, and know that there is a “pick-up order” (as in the police are looking for me to force me into a mental health hospital in Arizona) because of that. But the reality is, ever since I came out here, I stopped taking my medication and have never been happier. The half hour counseling appointments did the same thing the medication did: hindered my ability to feel. The reality is simple: only through feeling am I able to heal and grow. Arizona’s mental health services weren’t helping me at all.
Now, it appears Arizona is going to be making more cuts to mental health services in Arizona. That’s terrifying. Not only are they already unorganized and stretched thin, but they attempted to stand in my way while I tried to get over a very serious heartbreak and the post traumatic stress that followed.
I realize that most doctors say stopping medication without a doctor’s help is dangerous. But, no doctor was listening to me when I said they weren’t working, the doctor’s didn’t have the time. While on medication, I was considering suicide fairly regularly. I was incredibly unhappy, and felt like my emotions were all over the place. I got angry incredibly quickly, and lost myself to tears of rage and sadness.
There might be medication that does help people to get out of being depressed, but nothing worked for me. Many people listen and believe what their doctors tell them, but if their doctors are spread too thin to listen to their patients, what are truly mentally ill supposed to do?
I took ownership in my mental health. I got out of a bad environment, stopped all medications (recreational ones included) and have never felt more alive. That’s a far cry from the want to die I felt just a few months ago.