"It's been 10 years since I first used mental health services. 10 years, three involuntary admissions, one stint in respite, more doctors than I can remember.
Some doctors were great. They believed what I told them about my illness, they went out of their way to help me, they were kind and compassionate.
Others were just mediocre. Seeing them was a waste of time since they couldn't or wouldn't do anything.
Some were awful. One literally told me she wasn't going to give me what I knew were my rights when she committed me. Instead she had the police handcuff me and cart me to a locked ward in the back of a police car. I kept asking the cops why it was a crime to be sad.
Another told me she could tell how depressed I was by my cheekbones, not anything I told her.
During the first stay in hospital more than one nurse sat me down and asked me if I was faking being crazy to write a story for the newspaper or for research with the university, saying outright that I wasn't sick enough to be there. I attempted suicide three days later and all of a sudden they didn't want to let me go home, but for some reason they did anyway. "You'll be back here by this time tomorrow" one nurse said. I think I stayed alive just to spite that woman.
I got better, but it seems the system got worse. Now they'd never put me in hospital, the system has always been an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, but now the cliff is higher and the ambulance has three flat tyres. You have to be really fucked up to get any help.
When my GP said last year that I needed to see community mental health because she couldn't manage my medications, fair enough, as she's not a psychiatrist and I take some uncommon drugs, I learned that now nurses do "screening calls" to decide if you're sick enough to see a psychiatrist, or if your GP can handle you. I wasn't sick, so I was handed back to my GP. Despite the entire reason for my referral being that my GP couldn't handle my needs, and she knew it.
Another piece of ridiculousness came just last week. I have ADHD, and take Concerta and Ritalin. The MoH says that to be prescribed stimulants you need to have a special authority number. And you have to get that number from a psychiatrist, every two years, because apparently the MoH thinks ADHD can just magically evaporate over that time.
My number had run out. I would need to see a psychiatrist to get another one, so I asked to be referred to one. The nurse at my GP's office said it wasn't worth it, ADHB does not give psychiatrist appointments just to get special authority numbers. So one branch of the system says I have to see a psychiatrist to get medication, and another says that being able to get medication isn't worth taking up one of their appointments.
The nurse said the only way to get the special authority number was to see a private psychiatrist. If I didn't have $400 to pay for an appointment in the private system? Well, I was shit outta luck then. The public system doesn't care that I can function, do my job, or be a productive member of society. They don't have the resources to actually give a shit anymore.
I've promised friends that if things get really bad, I will call the crisis team. But I'm not sure I can keep that promise, because I know what a crisis is to the system, and unless I'm actually putting the rope round my neck, I'm not having one.
The mental health system, for better or worse, has kept me alive. Without it I wouldn't be here. But it doesn't offer much in the way of hope. I guess the budget doesn't stretch to hope.”