Tuesday, September 1, 2015

WE

Today a local news station shared a story about a new mental health facility that is being built. The neighborhood it is proposed to be built in, is jokingly referred to as "Snobsdale" due to higher priced homes and the reputation some who reside there embody. Picture designer clothes, luxury cars and lots of bling. Apparently, neighbors are not too fond of the thought of having a mental health facility "in their backyard".

These people who are so upset, clearly don't know that mental health does not discriminate. It affects all ages, races, sexual orientations, religions, countries, and even, dare I say, social classes. Sorry to burst your bubble.

If you live in Arizona and suffer, like I do, from any one of the many form of a mental health illness, you would know that there are very limited resources. Especially when it comes to the kind of intensive care that this 78,000 square foot facility would provide. The lives that it can potentially save, the very significant likelihood that it will help decrease petty crimes due to drug usage due to untreated mental health issues. Those who go seek treatment in an Emergency Room are soon shuffled out the door like any other patient that fills the halls each day. Left to somehow make it through another day. These people who are left untreated, can have devastating results.

Let me put my own personal story in here to help give you a better understanding of what I have encountered here in Arizona's struggling mental health system. I have suffered from anxiety since I was 11, after being sexually abused daily for over a year by my best friend and neighbors father. Then in 2011 I found my own father after he shot himself. I now battle severe depression and PTSD as a result of the traumas. For the first few years after his suicide, I was in a state of total denial. I refused to really understand or even come to terms with how bad I was suffering. I didn't sleep, I barely ate, and I was always, always sad. There was this cloud that loomed over me. No matter how great my current life was, I couldn't seem to fight the constant grief. Sudden loud noises would send me into instant shock. My entire body would shake and I would suddenly start to get short of breath. I would have horrific and all too real nightmares of the scene I came upon when I found him. I would wake soaked in sweat and crying uncontrollably. I pushed away friends and family, unable to understand my own anger. I was paralyzed by suffering. I finally got to a point where I felt there was no hope, where I would only ever be a burden to my loved ones. I very regretfully attempted to end my own life. What's worse, is how difficult it was to obtain proper care afterward.

The morning after, my Husband, friends and Mother feverishly called hospital after hospital. Hours upon hours of searching before we were told to come to the Emergency room to attempt to expedite the admission process. While I was quickly taken to the back and placed on suicide watch, I waited over 36 hours in a hallway while they waited for a bed to open up at the next available mental health facility. When I was finally taken by ambulance to the facility, I then waited for over 8 hours in a waiting room alone. I'm a pretty strong and independent woman, but that time spent alone was the roughest and most emotional hours of my life. All I wanted was a hand to hold or a loved one near. I even had to give them my phone.

I can promise you that anyone who suffers, if given the choice, would love the ability to seek proper care. To obtain a sense of normalcy. We don't wake up in the morning hoping we can feel dead inside. It is not in our human character to want to suffer. But when you do suffer, it is almost certain that we feel the need to fight it. This fight is not possible without help. Licensed, therapeutic help by a professional from the mental health field. When the ability to even try is taken from us, and we are left fend for ourselves, our disease can become fatal.

I say we proudly. We are a family. We are not alone. We are Mothers, Fathers, Wives, Husbands, Daughters, Sons, Grandparents. We are your community, your Teachers, your First Responders. We are people! Just like anyone else. We suffer and we fight, and just like anyone else who needs medical assistance, we need voices.

So I ask you, each of you who may someday face having a mental health facility "in your backyard", to think about all of us. We need you. We need your support, we need easily accessible care. We need you to understand that by building this facility, you aren't destroying your neighborhood, but enriching it. By supporting those who seek treatment, you are slowly breaking down the walls and stigma surrounding mental health. By building this facility, you are saving so many lives, in so many ways.

Shares are greatly appreciated! We need your help to get our voice heard!