I read the following with dismay yesterday. It is a road many families have walked. I have walked… Some of my friends have also walked this road. It can start gradually, sneaking up on both the individual and those who love them. They don’t want to do what they once loved. They retreat, becoming uncommunicative. They find no joy in anything. You may find that they are drinking more than usual. You may uncover just how much when you put the bins out and see the many empty bottles in the recycling. There is something going on that you can’t quite put your finger on, and they are either refusing to talk or aren’t capable of telling you. It is frustrating, as in social settings, they can be quite animated-jovial even-which masks what is really occurring.
When it all falls apart, it is often dramatic and spectacular. It can be after years of seeking help for the person. Marriage and family counselling, dietitians and alternative healthcare practitioners (to get their diet right and make sure that they have no deficiencies), AA, NA, GP’s, brain scans, blood tests, and so much more. There may be brushes with the law, and unpaid bills and fines. You may feel as though you are grieving a loved one, though they are right in front of you. You would do anything to retrieve their essence.
Thousands of families across Australia are facing the same agony as Grant’s loved ones. Right here and now. Finding appropriate help is time-consuming and exhausting, particularly when you are dealing with someone who denies they have a problem, or who tires of being on the merry-go-round. Who could blame them? Services tend to be dislocated from one another, and having to relay the story of why you came to be in somebody’s office time and again is wearing.
After five exhausting years of not knowing what the heck was going on with their partner, a friend was relieved when a diagnosis of depression came about. It was short-lived, as the antidepressants put them in free-fall. After another year of tumult, it turned out that they actually had bi-polar disorder, and the medication was causing them to rapid-cycle. They are doing so much better today, though life can still be challenging. The whole family or friendship group may have to adapt to a new normal. Stressors which the person may have coped with in the past, may cause them a set-back in their recovery. I hope with all my heart that Grant gets the help he needs, and I hope that his family can feel our support. It highlights the urgent need for prompt and cohesive services.
For urgent help, contact Beyond Blue or the Black Dog Institute.
I have slowed down, and my brain (and life) are better for it. I am actually letting myself feel the physical pain that I endure. It hurts, but it is real. It appreciates being felt. I am still limiting my caffeine intake and exercise in the sunshine each day. I am eating regularly and acknowledging feelings as they come up. It hasn’t been as overwhelming as I feared.
A production crew are shooting the next season of the excellent series Changing Minds in the district I live in. It will be shown on the ABC later this year. A beautiful mum I know was interviewed the other day by the crew. She was so brave as she turned her face to the winter sun and talked about her depression. How it felled her, and how she is making her comeback. I was in awe of her. The production crew impressed me with their sensitivity and empathy. The mental health sector needs more funding, and it needs it now.
I well remember when I searched for help for a loved one several years ago. I was frightened for them, that they may not make it. Time was of the essence. There was a procession of psychologists, doctors, scans, blood tests, and diagnosis’. Some believed this person had an adrenal issue, others believed it was hormonal. Still others believed it was depression. There were about ten different diagnosis before bipolar was diagnosed. I was left to sort through all the information as this person was too ill to do it themselves. Alternative health practitioners became involved in case it was dietary. You will try anything when you are so ill. The person became sicker. I turned to a church who offered counselling. I was asked whether this person’s family had ever been involved in the Masonic practice. I was bemused and asked what this had to do with mental health. I was told that curses can be carried through bloodlines. I was aghast that no practical help was offered. It made this person become more insular, to everyone’s detriment.
Finally, a mental health service opened in our town. A place I was able to get to easily and which was free. As a support person, I was going down, and these people could see it. I was given excellent advice and was able to remain on an even keel whilst helping this loved one. I looked forward to my visits, and finding a workable way of life, for myself and this person. I rang to make an appointment late last year, only to find that this service had closed. The local mental health unit do their very best with limited resources. It is immensely frustrating and heart-rending for the staff. It took years for this person to reach a proper diagnosis. I am so thankful that they held on for it. They are stable, though their grip on life can be tenuous. I look forward to watching the next season of Changing Minds. I look forward to hearing from the dedicated staff, who do their level best in a system plagued with funding cuts and politics. I look forward to hearing the stories of the clients, who have been through hell and keep paddling. You all amaze and astound me with your iron will. There is something inside that makes you hold on; the promise of a beautiful future filled with restful sleep and wondrous times. Keep holding on.
After a concentrated, delightful weekend, I faced a weird day. One of those days when you feel out of sorts. I got home from pickup, the most pressing feature being getting feeling back through the right side of my body. A hot bath then voltage via my Tens machine! Yes! A missed call from my beautiful publicist, saying that Radio National wanted to interview me for White Ribbon Day. Oh my goodness! I called her back and she said I was to be interviewed live at 5.15pm! I felt a weight of responsibility on my shoulders. My little girl was excited and declared she would hold my hand throughout the interview. What a price to pay. It is a daily price. The pain never fades, in any respect. I am not doing any of this for me. I could have written children’s books from the start! I am whimsical and it is what I relish. I am ill-prepared for my story. It is ill-prepared for me.
My daughter is on her headphones, listening to Katy Perry, and singing her lungs out. We are cool! I feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. I am so sorry, so very sorry, for all those that didn’t survive. I am hoping to lead the way for all those that did and wonders what happens next. I am so glad I am here. I understand those that couldn’t hang on. At the end, there is nothing but love. It is hard to rebuild a life. I am still constructing, but after the violence ends, there is nothing but joy throughout the whole process. I am thinking of all who have been told they were nothing, have been abused in any manner possible this White Ribbon Day. Believe me, you are everything. xxx