Breaking news: Live from a mental institution
An anchor woman holds her microphone steady as she reports live from ‘We have the power’ , an old mental institution where the walls should have been painted decades ago. Her voice intermingle with twenty other reporters looking seriously into the camera, pointing occasionally to the building behind them. The anchor woman turns her voice dramatically down when she arrives at the conclusion.
“Sources tell us that in this mental institution, often just keep patients long enough to give them medication before they send them back. They sometimes don’t arrive at the right diagnose, and it is rumored that they don’t take enough time with traumatized victims or that they even consciously decide not to talk about what they have experienced. Only 30% report that they felt better or had hope for the future after being released, and surveys show that staggering 20 % of the patients will be readmitted after not receiving the help they wanted”
Her face is now full of rage. Her mother killed herself after being hospitalized in a mental health clinic. When she had read through her mother’s journal she saw how many pills she was on, barbiturates strong enough to knock out a mammoth. When she tried to find therapy notes where her mother could process her traumatic past, she only found short conversations where the doctors wanted to know if she slept well, eat what she should or if she felt a bit better after taking another pill. She shouldn’t even be reporting, but she manages to do her job, t is important for her to get it all out there.
Another reporter talks with the direction, who promises that they will do everything to make this right. They will look into their routines and see what they can do to make sure this will never happen again.
The news report goes viral. Oprah dedicate her next show to the cause, and Internet users on Twitter have started protest demonstrations, venturing into the street with their fists pumping in the air as they chant: ‘Stop this, stop this, stop this’. They bring posters where with personal accounts: ‘My mother only got three days in the institution, when her depression intensified they said they have done everything they could so she was not prioritized. Take mental health seriously!” Some write messages to the government. ‘We want that our tax payers money go to mental health care for the 450 billions who needs better treatment” or “Why only research on drugs?”. The protesters don’t make to much of a fuss. They don’t shout out obscenities, but they gather in every city, staying put and showing their support. They have started a peaceul war.
Why don’t we see this in the real world? Where is the public outcry over the state of unsatisfactory mental health care? When someone breaks a leg, we demand full treatment until the injury is fully treated. We never take off the bandage after three weeks instead of six, telling our patient that they can come back if the leg breaks again as it will because it simply was not healed. We protest when the plumber does a bad job, demanding to sue them if they don’t come back and fix it. When politicians have done something wrong, news papers write about it for days, as they do when an actress have broken down and been sent to rehab. But where are the headlines after it thousands of citizens have been ignored by the health care system? Where are the depth interviews with families who’ve seen their loved ones break down after unsuccessful treatment?
In my future news scenario, the media would focus on mental health daily. They would write nuanced articles on every subject relating to how we suffer and what our options are when we do. There would be demonstrations to so that we get what we need.
We would all be small Ghandies, damanding justice. We wouldn’t close our eyes, we would engage and try to change things. The media would not ignore us.
In my future utopia, the mental institution ‘We have the power’ would change their ways. They would give the power back to their patients, not giving up before they had tailor made the treatment that was right for them. They would listen to them and find their resources.
They would use money on educating their employees, giving their patient the very best care. We do it with cancer patients, we even do it at Starbucks to make sure that the customers are a hundred percent satisfied with their coffees. I dream about a world where surveys about how satisfied their patient are with their treatment. Why shouldn’t we give mental health all of our attention? When almost a fourth of us have psychological issues, stigma should be lifted by never ignoring our troubled minds.
We should not be afraid to speak up.
Mental health research in India
Stigma | Mental Health Commission of Canada
Readmission Rates for Mental Health Patients – NBRHC
Strategies for reducing stigma toward persons with mental illness
Just like a pill
Psychiatric drugs are doing us more harm than good
The sound of stumbling
Some stories have an effect on us. The following story stayed with me.
Remember, life is precious
What You Learn When You Attempt Suicide DEC. 6, 2013 By
I learned that dying is hard. You wouldn’t think so, but it really is.
There’s all these options, you know? And you Google them because
you want to learn but Google keeps telling you not to do it. And
even after you do all the research, there’s such a huge chance that
you’ll fail miserably at it. That you’ll survive. And then you’ll
really be screwed. I learned that I really, really don’t like
Mountain Dew. I bought a can of it at the gas station to wash down
two bottles of pills. I’d never tried it before, honestly. I’m not
one to drink sodas—the gas hurts my throat as it goes down, the
bubbles piercing my throat, but I remember thinking, ‘Hey, might as
well try something new while I can.’ I learned that the
Chattahoochee River is a wonderland in the rain. Fat drops of water
burst on the rippled surface like the bubbles in my soda, spitting
out tiny splinters of mud in every direction when they hit the
ground. The water beat against the shore like one giant heart, its
color the perfect combination of burnt umber and ultramarine blue.
I learned that time is not linear, and the race between the rain
drops sliding across the car window is most definitely not a fair
fight. All of a sudden, I’m seven years old again, and it is
Christmas Eve and my parents are in the front of the car, driving
us back home. It’s pouring out. I pick my favorite raindrop—it’s
huge, as swollen as my belly (because, God, I ate so much red
jello), and the biggest raindrop of the bunch. It’s sliding fast,
beating every other pathetic little druplet, and then…not fair. It
split up into tenths of tiny pearls in the wind. It lost. Suddenly,
time warps and I’ve finished swallowing all the pills. I learned
that even trying to kill yourself will leave permanent wounds on
the people who love you. That your parents will know to call the
one person who might know where you are when you phone goes
straight to voicemail and they’re worried out of their minds. I
learned he knew I’d be at the river. As I dove in and out of
consciousness, I saw his blue shoes on the shiny pavement. They
were the ones I helped him pick out during Black Friday. Man, that
line was the longest one of our lives. I saw his hands dial 911. I
saw his face, wet from the rain. I learned there are some things
people will never forgive you for doing. For even trying to do. I
learned what charcoal tastes like, what hospitals smell like, what
a mother’s desperate grip feels like. When I was little, she would
sometimes grab my wrist instead of my hand to cross the street. I
always asked if she was mad when she did this. She never was. It’s
more than a decade later, and her hand is on my wrist. It feels
just as terrifying as it did then. I asked her if she was mad. She
said, “I love you.” I learned to pee with the door open. To have
nurses sitting in my room through sunrises and sunsets, each and
every one of them as kind and wonderful as the next, each and every
one of them as unwilling to let me close the damn door. But I
learned to live with it, to get over it. I learned that I really
love The Lion King and cheese pizza with ranch dressing. I wasn’t
allowed to eat pizza. I wasn’t allowed to eat anything that didn’t
taste like yellowed, wrinkled hospital sheets. But boy, the pizza
on all the TV commercials on the hospital screens looked like
steamy heaven. So I promised myself, as I watched Disney’s
best-movie-ever on repeat, that I would eat all of the pizza when I
got out. All of it. I learned about religion. I walked into my
apartment to find that my mostly atheist parents had set up an
altar for me. There was a picture of me in the middle, fifteen
pounds heavier that my current ghostly self, surrounded by
mismatched candles, angel statuettes, and a wooden sign painted
with the words “Today: Begin”. They prayed to a God I’m not sure
they even believe in. As the door slowly shut behind me, I learned
about love and heavy, heavy stomachfuls of regret. I learned that
living is hard. That my depression would constantly make me feel
like my lungs were filled with dark water and my legs made out of
melting wax. That I was going to have to try harder than most,
every single day of my life. But I also learned that the fight is
worth it. I mean, life is cheese pizza, rain drop races, and
fathers with hearts coated in gold. It is love and faith, and
though there might not be much we can do about how horrible
Mountain Dew is, life is worth sticking around for a second or two.
I learned that living is hard. But I learned that dying is much,
much harder. You should like Thought Catalog on Facebook here.
Tagged Depression, Raindrops, Recovery, Suicide Natalia
Castells-Esquivel Natalia Castells-Esquivel is a native of Mexico,
currently living with four (currently alive) plants in Atlanta. She
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