I’m dead serious here. I don’t know what to wear to an intervention. A black business suit complete with pearls and high heels? Full body armor? Jeans, boots, hazmat apron, and a hockey mask in case spewage or violence? And it seems that soon I will be leading the charge on an intervention.
One of my siblings is in an extreme mental health crisis. She’s been passed out dead drunk and depressed on a brother’s couch for months now. She not eating or bathing, the only time she gets up is to stagger down to the corner store to pan handle for money to buy cheap beer. She’s sunk to the point where she will do anything, and I do mean anything for money to buy alcohol. Basically, she’s trying to drink herself to death.
My fear is that she well swim up from the depths of her despair long enough to have a semi-lucid moment and try some method of killing herself that may get more immediate results and she dies. Or gets raped and murdered in the alley she was lured into in search of funds for booze. However her alcoholism is not a stand-alone problem. She spirals into episodes because she has an untreated severe panic disorder. For lack of medical treatment to help her, she drinks. People in pain will resort to desperate measures to relieve that pain.
When you get right down to it, it is a horrifying situation. I think it’s the reason why I’ve never gone in for horror movies. Enough scary stuff going on in my family tree to keep me properly terrified at all times. Don’t need to drive somewhere, pay 7 bucks for a ticket, eat popcorn, and squirm around in my seat while viewing gruesomeness in high definition.
The catch 22 in mental health treatment is the prevailing opinion that “we can’t help you with psychiatric treatment or medications until you stop drinking.” You may as well tell someone with a broken leg “we can’t fix your leg until you stop screaming from the pain.” It’s ridiculous that otherwise intelligent, compassionate, professional people believe this.
I’m not going to use that tired old line about “why pay for a horror movie when I get it at home for free” because that is total hogwash. Mental illness is not free, it’s unbelievably expensive. Insurance coverage for mental health issues is sick joke. It is legalized stigma at it it’s finest. More often than not people who are in the throes of severe mental illness are not capable of keeping it together enough to have jobs and health insurance.
The main task of the day for the sick person is just living through it until the next day, and then make it through that day. When you start adding up lost jobs, lost relationships, lost homes and possessions, and treatment for stress induced illnesses, the cost of mental illness soars into the billions.
Patient rights advocates have been busy these past decades and posed the question “should someone be incarcerated or medicated against their will, if mentally ill?” Our bureaucracy has pounced on that as an excuse to close down mental hospitals nationwide and put thousands of mentally ill patients out on the street. You’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard the statistics of how many homeless people suffer from mental illness. “Let’s just pretend they don’t exist” is the mass delusion we’re suffering from. Just because someone can speak doesn’t mean they are capable of making rational decisions about their care.
And it is a total delusion. With new studies of the brain and genetics, scientist discovered that there is a genetic marker that indicates a risk of contracting a Mood Spectrum Disorder, such as severe depression, schizoaffective disorder, dysthymia, cyclothymic disorder, and manic depression. Similar genetic markers as those that indicate a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer. Does anyone yell at someone with cancer and say “Just snap out of it, take a shower, get off your pity pot and get a job?” No! Or at least most don’t. I won’t even go in to alternate new age, blame the victim, bull dung theories about illness is caused by Karma from a past life or any other nonsense.
Where the nature/nurture conundrum comes into play is in families with cyclical and generational mental disorders. Without intervention these families become more dysfunctional with each passing generation. Part of the problem is that no one has the coping skills taken for granted in a functional family. A healthy person might say “I’m feeling a bit down today, I’m going to take a bubble bath, go to bed early with a cup of herbal tea and a good book.” A person with a genetic propensity towards mental disorder raised in a generational loony bit will say “I’m feeling down today, so I’m going to down a fifth of vodka, wrap my car around a telephone pole after driving on the sidewalk for 3 blocks, and then strip down and flee the scene naked to the nearest sleazy bar and dance on tables for drinks, wrapped in a bar towel.
There’s a major disconnect here. Anyone growing up a midst of this madness is blessed by all the saints in heaven if they emerge unscathed. Chances of winning the lottery are more likely.
Back to my sister. In the past few months she been taken to the hospital by the police 3 times because she was in an alcohol and mental illness induced violent psychosis. What do they do? Keep her at least over night or give her a psychiatric evaluation? No. Send her to a detox unit? Nope, not a chance.
What they do is tie her to gurney until she is sober enough to string 2 words together and then RELEASE HER, as in just boot her out the door in the middle of the night; drunk, filthy, disheveled, penniless, out of her mind, partially clothed, barefoot and in the worse part of town.
Do they bother to inform a family member that they dumped a young woman on the street at 2:00am without even pocket change to make a phone call? NO. I think there should be a special section of hell for any insurance company executive or politician who pretends to think this is humane treatment of a human being. If someone treated an animal like this they could be facing hard time in prison.
OK, I got off a rant. But yes, I’m extremely angry about this. I’m so angry that I’m going to take my soapbox on the road. I’m going to try to get help for my sister. If I didn’t try I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.