this is how you do it

a lot of people i find to be on the cusp of help don't really know how to do it, or who to go to.
so this is how you do it.  this is good for people who think they might be sick to know, but also good for everyone in case depression or bipolar or schizophrenia or any mental illness waltzes into the life of someone you love.
here is what you do. in canada.  or newfoundland at least.  a simple guide to navigating our own little mental healthcare universe.
these are just the small weird details of things that people seem to not know, and might help someone.
disclaimer: i am not a mental health professional in any way at all.  if you are experience a mental health crisis, call the mental health crisis line (737-4668).  this post is just about helping you get in touch with the people you need to be in touch with.  don't listen to anything else i say.  this is just letting you know how to find the people you need to find if you think you might be sick.

the more people that know these things, the better.  it is good to be able to tell your friends what they can do if they come to you and are sick.

1. go to your doctor
         this is a pretty unknown thing, oddly enough.  your gp can be your first step (if it isn't an emergency).  your family doctor.  or get a family doctor.  or go to a walk-in (i would recommend getting your own doctor though).  it helps to have a doctor who rules.  doctors can prescribe medication.  they don't need to be psychiatrists.  if you are anti-medication, you can still go to your doctor and they help you explore your other options. they will also help you find out what your best option is, and will walk through your options with you.  this is good because it is easy.  it's just another doctors appointment!  but it can feel strange.  just prepare yourself for that and know it's okay.  if sometimes you think you're sick, but you're not sure, go to the doctor anyways.  they will help you understand the symptoms and nuances and atypical tricks you might not find through internet sleuthing.  maybe you are teetering on the cusp of something. it's just always better to know.  if you feel uncomfortable in the waiting room just keep repeating 'it's always just better to know' in your head.

         oh, also.  don't lie to your doctor.  i know you might be scared that they will hospitalize you if you are hurting yourself, or not eating, or making yourself throw up, or if you're suicidal.  or you're afraid they will tell your family.  don't worry.  suicidal risk assessment and all of these things have broad scales, and a lot of doctors are actually pretty good at knowing when hospitalization will help and when it won't.  you will not automatically be hospitalized.  if your doctor does refer you to the hospital, just remember that they know how to help you.  it took me five years to admit to my doctor i was suicidal.  i can assure you that not telling your doctor these things is the wrong decision.  it just twisted up inside me and made everything a whole lot harder later.  and maybe someone will decide that hospitalization is your best bet - if so, that's cool.  that means they're going to help you figure this out.  you got this.  you go gurl.  it is better than recoiling within your own darkness.  it will help you.  hiding will not help. that is the long and short of it.  if they need to refer you to a psychiatrist they will, and they will help you get set up with everything you need.  it is a long wait for psychiatrists in newfoundland, but they will take care of you until then (if you go to MUN the counselling center has their own psychiatrist, which is AMAZING. it cuts down the wait time considerablyyyy.  not all doctors know this, so mention it to them).  so that's really just how you start.  make a doctor's appointment!

2. get a good therapist
          if therapy is your thing, get a good one.  if you go to MUN you have the luxury of the glorious counselling center, where you get to shop around a bit for someone who works best for you  (it is FREE. that is amazing).  learn about your therapist before you see them.  talk to them on the phone.  that is what you do if you do not go to MUN.  learn from their website (if they have a website.  a lot of psychologists in newfoundland don't.  but other places they do.  and in most provinces you can find some psychologists by their listing service.)  if you are worried about money, look into your insurance.  look into an insurance plan that might be better.  try to remember how important this is for your health.  don't be afraid to invest in your well-being, or even to ask your parents for help if that's an option for you. talk to your doctor about options you have that are less expensive; the START clinic, THINK at mun, different group therapies, and things like that.  don't write off therapy because it is a financial burden.  just try to find a way.  there are ways.  oh also, don't lie to your therapist either.  you can also find a therapist based on their gender, experience, areas of expertise, etc at this website: http://www.nlpsych.ca/FindAPsychologyProvider.aspx

3. learn about medication
           for me, medication rules.  some people aren't really into it, and that's okay.  but make sure you know true things about medication before you write it off, or before you leap into it.  there are some really lovely drugs and they help a ridiculous amount.  plus, there are some cases of depression that are better dealt with by therapy and medication rather than just therapy.  your doctor will probably let you know.  some people think anti-depressants are overused and overprescribed, and maybe they are right.  but just make sure you learn about things first.  talk about your options.  if you don't like medication, that's absolutely fine.  just make sure it isn't based on one horror story.  just talk to your doctor, read a little, and make your decision.  talk to people and listen to their experiences.  everyone has different experiences.  mine has been very positive.  i am very pro-medication (though i understand completely why some people are not).  most of all, don't judge people who opt to take medication, and don't judge people who decide not to take medication.  remember that everyone has a different relationship with their sadness.  oh also, if you do the medication tango, it might take awhile to find the right one.  that's ok.  just keep truckin'.  it's really annoying though.

         also if your insurance company is annoying and doesn't cover a certain medication... costco! medication is way cheaper at costco (i have only heard this through the grapevine, but it was a reliable source).

***
 all of the emergency things
           don't be afraid to go to the hospital if you need to.  i have often thought i needed to go to the hospital, but just never thought the structure of being hospitalized would be particularly good for me.   but they do take that slightly into account.  again, they have ways to do suicide risk assessment.  if you're just having a really intense urge that came from nowhere and you just need to wait it out but can't do it alone and you're scared, the hospital is a good place to go.  they won't necessarily hold you there forever.  again, there is suicide risk assessment that will help them help you.  if you are hospitalized for awhile, then it is probably for the best and that is absolutely ok.  don't wait.  don't wait until your next appointment.  don't wonder if it is serious enough to warrant intervention.  if you are scared, these people will help you.  go to them.

           if you need strength to do something like go to the hospital, call a friend.  text a friend.  etc.

and here is the number you need to know in case of an emergency:
 - the mental health crisis line: (709) 737-4668  709 777-3200 or toll free 18887374668
 - here is a list of emergency health services http://www.thrivecyn.ca/main.php?sid=204
 - check out the link above, even if you aren't sick.  there are things that are good to know about, like
   mobile crisis team that can come to you and help you in an emergency.  it is useful when pesky
   exboyfriends are trying to be responsible and call an ambulance (which is terrifying to you) because
   it is slightly less terrifying.

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