In case you’re just dropping in, I’m still discussing the way mental health patients are treated and what I’m trying to do in order to keep that from happening to anyone else ever again. Specifically in this post, I’m talking about why advocating for mental health is so impossibly hard, and how much it costs me and others like me to help spread change.
Let’s start with the most obvious cost that people with mental health issues face: financial struggles. My hospital bill on Monday came to a lovely sum of $1,411. Remember, this is the hospital bill that started with me going to Same Day Care and ended with me abandoned in the ER without anyone ever actually helping me with my depression. And as we’ve already discussed before, a large part of my depression comes from drowning in student loan dept that will hang over me until I die. So, you know. Just in case I was joking before, at least now I have a legitimate reason to cry myself to sleep tonight. Over 1,000 new reasons, actually.
While the financial struggle is real, though, it’s not the hardest thing about trying to get the word out. A lot of people are apparently outraged about what happened to me (and probably to many others like me), and I’m not sure if the number above will add to that anger or not. I’ve had a lot of letters and phone calls telling me that I’m brave for sharing my story and to keep advocating for people with mental health issues. People keep telling me that I need to stand up against this and force the hospital to make it right. That I can fight it. And I want to. I want to make sure that no one else ever has to face five hours of humiliation like I did, only to be turned away in the end. I want to make this better for everyone.
But… I don’t know if I can. I don’t know if I’m capable of being that strong.
Remember the part about me having depression? Remember how hard it is just for me to get out of bed some days? How can I fight an entire system and social stigma when a lot of the time I’m not even sure I’m strong enough to make a bowl of cereal in the morning? But I have to. I need to do this. I need to stand up for all the people who are even worse off than I am– the ones who can’t stand for themselves.
You know, this is probably why hospitals are allowed to treat us this way. Besides the reality that “crazy” people aren’t generally listened to, most people with mental health issues don’t have the mindset or the ability to fight back when it’s necessary. A lot of people with depression don’t even think their life is worth defending, or living. And if they’re being treated like I was on Monday, they’re not ever going to get the help they need to realize otherwise. If you think you deserve to be treated like dirt, are you going to say or do anything when you actually are?
It’s Thursday now. I was able to refill my prescription of antidepressants today because I had help and support and a doctor who was willing to see me quickly. I was lucky enough that I was able to find aide much faster than a lot of people are able to. But did you know that, despite all of that, I still could have gone out and purchased a gun in less time? I considered it. I’m sure a lot of people who’ve faced what I have have considered it. Some have done it. And that’s… heartbreaking.
I was strong on Monday. I was able to fight through the tears, the humiliation, and the desire to die in order to tell my story. It seemed impossible. It’s been nearly impossible every time I’ve spoken or written anything about depression. But I do it. Because even though it seems like I can’t, for every letter I’m able to type, there are a thousand people facing the same issues that can’t even do that much. Every day that I get out of bed in order to try and fight this injustice, I know there’s a hundred more people who can’t even muster the strength to stand up, knowing that the rest of society is simply calling them lazy for it.
This isn’t a fun story. This isn’t a revolution that involves singing and chest pounding. Because the battle isn’t just against those who treat us poorly– it’s against ourselves. Every time we need to take a step in the right direction, we have to convince ourselves we’re capable and worthy of doing it. And every time, it seems impossible.
I’m going to keep fighting this battle. But I know I can’t do it alone. Even talking to the people who treated me poorly seems like an impossible feat. It’s going to be filled with tears and the illogical belief that I’m not worth being treated better. Fighting against the bill is going to be an internal struggle of maybe you do deserve what happened to you. And that’s how it is for every other person like me out there.
Which is why we need other fighters. Ones who aren’t afraid to help themselves. Or us. Please.
It’s not a wall we can break down on our own.