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Friday, April 5, 2013

A N.H. Reporter Chronicles Her Own Mental Health Struggles

The New Hampshire House passed Gov. Maggie Hassan’s $11 billion budget this week, including $28 million to fix the state’s mental health care system.

Last year, the Department of Justice joined patients in suing the state for violating the Americans with Disability Act. DOJ has accused New Hampshire of warehousing patients in hospitals and turning jails into asylums, instead of treating people with mental health illnesses.

While reporting on the story for the Concord Monitor, Annemarie Timmins noted a study that said “26 percent of the state’s adults, more than 253,500 people, have a mental illness.”

Readers were stunned. But Timmins wasn’t. And she responded by writing a column called, “I’m One of the 26 Percent With Mental Illness.”

Growing Up With Mental Illness

Annmarie Timmins, left, as a child with her brother on vacation in Franconia Notch (Courtesy Annmarie Timmins)

Annmarie Timmins, left, as a child with her brother on vacation in Franconia Notch (Courtesy Annmarie Timmins)

Timmins grew up in New Hampshire in a loving family.

“We just had the perfect childhood,” says Timmins, who recalls family suppers and vacations in the White Mountains.

But as Timmins tells it, once she entered the fifth grade, something inside her changed. She didn’t feel comfortable or safe unless she was at home.

“I tried every way I could imagine to get out of school on a daily basis,” Timmins says.

Timmins recalls ending up in the nurse’s office where she would cry uncontrollably or throw up. This went on through college — where she would skip classes because there was no one to force her to go to class.

“I didn’t know there was something wrong with me, I felt like a weak person,” she says.

Timmins explains her life was filled with “dread and a hopelessness on a daily basis” but she was acutely aware that there was no “reason” for her to feel depressed. Once she reached her late 20s, Timmins started hitting herself.

“I don’t think I can explain the reason why,” she says, “except that I felt like I deserved it.”

Entering the System

Timmins has a diagnosis with major depressive disorder and anxiety. She says often her illness isn’t situational, instead it comes on slowly, “like a cold.”

In the late 2000s, went to the emergency room in her hometown of Concord, N.H. She was taken into a “yellow-pod” room — which is essentially a room with a chair. They are designed to be separate and secure for mentally ill patients, so they’re not waiting with other patients in the waiting room. Timmins was in the yellow pod for 13 hours before she was admitted into a hospital. Other patients can wait up to four days.

“That night, it got worse before it got better. And I regretted being honest about needing help,” she says.

At 1 a.m., an ambulance came and took Timmins to Hampstead Hospital. Her husband was not allowed to ride in the ambulance with her. He couldn’t follow because the hospital wouldn’t allow him in.

When she arrived at the darkened lobby of the hospital, Timmins says the staff searched her to make sure she didn’t have any weapons on her.

“I had my photo taken like a mugshot to document what I looked like in case they had to find me. And I was given a room and told to go to sleep.”

Limited Resources

Timmins recalls a friend who worked in the mental health industry but got out because it was “hardening” him and his colleagues. There just wasn’t the time or the resources to deliver individual care.

Timmins experiences in emergency rooms and mental health professionals has shown her there’s a lack of options in her home state.

“At the moment, I don’t a psychiatrist watching my medications because there wasn’t one in New Hampshire that I felt comfortable with,” she says.

She recalls her first appointment with one psychiatrist. His opening question was, “How many times have you been in prison?” When Timmins said she’d never been to prison, this doctor didn’t believe her.

Another time when her prescription was shorted, the doctor refused to fill her prescription early.

A recent budget passed by the New Hampshire House provides $28 million for mental health.

‘I’m One Of The 26 Percent With Mental Illness’

By Annmarie Timmins (reprinted with permission)

After the Monitor’s mental health series, “In Crisis,” was published last week, I got one reaction more than any other: Readers were surprised, some unconvinced, that 26 percent of New Hampshire’s residents have a mental health disorder.

The statistic appeared in the second story of the series and came from a 2010 study by the Concord-based New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies. The percentage includes a range of diagnoses, from major depression to anxiety problems to bipolar disorder.

“Didn’t 26 percent seem high?” a caller asked me last week.

Not to me. But I’m one of the 26 percent.

I have been hospitalized twice for “suicidal ideation,” most recently for eight days in 2009 with a diagnosis of “major depressive order and anxiety disorder,” according to my records. I take four medications a day and have my counselor’s name and number in my emergency contacts on my cell phone.

This will be news to most of the people who know me, family members included. That’s because with lots of help from my husband, a lot of exercise (one of my therapies) and medication, I’m able to keep my depression and breakdowns private.

So, I understand the reaction to the 26 percent.

Most people with a mental health disorder are able to manage their illness, many so well that our disorders are invisible outside our homes. With the help of counselors, medication, even hospitalizations, we work, raise families, volunteer in our communities, run companies, hold elected office and go to school with little indication of what’s at work inside us.

Readers of our series met some of the 26 percent.

But there are tens of thousands of others with mental illness whom readers didn’t meet, people whose struggles aren’t as evident.

They – I – manage only because we have access to the right combination of resources. Through my husband’s job I have state health insurance, not Medicaid, so I had more options when I needed emergency hospitalization. Still, I waited 13 hours in the Concord Hospital emergency room for a treatment bed.

I am also a “highly-functioning depressive,” as my husband likes to say, because I have a job and a family that accommodate me when I fall into crisis. And I’ve finally found the right mix of medications. I’m one of those people you don’t see as “in crisis” – but you might if I lost my health insurance, lost my job or didn’t get “case management” from my husband.

That’s one of our jokes, only it’s true.

My colleague Sarah Palermo and I had hoped to introduce you to some of these people because even though they aren’t visible, they and their families are also affected by state budget cuts that have diminished community mental health care. Long waits in emergency rooms show the state hospital doesn’t have enough beds to accommodate the patients who need them. Cuts to Medicaid have

prompted several community hospitals to shut their own mental-health wings and left case workers with more clients than they can adequately care for.

But many of the people we talked with declined to go public, for fear of stigma.

I asked Michael Cohen, the former executive director of the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, what it would take for the prevalence of mental illness to be better understood. Awareness, Cohen said.

“Personal stories . . . are powerful tools for changing minds,” he said.

Okay. Deep breath. Here’s my story.

Mysterious beginning

I can’t tell you why I have such significant depression and anxiety because I don’t know. I had no trauma as a kid growing up in Loudon. My family ate breakfast and supper together every day. My mom stayed home until my brother and I had finished fourth grade.

Television was off limits, except on Sundays during the Walt Disney hour. I liked doing chores. We went camping every summer. I was allowed every pet I wanted, except for a horse.

My only consistent gripe was that my mother made me wear dresses and itchy tights to Sunday school. To this day, I’m out of my church clothes Sunday mornings and into sweats before my husband can get his coat off.

But something changed in me by the fifth grade.

I was afraid to be anywhere but home, and frequently the school nurse had to call my mother because I was crying or throwing up for reasons I couldn’t identify. I liked school. I just didn’t like being at school.

My teachers diagnosed me as being shy.

This “shyness” continued through high school, with long crying jags at the breakfast table until my mother made me leave for the bus. They continued in college except I stayed in bed, missing classes, because I had no one forcing me to face the day.

I didn’t know how to ask for help because I didn’t know how to explain what was wrong.

I’m certain I survived college only because I found the journalism program junior year. (Until then, my grade point average was 2.5.) To my surprise, I discovered that a reporter’s notebook could be my shield against a world that distressed me. After many many (many) counseling sessions, I think the notebook allows me to be a version of myself that I like better.

That’s why despite my mental illness, I’ve been able to take on difficult, challenging and stressful stories at the Monitor, from the Catholic Church abuse scandal to a death penalty trial, to reporting during the reign of former House speaker Bill O’Brien, who didn’t hide his disdain for my reporting or my paper.

I’ve cracked publicly just once. In 2006, I had to fly to Columbus, Ohio, to cover the Episcopal Church’s general convention because the church was in an uproar over New Hampshire’s decision to choose openly gay Gene Robinson for its leader. I was terrified of flying and did not relish being outside my safe zone.

I got so worked up and distressed, I developed shingles and spent long spells in my hotel room crying, not because of the pain, but because I was so afraid to be in an unfamiliar place. I will be forever grateful for the priest from New Hampshire who recognized my state and helped me survive Ohio.

Hospitalization

Maybe this (mostly) professional success was why I never sought help until I was hospitalized at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester in the late 1990s.

In the months before that hospitalization, I’d become less able to hide this still-undiagnosed depression and anxiety. Working long hours was my therapy, and if I wasn’t working, I was sleeping, often with the help of NyQuil.

I was 27 and had already struggled more than half my life with too-frequent feelings of hopelessness. I didn’t understand why I was so deeply sad, and I was angry that I couldn’t end the sadness.

I began hurting myself, I think out of anger. I destroyed possessions that had sentimental value. I viewed others’ acts of kindness with deep suspicion. I began quietly planning my suicide.

When my then-boyfriend realized how bad my situation had become, he took me to the Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, which, like many hospitals in the state, has since closed its psychiatric wing. Back then, there were 236 beds for people like me in community hospitals. Today there are 150.

I agreed to be admitted to CMC, but I wouldn’t call it a voluntary admission. I didn’t consider myself the kind of person who ends up in a “mental hospital.”

Some parts of those five days remain very clear. My dental floss was confiscated for fear I’d hang myself with it. My concerned parents visited, and we didn’t know what to say to one another. My friend and boss, Felice Belman, brought me chocolate frosted cupcakes.

During one group therapy session, several other patients said they’d been hospitalized two, three, seven times before. I recall knowing that this would be my one and only hospitalization. I considered myself simply weak, not ill.

I had begun taking Prozac in the hospital, and I continued that after I was released. I also continued meeting with counselors, but it took several tries before I found one who worked for me. The one I liked best urged me to use humor to turn around a dark mood.

When he stopped practicing, I started a panicked search for another counselor. In our series, people complained about going through several counselors within a year because turnover is high in such a stressful and underpaid profession.

Exhausting search

That is a genuine weakness in our state’s mental health system. Like the people in our stories, I found the search for a new counselor exhausting and, at times, hopeless. Like them, I gave up my search a couple of times, unable to summon the energy to explain myself to yet another person who might not work out.

I finally found a new counselor I liked in Plymouth, and for a long time drove there from Concord once a week. We worked together for a few years. I liked that she gave me homework in between sessions that helped me reflect more on my thinking process. We tried different medications in search of one that would bring me some relief.

We had some success. But at that point, I still viewed my depression and anxiety as something I could shed through hard work. To me, it was like staying in shape. With discipline and determination, I believed I could get over depression, get off medication and stop attending counseling.

I’m not surprised I failed. I’m surprised how long I thought that plan was possible.

I went on and off medication with predictable results. I always had a bottle of NyQuil in my refrigerator. By my early 30s, I wondered how much longer I’d have the energy to talk myself into just getting out of bed for work.

That was the only goal I considered viable.

I ruled out having children because I doubted my ability to remain stable under such responsibility and stress. I ruled out having a lasting personal relationship. As Monitor colleagues left for bigger newspapers, I stayed at the paper, afraid – unable, really – to consider a new venture.

At least I really loved my job.

I thought about suicide, a lot.

I wondered then – and still do today – whether life is a stretch of happiness interrupted by moments of depression or the other way around. I went back and forth. I still go back and forth.

In 2003, I met my now husband. We married a year later. He knew this story, although we both realized later he didn’t really understand the full power of depression.

I continued with my counseling and medications, although not without setbacks and missteps. I was still often unable to handle disappointment and stress. I had stopped seeing my counselor in Plymouth. I didn’t have a psychiatrist monitoring my medication because even with insurance, I couldn’t find a psychiatrist willing to provide that service.

The last mental health doctor I used to monitor my medication asked me how many times I had been in jail or prison on my first visit. When I said zero, he said, “Zero. Really?” Later, when my pharmacy accidentally shorted my prescription, I called him for three days, panicked about running out of pills. He suggested I had done something improper with my medication and declined to remedy the problem with my pharmacy.

I now rely on my nurse practitioner for prescription refills. After our series was published in the newspaper last week, I heard from a primary care doctor who said this has become a troubling trend for doctors and nurses whose specialty isn’t mental health.

Hidden struggles

These struggles have been largely private to everyone except my husband. I’m so expert at hiding the giveaways, I’m sure friends didn’t even know I have such deep depression.

In early 2009, I found myself unable to cope with a series of challenges in my personal life. I needed to return to therapy but couldn’t find the strength to call counseling practices in search of an opening. And I was embarrassed to return to my last counselor. So, my husband did that search for me.

I don’t know where I’d be if he hadn’t.

I began meeting regularly with the Concord counselor he found, and I liked her very much. But as my personal problems grew more complicated, I began giving up my fight for happiness. My husband describes me as despondent during those days. I returned to fantasies of suicide.

I went to a counseling appointment on the afternoon of May 3, 2009, after spending the early afternoon deciding what I’d put in a suicide note. I felt close to needing one. I thought about the contract I had made with my counselor to be safe and decided I could probably write a note that would make her see I had given recovery all I had.

When I appeared for my appointment, my counselor recognized quickly that I required emergency help. She arranged for me to go Concord Hospital’s emergency room, where staff from Riverbend Community Mental Health would find me a hospital bed. My husband says I called him with the news before I headed to the hospital, but I don’t remember.

He and I spent the next 13 hours in the emergency room’s Yellow Pod, the same one described in our series. It took Riverbend staff that long to find a psychiatric bed in a New Hampshire hospital. I was lucky. Because I had private insurance and not Medicaid, I was able to go to Hampstead Hospital, which had a bed and accepted only private insurance.

Those 13 hours, I believe, worsened my condition. And Yellow Pod is considered a model when compared with the waiting space in other emergency rooms across the state.

There was no bed, only a hard rubber chair. The door was locked. I couldn’t see the nurse’s station. The noise of the TV, which was behind Plexiglas was so distressing, my husband asked it be turned off. I don’t think there was a bathroom. There was no food or water easily available.

I tried to convince my husband and the Riverbend staff that I felt better so that I could go home. They disagreed.

At 1 a.m., an ambulance arrived to take me to Hampstead. My husband was told he couldn’t drive me. And he couldn’t come in the ambulance. Nor should he follow the ambulance, hospital staff said, because Hampstead would not let him in.

Scared, alone, embarrassed

I laid on the back bench of the ambulance for the 40-minute ride to Hampstead, sobbing and regretting I had asked for help. I was scared. I was alone. I was embarrassed.

Like some of the people in our series, had I known what that experience would feel like, I don’t think I would have gone willingly. I understand why some people in our series said they are reluctant to ask for help. I understand why getting help often requires an involuntary admission, even an escort by the police.

For eight days, I shared a locked psychiatric ward with about 20 other patients, some suffering from depression, some struggling with alcohol and drug addiction. I attended group therapy and individual therapy most of the day. I remember feeling distraught and trapped. No one could say when I’d be released.

When my husband visited the first few days, we weren’t allowed to leave the floor.

Eventually, we were allowed outside, to walk the hospital grounds, but only for a short time. My parents joined us one evening for a meeting with a social worker. I was 40, and that was the first time I had been able to talk with my parents about my life long struggles with depression.

As my mental health improved, I was allowed an afternoon furlough. At my request, my husband took me to a nearby gym so I could exercise. Again, I was lucky. I heard other patients arguing over the phone with bosses or spouses who wanted them back on the job or back at home, immediately.

My husband visited me every day. I asked him to tell a few friends about my situation. I would need their help when I got out. Those friends reached out even if they didn’t know exactly what to say. My editor Hans Schulz wrote me a note.

“I don’t know why you’ve been dealt such a bad hand, but I do know how loved and respected and admired you are,” it says. “The world is a better place with you in it. I’m very much looking forward to the day when you’re back at your desk. I miss you a lot.”

I am one of the 26 percent. Until now, most people just didn’t know.

Reprinted with permission by Annmarie Timmins. 

Guest:

  • Annmarie Timmins, reporter for the Concord Monitor

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • JB

    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s a brave thing to share your struggles, and I know that you are helping countless people by doing so.

  • burroak

    Mental illness in America is a subject that requires more national funding, and cannot remain secondary in national politics.  Even the word mental illness is stigmatized. 

    Why does mental illness receive this treatment? 

    • Guest

      Gun control and meds are a less expensive approach.

  • Hennabybekah

    Thank you for talking about this. I was hospitalized 2 years ago, I spent 3 days waiting in an ER alone, saw only students, nurses, and billing personel when finally admitted, (I discovered his while being discharged the nurse going over my paper work expressed surprise at the fact i had seen no therapists or doctors) There was no follow up provided for my stay, and billing called me hours after my discharge to INSIST I make arrange payment. I was unemployed uninsured and pregnant…it was the least helpful medical care of my life. I was very lucky to have family who helped, I worry for people who don’t.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=799780614 Rayna Polsky

    I caught the show toward the end but I had to stop and listen. Almost exactly a year ago I spent about ten days in a clinic being treated for suicidal ideation. It was one of the scariest and most humbling things I’ve ever done.

    This month I decided to go public with my story, and to ask for help repaying the debt I owed to the clinic. You can read the whole story here: https://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/back-on-my-feet/47761

    Annmarie, your story is so like mine. I wish I could look you in the eyes and tell you, “I know.” Thank you for sharing.

  • SouthShoremom

    Ann Marie you are so very brave to share your story.  I think 26 percent is a low estimate on the reality of mental health.  The disconnect within the medical system is astounding.  So many health providers are just as much in the dark as the people seeking help.  Even if you have fabulous insurance, finding the right help is difficult, frustrating and limited.  And why do the patients have to be treated like criminals or third-class citizens during the most needy times of their lives?  Instead they should be receiving care, compassion and recognition.

  • PT

    Thank you so much for reporting about this and sharing your own personal story. I too was hospitalized for depression and understand the pain and sadness you describe. Good luck to you. You are a brave and strong woman.

  • MA

    I have worked as a licensed therapist for over 30 years. The current state of the mental health system is probably worse than it was then.  We do have better medicines but not much else.  As I look back at my career I often wonder what we are doing.  We want better results with poorer investment. 

  • MR

    Thank you for bringing more attention to a problem that is still blanketed in shame for so many.  I take medication for debilitating anxiety.  It has saved my life, and I live a wonderful life today.  I still have people make comments to me insinuating that if I eliminated wheat, stopped sugar, meditated more, prayed more, etc, etc, I would be able to conquer this anxiety without meds.  This to me is evidence of how misinformed people are about this disease. 

    I used to drink too much and was just about to start AA when instead I found myself with a wonderful psychiatrist who diagnosed my generalized anxiety and social anxiety.  I began Prozac and the desire to drink just stopped.  For the first time in years I could enjoy one glass of wine and stop.  It was a miracle.  I tell this story because I just had a friend die from liver failure due to alcoholism.  She was self medicating her depression.  What if she could have been open long ago with her depression and alcohol usage?  These illnesses must continue to be discussed and be brought to light.

    Thank you Ann Marie Timmins.

  • Rcorr1

    This was a non show! I have waited longer for a bed then this lady when I had a colapsed lung and other times as well its an every day thing not a mental illness thig I wish I turned the station I just listened to someone just wine about evreyday stuff that we all go through not the mental illness the waiting for a bed or deling with a nurse practitioner that’s just stupid I only see my NP for my luekemia as well as one for my allergies and one for my pain managment I almost never see a doctor I’ve waited for a bed a half doz times I’ve been ignored or treated badly in a hospital non of it was becouse I was depressed it was becouse that’s the system for ALL!

    • janiceamancuso

      You missed the point of this story. It was to shed light on the pervasiveness of mental illness among family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. I hope you receive more compassion in your life than you exhibited here. I thought this was a powerful and informative piece. 

  • LY

    I have just read this article and its so like what I ‘ve been through  Until a year ago when I found myself at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix  with all type of weird symtoms.  One doctor thought to ask me what my private life was like. It was not till then I realized I had a problem with depression..I ended up at a Drug rehab hospital called Aurora,  but not with help in sight, instead put in front of a TV for many hours combined with all types of people .Drug addicts,  abusers of the law ,all types of awful people needing help of some type.My phycyritrist only spent a few minutes with me to give me some medication without really knowing any history of my problems. I to am worried about my medication not continuing to work  I have never found a doctor to talk to but did get my gynocologist to refil my meds.  I sure I one of very many people unsure of what to do. My family does not understand  my daughter actually said I should stop feeling sorry for myself.
    I never even realized our goverment could be part of the problem.

  • Jhquinn1775

    Thank you for sharing your stories.  I am a nursing student and had just finished my mental health class today before hearing the radio broadcast concerning mental health.  My professor who is a seasoned nurse practictioner has made it clear that depression/anxiety and other mental illnesses should be likened to physical illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease.  There should be no stigma; we should be treating others with compassion.  It is discouraging to hear that the field of mental health is not being funded appropriately when so MANY are affected by it.  Kudos to those who have the courage to discuss the topic!

  • concerned public health doctor

    as a psychiatrist in a mental health setting i applaud her coming out with this story.  however i would add that despite the federal governments statements that more mental health coverage is needed, the bureaucracy is actually taking us backwards.  since 1/2/2013  government mandates to have electronic medical records with extensive documentation has undermined the personal connectiveness that we want and need for patients to feel  humanely treated.  various companies has put out extremely detailed, cumbersome medical charts to be filled out on-line.. what would take 2-5 minutes in a handwritten note now takes 15-20 minutes…this  excludes the patient contact time…many government entities praise the electronic record, but the real story is that it only serves to allow ,at distance, quick and easy reviews by non-clinicians, for purposes of billing, or bureaucratic review.  this does not help individual patients,  and if  the insurance mandated norm of a  “15 minute medication checkup” is demanded, then any psychiatrist trying to be warm, humane and trying  to allow  the patient to express  themselves adequately finds themselves constantly out of time, back-logged, and unable  to perform their clinical duties.  thus, there is now a ‘disconnect’ between the patient and psychiatrist, as described by ms timmins.    

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Harold-Maio/1398619703 Harold Maio

    —But many of
    the people we talked with declined to go public, for fear of stigma

    No responsible
    person validates a stigma, repeats one, or alleges one. It is a vulgarity we
    unlearned for rape. Must we unlearn it again?

    Harold A. Maio,
    retired Mental Health Editor

  • Rebe

    Mental illness and mood disorders are very big problems that few people want to admit. Many in my family were moody, perhaps depressed and also addicted to nicotine. The number of artists and writers who suffer from mood disorder/mental illness is a stounding. Like the author I had trouble with mood / depression going back as early childhood but did not recognize it or understand it. As a child, I feared new situations and the unfamiliar. I now I receive medication and my county has a pretty good mental health system.

  • MichaelDeRosa

    A powerful story.  I admire your courage, realizing that by such disclosure there IS not only a help for others, but it is healing to write about one’s past in the way you have done.  I am an advocate for the disabled, and stories like yours need to be told to help those who suffer with mental illness to ‘come out of the closet.’  In doing, so, I think there will be more occasions to build better dialogue with those who have a mental illness.

    Thanks for your time in writing

  • Nancy Bauer-King

    I heard the interview with Annmarie Timmins as I was driving home from my writing class. I had just read five pages of part of my book (in process) about being hospitalized in a psych unit three times in the 70′s. In addition to other responses, Annmarie’s words were an affirmation of my working hard to tell my story. Thank you. 

  • margoburns

    Ann Marie, thank you. First-person accounts are especially helpful to me.  I recently read – and recommend – Ellen Forney’s graphic memoir “Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me”. I was stunned by it, especially with the addition of her drawings making her experience of her inner turmoil and outer manifestations even more vivid.  http://marblesbyellenforney.com/

  • Garyunruh

    Thanks for your frank testimonial. I’ve posted on @counselorgary. 

  • Loraine Schmidt165

    I, too, had trouble going thru “The System”. However, I had to do it being poor and boy that was a chore. Like the author, I couldn’t get out of the bed in the morning and felt as if I was making wrong turns all day. But I was smart and did well in school with the prospect of going to college. Well that didn’t happen thru my poor choices which was only one of many. In my mid-twenties my depression came at me with a full head of steam. I was in an abusive marriage with a husband who cut down my self-esteem daily. It was nearly impossible fore me to rise in the morning. I was the best actress in the world acting normal because I thought that if anyone knew, they’d carry me off to funny farm in a blink of an eye. It took a program on TV where I said “that’s me” and finally went to a GP. This was in early 1970′s when the medical community becoming aware of mental illness being something other than full blown mania that was very overt and went undiagnosed. They were acting like me. I was treated minimally and sent on my way. It was a few years after this that I got the courage to leave .y abusive husband and found myself broke and depressed. I finally found a minimum wage job, moved back with family and set up a pattern to persist for decades. Get job, get frustrated with job, self-medicated, lose job, eventually get help and start the process again. I finally retired earl

  • Joiner4427

    Ann Marie, I have emphathy for you.  I am diagnosed with Schizo-affective Disorder and work as a lecturer in the Psyche Wards and IOOV speaker in Portland, Oregon. The mental health experience has been long, hard, and challenging. Mine began when I fought for equal pay in 1971 when I was a college student at OSU suffering from a traumatic  childhood.  My hospitalizations were in the 70′s and Oregon State Hospital, which is a Museum, was one of them.  But when one door closes another door opens and I was  fortunate to have found my place with seeing a gifted, intelligent, and caring psychiatrist and counselor. My meds have kept me stable for 37 years.  I have completed a memoir and enjoying life.

    Sherry M. Joiner

  • Leslie Scott

    I think the stat is higher.  I am in the Mental Health field and have struggled with panic, anxiety, OCD, ADD and depression since I was a child.  My dad suffered from severe,clinical depression and anxiety.  He accidently overdosed from his medications.  Now my 16 year old daughter is diagnosed and receiving medication and treatment.  REMOVE the stigma, like my daughter says the diagnosis help her to under stand but don’t define who she is!!

  • Leslie Scott

    sorry BAD grammer..”the diagnosis helps her to understand but doesn’t DEFINE who she is!?  :)

  • Anne Sherman

    My grandson(26 yrs. old) is caught in the mental health trap. He had many problems including a verbally abusive stepfather.He also became a part of the many kids who thought it was cool to take medication and would act out until they were seen and inevitably prescribed just about whatever they wanted. I learned this from my grandson who would change his meds whenever the other kids did. He was given a guardian and put into a hospital contract that requires forced medication or transported and locked up. A disconnect with your doctor with only 15 minute appointments is understandable. I would like to know how many people at Seacoast Mental Health are on forced meds with very little therapy.Their  future is over-they live on $700 a month disability and cannot get a good job.I want numbers from Medicaid as I feel this is not personal mental health care but a big business. Lots of people making lots of money and many people who could get off this merry-go-round with proper care. Medicaid is a blessing when used properly but it is abused. Psychiatrists who offer therapy over shots and pills given randomly will not take medicaid patients. My grandson has had well over 30 different medications and the biggest change is his physical health has gone down hill. I don’t even know if he needs them as I haven’t seen him drug free in 10 years. This situation causes much despair with no hope or end in sight and when frustrated and they verbally lash out it is considered proof of their mental illness but if a so called” normal” person acted this way it would just be anger and understandable. When are we really going to listen to people and help them not trap them.         A sad Grandmother in NH

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