Chase had been screaming. Screaming a lot. Going on two days. I still wasn't sleeping more than 5 hours a night and I still felt like my meds weren't working. I didn't have a psychiatry appointment for medication for another three weeks. After a moment of weakness, I decided it was time to start seeking help immediately. My case worker from Medicaid (ABC) told me that if I felt like I was in a crisis, to go to the nearest ER for help. Mistake number one.
I called my mom, she came and got me and the kids, we dropped them off at their great-grandparents, and rushed to the ER. I was admitted, and after talking briefly to the ER doctor, was left to wait. And wait. And wait. Five hours we waited for a therapist to evaluate me. Mistake number 2.
During the evaluation, I was told I could be suffering from depression and anxiety, possibly bi-polar disorder. She called me an interesting case since I seemed so level headed in the moment, yet I was also showing signs of a severe mental disorder (no shit). What finally kicked me over the edge? Apparently I tested positive for meth/speed. I was placed on a 72 hours hold and arrangements were made for me to be sent to a mental hospital for the second time in my life.
I spent the whole day in the hospital by myself. I wasn't able to eat until 1 pm because no one could put in my diet label to the cafeteria. I didn't leave the hospital to be transferred to a mental hospital until 5:30 pm. I arrived at Highlands Behavioral Health at 6 pm. By the time I finished paperwork and intake procedures, it was 7:30 pm and I wasn't able to eat dinner. I only ate once that day. And I cried myself to sleep.
Saturday - Tuesday:
Breakfast, meetings, lunch, meetings, dinner, meetings. I started taking my anti-depressants in the morning (which I guess was only unknown to me) and started sleeping better. I went to a lot of classes, learned some new stuff, but mostly just tried to stay awake and not think about my kids since I hadn't seen them in a mad dash on Thursday morning. I was making friends, but I wanted to desperately wanted to be home. I met with psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, therapists, and BHA's.
I was finally told that morning that I was going to be going home that afternoon. And at 1:48 pm, I walked out of Highlands Behavioral Health a free woman. I had goals I wanted to achieve and new pursuits to start. The first, getting home to my kids and shower. The second, hugging and snuggling with my husband. Third, figure out I was going to start bringing awareness to the holes and cracks in the mental health system.
I'm not here to say stay away from the mental health care system. I'm not saying that mental hospitals should be shut down. I'm not saying don't get help if you really need it. I'm saying there are problems with the way some cases are handled and some practices that need to be tweaked.
In relation to the meth/speed, we spent a good 20 minuets trying to figure out where that would have come from since I CLEARLY did not do speed or meth. I never have. The evaluationist in the ER and the ER doctor couldn't figure it out. They were under the assumption that because I turned up positive, that I was doing it. You wanna know something awesome? Did you know that it IS possible to have a false positive for meth and speed? Do you know what is at the top of the list? Wellbutrin XL (anti-depressant). Guess what anti-depressant I'm on? That's right! NO ONE IN THE ENTIRE ER KNEW THAT WELLBUTRIN XL CAN GIVE YOU A FALSE POSITIVE FOR METH AND/OR SPEED!!! The TRAINED therapist/evaluationist didn't know that. I'm pretty sure that would be part of your training, to know that some anti-depressants can cause that false positive to show up. But no. I was partially sent to the mental hospital on a drug charge that wasn't true because the woman that evaluated me didn't know that pretty vital piece of information.
I was also told that I could be suffering from bi-polar disorder from the woman who evaluated me at the ER. When I arrived at the mental hospital and talked to the weekend social worker, I was told that wasn't possible from my symptoms. My mom also claimed it could be bi-polar disorder. I have yet to confirm it one way or another, but hearing two different answers from professionals doesn't make me feel all that great.
The weekend psychiatrist also claimed that I was denying my issues. He said that I told him I didn't have problems and that I didn't need to be there under any circumstances. Um. NO! I know I have problems. I know I have things I still need to work on in a big way. NEVER did I say I didn't have a reason to be there. I said that part of the reason I was there was because of a few misunderstandings.
The weekend nurse at the mental hospital also couldn't tell me why I tested positive for meth and speed. Again, isn't that your JOB to know that? But my mom Googled it, and less than ten minutes later had an answer? Riiiiiight.
I learned some great stuff in some of the classes they had. But they talked to us like damaged people. They talked down to us. Only two instructors talked to us like we were not only people, but brilliant people. That we weren't defective or broken. We were overworked and tired. Brad and Nick. You are amazing people and I can't thank you enough for what you do and what you've done for all of us.
Most of the staff was awesome (Bernard, you are one freakishly cool dude). But the problem was they were not only overworked, but understaffed. And underpaid. Did you know that the BHA's with Master's only get paid $12 an hour? That's ridiculous. Did you know that some overnight gas station cashiers get paid more than them? That Wal-Mart supervisors, not managers, can end up making more than them too? That's ridiculous. If you wanna meet someone who is truly doing something because they love it and they want to make a difference, look at the mental health system. You'll find hundreds of them.
Again, I learned some great stuff. Things I will share with you over the coming weeks. This stuff needs to be spread like wildfire. But so does the fact that our mental health system is broken. It needs to start being mended. It needs more attention, more volunteers, more help. These people need it. They deserve it. Both patients and employees alike. As I form a plan and do more research into the mental health care system, I'll be sure to keep everyone updated.
Also, if you feel like you are going to hurt yourself or someone else, PLEASE go to the hospital. If you're just struggling and need a psychiatrist, make sure you have other resources to try before going to the ER. Do NOT ignore yourself if you are in crisis. Get the help you need. But also be aware that there are some cracks. Overall, it'll be good for you. But it'll be an uphill battle from the start.
Don't forget to like the Maniac Mom Facebook Page! www.facebook.com/maniacmom808
Keep smiling. Keep fighting. Keep loving yourself.