Saturday, 10 December 2016

The Mental Health System in Western Australia

Before I make some valid points about the system flaws of Western Australia's mental health system,  I would like you to know not everyones experiences with the system have been the same as mine. Majority of people I have connected with in my hospital stays have had the same negative effects of the system as well as positive ones. I am writing this post to give you  insight into the system to let everyone knows its not as 'simple' as you make think it is. I also want to raise awareness of the stigma created when you automatically judge someone who stays in a Psychiatric facility. 

My first hospital admission after a suicide attempt was when I was 18 years old. I got the diagnosis of BPD when I was 17 and a year later I attempted to end my life. I was admitted to Fremantle Emergency Department. At this stage of my illness there was little to no treatments for BPD. They didn't view it the same way you view the more common mental illness such as depression and anxiety. I had swallowed 50 panda tablets and I was there for an over night stay. I was released a day after my over dose when the panadol was out of my system. They gave me a pat on the back and told me to go on my way. No support was offered to my family who had taken me to hospital and no explanations. I had to pretend it didn't happen and I was told to go live my life normally after this attempt. Nothing was dealt with in a supportive or professional manner. I was made to go fend for myself again without having a professional support system put in place. 

I was then made to move home by my parents at that stage. I spent a year in Busselton and due to my parents splitting up, I didn't have a secure family network I could work with. I felt incredibly lost and isolated. Back then we weren't encouraged to speak out about our ideation. The stigma was deadly and I suffered a lot in silence. I then attempted another two times, both over dosing on the anti depressants my GP had described me. I was made to think I needed medication as they had only around two psychologists working down in Busselton at the time. I went to a few appointments with a psychiatrist but it was someone to talk to I longed for, not to keep swallowing meds. The meds were not helping what was going on inside of me internally. 

After a few emergency admissions, I had one near fatal attempt that saw me placed into Bunbury Psychiatric ward. I remember also being treated of little importance again as they didn't have much resources on Borderline or any nurses equipped enough to deal with the disorder. Some nurses were good then others treated me like I was on the low priority list. Because it's a personality disorder it can be viewed as a choice when that isn't the case at all. I had swallowed all my sleeping tablets which resulted in nearly having cardiac arrest. Still it was ignored and I was made to stay in the psych ward for two weeks on meds still. I still wasn't having my needs met and it was extremely difficult to be able to function in society. 

I moved back to Perth after these admissions to try get stability back in my life and keep moving forward. The suicide ideation was still there and I was still forced to be quiet about it all. Even my mother didn't understand what to do as there were no useful resources to muster what was actually happening to me. Suicide was made to be hush and was viewed back then as a sign of 'weakness' and 'craziness'. You were presented to emergency to then be discharged a day later with meds. Too much shortage of beds and even not enough psychs to counter to your needs. A system in such need of change as the suicide rates were rising. 

I had my first stay at Bentley Mental Hospital when I was 22 years old. I had just got out of my first relationship with a girl. She was not to blame for what was going on, I struggled in silence when we were together. She didn't understand what was going on either and it was a distressing time for both of us. I was lead to my first psych Pip Brown. This is where I started to make progress. I wasn't put on meds I actually had appointments with Pip regularly and started to get on top of my BPD. Due to not working constantly because of my ideation and illness I am placed on a mental health plan where you get 10 free sessions funded by the government. After that you are forced to pay for treatment. Some people can't afford to so they stop the treatment and then are to fend for themselves again. You make progress but with inconsistent treatment its easy to fall back into a relapse. I think thats what people don't understand about the complications of an ongoing illness. 

So yet again I had a year I didn't see anyone. I had entered another relationship. Relationships can be a big trigger for my illness if I am with a partner who doesn't have empathy and compassion. I entered a relationship where I was abused psychically and emotionally. After that break up, I was then placed back into the system. 

I went to my GP in Fremantle and was lead to head space. Head space is for people between 12-25 and offer free services to see a psychologist. This is one of the most helpful facilities I have had in Western Australia. 

I saw Kelly at headspace Fremantle for 8 months. 8 constant months of good service. She helped me repair the damage of the trauma in the relationship and we started to dive into my family history and my history of abuse. I was med free and I was learning DBT with her. We had a strong bond and I was at a place I was finally content in being alone in my battles. I had skills to cope and manage. Unfortunately I would have continued seeing Kelly but due to her own personal matter she had to leave the organisation. I was devastated as I had reached point I was ready to confront my issues and life seemed to become bearable. When she left I started to grieve. I told myself I would continue to apply the skills she taught me and stop seeing a psych until I felt I was in a crisis again. 

I then entered a third relationship in a good head space. I hadn't really told any one of the pain surfacing for me and was still fighting silently by myself. I wanted to go see someone again but to get help for BPD in Perth at a high, professional level you need private health. I don't have the funds to get private health and I was never guided into making that step. My recent ex and I discussed me attending Perth Clinic if I did get health insurance. The wait for the clinic was 4-6 months. Due to my heightened Suicide ideation I couldn't wait that long. I needed help now. 

I started to see a psych in the middle of last year when I was suffering post traumatic stress disorder. By now you should be able to understand the inconsistency of the mental health system and how many psychs/professionals I have worked with in order to survive my illness. I attended Martinovich psychology service in Fremantle working with a psych named John. This stage I was really trying to get my symptoms under control. Some internal issues had come to surface and I knew I would be at severe risk of losing my life if I didn't try to get the help I needed. I also was very concerned about my partner at the time too. I didn't want to rely heavily on her and during that time she was there for me to the best of her ability. 

John was rushing my progress. His approach to my issues was intense and it over whelmed me and heightened my suicide ideation even more. I tried to voice my rights but he told me it was part of the process. Due to him rushing the therapy I was hospitalised as my post traumatic stress had heightened. I wasn't heard and my health deteriorated ten fold. People didn't seem to understand what was happening for me in that stage of my life. 

I was starting to give up. My relationship ended and my partner had left me in hospital. That created more stigma for me as I was trying so hard to get the help I needed. I became carless and self destructive as nothing seemed to be helping me. This then resulted in me yet again been given anti anxiety meds by my doctor. I was extremely heart broken so I wanted to go out that night with my friends to forget about the reality of my pain I was feeling. My doctor specifically told me not to drink on these meds but I ignorantly ignored her pleas. I was very drunk and on heavy medication which resulted in a psychotic episode the next night. 

I had a reason to be self destructive. Logically I knew it wasn't good for my health but at that time I was fed up. I didn't care about myself and because certain situations made me feel like nothing, I started to become nothing. I felt I didn't have the right support around me even though I tried hard to search for it. At this stage I didn't want to go see another psych and I was fed up with the system completely. 

The psychosis happened at my house the next night. I was vomiting up blood from the amount I drank and the medication being in my system. I was at home alone. I called my sister at the time because I was certain I was going to grab a knife out of the kitchen and end my life. I was attached to my ex partner still and I thought because she had seen the state I was in previously she would helped. She ignored the pleas and desperation from myself as well as my sister. I was with my friends Jorden and Braely during the day and I had to mask the amount of pain I was in. They dropped me home and I didn't voice to them how I was felling because I was scared they wouldn't understand. They came back that night and saw me in a state I was scared to expose them too. 

By this stage I was vomiting and my Aunty and cousin Matthew had come to take me to hospital. I didn't want to go to hospital, I just wanted the pain to end. My aunty assured me she wanted me to be safe and took me to Almar Street in Fremantle. I was turned away as it was cut off the hours and there were no beds. I was taken to Fiona Stanley short stay for three days to make sure I could calm myself down in a crisis. Still there was no follow up and I was told to go back to my GPD and book in to see a psych. I did that after my  hospital stay and stated to pay for my sessions. I saw Kate in Claremont who was a private psych. 

I started to finically not be able to afford to see her again. That was well as the instability of my relationship with my ex partner was causing me more distress and pain. I started to become so sick again I was bed ridden. I had reached breaking point. People were offering me help but the few I though I could have that from didn't help at all. They left me isolated and due to not having the skills required to support someone who is under going emotional distress they gave up on me. The viewed me as not wanting help when I have been through psychs, doctors, nurses and meds. Some have worked and some have made my illness worse. This is where I get deeply upset people viewed my illness and the way I was handling it as I didn't want help. I did. I frantically wanted to stay alive. I didn't want to hurt myself. 

Ten years of trying to get treatments efficiently but due to the government fundings and our government in general nothing is being done about the crisis of mental illness. You see doctors treating patients as lab rats more then actual human beings. Nurses complaining about having to go to the ward to look after schizophrenic patients as its 'draining for them'. No one seems to be taking a step back and trying to come to terms with the despair, agony and pain a person who has a diagnosed mental illness endures in their every day to day life. The system isn't black and white and it takes an incredibly resilent human like myself to want to keep getting the treatment I need in order to be able to function in society that is so demanding in the way you should be acting and behaving. 

The Bentley Psych Ward experience was enough to make me give up all together. I even took the plunge and removed myself from my immediate support network to seek help for myself in a bigger city. I cannot comprehend how some people to this day view me as a human who doesn't want to help herself or hasn't improved. I would love to see them go through a system and confront their own demons. The difference between myself and the basic people of society is I want to be better. I am losing patience after being patient for Ten years. There must be some general understanding of my frustrations and other peoples frustrations if you have been exposed to the mental health system. 

We rely on a system that sometimes can't cater to our needs. Then as soon as we are unwell again we are torn down. This is where you can help. This is where you need to realise and read up on lived experience and take that into consideration. Once you do that, then the stigma can be reduced and support can be put in place. 

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