Mama Mama Mama We’re All Crazy Now

#BellLetsTalk Day

So. Mental health. See, I don’t bang on about it too often, but I’m taking medication to deal with Bipolar Disorder. I don’t regard it as a serious impediment, these days, but that’s largely because I abandoned the rat race, which is really geared more toward people who are single-minded and lacking in oversensitivity issues. What that means in realistic terms is, I’m currently on Ontario Disability. They give both my wife and I enough money to scrape by and still buy the occasional bit of art supply or replace broken or worn out household items. It’s extremely limiting, but at least I’m not out on the street or in an institution.

Not that there’s much wrong with being institutionalized, these days, if you can find a place that will take you. A young girlfriend of ours recently ran afoul of the severe cutbacks to the mental health side of our health industry in Hamilton, when she couldn’t get the help she needed to deal with some very dark thought processes. As a consequence, my wife and I kept an eye n her for a few days, until she could make other arrangements. She seems to be in better shape now (I hope), but part of me wishes I could afford to help her out more than we have already. She’s very sweet and clearly needs some mentoring and such, which her parents aren’t prepared to offer her right now. Saddening, but life’s like that. Dawn and I probably can’t offer much more than we already have, but I find I’ve kind of taken the girl into my heart a bit, and want to make sure she makes out alright. She’s young enough to be my daughter, and reminds me of a strange mix of both Dawn and myself, it’s kind of uncanny.

Anyway, I didn’t start this to talk about someone else. I’ve got to address an issue that affects me personally, as well as my wife (and our surrogate ‘daughter’ as well, I guess 😉 ). The issue is, CBT versus Psychodynamic ‘talk’ Therapy. It became fashionable to crack jokes at the expense of psychiatry, because it was slow and occasionally quite wrong. CBT is more like field surgery. It works on the surface, patching you up and givign you tools to get through the next few months, but has no time to deal with the deeper ‘baggage’ issues. That’s where psychiatry is still needed. So of course, there are no practicing psychiatrists left in Hamilton, or so it seems. Mostly just CBT coaches of one stripe or another.

My psychopharmacologist retired last summer. Ive been without a therapist of any kind since then. I’m not actively seeking one at the moment. I’ve considered CBT and DBT as possibilities, but frankly, what I mostly need is someone with patience and understanding who can comment usefully on things as I unpack my dirty laundry and skeletons and stuff. Advice is always welcome, but understanding is the key. There’s so little of that, these days. As Diamond Dave once wrote, You Just Can’t Get That Stuff Anymore.

I’m in pretty good mental shape these days. Not too bad, even when I’m dipping into the depressive side of the bipolar express. I’ve been going through changes, to be sure, but I mostly feel pretty stable, for certain values of stable. I haven’t had serious ideation problems in months, and haven’t made any sort of serious attempt in years. This is good, because I’m currently functioning as the rock for Dawn, who has been unpacking a lot of ehr baggage at therapy, and needed time to really go off the rails while coping with it. Problem now is, Dawn’s therapy course is up, and she’s without a therapist again. I see it as a time when she needs to be making progress, but she’s pretty sure it’s a good time for a break, anyway. I won’t argue with her. She does seem a lot more sure of herself these days, even with her physical issues holding her back.

So what I’m saying is, thanks to years of conservative government that didn’t give a shit about mental health, we’re now at a point where we’re just healthy enough to cope with the fact that the mental health industry here in Hamilton has pretty much lost the plot. I have a number of friends who aren’t so fortunate. If this doesn’t get dealt with properly, we could lose some of these people.

So I’ve been using this time without therapy to reassess much of what I’ve been trying to do in the past few years. I’ve started to step back from volunteer work, which I’d been pretty heavily ensnared in. I see myself being obligation-free in another year or so, if not sooner. Dawn and I need to be free to work toward our financial goals, before we get too old and infirm to really get the work done. Meanwhile, I’m trying to write a more serious science fiction novel, if I can. it’s nto easy. I’ve been a little diffused and having trouble making time to write. That changes soon.

I also have been thinking about going back to work on the LINK game. It’s been sitting gathering dust lately, but I’m starting to get a bead on how I can turn it around. It’s complicated, like a lot of modern ‘European-style’ board games, but it still feels a bit inelegant in my head. I know there’s something there that I really want to see happen, but I need to sort it out before I get back to work with the time-consuming design/development phase. I don’t have anyone else to do the grunt work, so it’s got to be me, at least until there’s a working model to test with.

I also (also) want to get back to work on music. That’s gotta happen this year. I’m feeling rusty, and my pinky hasn’t quite returned to full duty, after last year’s surgery. I haven’t settled on the project I’m actually determined to record this year. Still considering options. But I do want to get back to playing, and maybe build a new band to go out playing ths tuff I write, for a blessed change.

These last few points are just to illustrate some of the wide division in thinking that has been on my mind of late, and how difficult it is sometimes to process it all without the mechanism of talk therapy with reliable listeners to help remind me when it sounds like I’m going to far.

So ultimately, what I’m saying is, Hamilton needs more psychiatrists, and CBT needs to be put in its place; in the tool box with all the rest of the tools, instead ot being the tool box itself.


Don't be shy. Tell me what you really think, now.


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