Mental Illness Motel

I read an article about the terrible treatment and conditions that people suffer during inpatient hospital stays. Quality of everything, from furnishings to food to therapy and more is wildly different! Some places have what appears to be second hand furniture. When queried, staff at one facility said that it was because of the way patients come in, soiled, dirty and drunk. When i asserted that I was none of those she said that she was sorry.

At least I got an apology. My thoughts about that was why didn’t they do something about those patients? Surely getting them out of filth covered clothes might be a start to therapy? I have been in several times and seen most diagnosis. Even those in psychosis cooperated enough to get cleaned up and change into hospital clothes! One man came in drunk, had urinated and defecated in his clothes and he never changed into anything clean for his seventy-two hour hold. Staff and patients avoided him. What good came to him? By the time I ever got to the point of hospitalization, my anxiety and depression levels were substantial. Sometimes it is hard just to deal with my own problems and others problems too. But the sight and smell made getting my head back together very difficult.

Mind you, of my inpatient stays were not like this, thankfully. Most hospitals had good staff and surroundings, conducive to healing the short time that one was allowed to be there. Inpatient wards are not profitable because so many pyscho-sick people don’t have money and until very recently, insurance companies were allowed to pay out at much lower benefit rates. (50% up to a certain amount, no more, and that was after a deductible) State welfare usually had weird formulas to ascertain if and then how much money would be paid to help expenses. I usually made just over the amount that have given me anything. That meant that collection agencies would soon be on my ass to try to get what I didn’t have to pay their bill. I still have quake to the bone anxiety, worrying about how i will ever pay those bills. Collection calls, credit, money problems, how much could they pile on?

A huge part of the problem, which has been addressed and needs to continue to be addressed, is the stigma and fear of psycho-illness. I sometimes think that people are afraid that i am contagious. I know for certain that people are afraid of mental illness. After all, it is invisible and it suddenly shows up unannounced and without much, if any warning. Media helps spread the fear and the ignorance about mental sickness. [As an aside, how does the media find out about protected medical knowledge about people?] Too often in order to sensationalize the news info “leaked” to the press is diseminated to the public. Instead of a man with a gun, it often becomes a “crazed” man with a gun.

As an advocate I will continue to write and talk about these stigmas and fears. We must have a safe haven when we are at our worst (and NOT jail! ). We must have access to competent care so that we can function at our jobs, in our lives and in the community. We must feel safe enough to seek help in the first place.

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