Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Socialized Mental Health Care is just insane!

I was reading Sedosi's rant about The Chronicle's desire to throw government money at Mental Health Care and it got me to thinking about my family's own brush with socialized mental health care. My mother-in-law is bipolar and has attempted suicide twice and threatened to do so a third time since her husband died of leukemia two years ago. She lives in Canada which has socialized medicine. Twice she took a handful of pills and then CALLED THE AMBULANCE HERSELF in order to MAKE SURE she was discovered before she died. The third time, she threatened to drink a gallon of bleach to her social worker/home health care nurse. Clearly this is not intended to end her life, it is instead clearly an attempt at attention. Each time she was packed off to a mental hospital for a couple days, evaluated and sent right back home again. Each time, my wife and I hoped that she'd be committed for her own safety. She is more than just bipolar, she calls during the day when she KNOWS we are at work, and leaves these rambling nonsense messages on the answering machine, talking until the machine hangs up. She then calls back and talks until the machine hangs up again, over and over. She does this almost daily. She spends money she does not have on things like jewelry and gives money to scam artists and Jehova's Witnesses (same thing? Good question... But that's a whole 'nother post...) and then cannot understand why she doesn't have money for food or rent. When we try to talk to her Psychiatrist about these behaviors, he refuses to talk to us about it. She has instructed him to not even talk to us. Now, bear with me a moment, she is obviously not mentally competent, that is the whole reason she's in the loony bin right? So why does she still have the right to decide who her doctor can and cannot speak to? Since he is only getting her input, he thinks she's just trying to manipulate her daughter and gain attention (we quite agree!) and there is really nothing to it. I say bullshit! MY mother tries to manipulate me too, but she has never taken a whole bottle of sleeping pills either. My Mother-in-law then complains to her regular MD that she can't sleep and he gives her a new prescription for sleeping pills! (which she takes the second time!). Just how many trips to the loony bin does she have to make before Canadian courts are willing to entertain Guardianship? Apparently more than she has taken so far. The first time she did this, my wife was frantic and stuck down here unable to do much. The second time she was still quite concerned but had basically realized that Canada was not looking out for her mother's safety, nor did her mother care in the least what she was putting her daughter and her granddaughters through so we have started taking the same attitude. If she wants to off herself, there isn't a dang thing we can do about it, and the Canadian mental health care system was not interested either. Getting all worked up plays into her hands. So we've basically cut her off and interact with her as minimally as possible. If she dies, she dies. I know that sounds cold and cruel, but what more can we do? The doctor has already stated he will not testify that she is incompetent. She is not getting any money from us to help her with her rent, since she can't keep from squandering it. I really don't know what more we can do. Lately she has been put on Lithium and seems to be a LITTLE better, but she still squanders every penny she has and can't understand why she can't pay the rent. She talks about moving to Hawaii and living under a bridge somewhere, except she'd have to sell everything she has to buy the plane ticket. I wouldn't put that past her either.

And to think she moved to Canada for the express purpose of taking advantage of the "free" health care and liberal social programs.... I think she's getting her money's worth.


Blogger ttyler5 Editor said...

rorscach, as you probably know already, when Canadians want a real doctor and real health care they cross the border to the U.S.

August 12, 2005 3:49 AM  
Blogger Kathy Herrmann said...

I've been thinking about your post for the last few days.

It's heartbreaking to discover that you can't save the people you love. And perhaps the only thing worse is watching them spiral down further.

I think one of the toughest decisions a person has to make is walking away from a destructive person who plays a central role in your life or else be pulled into their hell.

Ultimately, though, all you can do is take care of yourself and hope the other will eventually do the same before it's too late.

Best wishes.

August 12, 2005 8:57 AM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

RT I appreciate the sentiment, I really do. And you are right, you cannot MAKE someone take responsibility for thier actions. I know this, even though the mind screams in frustration. What is sad is what this is doing to her grandkids. She obviously does not care what impact she is having on her grand kids. I guess it was last year we had her down for a week or so. At breakfast one morning, my wife and her mom got off on a discussion about how when my wife was growing up her mom would have a fit about wanting to move every year or three, she admitted that she would read something in the paper about a murder or a break-in and would freak out and blow the safety issue way out of porportion and have a fit to move. Her husband basically did what she wanted to try to keep her happy. as a result my wife lived like a gypsy and never formed any childhood friendships and learned to avoid freindships with people in order to prevent her from being hurt when the next inevitable move came. My wife has had a lot of trouble working through that. I asked her if amidst all of those moves if she ever gave any thought to the effect it was having on her child's social development. She stormed off and said something to the effect that "Maybe I'd be happier if she went and took another handful of pills".

She is a real piece of work.

August 12, 2005 9:34 AM  
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