A friend of mine posted this entry on her blog about how frustrating it is to have depression in the States (in part as a reaction to the Colorado movie theatre shooting recently) and how hard it is to actually get the help you need to stop the negative cycle spinning. She related a tweet that stated it’s easier to get a gun than a therapist in the states. That says a lot.
But that experience isn’t exclusive to the States. It happens here in Canada, too. When I was depressed, I had to struggle to go to the doctor. I had to struggle to get help that came in more than a prescription for a pill. I needed no-cost therapy and it was hard to wait for it to become available. Because, even though we have universal health here, it doesn’t often cover psychologists and therapy for depression. Or coverage is limited to just a few appointments.
Given how prevalent depression is, I find myself wondering why that is. If I can go to a doctor and get help for a sprained wrist, a cut on my knee, an ear ache, then why can’t I get access to decent help for depression? It’s nuts. But then I sat back and thought about it. Perhaps it’s because so much of the medical system is still working on the male medical model, is still patriarchal in it’s business model and still wants to pretend depression doesn’t exist. Back in the last century men didn’t acknowledge their depression. I don’t know if that’s improved any in 2012.
I’ve battled with depression again in the past year. It was a hard road going back to work after 2 years away. A lot had changed. My work situation was 3 times more busy, management was more inaccessible and uncaring about work load and stress. Home life got more chaotic and F began daycare for the first time, and C started full day school and after school care. A sh1tload of transition. C had a hard time and there was a lot of stress in the home. We had to put her on an anxiety med to help her cope and be less controlling at home. It was a hard choice to make. She still wasn’t sleeping through the night so I was up once or twice a night with her and working full time. I was beyond exhausted. I began making mistakes at work, then got told by management that I was letting my honmelife interfere with my job.
I felt I needed help so I reached out to my family doc. He gave me a list of groups that only happened during daytime hours. I couldn’t attend any of that. I had a referal call from a mental health nurse. She listened to me, then after offering the same things my doc had, told me there wasn’t much she could do to help. I tried to access help through my workplace medical assistance. They connected me with a counselor who met with me through email. Yeah. Email. Not at all helpful. When do I even have time to read an email that’s gut-wrenching and respond to it at work or at home?! I have a more-stressful-than-most home life because of C’s autism. It’s hard for her to deal with things and vis a vis, it’s hard for us as a result. We have to do things differently. Nothing is spontaneous. We shy away from social activities, play dates, having visitors, etc. because of the fall out the next day that invariably happens. I’ve been told that autism can be isolating and I really do believe that. In addition, we live in a small town outside a smallish city. In the city there are support groups parents can attend. Out here? Nope. Meetings in the city are often in evenings for dads or during the day for moms because the assumption is that families with a kid on the spectrum have moms who stay at home. Or something. So, even if I could drive in, I wouldn’t because I’d have to miss bedtime which is not a time that can be messed with in our house. For obvious reasons. I do get some support online. But it’s hard to really work on things in that venue. Ah well. I don’t want to complain about my kid. This is not about that. It’s about the fact that depression in parents of kids with special needs is higher than in typical families. And depression is largely unsupported for those parents.
So, I struggled through it on my own. Well, with P’s help mostly. I still have hard days when things seem to be just more than I can handle. But the kids are doing pretty well this summer. We’ve got supports in place for C and I’m working on a more regular set of play dates for F since he really REALLY needs social interaction. I’m enjoying, most of all, being away from work for 2 months. Away from all that invented stress and stupidity. Just the stress at home is manageable. When I go back in the fall, I’m going to work hard to keep things in check at work so I don’t get overwhelmed again. But it will be more transition for the kids. F is going to be in a new daycare and C will have her usual hard time adapting to school again. We’ll get through it. We’ll have to.