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Guns Easier Than Good Mental Health Care


Skyler
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America: Where It's Easier to Get a Gun Than Good Mental Health Care

Gun violence is up. Access to good mental healthcare is down. What, exactly, are our priorities?

 

Last spring my younger sister Kathy jumped off a freeway bridge in Phoenix. For better or worse, she lived. Kathy made her first suicide gesture in high school, when she took a handful of, I think, aspirin in reaction to a bad haircut. At the time, she was already, obviously, mentally ill. In middle school, anorexia had drawn her down to a skeletal 38 pounds. Her hair fell out. Her sunken face took on a plastic texture from fat-soluble vitamins that her body couldn’t process. Force-feeding brought her back from the brink, but couldn’t heal her. In the years since, even during three pregnancies, she has never topped 100 pounds, nor has she ever been free of compulsions, body-loathing or debilitating bouts of depression.

 

Since that first handful of analgesics, Kathy has made an effort to die somewhere between 12 and 15 times: prescription pills, threatened jumps from an apartment balcony and a communications tower, an attempt at drowning, a car set on fire. Kathy is alive because even in the heart of Arizona’s Wild West no one will sell her a gun; a fact she finds immensely frustrating at times that her bipolar illness takes her into another trough of despair.

 

For three days, Seattle has been reeling, grieving a wave of senseless violence that left five dead, including a shooter who was, from his family’s description, bipolar like my sister. Mentally ill women are most likely to exit this world alone or try to take their children with them. Some men prefer to go out in a blaze of rage and blood. Either way, access to a gun makes the impulse more lethal. Firearms are two and a half times more effective than the next method of suicide, suffocation. According to Centers for Disease Control statistics for 2003-2007, gunshots represented only 3 percent of suicide attempts, but almost half of fatalities. So far this year, over 40,000 people in the U.S. have been shot. By December 31, we can expect to bury about 9,500, each dead at the hands of someone pulling a trigger. Guns were designed to be effective, efficient killing machines, and they work very well.

 

When someone kills – we ask why? It’s a worthy question. A part of the answer that haunts me (because it seems so preventable) is the way we choose as a society to prioritize our resources. We build for-profit prisons across the country, with lock-up room for minor drug offenders. But while prisons are growing, prevention and treatment services are disappearing.

 

As a psychologist, I used to have an outpatient mental health practice in Seattle. By the time I quit, it was almost impossible to get public mental health services for a person who hadn’t been diagnosed with a chronic mental illness or acute intent to harm. I told one desperate and suicidal young woman with no health insurance that she could get inpatient treatment if she was willing to go in front of a judge and swear that she intended to hurt herself or someone else. She disappeared, and I didn’t know for weeks if she was still alive. Relentless cuts in funding and services over the last 20 years mean that psychiatrists, psychologists and caseworkers are under constant pressure to pretend someone is more intact than they actually are.

 

The state of Arizona spent close to a million dollars last year putting Kathy back together after she fell 49 feet. By contrast, they spent a pittance, a few thousand on follow-up mental health assessment and treatment. Kathy’s car-on-fire incident was triggered by her SSI and Medicare being cut off because she had earned a couple hundred extra dollars working at Target over the holidays. Desperate to cut costs, the Social Security administrators decided that she wasn’t actually disabled--this is despite the fact that she has repeatedly ended up in restraints at state and county hospitals. Read More

As always, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! A proud supporter of the 10% (or slower) rule.

 

Requip - 3/16 ZERO  Total time on 25 years.

 

Lyrica: 8/15 ZERO Total time on 7 or 8 yrs.

BENZO FREE 10/13 (started tapering 7/10)  Total time on 25 years.

 

Read my intro thread here, and check the about me section.  "No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." Lily Tomlin

 

 

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A mess, indeed.

 

This begs the question "what IS ' good mental healthcare'??" This group is evidence that those who fall into the hands of psychiatry are not receiving 'good mental healthcare'. Yet those who are truly a danger to selves or others can't get into care. Ive seen this in my own personal life. Sister threatened to kill me from her hospital bed on psych hold (302 in Pennsylvania) and they released her 5 days later. The staff heard her threaten me. No Tarasoff enforced.

 

And cases like this:

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2012/04/12/da-takes-closer-look-at-western-psych-shooting-spree/

 

I dunno. It's just so screwed up.

Pristiq tapered over 8 months ending Spring 2011 after 18 years of polydrugging that began w/Zoloft for fatigue/general malaise (not mood). CURRENT: 1mg Klonopin qhs (SSRI bruxism), 75mg trazodone qhs, various hormonesLitigation for 11 years for Work-related injury, settled 2004. Involuntary medical retirement in 2001 (age 39). 2012 - brain MRI showing diffuse, chronic cerebrovascular damage/demyelination possibly vasculitis/cerebritis. Dx w/autoimmune polyendocrine failure.<p>2013 - Dx w/CNS Sjogren's Lupus (FANA antibodies first appeared in 1997 but missed by doc).

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A mess, indeed.

 

This begs the question "what IS ' good mental healthcare'??" This group is evidence that those who fall into the hands of psychiatry are not receiving 'good mental healthcare'. Yet those who are truly a danger to selves or others can't get into care. Ive seen this in my own personal life. Sister threatened to kill me from her hospital bed on psych hold (302 in Pennsylvania) and they released her 5 days later. The staff heard her threaten me. No Tarasoff enforced.

 

And cases like this:

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2012/04/12/da-takes-closer-look-at-western-psych-shooting-spree/

 

I dunno. It's just so screwed up.

 

It sure is Barb, absolutely !@#$%

As always, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! A proud supporter of the 10% (or slower) rule.

 

Requip - 3/16 ZERO  Total time on 25 years.

 

Lyrica: 8/15 ZERO Total time on 7 or 8 yrs.

BENZO FREE 10/13 (started tapering 7/10)  Total time on 25 years.

 

Read my intro thread here, and check the about me section.  "No matter how cynical you get, it's almost impossible to keep up." Lily Tomlin

 

 

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  • 1 year later...

The problem with the US healthcare is so expansive it's basically unfixable. The only thing that can be done is to provide more health services to people who can not afford health services but this doesn't fix anything at all as low cost health care services are conduits for lifetime dependence on pharmaceutical drugs.

 

It's easier to buy a gun and its easier to buy a car and so on because to buy something all you need is the money to pay for it. The problem is not that people cant afford healthcare, this is a problem but it's not the main one. Even if everyone could spent 100% of their income or get $100,000/annum vouchers for healthcare, a large % would still end up on chronic medications for problems like 'depression' and pain disorders and acid reflux and high cholesterol because the brokeness of healthcare is not that people do not have access to crappy healthcare options.

 

The fundamental problem is that the healthcare is crappy. There is a shortage of high quality practioners. So much that one basically must become a minor doctor himself or hire an independent consultant, Chris Kresser type, who will not take your insurance... This problem is unfixable for structural reasons relating to our economics and demographics and public policy and religion and regulation/licensure and medical schools and lobbying and so on and so forth.

 

If I care about a young, poor person I think providing him with access and confidence in our present health care system is a near-criminal act ... Nowadays, it's everyone for himself which is a 'depressing' state to be in for us as a people...

 

Alex

"Well my ship's been split to splinters and it's sinking fast
I'm drowning in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free
I've got nothing but affection for all those who sailed with me.

Everybody's moving, if they ain't already there
Everybody's got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now."

- Zimmerman

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What's the line? Something like...Drug companies don't create cures, they create customers. Bingo.

 

I usually hate the "guns are easier to get than mental health care" argument regardless of any truth in it, but I find "But even the best mental health treatment in the world won’t prevent some people from just losing it. There are going to be people who want to die. There are going to be people who want to kill. Most of the time  the impulse passes. Whether someone dies before it does depends largely on the tools at hand" supports my stance.

 

We have, for the most part, bad mental health care in this country, and we have a bad attitude about mental health care. We have bad gun laws, and we have a bad culture of guns.

Tapering Zoloft, Dec 2014

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Stopped Zoloft end of Sept 2014

Started Zoloft July 2014, 50mg

Stopped Prozac from 3mg May 2014

Stopped Effexor Dec '13 Started 10mg Prozac

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Effexor 112.5mg, since Dec 2012

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I know you're probably not responding to me in particular but I wasn't actually saying anything about guns per se. My point is that it is easier to buy anything that is for sale than it is to buy good health care because what most people think is good health care is actually not at all good.

 

I think that in 50 years we will look at this time in history and feel aghast at the how barbaric we were putting everyone on indefinite length Rx protocols for various symptoms of the dysfunction around us... It will be akin to the way we today look back at the lobotomies of the 50s and can not believe they were a routine and sanctioned practice.

"Well my ship's been split to splinters and it's sinking fast
I'm drowning in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free
I've got nothing but affection for all those who sailed with me.

Everybody's moving, if they ain't already there
Everybody's got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now."

- Zimmerman

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