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Anonymous – What it’s like dealing with Australia’s mental health system

So these are my experiences of dealing with mental health in Australia. I thought it would worth sharing, not as a cry for help, but as an example of how the system could do with some improvement.

I battle depression and anxiety every day. Some are ok, some are bad, some are very bad. There is no such thing as a good day, because that is nothing but the calm before the storm. It may seem counter-productive, but by not having good days life is better. For every good day, there is many more very bad days. By not having good days, I have less very bad days.

It means a constant internal battle, removed from the external battle of living in a public world. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the internal battle in check and it bleeds out externally, and that’s when the pressure increases from both others and myself. A winning day is not a day where I win the external battle, it’s a day where the internal battle isn’t noticeable. The internal battle is always there in my mind, but the days where I don’t notice it is when it doesn’t have a physical affect on me too.

As I write this, the physical affect has been a very noticeable battle for a couple of months. This is nearly as low as it gets, but I have been worse. I’m close to that point again, but fighting it to avoid failure.

For many years I’ve tried to work with the mental health system in Australia, but it doesn’t work for me. It’s too much of a McDonald’s system. Fine if you order the burger from the board, but if you want to change any part of the order, everybody loses their mind. I don’t order from the board.

I’ve tried to access mental health services through my GP. For three months I kept attending appointments to have the long session, which would get me access to mental health services under medicare. Every time, the doctor was too busy. I changed doctors, same issue. The GP’s can deal with physical problems fine, but mental health, that’s not important.

When I’ve had the money to deal with the private system, it has been useless. Instead of dealing with the issues I have, the would rather use me as a learning tool for themselves. That all comes down to one thing, I have a transgender past. That was dealt with a lifetime ago, I had an issue with my gender, I got it sorted. 99% of people don’t know my past. I don’t even bring it up initially when dealing with psychologists. I wait until they know the basics of me before I mention it, and I only mention it in context of other things, not as a solo thing. Every time. Every time. Every single time Ihave mentioned being transgender, there is a sudden change in the session. The words are “Oh, I don’t know about transgender stuff.”, before their focus is more on “learning” about that, than my mental health needs. They ask deeply personal questions more akin to some drunken lout, than a medical professional. When I don’t feel comfortable discussing these things, they suddenly decide I’m being rude. That being transgender is the cause of all my issues, and I should just change that to be more accepted by people, and why for the fifth time won’t I discuss my genitals with them?

Because they really want to know, and this session is all about sharing. All said while they go wide eyed, lean forward, and get giggly. Besides, given most people don’t know about that part of my life, and given these people as medical professionals didn’t “pick” me (although they claim to have always known after being told of the fact), that isn’t an issue for me.

Dealing with an anxiety attack when in a supermarket, that is an issue for me. Waking up in the middle of the night, with so many thoughts going through my head I can’t understand them, but they are making me want to vomit, that is an issue for me. Trying to work out the best day of the week, best location, best method to make sure my next suicide attempt is more than just another attempt and actually works, that is an issue for me. It’s not that I want to be dead, it is a matter that I have no point in living, so death becomes a viable option.

Even then, I can’t talk about this stuff to the medical professionals. Because of my work, they have to disclose to my employer. I like my job. My job gives me focus. Work gives me a purpose and a structure. It is a base from which I can build. I’m not a threat at work, but I would be seen as one. I would be removed from my job. Made to stay away. Made to see more medical people. Made to disclose more. This would be more damaging, so I keep it all bottled up. Instead of getting the help I need, so that I can get better, I instead have to keep getting slowly worse, one grain of sand at a time, and hope the next grain isn’t the one that causes me to tumble.

I hope there will be support at some point, but I also know it isn’t there. We simply don’t have the system or resources we need to help people. Mental health isn’t something that gets solved in a few weekly sessions. There are ok days, there are bad days, there are really bad days. There is no rhyme or reason as to when or why they happen. It isn’t about predicting when it happens, it is about knowing how to cope with it when it happens, so the events aren’t as bad. But when the system designed to help is doing more damage when you do access it, then there is no point to accessing it.

It’s a self damaging loop, much like the people who need the help. I want to get better. I want to not feel like this. I want the ongoing battle in my mind to stop. Not just to have a ceasefire, but to stop. I want to go through each day without feeling like I want to be sick because I exist. I want to be safe.

But I need a system that works, if I’m to get help with this.

If you don’t have mental issues, the system may look fine, I don’t know, I have mental issues. But as someone with mental issues, the system is broken, and it needs to be fixed, before I can get better.

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