Today we welcome the following guest post from an anonymous contributor sharing about the impact the ideas behind Bill C-7 has had on her, from the perspective of one who suffers serious mental health challenges;
When I first heard of Bill C-7, the first emotion that I felt was betrayal. Why did I feel betrayed? I am one of those Canadians with an incurable mental illness that this bill has targeted.
I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in the spring of 2013. It was a diagnosis that turned my life upside down, for better and for worse. It gave me an, albeit confusing, starting point, a compass with which I can direct my life and make choices. But Borderline Personality Disorder is a severe and complex forest that I cannot navigate through alone. I was given this compass – and no clue how to use it.
Mental health care in Canada, as we have seen through the years, is severely lacking. I feel betrayed because M.A.I.D is being considered for the mentally ill over and above tweaking and perfecting our mental health care system.
After my diagnosis, I was given very little direction in how to handle it. I was instructed to attend behavioral therapy – a service only available during the workweek, during regular business hours. The long waitlist combined with my unstable work-life, another result of BPD, prevented me from ever having the luxury to attend this program. I sought medication in the summer of 2013, thinking there must be something they can do to stabilize my moods. I was given an anti-psychotic drug that I had a negative reaction to and had to wean myself from almost immediately after I began taking it. After bringing this up with my specialist, he advised me that he could not help me if I did not want the medication and if I was unable to attend behavioral therapy. I was swiftly removed from his patient list.
I was left to figure out how I would survive alone. I was not given so much as a suggestion of what steps to take next or what options I had. Any time I wish to go back and seek help, I must be placed on another 9-12 month waiting list, no matter how urgent my situation. Alternatively, I could admit myself to psychiatric care at the hospital. I experienced this option once as a teenager and was shoved into a dark emergency room for a day; someone brought me a sandwich, and as soon as I said, “I still want to die, but not as badly,” I was released with no follow-up care.
This is where the professional help for my illness ended, and I began my own research into how I could help myself. I read as much as I could about my illness; I navigated it alone. Through sheer stubbornness, I began to halt the gears in my own brain when I could sense a mood swing beginning. This has been an ongoing practice of mine for the last 8 years. While I am still working on it, I am not a professional, and I still struggle with debilitating anxiety and depression as a result. I long for better help and guidance. I long for a therapist that I can afford that is available when I am available. I long for a specialist that I can see without a 9-12 month wait. I long for universal prescription coverage that means that my doctor can offer me different prescriptions without a financial struggle. What I, as well as 1 in 4 Canadians with mental health issues, want is to be saved.
What Bill C-7 seeks to accomplish is counterproductive. It might look good on paper, it may seem like the progressive thing to do, but at the end of the day, I feel it is a lazy way to practice medicine. It is a lazy way to take care of your country. It feels like a slap in the face and a betrayal to the hundreds of thousands of us that are fighting every day just to survive. It is cheaper to kill me than to help me live. It is cheaper to kill me than to cover my prescriptions. It is cheaper to kill me than to provide free therapy. It is cheaper to kill me than to funnel money and resources into mental health research. This bill is not about helping people; this is about saving money. I am heartbroken. Today I do not wish to die, it has been a good week and a good month. Next month may be another story, if I hit a rough patch I want to be saved not murdered. A counsellor once told me, “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. That phrase stuck with me and resonates now as I think about bill C-7.
This bill feels like ten steps backwards with regards to the treatment of the mentally ill as well as the stigma toward them. How many years of killing our mentally ill will it take for society to despise them, to tell us that if we feel this way, we should just use M.A.I.D instead of burdening the system seeking help?
I do not want to be a part of a society that encourages someone to die rather than doing everything in their power to save them. I want to live in a world that cradles these people, cares for them, shows them hope and a light at the end of the tunnel. We should not be offering to kill the mentally ill over and above ensuring their support system has been monitored and adjusted for peak functionality and optimal support.
We deserve to be taken care of; we deserve to not just survive but to thrive. We deserve our lives to be given the financial support that our government wants to direct towards our death. We have an opportunity to stand up, speak our truth and tell our government that we will not accept this. We must hold them accountable to better mental health care. Killing the mentally ill is not health care.
For more information on how you can make your own views known to your government representatives. Please visit https://www.canadiansforconscience.ca/.
Peace and God Bless,
Deacon Eric Gurash