Mentally exhausted with mental health strategies

This post is in no way, shape or form intended to minimize the efforts of the province, nor the professionals trying to combat the ever-growing rise of mental illness here in Nova Scotia. In saying these last words, I wonder if the mental illness crisis (as it is seen) isn’t actually the recognition of an ever present problem that we can just no longer ignore.

I am overjoyed to see that our province has initiated a budget and strategy to rescue those children suffering from sometimes debilitating mental illness while they are still young. I suppose that the province can either fork out the finances to combat the early stages of mental illness in our children now as opposed to waiting until the illness has completely destroyed their lives, making thousands of them dependent on financial assistance later.

I am hopeful to see the benefits of these implementations sooner than later, though, benefits that look something like this:

  • Continue to fund Nova Scotia’s first ever mental health and addictions strategy, Together We Can — $2.5 million
  • Help children and adolescents get the services they need, faster, by funding mental health clinicians in more schools — $1.4 million
  • Give all Nova Scotians 24/7 access to mental health crisis intervention via the Mental Health Crisis Line — $114,000
  • Develop standards — $1 million
  • Co-locate childrens’ mental health residential and daytime services

My daughter’s psychiatrist made a call to the IWK, our local childrens’ hospital (3 hours away) in hopes of having her registered for an in-depth 2-3 week program to teach her coping skills to help reduce her anxiety. Unfortunately, the program was full. How disappointing!

I phoned N.S.’s former health minister for some advice on the matter and was told to drive to the IWK, as it is law that all children admitted through the emergency department must be fully assessed. We did just that and our daughter was assessed as an urgent case. A further resident and senior psychiatrist agreed with the rating. Yay! (I wasn’t crazy after all!)

After having a full-blown, hourlong panic attack the following day (that ended with vomiting in front of Wal-Mart) and a visit to a psychologist the following week, we were given 3 options to choose from. Two out of the three options consisted of travellng 3 hours to and from Halifax for one day a week for 10 weeks in a row for a few hours (yes, hours) worth of therapy. The third option was therapy by telephone! (?)

My daughter was so disappointed, as was I. After speaking with my husband and consulting her psychiatrist, we agreed to travel all the way to Halifax for weeks … Anything to make her feel better. I contacted the psychologist in charge of referring her to this program only to learn that it begins in September 2013! We were advised to pay for counselling to “get” her through the summer.

We have been combating my daughter’s mental health issues for 7 years now, since she was 5 years old. This help can’t come soon enough.

Stress can cause tics to rage out of control

I sit here on a Sunday observing my daughter from afar. She is working on decorating a cake for one of her art classes and the project is due tomorrow. My heart aches as I watch her because her tics are being a great nuisance to her today. It makes it so difficult for her to create manual little sculptures to put on top of her cake with all the hand and torso tics she is experiencing.

What drives me crazy, though, is the fact that one of the reasons her tics are so out of control is because she is stressed. And she is stressed because like always — or almost always — she leaves her work for the last minute.

I have a constant battle with my D. Our battle consists of her not being able to prioritize.  She believes there is no problem with the manner in which she handles her school work — or anything else in life, for that manner. This is the ADD part of her diagnosis.  This is a greater issue, I believe, than her tics — even though when the tics are like today, I don’t know which is worse.

I constantly tell her she will not be able to completely succeed in life if she does not start scheduling her tasks accordingly and give herself the time needed to complete them and not have to stress herself out. I swear sometimes I think she does it just to spite me because I live my life stressed out trying to ensure she does everything that she needs to.

My daughter is very stubborn and very set in her ways. We have been in counseling throughout her life. Currently we see a psychologist every two weeks. Her doctor tells me that I need to let go of some of this stress I put on myself. She insists that if I do not let my daughter fail or come close to failing, then she will not see the need to change her ways.

As a mother, this is advice I have not been able to follow. During her senior year, I couldn’t because I needed to ensure her grades stayed high so that she would qualify for a scholarship ,and now I can’t let her fail or come close because she needs to maintain a certain GPA to maintain the scholarship.

There are days when I say to myself, “Look it all worked out. You stressed over nothing, but the reality is it is not over nothing.” I know I will not always be there to guide her to ensure she succeeds. At some point, she will need to do this on her own. I just don’t know when the time will come that I will be able to do this.