If...

submitted by Evelyn, Coquitlam BC

If there had been early intervention:
My symptoms of anxiety at age eleven may have been recognized and treated appropriately.

If there had been early intervention:
My adolescent depression might not have turned into a psychotic depressive episode. The horrifying feelings of paranoia, my bizarre delusions, and the loss of control of my own thoughts could have been explained and I may have been helped instead of being abandoned to deal with it on my own -- at the age of fifteen.

If there had been early intervention:
My post partum depression may not have gone undiagnosed. Instead of needing to figure it out myself -- reading and researching in my own medical books it's possible I would have been treated professionally and effectively. The stigma, prevalent at the time, prevented me from letting anyone know I was struggling with obsessive thoughts and anxiety--not even my doctor.

If there had been early intervention:
The stress of a bad marriage and frequent pregnancies might not have caused my second nervous breakdown which left me battling a severe case of Panic Disorder and complete Pharmacophobia. Finding ANY treatment was a nightmare. Waitlists for psychiatrists were months long. Psychologists were not covered by MSP and were prohibitively expensive. I had to help myself yet again. I read books and articles in magazines and watched TV shows with self-help segments.

If there had been early intervention:
My twelve year old daughter would possibly have been followed up after an episode of "altered mood" instead of just having a one-time, inconclusive meeting with a psychiatrist who declared her "typical". She was too anxious to attend school for weeks, cried when anyone asked her to articulate what was wrong, compulsively tried to "order her world" by tidying first her room and then the whole house, and she hardly slept for days on end. No follow up suggested.

If there had been early intervention:
My then fifteen year old daughter might not have needed to be admitted to the children's ward of Royal Columbian Hospital in a psychotic state. As she chattered incoherently and incessantly walking around and around the ward, it was obvious from their comments that she annoyed the nurses who'd signed up to treat babies and children, not rumoured teenage "druggies". There were eight adolescent mental health beds in the province. We were told that if we took our daughter out of the very inappropriate children's ward she would be on a six month wait list to get the psychiatric assessment she urgently needed so we endured seven days of agony as she was not given any medication and her mental state deteriorated. Then when they finally gave her an antipsychotic and it worked we waited three more days expecting a diagnosis of a serious mental illness - but they didn't tell us anything. She went to the adolescent ward at VGH for five weeks and they discharged her in what appeared to me, to be a catatonic state--no emotion and a robotic demeanor. And still, no diagnosis because they didn't want to "label" an adolescent--a dreadful decision that adversely impacted my daughter for many years.

If there had been early intervention:
It might not have taken seventy nine years to figure out that my mother had Narcissistic Personality Disorder. All the years of chaos, including emotional and physical abuse, would have been explained. It would likely have made little difference to her life since NPD is rarely effectively treated even if the person is willing to get treatment--they don't have a problem! But treatment is essential for those around them. Especially if you are the scapegoated daughter of a mother with NPD.

So by "early intervention" I am not just talking about the health sector and not about government policies and programs either. Before we can hope to change those institutions I think we, as a society, need to change the way we think, talk, and feel about mental illness. Treating our own and our children's mental health with the same attention as our physical health would go a long way--in and of itself--towards revolutionizing our attitudes.


Education is the key so let's start with the #b4stage4 Movement.

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story and painting submitted by Evelyn, Coquitlam BC "The two most therapeutic things I've discovered in dealing with both my--and my family members--mental illnesses have been finding the humour in life and in teaching myself to paint."

About CMHA BC Public Policy

We're calling on a system of care that values mental health, addiction, and physical care as equal, #b4stage4
If there had been early intervention...
If...
It's time we value mental health and addiction equally to physical health. Sign the @cmhabc #b4stage4 manifesto: