“Please note that X Counselling does not have the resources needed to support clients who have an active addiction, are mandated by the courts, have acute trauma, are suicidal, have a diagnosis of a severe personality disorder or a diagnosis of schizophrenia or other major mental illness, have a recent (less than 2 years) history of psychotic episodes or hospitalization, or have very severe depressive or anxiety symptoms that prevent the client from attending work/school, or significantly interferes with usual eating or sleeping patterns.

We do not provide ongoing counselling for chronic or recurring mental health issues.”

Well, to be frank, I didn’t want them either. Now, I really don’t want them. Not wanted. No, they’re not.

The question remains “Who will take care of the mentally ill?” Especially, if the Access & Assessment Centre at the Joe Segal Family Clinic won’t— unless you’re high on drugs or actively psychotic or have tried suicide in the last 45 minutes? They won’t triage a distressed schizophrenic with first world problems. (Sorry, we DO live in Canada?)

When I call in because I have chronic issues of depression and negative symptoms, I judged over the phone to be not acceptable for triaging. If you come, you won’t be seen. We’ll be prioritizing others sicker than you and send you home. We’ll tell you to come back the next day if You want to see someone, but you’ll be sent home again. This will happen day after week after..until you finally get the message we won’t triage you. Go home. Well at least they had the decency to tell me over the phone not to bother coming—twice. See, no one in the Lower Mainland will see an emotionally disturbed, stress-adverse schizophrenic who doesn’t pose an imminent danger to themselves or others. The system is stretched and the people who are supposed to help send you on a runaround.

I’ve wondered whether they would question me on my self-therapy through craft-making. I’ve been in love with paper crafts for years. I was once boarding a bus with a few large, rolled up sheets of top-notch paper (Here, it’s either that or cheap paper that bleed or fade.) This loud woman in sassy heels and heavy makeup, yelled out, “Did you see that girl? She has a welfare bus pass and has art paper with her, and it’s the expensive kind!” I was so embarrassed. I slunk into my seat a bit lower. Honestly, if I have no therapist, the AAC won’t see me, and my GP isn’t trained to do mental health therapy, to whom do I turn? People in my city can actually be quite mean for being called Canadian. I wanted to go up to her and take my paper out, and shove it in front of her sloppily made-up face, and say, “THIS IS MY THERPAIST.” But, I resisted that temptation. Aggression by a drunk idiot is completely excusable by the Supreme Court. Aggression by a mentally imbalanced person carries a lifetime of consequences and is by default, your burden, no matter what the law says about NCR status.

So, with my expensive paper and even more expensive tools, I started cutting out shapes of cats and more cats, in different poses and all freehand. In fact, I’ve gotten good reviews from an art friend and a few other ladies at the office, both doctors and staff alike. I even had my first customized request. I don’t call it a commission. I did it for free. The recipient was so happy with it that she gave me a big hug and words of gratitude. Isn’t that the best kind of therapy? The least harmful? In keeping with the Hippocratic oath of “do no harm”, which that career bus slut probably didn’t know about, I am, by keeping well, doing the therapy a therapist would do. My expensive paper actually saved the biatch and all taxpayers “real” therapy money ($195/hour every two weeks), but it just didn’t save mine. In the end, everybody wins. What’s the problem, Madame?

You know, having said all that, I remember watching a program that featured published authors, where one interviewee was a writer researching “the clinically insane” and the attitudes towards the mentally ill, as well as the manifestations of the illnesses in patients. She studied the medieval times, when records of biological topics became more reliable, up until her present time. She mentioned with a lilt of surprise in her voice that “you want to know something? The phenomenon we call insanity and its manifestations have not changed much at all over millennia. What’s even more interesting is that societal attitudes towards mental illness hasn’t changed at all or very little.” (My paraphrase.) Interesting? Surprising? Nay, it’s downright discouraging and defeating. But yeah, if you want to pique it, observe it as a social scientist. Hard to do as someone with the illness, but, heck, we’re used to cognitive dissonance and entertaining two opposing thoughts at the same time. (How else do you think I passed three years of IB English?)

I’m convinced that I am going to heaven at the point of death sometime far in the future. Why? Because trusted preachers make the schizophrenic an exception to their preaching. Yes, both Billy Graham and A.W. Tozer mention it specifically in their sermons. So, though I’m circumspect, I am glad I know that now. That mention of exclusion can also be noted in speeches made by motivational speakers, instructors, mentors, well-meaning relatives, etcetera. I can just give up on money management gurus and any kind of normal instructional pep talk because even these speakers make exceptions for us by saying, “We’re not talking about the mentally ill or psychotics.” O.K. I get it. So now I can turn you all off and listen to my gut and my heart. And my religion goes as far as praying and worshiping, both privately. My witness doesn’t count, not only because I am female, but because my experience has exempted me from qualifying for normal theological discourse. So go away. I am not listening to what to me is literally nonsensical, even by your standards.

Why is mental health such a hot button for me? Because I know no matter how much I impress you, no matter the achievements or any residual charm, once I say I’m Paranoid Schizophrenic, all my other excellent attributes become enshrouded under the pall of dark dismissal. The real question is, what if this happened to you?

©️Vic Young 2020-2021 All Rights Reserved

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