THE BLACKTHORN THICKET

There it was – the reason for all my life long difficulties. I was mentally ill, crazy, I had a screw loose – whatever that means. It explains all those seasonal changes where I would weep uncontrollably for no apparent reason. The mood swings. The strange behavior now was a cause for so many underlying effects, affects, and life disturbances.

When I reached my parent’s home, after being asked to leave my friend’s house, I slept for two months. That was followed by weeks of not sleeping and not eating. However, the creative juices were flowing and ideas coming to mind a mile a minute. Had I known any better I would say it was maddening.

At some point, I decided that I could not go on any longer. I picked up the phone book and thumbed thru the blue pages under the government agencies. I found the office of Mental Health Mental Retardation. I made a call. Within a week’s time, I was sitting in front of a case worker who did the standard checklist. She ascertained that I was suffering from depression. She made an appointment for me with a therapist and a psychiatrist. I saw both in the ensuing weeks. After about an hour of discussion and more checklists, the psychiatrist diagnosed me as being or having Bipolar Disorder I/Depression. He informed me that it was like diabetes and that I would have it for life and that it was manageable for life.

The therapist was a nice man his name was Don. We would talk for an hour at a time, or fifty minutes depending. We discuss many things. I felt comfortable discussing many things with him. But, it was when we were discussing a wallpaper choice for his kitchen that I realized that my needs were not being met. He thought I was brilliant and thought I should work for a think tank. I agreed.

After going thru this routine for a time I did stabilize and I was able to start looking for work. It was now that President Clinton signed into law the welfare reform act. This meant that I lost my benefits thru the county. I had no money for benefits for therapy, no meds, I had lost access to the system of wellness I had come to rely on.

What was a mad genius to do? I looked for alternatives at the health food store. I took St. John’s wart, melatonin, and other and anything I could get over the counter. I was in a jam. I had taken a proactive chance and sought help, accepted help, and did everything I was expected to do. Where there is a will there is a way.

Did I mention that the psychiatrist had told me that with my diagnosis that I had a one out of five chance of taking my own life? That is a lot to manage. It didn’t help that I contemplated suicide daily.

Jeff S Turnbull

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