Don’t lose hope with mental illness |

Don’t lose hope with mental illness

M.G. Gallagher

“I remember coming to and seeing the pretty reflection of the flashing blue lights bouncing off of the concrete walls. An EMT handed me a large cup with a black milk shake. ‘Licorice, my favorite,’ I said to the paramedic. I smiled and chugged it down in my over-sedated bliss. ‘Funny, it tastes like charcoal.’ I drifted out again while they wheeled my gurney into the ambulance. …”- “Ted” (not the person’s real name) n n nMany of you know me from my column, “Rocky Mountain Gardens.” But this column is about the garden of the mind. I have my own stories on depression and related, but they are for another day.I am not embarrassed to talk about mental health issues, including my own. I am writing for just that reason – to reach out to people who are suffering and don’t know what to do, and to others who know someone who needs help and isn’t getting it. I decided to share my experiences and knowledge to help others.The Western Slope has a suicide rate that is twice the national average. Colorado’s suicide rate in 2002 was the seventh-highest per capita in the nation. Colorado, of all states.Public funding for mental health care in Colorado has been cut way back. In this case, it not only affects Colorado West Mental Health, but support programs for counseling, medication and other resources. Getting access is difficult for many. Colorado West is booked up for weeks to months. Private psychologists and psychiatrists are expensive. Insurance will not pay for much of mental health care, and worse, it can cost one their insurance policy.So when you are convinced you are between a rock and a hard place, what do you do?The more obvious, if you feel you need to cash it in, call 911. Period. Go to a clinic. Go to the police station. Don’t give up. You’re wrong, but you can’t see it. What you and many don’t realize is that you are almost unable to control your thinking. Depression is also brain chemistry, and it messes with your ability to think clearly and logically. You don’t think you have any hope. Wrong.One of the best things you can do is to reach out to someone. Tell a friend. Tell a family member. Talk to a minister. Grab anyone who might be able to help, or just to talk to. Do it. If you don’t, you might cause a needless tragedy, and usually the collateral damage is horrible. You don’t only hurt yourself.But the major to severely depressed often can’t do it. They are too down. You might be the one who sees the symptoms in someone. So you should take the initiative. Get to that person and talk to them. You might save a life, save a family from a tragedy, save a child from losing a parent, or save a parent from losing a child. I know first hand what it’s like. I’ve watched depression and bipolar II ruin my careers, cost me jobs and most sad, nearly destroy my family life. Thank God my boys are so wise and are doing well.Read this. If you’re suffering, tell someone! If you see someone suffering reach out.And if you think there is no hope, you’re wrong.M.G. Gallagher has a bachelor’s degree in radio-TV journalism from the University of Idaho, is active in outreach and advocacy in the local immigrant community, and is organizing a peer support program here.Vail, Colorado

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