Saturday, December 15, 2012

No More Excuses!

It won't leave my mind.
I know what it's like to lose a child. I know what it's like to see blood and the wreckage of a cruel accident on a son...and wonder if he will live, and know that if he does, he will never be the same, and as you watch his lifeless face with the tube shoved down his throat... wonder if he's already dead.

I know what it is like to hold a lifeless baby in your arms.

Wishing that you could do ANYTHING to bring them back. Anything. You beg the universe. You scream and sob and tantrum under the night sky. WHY???? You ask. WHY M Y BABY???? WHY??!!!???

I know what that feels like.

So as I sit here,  a baby girl cozy in my arms with warm milk dribbling down her chin, trying to get my work done at home, as a Medical Biller and Office Manager for my husbands mental health practice, I feel the lump in my throat. I feel the tears burning behind my eyes. I know my work will have to wait.

I know what it feels like to lose a child.  My babies.

I know what it feels like to have a broken heart.

I know what it feels like to have Christmas approach...when all you want, is to have them back the way they were. The way they SHOULD have been.

I know what it feels like to have regrets. To wish you had done something different. Anything.

But you can't.

To the parent's who are hopelessly fingering the gifts they had already bought for the children they loved....wetting the paper with tears...knowing they will never see the sparkle of their daughter's eyes again. Or their son's toothless grin. Knowing last year was the last Christmas of wholeness and smiles and unfettered joy---I know what it feels like. It SUCKS.

I am so sorry for your horrific, unquestionably wrong losses. I am so devastated to not be able to say "Hey guys...I have a get out of jail free card, and you can have it!". I am heartbroken that there is no rewind button. No way to do it over. No way to fix it.

No way to stop the tears.

Ty and I work with people who are dealing with their mental health. They are fighting for their lives...and they are strong. They are addressing their crisis, their anger, their grief and pain and trauma. They are WORKING on themselves. By and large, they are in poverty...and as such, many of them qualify for the meager allowance of services our country concedes is "acceptable." These people are owning their mental health and doing a FANTASTIC job improving their realities. It is not these people I worry about. It is the people not getting help. The people who are uninsured. Or Under-insured. Or insured, and in denial that they need support.  After all..."It's looks good from my backyard!" Yeah....funny. Funny how it's the people who look so normal who want to believe that mental health is an optional issue reserved for "those other people..." or "those other families..."  They live the same denial as the "functional alcoholic."  I call them the "working mentally ill." 

I have billed insurance companies who send back our bills with the explanation that once their client, who pays an ample sum to HAVE insurance, pays a total of $5000.00 in medical bills, they will begin to pay 20% of their mental health care bills. We put clients like that on a waiting list for funding with our Robin Hood Fund, hoping that we can care for them. Ty often sets up appointments anyway...trying to work out a payment plan, and knowing he might never get paid. In many ways, it's not much different than actually billing an insurance company, because they seem to have lots of loopholes to prevent payment, or reduce it to laughable levels. We've discovered that working in mental health is much akin to volunteer work.  Insurance companies don't want to pay, our government doesn't want to pay and our citizens can't afford to pay, or don't want to admit that mental health is a priority until their lives start to crumble...and then, well, maybe they will pay.  Maybe. But even if they pay for themselves, they don't want a neighbor to get a free they vote against mental health funding.  In essence...they vote for another tragedy to occur, and then they wonder why something so horrible as mass murder, keeps happening in this country. 

Mental health matters. It matters as much as getting good food and shelter. It matters as much as education, and probably more than the required vaccinations we make our kids get in order to go to school.

I work in mental health. It is the life-thread of my education. I understand personally what it takes to climb out of the horror of abuse and loss and horrific tragedy. There are 28 families out there who are weeping RIGHT NOW over the loss of their loved ones. The shock and horror is cruelly vibrating through their veins. Millions of children and parents are now worried that schools around the nations may not be safe places to be.

They are afraid.

I am afraid.

And I'm sorry. I'm sorry that we, as a nation, didn't protect our children better. I'm sorry that we, as a nation, didn't take mental health seriously. I'm sorry that we, as a nation, failed to do SOMETHING different. Anything.

Had we done something after ANY of the shootings that have shocked us all over the past several years....this shooting might not have occurred. Had we taken gun control seriously, like so many other 1st world nations, this horrific slaughter might not have occurred. Had we made efforts to improve funding for mental health...this particular mass murder of children might not have occurred.

Let's not wait for a next time. Let's not just make a memorial and walk past it in helpless denial. Let's not just cry and move ahead pretending there is nothing we can do about it. Make your voice heard.

Now is the time.