Friday, 24 January 2014

I think I can. I think I can...

Today is not a terrible day, but one of neutrality. I'm not feeling great nor am I feeling bad. It feels like my body is going through all my day to day tasks, but my brain is on autopilot.


My daughter has been experiencing depression for the last few months, which is a complex enough matter for any adult to comprehend, let alone a twelve year old child. Needless to say to those of you walking in similar shoes, repetition has not been only "the word of the day" for weeks now, but my nemesis as well.


By the word repetition, I mean I must repeat the same answers over and over again. When she asks "When will the doctor call back?" my answer is "I don't know for certain, but I trust it will be sooner than later." When she asks "When will I feel better?"  I answer "I don't know for certain, but I trust it will be sooner than later."  When she asks "When will I notice an improvement from the increase in my medicine?" I repeat the same thing, knowing its not the last time.


Out of curiosity I googled  mental health of parents of children with special needs to see if I was alone in my emotional exhaustion. I found this article written by Seth Meyers and Katie Gilbert entitled "Pity the parents of special needs-Part one" (The demands of having special needs children have a definite effect on parents.) What an insight it was to hear my emotions mirrored in, not only a parent of a child with special needs, but a clinical psychologist none the less.


This excerpt from his article put a bit of wind back into my sails. It also reiterated the importance of  training mental health workers to sympathise, empathise and better understand not only the emotions of the youth they are attending to, but those of their caregivers as well.


2. The moods of the parents of SN (special needs) kids suffer in a major way because the daily home environment is so demanding.
Elgar and colleagues (2004) found that being the mother of a child with mental illness is associated with high levels of distress and depression. In addition, Barkley and colleagues (1992) found that mothers of children with mental illness were two to three times more likely to be depressed than mothers of healthy children. Well, this research comes as no surprise to me. Half the time, I don’t know if I’m exhausted, frustrated or depressed—I just know I’m not myself. When you are a working adult without kids, you have the ability to come home after work and unwind. When you work and come home to kids, there’s always work to do. But when you come home to SN kids, there’s rarely a moment of peace until it’s time for bed—if you're lucky. 


How true.


Read the full article here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-is-2020/201310/pity-the-parents-special-needs-children-part-one

Monday, 20 January 2014

Medical or mediocre?


My daughter spent close to a month in the psychiatric unit at the IWK as to better diagnose her anxiety. After seven long years dealing with this debilitating aversion, the doctors there prescribed her the medicine that changed her life for the better.

Unfortunately, along with positive outcomes with anxiety, depression reared it's ugly head. I am not completely convinced if the depression is that which doctors were concerned would develop during her teen years or if it is some form of premenstrual dysmorphic disorder.

To better help my child I called our family doctor, expecting to make an appointment to discuss the matter. I spoke with the receptionist who asked me to explain my reason for calling. After doing so she answered that there were no openings at this time, and that my best bet was to ask a pharmacist for some homoeopathic remedies to the problem. What?


A few days later I did just that. I felt silly asking the question and the pharmacist appeared dumbfounded. I explained what my family doctor's receptionist had told me to do. The pharmacist told me that homoeopathic remedies were basically for period symptoms such as cramping and bloating... Now what?


Refusing to let my daughter's depression go unattended, I eventually spoke with a child psychiatrist who gave me the "ins and outs" of childhood depression and the capabilities of diagnosing the reasons and severity of it. Ok, that matter is settled, but what about that of the physician's office?

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Playing doctor (of psychiatry)

As is customary, the information collected at the IWK was forwarded to our family doctor's office. To reduce the need for us to travel back and forth to Halifax, and keep the fluidity of her progress going, the doctor at the IWK asked our family doctor to keep my daughter's prescriptions up to date.


Its funny how our family physician had no time to see us just a few weeks ago (and "sent a fool further" by suggesting we speak with a pharmacist about her progressing depression), but had the time to fit us in once the IWK asked that they do so.


What does that say about my doctor's perceived importance of a 12 year old's ongoing battle with depression, or any mental illness for that matter? If her receptionist would have been blatantly honest by admitting that they were unsure or unable to help her, It would have been a much easier pill to swallow.


To the dismay of my daughter and I, we reluctantly made our way to her doctor's appointment, knowing full well it was a necessity in order to have her prescription elevated. The doctor spoke on and on about how we may want to purchase a $300.00 light that would replace the common sunlight we absorb during the warmer months. Perhaps her depression was due to the stress of school. "Was she being bullied?", she asked.  She said no.


The clincher! The doctor began talking about self harm and suicide. Not for just a few moments, but on and on. My daughter who has three types of anxiety and OCD got quite uncomfortable but the doctor never noticed the fright in her eyes. She continued to suggest that if my daughter had any plans of killing herself that she tell us about it, (wait for it) so we could hide our knives and/or rope or anything else she may use to end her life.


If her depression developed into a plan for suicide I would not be hiding possible self harming paraphernalia, I would be admitting her to the IWK hospital to receive much needed therapy!


We both left from the appointment deflated and stoic. It was apparent to me that the doctor lacked understanding of her illness. In this case I believe she should have just written a new prescription as she was advised to do, and not played psychiatrist. In a perfect world all doctors would have a better understanding of mental illness and have sympathy, compassion, and perhaps even empathy for their patients. 


Luckily the psychiatrist from the IWK wrote us:


 "I am concerned as to what is occurring and your seeming lack of follow up from psychiatry. I am also in bridge water some Saturdays and would be willing to see her there if u do not find services elsewhere. Send me your concerns." 


We are delighted of this news and are happy to meet him closer to home.


Being my child's advocate is my most important role in life, and hers.







Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The alphabet that follows her name.

We decided to pack up and drive the three hours necessary to reach the IWK children's hospital in Halifax. It felt like the millionth time doing so in the last year, but as parents, you do what you've got to do.


On our way, my husband and I were rehearsing what, and how we would explain our present visit to the ER. As we'd been given the run around so many times, by others, we were hoping this wouldn't be another failed outcome. Depression is not something to be ignored.


We got through triage and registration and waited for about 45 minutes in the waiting area when a friendly face rounded the corner. The nurse in charge of assessing patients with mental issues was the same from the last two visits. She knew my daughter well and was so happy to see her since her month long stay last summer. What a blessing!


We entered the familiar little tiny room and began discussing our present situation. Not wanting to allow any hindrance to my daughter's improvements (Tourette syndrome, ADD, OCD, anxiety...), she decided to call the senior psychiatrist (At home!) right away. Within 30 minutes she returned with great news. The doctor suggested we up her prescription, as there was plenty of wiggle room to do so. So simple.


I received an email from the senior psychiatrist this morning explaining that he would be happy to see my daughter on a regular basis during his clinics in a town closer to our home. Problem solved.


Another hurdle awaits, I'm sure.


Until then.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

mental and physical health is fundamentally linked

For almost a month last summer my daughter was admitted to the psychiatric unit of the IWK children's hospital here in Nova Scotia . This was a necessity as she'd been suffering from debilitating anxiety and OCD for 7 years already. The wonderful, overworked doctors there decided on a new prescription for her that did wonders.


Unfortunately with progress came some digress as she eventually developed some type of depression. Not as severe as her anxiety, but worth looking into. Not sure if this was the depression doctors warned us could develop during her teens or some pms dysmorphic disorder, I soon contacted our family doctor. To my surprise, our physician's receptionist advised me to seek help from a pharmacist rather than the doctor as there were no upcoming appointments available. She assured me that a pharmacist was just as well qualified to advise us on homoeopathic remedies for this matter. WHAT?


With nothing else to go by, I did just as the receptionist suggested and reluctantly asked for some homoeopathic medical advice from a pharmacist. She appeared dumbfounded at the question and so I explained that my family doctor's office had sent me there for answers to my problems. Not surprisingly, she admitted that homoeopathic medicines for such diagnosis such as pms were geared more towards headache, cramping, bloating...Now what?


Eventually I was able to speak to a child psychiatrist who further informed me of the reasons and symptoms of adolescent depression and the difference between depression and that caused by pms dysmorphic disorder. He sent me a chart to follow my daughter's "ups and downs" during her cycle to analyse the cause. PHEW! Light at the end of the tunnel.


As a woman with no problem speaking her mind, I am speechless with the lack of service from our family doctor, let alone the lack of compassion.


As Bell's "Let's Talk" approaches this January 28th, I trust that (eventually) all physicians will learn that mental and physical health is fundamentally linked. http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/

Friday, 3 January 2014

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Mentally exhausted with mental health strategies.

 
 
Supporting Mental Health and Addictions in Nova Scotia
Budget 2013 will:
•continue to fund Nova Scotia’s first ever mental health and addictions strategy, Together We Can—
$2.5 million
 
-help children and adolescents get the services they need, faster, by funding mental health
clinicians in more schools—$1.4 million
 
-give all Nova Scotians 24/7 access to mental health crisis intervention via the Mental Health
 Crisis Line—$114,000
 
-develop standards—$1 million
co-locate childrens’ mental health residential and daytime services
 
 
 
This post is in no way, shape or form intended to minimise the efforts of the province nor the professionals trying to combat the ever growing rise of mental illness here in Nova Scotia. In saying these last words I  wonder if the mental illness crisis (as it is seen) isn't actually the recognition of an ever present problem that we can just no longer ignore.
 
I am overjoyed to see that our province has initiated a budget and strategy to rescue those children suffering from sometimes debilitating mental illness while they are still young. I suppose that the province can either fork out the finances to combat the early stages of mental illness in our children now as opposed to waiting until the illness has completely destroyed their lives, making thousands of them dependant on financial assistance later.
 
I am hopeful to see the benefits of these implementations sooner than later, though.
 
My daughter's psychiatrist made a call to the IWK, our local childrens' hospital (3 hours away), in hopes to have her registered for an in depth 2-3 week program to teach her coping skills to help reduce her anxiety. Unfortunately the program was full. How disappointing!
 
 I phoned N.S.'s  former health minister for some advice on the matter and was told to drive to the IWK as it is law that all children admitted through the emergency department must be fully assessed.
We did just that and our daughter was assessed as an urgent case. A further resident and senior psychiatrist  agreed with the rating. Yay! (I wasn't crazy after all!)
 
After having a full blown hour long panic attack the following day (That ended with vomiting in front of Walmart) and a visit to a psychologist the following week, we were given 3 options to choose from. Two out of the three options consisted of travelling 3 hours, to and from Halifax,for one day a week, for 10 weeks in a row, for a few hours (Yes hours) worth of therapy. The third option was therapy by telephone!(?)
 
My daughter was so disappointed, as was I. After speaking with my husband and consulting her psychiatrist we agreed to travel all the way to Halifax for weeks ... Anything to make her feel better.
I contacted the psychologist in charge of referring her to this program only to learn that it  begins in September 2013! We are only June 22nd 2013. We were advised to pay for counselling to "get" her through the summer.
 
We have been combatting my daughter's mental health issues for 7 years now.(Since she was 5 years old)
This  help can't come soon enough:
-develop standards—$1 million
co-locate childrens’ mental health residential and daytime services