In Between Mental Illness and Wellness

I have often talked about recovery on this blog. Particularly, I have talked about recovery from my disordered eating habits and to a lesser degree self-injury. I wanted to get rid of my binge eating and stop self-injuring. Today, as I gave this some more thought, I took recovery one step further. So what if I stop bingeing and self-injuring? Would that then mean I’d be cured of my mental illness?

Of course, strictly speaking it wouldn’t. However, what if it did? What if I were cured of my mental illnness? After all, I exhibit far fewer destructive and aggressive behaviors than I did years ago. If I were to check mysel finto a mental hospital just as I am now, with no history of acute mental illness, the registrar would laugh at me. I wonder even if I’d be sick enough for outpatient mental health care if I presented with jut the symptoms I’ve been having lately. My overeating may or may not meet the criteria for binge eating disorder or eating disorder NOS. My self-harm does meet the criteria for non-suicidal self-injury, but then again these crteria are quite vague. My mood does not meet the criteria for a disorder. Heck, even when I was suicidal in 2007 and was clearly in need of acute psychiatric care, the only diagnosis the psychiatrist could come up with was adjustment disorder. Adjustment disorder is no longer covered by health insurance. In other words, under DSM-IV, which doesn’t include binge eating or self-injury as diagnoses, I would hardly if at all qualify for psychiatric care.

Of course, I do have borderline personality disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome – I still meet the criteria for these. However, no general practitioner would come up with the idea that I’d have these if I asked them to refer me to mental health services, and the vague referral letter my GP wrote in 2007 would not be enough now. So if I’m not sick enough at first sight for mental health care, am I then recovered? I don’t think so.

Mental health care has in recent years been more and more reduced to mere crisis intervention or other interventions directed at averting people becoming a pain in the neck. Now I won’t say I can’t be a pain in the neck, but a GP writing my referral letter from scratch now would not know. If you aren’t a danger to yourself or others, you most likely won’t get mental health services paid for through insurance. As such, mental health treatment is focused on curing the symptoms of severe mental illness (which is in most cases impossible), whereas recovery is more than that. Recovery, after all, is getting your life back on track.

As a long-term institution patient, I struggle with this. I am relatively well mentally speaking – probably not as well as I describe in the above paragraphs, but still -, but I don’t have a life. When I was admitted to the mental hospital in 2007, I was a university freshman in a new city. Now I’m nearly 30 and have little that could fulfill my life. I have my blog, but that’s about it. It makes me depressed. Not suicidal-type depressed (or should I say “adjustment-disordered”), but it does definitely make me slightly depressed. If I am not sick enough for mental health services and not well enough to get my life back on track without help, then where do I find help in recovering my life?

I hope that outpatient mental health services aren’t really as bad as I now think they are. I can only hope the recovery model still hasn’t been killed by the push for budget cuts. It however makes me sad to read in memoirs of mental health consumers about the recovery model and using mental health services to get your life back on track. After all, I’m afraid you can’t get mental health care for that now even if you’re severely mentally ill like myself.

7 thoughts on “In Between Mental Illness and Wellness

  1. I live with dissociative identity disorder, borderline personality disorder, past traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder. I know how hard recovery can be.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes I think about “getting back to old Hannah” and how I used to be but I always remember that my disorders are chronic (although sometimes I space and call them terminal-d’oh!) and that even though I can have remissions and become more functional it’s always going to take effort and diligence to stay as healthy as possible. For me, wellness isn’t a one-time reward that is earned, it’s an ongoing battle to be won. It’s a frustrating way to live but it helps to know that I’m not alone. So glad I found your blog. Sorry you’re feeling those depressed feelings. Keep up the good fight and keep blogging! Thanks 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is beautifully written. I write myself about mental health and I find that talking, moreso discussing it helps regardless of the severity of the condition. I’m still suffering but to a lesser extent, just know that it does get better. I used to laugh those comments away but know it’s genuine, and keep writing, use it as a vent for those negative feelings, it was constructed so perfectly.
    ~ S.M

    Liked by 1 person

  4. To be honest, it depends which area of the country you live in as to the standard of care and treatment you receive for mental health. I hope you find that you’re one of the lucky ones with a supportive team to help.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think Mental Health care, depends on your area, as from what I have seen and heard really does change dramatically in the support that is out there and offered. Even in the same area the support can differ greatly. I hope you get the help and support you need x

    Liked by 1 person

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