Depression In the Wild

Over the Christmas holidays, I was fortunate to be asked to housesit for friends who live in a lovely lil’ house in Malibu.  I’ve done this a few times in the past and just love it — it’s a beautiful location, they have an incredible kitchen that I get to cook in and it’s back in my ‘hood’, or at least very near my old stomping grounds of Santa Monica.

even with a storm, the view ain't bad
even with a storm, the view ain’t bad

At this time of year, the other true bonus is that all the year-end movies are out and I think there might be more theaters per capita than just about any other city aside from NYC.  One morning I decided I was going to go see Manchester by the Sea at Santa Monica Place which meant I also got to do some window and real shopping too (bonus!)

I arrived at the mall where the theater is pretty early (I go to the movies so infrequently and forget that you do not need to do that anymore), so I went to get a coffee.  While waiting for my latte, I noticed an older woman who was nicely approaching people.  She didn’t appear harmful or dangerous, and I think most of the people she went up to were tourists so weren’t too bothered.  Shortly after I saw another younger woman who would walk a few steps then stop and have a brief conversation with herself.  She’d then move a few more feet forward and stop and repeat the exercise.  At first, I thought she must have a really stealth phone headset but I passed her a few moments later and she was still doing this routine and no headset was in use.  These women didn’t appear homeless, but they may have been.  They may not have had diagnosed mental health issues, and lord knows, I’m not qualified to do that.  But to the outside observer, and one of their ‘tribe members’, it appeared as if they did and it made an impression.

I thought about this for a few moments and then went to see my movie – which if you haven’t seen it is mentally exhausting to begin with…it took me a few days to go back to my observations and to think about how I can talk about them.

These two completely random examples of encountering mental health issues “in the wild” caused me to think about the other environmental and political situation which we are facing – the impending doom of the ACA.  I read recently in the NY Times that the impact of repealing the ACA to those with mental health issues will be among the most significant.  I can understand that, I can see how mental health also compounds and is compounded by other health conditions.  I’m scared and even more upset about the possibility that I won’t be able to afford my medications or my therapy/Psych visits. And I recognize I have it GOOD!  I know that I am in a position where I haven’t had to choose food or medication.  Shelter or medication.  I knew that I needed help and I knew how to get it – others do not.

It makes me even more angry about the ACA dissection that the 115th Congress will begin likely as soon as they take the oaths of office today.  I recognize that the ACA is far from perfect and, in an attempt to not get too political, I will simply state that it was not meant to be the ‘final product’ offered by the Obama presidency.  The hope of both the President and millions of us here who are beneficiaries of the ACA was that Congress would be able to act like adults and work on the best possible solutions for the American people.  However, that has not been the case and we now have to wait and voice our issues and concerns to our members of Congress and hope that they do not fall on deaf ears.  We can also reach out to and work with organizations who will be acting on our behalf, such as NAMI (national alliance on mental illness).  NAMI has been active in this area and a link to how we can support their efforts on our behalf is here  and the Mental Health America organization is another resource which can be found here.  And of course there are always the links to find your Congress Person and Senators.

I’m not one to sit on the sidelines, but advocating for my health and my rights is relatively new for me.  I know I’ll stumble some but I’ll continue to provide updates and or more information in this blog of work or any relevant items that I come across.