Saturday, March 22, 2014

"I'm sorry but there is simply no beds available"

It should be simple in the time that we live in to access medical services that we are in need of of any kind. If they are not available within our health district and are available in another, then it only makes sense that there is no "county line" that separates us. There are even cases where I hear that people go out of province to receive the medical help that they need if it is not available in their province.

So, why are there still road blocks and barriers when it comes to our mental health care system? For the longest time, I have advocated for others and advocated for change within our system. Now, I am faced with the dilemma for receiving the care that I am in need of due to the care not being available within my region and the line that separates Truro from Halifax and how the health care system works. I have heard a lot within the last bit of time which frustrates me:
  •  "I'm sorry but we no longer offer ECT therapy at our hospital because that doctor who was trained is no longer here and the one who has filled her place for the time being is not trained on the machine"
  • "There is another doctor who is being trained in ECT therapy however will not be offering it anytime in the near future."
  • "There is simply no beds in the regions that offer this service, everyone is full to the max"
  • "If you do not live or have a psychiatrist who is within this region that offers ECT then outpatient treatments are not available to you."
Little background: ECT is called Electroconvulsive Therapy if anyone was not aware. Some think it is barbaric in nature and think of the movie "One Flew Over the Coo Coo's Nest". Medicine has improved since then and the people who under go this procedure are asleep and receive a muscle relaxer during this time. Some do not respond to the treatments while other have experienced great benefits.

This last year and a half has been hellish for me and it seems as if medication has no lasting effect. During late summer of last year, I underwent 12 ECT treatment which helped lift my depression. I had lots of energy, a smile on my face, and was truly feeling carefree. Unfortunately, maintenance treatments were not offered to me and the effects of the treatment started to wear off at the end of December. By February, I had fallen back down the hole of depression where I could not see any hope or desire to want to live. Had maintenance treatments been offered in my area, perhaps I would not be in the state of disarry that I currently feel I am in. Most days, I feel so hopeless that I do not have the strength to go about my days. Having a shower is a task that requires a lot of thinking about and energy. Life does not have to be like this for me or for anyone else for that matter.

What the issue is now that there is no ECT service in my area and no beds available anywhere to have the treatments. I do not fit the criteria set out in having ECT treatments in the Halifax region because I am not followed by a psychiatrist down there. My support is in Truro and I think if it is possible I would rather keep my supports local due to issues with traveling as it is.

Usually if someone has a condition that cannot be taken care of at the Truro hospital and they can provide support down in Halifax, often times they will transfer them down for the procedure and then back again to the Truro hospital. I do not understand why this cannot be done for ECT treatments. Sure, I am asking for a lot- 12 trips but it is not my problem that they have no beds in the area that provides the care that I need.

There is many holes in the system of mental health, this is just one of them. Nova Scotia has pockets of money out there for health care and support- why cannot they use some of that to even have a doctor come up to Truro so that I can have these needed treatments and then figure out how I can get maintenance treatments to continue my wellness. When I am well, I do very well(for those who do not know me). I shout it from the roofs advocating for others and fighting for the gaps in our system to be filled. Now, even motivating myself to do anything comes with great effort and the energy to do much of anything comes with a great price. I have and continue to feel very hopeless, very despondent, and very frustrated that the mental health system continues to not meet the expectation that it needs to with mental health care within the province.

I urge all of you who are within my region to share my story and the fight that I am battling, so in turn I may be able to get the treatment that I need. This is my one last hope left I am clinging onto. It is not just myself who I fight for but for others who will or have experienced this same issue and have fallen through the cracks of the system. There is great power in social media these days. Together, we can make a difference... Depression is NOT a choice!


  1. Hi Twyla:

    I am so sorry to hear about your depression and your experiences with not getting the help you need. I agree with you 100%--I am also tired of hearing excuses when it comes to our inadequate mental health care system! Politicians claim that there is "no money" for mental health care...the Senate scandal that unfolded last year shows that there IS money available, but it's being squandered by our political elite! It seems like very few people in our society care about mental health, and this must change!

  2. I advocated. :)