How The Ontario Mental Health System Let Me Down — Again

Alternatively titled: I busted out of the mental hospital yesterday “AMA” and now I want to tell you about it. 

It’s been a while since I posted here, but today I’m frustrated with the mental health system in Ontario, Canada and I thought it’d be a good time to update you on what’s going on in my life.

Let me back up for a second to 2013, it was the first time my parents took me to the hospital for suicidal thoughts. The nurses then didn’t take me seriously at the time; they blamed the entire incident on my family, and because I was only fifteen at the time, the best ‘solution’ they could offer me was to send me to foster care, if I wanted that, and I didn’t. I chose to stay home, knowing full well that my family was not to blame for my breakdown. We went back to the hospital a few days later and they still refused to help me. They gave me Ativan to stop the nightmares and they sent me home, again.

My mom did 24 hour watch with me for days; I slept on Mom and Dad’s bedroom floor and tried to pray and will myself through the darkness. It’s truly only by the grace of God that my parents and I made it through that incident with only a few mental scratches.

Fast forward to the present.

I had a pretty bad episode this past Saturday and my mom convinced me to go to the hospital. [Shoutout to both of my parents for being the bomb dot com, by the way!]

Despite me telling the intake nurses and the emergency psychiatrist that, YES, I wanted to die, and YES, I had a plan, they really did not want to take me. They hmm-ed and haa-ed and tried to convince me to just wait until Monday and see a psychiatrist, but I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make it until Monday, so I fought with the nurses and another psychiatrist until they put me on a form 1. That’s 72 hours of inpatient “care”.

But it wasn’t.

When I signed myself in, I was told there would be counselling and they’d help me deal with my dermatillomania (skin picking) AND we’d try medication as well, so hopefully I’d get my stuff sorted out, or at least be on the way to getting it sorted out, by the time I got out of the hospital.

Well, here’s what actually happened:

I slept, a lot. I barely ate for five days (to be fair, they offered me ‘food’ but it was extremely questionable, and most of the time I’d just rather NOT eat!) and I only saw my doctor twice when he was supposed to come every day.

Oh, and after the 72 hours were up and my form expired, I was considered a voluntary patient, but I wasn’t allowed to go home! But I’ll write more on that in a minute.

There was no counselling, no help with my dermatillomania — I actually honestly think I picked MORE in the hospital than I do on a regular basis because I was so stressed out and BORED! — and while I did try medication, it didn’t go well.

I’m sorta allergic to everything, so I wasn’t surprised when I was allergic to the Cipralex they gave me on the second day I was there. It made me break out in hives and I was basically like, “Nope, not doing that again!” So the next day (if you’re keeping track with me, this is day three of my stay in the hospitHELL now) they tried me on Zoloft, and I had an even worse reaction; bigger hives, way more itchy. It was so bad my arms and shoulders looked like I had a sunburn and yet, it took them two hours of me scratching myself like a flea riddled dog to requisition a Benadryl. The fourth day, the doctor didn’t come see me at all but he prescribed Wellbutrin and at that point I was fed up and said, “Screw it, I don’t want to take another medication because my reactions have been getting worse. I just want to go home.” Maybe you think that’s stupid and I should’ve kept playing medication roulette until I found something that worked or killed me, but for me, it wasn’t worth it. So I asked my nurse for other options and she said she’d get me a list of outpatient care programs.

Do you think I got that list? No.

As for going home, this is where things get interesting. I already mentioned that after 72 hours — which they said was noon on Wednesday (though I don’t understand WHY because I checked in somewhere around nine pm on Saturday night, but anyway!) — I was considered a ‘voluntary patient’ but my employer said I would need a note from my doctor to return to work, so in order to go home I would have to see my doctor. As I said before, he didn’t come see me at all on Wednesday even though he had been at the hospital and I had inquired with a nurse about when he was coming to see multiple times that morning. So he didn’t give me a note, or the referrals I would need for outpatient care on Wednesday, and the nurses told me later that the doctor “didn’t know I wanted to go home” so he didn’t make it a priority to come see me, but I could be assured he’d come see me early Thursday morning, so I should “sit tight and suffer a little longer” so my visit wouldn’t be a total waste.

The typical morning routine in the hospital is a nurse knocks and announces the arrival of “food” at 7:45am, and if you go down to “breakfast” they leave you alone until you get back, but otherwise you’re bombarded for the next fifteen minutes with people coming in to check your vitals and then the doctor typically visits, if he’s going to, then you can go back to sleep or do whatever you want to.

My nurse on Wednesday night told me she was going to leave a sticky note on the board for them to wake me up at 7am instead of the usual time, so I would definitely be awake and ready for the doctor when he came in.

Thursday morning came and surprise, surprise, they didn’t wake me up until 7:45am when “food” arrived. That was fine, I could get over that. I chose not to go for breakfast because 1) the food is beyond gross and 2) I thought I’d be getting out soon and I could grab something at a coffee shop on my way out. Wrong! 

I’ll spare you from the long story of how I spent the NINE HOURS waiting for that doctor yesterday before they finally told me he wasn’t coming in and that I’d have to wait ANOTHER day for the doctor. I said NO WAY! So I signed myself out “against medical advice” because the doctor couldn’t be bothered to see me and the nurses kept yanking me around, telling me he was coming in and then he never showed up.

It’s interesting to me that it was considered “against medical advice” when I had barely seen a doctor at all, not to mention I was “voluntary” at that point, but I guess because I hadn’t been formally discharged they considered it “AMA”. Though it’s hard to get discharged when the doctor never comes in!

Thankfully they DID let my dad pick up the doctor’s note today (even though my nurse on Wednesday night told me they COULDN’T DO THAT) after work, but still I got no referrals, no counselling, no help with my skin picking, no help at all. Just a five day “vacation from life” that felt more like a jail sentence.

I fought to get in to the hospital and fought to get out, and had no help in between.

That’s pretty screwed up, if you ask me. Something in our system needs to change, and soon.


The Words We Speak (Part 2) — Mental Health Post #26

Hello, hello Friends 🙂 Yesterday I rewrote that awful “addiction recovery” commercial (check out that post here. Link opens in new window), but today I wanted to help rewrite some everyday situations.

Here are a few things not to say about (and DO NOT say these things directly TO) someone with a mental illness, and some things you could say and/or do instead.

Continue reading

My Best Friend and my Mental Health — Mental Health Post #21

So no one told you life was gonna be this way, your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s D.O.A, it’s like you’re always stuck in second gear, when it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year. I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour, I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before, I’ll be there for you, ‘cause you’re there for me too. – I’ll Be There For You by The Rembrandts (AKA: The FRIENDS theme song)

All right, so I should make the disclaimer that this post isn’t actually about FRIENDS the TV show, although I make a few references to it.

Continue reading

Somebody — Mental Health Post #14.5

I don’t care what he did, or didn’t do.

I don’t care if he was an addict, or if he was a saint.

I do know he was too young to die.

And I know he was somebody’s baby,

He was somebody’s brother,

He was somebody’s best friend,

Somebody’s boyfriend,

Somebody’s grandson.

He, in and of himself, was somebody.

He was a human being with breath in his lungs,

He had a brain, he had feelings, emotions, dreams.



How can people be so heartless?

How can people say he deserved this?

How would you feel if it were your brother, your baby, your best friend?

*Trigger Warning Suicide* — Mental Health Post #10

Hello again Friends, it’s another day in Mental Health Month and I present to you another topic that confuses me.
Let me preface this by saying that I am absolutely positive I’m not the only one who experiences what I’m about to describe, however, I’m not quite sure of how common (or uncommon) it is. I’ve seen some posts on Yahoo Answers, and asked a few friends who have depression/suicidal thoughts if they’ve ever experienced the same thing and the responses have been mixed, but most of the people I’ve spoken to have leaned toward the “I’ve never had that” side of the spectrum.
At any rate, it’s not something I hear or see talked about very often, and I’m not sure if it’s because there’s no real solution to the problem, or if it’s a difficult topic to talk about because of how weird it sounds to anyone that hasn’t dealt with it, or if it’s really not that common, but I don’t shy away from very many topics — if any — so here we go. The topic for today is: casual thoughts of suicide.
Now, let me be clear, I don’t mean the early phases of actually planning a suicide attempt (that phase where you might be thinking about it but don’t have the details nailed down yet. That’s what doctors and intake nurses classify as “casual thoughts of suicide”, apparently). No, I mean in my personal experience suicidal thoughts occur even on “good days” when absolutely nothing is going on to trigger them.
Before I started to live with these thoughts, I never would’ve considered thoughts of suicide “casual”. My suicidal thoughts used to occur only during dark episodes or surrounding bad life circumstances, however, in the past year or two, I’ve noticed that I can be feeling “good” (If you’re wondering why I keep saying “good” in quotation marks, it’s because I hardly ever genuinely feel good. I have days that are better than others, but I don’t know if I’d go as far as to say I have really “good” days) and still, if I see a bridge, or a bottle of Tylenol, or a car going faster than it should, it’s almost like a computer popup shows up in my head and says, “Excuse me, there’s something that could kill you.” And sometimes it’s a fleeting thought and other times it’s something that sticks with me for a while, but even when it sticks I still don’t feel too bad, I just have to deal with intrusive thoughts of death and being dead, which sounds awful, right?

Imagine someone you’re close to calls you up, and you have this conversation:
Them: “How are you?”
You: “Oh, yeah, I’m good, I’ve just been having intrusive but totally casual thoughts of death.”

When people think about death, especially self inflicted death, it’s often associated with darkness and sadness, so these thoughts that feel as natural as saying, “I like ketchup on my hamburgers” don’t add up, and I know when I’ve voiced these thoughts to others, I’ve gotten some interesting responses because let’s face it, casually talking about ways to kill myself in the middle of hanging out with somebody definitely makes me sound more crazy than I actually am (if that’s possible).
Anyway, we’ve reached the crux of this post, and here’s what I have to say about the matter: as I stated at the beginning of all of this, I’m not sure how “normal” it is (as one could argue that no thoughts of suicide are normal, ever) but if you’re having thoughts like this, I don’t believe you’re crazy, and you’re definitely not alone.
Some people are just made up differently, and thoughts happen. For me, these casual thoughts of suicide don’t mean anything, and even though I don’t enjoy them and I try my best to make them go away, they could be worse.
However, if you do feel like these thoughts are too frequent or if they really bother you (and definitely if they become more serious!), then I’d highly encourage you to talk to someone about them, but if you’re just thinking about them like you might think about y’know, circuses or something (what are normal thoughts even? I’m drawing a blank right now :3 All of my thoughts at the moment are related to cool bands!), then in my personal opinion, I wouldn’t worry too much. You’re okay.
I feel like we spend too much time telling people how to fix their problems, and not enough time telling them YOU’RE OKAY! YOU’RE NOT CRAZY! I STILL LOVE YOU! (And even if you WERE crazy, I’d STILL love you!).

Stay safe, my Friends! I’ll write to you tomorrow (if not sooner!)

*TRIGGER WARNING: SELF HARM* Seventeen Stitches – Mental Health Post #7

Hundreds of wounds on her butterfly wings,

They say she’ll never fly again.

She’s terrified, she believes they’re right,

She cries herself to sleep at night,

Holds fast to her sleeves in public sight,

Keeps face only in daylight,

Crumbling under cover of the darkest night.

She won’t let it show, but she’s falling again.

Every day she wears a mask of armoured skin,

She’ll never let another in; it’s too hard to say goodbye, and everybody leaves at some time.

Tired of the fight,

She tries again to end her life,

One long scratch with a kitchen knife.

She can’t live if she can’t fly, but she doesn’t even want to try.


They found her on her bedroom floor,

She hadn’t bothered to lock the door.

There was no hope for her, they said, and within hours she’d be dead.

They put seventeen stitches into her delicate wings with no expectation of changing things,

But when she realized what she had done, she changed her mind and she held on.

Today she flies higher, shines brighter and is more determined than ever before.

Those injured wings can’t hold her down anymore.

Music – Mental Health Post #6

Hello, hello Friends! 🙂

I’m really excited about this post because I’ve been planning it for awhile now, and it’s a much lighter topic than most of the other things I’ve posted this month!

People say that laughter is the best medicine, but laughter comes in third for me.

Continue reading

The Internet and My Mental Health – Mental Health Post #5

Hello again, Friends!

Today I eat a huge piece of humble pie, and I talk about something I am extremely ashamed of. I talk about some great things, too, but I’m mostly embarrassed and disgusted by my actions, and I am almost hoping this doesn’t get any views.

*This is actually May 9th’s post, I’m just running super late! I’d also like to note before I really get into this: I tried to make this post as accurate as possible, however, as I’ve previously stated, I have sponge cake for a brain and I didn’t keep great records at the time, so the order of events may be slightly off. *

The Internet can be a wonderful, or a terrible place.

Continue reading

Mental Health Month Post #1

“There’s a time to be silly, and there’s a time to be serious.” The Bellybutton Song from Veggietales

After that “Editing Song” post from yesterday, this is my time to be serious.

(I realize now that maybe starting this series of posts with a quote from Veggietales is not the best way to do that, but here we go!)

I know I’m starting five days late, but I’m going to try to post something every day for the rest of this month about my experiences with mental health and some things that “work” for me and other things that don’t, as well as a few old poems and thoughts from my journals.


Please keep in mind, these are MY experiences and I am not offering any solutions to anybody’s problems, especially considering the fact that I haven’t even “solved” my own problems, I’ve just figured out how to live with them (most of the time, anyway!) and I’m going to just be completely honest with you about my experiences.

It’s 2016 and the stigma surrounding mental illness and mental health need to stop, and until the day my heart stops beating, I will continue to talk about this. We’ve lost too many people to stay silent anymore.

I apologize in advance if I ramble on too much.

Continue reading