20 April 2009

Mental vs. Physical Health

Currently in Grand Rapids, if you have a life-threatening physical medical emergency, those who have the skills and resources to assist you and free you from potentially deadly ailments are required to help. If you are on the brink of death, the ER is going to take you in.

Unfortunately, if you have a life-threatening psychological emergency, those who have the skills and resources are not required to do anything, and if you are lucky enough to have someone prescribe you medication for depression, for bi-polar disorder, for schizophrenia, and you cannot pay for it, you will go unmedicated.

Paul has been in my office three times in the past week. This morning, he came in crying into his hands.

"I am alone, Anna. I am in a horrible depression and there's nothing I can do. You said I can talk to you, and today it was my only option."

He can't think past the dark, heavy moment he is currently in. He hasn't taken a shower or changed his clothes in a week, and he just now noticed. He's been self medicating (alchohol is easy to find on the streets, while Paxil is not), so the emergency shelters will not allow him to sleep there due to intoxication. Paul's at the end of his rope, and you can see it.

We eventually made a folder called "Paul's Plan of Action". In it he has one task for each day. Monday: Eat lunch. Tuesday: Go to the church for clothing. Wednesday: Take a shower.

At least now Paul has a plan, even if it doesn't include access to the medication he needs.


  1. He has, Katie. I'm not positive what happened during his assessment, but it sounded like his greatest need was for alcohol detox, and there was nowhere he could get in right away.

  2. Yeah, that seems to be the case. Everyone is full up/has no money. There is always a chance if he's willing to be on a waiting list

  3. I think he's on a waiting list, which is something that he can hang onto and keep him going.