Monday, February 21, 2011

An Open Letter to My Representatives in Congress, and an Important ALERT for Americans with Mental Illnesses

This is an open letter that I will be sending to my Representatives in the House and my Senators in Congress.


Dear Representative,

My thoughts are with you now that you have made this fateful decision to cut back Medicare and Medicaid funding, when that funding needs to be increased. I am wondering about your humanity and if you have ever taken the time to walk in another person's shoes. For example, I wonder if you have a daughter. Imagine if your happy, healthy daughter reached her twenties, and suddenly began to see giant bugs on the walls of your home and bats flying around her bedroom, when none of these things were there. Imagine if she began to hear voices telling her to do things, and constantly telling her she was an evil, horrible person. Or telling her that she was Anne Frank, or Jesus Christ. Imagine if she was delusional and believed that she really was Anne Frank, or Jesus Christ.

Imagine if she committed crimes, like stealing a car, because the thoughts in her mind were so warped she thought this was something she was supposed to do, and did not realize it was a crime. Imagine if the images, voices, and thoughts she was having all told her to kill herself, so she took an overdose of pills. Imagine this happened again, and she took another overdose. Imagine it happened again, and she tried to drive a car over the guardrail of a 150-foot bridge, totaling the car, but being lucky to survive. Imagine if she bought a gun, a .357 magnum, with her Second Amendment rights I'm sure you enjoy protecting, and tried to shoot herself with it. Imagine you young adult daughter who was always a kind, and pleasant person arguing with the police as they took her away in handcuffs to a psychiatric ward. I don't have to imagine these things, because I lived them.

What would you do with your daughter, I wonder? She would need serious medical care. She would need to be in a psychiatric hospital for some time, in order for medications to work. She would need a lot of follow-up care after that with a psychiatrist who could prescribe the medications, and a therapist who could provide counseling. She would need affordable housing too - another thing you cut the budget for.

Where would you get the money for this treatment for your daughter? Being in her twenties, and having to drop out of college, and being unable to work, she would have no health insurance. She would not be able to buy any health insurance, nor would you be able to buy it for her, because she would have a serious pre-existing condition such as Schizophrenia, and you can go ahead and try buying insurance with that label attached to your name. It won't happen.

Where would you get the money for her care? Also, where would she get the money to live? Would you pay for her housing, food, electricity, car insurance, and all other bills while she was unable to work? Could you afford to do this for the rest of her life?

I assume you are a caring parent, who wants his daughter to survive. So, you would, in this situation, have no choice but to do the same thing that millions of other people have to do every day, and that is have your daughter apply for Social Security Disability Benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSDI or SSI). If your daughter is lucky, and organized, and can fill out all the extensive paperwork involved, and if she has a lawyer to help her as most people need, she might get approved for one of these programs. By the way, these are also programs your Republican Party likes to cut the funding for. You daughter would need one of these programs to survive.

Now, once your daughter is finally approved for SSI or SSDI, she will get either Medicaid or Medicare. And then, she will be able to afford the injections, and many pills she has to take each day to be able to function more like her healthy self again. She will have a community mental health center to go to, where she can get affordable therapy and see a psychiatrist. She might now not be suffering from constant hallucinations and delusions and psychic pain, if the doctor can find the combination of meds that will work for her. She might be able to return to school eventually, or get a part-time job that is not stressful.

Thanks to Medicaid/Medicare, and Social Security, your daughter will be able to survive. If she can get public housing, she will also be able to have a roof over her head.

But you want to take these programs away. So go ahead, take them away. Take away your daughter's lifeline, her only hope to ever have a decent life and be a functioning human being. Take away the very thing that is making her feel like herself again, that is taking away her mental torture that she lived with for years. Take away her community mental health center where she receives the care she needs. Cut the funding for that. Put her back in Hell. And take away the roof over her head while you're at it. So now she will have no income, no medication or healthcare, and no place to live. She will be one of the many mentally ill homeless people sleeping on park benches and starving.

Would you do this to your daughter? You've made clear that you would do it to me, and millions of others like me. So, I suppose you would do it to your daughter too? Or, when it comes to your family, do you have a heart? Could the God that you believe in have told your to care about your neighbors, and not harm them? Perhaps you will realize that all of the people you are disenfranchising are the daughters, and the sons, of someone somewhere. They are the brothers and the sisters of your coworkers and your neighbors. They are the people who work part time in your office, or at your gym. They are me. I work part time and attend college, because I want to have a productive life and make contributions to society. I also volunteer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, where we spend a lot of time trying to educate the public about mental illness, the way I am trying to educate you now. I do function enough to be productive and happy. I am not in a torturous state anymore.

If you met me, you would not know I was ever psychotic and homeless and living in a mental hell. But if you take away my Medicare, my Social Security you will see it for yourself, because I will be psychotic again, homeless again, and possibly dead by suicide, all in short order. That would be what would happen to me. I know this, as I lived through this kind of horrible situation before.

So, what I am asking you to do is protect my right to breathe. I think I deserve to live. I am a good person who works hard at many things in life, and I have never intentionally set out to harm anybody. I don't think you should have anything against me. I don't think you should assume my life is worthless. I have a family, and they care about me, and they don't want me to die. Don't take away my life. Don't take away my lifelines.

Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and Public Housing are lifelines, and I fail to understand why they are constantly being threatened by politicians who do not understand their importance. Mental Health treatment at community mental health centers like the one I go to for therapy and psychiatric treatment are vitally important, and they save lives. Research into better treatment and possible cures for mental illnesses is vitally important and could potentially change the world and save many people needless suffering. Research could find a way to stop your daughter's illness. My hope is that after you read this letter, you will have some understanding.

Vote for saving lives. Don't vote for murder. Don't vote to put people onto the streets, psychotic and hungry and lost. Be humane. Please. I am begging you.


Sincerely,

Jennifer

Readers: Please note the following alert on very serious matters for those of us in the U.S. with mental illness:The below is information I received form the NAMI:
Massive Cuts Loom for Federal Mental Health and Housing Programs
Action Needed!
R 1 Continuing Resolution Federal Budget Cuts for FY 2011
Mental Health Services

The House bill slashes $200 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a 5.5 percent cut below the agency's FY 2008 funding level.

Research:
Cuts $86 million (7 percent) from research on mental illness at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), reducing funding to $1.404 billion.

Special Education:
A $557 million reduction to special education funding.

Housing:
Reduces HUD Section 811 program by 70 percent--from $300 million in FY 2010 to $90.36 million.

All House offices can be reached by calling 202-224-3121 (not a toll free call), or go here to TAKE ACTION ON THIS ISSUE RIGHT NOW!

3 comments:

The Blue Morpho said...

Because of your post I went to the NAMI Advocacy Action Center and sent an email. Their mail tool is fast and easy. Don't know if it will help - I already live in a state with reps that oppose these cuts. But another letter doesn't hurt. Ya never know.

I thought your post did a great job of explaining why these programs and funds are so vital.Adventures in Anxiety Land

Galen said...

This is so well-written and so moving. Thank you for writing and sharing it.

Borderline Lil said...

Beautifully written and powerful, and I hope the message gets through.

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