With a Little Help From My Friends; Paul Curran “The Invisibles” Part 2

While I’m off slaying dragons, some friends have come to bat for me by sharing some pretty amazing survival triumphs of their own. I am so happy and grateful to share them.

This is part 2 of a tale of an amazingly harrowing trip to save one’s sanity along with body by the beloved blog-o-sphere cheering and writing champion, Paul Curran.

If you missed part 1, you missed a LOT… go see it… “The Invisibles, Part 1”


I was checked out of the hospital when the internal bleeding had been stopped, and no word on the requested psych eval – it was as if it had fallen into a black hole.

As a dialysis patient a lot of my electronic health records were stored on a server called Oasis – which was a record keeping unit for the dialysis unit. All dialysis employees, including the nursing staff, social workers, etc., had access to Oasis. So when I got back to dialysis, I went to see the social worker to request a psych eval.

She pulled up Oasis and there was the history I’d given to student doctors merely in a psych rotation a few weeks earlier. I was upset; this had only a tangential relationship with dialysis and should not be available for all that staff to view. I objected and asked to see a real psychiatrist – board certified. She told me they did not take patients. This was news to me – after all this was a hospital and they were mandated to provide care and wasn’t mental health as important as physical?

I told the social worker that I needed to talk to a psychiatrist. She hemmed and hawed and said I would have to seek help elsewhere, perhaps with private counselling. I objected and pointed out that the majority of my depression could certainly be attributed to my vast medical treatment and I expected to get help with mental health issues.

After a few weeks the social worker eventually gave in to my insistence and set up an appointment with the dialysis psychiatrist. This gentleman provided services to dialysis patients who were scheduled for a transplant. Such patients were subject to a plethora of tests to make sure they were physically and psychologically fit to receive a new kidney. He took me for a patient just to placate me – it was not his “job” to counsel new patients.

So on the day of the appointment, I decided to be completely honest and open with Dr. Brown as I felt this would be the only way to move forward.

He was very easy to talk to and I made it clear that this meeting was confidential and would not be recorded on Oasis. He agreed. He asked a lot of questions about state of mind and I admitted to drinking excessively, feeling that honesty was the only way to proceed.

He then informed me that he would have to contact the DMV and have my license suspended. I couldn’t believe my ears –  this was supposed to be confidential.

He said that he was required to report anyone who was a threat to himself or others. I was incensed and objected. I told him I only drank at home and never drank and drove.

I told him that I’d come here choosing to trust him and he had broken that trust. I told him that I could never again open up honestly to him because I no longer trusted him; that I was leaving here worse off than when I arrived and I was terminating all contact permanently. At this I left and he looked very guilty.

That was my entire experience with psychiatry. I dealt with the license suspension in a way that caused it to not be a part of the record. That was not easy or cheap and I was angry about every minute I spent worrying about it. But it was done legally and is no longer an issue.

Never again. Never will I trust a ‘professional’ with my life details; never will I seek help or ask for treatment; never will I darken the doorway of a practicing psychiatrist if I have any choice.

Should I ever need medication I will have to break this vow but not until. After 5 years of struggling, I pulled myself out of the depression one little bit at a time.

I am flabbergasted at the complete lack of any help for mental issues; in fact after serious pestering and begging I found myself in worse shape after treatment than before. I am appalled at the treatment or lack thereof offered those who ask for help with mental issues – it is meagre and niggardly and inappropriate and comes with stigma and not as needed.

It actually adds to the problem by being so poor and untimely. Our current offering in Canada to those who ask for help with mental issues is so poor as to actually create stress and a sense of separation and valuelessness.

I am an intelligent, well-educated, middle-aged Canadian with good language skills, personal awareness, former professional manager, local citizen for many decades and hospital connections (social workers, doctors, nursing and advisory and admin staff). I recognized that I was depressed (naturally from illnesses and life changes) and sought mental help to address this situation.

Imagine if someone was not familiar with the system, knew no one, spoke another language, was uncertain of Canadian culture, perhaps with reasoning abilities reduced – how could they ever get help? It is obvious that they could not get help until such time as they ran afoul of the legal system and the situation was totally out of control. At that point so much damage has been done that they would be facing serious consequences including incarceration, a criminal record, serious negative life impact including destruction of family relationships, work ability, reputation, financial ruin, etc.

As far as anyone requesting help for mental issues in Canada – my experience is that they might as well be invisible.

-Paul Curran

34 thoughts on “With a Little Help From My Friends; Paul Curran “The Invisibles” Part 2

    • Thanks for your concerns Beth. i seem to be fine now,if a little more cynical for the experience. Thanks so much for dropping by for a read Beth. It is an honor to have you visit.


    • My privilege, Paul. (Note, begging for forgiveness. I altered your comment to add it to the post. It really should be seen by all readers). Thanks so much for sharing your story with me and helping me out at the same time. You’ve got quite the truck load of experiences.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I’m sorry you’ve suffered so badly at the hands of those who are meant t protect and help you. I don’t know whether this is an issue across Canada or just withing your province. In the UK you can get psychiatric help but there is a tremendous queue usually so it could be 6- weeks before you see one. That can be very serious with some psychiatric problems.
    I hope you’re well on the way to being OK now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much for dropping by David. It is hopeless here for those who need psychiatric care. i hear stories from friends who are in the legal system about the mentally ill who are constantly being sentenced to jail time because there are no facilities to treat their illnesses. I seem to be OK now but it took about 7 years to dig myself out from under the depression. I am sure that with sessions that time could have been cut easily in half or even more.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Paul, your experience sounds hellish but it is one that seems to be replicated in many other countries, including Ireland, where there can be some very, very long waits for people who need mental health services.
    As for so-called confidentiality, that’s a BIG problem too.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences and views about them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for dropping by Jean. It is an honor to have you visit. It is interesting that Ireland has similar issues with mental health service delivery. It seems so odd that we have this world class physical health care system and completely ignore mental health. I feel bad for those who have more difficult issues than mine – who can’t help themselves.


      • My pleasure, Paul, though I wish that we could be in a situation of being able to praise the mental health services in our respective countries.
        The suicide rate in Ireland is terrifyingly high and I’ve no doubt it could be reduced significantly if services were available to people long before they reach desperation levels.

        Liked by 1 person

        • We are having serious issues with teen suicides. We are also finding many mentally ill patients are being sent to prison for offenses because there are no positions available for mental health help. Here in Ontario it is so common that our prison guards have all had training in how to handle the mentally ill. That is so sad that we would rather spend money training guards than helping people.


        • The prescription and use of anti-depressants have skyrocketed in our country. They are the fastest growing drug category and are already selling billions of dollars per year. More people need to be able to see the beauty as you do Jean.


  3. Many thanks to Robyn and Paul for sharing such an inspiring account. It was an awful lot of problems for life to pile on your plate, Paul, but your example in coping is so encouraging. What you say about support for mental health is sad but true in many countries.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh Paul, this saddens me on so many levels. Despite all of the “talk” around mental health, we still seem to have such ignorance in dealing with it. I cannot fathom tackling the system when your resources are so low that you can barely function. It’s beyond ridiculous.

    My only experience with this is when I went to see a private counsellor a number of years ago after my Dad got sick as a result of his alcoholism. It brought to surface emotions I did not even know I had & felt that I needed to talk to someone about it.

    Thankfully, unlike your experience, it helped me. It gave me an opportunity to work through my emotions & develop a better understanding of how my Dad’s alcoholism had impacted me & still does, in how I conduct myself.

    I am glad to hear that you somehow managed to rise above all of the challenges you faced. I wish you continued success in your road to recovery my friend, in every sense. Thank you for sharing your story!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the good wishes Lynn. I am honored that you dropped by for a visit. I am pleased that you found counseling helpful- that is the sort of help I felt I needed as well, but could not get. i wish you well in your relationship with your Dad. Thanks again for dropping by and joining the discussion.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: With a Little Help From My Friends; Paul Curran “The Invisibles” Part 1 | Blog Woman!!! – Life Uncategorized

  6. Dear Paul,
    Your experience absolutely breaks my heart. You and I have spoken before, so you know that I’ve been a healthcare professional for over twenty-five years. Even as dietitian, I know you can’t treat any physical ailments if the emotional aspects aren’t treated as well. I can’t imagine how frustrating this must have been for you.
    Thank goodness you are who you are and have internal fortitude and an unbeatable set of resilient skills. In my opinion, a baseline depression screening and assessment should be a part of every treatment plan and for anyone undergoing intense recuperative therapy as a result of a serious or chronic illness.
    You are a beacon, Paul. Thank you for sharing your brave story.xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mama! How wonderful to have you visit. Thank you for the kind words and well wishes. You are exactly correct – no long term or chronic treatment plans should go forward without at least a baseline screening and assessment for emotional and mental well-being. And that is not even a consideration currently – the medical and personal issues with which I dealt, have a debilitating emotional impact. Every one of the health care professionals knows that,has been taught that, has dealt with that and yet every one turns their back on mental health issues and pretends they don’t even exist – they are invisible. It is an eye=opening experience believe me. Hard to believe.

      Anyway, awesome to have you drop by and add to the discussion. Well said.

      That last post of yours – Prairie Burn – http://mamamickterry.com/2016/03/11/prairie-burn/ – was brilliant Mama. One of the best blog posts I have ever read.

      By the way, I might be in your part of the world sometime in mid May. Would you be up to meeting for a coffee if our schedules allowed? Drop me a line at paulccurran@hotmail.com Mama – if you would, I want to pick your brain on a medical topic.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are the best, Paul. Truly! You inspire me all the time.
        I’d love to come find you for coffee! I’ll drop you an e-mail in a bit. And thank you for your kind words on Prairie Burn…it was one of my favorites, too. xo

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for dropping by Hook. As much as I use words to try and describe the situation, to really appreciate how hopeless and debilitating it is, one has to either go through it or have someone close go through it. Here in Canada we get used to having someone care regardless of the situation, Like I said, those who are mentally ill and find themselves incarcerated at least have the reassurance that the guards have been trained. But when you are out on the street because of mental problems, and are suffering, there is not one single soul within the system who will even acknowledge your pain, let alone help you address it. It is the most empty, depressing situation that I have encountered and I’ve encountered some doozies of issues in my life.

      Thanks again for the visit Hook. I plan to be passing through your neck of the woods sometime in late May on my way to Vancouver and I would love to have a coffee with you – if you’re interested drop me an e-mail at paulccurran@hotmail.com with your contact info and I’ll touch base when my schedule had firmed up.


  7. I’m sorry to hear that your exerience was so bad, Paul. Things aren’t great here in the UK, but not that bad – at least, not yet. I dread to think what we’ll be like in the next few months the way things are going.

    Liked by 1 person

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