The Hard Truth

A few weeks ago I wrote a post called Unbelievable┬áthat strayed a bit from my emphasis on creativity and creative work. I said that I’d share more about the situation when the dust settled. The dust hasn’t settled and I don’t know when it will. Could be weeks, months, or years. Sometimes, we have to face the hard truth. I’m facing a crisis. A family member is struggling with mental health and addiction issues.

So what does this have to do with creativity, writing, music, etc? Everything. I once dealt with similar issues. Although I never faced addiction, I was a substance abuser and struggled with paranoid-schizophrenic thoughts for several years. How did I overcome? I was in my mid 20s when I became very anxious and paranoid. Creativity is what helped to pull me out of that dark place. Writing and playing music, along with reading and prayer, helped me to escape the demons of substance abuse.

Now, I’m watching a family member struggle with the same issues. But my loved one has little interest in writing or playing music, in expressing emotions through creativity. That’s a scary place because I know how much of a godsend creativity was for me in those dire times.

The hard truth doesn’t stop here.

We’re facing a mental health crisis in Washington State and across America. Getting help for a loved one in this situation is increasingly difficult. State laws have created obstacles to involuntary treatment for minors and even some voluntary services. Having good private insurance puts me at the end of the list for the predominantly state-assisted mental health programs in my community. I’m told there is a 3-6 month wait for a psychiatrist here with my private insurance. What’s the point in having private insurance? Private psychiatrists are limited and often unavailable, or do not work with certain populations.

I’ve spent hours in emergency rooms. I’ve stayed awake many nights while my family member has been overcome with drug-induced psychosis. I’ve spent thousands of dollars temporarily removing my loved one from the immediate situation. I’ve made dozens of calls to medical institutions, mental health centers, and crisis lines all to little avail.

The hard truth is that we’re letting our kids and young adults slip through the cracks of despair. Our privacy and health laws have made it near impossible to get mandated help for an individual in crisis. Our drug laws and judicial system have made it much easier for drug dealers to stay active. Our law enforcement officers often have other priorities.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the help I’ve been able to receive in this matter. But it always feels like it falls short, as if there is a lack of the true spirit of caring for our fellow humans in need. The hard truth is that the system feels like a machine, and a broken one at that. Those involved in the situation feel less human and more like cogs in a wheel that’s not allowed to turn smoothly. Something is not working We should be doing better than this.

Back to creativity.

It’s been my own experience that creative thought and artistic endeavors have been key to my journey with mental health issues and emotional turmoil. Writing poetry and music to share thoughts and feelings often leads to healing and solutions. And so it’s with this spirt that I raise my voice for others.

There’s still another element to this story that I cannot yet share because there is a criminal case involved. And no it’s not my loved one who is the suspect but rather the victim. – dse

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Author: Dan Steven Erickson

Dan Steven Erickson is a great undiscovered American songwriter.