This is somewhat of an ode to my uncle, and some introspection as to why I do the things I do, and why I fight hard for others.
My uncle suffered with schizophrenia. My uncle also only had a green card for a while and when he finally became a citizen, he was unable to work because he would make “too much” and he would not qualify for state benefits to pay for his medications. Without medications he could not work, he died at age 40 from a heart attack and lived at home with his parents his entire life.
This man was not a stupid man; he had a thirst for knowledge and a drive to do so many things with his life. He always struck me as a researcher; he was constantly recording documentaries, collecting books, cataloguing information about any and everything! He moved to this country and he knew he would not be able to achieve his lifelong dreams, he was 18, and at 19 he started displaying psychotic symptoms.
He was never able to move out of his parents’ home, unable to work, unable to study. He had very few things in life to be happy about. He had little to look forward to, all because with a job he could not qualify to receive his medications. He was unable to contribute because he had mental illness, and unlike diabetes or asthma his condition was not and still is not considered okay in American Culture.
If mental Illness were classified the same way physical health ailments are, he may have had a chance. No American would tell a diabetic they could not have an insulin shot if they got a job, or look down on the person struggling because they blood sugar lowered. These are not response we are willing to make, because a medical doctor told the nation it was a medical problem.
I got into this practice because I wanted to fight for people like my uncle. I’ve come across several families struggling with similar issues, it is always the same, because of the stigma and the fact that he was not “from here” there are few sympathetic ears. I find myself in a clinical role but I want to advocate. It is a fine line, advocating for the client while maintaining good therapeutic distance because in therapy, without major changes to the system- what can be said?
The Depression is often situational
The PTSD is because life has been hard, and in some cases outside of the normal mainstream culture
The Anxiety is due to not knowing what will happen next for you, your family and/or community.
It is scary out there.