I would have to go back and check to find out how long I’ve been trying to get in with mental health services up here, but I finally have an appointment tomorrow for a psych assessment. I’ll have to put it on my credit card, but then hopefully I can claim it back from WINZ as a special needs grant. This is both a relieving and terrifying way to end the week, which started on Sunday with me almost calling Lifeline (I ended up emailing them instead and haven’t had a reply, which I assume is indication of how underfunded they are, because they’re a mental health charity in New Zealand and the government doesn’t give a shit), poking my head up on Monday evening to wonder which gang rape everyone was talking about, avoiding Twitter for half the rest of the week, then getting a call on Tuesday to book this assessment. I have no idea how it’s going to go, despite having had psych assessments before, once for a service like this one and once after a suicide attempt.
I guess the trick is to present myself as urgent enough to bypass waiting lists but not urgent enough to need inpatient care. It’s funny, if you look for crisis mental health services, almost all the results tell you first off to call 111 and remove dangerous objects. Which, I mean, is good advice, but you get the idea looking at them that the only kind of mental health crisis the professionals acknowledge is a suicide (or homicide) attempt. I’ve heard dozens of stories about people who were turned away from urgent care because they said they weren’t going to kill themselves, whatever the reason for that (eg a solid promise to someone, deeply held religious beliefs, no effective way to do it and too much knowledge of what can go wrong if you don’t do it right). It’s similar in that sense, I guess, to my experience with Housing New Zealand.
Incidentally, on my contact course for Mana Māori, our kaiako told us a story about a class(?) she’d taken where they were discussing a kōrero tahito in which a character i whakamomori. The class was shocked – surely the preceding events hadn’t been bad enough to warrant suicide?! The speaker had to explain that whakamomori did not always mean committing suicide, but also, or perhaps rather or originally, to withdraw. These days we don’t have many options to withdraw. You have to be pretty independently wealthy, really, to be able to take time away from a job without having to justify it to the government, to have somewhere to retreat to, to supply yourself with food and whatever else you might need to sustain you. Anyone else gets hounded and harassed with demands to just get back to work and stop being lazy. You have to have appointments and meetings and assessments and run around collecting documents. It isn’t much of a withdrawal and it’s no wonder that so many people give up just because the hoops are too small or high to jump through and it’s easier to give in to the Protestant work ethic (tellingly typoed at first as worth) and keep dying a little inside. The first time I tried it it ended in a nervous breakdown. We’d do well to listen to other cultures sometimes.