post-traumatic mental healthcare
Organized by: Time Farm
Last year, a close relative of mine died of cancer at age seven after fighting the disease for several years. She was extremely important to me. I had taken part in the care of the family when I could during this time and in the aftermath of her death. Since then, I have experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress: sudden unhealthy weight loss (brought on by several months of food aversion, nausea, and diarrhea), nightmares, fearfulness, and hypervigilance, as it is called by psychotherapists, meaning that I have lived with a constant expectation of further disaster, for which I try to prepare myself, to the detriment of my ability to enjoy day-to-day life. Most significantly, I have experienced near-constant and debilitating anxiety.
I am now in psychotherapy. This and the support of friends and family as well as significant alterations to my lifestyle have greatly reduced the above symptoms of damage to my mental health. But therapy is expensive, and it is a burden I am not certain I can keep carrying.
The idea that dealing with mental illness is an individual responsibility to be kept private is quite pervasive; that it is somehow different in kind from bodily inury and disease is the heart of what is called its stigma. Between this stigma and the contemporary collapse of distinctions between personal and professional life, I must admit that I find speaking and asking for assistance this way embarrassing. It is embarrassment that compels me to initiate a fundraiser. In the past year, like many people able to do so, I have donated money to several arts and literary organizations; to artists’ and researchers’ projects; to aid in others’ health care and also the care of pets; to social-justice nonprofits; and to disaster relief. It occurred to me today that I would have previously found it distasteful to see others fundraising for therapy. In addition to securing funds to ensure that my care continues, I would like to contribute a modest bit of energy to helping therapy be considered on par with any of the other medicine we routinely take for granted as worthy of crowdfunding.
Please note, should I secure enough funding to take care of myself first, I will donate any excess proceeds to the mental healthcare of my family and to clinical trials for children’s cancer research, an underfunded field due to its unprofitability.