Bang Your Head

April 9, 2010

Today I sat for a few hours in a mental health clinic in the Bronx.  And when I say, the Bronx, I don’t mean Riverdale, where I live, which is very middle class and almost suburban.  I mean The Bronx–the way most people picture all of the Bronx to be.  And it really made me examine myself.

I was there as another leg in a long journey to get my son the mental health assistance he needs.  I never imagined it would be so difficult to find decent doctors and counselors that help children with mental health issues.  I’ve been holding on to our psychiatrist for dear life for one and a half years, even though he sucks and never calls me back, simply because I cannot find anyone else!  I have called pages and pages of doctors, met with some that made me want to run out the door screaming, and gotten nowhere.  Finally, last week, one called me back.  And they take my insurance.  And they scheduled an appointment with me.  Already they’re 3 points ahead of everybody else.

I realized what type of clinic it was, but I didn’t think too much of it.  I was just grateful someone was willing to help me.  Honestly, I am a person who is pretty comfortable in almost any neighborhood.  People are people.  And the people I spent the morning with probably have more in common with me than the families in my neighborhood.  I am poor.  I am a single mom.  I am dealing with mental health issues in my home.  These are the things that bound me to my fellow patients today.  Most of the people registering for services today were referred through the court or through Child Services and didn’t necessarily want to be there–they had to be there.  They were agitated, talking to themselves, mumbling obscenities, and I had several moments where I thought–really, is this the best care I can get for us?  And I had to check myself.  Because I don’t really know anything about the care there yet.  I just registered today. I didn’t meet with a doctor or discuss a plan of action for my child.  The facility was clean and looked new and the staff was friendly and helpful.  My moments of doubt were based only on the other patients there and their socio-economic status.  I had to remind myself that just because I was not sitting in a beautiful, private waiting room in a non-descript office building in Manhattan with several other well dressed mid to upper class people who were waiting quietly reading The Economist did not mean I didn’t belong there just as much as everyone else.

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