Deb's mental health story

Debs story"I am a 52 year old Aboriginal woman, but I didn’t grow up in my Aboriginal family. My mother isn’t Aboriginal and she and my stepfather raised me. I had a difficult childhood and experienced abuse. This is where my mental health issues all started... My psychologist said I’ve had bipolar, depression and untreated post-traumatic stress disorder since my teens.

I had been struggling, not getting the support I needed and my lowest point came when I attempted suicide twice... I stayed one night in a hospital after my suicide attempt. I saw a mental health team worker twice after that and he was really good. He helped me understand why it all happened, and I guess in a way he was trying to assure me there was nothing wrong with me... I was having more issues and my GP referred me to psychologist at an Aboriginal Medical Service. I have been seeing him for years now.

He’s moved into private practice and my GP gives me a Mental Health Care Plan so I can see him and be bulk-billed... now I have to see him under a mental health care plan so I can’t see him as much. There are times when I could probably go see him every second day... I can’t do 10 visits a year to my psychologist, it’s not enough. If I have a particularly hard month I use them up in a really short time. He goes above and beyond what he should have to do. There’s times where he’ll call me each day and just touch base and make sure that I’m okay...

"There have been times when I have had anxiety attacks and my support worker will take me over to the park and we would sit and talk. I don’t want to talk to a stranger."

I started seeing an Aboriginal support worker in 2014... There have been times when I have had anxiety attacks and my support worker will take me over to the park and we would sit and talk. I don’t want to talk to a stranger... I worry that if I called somebody from the community mental team, they’re going to have a psych ambulance at my place and take me to the hospital. That’s not going to help me.

I’m currently on my third appeal with Centrelink for my disability support pension. The way that Centrelink deal with mental health I’m finding is detrimental. There are ridiculous timeframes and I’m told I need to see somebody but I can’t get in for six weeks... I’m really annoyed that places like Centrelink have no understanding of mental health...

As an Aboriginal woman, cultural healing can be a very good thing. Doctors have tried to put me on medication, but my psychologist is an Aboriginal man who also appreciates that tablets aren’t always the best thing... There’s an extreme lack of understanding amongst the mental health field and ignorance, and whilst I understand the need for medication, I just think that perhaps they need to start considering a more holistic approach... People need to be taken on a journey of self. Getting to know themselves, and going back and finding that place where loving themselves enough to want to be better."

To read Deb's full story or to download a copy, click here.

*Names and photograph changed to protect privacy. The views and opinions in these stories do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of COORDINARE – South Eastern NSW PHN, and is not advice that is provided, or information that is endorsed, by COORDINARE. COORDINARE is not responsible for negligence or otherwise for any damage however arising from the use of or reliance on the information provided in these stories.

Contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 if you are in need of immediate assistance, or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.