At 40, I’m Watching My Peers Get Sick or Die
Jackie Ashton

I worked in the Behavioral Health clinic of our local hospital for 13 years as an alternative therapist. Every week we would have clinical staffing where we would “discuss” (more like gossip and snigger about) various cases.

I remember one instance in which a patient was suffering from an endless litany of disastrous life circumstances. Both he and his wife were seriously ill, but could not afford the care, despite his holding down two jobs and not having had a holiday in twenty years. I said he needed to go on a six month cruise; but in the system of “diagnosis, prescription, compliance” he was diagnosed with MDD (major depressive disorder), prescribed a drug (I don’t recall which drug) and told to come in every other week for 30 minutes to check on his compliance with the drug regimen and given a “mini-mental” assessment to evaluate his level of depression.

I said that’s totally crazy. The prescribing physician said that’s all we can do for him. None of the other therapists said a word.

Rats, when kept in alone in an empty cage, will take the cocaine or opioid; but when they are in a “rat park” with other rats and a varied and entertaining environment, free to breed and feed as they would in nature — they do not take the reality avoiding drugs because their reality is now a good one.

I say blow up the mental health system and start again.