I happened upon this article yesterday online. Its headline immediately peaked my curiosity. Reading it though, completely shook me to my core.
A person seeking “Medical Assistance in Dying” or “MAID” for short must meet certain criteria before being approved. Most often those seeking MAID’s assistance in dying are in the advanced stages of decline with unbearable physical or mental anguish and no relief in sight due to a serious illness, disease or disability that cannot be reversed nor cured.
Starting in March of 2023 however (less than 1 year from today) it will also become legal in Canada to medically aid in dying for individuals who are battling mental illnesses such as Depression, Bipolar Disorder, PTSD, Anorexia, Schizophrenia and Personality Disorders.
As someone who has been battling Depression (and several other mental health issues) for 8 years now, has attempted suicide a few times and has just begun my 8 billionth treatment (or so it feels that way) I’m really not sure how I feel about this.
It almost feels counterproductive to all the efforts we’ve put forth in the area of mental illness and it bares the question of “who should then be eligible?” Would someone like myself actually qualify who has had so many treatments fail me? Would I meet the criteria given that I have been diagnosed with and am a walking billboard for “Treatment Resistant Depression” after years of trying (with no relief) so many conventional and non-conventional treatments and remedies over the course of 8 years including ECT (Electroconvulsive Treatment), Neurofeedback, Nutritional supplements, over 20 concoctions of antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds, Ketamine treatment, medical marijuana, group therapies, many inpatient hospital stays and treatment programs, CBT, therapy, Psychiatrists and much, much more. There is help available (yes, some even affordable or free) but it’s not enough.
So my next question becomes “where do you draw the line?” It’s not as though an xray can determine how sick a person with a mental illness is or how long they have to live.
How many times have I been told throughout my journey that “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. How many times have I been told that I need to keep fighting. How many times have I been told, “it will get better”. You’ve all promised me that and so I continue fighting to survive each and every day, some days more than others, yet now all I am hearing today is the government telling me otherwise.
For someone like myself who has tried desperately to get better and to no longer feel hopeless or feel like a burden or a failure. For someone like me who feels completely exhausted and defeated many days and who knows the darkness first hand, it’s often difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel because to be honest, for someone like me, it’s hard sometimes to have any faith that I will ever get better and the message this government is sending me is that you’re probably right; you never will.
The act of suicide itself is often an impulsive one, when we feel most vulnerable and hopeless. For many, mental illness is a life long battle and I get how exhausting and defeating it is. I crave rest and peace daily in my life but I am grateful to have so many people on “Team Kim” who don’t want to give up on me and who continue to keep fighting for me and with me, many of whom have said to me, I wish there was a magic pill that I can give you and make all your years of suffering disappear. I guess now they finally can because the government is making it OK to give up 😇.
But there is also the flip side of the coin which I have found myself thinking about alot as well since reading this article knowing what it feels like to be on both sides. I ask myself, would it not be better to allow someone who is in the depths of their darkness, who can’t see a way out, who has tried desperately to find a treatment to help them by giving them this opportunity instead of attempting suicide and possibly not succeeding and in turn doing future damage to themselves by becoming a vegetable. I have felt many times over the last many years that certain parts of our government see people with disabilities including mental illness as basic parasites. So is this their way of weaning some of us out? Most attempted and completed suicides are done alone and while in mental anguish which is scary in itself so would being medically assisted in the process be a more dignified or better solution for some where family and loved ones can be a part of it? Or is it simply an easy solution to a growing crisis in Canada and around the world? What is this going to do to society and all the hard work we’ve done in trying to help people have a chance at a better quality of life worth living for?
I hear so many stories, many of them from people I know personally that give me hope because they have found that light at the end of the tunnel and are grateful that a failed suicide attempt or a promising treatment allowed them to be here all these years later feeling joy and contentment in their life and surrounded by people they love. So I again ask myself another question “who, other than ourselves should have the right to choose to sacrifice a life that could one day feel as though life is worth living again?”
I’m feeling sickened today and very confused. I feel that if my new treatment doesn’t work that I could be all out of options (is there an eight billionth and one option?). I feel like this could possibly be my last resort right now even though I am beyond honoured to have been afforded the opportunity by my Psychiatrist (who is one of the head researchers on the team) to be part of this clinical trial and I’m even hopeful as I continue to hear such positive results from the statistics thus far but you can be rest assured that when and “if” it becomes approved and made available to the rest of Canada it will also come with a hefty price tag attached, one that many, many people, including myself could not afford.
The government needs to step it up and invest more money (like billions) in mental health programs and treatment like, yesterday. Better funding (and shortened wait times) can help make all programs and treatments both more affordable and accessible for everyone instead of offering a choice to someone to kill themselves. It’s just not fair.
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