This picture may seem funny at first but for someone who suffers from paranoid personality disorder, schizophrenia or other disorders where paranoia is a symptom, this is their reality…24/7! As service providers working with folks who suffer with paranoia, it is exhausting. We can’t get them to see how irrational their thinking is. Or sometimes they admit that their thinking isn’t logical, but they still cling to their beliefs about certain people, situations or events. It is exhausting for us working with them but imagine what it is like for them.
I have one particular client in mind. A think about him a lot. Let’s call him “Fred”. Fred has been with us for many years now. He suffers from an undiagnosed mental health disorder with the main symptom being paranoia. He has many conspiracy theories involving friends, staff, medical personnel, the “guy on the bus”, etc. He can take something innocuous that was said during a conversation and ruminate on it for days, twisting it around until it validates his theory or belief. Fred has left me countless voice mails that ramble on for 10 – 15 minutes, usually 5 or 6 in a row, about something that happened 2 years ago and his perception of the situation. It’s not his fault. He is ill. But he does not have a diagnosis.
We have tried numerous times over the years to get him in for a psychiatric assessment. Currently in Calgary there is only one entry point for this service; Access Mental Health. The wait list to get a diagnosis is 6-8 months and then another 4-6 months to be assigned a psychiatrists for community follow up. Due to Fred’s paranoia, it takes quite a while to get him to agree to get his name on the wait list. But as the month’s go by, he will convince himself that, for one reason or another, he should take his name off the list. And more time goes by without Fred having the appropriate psychiatric support that he needs and deserves.
Hopefully, this will change for Fred and many of our other clients that have various mental health disorders. Out of 85 clients, 80 have a mental illness and only 12 of them have a psychiatrist. We have provided them with an apartment to call their own and case management support but we need to do more. Will 2015 be the year we are able to provide psychiatric support? When I think of Fred and the other folks we serve, I sure hope so.