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Enquiry into why the Australian mental health system failed me so completely

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  • Enquiry into why the Australian mental health system failed me so completely

    For some unknown reason I woke up this morning and decided I wanted to get to the bottom of why I was not helped by the mental health system when DS2 was a tiny bub, he was colicy and screaming, DS1 was a bewildered 2 year old, my partner was off interstate trucking for 2 weeks at a time, and all of my family was in NZ, and I was literally coming apart at the seams.

    I decided I would return to the doctor I had taken DS2 to one Sunday morning in desperation to try to find out exactly why he would not sleep, just scream and vomit a lot of the time.
    In the consultation I was obviously distressed and in tears, the doctor asked me if I was depressed, and i replied yes, to which he said do you want help, and I also said yes. He told me he would contact the community health service and get someone to contact me.

    A few days later I was contacted by someone, I have no idea of her name, or where she was from, except that I vaguely remember her mentioning "L**** C*****" and that she was 'a boss'
    Anyway, she proceeds to ask me quite asinine questions such as do you have a car? and when she finds I do, she talks to me about people who do not have a car, and that they struggle quite a bit. She asks if i have friends, and when I confirm I do, she blabs on about people who are new to the area and do not know anyone, and who REALLY struggle. So at each turn, she is minimising my problems, and the upshot of the conversation is that it leaves me feeling even more ashamed than ever that I cannot cope, and I am not even worthy of help from the community agencies.

    So i continue to struggle on, becoming more and more freaked out by the fact that I am constantly having visions and thoughts of harming my children, and actually killing my baby. And this is many many times every day. I get to the stage where I am terrified that if I tell anyone i will have my kids taken away. I pluck up the courage to call Parents line, and anonymously pour out my story, and ask if it is normal to want to really harm your children (knowing it is not) I get some calming down and reassurance, but nothing beyond her telling me she is worried about me, and would i please call her back in a couple of days to let her know I am OK, which i never do, as I am too ****ed up.

    I have a terrible terrible episode of suicidal urges which scares me rigid, and I try to call Lifeline multiple times, each time it is engaged. I am SO scared that I am going to really badly harm myself, and feel I have no-one to talk to about it, all of my family are in NZ, and I do not want to worry them, as they are too far away to help me. Ian is simply shutting his ears to me at this stage, so I don't ring him.

    This comes to a crux when the next day I literally scream down the phone at my partner that I am ****EN SUICIDAL and i NEED HELP!!! (after weeks of telling him i am not coping)

    He doesn't even then come home, he rings a friend, and she packs me and the kids up to stay with her, as i am so incredibly afraid of being alone with the kids, so scared of what I might do. I am a zombie at this stage, so far into depression that I simply do not know why I am alive, I stay with my friend for 2 weeks, i cannot bear to set foot in my house, it scares me too much, and my sister flies in from NZ to take me home to mum to get the support I so desperately need.

    So today, I go back to that doctor, request my notes to find out who he referred me too, with the mission in mind of tracking that person down, and telling them my stroy, and letting them know just how badly they failed me. Only my doc never actually opened a file for ME, he simply tacked some vague notes onto DS2's file
    "Mother seemed depressed - admitted to it, husband not home - interstate truckdriver. Will ring community health centre see if they can help"

    When I asked him who he rang, he was vague, and when they looked back though their fax log, no proper referral was ever made for me, and no proper notes were ever made at the medical centre, so it is really hard for me to follow any of this up.

    I try the local mental health services and tell her of my experience, and ask if there is any record of me on her go, and she comments that the way I was questioned was completely out of character for the way they work, and they would have made an appointment for me to be assessed face to face, which I was never ever offered at any time. I get the gut feeling that i was never referred to them, probably to the L**** C****** crowd instead, and ring them to ask. I get a lovely woman who listens to me and says she will ask around to see if anyone remembers anything (I am not on their data base either)

    Then quite soon after, the director of nursing there wants to speak to me, and she seems quite familiar with the kinds of questions I was asked, and starts saying things to me like "It was 18 months ago, what do you hope to achieve?" and " you don't sound well to me right now, can we give you some counselling?" which really ****s me off and i tell her i am fine thanks just ****en angry at the way I was treated, and dumped by the agencies without even a follow up call.

    The vibe I got off this woman was very similar to the way I had been spoken to originally, I have suspicions that it actually may have been her, or she has some knowledge of it. I am suspicious, as she was SO quick to ring back, and want to offer me check up services, counselling services etc, and trying to deflect me from trying to find out the facts of the situation.

    So, because of ****en shoddy paperwork by pretty much everyone involved, and poor skills at taking someone seriously who is completely ****ed up by PND, I went through absolute hell and back, and I cannot even tell my story to those who had a hand in it.

    I would love to send my story to someone in the mental health arena, I just do not know who, and i would love to have more facts of who and when to present, but I'm at a bit of a dead end.

    I did manage to get a little bit of closure, I told that doctor exactly how I had been failed, and the impact on me, but to what effect, I don't know. Perhaps he will be more careful with his patient notes in the future.

    I just cannot stand the thought of other people having the same experience, and that doc seems to think it is a common enough experience to be fobbed off, he even told me of cases where he has referred severely depressed people to emergency, only to have them sent home, and one of his patients that this happened to committed suicide. When I asked him if there would be an enquiry into the chain of events leading to this womans suicide, he kind of shrugged and said only if a parent or someone demands it.

    This country has a ****en **** mental health system. I spent 8 months in NZ getting over the trauma of all of this - obviously it is still very raw at times for me - I was supported through it SO well by a GP, Plunket, and the NZ Maternal Mental Health System.

    Why the hell did I need to leave the country to get the help I needed??

    If I had not been lucky enough to have a caring enough and financially able enough sister to come and pull me out of that situation I seriously doubt whether I would be here today, and I do not know if my kids would be around either. I probably would have gassed us all in the car. Seriously.
    Last edited by MilkingMaid; 11-08-2013, 18:19.

  • #2
    Hey hun,

    I honestly didn't read your post in it's entirety. After the first paragraph I looked down and thought I don't have it have it in me' - Sorry.

    I did however just want to say, follow your instincts and if you feel something is not right then follow that feeling. For this 'thought' to present itself almost out of no where (from what I read ) has to be a sign.

    good luck


    • #3

      This feels so familiar .... The thing was it wasnt after id had a baby it was 7yrs ago when i had a nervous breakdown.

      Even when i went into one mental health clinic ( i moved interstate so needed to find new counsellors & help etc ) they pushed me out the door saying i wasnt "bad enough" & that i should call this sexual abuse/rape line number ... I was shocked to say the least.

      Oh & i was given Lifelines number .... Yep & i would call an ambulance when i hurt myself too, hey

      Its getting worse & worse ... While i dont totally blame the staff as they are overworked & underfunded the fact still remains that there are many who should not be in this field full stop.

      I feel disgusted for what you have been through & im disgusted at many of the things that happen every day to those who need help.

      Lots of work needs to be done to right what has been made wrong & geees i really hope its done soon.

      You are a brave & courageous woman be proud of what you have acheived. Im not sure who you could contact to start a complaint in this regards but i would certainly be interested to know myself.


      • #4
        Thankyou. It really helps to be heard!

        I'm so sorry you have had terrible treatment too is the most lonely feeling.

        I've been advised to give this crowd a call

        I'll be speaking to them on Monday.


        • #5
          I completely agree!!!

          Although, i was failed by the NZ system... it took me 18 months to get diognosed with PND all because one stupid phycologist in NZ told me i was just sleep deprived when i approched her telling her i had PND - but thats a whole nother story!

          the aussie system isnt great - it definatly needs to be improved, and judging by your experiance it needs to be changed BADLY!

          Let me know if you need any help!



          • #6
            Originally posted by ApprenticeMomma View Post
            Thankyou. It really helps to be heard!

            I'm so sorry you have had terrible treatment too is the most lonely feeling.

            I've been advised to give this crowd a call


            I'll be speaking to them on Monday.
            Thats really awesome ! ETA : Sorry i mean its awesome that you have a number to contact ! Starting is always hard especially when you dont know where to !

            At least you can make sure someone knows what happened !

            I think thats half the problem is we dont speak out enough & get things fixed iykwim !

            Good luck with your call let us know how it goes !
            Last edited by reAllytee; 20-07-2007, 21:36.


            • #7
              i've been unaware of all this sort of stuff. i don't know what to say, except that i read every single word of your story.


              • #8
                That's pathetic
                And the most pathetic part of it is I'll bet you are just one of hundreds, possibly thousands, of women who have gone through that.

                For starters, I would write to your local member of parliament. Your complaint WILL be lodged and they MUST reply to you IN WRITING. If their response isn't good enough, go one step further, and keep going till you get what you need.

                Good luck


                • #9
                  Hi there

                  I want to wish you the best of luck, in finding the answers you need.

                  After watching my sister go through a similar situation, this topic is something that touches my heart. Her story ended quite badly, with her 2 boys being taken off her, and a divorce from a very unsympathetic husband....

                  Anyway.... I just wanted to let you know that I read every word of your story, and I'm here if you need someone to vent to, or a shoulder to cry on.


                  • #10
                    Ive sent you a PM ApprenticeMomma


                    • #11
                      Thanks for sharing your story here.

                      I really hope you get the closure and action you need, and that clearly the mental health system needs.

                      I work in the pharmaceutical industry- and very closely with the mental health system, and see every day where it lets people such as yourself down.

                      I agree with contacting your local member for parliament, that is a great place to start.

                      Have you though about legal action? Or is it more for your own closure?

                      I'm really glad to hear that you were able to get the help and support you needed from somewhere- just a shame you had to go away to get it.

                      Good luck, and I would really like to hear how you get on with everything.


                      • #12
                        Thanks for speaking out, a friend of mine was in a similar situation, was referred and told it wasn't serious enough for them to deal with and sent home???

                        Is this happening to women every day?

                        If so why?

                        This can't be allowed to continue, perhaps we need to take this to the media or the health department or the federal govt, not to necessarily find who was responsible for your individual case, but also to raise awareness and make positive changes for all women with post natal depression and other forms of mental illness now and in the future.


                        • #13
                          It is great hear that you are ok now.

                          I too agree that you should make your situation known to as many people as possible.

                          I think you should contact HRC, your local member and the Qld member for health


                          Anything you can do to put your mind at rest and prevent this from happening to anyone else would be incredible.


                          • #14
                            Hi, firstly I am glad you got help you needed in the end.

                            my mum works in Mental Health Queensland, but only in admin for a respite centre.

                            A fact is, although no excuse, is that there is not enough funding for these organisations to run to full potential! Staff are over worked, underpaid, and sadly dont give a damn about their efforts, or they are short staffed! (not saying this is the case in all cases, but it is strong)..... The health system in a whole is tragic!

                            It happens all to often, that the less severe cases go untreated, turned away, only to have them be killed, or killing/harming themselves or others! Seeking to get attention to the fact they need help, wanting someone to take note.

                            Alot of doctors/people believe that it is normal to get these feelings of depression when you have a baby and they will go away without needing treatment!(In some cases yes it is, but there is a line when these feelings start to interrupt your daily life, thats when they are no longer normal feelings and the line has been crossed from being normal, to needed help.)

                            PND is still severly under-rated and there is a serious lack of information given to mothers about it.

                            The same with the Helpline, its a non profit organistation that struggles to get funding to operate to its full potential.

                            I really feel for you, and others with the same experience! As I said, please dont hate, I dont agree or excuse what they have done to you, but I wanted to share my insight!

                            Good on you for speaking out about what you were forced to go through, as the violated your trust and confidence in them. Get the word out, more needs to be done to prevent this from happening! Or even reduce the amount it happens!


                            • #15
                              subarumum, I really appreciate your input, I am very interested in all points of view with regard to the system, I know that the system is stretched, but lives should not be put at risk because of it.

                              Anyway, I'm going to be sending my story to a number of people/organisations, and they can make of it what they will.