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In Crisis

I’m one of the 26 percent with mental illness

  • Annmarie Timmins, age 9 (left), with her brother on vacation in Franconia Notch.

    Annmarie Timmins, age 9 (left), with her brother on vacation in Franconia Notch.

  • Annmarie Timmins, age 10.

    Annmarie Timmins, age 10.

  • Monitor reporter Annmarie Timmins is reflected in the mirror at her gym in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Monitor reporter Annmarie Timmins is reflected in the mirror at her gym in Concord.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Monitor reporter Annmarie Timmins is reflected in the mirror at her gym in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Monitor reporter Annmarie Timmins is reflected in the mirror at her gym in Concord.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Annmarie Timmins, age 10.

    Annmarie Timmins, age 10.

  • Annmarie Timmins, age 9 (left), with her brother on vacation in Franconia Notch.
  • Annmarie Timmins, age 10.
  • Monitor reporter Annmarie Timmins is reflected in the mirror at her gym in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Monitor reporter Annmarie Timmins is reflected in the mirror at her gym in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Annmarie Timmins, age 10.

After the Monitor’s mental health series, “In Crisis,” was published last week, I got one reaction more than any other: Readers were surprised, some unconvinced, that 26 percent of New Hampshire’s residents have a mental health disorder.

The statistic appeared in the second story of the series and came from a 2010 study by the Concord-based New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies. The percentage includes a range of diagnoses, from major depression to anxiety problems to bipolar disorder.

“Didn’t 26 percent seem high?” a caller asked me last week.

Not to me. But I’m one of the 26 percent.

I have been hospitalized twice for “suicidal ideation,” most recently for eight days in 2009 with a diagnosis of “major depressive order and anxiety disorder,” according to my records. I take four medications a day and have my counselor’s name and number in my emergency contacts on my cell phone.

This will be news to most of the people who know me, family members included. That’s because with lots of help from my husband, a lot of exercise (one of my therapies) and medication, I’m able to keep my depression and breakdowns private.

So, I understand the reaction to the 26 percent.

Most people with a mental health disorder are able to manage their illness, many so well that our disorders are invisible outside our homes. With the help of counselors, medication, even hospitalizations, we work, raise families, volunteer in our communities, run companies, hold elected office and go to school with little indication of what’s at work inside us.

Readers of our series met some of the 26 percent.

But there are tens of thousands of others with mental illness whom readers didn’t meet, people whose struggles aren’t as evident.

They – I – manage only because we have access to the right combination of resources. Through my husband’s job I have state health insurance, not Medicaid, so I had more options when I needed emergency hospitalization. Still, I waited 13 hours in the Concord Hospital emergency room for a treatment bed.

I am also a “highly-functioning depressive,” as my husband likes to say, because I have a job and a family that accommodate me when I fall into crisis. And I’ve finally found the right mix of medications. I’m one of those people you don’t see as “in crisis” – but you might if I lost my health insurance, lost my job or didn’t get “case management” from my husband.

That’s one of our jokes, only it’s true.

My colleague Sarah Palermo and I had hoped to introduce you to some of these people because even though they aren’t visible, they and their families are also affected by state budget cuts that have diminished community mental health care. Long waits in emergency rooms show the state hospital doesn’t have enough beds to accommodate the patients who need them. Cuts to Medicaid have

prompted several community hospitals to shut their own mental-health wings and left case workers with more clients than they can adequately care for.

But many of the people we talked with declined to go public, for fear of stigma.

I asked Michael Cohen, the former executive director of the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, what it would take for the prevalence of mental illness to be better understood. Awareness, Cohen said.

“Personal stories . . . are powerful tools for changing minds,” he said.

Okay. Deep breath. Here’s my story.

Mysterious beginning

I can’t tell you why I have such significant depression and anxiety because I don’t know. I had no trauma as a kid growing up in Loudon. My family ate breakfast and supper together every day. My mom stayed home until my brother and I had finished fourth grade.

Television was off limits, except on Sundays during the Walt Disney hour. I liked doing chores. We went camping every summer. I was allowed every pet I wanted, except for a horse.

My only consistent gripe was that my mother made me wear dresses and itchy tights to Sunday school. To this day, I’m out of my church clothes Sunday mornings and into sweats before my husband can get his coat off.

But something changed in me by the fifth grade.

I was afraid to be anywhere but home, and frequently the school nurse had to call my mother because I was crying or throwing up for reasons I couldn’t identify. I liked school. I just didn’t like being at school.

My teachers diagnosed me as being shy.

This “shyness” continued through high school, with long crying jags at the breakfast table until my mother made me leave for the bus. They continued in college except I stayed in bed, missing classes, because I had no one forcing me to face the day.

I didn’t know how to ask for help because I didn’t know how to explain what was wrong.

I’m certain I survived college only because I found the journalism program junior year. (Until then, my grade point average was 2.5.) To my surprise, I discovered that a reporter’s notebook could be my shield against a world that distressed me. After many many (many) counseling sessions, I think the notebook allows me to be a version of myself that I like better.

That’s why despite my mental illness, I’ve been able to take on difficult, challenging and stressful stories at the Monitor, from the Catholic Church abuse scandal to a death penalty trial, to reporting during the reign of former House speaker Bill O’Brien, who didn’t hide his disdain for my reporting or my paper.

I’ve cracked publicly just once. In 2006, I had to fly to Columbus, Ohio, to cover the Episcopal Church’s general convention because the church was in an uproar over New Hampshire’s decision to choose openly gay Gene Robinson for its leader. I was terrified of flying and did not relish being outside my safe zone.

I got so worked up and distressed, I developed shingles and spent long spells in my hotel room crying, not because of the pain, but because I was so afraid to be in an unfamiliar place. I will be forever grateful for the priest from New Hampshire who recognized my state and helped me survive Ohio.

Hospitalization

Maybe this (mostly) professional success was why I never sought help until I was hospitalized at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester in the late 1990s.

In the months before that hospitalization, I’d become less able to hide this still-undiagnosed depression and anxiety. Working long hours was my therapy, and if I wasn’t working, I was sleeping, often with the help of NyQuil.

I was 27 and had already struggled more than half my life with too-frequent feelings of hopelessness. I didn’t understand why I was so deeply sad, and I was angry that I couldn’t end the sadness.

I began hurting myself, I think out of anger. I destroyed possessions that had sentimental value. I viewed others’ acts of kindness with deep suspicion. I began quietly planning my suicide.

When my then-boyfriend realized how bad my situation had become, he took me to the Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, which, like many hospitals in the state, has since closed its psychiatric wing. Back then, there were 236 beds for people like me in community hospitals. Today there are 150.

I agreed to be admitted to CMC, but I wouldn’t call it a voluntary admission. I didn’t consider myself the kind of person who ends up in a “mental hospital.”

Some parts of those five days remain very clear. My dental floss was confiscated for fear I’d hang myself with it. My concerned parents visited, and we didn’t know what to say to one another. My friend and boss, Felice Belman, brought me chocolate frosted cupcakes.

During one group therapy session, several other patients said they’d been hospitalized two, three, seven times before. I recall knowing that this would be my one and only hospitalization. I considered myself simply weak, not ill.

I had begun taking Prozac in the hospital, and I continued that after I was released. I also continued meeting with counselors, but it took several tries before I found one who worked for me. The one I liked best urged me to use humor to turn around a dark mood.

When he stopped practicing, I started a panicked search for another counselor. In our series, people complained about going through several counselors within a year because turnover is high in such a stressful and underpaid profession.

Exhausting search

That is a genuine weakness in our state’s mental health system. Like the people in our stories, I found the search for a new counselor exhausting and, at times, hopeless. Like them, I gave up my search a couple of times, unable to summon the energy to explain myself to yet another person who might not work out.

I finally found a new counselor I liked in Plymouth, and for a long time drove there from Concord once a week. We worked together for a few years. I liked that she gave me homework in between sessions that helped me reflect more on my thinking process. We tried different medications in search of one that would bring me some relief.

We had some success. But at that point, I still viewed my depression and anxiety as something I could shed through hard work. To me, it was like staying in shape. With discipline and determination, I believed I could get over depression, get off medication and stop attending counseling.

I’m not surprised I failed. I’m surprised how long I thought that plan was possible.

I went on and off medication with predictable results. I always had a bottle of NyQuil in my refrigerator. By my early 30s, I wondered how much longer I’d have the energy to talk myself into just getting out of bed for work.

That was the only goal I considered viable.

I ruled out having children because I doubted my ability to remain stable under such responsibility and stress. I ruled out having a lasting personal relationship. As Monitor colleagues left for bigger newspapers, I stayed at the paper, afraid – unable, really – to consider a new venture.

At least I really loved my job.

I thought about suicide, a lot.

I wondered then – and still do today – whether life is a stretch of happiness interrupted by moments of depression or the other way around. I went back and forth. I still go back and forth.

In 2003, I met my now husband. We married a year later. He knew this story, although we both realized later he didn’t really understand the full power of depression.

I continued with my counseling and medications, although not without setbacks and missteps. I was still often unable to handle disappointment and stress. I had stopped seeing my counselor in Plymouth. I didn’t have a psychiatrist monitoring my medication because even with insurance, I couldn’t find a psychiatrist willing to provide that service.

The last mental health doctor I used to monitor my medication asked me how many times I had been in jail or prison on my first visit. When I said zero, he said, “Zero. Really?” Later, when my pharmacy accidentally shorted my prescription, I called him for three days, panicked about running out of pills. He suggested I had done something improper with my medication and declined to remedy the problem with my pharmacy.

I now rely on my nurse practitioner for prescription refills. After our series was published in the newspaper last week, I heard from a primary care doctor who said this has become a troubling trend for doctors and nurses whose specialty isn’t mental health.

Hidden struggles

These struggles have been largely private to everyone except my husband. I’m so expert at hiding the giveaways, I’m sure friends didn’t even know I have such deep depression.

In early 2009, I found myself unable to cope with a series of challenges in my personal life. I needed to return to therapy but couldn’t find the strength to call counseling practices in search of an opening. And I was embarrassed to return to my last counselor. So, my husband did that search for me.

I don’t know where I’d be if he hadn’t.

I began meeting regularly with the Concord counselor he found, and I liked her very much. But as my personal problems grew more complicated, I began giving up my fight for happiness. My husband describes me as despondent during those days. I returned to fantasies of suicide.

I went to a counseling appointment on the afternoon of May 3, 2009, after spending the early afternoon deciding what I’d put in a suicide note. I felt close to needing one. I thought about the contract I had made with my counselor to be safe and decided I could probably write a note that would make her see I had given recovery all I had.

When I appeared for my appointment, my counselor recognized quickly that I required emergency help. She arranged for me to go Concord Hospital’s emergency room, where staff from Riverbend Community Mental Health would find me a hospital bed. My husband says I called him with the news before I headed to the hospital, but I don’t remember.

He and I spent the next 13 hours in the emergency room’s Yellow Pod, the same one described in our series. It took Riverbend staff that long to find a psychiatric bed in a New Hampshire hospital. I was lucky. Because I had private insurance and not Medicaid, I was able to go to Hampstead Hospital, which had a bed and accepted only private insurance.

Those 13 hours, I believe, worsened my condition. And Yellow Pod is considered a model when compared with the waiting space in other emergency rooms across the state.

There was no bed, only a hard rubber chair. The door was locked. I couldn’t see the nurse’s station. The noise of the TV, which was behind Plexiglas was so distressing, my husband asked it be turned off. I don’t think there was a bathroom. There was no food or water easily available.

I tried to convince my husband and the Riverbend staff that I felt better so that I could go home. They disagreed.

At 1 a.m., an ambulance arrived to take me to Hampstead. My husband was told he couldn’t drive me. And he couldn’t come in the ambulance. Nor should he follow the ambulance, hospital staff said, because Hampstead would not let him in.

Scared, alone, embarrassed

I laid on the back bench of the ambulance for the 40-minute ride to Hampstead, sobbing and regretting I had asked for help. I was scared. I was alone. I was embarrassed.

Like some of the people in our series, had I known what that experience would feel like, I don’t think I would have gone willingly. I understand why some people in our series said they are reluctant to ask for help. I understand why getting help often requires an involuntary admission, even an escort by the police.

For eight days, I shared a locked psychiatric ward with about 20 other patients, some suffering from depression, some struggling with alcohol and drug addiction. I attended group therapy and individual therapy most of the day. I remember feeling distraught and trapped. No one could say when I’d be released.

When my husband visited the first few days, we weren’t allowed to leave the floor.

Eventually, we were allowed outside, to walk the hospital grounds, but only for a short time. My parents joined us one evening for a meeting with a social worker. I was 40, and that was the first time I had been able to talk with my parents about my life long struggles with depression.

As my mental health improved, I was allowed an afternoon furlough. At my request, my husband took me to a nearby gym so I could exercise. Again, I was lucky. I heard other patients arguing over the phone with bosses or spouses who wanted them back on the job or back at home, immediately.

My husband visited me every day. I asked him to tell a few friends about my situation. I would need their help when I got out. Those friends reached out even if they didn’t know exactly what to say. My editor Hans Schulz wrote me a note.

“I don’t know why you’ve been dealt such a bad hand, but I do know how loved and respected and admired you are,” it says. “The world is a better place with you in it. I’m very much looking forward to the day when you’re back at your desk. I miss you a lot.”

I am one of the 26 percent. Until now, most people just didn’t know.

(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323,
atimmins@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @annmarietimmins.)

Legacy Comments42

Annmarie, thank you so much for sharing this. I have a child with high levels of anxiety and depression, so I can relate to all that you said. A big THANK YOU too goes to the Monitor for its support and understanding. One more admirer here.

Annmarie, a friend of mine shared your recent article with me. She and I both suffer from anxiety and depression. I could relate to so much of what you wrote! I could write a very long reply here, but will spare you and your readers. Thank you for finding the courage to share your story. You will undoubtedly help many others who suffer from mental illness.

Thank you for finding the courage and using your writing talent to tell your story, one that sounds very familiar. Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of an impending episode can help, but it usually doesn't keep it from happening. I'm thanking you through my tears...........

Annmarie.........it took a lot of courage for you to write your story,but I believe you helped a lot of people by writing it.There is nothing shameful about your condition. I have suffered from depression & anxiety most of my life. I was in the medical profession so I knew of a wonderful psychiatrist in NH because of my work. It took me a long time to build up my courage to call for an appt. I did not tell my husband because I knew he would not understand.He found out about my appt. by accident and when he quizzed me on who the new Dr was and I told him he said "WHAT ARE YOU CRAZY?"..........This Dr gave me meds for my conditions and helped me so much. My husband died in 2010 but before he died he was going with me to see this Dr and he liked him very much too.I have been blessed. I spend my winters in Florida and saw a reference to your article in the Tampa Bay Times. Good luck to you and God Bless you!

Oh I don't know where to start. It is not an emotional illness that many think they suffer from. That mindset is pretty much brainwashing from the mental health folks. Here is the deal: genetics play into this subject. If the diet is free of refinded sugars, etc, even coffee - you can upset your brain chemistry from yes too much coffee to the point of going into a major depression. Other factors are: environmental toxins - the air we breath - very few of us don't have some kind of heavy metal toxicity - which affects the brain chemistry, hormones and all the rest. If you have mercury fillings - this can bring on anxiety and depression and even more severe mental illnesss. If you live in an apartment or condo complex I am sure you have seen the little flags out when the weed conrtol people come along to spray - this can cause acute mental symptoms, so can sitting in traffic, so can low thryoid and an allergy to wheat and milk. The lightening in offices can cause anxiety as can your computer and big screen TV for some. Too little Vit. D can do it as well. The answer? it's not rocket science folks but brain chemistry. So how do you balance it back? You will have to go outside the box. Muscle Testing is one way to find exactly and I mean exactly what you need to balance the brain back. There are other methods too. Try contacting an alternative medicine person who does this kind of therapies. Good luck and don't give up.

I saw you on Reliable Sources this morning and immediately went searching for your story. I'm a "high-functioning" person with bipolar disorder, and read your story saying, "uh-huh, mm-hmm" as I recognized and identified with everything in it. I'm a reporter for a small newspaper in a rural area of the South, and I can imagine what it must have taken for you to be public about your situation. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Maybe one day soon I will find the courage to be this open.

I'm happy you see a nurse practitioner. They will never steer you wrong. Very well written Annmarie. Writing and publishing this takes a lot of strengh. Good thing you work out a lot.

Thank you! Such great writing. This story will touch so many people and give inspiration and hope to so many. Congratulations to the Monitor also for its support.

Dear Annmarie, This is so well-written and very brave. Your story makes me sad, but also explains some things. Thank you. And my best to you in all areas of your life.

Thank you Annmarie. I think the stigma of mental illness is so hard to break because very few people have the platform, self-insight and writing ability to explain themselves so clearly and completely, like you did. And as you wrote in your essay, even you were probably not ready to share your story this completely until now. So many people live with these mental illnesses in silence because of the very real fear they will be judged, discriminated against, lose out on social and professional opportunities, etc. I think it really comes down to the stigma of being different, regardless of what type of disability you have. One of the reasons the gay rights movement has made so much progress is because so many prominent people have come out, so it's no longer so different to be gay. I hope pieces like your article help others feel comfortable talking about their mental illness, and at some point we hit the tipping point where it's no big deal to have this 'difference.' That will be empowering for many millions of people. - Dan Habib

Annmarie - thank you for sharing your story, your life. Very inspirational and sad at the same time. How horrible to have felt so alone for all those years....not even being able to talk to your mom and dad. Reminds me why I start my day by reading this.... Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle1

thank you, Annmarie, for your story which is so beautifully told. thank you, Will, for loving your wife so well. thank you, Felice, for being a great editor and friend.

Hans had it just right. It is a pleasure to continue reading your sensitive writing and great reporting, even from Montana. You have written many powerful stories over the years. This story along the the hard look at New Hampshire's mental health issues are amongst the best. Thank you for being a professional journalist and wonderful person. We are very fortunate to have you as part of the Monitor.

Thank you for a great piece of writing. And yes, it had to have taken a great deal of courage and commitment to climb out from behind that safe reporter's pad. You did it! And you did it so well.

Thank you Annmarie for being strong and brave enough to write this story. You are to be commended.

Thank you Anne Marie. You have provided a source of education and inspiration. I am very moved by your story. Gary

Thankyou for your courage in making your story public.

Thank you, Annmarie, for sharing your important and moving story with us. For some time I have appreciated the professionalism with which you approach all of your reporting. If possible, your professionalism was even more apparent in this very personal and very difficult piece. Again, thank you for this superb column.

Ditto.

Ditto #2...

Bravo

Thank you for sharing your story. My sister recently was released from a mental health facility in California after a failed suicide attempt and suffering from bulimia for years. She begged for help even being fully insured, but the help she begged for was denied....she believes the Buimia plays a big part in her mental well being, I agree. You can ask for and beg for help until your blue in the face, be treated like a criminal in a locked down facility for weeks and leave feeling deflated....Mental Healthcare has a very long way to go, it's unfortunate.

Wow. This is why newspapers matter. What a startling and gripping piece. Annmarie, thank you for your honesty and openness. And great writing to boot. Nick

Courageous. Important. And despite the difficulty of the subject, incredibly life-affirming and inspiring to read, too. THANK YOU, Annemarie, for sharing your story which, as others here have said, could save lives -- and open some minds as well!! Beautifully written. And thank you, too, to the Monitor for running this and encouraging gifted talents like Annemarie. We Monitor readers and our communities are so blessed to have you giving voice to these issues.

I firmly believe that your depression can be cured forever with Dianetic auditing - "Book One". This comment will likely be attacked, and I don't care. But I would feel remiss for not passing this along, because I am confident the root cause of your depression would be found and fixed permanently this way. I wish you happiness, and life-long freedom from depression. A four-minute video: youtube.com/watch?v=Dt9SyNpirdo

Dianetic auditing? The original scam from the self-styled (in order to evade a federal tax bill) "Church" of Scientology.

AnnMarie: Much credit to you for telling your story. It is a common story, hopefully coming out of the old closet to free some of our loved ones from the stigma it has carried for many, many years. I respect all of those who have struggled, and some that struggle but can't seem to get over the hill--to loving family and children, holding a job. I'll pass your story along and hope that it helps someone else. We need more research about these things in the mental health community, better drugs and kinder systems. Carry on. --Deborah

Thanks Annmarie for telling your story. A family in our NH town also knows a lot about the mental health system in NH. The father/'husband started acting strangely. It kept getting worse, and he was threatening violence. The diagnosis was early onset Alzheimer's and he was admitted. One day the hospital said the insurance company benefits ran out. There was no way the family could afford the hospital bills, so he came home. A few days later he killed his sister, who had come to help the family figure out what to do. I'm for national health care for all, including mental health.

Dear Annmarie, Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so open about your experiences. Too many people suffer in silence from mental illness, ashamed to ask for help. I truly believe that your courage in writing this article will save lives. Many good wishes and thank you.

What a brave woman you are to share this in such a public way. You have a wonderful talent with words. I'm sure you have saved at least one life today.

Annemarie, thank you for your frank and open writing. I cringe when people refer to "the mentally ill" as if they are all the same, and certainly not like other people! That type of thinking has allowed the tragic deterioration of our mental heath system, either private or public.

well done Annmarie

Thank you for your courage, Annmarie.

I have a new found respect for Annmarie after reading this. I have friends with the same issues and a relative or two. I lost a friend to suicide. I also think that the ACLU in the late 70's as well as liberal politicians did the mental health community a disservice when they came up with the patient rights movement, turning the majority of the residents of state hospitals onto the streets in both supervised living and unsupervised living situations. It is not a coincidence that homelessness began to rise after that. A centralized state hospital system is the answer and we used to fund that with no problem. My suggestion is a return to that same system. Riverbend and other entities like that are not able to provide adequate outpatient services. In any event, thank you Annmarie, your courage in telling us your story is admirable.

Itsa, I worked in human services in the early 70's and had any number of clients who were released at that time. It was not easy for them, in fact I consider these people who left the cloistered environment in which they had lived for decades to live in an unfamiliar community heroes. Most of my clients were really never in need of hospitalization and certainly not long term. The decision to stop wholesale warehousing of humans in need of support was a good one. At that time NHH was a really dismal place. I remember seeing row after row of identical cots, each with a small night table. That was it. Patients were not allowed to return to their cot during the day. God forbid they should take a nap! Would you like to live like this? Because, don't kid yourself, a society that has no problem with homeless children will revert to that level of "care" pretty quickly. The major difference nowadays would be the use of side-effects-laden heavy drug cocktails instead of strait jackets and fire hoses to counter the effects of sheer boredom. You should be able to understand this is not the way to treat otherwise harmless people. Most of my clients suffered from things like OCD that caused them to count their change five times at the cash register. Annoying, yes, but hardly a reason to spend tons of money incarcerating them for decades, no? This hardly seems consistent with your avowed conservatism. The fact is, your "solution" would probably mean we would lose the voices of people like AnnMarie. How much reporting do you think she'd be doing from her little cot in the hospital? Would you not rather save that money and spend a portion of it providing services within the community? This has little or nothing to do with liberalism or conservatism. I understand you see life through that prism. But even through that prism the numbers alone should convince you. Your solution is flat out needlessly expensive. Community support is incredibly less expensive. Turns out the "liberal" solution is actually fiscally conservative. Who knew?

Funny, I worked at NHH in the early 70's. I did not see it that way, there were therapeutic communities and locked wards. It was dismal in some places and progressive in others. When they opened the flood gates, we inherited homelessness, people not staying on medications, etc. I too experienced what you did but I can tell you that my conclusion is far different.

Annemarie, you a gift to the state of New Hampshire and its people. Thank you for your courage. You may have saved some lives today.

What a brave and important piece of writing. Thank you, Annmarie. This story will change lives. And only this kind of courage will change our utterly broken mental health care system.

Thank you for this honest and important article. I've experienced all of these issues in accessing mental health care in New Hampshire, and had to resort many times to care in Massachusetts because the required services just were not available. I was managing care for family members and I recognized all along the way that the person with mental illness would have huge difficulty in navigating the processes and system currently in place. If you can call it a system. There is a great lack of providers, especially for Medicaid patients, which we were. The emergency room was the standard recommendation and one we came to avoid until life was absolutely in peril because the experience was so horrific and unhelpful. The statistic of 26% indicates what a real need this is for the population, and your article illustrates the problems that currently exist. And not only in New Hampshire. Thank you again.

Writing and publishing this is a great public service, Annmarie. Thank you.

Thank you, Annemarie, for sharing your story, your strength, your wisdom, and your talent...and for telling so many important and meaningful stories throughout the years......

Annmarie, it took a lot of courage to come forward with this story. There are many, many people afraid to do so because of the social stigma mental illness carries. I myself have several friends/family members with mental illness. Some are born with it, for many it develops over time or after a particularly traumatic event. I believe like cancer, it could strike any one of us at any time. Thank you.

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