It’s Hard to Trust a System that Seems Broken

A matter of trust

…Continued from yesterday.

Some of you may wonder why we didn’t just find help for Sarah close to home. After all, the cross-country search for a treatment center had netted no results (other than additional grey hairs and wrinkles and a lighter wallet).

Trust. I didn’t trust the mental health care system in a 60-mile radius of our little town. Let me explain Holbrook. It sits on the edge of the Navajo and Hopi nations and the population and elevation share the same numbers—5080, plus or minus depending on the day or where one stands.

Tow Mater sits in the parking lot of the Cozy Cone Hotel, um, actually, the Wigwam Inn (which, as Sarah once pointed out, consists of concrete teepees, not wigwams). Joe and Aggie’s Café, where the producer of the movie Cars once stopped for lunch and found inspiration for the blockbuster movie is a block away from Safeway—the only grocery store in town. The community college on the hill has a big billboard right next to the railroad tracks that makes me cringe every time I drive into town: “Got Skills?” it screams (maybe this only makes English teachers cringe).

Because it has the distinction of county seat, Holbrook has a prison, justice center and a museum, in addition to a post office, some hotels, the fairgrounds and fast food restaurants. Doctors and physician’s assistants rotate through town at two different clinics—so one never knows who one will see when making an appointment.

Winslow, home of the famous song about standing on the corner, lies 30 miles to the west and boasts a Wal Mart and two hospitals. Red dessert stretches out for miles, and wind pushes tumbleweeds and dust into every corner of one’s yard and house.

As often as I tried explaining to the insurance representatives and eating disorder programs, no one seemed to understand that we live in the middle of nowhere. And, while help is available, I didn’t trust it much.

I have good reasons. Our first year here one of our students tried to commit suicide in the dorm after having an argument with someone. The mental health system seemed largely unimpressed with our shock, concern and dismay. It took over a month for the student to receive actual help.

I didn’t trust the system in the surrounding area, and there’s no Yelp app for those in desperate need of good mental health care.

There's no Yelp app for those in desperate need of good mental health. #fmfparty Click To Tweet

…to be continued.

Have you ever had problems trusting doctors or medical establishments?

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • I love you and how you are sharing this part of your life with us. Living in a small town myself I know the struggles to a degree, especially when it comes to mental health. Things are great if I have a stroke or heart attack but forget my PTSD. Praying for you and your family as I know the struggle is always there and always real! (((hugs)))
    Marisa recently posted…The Light Flickered but Wouldn’t Ignite {#Write31Days}My Profile

  • I can’t imagine the struggle it must be to seek out trust-worthy medical attention for mental health – I had enough of a battle with a disinterested military pediatrician (who is clearly just anxious to be moved to a different duty station) this morning. Bless you for your care and perseverance!

    visiting from FMF — Sarah Jo
    Sarah Jo Burch recently posted…Trust…My Profile

  • Anita,
    how raw and real, and yet how helpful your story is to so many! I now understand why you said you were tired. Thank you for writing, even though it’s re-living this for yourself. Perhaps a book will come of this? So thankful your trust is in the solid rock. And thanks for coming by to read, too!
    Tammy recently posted…Trust: Five Minute FridayMy Profile

  • I couldn’t imagine. Makes me so very thankful to be where I am and to have the care I needed as a student (my school is awesome when it comes to counseling/therapy services, which I took mighty advantage of as a student). Tuning in to hear the rest of the story— thanks so much for being willing to share!
    Jordan recently posted…Write 31 Days | Day 8 {Purple}My Profile

  • Love your story! When I had my pacemaker put in, I was thrown into an ICU without a monitor or a call button. It got so bad, I literally walked out of the 5th day (and they never called to see if I was at home…I never even checked-out!). So yes, I have issues trusting medical care. But I’ve also had amazing experiences too (just not at this place…never ever again!).
    Bethany Boring recently posted…#UnMaskedBook Launch TeamMy Profile

  • THIS: “I didn’t trust the system in the surrounding area, and there’s no Yelp app for those in desperate need of good mental health care.” I’m still leary of the mental health facilities here too. We’ve found some good ones through the years, but those Drs and facilities totally had to gain our trust.
    Tara recently posted…Trusting in God’s GraceMy Profile

  • You’ve got a tough situation there…but you’re handling it realistically, which is the only way.

    I don’t trust medical professionals at all – it’s a surgeon’s error that resulted in what’s killing (not softly!) now…and later that year ANOTHER surgeon did a minor operation,left a bleeder, and I survived after eight days of transfusions and two anointings of extreme unction (Last Rites).

    Plus pain specialists who thought it would be interesting to prescribe psychotropics to a chap with PTSD that rates as “very severe”.

    #6 on FMF this week.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted…Your DYing Spouse 67 – Whom Can You Trust? {FMF}My Profile

  • Oh Anita, I know what you mean about living out in the middle of nowhere. I’m from El Paso, which is “somewhere,” but I’ve been to so many tiny places in New Mexico. And no, you couldn’t trust much there. When we’re in Turkey it’s kind of scary, because you really can’t trust the health system.
    Betsy de Cruz recently posted…A Trustworthy God in an Uncertain WorldMy Profile

  • I’m jumping in on the middle of this story, Anita, but good for you to first, be aware of the limitations of your area, and two, to not settle for less than. The verse at the top of your post hits me square where I needed – “don’t try to figure out everything on your own.” I believe the continuation of your story will reveal where putting trust in God takes us. Always to a place best for us: right time, right people, right needs met. Thank you for everything you’ve said here. I believe your words are going to be exactly what someone needs today.
    Debby recently posted…Day 9 – the Ordinary Beauty of PieMy Profile

  • Yeah, I have had problems trusting doctors. It’s fine if they’re sympathetic, but if you meet one who’s uncaring or aggressive, then it’s very hard.
    Sarah recently posted…31 Jesus-Benefits: Truthful PastorsMy Profile

  • After dealing with psychiatrists for years for my daughter (who has ADHD which we manage more effectively on our own than they did with meds) YES, I totally understand your mistrust. If she had cancer no one would think twice about you searching for the best doctors, mental health care should be no different.
    Melissa recently posted…Catch-Up DayMy Profile

  • Keep writing friend! I love how you were able to incorporate the FMF word “trust” in your post for today. Your words are a blessing.
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Being Brave Right Where You Are ~ Day 9My Profile

  • Hi, I live in a small town too. I am forgoing therapy because of the cost of doing it a hospital versus a stand-alone-clinic. All our therapy centers are associated with hospitals. Going to a hospital center cost $40 per session but if we had a stand-alone center it would only cost $15. It stinks. I will keep reading. This series is really a blessing and will help so many understand the complexities of what you are facing when dealing with mental illness.
    Mary Hill recently posted…Purple Royalty Covers My SinsMy Profile

  • This is some great writing and story telling! Love following along! 🙂
    Rachel Quigley recently posted…When life is uncertain, where do we go?My Profile

  • Don

    Just as that big sign glares improper English to an English teacher, directions given by my directionally-challenged children disturbe me. Winslow, my dear, is WEST of Holbrook. But I LOVE the way you can tell the rest of your story of vent and frustration with grace and courage. Yours has not been an easy road of travel. Ever remember, God loves us with an everlasting love, despite our not knowing at times which direction we are traveling. He does, and He has plans to bring us home.

  • I’ve been busy for a few days but am getting back to reading your story. I just can’t get over how much you’ve been through! My heart goes out to you, mama. I can’t imagine seeing one of my babies go through something like this — but there’s no guarantee that any of us will be exempt from watching our children go through pain. You really had to keep trusting God. You are an inspiration! Can’t wait to read the rest of your story.
    Sarah recently posted…day 10: a perfectly sleepless night {flourishing through fun}My Profile

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