The Kindness Of Strangers

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Fiona Kennedy

You may recall how Fiona Kennedy, who has clinical depression and borderline personality disorder, wrote a piece last Wednesday.

It detailed how, after waiting eight months to begin dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) at the Adult Mental Health Services at Galway University Hospital, the mother-of-two was told the treatment would not be provided because of a lack of resources at the hospital.

On Friday, Fiona, from Connemara, Co. Galway, launched a crowd funding campaign to allow her access DBT.

Well.

Within 24 hours, she received enough money to fund almost a year of private therapy.

Further to this, Fiona has written the following open letter to all general election candidates.

Dear Candidates,

I did something yesterday that I never, in a million years, would have considered I’d have to do. I went looking for money from complete strangers. Why? Because of the phenomenal shambles that is our public mental health service.

I have borderline personality disorder (BPD) and depression, and have been blogging about both for years now. I have a good following on Facebook, and have received an unbelievable level of support from both platforms over the years, particularly during the last few months which have been incredibly tough.

Last week, I was told that a treatment that has been promised for months by the HSE (dialectical behaviour therapy/DBT) will not be going ahead. I can’t begin to describe the impact that this had on me, and on my family.

We had pinned all our hopes on this, as I have tried every other avenue I could to get to grips with BPD. We’re out of options, the only alternative left is to access private therapy.

The cost of attending a private clinical psychologist is immense, and it’s money that I simply do not have – I’ve been attending public services for years for a reason.

We found a psychologist who is able to offer exactly what I’m looking for, and has the capacity to take me on now, but there’s the not-so-insignificant factor of fees to be considered. After a lot of soul searching, we decided to try crowdfunding.

The response to this has been phenomenal.

In less than 24 hours, I’ve been given enough to fund almost a year of private therapy. The generosity of those who have donated has left me absolutely speechless.

This will quite literally change my life, and that of my family, it’s just incredible. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I genuinely feel like I’m going to be able to get a handle on all this.

My husband looks brighter than I’ve seen him in years. This money will give us so much more than just therapy, it will give us back our future.

However, while I’m beyond grateful, I’m also really angry. I should never have been put in the position of having to ask for money.

Treatment was promised, time and again, by the HSE. It’s such an indictment of our health services that this is how it has turned out, and at a time when we’re constantly hearing about keeping the recovery going. Mere days from the election, promises are still being broken.

I also realise how lucky I am to have been able to raise this money – between the blog and Facebook, I have people who are very familiar with my situation ready to help in any way they can.

What about the others who were promised DBT? What are they going to do? And this is just one programme, in one area. How many other programmes won’t be going ahead? How many other people are waking up today feeling like they have no hope left, no future?

If you’ve never felt that, you can’t begin to understand how terrifying it is, and I’m glad for those of you who just can’t identify with it. But for those who can – what will be done? Mental health is way down the priority list of so many of you, but this is not something that can be ignored any longer.

People are dying. When you’re already hanging on by your fingernails and hope is taken away, it’s far too easy to let go. This has got to stop.

Services have got to be more than just improved, they have to be completely overhauled. The way forward is clear, Mental Health Reform have done huge work in highlighting the changes that are needed. Why has it proven so impossibly hard to make those changes happen? What else will it take?

You have the opportunity now to make a real, lasting difference. There is so much kindness and energy in the country, people not only want to see change, they want to be part of making it happen.

So please, please, for all our sakes, and even more so for those who’ve been left struggling alone, do what needs doing.

Yours sincerely, and on behalf of everyone who needs help,

Fiona

Those who wish can donate to Fiona’s fund here or read her blog here

Previously: ‘I Have A Headache From Crying’

Facebook Update

45 thoughts on “The Kindness Of Strangers

  1. meadowlark

    Congratulations Fiona. I’m delighted for you and your family. I really hope that this offers the support and means of managing your mental illness. And well done to everyone donated.

  2. LeGatsby

    Fair play to her. I applaud anyone who takes action for their own wellbeing. But it shouldn’t have to be like this.

    People in this country have been left in the dark for far too long.

  3. Fergus the magic postman

    Well done Fiona.

    You shouldn’t have had to do this, but luckily the compassion that seems to be long missing in the leaders of this country, can still be found in some of the wonderful people here.
    Well done everybody who helped, & I’m delighted for you Fiona.

  4. ollie

    How dare Fiona criticise this glorious government.
    Doesn’t she know that the boom is getting boomier, that this is a great little country to work, raise a family and grow old in, that we got the cheapest debt deal ever, and so on.
    On a serious note people like Fiona should be running the Country; honest, determined and self assured.

    Can’t believe that a paltry €5,000 funds a year’s worth of treatment. We really do live in a sad pathetic Country.

  5. Slightly Bemused

    This is wonderful news!

    I saw the article last week, but due to my own financial substitution I was unable to support it at that time and was planning to after payday.

    I too suffer from clinical depression and have been diagnosed with PTSD. My own therapy has had to be privately funded (hence in part not having the funds last week), so I can only empathise with Fiona’s predicament. Luckily, I am in the fortunate position that I can pay for my own, as it is less frequent and in large part self-driven using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). I have also been luck that AWARE services have been easily accessible to me.

    Fiona, your strength in reaching out cannot be underestimated! Stay strong.

  6. Joni2015

    I feel uncomfortable reading these emotive campaigns from people with mental health issues. I don’t think the are well placed to act as patient and political campaigner. Maybe it’s part of their condition but it seems like the state is seen as this diabolical adversary that is causing the person to remain ill.

    1. Slightly Bemused

      Campaigning on this issue from a person suffering is absolutely no different to someone campaigning on water charges, or anti-austerity, or the flooding in the Shannon basin, or even the 8th Amendment. Campaigning by people affected by an issue is the most legitimate form.

      It is disingenuous to imply that because someone has a mental health issue they cannot rationally campaign for their own health. That is like saying someone with a fracture cannot campaign for better local emergency support services at their hospital.

      And an interesting fact: more people suffer from depression or some form of mental health issue at some stage in their lives than don’t.

      The State has a responsibility to support, nurture and serve its citizens, and one aspect of that is the provision of health (including mental health) services. It is not the diabolical adversary causing this problem, but it is far from the supportive ally helping find a cure.

      1. Joni2015

        I belive that some are hanging on for this great panacea that is being denied to them because it fits their warped mindset.

        And yes, people with broken legs should not get involved in political campaigning on health if they do all of their thinking with their leg bone.

        1. Slightly Bemused

          With all due respect, people do not think with their bones, so this is a fallacious argument and not worthy of rebuttal.

          You are fully entitled to your opinion, as am I. I am not trying to sway your thought, merely to point out that to state that someone affected by an issue is not entitled to campaign on that issue is not a valid form of reasoning. Indeed, it is the underpinning of democracy.

        2. Nigel

          Campaigning for a functioning mental health service is hanging on for a great panacea because their minds are warped. They just want access to treatment, proper treatment. Even if you’re trolling to be perverse this is revolting. You are saying something truly revolting and inhuman.

          1. Joni2015

            Who are they to judge the quality of their treatment? They are not medal professionals. They are mentally ill. Watch Shutter Island.

          2. Michael O'Riordan

            Another fallacious argument, I am afraid. mental illness does not equate to mental incapacity

          3. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

            Ah Joni, now I know you have to be trolling. You are confusing mental illness with very severe illness that less than 1% of the population have.

            With 1 in 4 people having a mental health problem over their lifetime, chances are you know someone who has one or has had one. They aren’t called common for nothing. And guess what? They didn’t need to be shipped to a made-up 1950s mental asylum in Hollywood to recover.

          4. Nigel

            Watch Shutter Island.

            Oh, he thinks he’s being funny. Look, everyone, someone’s making jokes at the expense of the mentally ill. At least he’s in line with current government policy on mental health. Clearly this is the sort of person who should get a say in decisions on mental health issues rather than people who have to actually survive within the system.

    2. meadowlark

      Joni, my mother has had depression, amongst other issues, for over 20 years and throughout my life I have been carer, friend, nurse, confidante to her. I have seen how treatment works both publicly and privately. To say that the treatment provided to those on public healthcare is inadequate is an understatement. It is not the cause of people’s mental illness,but it is certainly something which contributes to the continuation of it. The uncertainty and lack of consistency in care quality is but one aspect of it. The waiting lists are astonishing. You may not like that there are emotive arguments around this subject, but so many people in Ireland have some experience of mental illness (sometimes at the fault of the State, or Church, for example) that it cannot help but become an emotionally charged subject.

    3. Nigel

      Did you just…? Good God. Enda Kenny and his whingers, Zuppy International trying to squash a vulnerable person with mud-slinging, and here you try to marginalise a vulnerable person with this paternalistic dismissal and deeply offensive quasi-diagnosis? So many ways to shut people up or drown them out or shove em to the sidelines, and everyone at it, from the top down.

    4. Dόn 'The Unstoppable Force' Pídgéόní

      OK…. I’ll bite.

      Patients are and should be welcomed into advising on their care and the care of others in the system as they are the ones using it. It’s the sign of a good health care system to have these procedures in place. They are sick, not stupid.

      “Part of their condition” – which condition is that? Depression, no, anorexia, no, BPD no, paranoid schizophrenia, maybe. But not always, as there are different manifestations for different people.

      I think what you might be trying to get at is diminished capacity for decision making. Yes, people get sick but even very sick people still have some capacity around their treatment.

  7. Lou83

    Joni2015 – who do you propose should campaign for people with mental illnesses if it makes you uncomfortable that sufferers are?

      1. meadowlark

        You realise that mental illness doesn’t mean that the brain stops working and all of your faculties go down the drain?

        You do understand this don’t you?

      2. Bobby

        Compus mentis and have mental health issues are incredibly different things. And the lack of awareness of this point is one of the biggest issues when it comes to deal with mental health.

        1. Joni2015

          Sorry Bobby. You’re wrong.
          compos mentis
          ˌkɒmpɒs ˈmɛntɪs/
          adjective
          having full control of one’s mind.

          1. meadowlark

            +1 ahj

            Nobody is. We don’t even understand the complexities of our own brain fully, how it works and functions, and adapts and repair itself.

          2. Joni2015

            I’m not. I’ve spoken about my mental health issues before. This renders all my previous posts invalid as my argument folds in on itself.

          3. Lorcan Nagle

            And because of all the bulldada you spout about everything, nobody believes you. So congratulations, if you do genuinely have mental health issues you’ve managed to alienate a whole bunch of peoplw who would nominally be in favour of supporting you.

      3. Slightly Bemused

        Ah, I realise the confusion here. As mentioned above by others, mental illness does not in and of itself mean any diminished capacity for rational thought. Mentally ill people can be compos mentis most or even all of the time. I would consider myself to be in the latter category as I do have mental health issues, but they have in no way affected my ability to acknowledge my condition, look for treatment for it and to rationally deal with it. Indeed the form of treatment I am on, and that Fiona is looking for, is predicated on this ability, and has proven so far the most effective form of treatment of mental illnesses such as ours.

        There are indeed those for whom rational thought is a challenge some, or even all the time. But again, that is what treatment is for. And when they are stable, their ability for rational thought is no less than that of another person.

  8. Fergus the magic postman

    What next Joni? People who’ve been subjected to the cold weather & hunger for a long period of time shouldn’t be allowed to campaign on behalf of the homeless or the poor, but should instead wait for somebody else to do it for them?
    People who have become nervous wrecks from bullying should not be allowed to join a campaign against bullying?
    Sounds to me like a I’m all right Jack, keep your problems out of my face unless you can find a watered down sanitised version for me to ignore

  9. ahjayzis

    Delighted for her, I’m glad she’s getting the help she needs.

    Also deeply angry that a citizen of a wealthy country has to bloody CROWDFUND essential medical care when our health system is one of the best funded in the world.

  10. andydufresne2011

    I’d go as far as to say that the person suffering mental illness having input in their treatment no matter what the condition is crucial to improvement of the sufferer

  11. andydufresne2011

    Anyway we should all stop talking about this because it makes Joni ‘uncomfortable’

    Or maybe it’s empathy that’s causing the discomfort

  12. Scrumpy

    It never said the HSE had no money for the dbt it said it had not enough therapists.probably on maternity leave
    People here want improved mental health services but begrudge paying a decent salary to mental health professionals.there is a recruiter embargo on maternity leave .wages were slashed USC pension levy slapped on.people want professionals on amateurs salaries

  13. wake

    I was away for the day this campaign was announced and the donations are closed – I’ll still reach out through fb or similar to ask if I can still send some support.

    Everyone knows someone who is struggling with mental issues at different levels – whether the person themselves admit it to the world is a different matter.

    The courage being displayed by Fiona through her blog and in turn this campaign can’t be underestimated, putting herself front and centre on the most personal issues is not something I would think I’m strong enough for.

    I’ve been lucky to be able to pay for my own mental health sessions over the years and have benefitted unimaginably from these – but I know how blessed I am to be in that position when so many others aren’t.

    As people mention above mental health issues does not exclusively mean mental incapacity or not being compos mentis – otherwise I wouldn’t have to position I hold or have held over the years despite my mental health being something I have to be aware of and protect every day.

    I can’t understand the closed-mindedness and blinkered visions being expressed by anyone thinking this can be simplified as political campaigning and dismissing so I won’t comment.

    Thank you Fiona and I hope the road you’re about to finally embark on brings you and your family to a happier place

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