About a month ago, I went to see a psychiatrist. Earlier in the spring, I had visited my family doctor about another annoying little problem: my teeth seem to be very fragile and are breaking. I grind them at night, and even though I wear a night-guard, this doesn't seem to be protecting them from injury. Turns out, I have a mild anxiety disorder.
It's 2015 and in Canada we, as a society, still haven't come to the realization that people with mental illness can still have urgent and immediate psychiatric and psychological needs without it being deemed life-threatening. There are no decent services available to people who need immediate non-hospital psychiatric care. If you're in a mental health crisis and want immediate care you either need to call the police or present yourself to the emergency room.
I sat in a therapist's office two weeks ago. "I think I'm having a nervous breakdown," I told her. Summer ended. My relationship fell apart. Then, it just disappeared. Then, I wondered if I'd made it all up. I felt like my friends didn't like me anymore. There's been a lot said about the quarter-life crisis. Is that why a lot of my friends and I needed help?
When I was 25 years old, I went mute. Not for a few seconds, not for a few days, or weeks, but months. Talking, for me, evoked acute panic attacks. When I found my way to Figueroa Street in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, I panicked over how I was to teach a group of juvenile delinquents without any training let alone without a voice. I was to work with one student. He was 17 years old. He was over six feet tall and his name was Anthony. I learned that this 17-year-old Anthony was awaiting trial. He was allegedly involved in a gang shooting where one individual died. I feel like I owe much of my life to Anthony.