Dear President Bush..
Back in the immediate days following Hurricane Katrina, I sent you a very personal, very desperate plea that, even as physical debris cleanup visibly progressed after what could be seen and felt as our nation's most horrible of natural disasters, proactive, conscious, humane, accountable mental health care addressing the aftershock, the post traumatic stress of surviving just such a disaster was paramount.. After an extended deliberation, after some very serious soul searching regarding the possible fallout of the same, as part of that original correspondence, I additionally alluded indirectly, if not near directly, specifically to depression.. to suicide as a very real consequence of the natural disaster at hand at the time..
Within a day or so of that original email to you all, I did see where there was approximately $600,000 in Hurricane Katrina "Emergency Response Grants" publicly earmarked by HHS' SAMHSA for Katrina-related mental health care for the 500,000 Hurricane Katrina survivors.. (Basic math, anyone..?) Admittedly, I am and remain back into survival mode in my own Life and thus "out of the loop" so I do not know what, if anything else was similarly ever earmarked for Hurricane Katrina mental health care specifically..
Silently at that time and even with the desperation through which I typed just hoping to actually be heard, I very consciously realized that I would most likely be viewed as Chickenette Little from Talking Rock for typing to you as one person wearing a particular pair of Shoes since that Monday in August of 1992.. Had no doubt that it would be seen that one person does not a trend make to be considered seriously, but just had to take that chance of opening up to you all at that time..
Prompting this very public plea to you now is that the 15th anniversary of the day Hurricane Andrew ripped through Homestead, Florida, is too rapidly coming down on us again.. And so come back the thoughts of those events just as fresh and green as though they occurred last week..
And, now, just a few moments ago, I found CivilRights.org's Buzz newsletter featuring a USA Today article on the continued escalating of mental health circumstances directly involving survivors of Hurricane Katrina, up to and, yes, including increased tendencies towards suicidal thoughts..
Guess I'm missing something here because a "big surprise" attributed to those overseeing the reported Harvard Medical School Hurricane Katrina study was:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which typically goes away in a year for most disaster survivors, has increased: 21% have the symptoms vs. 16% in 2006. Common symptoms include the inability to stop thinking about the hurricane, nightmares and emotional numbness.
Because it's taken this fifteen years since Hurricane Andrew, and thus obviously plus, from these Shoes to recover the PTSD effects, my big surprise then becomes that their big surprise even occurred..
Please, to you, President Bush, and to everyone else who can do something about this, I stand strongly by my prediction of a couple of years ago that our nation's communities overall are will be affected if we do not proactively bottom line first and foremost address our nation's mental health care system quality while simultaneously addressing mental health, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) most specifically, with respect to disasters, both by nature and by man..
The disaster that remains of my own Life stands before you most humbly as an example.. Just One.. And Mine pales in comparison to what the Mind can only begin to imagine is Life after Hurricane Katrina for those who did survive all that was that particular disaster.. That's potentially just.. 500,000..
This Party of One once again implores of those with the Keys to Change that, IF our nation does not address the inadequacies of its entire mental health care system and more specifically address post-traumatic stress disorder with respect to disaster, both by nature and man (e.g. the Mississippi River bridge collapse), our nation is in a great big heap of doo for many years to come as there is and will continue to be an increasing rippling effect throughout our entire communities..
Nope, not a clue how we can, like, yesterday turn around the manmade disaster that is our nation's mental health care system such that it actually begins to care about those who walk through its doors.. instead of its bottom line, the almighty greenback.. At this precise moment, I myself am literally continuing to just try to survive.. Do know that beginning by closing one's eyes to one's own sterotypes and preconceptions of folks and instead actually listening to AND hearing those seeking care and assistance is a new beginning.. No time better than the Present to start..
Warning :: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode spoiler ahead..
In closing, saw a great CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Las Vegas episode a couple of nights ago, one entitled Unfriendly Skies that is more than apropos here.. It was the one where a traveler who turned out to have encephalitis that was triggered by an airplane trip was murdered by some five or six of his fellow passengers because his societal overlooked, unacknowledged disability-related actions triggered by the plane, altitude, et al(l) endangered those same passengers..
The last few minutes of the episode concluded with each of the main characters reflecting from the Heart as to why they (likely) would or would not have participated in the mob mentality that ended with the one passenger's death.. Can't recall the exact quote now, but William Petersen's CSI character, Gil Grissom, said something along the lines of, "It took [five] people to kill the passenger. All it would have taken was just one person to have listened to, to have followed through effectively for that man to still be here, for that man to still be alive today.."
That's what I've been trying desperately to say for as long as these fingertips realized they, too, have a Voice that Counts..
Peace and best wishes..
Cindy Sue from Talking Rock..
Reference - USA Today :: Katrina Victims Struggle Mentally; Marilyn Elias; Thursday, August 16, 2007..