SJB Gilmour Writes

…and rants and ruminates…

Month: February, 2014

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Why I Hope Dope Isn’t Made Legal Here… Yet.

Before all the pro-grass lobbyists go up in flames, or at least smoke, (Sorry. Couldn’t help it.), let me just say I’m pro.  I’m all for making it legal.  Cut out the dodgy middlemen.  Take some pressure off the legal system.  Ensure a better quality product is available with fewer contaminants – the list goes on, and I agree with it all.  This country is too much of a bloody nanny-state, and every second of every minute of every hour, our rights as free individuals are being chipped away.

BUT, when it comes to wacky- tobacky, we need to wait for two reasons.

Our health-care system isn’t ready for it.  Smoking anything is bad for the lungs as well as other organs.  That’s a given, but it’s not the reason I’m on my little soap-box.  The main reason our health system won’t be able to cope, is the increase of mental illnesses and related issues that will arise should more people start using hooch.  For many people, there won’t be a problem.  But, for many, many others – some of whom have no idea they may be in this group – using dope may make their mood swings or depression worse.  Or, if they’re prone to, but not actually suffering these problems yet, it will make them happen.

Trust me.  I know.

Dope can really screw with your headspace.  Depression, paranoia, insomnia, mood swings – I’ve got ’em all, and I’m here to tell you the big change – when my mental health went from being mildly moody, to mad, bad, and dangerous to know – came when I started smoking ganga back in the mid 90’s.

It’s been 20 years since I stopped.  The problems didn’t go away.  I used to drink too.  Now there’s no denying drinking a lot didn’t help.  But I haven’t noticed a major difference in my the moods of a sober me or a drunk me.  I’m on different meds. I’m now getting enough sleep, just.  These things make a HUGE difference, but the booze?  Nup.

When I did finally hit a wall a few years back, I hit hard.  The wrong meds and not sleeping, (and no doubt the booze wasn’t helping), had me seeing dark ghosts everywhere and the only light at the end of my tunnel was the glowing pit of hell.  I tried to get there.  It’s only luck I’m alive to write this now.  It’s also only luck, well luck and a kickass insurance policy, that got me into rehab where I was finally diagnosed properly and put on the right medication.  Had I not had that insurance, and I’d say most people don’t, the hospital would have just sewn me up and put me out on the street where I’d probably have just jumped under the first train I saw coming.

And there’s not a damned thing the hospital could have done to stop it.  None of our public hospitals could have.  They don’t have funds, resources, or enough staff trained to cope with the mentally ill.  Our emergency services folk – heroes, every one of them – are stretched to breaking point as it is.

We’re not ready for it.  There’s a stigma attached to being mentally ill in this country that just sucks balls.  It prevents people talking about it.  It prevents people seeking help.  It prevents people learning how to cope with people who suffer from it.  Add all those things together and you’ve got a government that doesn’t give a fat’s rat about people with mental illness.  The system failed me.  The system has failed countless thousands more.  And it will keep on doing so.

The other day the headlines blared about another tragic incident involving someone with mental problems who had slipped through the cracks.  It wasn’t the first time, and as much as I wish with all my heart that I’m wrong, I know it won’t be the last.

You want legal hooch?  Great. March, lobby, wave your little signs.  But, if you’re going to do that, at least put in as much effort pushing the same fucking people in government, to increase awareness about mental health, as well as boosting funding for our hospitals and emergency services.  We’re going to need more ambulances than ever before.  Cops are going to need to be able to talk down a person suffering a psychotic break, instead of just shooting the poor bastard.  Hospitals are going to need more medics and beds for those who are in danger of self-harming, or indeed anyone else for that matter.  And, more grieving families of those poor buggers who do commit suicide, are going to need more counselling and more support than they get now.

Only when we have some success in these areas, as well as a greater general understanding about depression, will we as Australians be ready for the free-for-all that is legal marijuana.  When the media asks why a man haunted by demons could be let slip through the cracks so far that he could stab his own child, before it calls for his soul to rot in hell, will we be ready.  Only when the only way to prevent a man throwing his daughter and then himself off a bridge, is NOT to just build barriers on said bridge, but to identify his problems and help him before the crisis hits, will we be ready.


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