Mental Illness

It’s drivin’ me mental!

I have a bone to pick. It’s about healthcare.

Have I lost your interest yet?

Now, I do not pretend to be the healthcare expert by any means. Insurance? Coverage? Deductibles? Way, way over my head. But I just want to share my experience here. It’s been a frustrating two weeks. I’m coming to the end of a couple huge projects for the internship. I’m sleep deprived and stressed. But that’s not the most frustrating thing I’ve dealt with the last couple weeks. No, the most frustrating thing I’ve dealt with is getting a refill on my anxiety medication.

So as I’ve mentioned on here before, I’m on anti-anxiety medication. I put it off for a long time. When I first went to a therapist, we talked about medication. But I refused.I didn’t want to take medication. As a whole, I’m not a fan of extraneous pills and medicines and drugs. I felt that this was something I could deal with on my own. I thought it would be mistaken for weakness. So I refused. And then I went to my doctor with pretty severe symptoms of anxiety two years ago and they were happy to put me on medication, but I refused. Again. Same reasons. I got a new therapist and again, we went through the possibility of medication. Nope. Not for me. I’ll pass. I’m good (I wasn’t good). So then at my next physical, we had the discussion yet again. I hesitantly came away with medication to take as-needed. I took it once and it practically sedated me. I thought nope, told you, not for me. I never took it again.

So fast forward to this last winter and I was in a constant state of unbearable anxiety. Heart racing, mind spinning, feeling like my cells were dancing around in my body. And then came a three day crying jag. And then my dad stepped in. He said he couldn’t watch me like this anymore. And I remember exactly what he said which was: “Meggie, I want to take all the bad out of you but I don’t know how.” I still cry thinking about it. So I made the decision for the sake of myself and the people who love me. Medication it was.

I started taking anti-anxiety/anti-depression medication in February. I won’t say it changed my life because it didn’t and I would like to take some responsibility in the ways my life has changed. But I will say this: it helped. Not all at once, just slowly. I would realize things like “hey, I didn’t cry about that” or “I didn’t  have an anxiety attack about that!” What a wonderful world! And truthfully, it is a wonderful world not waking up in a panic about what the day could possibly bring.

Luckily, my life has calmed down since then and my dose is now cut in half. However, I don’t think I’m at the point of stopping cold turkey. That is, unless I am forced to. I realized that I was running low so I thought hey I’ll just call my doctor! I was mistaken. They won’t prescribe it unless I come in, even though I was just there two months ago and we talked about anxiety. Oh well. I’ll just make an appointment with a psychiatrist! Easier said than done my friends, easier said than done. Turns out there are only a handful of psychiatrists within 50 miles of me that accept my insurance. It’s especially frustrating when some of them say they treat this area….but actually have offices 3 hours north in the backwoods of Maine. Another one only does phone consults. So I finally found one to take me, about a month out and then she adds at the end- oh you won’t see the psychiatrist for months. You’ll get established with a therapist first. Which I understand is very helpful but at the beginning of the appointment she asked if I was looking to speak to a counselor or a psychiatrist. I responded psychiatrist. So she booked me with a therapist and then decided to tell me after that it wasn’t a psychiatrist. Well, why did you even ask then?

So. Then I was in the situation of getting at least enough of my medication to last me through til then. I called the prescribing doctor at URI. Nothing. I called my doctor again and described the situation. Nope. I looked into another office. Doesn’t accept my insurance. I have finally managed to find an option that will work (although it is not ideal).

This was a long story. My point is this: I am from a family that has been fortunate when it comes to healthcare and insurance. I have always had it and rarely have we had a problem. I am a student, enrolled at a university. I have resources. I have support. And even if I did run out of my medication, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for me. But that’s not the point. The point is that even have trouble with this. So then I just think about all the people out there who have nothing. No insurance, no superfluous funds, no jobs, nothing. And then all those people in those situations who have mental illness. The national Institute for Mental Health states that approximately 18.5% of Americans have a diagnosable mental illness. 1 in 5. That’s a pretty high statistic and you can guarantee that it does not discriminate among socioeconomic status. Meaning that even people with the lowest of the low (and the highest of high) have these problems. But some people really do not have the means to seek help or get medication. They don’t have the choice that I had. I chose to go to therapy. I chose to be on medication. These aren’t even options for some people. And that’s a problem.

I don’t know what the answers are to any of this. I find it comforting that some of the political candidates have worked these issues into their platform because it does deserve their attention. Again, I don’t pretend to be an expert, but it seems pretty apparent that there needs to be a change in the way that this country as a whole approaches both mental illness and healthcare. And now that the rant is over….hope you all had marvelous Mondays!

a happy little Monday reminder.
a happy little Monday reminder.

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