The latest episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj on Netflix is all about Mental Health. And more precisely, the shitty (lack of) care available for mental health care in the United States.
My first foray into therapy was about 12 or 13 years ago. I went to a therapist that was found by my work EAP. (Employee Assistance Program.) The way it worked out is I was assigned to some woman who was on the plan and we had 5 approved visits to work out all my issues. First of all, I didn’t click with this woman at all. So we spent about 3 visits just trying to figure out some things about how I was feeling. Then she decided I needed to journal, recognize when I’m Hungry-Angry-Lonely-Tired and BOOM! I’d be fixed. Plus, we did this all in 4 visits, we’re done now but there’s a spare visit left on the table. Efficiency!
I never went back to her.
Nearly 11 years ago I checked myself into an Intensive Outpatient Program for eating disorder treatment. My insurance paid some on this, but I was fortunate that both my husband and I worked and we could cover those bills. I met amazing therapists and a dietitian to help me learn better ways to recognize my triggers and how to cope with life. I was in this program 4 hours at a time, 3x a week, for 10 weeks.
Yet I still wasn’t fixed.
I continued to see my main therapist from the program for several years after this. I saw my dietitian as well. I went to group therapy. All out of my own pocket.
Then my therapist moved to a new location, so it would take nearly an hour to drive to see her, an hour for a session, then an hour to drive home. Three hours of leave to go to therapy. And then I had a baby. So I stopped therapy because it all just took too much time.
Honestly, I probably needed a lot more therapy after having a kid, because becoming a parent has ramped up my anxiety a ton. Parenting doesn’t feel like something I was naturally supposed to do. I am a pretty good mom to my kid, she loves me immensely. But the job gives me a constant stream of negative chatter in my brain. The upside is that because I have a child I love more than everything on the face of the planet, I also know I can’t fall back into eating disorder behaviors because I need to be around for her.
I have good days, I have bad days. I hold onto the thought that I will be “recovered” from an eating disorder someday. Maybe I am now…. maybe now my mental problems are all just anxiety and depression now since I don’t act on my dietary restricting impulses. But some times in life, it’s really hard. Really really really hard.
I went back to therapy last year. Or earlier this year. I don’t remember exactly. I went for a few weeks and it was helpful. But during the time in my absence from therapy, my therapist stopped accepting insurance because insurance is crap to work with when it comes to mental health care. Both for the the patient and the provider. So I had to pay $150 a visit.
Honestly, my mental head space was not in any condition to then deal with insurance and try to get that money recovered. So instead of paying all those fees or dealing with insurance and trying to fight for reimbursement, I stopped going. Again.
And then this summer hit. Out of respect for another’s privacy, I won’t go into too many details of what went down. But also, giving this topic privacy means that I am internalizing a ton of stress and I.. AM… STRUGGLING.
The more stressed and anxious I get, the more physical manifestations I exhibit. Stress hives, shortness of breathe, digestion, headaches, muscle knots, etc. I feel like garbage all the time. I could use someone to talk to a lot right now, but even more than that I don’t want to pay those fees, I don’t want to deal with my insurance, and I don’t want to take that much time away.
My primary care doctor increased the amount of my SSRI med and also gave me a prescription for clonazepam. That comes with a strict warning to not use it too often because it’s addictive. That scares me, I don’t want to be addicted to something. Plus, when I did try taking it, it knocks me out and I become completely unproductive. I mean, at least I slept… but it’s not the way I want to experience a deep, restful sleep. I do not like being out of control. (part of my eating disorder issues…)
I have no resolutions in this post. I’m just getting crap out of my head and also expressing that Hasan’s segment rings so true… the mental health care in our country is terrible. And the pace of the world just keeps becoming MORE INTENSE and demands our attention and that all contributes to rising levels of stress. I see my 7-year-old having anxiety over things and kids her age shouldn’t have to feel that way. I hate that I’ve passed anxiety on to her (and to my dog). And that realization just gives me more anxiety.
I would just like to reach a point in my life where I’m no longer feeling like I just have to “get through” each day and actually have some days feel better.