Mental Health Insurance RANT

Isn’t it crazy that there are so little services offered for people with mental health issues. Maybe you have different insurance than I do, but I have had to JUMP through hoops to figure out what is covered by our insurance (I’ll give you a hint: nothing).

As if it isn’t hard enough to deal with a mental health illness. Our “main” insurance said my therapist was covered. Go to therapy and come to find out that our “main” insurance doesn’t actually cover any mental health at all, and it’s outsourced to our “secondary” insurance. Worst part is, my therapist is out of network with them. Heavy eye roll. They ONLY reason we picked this plan is because they said he was covered. I could dump all my other doctors. Therapy is the most important. Go figure.

Luckily, we are able to afford my sessions, as I only go 4-6 times a year. But what if we couldn’t? I’d have to find a new therapist, right?

Jokes on you, they don’t cover that either!

Zach was like, “oh yeah they have a mental health illness program where you can get 8 visits a year” so I looked into that.

That program ONLY covers short term care, and ONLY for “new” issues. So, I couldn’t use it for my depression since I’m already getting treated for that. And even if I could, it would only cover a short program.

They offer full, free coverage, for people who need a little bit of help, and NO coverage for people with ongoing mental health issues? Um, hello?! Doesn’t that seem a bit effin’ backward?

And the most stressful part is that they tout these programs and coverage like you’ll be all set, and then when you sign up and go to use it, you have to call 400 people to find out that the fine print says you actually aren’t covered in any way that you thought you were. ;LMEA;LKRJAWERKJ;ELRKAJWERL;KJ

If we hit our deductible? We still pay out of pocket. Cue another eye roll.

Mental health illness has been in the news a lot lately… a LOT. What with tragedies that are happening, people are focusing on why tragedies happen. Yet we don’t amend gun control laws, and we don’t make it easy for mentally unstable people to get help?!?! HELLO?!

Health insurance is not a simple thing. Do I believe the legislation needs to be fixed so it’s better? Yes. Do I believe insurance companies suck a big donkey dick? Even more so yes. Do I want there to be universal health care for everyone? HELL yes.

Should we get into a long drawn out political and economical fight about taxes and healthcare? Probably not. Is this a cherry picked article to prove my point? Definitely. Correlation and causation and all that… Would I happily pay higher taxes to make our country and overall better place to live (universal health care, maternity/paternity leave, paid vacations omg!)? You bet I would. But this isn’t about that.

This is about… why is it so hard for people who’s brains attack them to get help? Why. I believe, partly, because there is still such a huge stigma. People don’t really think that mental health is a “thing.” They think I can just “think happier thoughts.” No one talks about it. Too hush hush. We suffer in silence, and we suffer because help is expensive.

And it’s bullshit.

/rant.

Better Overall, Worse Episodes

I’m finding that I’m better in the long run when it comes to my depression – I have gotten better at apologizing for mistakes and accepting that I’m just one person and I’m not perfect… Better being a relative word because overall it’s still really hard for me. I also stopped doing reckless things like binge drinking and dating a bunch of losers/mean guys.

So, I’m better, right?

Kinda. Because I find now… that I’m not numb to the pain… now that I’m aware of WHY I feel like this… it can make the times I do have an episode worse.

For example, from 22-26 I was severely depressed and super reckless, drinking, partying, dating the wrong guys, staying up late, watching TV all day, late for work, bad eating habits, all of it. I was in a lot of pain. But I had no idea, in a way. I was numbing it all, mostly with booze and excessive sleep, but I was unaware the depth of my depression.

Ignorance is “bliss” if you will.

Now that I’ve been diagnosed and treated, I’ve stopped a lot of my bad habits. But then, I’m not numb anymore. It’s like waking up in the middle of a surgery. I am acutely aware of the pain in my episodes, and aware of the depression that bogs me down, and aware, very very aware, that this is an illness that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. And sometimes that makes me feel really, really bad.

Depression is so mean, and when you’re feeling depressed and you know it’s because of your depression it can be meaner! It makes me feel like life is unfair. That I will always be struggling with my brain. It makes me think I shouldn’t have children, if I risk passing this to them. It makes me feel like… what’s the point in fighting this, if it’s going to happen again and again.

I have found that my “thoughts of death” have increased since I learned about my depression. Thoughts of death are different than suicidal thoughts – I have never planned out a suicide. I also know that committing suicide is too scary to me and also that I would never, ever, ever, be able to do that to my family and friends, mostly because if you kill yourself there’s a high chance yOU PASS YOUR DEPRESSION TO THEM FUCKKKK I would never want to do that!

Thoughts of death are more like, not wanting to be alive, or dreading the fact that you know you are only 1/4 the way through a normal human lifespan, things like that.

When I was numb, I just drank and slept and went through life disconnected. Now that I’m not, I’m like… can I really do this for the REST OF MY LIFE?!?!?! And WHY THE FUCK DO I HAVE TO. WHY. ME. WHY ME. WHY??? Fuck. It’s like, everyone is trying to climb up the ladder but you’re wearing weights. It’s hard enough around, why you gotta weigh me down!?

I may see a post or hear about someone who lost a loved one to suicide. They are always hurting, and usually can’t understand WHY someone would do that. But I do. I completely understand. Sometimes, I want to reach out and say… “the depth of their pain was something you most likely will never understand, but if you ever spent a day with depression, you would know. You would get it. Because it’s not you anymore… your brain is a monster that attacks you, and there is seemingly no other way to stop it.”

But I don’t say that, because that is a weird thing to say to people who are grieving a suicide.

LET ME SAY THIS: PLEASE DO NOT KILL YOURSELF. PLEASE. DO NOT. KILL YOURSELF. I do NOT advocate suicide AT ALL. YOUR SUICIDAL THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOU! I know you know that!!!!! Tell someone, anyone, what is happening. There are drugs and therapists that CAN help, I know they can, even if it’s hard.

If you are feeling suicidal call the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255

And know this. I KNOW how you feel. I am also struggling. And I am still here. And I will continue to fight. Because there is stuff in life worth living for, even if in this moment it doesn’t feel like that at all. If it’s really bad, go to bed and sleep, give your brain a break from the pain and try again to get help when you wake up. And know that you are not alone, my brain is a monster too.

🔫🔫🔫 4/10

When I’m on my phone I can use the 🔫 as my title LOL.

FML. Work is insane. I have a cold. Everything I want to do has been pushed back so I can work and sleep. No exercise. No writing.

🔫🔫🔫😥😥😥

Zzz. Watching Harry Potter. I’m pooped and super grumpy.

I Caught a Cold?!

Thought I had heartburn on Friday night because my throat hurt… But now it seems I have A COLD. FUUUUUCK.

So, today, I’ve been in the house trying to rest. Boo.

It’s weird to feel better mentally after a day or two of an episode. Like, who even WAS that person? Did all that really happen?!

Yes. Yes it did.

Ok, shower time and early bed for this coughing girl.

Mindfulness & Depression

This post is a response to “Happiness is a Skill” by my friend Sam on his blog.

Mindfulness is in vogue lately. All the cool kids are doing it.

Is that really true? I have no idea. All I know is that mindfulness and meditation have started to seep into conversation in my social circles, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Before I start, let me point out that my meditation practice is shaky at best. For about the past two and a half years I have had an on again, off again relationship with meditation. I’ve used apps, kept track of daily habits, read books on it, tried different techniques, all with a tiny bit of progress, but never resulting in a firm practice.

Is happiness a skill? Well, I think that depends on how you define “happy.”1

I think training your brain to stop reacting with strong emotions is a skill. And learning that skill can lead to you being more happy, because things don’t impact you as much.

I have noticed a difference in my life since I started exploring meditation and mindfulness. Even without a solid practice, I notice that voice in my head more, and have worked on trying to quiet it. I have stopped using social media and my phone on purpose, to force me to be in the moment, to look around, to experience the present. I realized how much I plan out things in my head.2

Does this lead to me being happier? I’m more in the moment I think. At least a few times I have stopped myself from being pissed at someone, usually when I’m driving. I think “maybe that person is lost and I know how I feel when I’m driving when I’m lost.” But there are still times when I’m like FUCK YOU, YOU ALMOST CUT ME OFF.

I’d say, cultivating a practice of mindfulness and meditation can definitely make your life more content. Because you definitely feel better being that first person than the second one.

How does this relate to depression? In many ways. Mindfulness can allow you to step back and look at the events in your life more objectively. If you practice, it can allow you a 2 second pause before you react to something, and for me, a 2 second pause could be the thing that stops me from having an episode. Or, it makes it so I’m only a level 5 instead of a level 10. It can also counteract the mean voice in my head, just slightly. I have now noticed, sometimes, a quieter, weaker voice contradicting the loud, cruel one of my depression. Only sometimes, but still, it’s there.

The thing that makes me nervous about mindfulness is that, sometimes, I see it offered up as THE CURE TO ALL THE THINGS. Including depression.

Let’s be clear here: Major Depressive Disorder does not have a cure.

What do I mean by cure? I mean, there is currently nothing that will take away my depression completely. No magic pill, no vaccination, no special sauce to rub on my skull and BAM! I will never have a depressive episode again.

I have gotten much, much better with treatment. I understand my depression more, and my episodes are fewer and far between. But this is because I have treated the disease, not because it is cured.

Often, mindfulness is promised as a cure. No. Mindfulness is a wonderful way to treat depression, or any other mental health illness, but just because you are symptom-free does not mean you don’t have the disease.

Many times, people will think I’m being pessimistic when I say things like this. Well, I’m feeling great today as a I write this. I’m not being pessimistic, I’m being realistic. Mental health illness is misunderstood in many ways, by many people, even those who suffer. Sometimes, I have to defend my disease to people because they don’t think it’s a real thing.3 I have had people tell me that if I just thought better thoughts, I could stop taking my medication… but that’s a topic for a different post.

What I’m trying to say it, using mindfulness and meditation to train your brain can be extremely effective, and I think it’s a great way to help everyone, especially those with mental health illness, learn how to control their thoughts and reactions. But, I’m wary of people seeing it as a way to magically “fix” their mental health problems.

If you can become so practiced at mindfulness that you can wean off your medication, that is awesome and I do think it is an obtainable goal. But, when it comes to diseases of the brain, every person is different. There is also a LOT about the brain that we don’t know or understand. So, I think it’s important to have realistic expectations, while still remaining optimistic.

Mindfulness can lead to better contentment. Being content, arguably, means you’ll be happier. So, if you can, try mindfulness or meditation.

But, I’m still going to go to therapy.