The problem with getting help for mental illness is there can be so many obstacles to overcome to get it. It can feel like a losing battle as you try over and over again to seek treatment, and are forced to jump through a bunch of hoops to receive basic care.
I recently tried to make an appointment with a psychiatrist to get my medication adjusted after my depression and anxiety worsened after moving to a new city. I called some doctors who were listen on my insurance plan, and the first one I spoke to said the first available appointment was more than two months away.
When I heard the appointment date I said "TWO MONTHS?!" The receptionist replied, "Yes, she (the psychiatrist) is in very high demand."
I thought about how ridiculous it was that it would take that long to get seen when I needed help NOW. I was in such a bad state of mind that I was barely functioning. And the answer I'm being given is "just suffer in the worst possible way for a few more months and then MAYBE you'll find some relief." Talk about demoralizing.
It's hard enough to make a phone call when you are affected with depression and anxiety like I am. I have incredible feelings of dread when faced with the prospect of calling a doctor, especially for something like this. I feel paralyzed. I often can't even take the first step to pick up the phone; I have to work myself up to it. And when I muster all the courage and strength I have to reach out for help, I'm met with what feels like crippling defeat.
I made the appointment anyway, and decided I would keep calling more doctors to see if I could find something sooner.
So I called. And called.
But no one called me back. And some numbers weren't even correct.
I even tried to go outside of insurance to contact psychiatrists that don't accept insurance and pay out of pocket if it meant I could be seen sooner. I didn't have luck there either. One doctor I left three messages over the course of two weeks and never received a call back.
My problem is not unique. As I've connected with other moms in person and online who are also suffering from mental illness, I've found that this is quite common. And along with long wait times and the struggle to find the right provider, you also have other challenges that need to be tackled one by one until you get the help you need.
We need to stop simply telling people to "get help" when there is so much more that needs to be done.
Because the problem with getting help is it's usually NOT EASY.
For me, the problem with getting help is the counselor you really connect with and think will help you is not covered by insurance.
The problem with getting help is that your insurance refuses to cover your antidepressant unless you get 90 day prescriptions and your doctor didn’t give you 90 day prescriptions.
The problem with getting help is needing childcare for your therapy appointments and you can’t find anyone who is available.
The problem with getting help is if you do find someone, it might be a babysitter or drop-in day care that charges a lot of money.
The problem with getting help is that after a while it seems like trying to arrange everything for your appointment is more effort than it’s worth.
The problem with getting help is if you need to cancel last minute, it still costs you money.
The problem with getting help is insurance sending you a letter with the words “CLAIM DENIED.”
The problem with getting help is it feels like a full time job dealing with these problems, but instead of getting paid, it costs you a lot of money.
The problem with getting help is sometimes your providers don’t listen to you or you don’t click with them, and you have to decide whether or not to find someone else and start the whole process over again.
The problem with getting help is that you’re overwhelmed AF and no one seems to care.
Money. Childcare. Scheduling. Insurance. These are all the obstacles we face every time we try to get help. No wonder people give up.
I’m lucky to have the means and the credit line to fund my treatment. But not everyone does. And either way, the stress of not knowing how much of the financial burden you’re going to need to carry doesn’t “help” at all.
The fact that insurance is the biggest racket of all time and they can change their minds at any moment and cause you hours, days, weeks, or months of paperwork, appeals, money, and stress doesn’t “help” at all.
The fact that people think they can criticize what type of treatment people choose CERTAINLY doesn’t help.
People like to talk a lot about how our country needs to improve mental health care but none of that talk is helping me TODAY.
What are we doing? Why don’t people seem to realize that people are suffering EVERY DAY because of this?
I don’t know what the answer is. I wish I did. And I’m not trying to gain sympathy, but rather let people see a little of what it is like to actually try to get help.
But as crappy as “the system” can be sometimes, it’s STILL important to try, and not give up. Help IS there, and there are MANY wonderful people who give their all to alleviate this suffering as much as they can. I am grateful for those people. My life has been changed so much for the better because of these people. I owe so much to the ones who have chosen to help me.
But I’m still struggling and I still need help, and right now it’s just hard.
It’s not fair, but I know getting help is WORTH dealing with all the B.S. that comes with it. Because YOUR LIFE is worth it. I am worth it. You are worth it.
Be proud of yourself for trying. Be proud of yourself for making it through the day. Be proud of each phone call you make, each letter you write, each form you fill out. Be proud of the energy it took you to make it to your appointment. Be proud of the day you opened your mouth to ask for help. You are STRONG for trying.
Keep going. Don’t give up. It’s not easy, but these things CAN be overcome. My hope is that by talking about this, together we can make a positive impact in helping one another through the setbacks. My hope is that we can continue to normalize mental health so this process will be easier for the next generation, and that all this has not been in vain.
Because the problem is, it just shouldn’t be this hard.
This piece was originally published on the author's Facebook page, Driving Mom Crazy.