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I wasn't going to post this here because I wanted it to get read and I don't think people read blogs that much anymore. However, I wanted to be able to share it with folks on Twitter and make it easy for others to share it who aren't on Facebook. So here you go.
I was going to post this on my blog but I don't think people read blog posts anymore (maybe?). I have been wanting to post about this for awhile and I think today is as good a day as any with the tragic events in Connecticut. No, this is not about gun control. I will let others pontificate on that one.
We need to start talking openly about mental health issues. As many of my close friends and
family know, I have struggled most of my life with various mental health issues including clinical depression, anxiety disorder, ADD, suicidal thoughts, and other not fun stuff. I have been in and out of therapy, on and off drugs, done both in-patient and outpatient treatment. I am lucky to be able to say that for the most part I have gotten the help I need when I needed it. Many are not so lucky.
Even with my very good HMO plan, mental health is like the red-headed stepchild. I can only visit a therapist once a month. I have to jump through several hoops to get certain medications every single time I need a refill. I have to drive twice as far to my psychiatrist as I do to my doctor because there is a severe lack of psychiatry offices. When I moved to San Diego, I almost had to re-do all my evaluations (which would have taken numerous doctor visits and a co-pay each time) because of bookkeeping issues. After calling about five different people and working my way up the chain, they finally agreed to "make an exception for me" and allow me to continue treatment un-interrupted. I can't tell you how stressful this whole process was and how close I came to just giving up for the time being.
And I am one of the lucky ones with adequate health coverage. When I had no health insurance, I didn't get any treatment because it was completely unaffordable. Without insurance, my meds cost hundreds of dollars a month. Doctors visits are out of the question. I suffered for a few years in silence. Things would get really bad and then they would get better for awhile.
Many are also afraid to talk about their mental health issues because of social stigma. "Stop being depressed!" How many times have we heard that? I know I've heard it a lot. If someone is asking you honestly for help and you respond in that manner, you are part of the problem. For those of us who are clinically depressed, positive thinking and cheering up and all that other stuff will not work. It won't. Sorry.
So what can we do? We can encourage our politicians and our healthcare providers to make mental health a priority, especially in this era of health care reform. We need to create an environment where people aren't afraid to talk about these problems with their friends and loved ones. That is a big step in getting the help we need. I know it was for me.
All right, end of soapbox. I hope that made sense.
i couldn’t agree more. “just be more positive” or “stop being so low” are constants. thanks for sharing Brendo.