Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Glimmer of Hope

I have never been on psychiatric medication. I am not opposed to it, especially if it helps, and having worked at a psychiatric hospital I know how beneficial they can be. Some mental illnesses, like bipolar, need regular medication to control the symptoms. Other mental illnesses: some forms of depression, anxiety etc can be a short or long term medication process.

Having worked first hand at the State Psychiatric Hospital as well as growing up with family and fellow foster children with mental illness it is not something I take lightly, nor is it something that I am embarrassed of. One of the worst parts about mental illness is the stigma that goes along with it. It is the stigma that prevents some people from seeking out help.

That was not my case. My friends Amanda and Amanda can tell you I called Military One Source going on eight months ago seeking help. For the last eight months I have damn near begged for help within the military mental health system. I called numbers, waited at offices and really tried hard to find a counselor. I am pretty sure, (ok I think everyone is sure) that I am depressed. My pcp handed me (several) scripts for anxiety medication (try each and tell me which works best. Same thing he did with sleeping pills a year ago. Apparently the try them all method is his way of doing things) and told me he couldn’t recommend a counselor I would have to call Tricare.

After rudely being turned away from a mental health facility on post because my husband was in a “Non residential unit”(what the heck does that mean exactly anyway?!) and sitting in the Tricare office for two hours where I was told they couldn’t do the referral Id have to call Tricare and then Tricare sending me to an outdated website, calling Military One Source (three times, at averaging two hours a call!) I had all but given up. I was asking, actually I was begging for help. I KNEW what I was feeling was not ok. It is not ok to wake up in the morning and wish you hadn’t. It is not ok to go through the day hoping it will be your last. It is not ok to live in a fog of film. But I was and the miscarriage just added fuel to an already out of control fire.

Luckily, a friend of mine recommended a place. That’s where I found myself this afternoon. The lady asked a few questions about what was going on to figure out which counselor would work best for me (I told her I am certifiably crazy right now. She laughed. I wasn’t joking! Ha!) and I very evenly told here a brief overview of everything. Not only did she set an appointment for me with her but also with a psychiatrist. One who believes as I do that the medication shouldn’t mask the problem or cure it, but help with it. In other words if I get put on anxiety or depression medication it needs to be short term, helping while I get it under control, not a long term lifetime solution. I know from growing up in foster care and from other circumstances that I am not bi-polar, schizophrenic, or any other form which would require lifetime medication. In fact I’ve never been on medication (well I was on one for sleep that had been used as a pysch med before but now is used for the other properties) so I don’t know how it will affect me. What I did not want was medication without therapy.

While I was there I signed up for a support group. The group is only for women and it meets once a week for an hour and it teaches anxiety and stress coping, interpersonal relationship skills, and many other factors. That group is $5 copay. Not bad. So pretty much I will be doing counseling twice a week, a group and a personal. The group one I just thought was a good idea. I will play that one by ear and see how its working and if its worth going to.

The bad part of all of this is I have to spend $150 as the copay for the first one-hour therapy session and about $45 for each after. It gets a little pricey when you’re going an hour a week. But, my husband says it’s a cheap price to pay to get me back to his happy wife. They told me not to worry about insurance. They booked the appointment, will do all the billing for me and will work with me if for some reason the payments are steep. She said not to worry about anything but coming to my appointment. Even if the referral comes through after the fact they will forward bill. I don’t have to wait for the bureaucracy and red tape to get help. I was worried what if the referral didn’t come through? She said they’ve never had a problem but if it didn’t they would still charge me my copay amount and find another way around it. But, Im not to worry about anything to do with that right now. Just come in.

I had no emotion when I was talking to her about what I needed counseling for. Ive had no emotion explaining to people about the miscarriage. I have been pretty numb. The tears I do cry are in private, briefly and just enough to get out some of the pain. But, as I walked out of the counseling center I found myself start to tear up.

I sat in the car gathering my thoughts for about ten minutes before leaving the parking lot and I will admit I cried. I cried because I felt relief. For a brief second in my otherwise dark day I felt a light of hope penetrate. Someone listened and someone offered help, they didn’t turn me away. It felt like a huge giant step in the right direction. I know it sounds ridiculous but I can’t wait for my appointment just to start healing. 

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