This post is something I've wanted to get out for a bit, and it seems fitting since May is Mental Health Month.
Talking about my history of clinical depression, anxiety, ADHD, and insomnia isn't intended to make anyone concerned or to look for sympathy: it's simply something I've dealt with since I went to see my first psychologist when I was 10, and put on medication at 14. We need to destigmatize mental health, so I'm going to continue talking about it while also living my best life!
I've put a lot of work into my mental health over the years. Generally, things are stable for long stretches and life goes on. In recent months, it's been more work than it has been in a long time.
Today, I went to my medication management provider to check in after 3 weeks on a new medication. I believe it's the 5th medication change I've had in the past 7 months. The good news is that I think we've hit a winning combo and I feel immensely better than this time a couple of months ago. Increased therapy has also helped during the rocky road.
When leaving the office, I thought about how fortunate I am to be able to have time to be able to make these extra trips for check-ins and therapy appointments. I'm thankful for great health insurance and the financial means to pay for copays and medication. When things started to wobble a bit about 6 months ago, I had places to turn. Even then, I was driving to Lexington (over an hour each way) for a while because it was easier than finding a new medication provider in Louisville that took insurance, had availability, and would be a good match for me. When my provider left the practice, I was bounced to a different branch in Frankfort, 45 minutes away. It's not convenient, but it's worth it. Same with therapy: finding a therapist that's a good fit is harder than dating. Thankfully, my therapist from Lexington offers telehealth (online) sessions. By a stroke of luck, my insurance covers a portion of those sessions.
It makes me sick to think about how so many people don't have access to convenient, affordable, and compassionate mental health care.
I think about the sadness, fear, and lack of energy I was experiencing and how it touched every bit of my life. If I wasn't able to address it, the consequences would touch my personal relationships, impact my performance at work, and how I function in society. Those who need it the most are the least likely to be able to get care.
Mental health treatment is complicated because there's no one-size-fits-all solution. It shouldn't be made even more so by lack of resources, access, and financial assistance. And to top it all off, it's something that people think they need to hide or be ashamed of.
I refuse to be ashamed.
I don't have all the answers to how to improve access to everyone, but I do want to share some information for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Their website has a lot of information about finding care, giving support, or getting involved:
Looking for help? Call the NAMI helpline at 800-950-6264, or if you're in a crisis, text NAMI to 741741.
If it's an emergency in which you or someone you know is suicidal, you should immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room.