There has been a lot written about mental illness lately and also about the stigma that goes along with it. It’s wonderful that the word is getting out there and that we are all much more aware of the issue of mental health, but when do we get to see real change? Not just awareness, but actual, real, tangible change?
I have been coughing for over a month. I’ve tried multiple over the corner remedies with varying degrees of success. So I finally broke down and called the doctor yesterday and was able to get an appointment that same afternoon. After a few minutes of listening to my lungs and looking at my throat, the doctor wrote up a prescription and wished me well. I picked up my two prescriptions that afternoon and am already almost cough free and I’m only out about $50. I’m happy that I will be able to sleep through the night now without waking up in the middle of a coughing fit, but I’m also sad that I can’t do the same thing for my ongoing, and much more debilitating depression.
Instead, I have to book an appointment with my psychiatrist three months out. If she has to cancel, which happens on occasion, I have to wait another few months for an open appointment. There are so few psychiatrists available with my health plan that they are all fully booked up several months in advance. My plan also covers therapy, but only once a month. If I want to see a therapist more often than that (even with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder) I have to go outside my plan — which I’ve been doing for years and paying hundreds of dollars out of pocket each month. Why is a persistent cough easier–and cheaper– to get treatment for than mental illness, which I would argue is much more debilitating than a cough?
I’ve been in the middle of a contentious divorce for more than two and a half years now. We are currently battling over attorneys fees — namely the almost $50,000 I have already spent for just my own side of things. Last summer when I ended up hospitalized, my husband filed a series of emergency orders that stripped me of physical and legal custody of the only child of ours who is still a minor. Didn’t matter that I raised all three of my kids mostly singlehandedly while my husband founded two startups and traveled constantly, or that I have never put my children in harms way, I was still considered a danger to my son. My son, who towers over me by almost a foot. And despite the fact that none of my children were home the night I ended up in the hospital, the court agreed that I was unfit and I spent thousands of dollars just having my attorney respond to the court orders. I’m now told it’s unlikely that I will get any of that money back. If I were to have had a medical issue, like cancer, getting that money back would be much easier. But family courts don’t often rule on issues of mental health, unless it is to take custody from from a parent who is considered mentally ill.
The best part of this is that after we work through all these issues and the divorce is final, I will no longer have health insurance. With a preexisting condition (two actually….thanks melanoma) it will be difficult and expensive to get comparable coverage.
I hope the conversation continues and more people speak out about mental illness and I really really hope things change soon.