Mental Health: A Crisis of Financial Proportions?

About Our Mental Health

Mental Health is a Hot Topic these days. More and more people are coming out and talking about their journeys with varying mental health issues. From depression and anxiety to bipolar and panic attacks, just to name a few.  While I am so grateful for the many public figures that are helping to destigmatize these issues, I feel there is so much more that needs to be done.  We often hear people say, “Seek help if you need it.” And at this point in time more people are recognizing that, yeah, perhaps I do have an issue and I really need to get some help.

Then a hurdle is placed in front of them. Where do we go to get help and how in the world do we to pay for it?  Most people start with their primary care doctor if they feel something isn’t quite right. If the scope of the person’s mental health issue is perhaps out of the doctor’s range, they will refer the patient to someone more specialized. A therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.  Usually with these visits come costs. Unless you qualify for medicaid (because of low income, etc) you are likely to have a co-pay at the very least or a “no co-pay until your exuberant deductible is met” policy.  Typically you meet with a therapist a couple times a month. Maybe more, maybe less depending on your situation. So while you are trying your best to muster up the courage to even meet with this therapist or doctor, in the forefront of your mind you are stressing about how you are going to pay for it.

 

Getting Help Isn’t Always So Easy

Figuring out how to pay the bill, may cause some to abandon getting help at all.  My insurance for example, has a $4000 deductible. Which means I must incur $4000 worth of medical expenses before my insurance will cover most anything.  So that means if I want to see a therapist or psychiatrist, I’ll have to pay their fee upfront, anywhere from $90 to $120, which is typical in my area.  I may be able to swing that for a one time visit, but that isn’t usually how it works. I’d likely have to see them at least once a month.  And let’s say I need meds as well. Insurance may cover cost of some, but not always the case.

So what are we to do? We tell people with mental health issues to get help. But if they have no insurance or a high deductible insurance, how are they getting help if they don’t have the funds to pay for it? I think one way we can help our society as a whole is to figure out a way to pay for people to get the help they need, without being stigmatized. We would all benefit if those who needed help would have easy access to healthcare professionals without the fear or anxiety of how to pay the bill.

I urge all of us to lead the charge and encourage lawmakers to create some sort of universal policy for mental health coverage and access to local providers.  This issue not only affects us individually, but as a collective society. I think we are worth it.

Adventurous? Who Me?

repost

No one who knows me would call me adventurous.  I have usually lived my life pretty safe.   I am not one who likes to try new things such as kayaking, zip-lining or even driving down a road I am not familiar with.  I think a part of me has always been that way, but in recent years, my living “close to the vest” as the old saying goes, is more prevalent.  I am not sure when I started to feel less in the mood to take a risk.  Don’t get me wrong, I have taken risks in my life and things have often gone well. But there are certain times I am extremely hesitant.  My recent struggles with anxiety have exacerbated this.

Where am I now?

I am at a point in my life now where I don’t want to live fearful anymore. I want to be more spontaneous and adventurous, fearless. I owe it to my husband, my family and most of all to myself. Looking back at my life I can see areas where I was willing to take a risk and areas where I definitely was not. It helps me at this stage to realize I have taken risks before and I can do it again. Even take new risks!

One example of a risk I took was agreeing to move out of state, away from family and begin a new life together with my husband.  I had barely traveled out of state let alone LIVED in another state.  At that time in my life, I was willing to do so.  We had a young child back then and our work options were limited. We needed a change. So we made the move. We did have one family member who lived in our new area. That did help put me at ease some.  As it turned out, this was the best move we could have made. We have been in Virginia for over 20 years now and definitely call it home.

Being somewhat shy and lacking self-confidence I often felt unsure of the choices I made.  I was nervous to step out of my comfort zone, but I now realize it was those very uncomfortable things that helped me grow professionally as well as personally. The growth allowed me to have enough confidence and faith to start my own very small business as well as a blog several years ago.

While I did have emotional setbacks, I feel that am on the other side of that now. I can see how God can use our struggles and our pain to first, strengthen our relationship with Him and second, to allow us to have greater compassion for others and use our experiences to help them carry on.

Moving Forward

I know I have missed out on things in my life because of my lack of “risk” taking and I don’t want to live that way anymore. Part of the reason for this blog in the first place is to help me and hopefully help you to live life to the fullest. To live fearlessly. I don’t mean live stupidly. But to be able to live a life that is unafraid. A big inspiration for this new perspective is the song, Fearless by Jasmine Murray.

I say that I trust that God has got my back, but am I living that out? I hope so. Maybe one day people will say that I am adventurous. Fearless, even.

 

What To Do When Fear Strikes

 

Have you ever been suddenly flooded with fear? I have many times. Today, in fact. Do you get a sense of overwhelming dread or panic? That is the typical response for many.  It can cause you to think of nothing else. Drive your day into a ditch. So what do we do when fear strikes?

I find myself so wrapped up in the fear, like a blanket, that I actually need someway to remove it. To throw it off. At times, doing research, or writing lists in reference to what is causing me fear or anxiety can help. Or working out a written plan for handling the situation. Sometimes this can work.

But there are often circumstances where we can’t work it out ourselves. No amount of figuring or working will help this situation.  It is then, when we must realize WE are not in control of…well, much of anything. As hard as we may try or as much as we may think.

Though my rational self realizes this, when I am in a state of panic or fear, my irrational self doesn’t get it.  I have to force myself to take a breath. My mind can get my body in such a tense state that I forget to breathe.  I need to remind myself that God will work it out. Even if it doesn’t go the way I hoped, HE is there right beside me to help me get through it.

When fear strikes. Take a time out. Take a few long deep breathes. Figure out if this IS something you can deal with and make okay, or if it is completely out of your control.  If it’s the first, then perhaps the writing down, list making, researching thing is a good option. If it’s the latter, you need to LET IT GO. Really. Give it over to God. Make a declaration out loud that you know, this is beyond your abilities and that you willingly hand over your troubles to Him as He has instructed us to do.

Matthew 11: 28-30.  28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

When fear strikes and lays itself upon you like a heavy blanket, take a deep breath and stretch out your arms and toss it off of you.  Jesus will take it from there.

Kevin Love Revealing Panic Attacks is Helpful for Others : Everyone’s Going Through Something

This week NBA star, Kevin Love revealed in an open essay in The Player’s Tribune, that he has recently suffered from panic attacks. Something few people knew. He didn’t intend to go public with this information. However, after another NBA player, DeMar DeRozan shared publicly that he was dealing with depression, Love decided to reveal his truth. The response, according to Love, has been overwhelmingly positive. People have been sharing their own personal stories with him.  Love said that sharing this message may be “his life’s work.” DeRozan has seemingly taken on his new role as well to help increase awareness of mental health issues.

 

Revealing your truth

It is amazing that when we decide to move ahead and share our truths, how freeing that can be. And how it can open the flood gates for others to do the same.  Mental health issues have historically been kept very secretive and discreet. Usually for fear of being judged or deemed “unstable or crazy”.  As we have come to learn over the last five to ten years, mental health is a broad spectrum and expanse. It amazes me as I speak to others about anxiety and depression, how so many people are dealing with these issues. Most don’t  talk openly about it, but I feel the culture today is changing that. With celebrities and other high profile people being willing to be open about their struggles, it often helps the rest of us feel comfortable to do so.

We are all in this world together. Being less judgmental and more understanding can go a long way. As Kevin Love stated in the recent article, “Everybody has things that you can’t see, that you can’t touch that they’re walking around with every day.”  We just don’t know what someone else is dealing with. They don’t know what you are dealing with. There are two statements that come to mind when we consider that.

  • Be kind to one another. 
  • Sharing your truth can help to set you and others free. 

 

If you are dealing with any mental health issues, do seek help. A trusted family member or friend, pastor, doctor or therapist.  You don’t have to deal with this alone. There are tools to help you get through and overcome.

I thank Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan for inspiring others to speak their own truth.

Can Creating a Routine or a Schedule Help You to Become Fearless?

Many of us deal with fear/anxiety/depression.  It can be overwhelming. It can be hard to get up in the morning and get moving. It can be hard to break bad habits that keep us weighted down to the past or keep us from moving forward.  What can we do to make practical changes in our lives that will propel us out of the funk?

Creating a new routine or schedule may be just the ticket.  I often think about the things I want to get done each day. Clean the house, pay bills, exercise, set a side time for prayer, create a weekly meal plan. Call a friend, organize a drawer, spend quality time with loved ones. You name it. We all have things that we would like to get accomplished each day, but we tend to find ourselves lacking motivation or enthusiasm to get up and do what we should be doing. Instead we waste our time watching TV or scrolling through social media for hours a day. Our conversations with others are not focused. We are distracted. Before you know it, 2 hours have gone by and we haven’t done what we wanted to do.

Creating a written routine or schedule can be helpful.  Whether you want to use your phone or go old school and write it down on a piece of paper, figure out the things that you usually don’t get done in your day that you wish you would.  Then determine where you can fit these items in. For example, I need to get my laundry done tonight. I often forget about it until I am ready to go to bed. Then I end up staying up later than I should and throw off my sleep time.  Today, I am going to write out my after work schedule. *Stop at grocery store, pick up son from practice, start load of laundry, make dinner, clean up, continue laundry, spend time with hubby, finish laundry, watch TV, go to bed by 10:15.

It may not sound like a big thing to plan it out like this but it can be helpful and keep us on task. When we are able to get things accomplished in our day it makes us feel better and often times helps to abate some anxiety and give us confidence. Confidence can lend itself to fearlessness.

Begin today. Write out your plan for the day. Don’t sweat if something throws you a curve ball and you can’t complete your task list for the day. Simply review it at the end of the day and see where you can fit it in tomorrow. Just having things written down often times can be enough to get us through the day and keep us motivated.

You Can Do It!