Mental Illness and Access to Care

This is a blog post that was originally posted at Brainwashed. We have gotten rid of that blog and made that a page for our soap. All content will be moved here to A is for Almac. 🙂

 

I was looking through my tweety page earlier today, just kind of browsing, passing time and I saw that in the UK, 70 million work days are lost because of mental illness. Holy crap, that’s a lot of time off. So, I started to wonder, just how many people get paid, or have benefits for mental health days? My guess, not many. I know that when I had benefits from a job outside the home, I didn’t get mental health days. I got sick days, maybe some vacation days, but no mental health days. If I called in asking for a mental health day, it was usually denied.  If you take your sick days, eventually you use them all. If you don’t have benefits? Well, you’re screwed. You could be fired.

Mental Health America says that the percentage of people in America that have a mental illness and did not get care for it, is 56%. In America. Whoa!!! W.T.F?

Why is this still an issue? Access to doctors, insurance, money, and facilities, embarrassment. In Kansas, they did not expand Medicaid. That means for a lot of people in Kansas, they don’t qualify for insurance under the Healthcare Act, because they make too little money to qualify for a lower premium credit AND make too much to qualify for medicaid. They are then stuck with nothing.

So what happens if you don’t have access to care and don’t get help?

We all know it affects your family life. It takes a toll on the people you love and who love you, there’s no doubt about that.

As I mentioned above, you could have employment problems, including losing your job. You could even lose your home.

Mental illness doesn’t go away. It can get worse and even cause other health issues. Stress can cause high blood pressure (which can lead to heart attacks and strokes). Depression can play a role in weight loss or gain and fatigue.

Suicide. Living with a mental illness is exhausting. It can cloud your judgement, make you feel hopeless and unloved. It can make you feel alone, all of which can cause someone to think there is no other way out.

This needs to change. People need access to help. So, how do they get it?

Low income clinics. Here in Lawrence, we have a couple of clinics that are on a sliding income scale. The less you make, the less you pay.

Family doctors. If you are lucky enough to have a family doctor or a primary care physician, that is a great place to start. They can make recommendations for the next steps and even help manage medicines.

Mental health clinics. We have Bert Nash, a fantastic mental health clinic here. Leavenworth has the Guidance Center. Both work on sliding scales and offer access to mental health workers and people to talk to. They usually work within counties they are located.

Family and friends.

Quite often, we need to be reminded to reach out for help. It’s not a sign of weakness, or an inability to take care of yourself. I’ve been there, it’s hard. Almost impossible for someone who hates asking others for anything. YOU ARE WORTH IT! Your life is important.

Advertisements

Dr Visit

If you didn’t know, Danny and I own Brainwashed Soap. It’s a soap company that is all about mental illness. We had a blog, but I’m going to be moving the 2 or 3 posts over here. Mostly, we just want that site to be the store site. This way, I’m only posting to one blog and not getting myself confused. 🙂 All posts moved will be started with….

This post was originally posted on Brainwashed’s blog (on April 27th, 2017)

 

I’ve been really down lately. I’ve had days where I had small bursts of energy, but mostly I’ve done what had to be done for the day and that was it. A couple of weeks ago, I had a friend die and I just couldn’t pull myself out of the downs. I wasn’t sure whether it was true grief or if I was hitting a slump.

So, yesterday I went to our local mental health center. I really needed to go anyway to get established here in this county, since we moved. I met with an awesome therapist and told her everything she needed to know in order to (basically) check my diagnosis.  She determined I was BPII (which was the same), but that I had suicidal ideation as well as psychosis ideation. She suggested therapy and also a depression group that meets every week.

Anyone who knows me knows the group thing is freaking me out. I’m not a big group type of person. I panick, I have anxiety attacks and generally talk myself out of going to anything there is more than 5 people at.

She also gave me suggestions for sleeping better (or at all). I’m to avoid Facebook and information sites for at least 1/2 an hour before bed. Also, if I’m going to read, she would prefer a real book, but if I read on my tablet or kindle, I have to turn the brightness way down.

I know most people wouldn’t feel comfortable telling other people stuff their therapist said, their diagnosis or treatment, but I’m trying to be as open as possible about this so that we can have honest discussions about mental illness.

So, that’s my week. This weekend it’s supposed to rain, alllllll weekend. So, maybe I can get some more soap made!

Panic and Anxiety

Most days, living with bipolar is just another day for me. I know I don’t have as many issues with my brain and mind as some other people have, and mine is controlled pretty well. I have my routine for handling it, and it works, most of the time. But, sometimes, it doesn’t matter what you KNOW, it’s about what you FEEL. Sometimes, what you feel can be pretty damn scary.

Panic and/or anxiety attacks are par for the course with my bipolar disorder. Being alone is sometimes a curse and a blessing. On the nights Danny works overnights, I try to keep myself busy. I also realize why people have the tv on a lot, for background noise. Noises from the cats make my heart race a little faster, at least until I figure out what the noise is. There are nights that I’m having a full out panic attack before he even leaves for work. I know what is happening, I realize why it’s happening, but there isn’t a damn thing I can do to stop it. It makes Danny feel bad for having to go to work and that makes me feel even worse. I know it’s not my fault, and he knows it’s not his, but I can’t help it.

Other nights, most nights, I am totally fine. It’s pretty much a crap shoot for me. There are times I know will trigger a panic attack, other times, I’m driving the car and next thing I know, I can’t breathe, my hands are shaking and I have to pull over.

I try to avoid situations that will send me into anxiety attacks as well. We just had my 20 year high school reunion, and the only thing that had me going is because I have this one totally awesome friend, -and Danny- who stayed with me all evening. I talked myself out of going a million times before I actually went. I was so sick to my stomach, and I was SCARED. These are people I went to school with my entire life, and I was scared of them. I worked through it, with Danny’s help, we went and I had a great time. It’s getting over the hump, through the anxiety attack that is hard.

I’m working on it. I’m also looking for more ways to control my attacks when I have them. So if you have ideas, I’d like to hear them!!