Tag Archives: anxiety

Mental Health Care: Expensive even with insurance

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I suffer with a mishmash of mental illnesses. For those who don’t — my list of diagnosed errors of the brain includes major depression, bipolar (II) disorder, generalized anxiety, ADHD, social anxiety, narcissistic personality disorder, among other, non-diagnosed yet still symptomatic crazies. Despite wanting to get through life without help for years, I’ve been in and out of therapy. Also, due to these illnesses and disorders, I’ve been in and out of jobs – which makes spending a ton on mental health treatment not the wisest.

This year I thought I had the good fortune of health coverage that would actually cover a reasonable amount of my weekly psychotherapy sessions. It would still be expensive, mind you, but after hitting the $500 deductible (that’s less than a month of weekly sessions) my outpatient therapist would cost just 30% of her total billing rate. Except, it turns out, that’s not true at all. It would be impossible to know this in advance of submitting a claim based on the way the health insurance benefits are explained. Apparently only $77 is considered a reasonable cost for a therapist visit, and the other $53 per appointment doesn’t even count towards the deductible. Continue reading

Floating with The Fault in Our Unemployed Stars

Despite purchasing a Kindle last year for my trip to Thailand, I hadn’t gotten around to using it for much beyond travel guides until this recent period of unemployment. Between then and now I’ve downloaded a library of inconsistently-themed books on a whim, since books are much cheaper to impulse buy and excuse oneself for at the sake of becoming literate and literary.

Given I tend to shop to offset the feelings surrounding negative occurrences in my life, I downloaded a few more books at Amazon’s suggestion hoping that I’d get through all of them and be able to say I had accomplished reading more in a few weeks than I had in the last 30 years. Instead, for the most part, these books are just collecting pixel dust on virtual bookshelves.

In two weeks of unemployment I’ve forced myself through 50% of the historical fiction tale The Daughters of Mars which, in all of its historical accuracy about being an Australian army nurse in World War I, hasn’t quite aroused my speed reading chip. Another book I downloaded on a whim — The Fault in Our Stars — seemed like a wise trade in honor of the accomplishment of getting half way through the other book – a quick-read, tragic young adult novel where the main character — a 16 year old girl from Indiana — has stage IV lung cancer and spends the book living and dying simultaneously while being as normal a teenager one can be while living and dying respectively simultaneously. I figured I’d read the book before one day soon watching the movie on an airplane.

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On Being an Overly Sensitive Potentially Bipolar Person

At 11am, I glanced around looking for any possible way to escape – not the room – but my life. My heart was heavy with a twisted mixture of sadness and anxiety. By 3pm I had regained my composure. At 4 I felt empowered and free, like I was given a jolt of confidence in the form of a crown and I was ready to rule the world. By 6 I felt hopeless again, miserable, and unable to lift my spirits.

There is clearly something very wrong with my moods. I just often get so overwhelmed that every little thing effects me so strongly. It’s distracting and keeps me from being happy and/or productive at times, and I’d like to somehow change this about myself. But I honestly can’t. You know people say just stop being so paranoid or anxious, just stop thinking so much, just change the way you think about things and you’ll be fine. It’s not so easy. Continue reading

GSD with Anxiety & ADHD (AKA Not GSD with ADHD)

After bawling my eyes out at my weekly therapist’s appointment due to just way too many first-world stressors going on in my life, we discussed what was really bothering me most — my inability to prioritize tasks. People with ADHD are known for being creative yet unable to accomplish seemingly simple projects because they just can’t break down larger projects into smaller tasks and then prioritize these tasks.

So my therapist asked me to picture all of my projects at hand as different airplanes flying into an airport, and for me to be the flight deck controller determining which one needs to land first. She asked — which can you help land while you let the others circle until you are ready for them? That was a terribly hard question to answer. I couldn’t just pick one and ignore the others. My mind had to actually start going through every single step and potential issue that might occur for each “plane” and seemed more satisfied running through the problems than settling on the project that needed to actually be done first.

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Massively, Massively Overwhelmed.

Life is good right now, so why can’t I let myself enjoy it? I have a new job, a new apartment with my not-so-new boyfriend, I’m moving up in the world, I’m excited about all the opportunities on the table, and yet I can’t just pause to relax and enjoy the present. I can’t take a week to just stop and reset. Instead, I feel like I have to close a thousand loose ends at my old company. At some point I guess I just need to walk away. But that’s hard for me. I know any projects I leave unfinished will remain that way. I like completion.

So how do I stop being so damn anxious all the time and just learn to enjoy life? It goes by fast and I’m watching it blur before my eyes. I want to take two weeks to go on a road trip and not have to worry about work or think about work projects, but unfortunately that won’t be possible as I start my new job pretty much right away. I don’t know when the next time I’ll have any real time off between projects will be. Probably when (if) I have a kid, and that certainly won’t be time to hit the road and drive to anywhere. This is it. This is really my 30s. This is feeling all the opportunity in the world as a pressure pushing down on me, trapping me, yet allowing me to fly. Continue reading

There’s Logic to this Depression

I hate making every other post about my mental health situation (you don’t believe me, do you?), but everything seems to tie back to that these days. Some spans of time are better than others, but overall this deep sense of panic is inescapable. I’m not being overly dramatic, it is just what I’m feeling at the moment. So I write about it. It’s better than some other ways to deal with it, anyway.

That said, I could focus on doing things like meditating — recommended to me by both my doctor and therapist — to help calm down and feel centered — but ultimately I’m just grabbing at loose ends here. So I’m depressed. Clearly. I’m just lost. On the days that end in massive amounts of tears and gasping for air, looking for a way out, I just try, to the best of my ability, to pull the pieces together and give myself the positive reinforcement required to shut my eyes, clear my head, and face another day. It’s not that bad, but then it is. You know?

Turning 30 has been harder than I expected for me. Besides the whole biological clock – going-to-be-really-really-hard-to-have-kids-thanks-PCOS – situation, I’ve run into some new medical issues. Nothing life-threatening so far, knock on wood, but things that seem to swing into play at a certain age and genetic disposition. Not to be all TMI (isn’t that the point of this blog) but my mother and grandmother have GERD and apparently I now have it too (if you don’t know what that is and really want to know, be my guest and look it up, but anyway it’s not fun. A whole new diet and a pill should help.) Yeay for being/getting old* (*not to offend anyone older than 30! Trust me I’ll be there soon as well.) Continue reading

Happiness Versus Fear of Uncertainty and the Depersonalization Effect

Taking off next to another plane this morning, I gazed out the window watching our planes part in opposite directions across a perfectly clear sky. The view was spectacular. I fly a lot, but there was something extra magical about the colors today, the light pouring over San Francisco, tinting the Golden Gate Bridge extra golden, the Pacific Ocean twinkling so bright it seemed as though despite the gain in altitude I could still reach out and touch it until our flight made its final turn to the east.

I love to wake up in the morning wrapped in the arms of my boyfriend, his gentle smile, and pull around me in a warm hug drifting in and out of consciousness. I’m very excited about moving in with him and starting our – adult – life together. As terrified as I am about the future, I finally feel ready for the next steps, whatever they may be. Living with my boyfriend, getting married, trying to have kids, maybe having one or two — being two months into 30 I definitely feel a change in my perception of the world and what I want.

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Dealing with Severe Anxiety

I’ve suffered with anxiety all of my life — perhaps the result of an overly-anxious mother and a very angry father — but never have I had such physical reactions to this anxiety. Usually I can go about my day fine and only feel anxiety when I’m dealing with a specific situation. But at the moment I have this deep rooted anxiety that I’m pretty sure is trying to murder me from the inside out. It’s intense, and I don’t know what to do about it.

So many stressful situations are colliding right now. My company is struggling. My colleagues are quitting. I have potential opportunities but all of them require negotiating and trying to pick the right one. I may lose $20,000 in early exercised stock options. I have to move out by April 1. Every apartment that I can find requires at least a $200 per month increase in rent, and for 1 bedrooms comparable in quality to my existing 3 bedroom it would be more like a $400 a month increase in rent. My boyfriend’s limit on his part of the rent is $850 and most 1 bedrooms that are nice around here go for $2000-$2200. So then I’d be paying $1150-$1350 a month. I pay $650 today! — Meanwhile the stock market isn’t doing well. I poured $4000 of pre-tax money into my 401k on Jan 15, when my total networth was at $257k, and now it’s down to $248k. So — on paper — I lost almost $10k in half a month. It could go back up, but it can also keep going down. And I’m freaking out.

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Bipolar II — Handling the Swings, Finding the Balance

For years I wondered what was wrong with me… especially when I got so down in the dumps, as I’d be crying non stop and contemplating something between suicide and running away, and then a few days later, or weeks later, life would be wonderful, I’d have this sense of unstoppable calm, and so my life would go…

Only a few years ago did someone finally suggest that I might have Bipolar disorder. No, not Bipolar I, which means extreme mood swings all the way to mania when you’re off your rocker. No, this was Bipolar II, which included swings of depression and hypomania, but without the extreme mania.

For a while, I didn’t want to believe it. I’ve been diagnosed with just about every disorder in the book, so why would this one be right? Then — every time I felt myself on one end or the other of my mood spectrum, I had to accept it. This explained a heck of a lot. This explained how some months I excelled in my jobs and other months I couldn’t get myself out of bed, and I’d ultimately lose my job. Continue reading

Group Therapy: Cost Effective, but is it Helpful?

As my loyal readers and those who peek at this blog on any given occasion know, I suffer from anxiety, depression and ADHD. That’s not to say my life is miserable, but I’ve gotten myself into one of those ruts and decided to seek help. Due to refusing to go through insurance for mental health therapy (until a healthcare bill passes that does not allow denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions), I have to be careful about my monthly costs to get help. Because it’s all out of pocket. (*since I have a high-deductible HSA account the only real benefit of going through my insurance company would be to have the fee go towards my deductible. Group therapy isn’t covered anyway, and mental health therapy for non serious conditions (ie ADHD, anxiety, minor depression) isn’t covered much either.)

There’s one doctor who is supposedly an expert in ADHD who, located nearby my work, charges $700 for the initial consultation. What? I know I live in a wealthy area but come on. That’s absurd. I found a career counselor and therapist who offered a free consultation. She normally charges over $200 per hour but has package rates. Ultimately, though, I decided I need to see a psychiatrist first to find out if I need to be medicated. I kind of feel emotionally out of control. And while I had going the pill route, at this point I’m willing to try anything. The psychiatrist cost $280 for one appointment. A short, 20 minute follow-up appointment will be $150. She prescribed me Celexa (which I still need to get and find out how much that will cost me.)

But I know weekly or biweekly therapy would help greatly. And given my current state, weekly therapy would be best. I shopped around and tried to figure out the most cost-efficient option. That led me to group therapy. While the rates were $75 per session, I was quoted $50 per session to get started, with her hope that I’d also seek out individual therapy twice a month.

As the Wall Street Journal puts it, “Group Therapy Offers Savings in Numbers.”

After two sessions of “process-based” group so far, I’m attempting to weigh the pros and cons of this treatment…

Pros:

– more affordable than individual therapy. $50 – $75 per 1 1/2 session.
– can afford to meet weekly, and its sometimes nice to just have that safe space that often.
– the value of your therapy doesn’t depend soley on your therapist
– you get to find out what other people think about you and your actions
– other people are counting on you to show up so you go even if you don’t feel like it
– you’re required to pay for every session in a month even if you don’t go, so you make an effort to go to every session.

Cons:
– even though the session is 1 1/2 hours long, it goes fast, and often isn’t about you
– you’re required to pay for every session even if you have to go out of town or get sick
– the benefit of the therapy depends on the dynamic of the group
– most people in group are also seeing individual therapists, it’s hard when you’re not
– the therapist has an odd role in trying to ask everyone how they’re feeling at the moment, but holding back on actual counseling (that’s for the individual sessions, which cost a lot more per person, after all.)
– while people are supposed to agree to at least 12 weeks when they sign up, people come and go. I can already tell the true value of the group comes from one that has been going a long time with the same people. Granted, bringing in someone new every once in a while and dealing with people leaving (abandonment) is theraputically good. However, too much of that and all you talk about is how you feel about people leaving and joining.

Have you ever had group therapy? What was your experience like?