Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Hot Mess: why I didn't seek help for my depression, and why you should

Hey! Did you know that before of all of my stiletto-strutting, cocktail-drinking, unitard-wearing, jet-setting, roller skating, "I kissed a girl and I liked it" madness, I was actually quite mad?

I was. But not any more. That was years and years ago. These days I am the stone-cold soberest, calmest, most rational and grounded person ever.

Oh who are we kidding, I'm still nuts. But the difference between then and now is that then it was a terrible scary place to be, and now it's more like "WHUUUT?! Girl, YOU SO CRAZY!" I'm enjoying the ride, and most of the time the chaos in my brain is leaning towards "Girls Gone Wild" instead of "Girl, Interrupted". 

Which is a good thing, because spending time in a psych ward is simply not an option for me: I can only poop at home.

But just in case I find myself facing a hospital stay of any kind - no matter how brief - I am signing up for health insurance this week that will take effect January 1st. 
I am grateful to be able to get health insurance for myself.
I am grateful to still be here to need insuring.

There are some people who really feel strongly that "Obamacare" is a terrible thing. I get it. But I have another perspective. You know what else is a terrible thing?

Being afraid to seek treatment, because you know that if you do, you will become virtually uninsurable.
Having your doctor tell you that s/he wants to refer you to a mental health specialist, but that it will be a part of your permanent health record - and is that okay with you? Because from their tone, it seemed like a bad idea.
Realizing that paying out of pocket for mental health care would cost more than a car payment each month. Unless you were admitted to a psych ward, in which case it would cost more than a whole car. Or a house. Or several houses.

What part was supposed to be okay with me, exactly? The mind-numbing depression that needed treatment, or the part where I would probably lose my health insurance if I admit I need help, or lose my house if I tried to pay for that help under the radar?

The night that I stood a little too close to the ledge of our hotel room balcony and stared 20 stories down to the pool glowing below, wondering if Sam would ever forgive me for jumping while he was out getting a pizza......that was the night that I thought "Hm. That was a little dark. I don't want to ever have a thought like that again."

It took me a while to actually go and get it, because the fear of losing my insurance over-rode the fear of losing my mind. THAT is a terrible thing.

How did I find myself at that point? It doesn't really matter. But the moment that I finally agreed to the mental health referral is a day that is burned in my mind. It was the day I finally jumped - and I landed safely.

I was furious during that first appointment. Furious that I had waited so long.
And sad.
And confused, because being sad seemed like a reasonable emotion - not a pre-existing condition. I had just had a hysterectomy. I was 30 years old. IT WAS SAD. Grief is a normal reaction to a loss of that magnitude, and yet everyone was trying to cheer me through it from the sidelines, instead of acknowledging that maybe I needed some help to get through.

So I just want to say this: if you are feeling sad or alone or scared, if grief is your constant companion, if joy is a flicker instead of a steady glow during the holidays, please reach out. If you are telling yourself that you have no reason - no right - to be depressed, then let me remind you that some of the richest, coolest, most famous fabulous beautiful creative fantastic successful people you can think of have been there. Even if your life is beautiful, it can be hard to see that through the gray velvet blanket of depression. It doesn't matter why you are wrapped up in it, sometimes it starts out as a safe place to hide but for some of us, the more we fight to escape it, the tighter it can become wrapped, making it hard to breathe.

Does this sound even vaguely familiar?

You can get better. You can get your life and your groove and your mojo and your inspiration and your libido and your reason for living back.

You can also get some health insurance. Because medical bills will not help your depression one little bit.

Thanks Obamacare. Pre-existing conditions be damned, it's a mad mad mad mad world out there. And I'm running through it without any pants on. Catch me if you can.

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