The 12 year Therapy Odyssey
The 12 year therapy odyssey:
I’ve struggled since 2008 to find the right therapist, medications, and treatment combination. As soon as I recognized there was something wrong with me, in this case a mental health problem, I asked for help. Despite all my efforts, my Mother’s efforts, and doing the right thing by giving a combination of 10 different psychiatrists/therapists time and faith in the system, nothing worked. If I did make any progress, it was so small and subtle that I couldn’t tell if it was from therapy. This is incredibly frustrating compared to my experience with other medical treatments, such as physical therapy, which helped me after a car accident and a job injury. Both injuries weren’t that bad. When I went in, I knew a realistic schedule for treatment, could see and feel progress, and would have answers for problems. This wasn’t the case with therapy.
My first therapist nearly kills me by prescribing a medication that gives me three heart attacks at 23. To be fair, this is a risk for any amphetamine ADD medication. The disconnect was that he didn’t bother to visit me in the hospital, or seem to care when my Mother called and said what happened to me. The few visits we had weren’t helping, so I ended treatment immediately. I’m lucky that I was young and didn’t have any serious damage to my heart. It took me another year or so to try therapy again.
In the 12 years when I started in 2008, only one therapist was somewhat effective for treating me. In 2009, I had PTSD as a result of a robbery-home invasion. I did exposure therapy with that therapist, which kinda worked. At home, I sped up treatment by binging true crime shows such as FBI files, Forensic Files, and various crime documentaries. Oh, and watching the news. I knew I had recovered after I stopped watching all of those. I feel that using the true crime shows as a treatment helped far more than therapy sessions. This wasn’t a suggestion by the therapist at the time. Fortunately I had Dr google to help. (You know searching stuff in a search engine to treat yourself because the actual world isn’t helping.)
In my experience with prescription medication, you might get told the top common side effects, then given paperwork with small text including a hundred other possible scenarios. At that point, you don’t care because you (have) to assume the medicine will help you with your problem. Despite all the testing and research each person’s body is different. If everything goes well and the side effects of medicine are helpful, great! If not, it takes months to years to try and get off of medications. It’s still possible to try dozens of medicines for multiple medical issues and not find the 1 right prescription for you. This is for one health problem. If you have multiple conditions, this becomes more complex as you and your provider have to balance the benefits and side effects.
Past experiences with health insurance and therapy:
In October 2019, I tried again to get help to find a therapist under my work’s Kaiser plan. Nothing was covered including medication (Which Kaiser lied about in the plan we got. Says 80% of medicine costs, but if you do a price comparison online, every medicine I got except one was the same price as prescriptions under zero coverage.) You also have had to find a therapist from a third party website (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us) by searching through profiles one by one like browsing the grocery aisle. After a while, all the therapists feel the same. I don’t get why finding a doctor or dentist is as easy as finding somewhere to eat, but finding a therapist is like online dating?
You couldn’t search for therapists on Kaiser’s website. (According to the last time I had Kaiser, February 2020) You could only get a referral from a psych coordinator at one of their facilities.
When they did have therapists, there were only a handful of them all booked for months, not accepting new patients. That’s bullshit. This is way too hard for someone suffering from health problems. So, I got medications I could afford on the minimum wage. Except my anti depressant which was $220 for a month of medicine. I couldn’t afford paying $150-200+ a month for therapy on a minimum wage job in Seattle. A major reason I chose this job, and accepting the $1600 a month wage was because Health Insurance was offered. I admit that I didn’t have much negotiating power before I got this job. My employment history isn’t that great. In large part because I’ve been in industries unsuitable for me, and my combined mental health over my adult life has been poor. Honestly, that Kaiser plan I had wasn’t much better from the health plan I had when I had a high demand, high paying job, as a local CDL truck driver a few years ago delivering soda. But that work drove me crazy. Maybe some are suited for that, but it’s another lifestyle career. Where you live to work as your life. That isn’t me. I work to live. I also wasn’t available much during business hours between working in the restaurant industry, which meant I was either sleeping during the day or working at night. Sigh.
Shopping around for plans isn’t an option when you are broke and don’t make much. All the plans are awful, and leave you saddled with debt. I actually have better insurance now, unemployed, with Washington AppleCare than any bullshit private plan over my entire life. My biggest obstacle after the quarantine is over is having to give this up again for a lesser plan. I know I’m lucky to have that, but this time period will be the only vacation I’ll likely have in years. Maybe in a few years after I figure out long term career goals I won’t be making minimum wage anymore, and might have better health insurance plan options. That feels like an eternity right now.
The good news is that I am making progress in therapy. I have to remember to give myself credit, and not be so hard on myself. You made mistakes. Life hasn’t gone as I’d liked, but that’s how it was. It doesn’t have to continue sucking.
I don’t want to do anymore blue collar work because I’ve done that a few times already. College is extremely expensive, and it’s not smart to go without a concrete plan. I need to know the degree and career path I want to achieve. I have some ideas of things I don’t want to do. Either way I have to pay the bills. I’m not going to make the mistake of choosing a path too fast, or because of fear again. It doesn’t help that I don’t like working. I don’t know how I’m going to tolerate dating now that I know it’s work too. Guess that’s just the way it is. Well, you have no idea bro. Don’t make assumptions before you’ve really got into it.
Thank you for reading my blog! I had a lot of trouble writing this post. I wrote a draft of something on Tuesday, but realized it wasn’t publishable. I lost Wednesday to a migraine, and Thursday recuperating from it. So, I salvaged this from scraps from other posts. (I keep a separate file when writing to put content that doesn’t fit with the current post. This is the first time I’ve found something useful from it!) I guess my writing style is to be completely consumed by one thing at a time. This is progress. It’s one step closer to finding my niche, my purpose in life.
All nature photos from the car taken by me.
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