Cracked Wisdom

Well, not a lot has occurred since my last post, but I have found some interesting things I would like to share. First, like the post name implies, is another link to the website Cracked; today I saw that they posted an article on things people get wrong when talking or thinking about mental illness, and I thought it would be an appropriate thing to repost here: 5 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Mental Illness. I read through it, and it hit a lot of chords with me, because of how much it reflects things I have seen and experienced, so I suggest checking it out.

Sometimes I wonder if I spend too much of my time thinking about mental illness; it can sometimes seem like the only thing I talk about (outside of my blog, that is – that’s the whole point of this blog, so talking about it here is expected). It’s a little odd; time I used to spend talking about or playing video games or RPGs is now mostly time that I spend thinking about, reading about, or talking about psychiatric disorders, mental illness, and other things of the sort.

Anyway, this all feels heavy to me, so I apologize to anyone who is morally opposed to Budweiser, but I think their Super Bowl commercial is cute, and I challenge you not to watch it and smile, or say ‘awww…’:

Hunt for Red Jobtober

Life just keeps on keeping on. I’m a little late tonight because I got an unexpected shift at work today, but things are going pretty well. I go to work, I live my life, and I don’t really have any complaints.

Well, maybe one. I’m looking into the wider job world – sadly, minimum wage 24 hours a week just doesn’t cut it – and it seems hard to find anything that I qualify for. Now, I know I have a pretty shaky job history; this current job and a part-time job at my school during grad school are the only two jobs I’ve had since undergrad. But even the most basic of jobs that aren’t minimum wage require experience. How do you get experience when even the lowest level jobs require it?

I’ve applied to a lot of jobs; temp agencies, private schools, community colleges, regular colleges, stores, larger companies,and more besides. I know that my degree – a Master’s in English – is not the most useful for being an attractive employment prospect. But I don’t really know where else to look into. My skillset isn’t the widest; I can write well, communicate well, probably teach to some degree, operate a cash register, work a computer, provide customer service, and probably a few other things, but I just don’t know where that fits, or where that leaves me. It’s very frustrating, because I know I need to do more, but I am stuck at what to do.

Life Support

I have found that one of the most important things in treatment – at least for me – is the existence of a healthy support system. In my case, that consists of my friends, my family, my therapist, and any doctors involved – as well as, currently, my co-workers. To a certain extent, a support system has to be nearby. I know that while I was living in St. Louis, my closest friends weren’t nearby, and so while I could talk to them on the phone, I rarely got to see them face-to-face. That was a big pat of my feeling disconnected.

Living in Houston, I have friends who are close by – several of them live in the same apartment complex with me, in fact. We can see each other on a regular basis. That doesn’t make my other friends any less important to me; I still talk to them often. But having people I can see and get together with makes me feel like I am part of the community here, in a way I never really felt in St. Louis. So, while I don’t get to see my family as often as I did when I lived with them, I still talk to them, and I got to see them over Christmas.

It’s important for me to be a part of the support systems of others, too. I know that I’m a friend for Calla, and I view that as a privilege; I view being a part of all my friends’ support systems as a privilege, actually, I just don’t tell them that nearly enough. I also can’t really mention them by name here, which makes it a little tricky. Being part of a community is a big deal, for all of us, since we are social creatures – and many of my friends here in Houston came here from elsewhere, and we have shared experiences which bring us together.

It’s not just friends, though. Having my therapist and psychiatrist is also a big part of things. I can talk to both of them about issues that don’t really come up in everyday conversations with my friends – not that my friends can’t handle them, but talking about variations in medication schedule isn’t exactly a thrilling conversation topic, you know? Also, the support I get from my therapist is different than the support I get from my friends. It’s hard to explain, but both kinds are helpful.

Friends, family, doctors, co-workers, support groups – they’re all important to me in my continuing life. I don’t know that I need all of them, all the time, but I do not that the support system I have formed here has helped me to get where I am now. Which is a far, far better place than I was a little over a year ago. My health isn’t totally due to that – the things I learned in treatment and my medication also play big roles – but the support system is a necessary part.

The Wonders of Insurance

So, through some program – I imagine the Affordable Care Act, but knowing Texas, it could be something else – I was able to get insurance. This is a big deal for me; with several pre-existing conditions, I was persona non grata to insurance companies for the last half of last year. This meant my medications – of which I’m on 4, which is a relatively small number compared to some folks I know – cost a lot; with even one non-generic medication, it cost me in the neighborhood of $500 a month. Doctor’s visits were right out.

So, I got insurance at the beginning of this month. I went to go pick up my medications after seeing my psychiatrist on Tuesday, and you know what they ended up costing me? $18. That’s so different it isn’t even funny. Now, granted, my insurance plan is not cheap, but it’s still cheaper than medication costs without insurance. Plus, I get to go see a doctor in a week or so, and it won’t cost me an arm and a leg.

That’s part of the cost of mental illness. It’s an illness that never goes away, and was a reason for insurance companies to deny us treatment. The only reason I had insurance before is because I got it through my school, so I had to be allowed in. It’s a monetary cost, true, but it’s still a cost – I’m lucky to have had the ability to pay for a place like Menninger. There are a lot of people with serious mental issues who can’t afford that kind of treatment – or any treatment, really. People who never get diagnosed, who end up roaming, homeless and scared, because they can’t function mentally. People understand a missing arm or leg, but a missing part of your mind – that’s much hard to conceptualize.

So, even though it isn’t an ideal solution, I am certainly glad the Affordable Care Act was passed. It gave me the chance to finally go see a doctor again, and to even think about possible emergency care without bankruptcy. I get the chance to be able to keep my medication going, without wondering if they will drive my financial future.

Compared to that, some headaches are a pretty small price to pay. Those are just a side effect of regularizing my medication schedule, though. Life is going pretty well right now, so I am glad for insurance, and for what I have.

Postscript: Nobody had anythign to say about the Sad Dog diary? Man, you people are stone cold. The first time I watched that I laughed until I almost puked.

High Point

Well, today was kind of an odd one for me. Work was kind of rough; for some strange reason – maybe because today was Martin Luther King Day, and kids were out of school – the bookstore was oddly busy. Which meant a lot of customers, and some of them were people who were just very angry people. Working at the customer service desk, you can get chances to help people find what they are looking for, and they are momentarily grateful – but some people, if you can’t find the book or other item they are looking for, just get really angry. So bad customers tend to hit one harder, mentally and emotionally, than good ones.

So it was kind of hard on me, because emotionally hurtful moments tend to be rougher on me than happy ones just because of my own issues. But it really turned around on my lunch break, because I got a message from Calla, and she was sounding better. Even hearing from her was good, though; after that, nothing bothered me for the rest of the work day. Then, as I was on my way home, I got a call from her, and we spoke for the first time in almost a month.

I won’t lie. I did a little dance.

She sounds like she’s doing well, and even though she’s been having trouble being in contact lately, it sounds like she’s made some real progress. She even said that she thought she was starting to have faith in herself, which was a huge step. But she was laughing, sounded happy, and it was great to hear from her. That (and the pizza I treated myself to on the way home – thanks, Pink’s Pizza) means I came home high on life. I hope she stays in contact more often from now on, but even if she doesn’t, hearing that she is doing well, making progress, and sounding good was great.

It looks like I may end up sending information on the Family Connections class to her family, as well. She liked the idea that I was going, and thought maybe her parents would benefit from that kind of knowledge. I’ll be trying to get that information over to her mother tomorrow. So it’s been kind of an odd day – it could have been really bad, but instead, it went really well. Weird, right?

Today’s Update, Brought to You By…

I feel like I should have more to say right now, but there’s not a whole lot going through my head right now – at least, not of importance. I think over the last couple days, I’ve managed to kind of course correct; I think that I was having some issues with medication functioning properly, and it was probably because I missed a day and then had a week or two of taking it at irregular times. IT’s interesting to see how much that kind of things can affect how you act.

Things like that are the times it is really driven home for me that depression is a disease. It’s not just a mental construct, because there’s not really anything in my life that I have to feel bad about right now. There is something actually wrong with the chemistry in my brain, and affecting that too much can really make my behavior erratic. While learning to control certain behaviors and manage others is an important part of my treatment, the medication is just as important – without that, I could know all the CBT and DBT in the world – but without the energy or motivation to practice the things they teach, I would be the same as if I had no knowledge of them at all.

This time of year in general seems to be kind of a downer for a lot of people. Several of my friends are having rough times, and some just seem to feel more overwhelmed than normal. Some of the people I talk to regularly seem to have dropped off the map, but I hope that’s a temporary situation. Right now, that I’m feeling a bit more in control, I’m really reading through this Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beginner’s set and thinking about finding a small group to play through it with.

So, I think things are back on track, and while I know there are things I can’t change, there are also things I can, and knowing the difference between them is important.