A Brave New Wait

I’m here. I’ve been missed. Michele reached out and told me so. I’m stunned to realize I’ve posted nary a word in nearly six months. Nary a photo. Nary an opinion, poem, or story. Six months. In my mind it has only been half that time, which is why I don’t rely on the good old gray matter to accurately assess the passage of time. My last post was back in January. It was a good one. If I had to leave you languishing on a last post I’m glad it was that one.

So why come back? Why now? Because when Michele mentioned she missed my voice I responded with the truth that I miss it too. I’ve given up some things over the six months I’ve been absent but this was not one of them; not intentionally anyway. I never meant to give this up. I truly didn’t realize how much time had passed and I kept telling myself I’d get something posted as soon as I ____________ (insert bullshit excuse), feel better, finish XYZ, recover from XYZ, etc. Now I can understand why the last six months have been such a shit show. Writing here is not a byproduct of feeling good. This is an active practice which supports feeling good. You have to DO IT to feel good, not wait until you feel good to do it.

Feeling good. Let’s just start there. I haven’t felt good. Writing here would have made me feel better but I denied myself the pleasure of it under the guise of having no energy, no joy, no reason, and nothing to say. Sounds like depression, doesn’t it? It was inevitable. Back in January I finally figured out what I want to do with my life. In order to do it I would have to change my life. I was ready and willing to make those changes but COMPLETELY unprepared for the emotional chaos all that change would trigger. I tried to deal with it the way I’ve always dealt with it, which is to go it alone and refuse to ask for help. It’s taken me six months to realize this doesn’t work for me anymore. Certainly not if I insist upon abandoning my perennial coping methods, right? Of course right.

I decided to ask for help. <—- Lie.

Nope, that’s not true. Big fat lie. I never ask for help. I would never just decide to ask for help. I wouldn’t seek help unless there was no other choice. Six months was the threshold. Not getting better, only getting worse, smart girl being a dumbass. Obviously I can’t do it alone anymore. Refusing to ask for help is simply perpetuating my own suffering. And you’d probably imagine help was easy to get. All I needed to do was ask, right? You’d be wrong. Help is not easy to get; not even for a person of privilege. If I was in crisis it would be easy. Help is readily available if one is in crisis. If not, it’s certainly easy enough to see why folks wait until they are in crisis. They may not have had any choice.

I decided I should talk to a therapist. I asked some friends for recommendations. After calling all the therapists I was given I discovered almost no one is accepting new clients. The need for help is so great right now there simply aren’t enough therapists to treat us all. New clients can either sit for weeks or months on a waiting list or get referred somewhere else. Same story at all the somewhere elses. Most are not accepting new clients. For extra fun, those that can accept new clients don’t accept my health insurance (some don’t accept ANY health insurance), so I’d have to self-pay at a rate of $125 per hour.

Why won’t they accept health insurance? Because the insurance companies make it so hard for them to get paid, mine especially. The only alternative available right now is to agree to be treated by an unlicensed graduate student at a rate of $25 per hour. Said student works under the supervision of a licensed therapist but if the therapist is too swamped with patients to treat me, how can that therapist adequately supervise the student’s treatment of me? I passed on that option. I’m sitting on a waiting list.

I finally understand why so many people with mental health needs are walking around untreated. I finally understand why mental health needs so quickly spiral into mental health crises. People are already battling hopelessness before they make the phone call. If the result of the call is rejection — that’s not a joke; one of my follow-up emails actually contained the words “your request has been rejected” — hope is not going to bloom on a waiting list to self-pay.

I won’t be making any more jokes about mental health needs. No more name-calling. No more casual misuse/abuse of mental health references. No more scorn, intellectual eye-rolling, or postulating. I don’t have a diagnosis because I can’t get into a room with a therapist for an evaluation, much less a strategy, so I’m left with my best judgment, intuition, and self-care. This sounds all noble and self-aware and maybe even brave but I’m really no better than anyone else with the same symptoms. The way I have felt over the last six months is not funny. It just isn’t. Not for me and not for anyone. People need solutions and support; not commentary. If you can’t relate the most compassionate thing you can do is shut the fuck up.

So while I wait I am educating myself as best I can and reinstating all proven forms of self-advocacy, mood management, stress relief, and healthy creative outlets, such as this blog. I’m growing. I’m evolving. I’m physically well. I have support. I am not self-harming. I am not in crisis. Don’t be alarmed but please do be concerned that this situation is the reality for many folks whose needs are greater or more urgent and whose means are more compromised. I will keep making phone calls and asking for help. I’ll keep doing my homework and all the work. This is wellness ergo it is my practice and my passion. Daunting, uncomfortable, expensive, but not impossible. I’m trusting the Universe to make a way and trusting myself to find it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

— Mercy

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