“Having a bad day is one thing, having a bad week is another, having a bad life … You don’t want to move, you can’t move in the darkness,” he explains. “You’re like, ‘I am just going to sit right here and I want to wallow in this. As much as it hurts, I am going to sit right here because this is what I deserve. This is what I deserve, so I am going to sit here because I am that horrible of a person.'”
– Wayne Brady
If I were to run for public office (I won’t.. social anxiety..) I would try to build a platform on mental health issues. For those people who have never struggled with depression, or anxiety, or panic, or mental health issues, it seems unnecessary to focus funds and resources on the crazy people. It’s not.
In my experience, our mental health system is a cause for concern. Let me be very honest here to explain why I feel this way.
About a year ago, I was working as a social worker. And it was taking its toll. I had nightmares. I was always anxious. I was working every night until 10pm and then going in to work on the weekends. I was never caught up. I worried about my cases. They tell you to be sure you practice self-care as a social worker. What they don’t tell you is: you won’t have time to do that.
Everything fell into the background while I had that job. Family, friends, myself, working out, eating right… I couldn’t keep track of my personal life and I was drowning in my professional one. But it’s not like I could quit my job. That’s not an option for real people who have real bills and real responsibilities.
I told the boyfriend: I’ve got to talk to someone. I’m not going to make it if I keep going this way. I felt terrible because he was carrying the burden with me. I complained all the time. I was always tired and always stressed. It wasn’t fair for either of us. He said: Do it.
I’ve found that depression is tricky because other people feel like it’s their fault, or that they can somehow help, or that they can change something and make it better. That’s not the case. I really couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was causing it this time. It wasn’t just the job. The job was the catalyst, sure. But once it gets started… It’s everything and nothing all at once. And it’s a dark, dark hole that, for a while, you can see a tiny pinprick of light at the top, and then you’re in too far, and all the light is gone.
I have a great support system. I truly do. Non-judgmental. Understanding. Empathetic. This made, and continues to make, all the difference to me. I’m not consistently depressed and I don’t struggle as some people do every single day. But I have battled depression and anxiety my whole life.
So, about a year ago, I started calling to get in to speak with a counselor/therapist. I had a pretty solid healthcare plan. I didn’t see any issues with the process besides my normal anxiety of having to talk to someone.
As it turns out, folks, you can’t just go in and talk to someone. You have to pay to go to a different doctor first. Then you can schedule an appointment, once you get a referral. Really? Why? To top it off, I was told by all the places I called: be aware we don’t have any openings for about a month (or longer).
So, let’s recap this. I think: I’m depressed. I say: I’m going to get help. I call and they say: Nah. You’ve got about 23 more hoops to jump through first.
It was exhausting to call all these places and say, “Hello. I’m depressed and I would like to speak to someone.” And then hear, “Well, you can’t right now. Sorry.”
I finally called a center that told me I could come in for an initial consultation. The first appointment they had available was 5 weeks away. I asked how much the consult would cost, and gave the center my insurance information. I also called my insurance provider to ensure that I had coverage. They said I did.
I got the return call from the center informing me that it would cost me $150 for the initial consult, then $95 for each subsequent session.
Guys, that’s ridiculous.
I’m sure other people have had better experiences with this and others have gone through much worse. I felt lucky that I recognized the warning signs of the deep depression and had support around me so that I wasn’t ashamed or scared to admit I couldn’t shake the sadness. I was seriously concerned about my mental health status and I wanted to get better. So then why did everyone turn me down? It’s hard to admit you’re depressed! It’s hard to talk to strangers about it! Why wasn’t this easier?
One place I called told me to see their referring doctor first (who my insurance didn’t cover, by the way) and then if the doctor referred me I could speak to someone. By this point, I was so distraught that I loudly said, “Can I not refer myself? What is this? I’m not capable of knowing when I need help?”
When you’re stuck in the depression, you don’t want to put forth extra effort. You don’t want to call people and go to different doctors and talk to random folks about your feelings before you even get to the actual help. You just don’t. You don’t have the energy or drive or wherewithal to do any of these things. So when you find that last little bit of strength and bravery and you call and it isn’t working – you want to give up all over again.
It’s bad enough to battle depression, especially when it comes back to you for the second, and third, and fourth time. It’s a self-deprecating, shame-filled journey where you feel as if you’ve let everyone down and you’ve let yourself down. You look at other people who aren’t depressed and cringe. You think of other people who are depressed and cringe. It’s suffocating.
It shouldn’t be this hard to ask for and receive help for mental health issues. Let me be so bold as to suggest that not a single, solitary person who suffers from any mental-health related illness takes joy in their pain. This is why, if I could, I would run for public office on the platform of changing this system. If you need help, you should be able to get it. I didn’t need to check myself into a mental health facility. But I did need the option to go in and speak with a qualified professional and get some clarity and some help.
Luckily, all ended up well for me. But for some, it doesn’t. That seems ridiculous and basic to say, but, remember, everyone battles their demons differently. Some people can’t pull themselves from depression without help and some people can. There are different types of depression and different stages of depression and different causes and treatments. I would never want to compare my experiences with depression and anxiety with someone else’s experiences. That’s not the point and that’s not relevant.
I’m writing this because I sincerely hope that as more and more people talk about depression and anxiety, more and more people will see a need for change in the system. And if ever, in some strange twist of fate I run for office, I hope you will all hold me to this.
Hyperbole and a Half <— this article is spot-on as to what depression feels like.