Mental Health: My Lowest Point in Eleven Years

On Thursday I experienced some kind of psychotic episode that concluded with the strongest suicidal ideation I’ve experienced in eleven years. I’m working with my psychiatrist and family to address what happened to me and how to move forward. I’m still reeling from the episode and am physically, emotionally, and mentally weak. When I’m able to, I have every intention to share the details of that day. But right now…

I’m walking the walk.

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Mental Health: Psychiatrists

There are some things every person should know about people who seek psychiatric care.

STIGMA

Look, not all of us with mental illness are eating other people’s faces on the side of a highway in Florida. I mean, some of us are, but most people who seek or are in need of psychiatric care are average folks you interact with regularly: your colleague, your grandchild, your mail person, your stepdad, the person two people behind you in line at the grocery store, or you.

Unfortunately it’s common for a lot of people to suffer in silence and confusion. Not only do they need care, but they also often have no idea where to begin in terms of finding the right doctor, are overwhelmed by the expense, and have to deal with the crippling, unnecessary stigma attached to mental health issues. This stigma holds us all back from achieving ideal health and an optimal quality of life.

COST

My psychiatrist, like most psychiatrists, has chosen not to deal with insurance companies due to their overcomplicated nature, but without a psych I am unable to access the meds I desperately need. So, this dissonance then falls on the person in need of care, in this case, me.

Can you imagine that in New York City it costs me $400 to see my psychiatrist for 50 minutes? Aside from our car payment, my mental health is the biggest monthly expense for me and Rick. You may be wondering, “Why doesn’t she just seek out a psychiatrist her insurance covers?” Let me back up a moment.

CONNECTIVITY

Finding a psychiatrist you connect with is like dating, only the stakes are higher. Not only are you looking for someone you get along with personally, you’re searching for the right fit medicinally. You want to be in someone’s care who takes more than 20 minutes every four months to understand the inner-workings of your mind and know what meds would best compliment your brain chemistry. The consequence of faulty prescription can be lethal.

Couple this ideology with the fact that a new psychiatrist means a fresh emotional upheaval. You’re having to rehash everything that may be helpful to the doctor to assess your mental needs, and that requires a verbalized excavation of traumatic experiences. It sucks. The longer you’re with a psychiatrist, the harder it is to leave them because you’ve been so productive throughout your sessions, digging deeper and deeper. The better they know you, the better they can help you. Psychiatrists can brief other psychs on incoming patients, but no memo can take the place of hours spent doing deep dives into your head.

ACCESSIBILITY

HOT SPORTS OPINION ALERT! Another disconnect that, to me, causes an egregious margin of error in the specific realm of medicating mental illness is the psychologist / psychiatrist team up. This model has a patient regularly seeing a psychologist who then communicates their thoughts to a psychiatrist, who then prescribes meds back to the patient. Psychologists cannot prescribe meds and are often cheaper and, therefore, more accessible. It’s certainly better than nothing, but to me this kind of two step care leaves too much room for poor communication and subpar RX.

BRAVERY

It takes a lot of guts to go into a room and figure out how to be comfortable being vulnerable in front of a stranger. It also often takes months to review what a patient may perceive as “obvious” issues before moving onto to unsuspecting things in life, which are sometimes the most insidious and medically informative. It takes time, and it takes gumption. And remember, if the doc is a bad fit, the person seeking care has to start all over again with a new doc. Speaking from experience, this redundant process contributes to mental strain.

It’s so important to normalize the discussion of psychiatric care and to be empathic and encouraging toward those who seek it.

What have your psychiatrist or psychologist experiences been like? Have you had any particular hang ups? Comment below.


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If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Recipe: Roasted Tomato Basil and Rice Soup

Normalizing psychiatric care is vital and there are some things everyone should know. I’ve previously discussed stigma and today I wanna address…

Accessibility and Connectivity

Finding a psychiatrist you connect with is like dating, only the stakes are higher. Not only are you looking for someone you get along with personally, you’re searching for the right fit medicinally. You want to be in someone’s care who takes more than 20 minutes every 4-6 months to understand the inner-workings of your mind and know what meds would best compliment your brain chemistry. The consequences of faulty prescription can be lethal.

Couple this ideology with the fact that a new psychiatrist = a fresh emotional upheaval. You’re having to hash out and essentially relive everything that may be helpful for a doctor to know in order to assess your mental health needs. This requires a verbalized excavation of traumatic experiences and it is draining. If the psychiatrist isn’t a good fit, or you move away, or your financial situation changes, or anything happens that causes you to change psychiatrists, the cycle has to start all over again.

Another disconnect that, to me, causes an egregious margin of error is the psychologist / psychiatrist team up. This model has a patient seeing a psychologist frequently who then communicates their thoughts to a psychiatrist who then prescribes you meds. Psychologists cannot prescribe meds and are often cheaper and therefore more accessible. It’s most certainly better than nothing, but to me this kind of one-two punch care leaves too much room for poor communication and faulty, insufficiently monitored RX prescriptions.

The current mental healthcare situation in the United States is dire. Receiving adequate care is a privilege, even a luxury, and that is so, so wrong. Have mercy towards those struggling with mental health issues in the U.S. The system is not currently equipped to support those of us who do, and it is extremely disheartening for folks just trying to live their best life like anyone else.


Stay warm with this delicious, hearty, and healthful tomato soup.

Ingredients

1 1/2 c cooked brown rice
4 1/2 lb plum tomatoes, quartered
10 garlic cloves
3 T olive oil
~1 1/2 t sea salt
1 t black pepper
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 T cane sugar
4 c vegetable broth
1 t thyme
~1/2 c basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Prepare brown rice.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  3. Arrange tomatoes cut side up onto two large, foil-lined baking sheets and drizzle them with two tablespoons of olive oil. Using your hands, stir tomatoes around to coat them well. Sprinkle tomatoes with sea salt and black pepper and place garlic cloves in between them.
  4. Roast the tomatoes for 50 minutes, until browning and juicy. Remove from oven and set aside.
  5. Heat remaining olive oil in a large pot over medium. Add onions, a big pinch of sea salt, and the cane sugar to pot and sauté for about ten minutes, until the onions are golden.
  6. Add roasted tomatoes and garlic (along with all their juices), the vegetable broth, and the thyme to the pot. With a potato masher, mash the tomatoes a bit to help release their liquid.
  7. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Uncovered, simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. In batches, transfer soup to a blender or food processor. Add basil, and puree until smooth.
  9. Return soup to pot and taste. Add extra sea salt and black pepper to taste, if desired.
  10. Finally, stir in rice.

Serves 4-6.

Leftover soup will keep in the fridge for up to five days or freezer for up to two months.

Adapted from Roasted Tomato Basil and Rice Soup.


Today’s my brother’s birthday, and I like him a bunch. Here’s a touching photo of the love we share, featuring approximately one mullet.


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