Mental Health Care = Priceless?

So I have a friend who is looking into seeing a counselor. Nothing is “majorly” wrong, he just (like most of us) has some things to work through. As someone who has seen many counselors, I know how much it has benefited my life and helped me become a healthier, stronger person. So my friend was given a recommendation of a great Christian counselor to see. As he looked into it, each session would cost $110. Insurance wouldn’t help pay for any of that until he had spent over $800. His options? To look elsewhere and see what he can afford.

I went to buy one of four prescription medicines I take. My employer had just changed my insurance, so before I handed them my new card, I saw that one of month’s worth of the generic prescription medicine I was about to buy was over $125. I am incredibly blessed that insurance helps cover it, because otherwise I’m not sure I could afford to be on one, much less the four medicines I take.

As I sat in the drive-through waiting to get my medicine, I was struck by the sadness of what mental health care costs. I know of people who deal with incredibly difficult issues, who really need physical and mental care…except they can’t afford it. So what’s worse than being depressed, bi-polar, or just working through hard times? The added stress and frustration of not being able to get the help you need to make it through.

In my counseling class last Monday, my professor talked about the privilege we have of walking with people in their pain. That’s what counselors get to do. That’s what I want to do. It makes me sad that we have to put a price tag on that process.

I don’t know what I’ll be like as a counselor, or even how/where I’ll be using those counseling skills. But I do know, if possible, I want to make it affordable. Yes, I know that medicines and professional care can/has to/should cost a little. But I hope that even if we aren’t professionals, we are willing to reach out to people who are going through hard times. Because no one should have to pay for someone to walk with them through their pain.

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Soaring

I remember when we used to drive as a family west from Dallas/Ft. Worth on I-20. My daddy always talked about how he loved the wideness of Texas blue skies, I love I adopted. I would often watch the sky as my dad drove our family along that interstate. I would see birds fly over head. I watched them soar along, wings outstretched, winds carrying them effortlessly over us. I used to want to be like them.

When I was 14, I had my first bout of clinical depression. When I was 17, I began dealing with it off-and-on on a regular basis. Major depression, they told me. It was hard. Some days took so much effort to get through that giving up seemed easier. I used to feel like some of the birds I saw flying over TX I-20: flapping wings, struggling to rise above the wind that never stopped buffeting them. That’s how I felt. And I used to want to be like the birds I saw who could simply hold out their wings and soar, carried by the wind.

I am almost 24. I drove today to see my psychiatrist. For the first time in a long time, perhaps a couple of years, I am on 2 medicines instead of 5. I drove back home and saw a bird soaring over me. For the first time in a long time, perhaps ten years, I felt a little bit more like the bird that was soaring instead of the one that fought the winds.

Nice things that happened today:

  • I had a lovely drive to and from Ft. Worth for my appointment. I sang along loudly to the radio, grinning especially when my favorite songs came on.
  • I had a brief napĀ  in between getting home and work. I had a dream that would have made an awesome novel. When the kids from rec came to wake me up, I stumbled to work groggily. Watching Enchanted with them made me laugh and put me in a surprisingly happy mood for someone so tired.
  • I got to eat a Subway tuna sandwich, Cheetos, and Cherry Coke while watching three back to back Law and Order shows (CI, SVU, and original). A small moment that made my heart very content.