Insurance Ad, 1935 (Click for source)

Without going into too much boring detail, let’s just say that I’m in the middle of two completely separate health insurance problems, with completely separate insurance companies. On one hand, I’m trying to resolve a series of claims with my previous insurance company from last year with regard to which that company is exhibiting some of the most asshole-ish, unprofessional, and borderline illegal behavior I’ve seen in a long while. On the other hand, I’m trying to establish new coverage with a different company that is clearly operating in some sort of discriminatory loophole.

So, I gotta ask: How do you pay for your mental health care? If you are insured, do the technicalities of your insurance plan have an effect on your care? (Does it affect your visits, your provider choices, which medications you take?) If you are uninsured, how do you manage?

On top of all that, shall we start a discussion on mental health parity in general? It’s no secret that mental health care is really very expensive. It’s also no secret that more often than not mental illness impedes one’s ability to work. Further, it’s no secret that pharmaceutical companies are out there to ruthlessly gouge whomever will pay and that insurance companies really don’t feel like being gouged. Tack on the stigma that suggests that mental health disorders aren’t “real” illnesses…and we’re looking at some serious problems, in the middle of which I am currently sitting.

Here we go — a real, nuts-and-bolts discussion topic. One I’m hopeful we all have some suggestion or method or useful tip to offer.

Our friend Dave asked today Does anyone have any tips or suggestions about how to motivate yourself when depressed or when you don’t feel like doing anything?

We’ve never outright had a brainstorming session on what we do when we don’t, won’t, or can’t do anything. So…whatcha got?




[Complete side note as evidenced by the number of times I just hit “Enter”: Clearly I have a new image strategy: For the time being, I’m searching the Flickr Commons (public domain photographs from various library-type sources) for some key words from each post. Easy!]

Clearly my routine has been shattered in the last few months. Perhaps almost as clearly, we know that routines are good for us as they are for everyone. It is my routine that adds a reliable sense of stability to my life, gives me something to count on each day and each week. In that way it provides a baseline measurement for me against which I can gauge myself. My routine is an important and necessary component of my own self-awareness.

That does not mean I live without surprises or spontaneity. It simply means that there are certain things I need to happen in a fairly predictable and regular pattern. I feel that might be the same for a lot of us, and given the last two discussion topics (here and here), it may be worthwhile to discuss those positive routine-oriented things that help us along on a day-to-day basis…whether they be as simple and mundane as waking up at the same time each day, indulging in some morning coffee ritual, regularly exercising, or something far more elaborate.

So, what’s your routine? To what extent do you think deviating from that routine may bring about triggers? How proactive are you in maintaining your routine, or how flexible are you able to be with it?

Lastly, I offer the all-important loaded questions: Do you feel limited by your routine? Do you ever wonder if the perceived need for reliable stability may be hiding new options and alternatives?

My apologies for the short hiatus. Seemed Life had some plans, and I missed the memo. The good news is that we’re back with plenty of upcoming discussion topics! So, without further ado:

Scientology's E-Meter Stress Test

Ours, like everyone else’s, are stressful lives. Whether you’re MI seems not to matter when Life decides curve balls and other crap should be thrown your way. This discussion topic is not about the BIG stressors out there; this is about the normal stuff: Traffic. Flat tires. Tedious work-related stuff. Disagreeing with or disliking coworkers. Deadlines that seem to come out of nowhere and fall into your lap. Grocery shopping. Running out of toilet paper when you were sure there were at least two rolls under the sink. Figuring out what to make for dinner. Unreasonable bosses. Unreasonable clients. Unreasonable customers. Homes that need to be cleaned. Dishes that need to be washed. Laundry.

Then there are those things that aren’t daily, but that everyone deals with: Moving. New jobs. New school. Big decisions. Family visits. Family obligations. Locking yourself out of your apartment (like me two days ago).

I have seen on various forum members’ blogs and through talking with some of you that there is no shortage of regular life stress going on right now. So, I started thinking about Stress: How much is too much? How do you manage everyday stresses? Are there normal, everyday things that you avoid for their potential as a trigger? If you can’t avoid it (because no one can) or if bigger stresses start piling up, how do you defuse the ticking stress-bomb? My thoughts here are circling around the double-edged “high-functioning” sword. We manage close-to-normal everyday lives, but that means we have to find ways of managing everyday stress. Last thing: if you have tips and tricks to share, go for it.

an admittedly photoshopped image of a flu virus

The last week included me completely debilitated, fully wiped out, and absolutely incapacitated by the flu. (Thus, the lack of new topics here on DF.) Still, that didn’t stop me from thinking about a sort of ‘pattern’ in my life.

In a nutshell, I suck at taking care of my physical self. I have a developed an entire lifestyle of many bad habits and almost no good habits. I sit for upwards of fourteen hours each day. I don’t eat much, and I would be lying to say I eat vegetables. I do things I’m not supposed to do: drink coffee, drink alcohol, smoke. I don’t do the things I am supposed to do: aside from living in a city that requires a decent amount of walking, I do almost nothing that can be called “exercise.” I don’t get the right amount of sleep, and I don’t keep regular hours of sleep. Sometimes I feel that the energy I put into my mental and intellectual health is all the energy I have for self-maintenance. Other times I feel like I just haven’t acknowledged that I’m not twenty anymore. (Honestly, though, I’ve regressed. I got more exercise when I was twenty.) Anyone feel me on this? Or am I just making excuses for my deplorably unhealthy way of life?

My failure to take care of my body goes further, of course, when I get sick. I devolve into the least rational version of myself. First, a lightweight version of my invincibility delusion kicks in and I refuse to notice being sick. I wrote twenty-two pages of a book I’m working on with a 101+ fever (the fever rose as I wrote) in one night. When the whole ‘I’m sick’ thing becomes undeniable, a lightweight version of my paranoia kicks in and I know that this is my last day on Earth, that I’ve been infected by intelligent and conspiring forces. Of course, neither of these delusions probably have anything to do with my mental illness; they are both probably the result of my very physical illness taking shape as a fever-induced delirium. All the while, I’m still drinking coffee, still up at 4AM working.

I got to thinking (my time-wasting, reality-denying activity of choice). If I’m not mistaken, being able to take care of one’s physical self is a pretty low-lying criterion for ‘functioning,’ right? And reflecting on my daily unhealthy behaviors and the continuation of those behaviors while extremely ill (only keeping me sick for longer), I started wondering if my professional output is just my way of masking how little I’ve figured out about how to take care of myself, physically and mentally. (Honestly, if I weren’t married, I might have let the flu kill me.) At the same time, I thought about the fact that some of my bad habits are often considered par-for-the-course in mental health patients. Then I wondered how OK I am with being par-for-the-course.

So, let’s talk about the physical body and mental illness. Our doctors have told each of us what we need to do to help keep our chemicals in check. How good are you at doing those things? What do you do? Are you an insatiable runner, a yoga enthusiast, or a desk jockey like me? Do you eat right? Do you drink? If you take care of the rest of your body, do you feel it helps your mental health? Is it enjoyable or a chore, just another part of treatment? If you don’t, do you think it impacts your mental health?

OK, so doing something I’ve never done before usually leads me to think things I’ve never wondered before. The relatively new thing in my life is reading mental health issue blogs. (Again, the due diligence thing.) I’ve gathered many new thoughts, e.g. how different people seem to define “functioning” and how they situate themselves on that weird spectrum. Another thought is that we all have different perspectives and relationships to meds. So, as promised in a comment on Daily Bipolar, here’s the first Define Functioning Poll:

1. How many prescribed meds to you take daily (no need to specify, since we’re open to all diagnoses here)?
I’ll go first: two.

2. How many prescriptions do you have for “as needed” reasons, that you don’t necessarily take daily?

3. How do you feel about your answers to Questions 1 and 2?
I hate meds. After my reaction to the first psychiatric drugs I was prescribed ten years ago, I’ve worked very hard to keep all my dosages down. They help, but I’m terrified of over-doing it. That means that I probably deal with more symptoms than I might need to, but it’s a balancing act: I can think better taking lower dosages than I do at higher dosages, and I chose to live with residual and persistent symptoms. I will always add more therapy sessions before I up my meds.

Your turn.