My birthday is coming, soon, ok, this week, maybe today, tomorrow, Sunday?
It’s kind of like New Years isn’t it? There’s a certain amount of self-reflection that occurs as we approach significant dates like birthdays. What was last year like? How was I feeling last year at this time? What do I want for the next year?
I can’t help but think about last years’ birthday because at the time I thought I had just resolved some major issues with work and life and for a few days I experienced a sense of peaceful bliss and a positive outlook for the coming weeks. It really was a lovely on my birthday 2013, I ate one of my favorite meals, even went to a new bar/venue in town and my husband had the performing jazz band sing me happy birthday. This was out of our norm, but the kind of thing I wanted more of in my life. I also discovered the dark and stormy, what a freakin’ delicious drink!!
I was still depressed and experiencing anxiety about what my future would look like at the time, but I felt empowered by the actions I had taken to ensure I had the time, space and resources to continue to get help and care for myself. You see, I was on a medical leave from work because I was no longer functionally depressed- you know, the kind where you can still manage to get yourself out the door and do your job, but not much else happens in your life? I had hit a breaking point in the Spring of last year, and even when I stopped work, I had nightmares for weeks about certain people at work who had contributed to my stress through their abuse. So, by September I had been seeing my therapist regularly, practicing yoga, spending lots of fun and therapeutic time with my niece, and getting better slowly but surely. I also had just confirmed my insurance coverage, so I knew that I would be able to pay my bills (which was at least a small comfort given the turmoil I was experiencing).
Then the proverbial sh*t hit the fan, please pardon my French. As someone who recognizes (in the present) that I was depressed for much of my adult life, I see how this influenced my decisions over time, some of these not great. Unfortunately, these included terrible money management decisions. So, in mid-September last year when I learned that my insurance had arbitrarily decided I was no longer depressed (in spite of documentation from my doctor and therapist and my report), and stopped payment, I had a big problem. The case manager had not only made a mistake, but had failed to communicate it to me for weeks. While in an already vulnerable state, I had to fight for myself. It took almost 8 weeks of fighting, crying, writing them and having a sobbing fit in front of their psychiatrist that they finally reinstated my benefits. During those 8 weeks, I felt more helpless and hopeless than I ever had previously. I sank into a deeper depression than before and became suicidal. Since I wasn’t sleeping, my doctor prescribed sleeping pills, my first thought while leaving the office with the prescription at the time was ” sweet, now I’ll have a bottle of sleeping pills to take [all at once]”. It’s painful to remember how I was thinking and feeling at the time. I felt unbelievably ashamed to be unable to pay my bills and have to explain this when needed. I felt guilty that my therapist accepted to continue seeing me when I couldn’t pay her. I was feeling so badly about myself that I believed I deserved to be rejected by her for being so messed up!
This was such a painful time for me, it was only slightly relieved by seeing a positive balance in my account again. I understand the bottom line of an insurance company, but I still can’t believe how inhumanely they behave towards people with mental illness. For the remainder of my coverage with them, I had to fight them at every turn. It took many, many more months of work to emerge from the denial of how badly I was depressed and begin to get well.
Looking back, I am glad that was then. My circumstances are not terribly different, but my mental health and outlook are. This year I have hope. No matter what has happened these last few months, I’ve had this unshakeable ‘knowing’ that everything will be ok. I needed to think and write about last year for some closure. I know this post has only scratched the surface of the depths I flirted with and sunk to last year, but I guess that’s because I’ve been slowly but surely filling the hole, so, even when I jump in now I can’t go as deep.
Do I have any idea what the next year holds? Nope. I’m still in a comfortable limbo. It’s full of possibility and I think that’s a pretty sweet way to start a new age of me.