This blog is not FDA approved
DIY – Do It Yourself – has become quite popular: home improvement projects, homemade household goods, and organic gardening are all the rage, made easier to do thanks to the DIY/HGTV cable television channels and Pinterest. It has also become more popular when it comes to medical and mental health issues, partly due to many medical and mental health information websites.
One of the primary reasons for DIY is the expense associated with hiring experienced and trained professionals to do the job. Another is the probability that you or someone you know had a negative experience hiring a someone else, regardless of their credentials. Sometimes, it is simply the fact that we don’t have access to the resources. It may be a combination of any or all of these factors.
In my case, it’s “all of the above.”
I have not been consistently employed nor have I had consistent medical coverage since 2001. When I have been insured, I couldn’t always afford the co-pays and deductibles required. I am still buried under medical debt from an unexpected and high risk pregnancy four years ago. The collection agencies remind me regularly of what a deadbeat I am.
These reminders do not mingle well with the untreated depression and sometimes it’s really difficult to remember that I once held down a decent paying job, paid my bills, and did more in my life than barely survive from one day to the next.
This is my reality: since being diagnosed with both depression and fibromyalgia in my early 20′s, I have had over twenty years of learning to live with two conditions that are stigmatized, misunderstood, and often treated as though they don’t really exist.
During times when I had medical insurance or my medical coverage was provided through the state, I didn’t have consistent care because most of the doctors I encountered didn’t seem to want to do more than spend a few minutes discussing the obvious symptoms, write a quick prescription, and move onto the next patient in line.
I received a second diagnosis of the fibromyalgia in conjunction with the depression in late 2000. During that time, my family relationships were blowing up and the company I was working for was being restructured after being bought out by an international conglomerate. I was pretty much in the middle of full-blown crisis in all areas of my life at once.
I switched to a graveyard shift to try to maintain income lost from the restructuring, so I couldn’t sleep when I needed. i was being treated for the depression and the insomnia aspect of my conditions and the meds meant I was always groggy. My teenage son was in rebellion and my 8 yr. old daughter was stealing, lying, taking off and disappearing whenever I did fall asleep. Jerry lost his job and we constantly fought over finances and the kids. I was always exhausted, on edge, and in conflict.
Then I decided to ice skate down some stairs on my way to work one night. I wound up becoming a medicated zombie. Between the psych meds, the meds for the fibromyalgia, and the ones to treat my injury, I was on antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers and pain killers. I reached the point where I couldn’t do my job and went on medical leave.
I enrolled in an Intensive Outpatient Therapy program and tried to learn new ways of coping. Over the Summer 2001, my son went to live with some friends from our church, my daughter went with her paternal grandparents on a cross country trip to a family reunion and Jerry went off for his two week annual training with the Army National Guard. It was the only time in my life I remember actually being able to relax and take care of my needs.
I came to realize I wouldn’t be able to function in the call center environment I’d been working in during the previous four years. In August 2001 my medical leave ran out and everyone was back home.
I got a call from my employer that basically told me to show up, quit, or be fired. Out of a misguided sense of loyalty and nobility, I decided to resign since I knew there was no way I could function in my job anymore.
Subsequently, I was denied unemployment and Vocational Rehabilitation. The independent medical examiner and my own doctor wrote reports that made it seem as though I was trying to manipulate and take advantage of “the system.” I had numerous people, then and now, tell me I should apply for Social Security Disability. All of my research indicated that I would have a long, drawn out battle needing attorneys and medical records to support my claim. I didn’t, and don’t, have the ability or resources to obtain those things. I no longer had an employer to help with insurance and I did not qualify for state coverage. Not to mention the fact my doctor had given me a diagnosis then basically wrote an assessment that I was faking or was unwilling to help myself.
At that point I was given the realization that I was had enough energy and health to get through each day and I could use it to figure out how to take care of me and my kids, or I could use it to fight the various systems to convince the powers in this world that I am sick and then not be able to take care of either myself or my kids.
September 11, 2001 arrived, the Towers went down and the economic and social landscapes of my country and the world were irrevocably changed.
I have been on an emotional and psychological roller coaster ever since. The longest I’ve been able to hold down a full time job was about a year and a half. I held two part-time assistant manager positions within the same company for three years.
I have tried different paths to medication, but couldn’t sustain any of them. Going on and off of medications and dealing with side-effects, adjustment periods and then having to wean off or quit cold turkey has taken it’s toll.
I have reached the point where I have given up the dream of having sustained and consistent coverage and care. I have decided it is better and more important for me to figure out how to survive and live my life without the aid of medication and doctors than to ride the roller coaster and navigate the obstacle course of insurance approvals, denials and appeals.
I am trying to figure out how to live with my out-of-balance neuro- & bio-chemistry in my out of balance life and find a way to create balance in my unbalanced world. I can only do what I can do and I’m tired of never being able to do enough to balance myself between the conflicting systems that dictate healthcare in my society.
Since December 15, 2011 I have been on a DIY journey of healing, recovery and growth through blogging. There have been many valleys and struggles. Pain, fatigue, irritability, and despair have accompanied me every step of the way. However, I have been able to begin applying some of the things I’ve learned through the various programs, classes and therapies I have participated in over the years. Relationships with my two, now adult, children are being mended and the relationship with Jerry is maturing and beginning to level out. I am more engaged, attached and present with my youngest child than I was able to be for her older siblings. I have reconnected to important people from my past and am making the effort to reach out and establish new connections. Everyday is both a challenge and a gift.