October 5, 2016

Talk Is Cheap. ("Life, Medicated." Part 4)

Status Report

It's been nearly two weeks that I've been taking my medication, and I really don't have an opinion as to how well it's going. On one hand, I feel fine, I suppose. On the other, I've still been dealing with mood swings. Is it because the medicine is still building up? Maybe. Is it because medication only takes the high and low edges off but I still have to deal with the emotions in the middle? Maybe. Time will tell, I suppose.

All the basics are still the same. I'm committed to taking medication to help me deal with the anxiety and the depression that have done their best to take me out. I don't want to spend so much time and energy battling emotional extremes. So yeah, I'm in this.

Drugs Aren't Enough

Even assuming my doctor hit a home run on the first pitch and managed to prescribe (a) the right drug in (b) the right dosage without (c) any complementary medications, I know that the medicine itself isn't a cure-all. It's just a helping hand to get me in a better head space. What I do in that space is a different challenge.
Not at all the kind of therapy I get, but how cool would this be?

Enter William K. He's a licensed therapist that I have decided to see on a regular basis. I first met him more than a year ago, when I decided that I would benefit from having an objective person to talk to about all of the trauma and drama that was happening in my life. He really helped me at the time, and he gave me some very specific advice as to how I could be more mindful in my thinking and in my healing.

Anyway, after I saw him a couple of times in June 2015, I felt "cured" and didn't make any follow-up appointments... until late October 2015 after the man I pulled from a burning car ended up dying at the hospital a few weeks later. William was a great sounding board and, once again, helped me pull myself back together. So it only makes sense that I start seeing him again now.

Talk Really Is Cheap

I mean that in the best way possible. Because my husband is a Kaiser employee, we have no insurance premiums and no deductibles. We each only pay a $5.00 cost sharing payment for any medical treatment we receive. Doctor visit? $5. Surgery? $5. And yes, mental health counseling sessions? $5. So I can't use money as an excuse to not go to counseling.

For anyone wondering, yes, I absolutely know how fortunate we are to have this benefit. Many people are unable to afford mental health treatment, or their plan doesn't cover it at all. I think it should be more affordable for everyone, because who wouldn't benefit from a chance to talk openly and privately with a great listener?

What's The Plan?

Whenever I see William K, he always makes it a point to send me away with a very specific list of to-do items. (He knows I'm a list person.) In the past, he has challenged me to spend time in pursuit of silence and solitude and to focus on the reality of what happened instead of dragging myself through the wringer playing "oh, you know what else even worse could have happened?!" games.

The plan now is for me to be more compassionate towards myself, so I guess that means no more attacking myself for being a jackass and forgetting my medication. He also wants me to be mindful of the moments I'm in, the good moments, instead of always jumping ahead to to the stressful things I have coming up. And finally, he wants me to try to stay in a positive headspace about the many great things going on in my life right now. Apparently, I have developed a bit of a callous around a few really amazing things and have been taking them for granted.

Medication is only a piece of the puzzle. Awareness of my own mental state is another. And counseling sessions - honest and candid - are another. I'm taking the first, I'm working on the second, and I've committed to the third.

I can do this.

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If you're just catching up, here's what you missed earlier on "Life, Medicated":