Several weeks/months ago I finally decided…I am past my own skill level in helping my child with his anger and aggression. It’s time for professional help. I can’t remember if I decided it on my own, but I think it was probably with the help of my Twitter friends. Oddly enough, Twitter is the place I go when I’m my most vulnerable. And I have yet to be disappointed with the feedback I get.
Anyway – that’s a big step. Admitting there’s a mental health issue that your child might need help with. My defensive instincts felt like this was was another way of saying, “I suck as a Mother.” Logically, there is a part of me that knows that’s not true. But emotionally? Admitting I needed help? Was like admitting failure to my child.
But…I made that step. I admitted I needed help. His violence and aggression towards me was not getting better and I didn’t want him continuing these habits into adulthood. It made me feel better when someone compared it to having an obese child due to their own bad health habits. “You wouldn’t want them carrying their obesity into adulthood, right? You’d want them to learn better habits as a child, before those habits settled into any sort of permanence.”
So! I admitted I needed someone to help me, help him.
I pulled up my insurance and did the whole “find a doctor” thing. I selected my “network” based on the letters on the card. I found several doctors in town. I even found a few at one practice that came highly recommended. I contacted them via phone (which was very tricky to work up the nerve to do) and then they called me back the next day and said, “Sorry. We don’t take your insurance. You can come to us, but we’re out of network and it will cost the deductible and then your insurance will pay for half.”
All of that effort, and we had nothing.
The most frustrating part was that I wasn’t sure what I had done wrong in my search to end up at a doctor that my insurance didn’t work with. I USED THE WEBSITE! That doctor was on the list! ARG.
I decided maybe the need wasn’t that urgent, and went about my life.
But things weren’t better. We still had several bad anger/aggression episodes. Every time I kept thinking, “I need help.” But I didn’t want to go through all of the effort again just to find out we couldn’t afford it.
Until this morning when Wes had one of the worst episodes he’s ever had, triggered by one of the most benign incidents that have ever triggered him. It was bad. He was verbally abusive (which is an everyday thing most days) and he got physical with me. Several times. Over and over again.
So I decided to jump through the hoops again.
I started by calling the insurance company. It turns out my error last time was in choosing the network based on the letters on my card. Yes. That seems like the logical choice. But it’s not the RIGHT one. Our plan is actually a little different, so I had to choose a different type of network, one that wasn’t written on my card ANYWHERE. And when I chose that network? No doctors in my city popped up. So I started crying to the lady on the other end of the phone. Because my son had just smacked me in the face – on purpose – with his jacket and I couldn’t find him a doctor that was covered by my insurance, inside my city limits. Here I am, desperate to find him help to keep him from being an abusive adult, and I’m running into road block after road block. And I lost my shit on the phone with a stranger. I just sobbed. There’s crying, and there’s sobbing. I was sobbing. I was sobbing so hard I gave myself a headache.
Donnie was pretty sure there was ancillary benefits that we could look into, he found something in his benefits package that might help. But…it required a phone call to human resources and I was NOT in the mood to do that. I was having a hard enough time keeping my shit together with the lady at Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Don’t stick me on the phone with someone my husband actually works with.
So…I called someone listed in my network from an adjacent city. We’re still talking only a 45 minute drive, not too bad. And they had pediatric specialists. But I had to call again and go through a lot of stuff on the phone again. I had to explain what Wes was doing so they’d know what to evaluate him for. I had to say, out loud, “He is getting violent with me.” And this is just my KID. All I kept thinking about was – WHAT IF THIS WAS A CALL FOR MYSELF? All of these hoops…at least I could say they were for my kid. But if they were to find myself a doctor for my own mental health? I’m not sure I would have made it past the first attempt. Hours of failed attempts to finally find a doctor that MIGHT be covered by my insurance and then…
“What does the doctor need to evaluate you for?”
“Anxiety and Depression.”
No. I don’t see that happening. I would see me hanging up and never seeking the help I need.
Here’s the thing. If you’re bleeding? You go to the ER. If you can’t drive yourself? You call an ambulance. You don’t have to worry about anyone judging you because you couldn’t fix the gaping wound yourself. No. Saying, “I think I need stitches,” doesn’t make you feel shame. And no one makes you jump through hoops just to find a doctor 2 towns over.
I had a hard time and it took several weeks to finally make an appointment to get my son help. And who knows…the doctor might suck. Then what? Will I go through it all again? If it were for me? No. I would not. I’d suck it up and try to treat myself. But it’s for my kid, so I can be a little more detached.
My point? Be aware of these challenges. Be aware of the difficulty in finding affordable mental health providers. And we at least have some coverage on our insurance. Some people have none. And be aware that when/if you find a doctor that your insurance covers, it feels very shameful to ask for those appointments because our society does not acknowledge mental health as a priority.
If you have a parent, or a sibling, or a spouse who might could benefit from mental health care…maybe you can advocate for them? Ask them if they’ve ever considered it. If they have? Offer to help them find it. Tell them you have this friend who was trying to find a doctor for her son and she had a full-blown anxiety attack in the process. Tell them you promised this friend (me) that you would help any other friend or family who might need to schedule the same kind of appointment. If they’re family? Offer to call the insurance company to find a list of doctors. Offer to make an appointment. Offer to jump through the hoops for them if you really think they could benefit. Because after my own challenges? I have now decided that there are too many people out there who NEED help, but aren’t getting it because it is such a giant pain in the ass to just make an appointment to ask for help.
We’re lucky. We found a doctor that is covered and it’s a reasonable drive. Now, there weren’t many on the “reasonable” drive list. If this one or the others don’t work out, we may have to drive 2+ hours for help. Or we may have to just pay for it out of pocket. Here’s hoping we don’t have to cross that bridge and that this doctor in the neighboring town works out great.
Because I don’t want to have to cry to another complete stranger on the phone.