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When Living With a Mental Illness Is Too Expensive

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All we ever talk about is our mental illnesses, but we hardly ever mention the amount of money and resources that make taking our medications possible.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

As a person with bipolar disorder, major depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it costs a whole lot of money for the treatment. And the more treatment we receive, the more we come dependent on the medications to make ourselves well. It’s a vicious cycle of never-ending problems.

With my mental illnesses comes guilt — guilt over the fact that I cannot do anything for anybody, guilt over the fact that I’m unemployed and cannot provide, guilt over the fact that no matter how much I try to be “cheerful” or “normal” for everyone around me, I fail miserably.

And the guilt becomes worse when you know your illness is not cheap.

I don’t feel like I’m getting better. I feel like a social experiment for every doctor I ever went to or go to. “Let’s try with this pill and see if that works.” So they prescribe medications the way you put money into a slot machine at a casino. And we all know the process isn’t cheap. My medicines cost money I don’t have. It’s all payed for by my husband. I feel like I’m a deadweight to everyone who’s taking care of me.

Once again, all of this is in my mind. My husband would never approve of me thinking like this. But I am still my own person in my head, and my head won’t stop thinking about all the ways I’m letting people down. I can’t work at an office for the life of me. I have already written about how it becomes impossible for me to work on a daily basis, thanks to my mental illnesses. So I just wallow in guilt for days.

Mental illnesses are expensive to have. There are people I know who don’t go to see a psychiatrist because it’s too costly to do so. But I really admire people who have any kind of mental illness and thrive at work. Sometimes I even feel that unholy pang of jealousy because I feel so incompetent.

I’ve been given unwanted advice from undesirable sources too: “Just start doing some work and it will be fine.” “You’re just not doing it because you’re lazy.” “Depression isn’t really a big deal. You can just do what you like and it’s going to get better.”

Isn’t it surprising that even after hearing this I’m still not cured of my mental illnesses?

Having any kind of mental illness is expensive, even though we don’t like talking about it. We don’t like to be weak. I stay hopeful for the day when I will feel completely healed, but I don’t look forward to the amount of money it’s going to cost for me to get there.

Let’s hope somewhere in the near future there will better medical coverage for mental health because I’m tired of feeling like a burden. I think every one of us gets tired at some point.

Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: January 12, 2017
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