How to Deal with the Mental Health Provider Shortage

With mental health providers already in limited supply the increase in the need for services due to the stresses caused by the pandemic has made finding help extra difficult as of late.  If you are just starting out with problems, your primary doctor or ob-gyn might be a good place to start. In addition to doing an initial assessment, taking a history and prescribing medication, they can refer you to the appropriate mental health professional, if needed.

The obvious way to find providers is to check your health plan provider list. Consider those outside your area who offer teleheath services via the phone or computer. This could widen your options quite a bit. 

Seeing providers out of network or paying out of pocket may be other options to facilitate access to providers, which unfortunately are more costly and not possible for many people.  Although, some providers may offer a sliding-fee scale for those who are self pay that allows them to pay based on their personal income and what they can afford.

If you or your spouse are employed, you can check to see if your employer offers an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) which is separate from the medical plan. Typically you can access counseling at no cost on a short-term basis. Check with your HR department. 

If you are a student, take advantage of any free campus or university resources.

Your local church might offer pastoral counseling from a trained clergyman or woman which is usually free.

Some teaching colleges and universities may offer low-cost therapy provided by grad students who are supervised while they gain counseling experience. If there is such a school in your area, contact the psychology or behavioral health department and inquire.

SAMHSA is a government organization that is the go-to resource for locating affordable mental health care nationwide. Contact them at 1-800-662-4357 or online https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov

Online therapy is another option with chats with actual therapists from places like Better Help, TalkSpace or 7 Cups.com.

Theravive is a resource directory you could investigate for low cost therapists by state. 

Open Counseling is another resource for attaining accessible care. The site indicates if providers are accepting new clients and many list their rates. 

Open Path connects low-cost therapists to patients. I think you pay a lifetime membership fee and then get access to discounted rates on therapy sessions in the future. 

You can also get professional help getting professional help by contacting NAMI support services. Call their helpline, 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) to find a chapter or services in your area. 

If your mental health puts you in an immediate crisis, help is always available by going straight to the hospital emergency room. All emergency rooms have access to psychiatric care. 

Are you having trouble accessing mental health services?  What are you doing about it?

Looking Back at Ten Years of Blogging at Write into the Light

Ten years ago today I posted my first blog here at Write into the Light. Ten years!  I feel like that is such a long time.  

I started off writing daily meditations because I couldn’t find any meditation books specifically written for people with mental illness or mental health issues. Over the years my writing has evolved from those meditations to journal-type entries and poems, to essays and opinion pieces, and finally, reports on mental health research articles. 

Regardless of the type of writing I post, all of it helps me process and cope with my own mental health symptoms and I hope helps others with the same. Writing has been one of my biggest coping skills when it comes to my mental illnesses, hence the name of this site. 

There were many months I was inactive and even full years where I only wrote a few blogs at most depending on my health status. Several times I almost closed the site down but I never did because even though I would go periods without writing, the stats showed that people were still viewing my posts on a daily basis.  And I thought, if the blog was helping someone by just being there then it was worth leaving up even if I wasn’t adding anything new to it at the time. 

Over the last 10 years I’ve written over 360 posts and have had over 44,000 visitors and 65,000 views. I have close to 900 readers on WordPress, a tad over 300 Twitter followers, 1200 and something Facebook fans, and 25 email subscribers. Definitely not a big outfit by any stretch of the imagination, but a small little part of the mental health community that I hope is contributing enough in a way that is making a difference in someone’s morning, afternoon, or evening every once in a while. 

I wonder who is out there who has been blogging for ten years or more. I am in contact with no one from my early days of blogging because their blogs have been dead for years and I miss some of them so much.  

I am happy to have found new bloggers throughout the years, however, and thank every one of you for taking the time to follow, read, like and comment on my posts. I appreciate you and always enjoy connecting with you. 

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Can Being Too Busy Cause Anxiety?

The short answer to this question is yes, for sure. All it took was four doctors’ appointments in the span of two weeks and planning a birthday party for my mom on top of my normal daily tasks of running the kids to school and activities and keeping up on housework to bring me to DEFCON 1 anxiety.

My anxiety tends to present itself as irritability towards anyone whom I hold near and dear to me, most notably my beloved husband, poor guy.  I not only become dissatisfied with everything that is going on in the house, but I also can’t stand the way anyone is doing anything around me. 

It is usually best if I retreat to a quiet room on my own to chill out with something to read, watch or listen to. Sometimes it does help to talk it out with my husband as well. 

Also here is a great list of dos and don’ts when I find myself too busy and filled with anxiety. 

  1. Don’t over commit.  For example, I rescheduled some of my doctor’s appointments for a time when I wasn’t so busy. 
  2. Do prioritize.  I found that I could let laundry pile up a little that week and catch up on it the following week when I wasn’t so busy so I could make it to my appointments.
  3. Do delegate so you don’t have to push yourself so hard.  I asked for help in driving the kids to some of their activities that week to give myself a break. 
  4. Don’t forget to treat yourself for working so hard.  Mocha lattes every other afternoon for two weeks!

So, as you can see being too busy can cause anxiety especially in someone who already has an anxiety disorder.  However, there are ways to cope with it and decrease it if you take the time to make the appropriate adjustments to your schedule and approach. 

Keep an eye on your busyness before anxiety has its eye on you. 

Election Stress

What a long exhausting week it has been. I’ve been sleeping like crazy and been generally unmotivated to do anything. I hate the feeling of being in limbo with no where to go.

I feel like a balloon that is a few days old, lost most of it’s helium and is just kind of suspended a few feet off the ground, barely floating around, pathetically living out the last few days of its existence.

I need a big wind to come along and boost me high in the air, twirling me up and around, giving me life and energy. I think most of my malaise has to do with the general state of the country due to the election and that I will feel much better and more grounded after it is decided. How about you?

In the meantime, I have downloaded a goal tracker app and have created some simple daily tasks for me to do so that I keep myself moving and feeling accomplished, while still allowing myself downtime to nap and indulge in my unmotivated moods.

What do you do when you’re feeling unmotivated and stressed out?

Back to Bipolar Basics

Bipolar is a mood disorder that is subdivided into two categories: bipolar I and bipolar II.

Bipolar I

Bipolar I is characterized by at least one manic episode often resulting in a hospitalization. “A manic episode is a period of abnormally elevated or irritable mood and high energy, accompanied by abnormal behavior that disrupts life.” (WebMD.com)

People with bipolar I also experience depression and often cycle between manic and depressive episodes.

Bipolar II

Bipolar type II is similar to bipolar I in the cyclical nature of moods, however, full mania is not reached but rather hypomanic moods are more common. Hypomania often feels good with increased energy and mood and productivity, but can include distractibility and irritability as well.

Unlike in full mania, hypomanic behaviors are not out of control. Overall, depression typically dominates bipolar type II moods.

Do you have bipolar I or bipolar II disorder? What is your experience with it?

Grateful for Some Normalcy, I Think

The kids get to go back to school full-time in my county and play sports, and we get to watched them play, too, with some restrictions like social distancing and wearing masks. I feel so thankful for being able to do these things especially when some counties only a few miles away from us are not able to.

However, like every fall, due to the change in schedule from basically no schedule during the summer to now carpools and sporting events and small talk with other parents and loud gyms and small group social events, my anxiety is very high.

I take a lot of breaks at home, try not to schedule too many things on the same day, know that the high school sporting season only lasts a short time, although then club season begins! Take my antianxiety medicine when needed, get plenty of sleep – I need 11-12 hours a night to feel good mentally. Physically I don’t need that much sleep but mentally I do. I feel like that is weird. Drink plenty of water. I don’t exercise no matter how much people advise it it just isn’t part of who I am. I will go for walks in the evenings if it’s nice out several times a month but nothing on a regular basis. I also have a few hobbies I like to do that distract me from my anxiety.

How is life in the year of covid-19 going for you right now? How do you cope with your anxiety?

When Mental Illness Takes Away Your People Skills

Part of combating a mental illness is making sure that you have meaningful activity to participate in on a regular basis. Even those without mental health conditions need to have meaningful, purposeful tasks in their life to make life worthwhile.

There are very few tasks that don’t involve interacting with other people. Even something as solitary as writing a book eventually involves submitting it to editors and publishers and dealing with them, as well as critics and readers.

As a result of my bipolar disorder, ADHD, borderline personality disorder, and severe social anxiety disorder, I have the most difficult time interacting with people. This limits my range of productive activities that I can do outside of the home. I cannot hold any job that involves interacting with others for any length of time outside of my immediate family. I do short stints of volunteer work, an hour here and there, and that is it.

It makes me sad to think my life will be void of being of sustained service to other people for the rest of my life due to my mental health conditions. However, I can do nothing else but accept this reality and move on.

I do take satisfaction in the fact that I can at least blog here and write about my experiences and provide information and encouragement to those who may be in the same situation as myself.

Having ADHD and No Motivation

My ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is making it hard for me to even begin to write this article. I feel overwhelmed and unorganized. In general, I want to write regular blog posts, however, the sustained effort it takes to do so is something that is hard to come by due to my ADHD.

There are other tasks around the house I need to do that are repetitive and boring, such as chores, that I struggle with immensely due to ADHD. The best way I found to do these is to do one or two a day in small bursts of time. Unfortunately, the whole house may never be clean all at the same time, but at least each part is getting cleaned on a regular basis.

Other projects sit untouched, such as hobbies and crafts. I try to do them when I get a surge of motivation, but when I don’t for a long while I just make sure I am using positive self talk, telling myself it is no big deal if these things do not get done.

Exercising is another task I have problems sticking with because it bores the heck out of me. Again, I just try not to talk negatively to myself about slacking in this area of my life, telling myself that I am doing the best I can within the limitations I have due the the mental illnesses (I also have bipolar disorder) I deal with.

How do you cope with lack of motivation to do the things you want to?