So I got this survey in the mail from my health insurance provider the other day, and while I’m generally too lazy even to fill out the census (a total of, what, five questions?) I couldn’t resist this opportunity to give some much-needed feedback. The survey dealt with BCBS’ response to mental health issues, and boy. BOY. Can I tell you what’s what.
IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS, HAVE YOU CONTACTED A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL USING OUR WEBSITE?
First of all, I knew I was in trouble long before I went into the hospital. I was using more behaviors (therapyspeak for anything maladaptive) than you could shake a stick at, I couldn’t sleep without ODing on unisom, and I spent an inordinate amount of time consumed by firey rage. It wasn’t pretty. I decided to take action. BCBS helpfully provides a list of mental health practitioners in the Boston area, so I started out with a 5 mile search.
The first number I called was disconnected. The second number I called was a child psychiatrist (but listed as an adult psychotherapist!). And the third, happily, was an OCD clinic. People, one look at my apartment could tell you I’m ANYTHING but OCD. The clinic in Charlestown would only see Charlestown residents, the clinic in Eastie would only accept MassHealth, and if you know anything at all about being mortally depressed, it’s that we depressed people CANNOT HANDLE CONSTANT REJECTION. Nearly all of these phone calls ended in tears, and I ended in a worse place than I began.
IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS, HAVE YOU REQUIRED EMERGENCY MENTAL HEALTH CARE?
Enter the evening of June 5. I take myself to the free clinic, they send me to MGH, I spend a harrowing night in a locked exam room waiting for the resident psychiatrist to take my history, and then I go to McLean’s. The whole process took almost 24 hours, most of which I spent in isolation, all of which I spent without medication (seriously, not even an Ativan), neither of which is particularly easy for those of us on the brink of a complete breakdown.
IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS, HAVE YOU BEEN SEEN BY A PSYCHIATRIST? HOW LONG DID YOU HAVE TO WAIT TO SEE THE PSYCHIATRIST?
I left McLean’s with a fistful of prescriptions: Celexa, Abilify, Seroquel, Ativan, and Trazodone. But I had nobody to prescribe me more. The WTP kind of dropped the ball on finding me a doctor to oversee all these meds, so when I was released it was left to me and my therapist to figure out what to do about refills. Despite the help of BCBS’ website (see above) I was unable to find a permanent psychiatrist until late September, over two months after my hospitalization. In the interim, I saw my PCP (who was horrified) and then a temporary staffer at McLean (who couldn’t change my meds whatsoever, despite some rather disturbing side effects). Eventually I was assigned a resident at McLean’s who gently informed me that I was taking my Effexor in a manner that was the exact opposite of correct, and that the combination of Seroquel, Trazodone, and Ativan I was taking every night was enough to knock out an elephant. Things were quickly corrected, and I was put on Ritalin to help with my ADD. Hey, better late than never.
ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN, TEN BEING THE BEST THERAPIST EVER AND ONE BEING THE WORST THERAPIST EVER, PLEASE RATE YOUR CURRENT TREATER.
At my last visit, in the midst of my “stolen camera breakdown”, my shrink suggested that next time I travel, I ought to purchase baggage insurance from the machines at the airport. “You can get a million dollars of coverage for five dollars,” she told me. “They’re all over Logan.” Woman, I have spent practically my whole LIFE in Logan airport, and there’s for sure no baggage insurance kiosks, unless they’re next to the cotton candy dispensers or the unicorn petting zoo. Then she asked if I had anything to help me sleep, as though we’d all forgotten the near-fatal trifecta of sleeping pills I’d been prescribed while in the Bin. The woman is living in a dream world, I just don’t know.
The survey went on and on, and I was more than happy to answer ALL their questions to the BEST of my ability. BCBS, your shit is in the mail. Enjoy.