Too Smart?

An update about the mental health journey, plus one fun night.

So, I saw the social worker again this week as he thought meeting after a week would be a good idea. This session was basically the first, and it was more difficult and draining than I anticipated. Of course, bringing up and dealing with frustrations (however minor they may seem on the outside) is not easy work. Sometimes, I’m too smart.

Even though I’ve been fairly stable the last few weeks, I think the social worker saw that even though I have the right knowledge and right ideas/attitudes, putting those into work are not as easy as knowing them. I’m a little grateful for that, because I need a little more guidance from him to start rather than just going on and on about things.

We discussed frustrations I have in my life, including a very basic, very silly one: I want to be able to play music in my car. I bought a bluetooth AUX receiver and it worked great when I first used it, then pooped out not three hours later—I think there is a short in the line or something. So naturally, I was frustrated and couldn’t find any answers online. I discovered, thankfully, that if I just unplug the unit from the AUX port before turning the engine on and off, seems to do the trick fine. Just don’t ask me to be a get away driver with good music ready to go!

I went to the eye doctor again and have to go yet another time to get a retina scan to check for any thinning/damage to my eyes as I have high pressure in my left eye (unsurprising?) and I mentioned that I have anxiety and my muscles tend to be stressed to the point of pain sometimes, even in my eye and he said that could be a factor, but might not be. Anyway, I’m hoping that my left eye is free of glaucoma and that I can just be monitored to make sure it doesn’t get worse.

Anyway, I thought I’d mention that I did something fun, by myself in a new place (which is difficult for me). I went to the Troubadour in West Hollywood to see one of my favorite bands, Acceptance, play for the first tour in 10/12 years. It was a great show and I’m going again Monday in Orange County. Should be another good show. Decided to go out afterward to the West Hollywood strip, and that wasn’t as fun as I was hoping, but then again, I wasn’t just going out to go out. The whole thing was a little terrifying, but I’m glad I went out.

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Social Worker

I mentioned in my last post that I’d going to seek mental health care this week. I went yesterday to the Arcadia Mental Health clinic run by LA County.

I suppose first impressions aren’t the best. The building is brand new from what all the employees told me (perhaps that’s why it took me about a week to be able to even make an appointment). I arrived and had to go through some construction work. Before even making it to the front desk, there was a line to head through a metal detector, complete with two security guards. I can understand why they have them, but that didn’t make it any more comfortable for me. The front desk lady wasn’t particularly nice. I’ll explain why all of this later.

Anyway, I was told to bring proof of income, social security card, state-issued ID, and my Medi-Cal card and to be there between 8:00 and 8:30 (not a great window, really, especially have to fight some early morning commuter traffic). I had to see a financial counselor first, who assured me that Medi-Cal would indeed be paying for the treatment. That took an hour wait. After that, it took about 15 minutes to see a Social Worker for the evaluation to see if they could/would be able to help.

The evaluation took about an hour and half, maybe a little bit longer where I told gave him the answers to the questions and talked a little bit about what I was experience. Truthfully, I don’t think he was too concerned, as apparently I’m so not-crazy compared to the people they normally see (which is why metal detector and rather cold staff). Anyway, I have an appointment next week again to do a check-in on the homework I have: reading and doing meditations 11x a day (which feels overly excessive even he said so: then why have me do it? *sigh*). Anyway, probably not the best first impressions, but still, it gives me a place to start and some counseling. Perhaps because I’m feeling mostly normal this week I gave answers to how I’m feeling at the moment?

Conclusion: it went better than I thought it would, though I will not be seeing a psychologist as I expected, but rather a social worked and we’ll see how that turns out. If nothing else, I have confirmation about the anxiety that I’ve been dealing with. I’ll keep you all updated. It’s going to be a rough journey, but today I’m feeling pretty good and hopeful.

Beginning to be Vulnerable

It’s been a difficult week since my last post. I had the worst few days over the weekend than I’ve had in years—lots of physical pain and just in a bad place mentally. I wanted to check in here to let you all know. It’s not an easy journey and thank you for reaching out.

The beginning of the week has been much better. I made it out of the house for a date, a writing group meeting, and dinner out. Tomorrow, I’ll be going to the beach with my brother and his husband. I’m in less physical pain than I have been, thankfully, too. When they both hit at the same time, it’s like there isn’t anything but misery.

Thank you for the support. It means a lot to me and I lose sight of it when I’m in a place where I can’t think of anything but what is bad. I’m hoping this will change. Next week, I will be going into the mental health clinic to go through the hoops to get some beginning treatment. I’m not expecting it make me better. I’m just hoping it gives me a place to start and a place to begin understanding what I’ll have to deal with. Not the easiest, but it is a beginning to something that I’ve needed for a while. Writing about it helps.

I’m focusing on getting better through writing, meditation and learning to let go and accept the situation I am in. I have a plan, albeit a day-by-day situational, but something more than what I had before. Being vulnerable is not an easy task, but I have to be honest with myself, and being held accountable to others about this honesty is perhaps the best way I can deal with this.

Again, thank you.

Mental Health

I don’t often talk about the issues I deal with. For one, it’s not an easy topic to discuss in mainstream culture. And for two, I’m not entirely sure exactly what they are. But I think I have a good idea.

For the past couple years, I’ve been in a tough financial situation and I decided moving back home was a good idea. Financially, it was. Mental health wise, it was probably the worst decision I’ve made in my life.

When I went to UNM (University of New Mexico), I was forced to deal with a lot of problems, and slowly came out of my shell and I think I did pretty good. I had a ton of friends, I did a lot of cool things, and helped the community a bit.

After moving home, my friend pool stagnated and I didn’t really do anything any more. I got a very part time job that I still work out (which I am grateful to have that). I don’t do much in the community because I don’t connect to it in any way. My family is nearly broken apart and I was right in the middle of that.

This is all just background information. Some of you might already know it. But over the past few months, I’ve been slowly realizing that I have pretty bad anxiety and depression. I never though about it before, because I don’t have the “traditional” symptoms. True, I never went out and did anything, but that’s because I didn’t have the money, right?

Avoidance as coping helped me get through the worst of it, but now I need to stop avoiding everything and just avoid the situations that actively cause me stress or trigger the symptoms. Yes, I have them. I don’t have them all exactly, but they stem from someone else being angry at me and reprimanding me. I want to go into hiding, no matter how small, petty, or big of a deal it actually is.

I’m going to seek help. Unfortunately, our mental health system, especially for the poor is outrageous. I have Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid. This system is terrible, barely better than nothing: unless your pregnant or want to overcome addition (thanks asshat Republican ideology). I have a referral to go to a mental health clinic. I have to bring my ID, social security card, Medi-Cal card, proof of income, sit there for three hours for financial screening, other screening, and see a social worker BEFORE I can even see a counselor. And at max, I get eight sessions. Better than nothing, but barely. For someone like me, or other people dealing the mental health issues, these obstacles can be nearly impassible.

But I’m going to try. And every day, I hope I get a little bit better.