Thursday, July 26, 2007

Falling Through the Cracks

Finally at 4:30 on Tuesday afternoon the lady from the doctor's office called me back. She made and appointment for me with a psychiatrist (psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, it's all the same to me as long as insurance pays) on September 13th. According to her this was his first available opening.

September 13th. That is not one, not two, not even three or four but SEVEN weeks away!! SEVEN WEEKS!! If I was suicidal I'd be dead by then!! You would think that they would leave a few open minutes every week to meet with new clients. At least evaluate them for need before you make them wait seven weeks to come back.

On top of that, she tells me that this first appointment is just an evaluation to see if I'm depressed and how I'm dealing with the stress of everything.

How I'm dealing??

I can tell you right now how I'm dealing with the stress of everything...

Not very God Damn Well!!

There's a reason I need someone to talk to!!

Beyond the phychiatrist appointment she also told me that none of the counselors on my list from the insurance company were people that they had really had any interactions with so they were leaving it up to me to just pick one and make my own appointment.

Just Pick Someone??

As if I have ANY idea who these people are. So I picked up the list. No one lists any specialties, most of them are just names and numbers. So I got out the phone book thinking there would be yellow page ads saying what they specialize in, etc. No such luck. 99% of the people in the yellow pages are just names and phone numbers. Some of them have degree letters behind their name LFMT, etc. but those letters mean NOTHING to me!!

So my question is... how the hell do you go about picking a counselor?? I feel like I am very much falling through the cracks of a system which is designed to help people in need but is failing miserably at it's job.

Right after Jake left I went from a two income family to a one income family. I was STRUGGLING!! So I turned to the system. I figured there had to be SOMETHING out there to help people like me. I couldn't be the only one in this boat. A lot of people recommended I go to DHS so that is what I did.

I filled out a stack of paperwork that all stated if your bills are more than your income than you may qualify for this type of aid. I wasn't poor but I had fallen on unexpected circumstances. Then this happened and I quickly realized that I make too much money for anyone to help me but not enough money to pay my bills.

I was stuck at the crossroads where a lot of people in my situation probably would have had to sell their house or file bankruptcy. Luckily I have family support. But I know not everyone does. Yet there is no state agency, no private foundation, NOTHING set up to help people who are in similar situations.

And I feel very much the same way about this counseling thing. I feel like there is a crack in the system and I'm falling through it. I have expressed a desire to get help yet there is no one there to point me in the right direction. There is no registry that says these counselors specialize in this and these take insurance and these are private pay. There is just a phone book with a lot of names and numbers in it and a lot of people who are hurting and have no idea where to turn.

How do I know who is going to know about addiction from a list of names and numbers? I don't. So I could call someone and get a counselor that specializes in children who have been abused. I don't need a counselor who specializes in that. I need one that specializes in addiction.

I need one that will take my insurance....

But I also need one that knows at least a little something about the problems that I am having. So, to find that person I have to look in the phonebook, pick a name, call them up, leave a message (like I said most of them are just a one man/woman show), tell them what I'm looking for, and wait for a call back.

Then when I FINALLY do find someone who SAYS they know something about addiction I have no recommendation. So I don't know if they are any good or not. Therefore, I have to go to them, give them my insurance information, tell them my little story, have a session or two with them and see if they are a quack or not. If they are then I have to start the whole process over again.

Let me clue you in on a little something. Asking someone who had a hard enough time reaching out for help in the first place to start calling people in the hopes of finding a counselor who can help them is almost a guaranteed way for them to just refuse to go get help.

Luckily I did have a name. My old doctor had given me the name of a lady and while she isn't on my insurance list I did call them and figure out that I can still go to her. So I called her and I have an appointment for 3:00 today.

At least it is a starting point. And one day, when I win the lottery I'm going to start a foundation that helps people who go from two income families to one income families. I want to help them restructure their finances or downsize their household or pay bills while the other person is away. And I want to help them find counseling to deal with the stress of going from a two income household to a one income household and also the stress of bringing the second person back into the household when/if that is going to happen.

Because for God's Sake people... I can NOT be the only person who has gone through this!!


Todd S said...

Don't worry hon you aren't the only one. I had the same problem a while back. I was working two jobs just to stay a dollar ahead but was making too much to get ANY help. I ended up taking a leave at one job just so I could get help with Sean's daycare. I know all about it, and having family around has saved my ass more than once. Good luck at the appointment today.

Shane and Jessica Olson said...

I think what you have gone through trying to get help is absolutely obsurd ... however ... you should not have stood for this (If you don't take your health into your own hand it's obvious no one else will.) Call someone else, Call again and again and again until they get you in or get you somewhere that will! That is rediculous on there part. I am appauled!

I am very glad you are finally getting in at 3 today! I can't wait to hear how it goes and your thoughts on it all!

Kbreints said...

You took the words right out of my mouth! The entire time I was reading your post, I was thinking "Heather needs to put together an organization to help people such as herself to not fall through these cracks.

oh- I think that you need to remember this...

Gullebarn said...

I've been lurking on your site for a while. I am so sorry you are going through all this. Hang in there! Especially for your little guy. Things will look brighter soon. You sound like a very smart girl. You have a lot on your plate. Take it one day at a time.

Lynanne said...

Finding a counselor is a lot like finding a good doctor - sometimes the best recommended, highest-qualified, most specialized professional turns out to be the worst counselor for YOU. Sure they may know the rhetoric and know how to say the right things for someone in your situation. But, you’re smart - you know those things and probably have read about what you should do to help yourself and your family. I’ve found that a counselor without the fancy schmancy qualifications can be FAR better at actually listening and helping a person work through their feelings and struggles.

As far as how to actually find this person – it’s a lot like finding a good friend. You just have to take a chance to see if you click with the person. You’ll probably figure it out after a meeting or two. Remember that this is going to be a slow process. You didn’t start to feel the way you do overnight. At first it may feel liberating to talk to someone and unload your feelings. After a few sessions you might get frustrated because the counselor doesn’t actually seem to be DOING anything for you. Give it time – you alone have to find your path. The counselor is just there to grab your hand when you stumble.

Anonymous said...

I am here with a recommendation. Kavalier and Associates. I go to them, 2 of my co-workers go to them. They have been rated as one of the best's therapists in the state of Iowa. They are AMAZING. Call them- 267-1003 Tell them that you are 5 mins from jumping in front of a bus.

Anonymous said...

best's... I'm a dumbAss

Evil Stepmother said...

Just a newbie, but I had an idea....

Check with your local al-anon group or similar to see if they have counselors who refer to them or work closely with them. If they have a list, you can cross-check it with your insurance company's list.

Good luck. I'm thinking about you.

cousin Laura said...

A friend of mine is a substance abuse counselor in Des Moines, and she recommended to try Mercy Franklin and Al-Anon.