Tag Archives: anxiety

Health Insurance, School, and Money

Our new healthcare plan rolled out and I’m totally screwed.  Both of my doctors will now be out of network.  The deductible for out of network providers is $2500 per person $5000 for the family.  Once I hit that number, they only cover 60% of each visit.  My therapist charges about $170 for an hour so that’s $340 a month right there before the deductible gets met.  Then I have my med doctor and I haven’t asked her what she charges yet.

Then there’s my medication.  Abilify will still run me a whopping $150 a month.  Most of my medications will now classify as maintenance medication and will be 100% covered so that saves me about $25 a month.  My Adderall isn’t covered so that’s $10.  My Xanex isn’t covered so that’s another $10.

On top of my crazy, there’s my migraines.  My shots cost $200.  My pills cost $150.  My doctor for that is in network at least and will be covered at 80% after meeting at $1500 deductible for each individual or $3000 for family.

My rough estimates put us at somewhere between $12,000-$16,000 next year in health care costs between the actual cost of the insurance, doctor visits, medication, and a few potential ER visits that happen every year.  If anything major happens that number will skyrocket.

I honestly dont’t know how we can afford over $1000/m in healthcare.  That’s ridiculous.  How can they get away with charging people that?!  If I don’t take my meds I can’t function.  If I don’t go to the doctor I can function, but not as well.  It’s imperative that I stay on track but damn if they don’t try to make it impossible.

I found a clause that’s called “transition of care” that says if you have a major medical condition and your provider will no longer be in network that they could offer in network benefits for a certain timeframe due to the change over.  I spent THREE hours on the phone with the insurance company and my HR department in regards to this.  The insurance company was fairly helpful but said they would not have full details until next month.  They said to contact my HR department since my benefits enrollment was now to see what could be done.

I called HR who said they didn’t know what I was talking about and to find another doctor.  My hatred for my HR never ceases.  I had to walk them through their own website to show them the clause.  They got their supervisor who proceeded to also say to get another doctor and was I sure I double checked both healthcare options to make sure they weren’t in network on one of them.  I got quite pissy and read them the page word for word and gave them the checklist of why exactly I qualified and asked them why they weren’t willing to provide benefits in accordance with their policy.  They said they’d have to research it and get back to me.  *SIGH*

In light of the crazy increase in my healthcare alongside with my husband’s company’s lack of work and sending him home early – we are officially broke and likely will continue to be so for some time to come.  Registration for spring semester is coming up and I have a big old $0 available for tuition.  I can’t get a loan from anyone and my mom has officially decided she will neither sign nor give me funds.  So at this point, going to school next semester is a no go.

I don’t much care for wasting time and energy.  Both are resources that are limited and precious to me.  Giving them up causes me stress and exhaustion.  The way I figure, if I can’t go to school, I might as well drop this semester as well.  Why bother spending all the time if it doesn’t amount to anything?  I’m stressed as hell lately, depressed, overwhelmed, just…ugh.

Mom says she is willing to pay for me to go back not this coming semester but the next if I take one or two classes at a time as the cost will be lower and then take breaks when money is low.  So she says I should finish this semester because then that’s four less classes I’ll need to take should I be able to go back.

At this point though I’m so tired and exhausted I’m just done with it.  If I go back I’ll just take the classes again.  I only started in late August so it was only a waste of about two months.  Classes don’t end until end of December and I don’t think I can do three more months of this right now.  I need some time to collect myself.  Work and health insurance has me done in.

Now my mom is pissed with me as usual because she thinks I should at least take two classes and only drop two.  I have an all or nothing attitude (which she hates).  I’m either gonna finish all of them or just drop until I can afford to go back.  She keeps yelling at me and saying I don’t listen to reason and that I’ve wasted money etc.  She always makes me feel like shit.  I know she doesn’t intend to, but that’s what she does.

I don’t know what to do because I don’t want to piss her off but I don’t want to finish the semester either.  I tried to get an appointment with my therapist today but she was on vacation.  I discovered today that I am unable to make big decisions without my therapist to tell me what to do.  Well, walk me through to coming to a decision.  On my own I just make mushy decisions that I can’t quite commit to.

I’ve already pretty much screwed myself if I decide to stay in for the semester because I had a math test tonight and decided to say screw it and didn’t take it.  So yeah.  I’m just done with it all.

Just for good measure once more – screw shitty health insurance for putting me in this predicament.


On fear of the dark and fear of night lights

My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.

Quote from Montaigne.  Found in a chapter given to me by my therapist.  How appropriate.

At our first meeting, my therapist request that I work on a list of things that cause me anxiety.  It took a good two hours and three small sheets of paper, but I did it.  We haven’t done it up in tiers, but my guess is when we do, I’ll list darkness pretty close to the top.

Because it took our whole hour session for me to get through my list, I got very little homework my second session.  One big item I did get was relating to my fear of the dark.  She asked me what I did at bedtime, to which I replied that I sleep with the TV on.  She asked if I ever considered a noise machine.  I explained that I muted the TV right before I went to sleep and that I only keep it on for the light.  Apparently, this is not as normal as I thought it was.

I guess my thought process was that night lights were for kids and TVs were adult toys, so having a TV on was more adult and thus less embarrassing.  She says most adults if they keep TVs on at night do so for background noise, not for the light.  Well, boo.  I hate when I think I’m doing something at least somewhat normal and find out that I’m not.  She said far more adults use, wait for it….night lights.  So I was way off the mark.

So my homework was to get a night light and turn off the TV.  I thought this sounded really simple.  I ended up getting a kids nightlight even though it defeated my original logic because it was cute and seemed to emit the most light and figured I could step down to a smaller one as I got more comfortable.  It has less glow than a TV but a blue hue to it so it has a similar feel.  It’s called a Little Tyke I believe.  It doesn’t look too childish like a Pixar Princess nightlight or anything.

So last night, I watched TV for a while, felt myself getting sleepy, and turned the TV off for the first time since I’ve had a TV in my room.  It took everything in me not to have a panic attack and I have no clue why.  The room was well lit.  I could see things just as well as I could with the TV on, which isn’t as clear as with the lights on of course, but not as scary as with nothing.  Something about the change from my routine threw me off bad and my heart started racing like crazy and my palms were sweating and my breathing got shallow.

I went on like this for about fifteen minutes arguing with myself in my head about turning the TV back on.  I started doing my deep breathing because things were getting worse and if I didn’t calm my breathing down I would have had a full blown panic attack and 10:30pm is not a good time to have those, not that they’re great at any time.  It took a good thirty minutes for the panic to finally subside.  Thirty minutes.  Over a night light.  Then, once the panic died down, I couldn’t sleep because my body was so keyed up from being in “flight” mode.   I probably didn’t actually get to sleep until midnight last night.

Probably not the best thing to do on a Sunday.  But in my defense I thought a night light was going to be no big deal.

I have positive and negative things to say about my night light experience.

On the plus side, I freaked out but I got through it and didn’t turn the TV back on.  Which means I’m one baby step closer (I guess) to being over my fear of the dark.

On the down side, had you asked me before I did this what my anxiety might have risen to at it’s peak when I did this I might have guessed a 2 when in reality it hit about an 8.  So baby steps apparently are baby steps on a rope suspended across buildings over open flames, not baby steps on soft feathery pillows as I’d hoped.

I hope all exposure therapy steps are not quite so difficult.  It would be nice to have some easy wins in there.  I thought this would be an easy win, but alas no.

All in all, I do have something to be proud of though.

On trying to be crunchy

I guess my placebo effect is starting to wear off.  Yesterday I almost had a panic attack while driving because my husband didn’t answer his phone.  I spent thirty minutes just sure that he was dead.  I also almost bought a brand new car, though I still might because others tell me it’s a good idea.  That’s the only way for me to tell if I’m just being crazy.

Today, I couldn’t seem to stop talking.  I kept telling myself to shut up, but my mouth didn’t listen.  My thoughts are still streamlined and not intrusive, but I can’t seem to shut up.  I woke up full of energy.  I cleaned baseboards.  I didn’t nap all weekend.

I also decided to try juicing.  Ever since my son was born, I’ve been heavy on the organic food train.  When I was pregnant, I bought books on how to make baby food.  Everyone said I wouldn’t do it, which made me want to do it more.  It lasted about a week, as these things do, before I was exhausted and overwhelmed and pissed that I couldn’t even food process.  My son is also the Pickiest Eater Ever, as confirmed by daycare.  My mom makes most of his meals and freezes them so he can eat healthy organic versions of whatever I can convince him to eat.  When I try to cook for him, he gets two amazing meals and then sandwiches.  I just can’t manage 40+ hours at work, parenting, and master chef.  Some days I’m impressed I have the energy to make a sandwich.

At one point, we were buying a lot of fresh produce and organics from one of the healthy food stores.  This was before I started using budget software.  We were always broke and I couldn’t figure out why.  Turns out for me and my son to eat the kind of healthy I’d prefer we needed to spend upwards of $2000/m.  I’m sure people manage all organic cheaper, but I don’t know how.  So now I get what I can organic and fret about the rest, but suck it up so we can afford to send him to school.

Wal-Mart sells one organic juice.  I’m not too big on juices in general, but I figured once and while was okay.  Fresh juice got in my head this weekend because I’m forever lamenting the lack of nutrients in store juice and since my son is such a picky eater, I have to sneak what I can in what he will eat or drink.

Turns out, my mom had a juicer.  Good thing, cause I can test if he likes it, if I’ll stick with it, and if it’s worth the money before blowing $100.  Since it was an old juicer, it was without an instruction booklet.  I thought the container area was where the juice went.  It’s not.  There’s a hidden spout you’re supposed to put a cup under.  I didn’t, and made a mess.  Once that issue was fixed, I made foamy apple juice.  It kinda looked gross, but I don’t like store apple juice, so I don’t know how much my opinion counts.  My husband did agree though.

At first, my son would have none of it because I was diluting it.  Once I gave it to him just plain, he loved it!  I’m thrilled!  Something good for him that he likes!

There’s always a “but.”  It was pretty labor intensive to do, which could be helped by a newer juicer, but I’m not sure how much.  When the hypomanic high finally wears down and it’s 9pm after a long day at work and a long night at home, will I still be juicing?  I’d like to say yes, but my husband tells me I better not spend any money until I have some solid time behind me.  He cited the twice used food processor I insisted on last cooking attempt.

We’ll see how it goes I guess.

Can medicine work in two days?

On my mood chart today, I charted all 5’s.  There were some times that probably could have been a low 6, but I was generous with my number again.  I bought a few things, but perhaps more out of the habit of buying things on my lunch break every day.  Well, probably not.  My anxiety levels were kinda through the roof for a few hours though so I’m not sure what’s going on with that.  I don’t know if it’s a side effect issue or just a me issue.

I kinda hate when I feel better one or two days in on a new med because I know the med isn’t working that fast and it becomes hard to tell if I’m just breaking out of the cycle or if the medication is working.  Not that I’m complaining, more just wondering if it’s possible for a medicine to work quickly.  Three days in on Topamax I felt better and then two days after that I was right back.  I think I give myself pre-kick-in placebo effects sometimes.  I want them to work so bad I trick myself into thinking they are but I can only fool my brain for a few days.

Anxiety today was mostly more work stuff.  I have to go out of town on a business trip which is always high stress for me.  I can’t fly, so I get to drive for hours.  I’m a picky eater and they supply food I can’t eat.  Then there’s the worst part – hotels.  Hotels are big on my list of things I just don’t like.  I hate being alone at night and I’ll be alone.  In a hotel.  I don’t know why hotels freak me out but they do.  I feel like I’m going to get killed or something.  Or that the hotel will be haunted by ghosts of people who might have died there.  All sorts of random things I just don’t like.  So I spent at least two hours today freaking out over it.

I’m sure I had more to day, but my brain just turned off and I can’t remember anything else from today and everything is suddenly kinda fuzzy.  So I guess I’m done.

Don’t ask, don’t tell

When I check my site stats it says people are getting here from my comment on the blog post I linked to yesterday.  I didn’t leave a comment though.  I just linked.  But for some reason, my blog appears as a comment.  I was gonna open with something else, but now I’m creeped out by my computer commenting on people’s blogs just because I link to them.  I kinda don’t want that post linked because I’m not as optimistic in my musings about calling and things because I just don’t have a wide audience.  There’s no one to post that info for really.   I linked just in case though, but now if depressed people are getting back to my site I’m kinda upset because my views aren’t great if you’re depressed.  Meh.  Stupid technology and it’s creepiness.

Today was mostly a good day.  Except for the above and the killer migraine I finally had to break down and take Dilaudid for.

My son graduated speech therapy today with “high average” scores.  I’m a proud mama bear!!  He’s always been smart, but he was slow to pick up on talking and has been in speech therapy.  He’s been doing amazing lately, so they tested him and he passed!!   I’m worried about sliding back now that he won’t be seeing someone every week, but I’m so proud of how much he’s accomplished.  He’s a really bright kid, and now I have test scores to say I’m not just being a mom about it!

Mood wise, I didn’t peak above a high range 6 today, which was nice.  Mid-day it was on the real high end of what I’d still consider a 6 and I was probably being generous with the numbers, but that’s where I ranked it when I was there, so I don’t wanna mess with my charts.

However, I did get my usual 5000 thoughts per second deal again today (likely the cause of my four day migraine – why I’m even on here I don’t know).  In those thoughts, I started to stress about something at work that was brought up in the peak of my mania and I just haven’t had time to obsess over it.  Luckily, my brain was slow enough today to allow some time to obsess once the thought made its way in the rotating tape deck of my mind.

At some point, I’m not sure when, I was told that when I get to my new office, I should not discuss my illness with coworkers.  Basically a gag order on what’s wrong with me, as my husband put it.  My boss told me this.  I guess it doesn’t look good to be the person that hired the crazy girl.  I get that.  There’s some issues though…

Anyone with any serious illness has to deal with how to handle discussion of said illness at work.  I’ve tried different ways, and now what I do is within a month, everyone that deals with me a lot at work gets a talk about what’s wrong with me and how best to deal.  If we just say hi to each other, then it’s not your business.  But if it’s your job to have to deal with me in any fashion (liner, above me, or below me) I feel like I need to explain why I’m going to be a pain.

I used to not tell anyone because that’s what my mom advised me.  The thing is, it’s not like you can’t tell.  In small doses, I come off as “not average” but no one that sits with me for an hour is gonna conclude I’m really crazy.  Probably just “eccentric” or “different” or something else.  Even a few days and it might go undetected.  After a month, people start asking questions.  Or worse, making assumptions about things that are far off the mark and making it gossip.  If “Kira’s crazy” is fact and not rumor, it’s not as exciting to talk about.  Comments that get made are usually the same ones that they would say in front of me, not in hushed voices after I leave a room.  In high school everyone though I was going to blow up the school because I didn’t really talk about my issues at school.  I got kicked out because they thought I was going to kill people.  I promise, as much as I hated high school, I wasn’t going to kill anyone.  I was just sick.  If you don’t explain, people tend to assume things that are worse than the truth.  I’d rather be “bipolar” than “potential assassin.”

Even if people don’t think I’m going to kill them, I miss days at work a lot either due to my mental illness making me physically ill or just the mental illness itself.  Without HR to back me up, I’d be out of a job.  So in that case, at least someone has to know why I’m missing so many days.  It’s not for trips to Hawaii or extra three day weekends.  When I’m out, I need to be.

And if that’s not enough, if they don’t assume I’m a serial killer waiting to happen, all my ticks and oddities could be signs of about 9 different personality disorders.  If I take internet tests I score above 70% on all but one or two.  It’s not that I have them, but that bipolar can sometimes mean “all encompassing crazy.”  I’ve never figured out if this is the illness itself or just having to deal with it that causes all these other problems, but a lot of them remain even at “normal” mood levels.  I’m diagnosed bipolar, ADD, PTSD, and GAD.  I have hints of OCD and other such lovelies in there just because of my bipolar, not because I’m really OCD.  My anxiety is a daily issue.  So they’ll come up with way more problems than I actually have trying to come up with it on their own.

I don’t wanna be the girl with 20 disorders.  I’ll take my bipolar plus two (PTSD is pretty much gone).  I don’t like thinking that people would think I’m 20 kinds of crazy when I’m only really one.

I’d get all the cover up if I sucked at my job or something, but the thing is I’m really good at it.  Not in an egotistical way.  I can pull my numbers versus others and I’m usually top 25% in the company.  So my results tend to mean my crazy is magically easier to tolerate.  Such is corporate America.  If I was bottom 10%, I doubt they’d deal with me long.

Without being labeled “bipolar” I’d probably get “bitchy, high maintenance, and difficult.”  I am these things, but I do have a reason.

Some examples?  I can’t have people behind me if I’m on the computer.  This is an anxiety related issue as best I can tell, as I have panic attacks if people stand behind me when I’m on a computer.  I can’t be in buildings alone or in the dark, which means I can’t open or close anything ever.  Again, anxiety.

My memory is non-existant as possible without qualifying for Alzheimer’s.  To combat this, I notate obsessively.  If I talk to someone, as soon as they leave (and sometimes while they talk) I make notes.  If I work on a task and have to stop before it’s done, I have to make notes on where I am, what I’m trying to do, and what’s left to do.  I have to set myself reminders to finish.  While I’m making these notes, no one can talk to me.  Not even a two word sentence.  If they do, the memory gets fuzzy and I’m screwed.  Depending on my mood, this can result in me being very mean to someone who should know better.  I classify this in the “OCD like” things, though I’m not sure if it goes there.  The blame on this one is going to years of bipolar medications that make you stupid.  Plus ADD means I can’t concentrate well.  Double whammy.

Things have to be in certain places, organized certain ways.  If it’s not, I can’t do anything else until it’s right.  Pens go a certain place.  Paper goes a certain place.  Files are organized in a particular manner.  If anything is out of place, sometimes it will take me two hours of frantic freak out to get things just so again.  Thus, no one can sit at my desk, otherwise I waste a lot of day fixing.  I don’t like to waste time at work.  I like to work.  So it just makes more sense if people don’t use my desk unless there is no other choice.

My moods shift, so things that I laugh about one day can make me cry the next.  I try to be aware and give forewarning on mood changes and after you get to know me, the things that will set me off become more predictable.  If I can’t come in and say “today’s a depressed day” I just know I’m gonna end up crying at work over something stupid and everyone will think I’m PMSing or pregnant or something.

I can’t multitask.  At all.  I can do one thing with intense focus (with Adderall) and perfection level precision. Try to add just one more task in, and I can’t do either.  If I’m typing, I can’t talk.  If I’m talking, I can’t listen or write.  No clue what this one is attributed to.  I just know I get frustrated and pissed if people try to throw multitasking my way.  I can finish one thing and go to another in a quick enough way that I can create an appearance of multitasking though (because everyone wants someone who can multitask).

The upside to a lot of these is that I do things perfectly. Not always, but for the most part, people know if they give something to me it gets 120% of my attention until it’s just right.  I get things done fast and accurately.  Very rarely do I have mistakes at work.  I thought I was missing a signature once at my old office and the assistant that checked all that stuff was confused.  Turns out, it didn’t need one, but the system doesn’t check to see if it’s needed, just if it was there.  So it flagged even though it shouldn’t have.  That’s the level of consistency I generally produce.  Things get done right or not at all.

I give the appearance in short term of just being super organized.  It’s only when things aren’t done in my special way that the crazy part is painfully obvious.  The way I react is anything but normal.  If I mess up, I freak about it for lengthy periods, sometimes months.  If things are out of place, I lose my mind very literally.  I wasn’t always this way.  Living with bipolar had made me start to develop these “ticks” to get through the day.  If I don’t do them, I suck at my job because I forget what I’m supposed to be doing other than the most basic job description.  Plus routines keep my mood in check (to a point).

Oh, I also have to work a set schedule because of that.  If you need me there for 8:00am any day, that means I come in at 8:00 every day, or my body will either not allow me to wake up or a fifteen minute change in the time I wake up for a one day event will screw my moods up for a month.  Daylight savings is especially fun for me.  I can work in “7:30am every Monday, 8:30am Tuesday-Friday” or something so long as it’s the same every week.  I don’t know why, but I guess the week is what my body uses for basing routines, not a day.  So I can sleep in on a Sunday and not get messed up, but if I sleep in on a Monday I generally do get off track.

It’s all very complex and exhausting for me.  For other people, it’s just easier to know what my limitations are up front and how to deal with them.  That way I’m the most productive me I can be, and everyone usually benefits.  Like I said, if I’m not freaking out, I do an amazing job.  It just takes me a little effort to get there.

If I can’t explain these limitations, how will people manage to work with me?  How do I say “don’t sit at my desk” without sounding like I’m being a bitch for no reason?  How do I say “don’t stand behind me” without sounding like I’m paranoid or just being dramatic?  Once bipolar is established, I generally can say “sorry, it’s my crazy issues” with a laugh and people kinda shake their heads but comply.

The times I’ve tried to use the underlying issues on some of them (ADD, anxiety), they become too relatable to “normal” issues.  If I say I can’t step on the chair because I’m scared of heights, people relate it to something they have a fear of at a normal person’s level.  A normal person can be scared of heights, yet stand on a step stool.  I can’t.  I’ll have a panic attack.  I overreact.  “Turned up to 11” at all times.  People scared of spiders can kill a small one if needed.  I can’t.  I run like I’m in the Amazon and some terrible man eating creature is after me.  The “anxiety” is too relatable and therefore people expect a relatable response that that won’t get.  A “I’m scared but can still do it” response.  Not me.

Conversations have been tried this way.  “I’m sorry, I have anxiety issues, but if you let me take my medication I can probably do it in about 10 minutes.”  This gets an “oh, you’ll be fine!  It’s no big deal!” every time.  Without fail.  Or “you’ll get used to it!”  Maybe you.  Not me.  It’s not that simple.  If it was, I wouldn’t be crazy anymore.  I’d have “stopped” or “gotten over it” all a long time ago.  So then I end up with “look, I have bipolar.  I can’t do [insert scenario here].”  Then it’s big and scary sounding and they back off.

How do I get that result without the “I’m bipolar” in front of it?  I’ve never found a way.

I don’t want to cause lots of issues because I can’t explain my limitations.  I don’t want my work to suffer simply because I can’t tell people not to touch my papers or not to talk to me until I finish typing.  I also don’t want them assuming I’m 20 kinds of crazy or that I’ll kill them just because they touch my stuff.  I just want to do my job and do it well.  Which I can, if people all agree to play nice with my imbalanced head.

I have no idea what to do.  I’m very stressed about it.  I’m also annoyed about being given a gag order on an illness.  Do you ask the people with diabetes not to talk about it and we can all just assume the needles are for heroin or something?  Or the frequent snacks are an excuse for extra breaks?  No, you tell people so they know you’ll have needles and might need a cheese stick or whatever if your blood sugar drops.  No one puts gag orders on diabetes.  Or any other type of illness.  Add this to “reasons why mental illnesses can suck more than physical ones.”  I need one of those fancy brain scans to show to people.

Suggestions encouraged here because I’m really at a loss.  Husband says “just let them think whatever and deal with it” because that’s just how he is.  If people hate him, he doesn’t care.  If people think he’s going to kill them, well then they stay away and all the better for him.  I’m not like that.  I have no friends, but I do like talking to people, at least when I’m at work.  I hate feeling alone at work.  Work gives me a community feeling I don’t get anywhere else.  Sad but true.  Plus my job relies on cooperation from coworkers, so them hating me will impact my bottom line and theirs too.

I feel like I’m screwed.  *sigh*