I know I occasionally rant about the state of mental health care in the U.S. And I know that to a certain extent, I’m preaching to the choir. But this is a blog about mental illness, about mental health. And I would be remiss if I didn’t continue to bang the drum about mental health care in this country.
Five months ago Erik and I moved to Tucson, Arizona. And because I hate change and new doctors and making phone calls, I haven’t found a new psychiatrist yet. I detailed here the experience I had with one therapist here in Tucson. In addition to this ridiculous experience, I’ve also had a maddening experience trying to see doctor’s for other reasons.
Several months ago I had a ridiculous time trying to find an eye doctor who actually knew what they were talking about. It wasn’t until I saw doctor NUBMER FIVE that I received a correct diagnosis of shingles of the eye (which *I* knew I had). When I sprained my ankle a few weeks after moving to Tucson, there was not a single doctor in town (who took my insurance) that could see me inside of three months. I spent three hours at urgent care instead. When I wanted to get set up with a new primary doctor and get a check up, there wasn’t a single doctor in town (who took my insurance) that could see me inside of six months.
Which leads me to this week, where on Monday I finally looked up the list of insurance-approved doctors and started making phone calls. The first four doctor’s offices I called, no one answered the phone. The next three doctor’s offices I called couldn’t see me until JULY. Each of those doctor’s offices gave me the name of another doctor’s office to try, but now I was off my insurance-approved list and when I called them not one of them took my insurance. One of the offices that I called had just gotten a new phone system (noted by a message at the beginning of the automated menu) and suggested to let them know if I had any problems. When I pressed 2 as directed, the message restarted; when I pressed 1 for current patients, the line went dead; when I pressed 3 for a program coordinator, I finally got someone’s voicemail; and unbelievably, when I pressed 0 for the receptionist, I was directed toa menu that allowed me to listen to their messages! It was unbelievably frustrating and not the kind of thing you want to put a mentally ill person through.
Finally, I found a large outfit called CODAC. I called them and got hung up on TWICE before (third time’s the charm) finally getting through a whole conversation. At the end of which they told me I couldn’t make an appointment because they would have to verify my insurance and then call me back in 2-5 days to tell me I can come in on a walk-in basis to see a psychiatrist. That was Monday. It’s Wednesday. No word yet, but I guess two days was the minimum it would take.
I am seeking a psychiatrist because after too many months of being off medication, I am feeling unbalanced. If I hadn’t been feeling unbalanced before, after this ordeal trying to find a new doctor, I definitely am now. And also sad and frustrated and to a certain extent, hopeless. These are the kinds of things that push people over the edge. These are the kinds of things take people from seeking help to crisis. It may not seem like a big deal. It may not seem like it’s worth getting upset about, but when your depressed or angry or hallucinating or fighting your inner demons anything can send you over the edge. Especially if you don’t have a support system in place. I am lucky and blessed. I have a wonderfully supportive husband who will take over and find me a doctor if I need him to. But not everyone has that.
We have to do better.