Re: my sister, yes, she is doing much better now. Thankfully, she is not SZA, so our conversations about medication and doctors did not require working around paranoia or psychosis. She struggles with bipolar disorder, and is on a really good track now. She is still working with a clinic doctor, but is no longer on the overwhelming hospital tranquilizers. She has two different medications, at a lower dosage, that she takes regularly, and she just started a new job! So things are really moving along for her. She is lucky, we are lucky. I feel really grateful. I try to be there for her as often as possible.
Re: My husband…
yes, we have one psych now, but it’s been a rocky road. We are stabilizing… it’s a constant process, but it feels so much better now than it did even a few months ago. Our current psych is not related to a hospital at all, but is part of a psychiatry practice. I found someone in our insurance network, we had to wait 2 months for an appointment to open up, but we’re in the system now and he has regular monthly appointments.
Let me say, It’s a GAME CHANGER. My husband has asked me to go with him to his appointments so I get as much information as possible. The psych’s office monitors his vitals (blood pressure, weight, etc) and we review every month how the medication is doing, where he is with his symptoms, and what we can do. Sometimes, we leave with a slight adjustment to medication. Most of the time, we leave with no changes to our current routine.
I feel like the lesson i keep having to learn is this…
whether we are struggling with SZA or another mental illness, “support” is the name of the game. Whatever decisions you are making about yourself or your loved ones, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SUPPORT.
That can look like a lot of different things. Maybe you don’t want to take medication. That’s a valid choice! Support in that case might look like… not taking meds, but still seeing a psychiatrist regularly. The psychiatrist cannot demand that you take medication. They can only recommend, and then support your choices. Having a psychiatrist in your corner means, maybe your father doesn’t have to take medication regularly…BUT the next time he becomes symptomatic, it’s solved with an appointment with the psychiatrist, who writes a short-term prescription for a sleep aid, instead of the symptoms building to the point of hospitalization. That’s a choice you can make, but it works best if you’ve taken the steps ahead of time to have supports in place.
Hospitalization is almost always a crisis point. It’s not treatment, it’s another symptom. And that’s part of why it’s a huge huge problem that, for many people with SZA, it’s the ONLY option they have as far as access to care is concerned.
But most mental health care that means anything for a MI person is going to happen outside of a hospital. Think of it this way: if someone is hospitalized for a heart attack, it does not help if they decide, on a gurney in the operating room, that they are going to be vegan and it will solve everything. They’re still having a heart attack. Could eating healthier have prevented a heart attack? Maybe, but they still need immediate care. Can eating healthier in the future avoid another heart attack? Maybe, and they still need immediate care. But it doesn’t help the current crisis to say “oh, doctor, I don’t need bypass surgery, I’ll just eat this salad and be fine.” You have to treat the crisis, AND take steps to support a lifestyle, and it’s an ongoing thing.
Your dad is right that $$$ is a problem. I’ve mentioned before that Latuda was a game changer for my husband. It’s also literally $1500 for a 30 day supply, because there’s no generic version of the drug yet. It’s ridiculously expensive. We cannot afford that! We have really good insurance now (Thank goodness-- we were uninsured for a while, and it was a whole other monster) and Latuda would STILL BE $300/MONTH. Luckily, our psychiatrist was able to give us a discount card that has cut the cost down to just $15/month.
But… The money problem is another reason I’ll swear up and down that having a regular psychiatrist is worth it, even if you don’t want to take regular meds. I had to be upfront and say “Latuda is perfect, but we can’t afford it, what are our other options?” A good doctor will be ready with other options for getting you what you need. The brand name meds too expensive? There should be a generic . The generic doesn’t work as well, or has a lot of side effects? There’s forms the doctor can complete to require your insurance to cover it. A good doctor will listen to what you’re experiencing, and will adjust their treatment accordingly. If they don’t do that, if you don’t feel heard, that’s the cue to start looking for a new doctor.
So… is my husband stable now, or are there still bumps? The answer is yes to both. He’s much more stable than he was. He’s on medication that works for him, and does not make him sicker. He’s got a psychiatrist who listens and helps him keep his meds on the right track. He’s got a therapist, separate from his therapist, who helps him with coping skills and practical skills for dealing with his though disorder. He’s got me, and I try to advocate for him as loudly as I can. He’s got consistency, which gives him a feeling of security. The security ultimately gives him the freedom to actually be himself, as unconfined as possible by his MI.