Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Despair and an angel named Sharon



I cried at the bad news. I cried when there was no news. And finally, I cried at the good news.
I’ve cried a lot in the last two weeks.
Sometimes I couldn’t stop crying. The tears just poured out. And one day, the particularly bad day, I knew the tears were part of a larger problem.
I learned once again that physically, I have to be on antidepressants and on the right dose of antidepressants. My depression is a medical problem, an illness.
I wasn’t sure if I should share this story. I don’t want to appear weak. It’s not easy for me to admit how dark life can seem sometimes.
But this is a blog about my journey through life with mental illness. That journey sometimes turns dark. Without warning.
Part of what I’m here to say is that if you feel that darkness, you are not alone. You are not alone. And it can get better.

Over two weeks ago, on July 20, I dropped off the prescription for my antidepressant at the pharmacy. I had run out of refills, but my doctor had given me another prescription at my last visit.
The pharmacist tried to fill it but told me that my insurance company wouldn’t authorize payment for the prescription because of the dosage.
This was nothing new. Periodically my insurance company does this. I take a higher dose than the usual, so every so often, my doctor’s office has to talk with the insurance company and get approval. The only problem is I never know when this is going to happen.
The pharmacist said she would fax the doctor’s office the request for authorization. They wouldn’t get it until their office opened on Monday.
I was OK. The pharmacist gave me a few of the pills to last a few days so I wouldn’t go without while waiting.
By Wednesday, I hadn’t heard anything, so I called the doctor’s office. I was told they were waiting on the authorization.
I won’t bore you with all the details of what followed. In summary, the doctor’s office kept telling me the authorization hadn’t come through. The pharmacist gave me all the pills she could without filling the prescription. The price for the prescription without insurance was exorbitant.
I started taking half my dose to save pills.

I did all I could to hold on, to keep fulfilling my responsibilities, to interact with others as normally as possible.
I found out fairly quickly that half the dose of the medication was not doing the job. My anxiety was sky high. I’d become aware that I was clenching my hands in tight fists. I had a hard time focusing. I had trouble sleeping.
I was simultaneously so depressed that all I could think of was how hopeless my life was. I was sure my life was never going to get back on the right track. I didn’t want to live.

Last Friday morning, I had a panic attack.
I sat on the bed and sobbed. My chest and both arms hurt. The pain made me breathless. I remember thinking that perhaps I was having a heart attack. And I didn’t care.
By Monday afternoon, I decided to do something besides wait for others to fix my problem.
I decided to call the insurance company myself.
I talked with a woman named Sharon.
“We can fix this,” she said after hearing my story and looking at my record.
She called the pharmacy while I was on the phone, then came back on the line and told me again that she would fix it so I could get my prescription. She would call me back, hopefully that day.
“If you can take care of this, you will be my angel,” I said.
“Well, I’m going to be because I’m going to call you back today,” she said.
And she did. She fixed it. I picked up the prescription Monday night.

I learned a lot about self-advocacy during this episode. There’s a lot I want to say about that. But I’ll save that for another post.
For today, I’m just thankful for medication that keeps the scary depression and anxiety at bay. And I’m thankful for angels named Sharon.

Have you received help from any angels lately?


54 comments:

  1. Hi Tina, I am very glad that you shared this...and no, you are not weak! As far as I am concerned, anyone who is able to admit that they have a problem and are able to reach out are not weak. It takes a lot of courage, strength and energy to spill out our feelings, and so I am glad you did. I have been in your position as far as not having money to get a prescription and I understand what you experienced here. I am just so glad it got sorted out. Sending you a hug. Take some time for yourself...take a nice shower, put on some soft music (or nature sounds), spend time with your cat. I am sure that you feel a sense of relief that your prescription got sorted out and that you shared your feelings and experience here.

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    1. Thank you, Linda. Here's a hug back. :-) I am feeling relief. I had to work a very long day yesterday, but I'm going home and taking a nap today.

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  2. Oh my goodness Tina! I'm so happy that Sharon came through for you. How horrible that that happened to you, because, seemingly of office and pharmacy red tape. I don't understand insurance company policy. You're a human being, not a piece of paper that gets put at the bottom of a stack until someone 'approves' you. I'm relieved for you that you got the medication you need! I wish i could give you a big comforting hug. But i can send love and support long distance, and i do.

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    1. Thank you, Mary. I appreciate the long distance good wishes! I don't understand the red tape either. In the end, it was so unnecessary.

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  3. God bless the Sharon's of the world. And you have more strength and willpower than you realize because the idea of talking OR dealing with insurance companies scares into inaction. So good for you!

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    1. Thanks, Kathy. We are all blessed because there are people like Sharon who step up and do what needs to be done.

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  4. I'm so happy that your were able to get this rectified. My boyfriend has had the same problem a number of times with his medications for arthritis. It's a very expensive medication and I think the ins. co. does it on purpose so they won't have to pay for it. It's despicable that they do this to their own customers.

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    1. Thank you, Kara. I don't understand why the insurance company does this either. The doctor and patient should be the chief ones making decisions about the proper medication and dosage, I think. I'm sorry your boyfriend has had to go through this too.

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  5. Wow Sharon really was an angel! It's so neat how, even with companies deemed to be as impersonal as insurance companies are, that there are so many wonderful people working for them. People like you and me. SHe is one of those. ANd yes I am very thankful for the angel that saved me from the rip current :)

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    1. Thanks, Keith. I am grateful that there are people like Sharon, too. And I am grateful that YOU had an angel there when you needed her.

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  6. Oh Sharon is indeed an angel this would have been a very scary time for you. It makes me angry when insurance companies or someone behind a desk does not realize the importance of these medications. Thank you Sharon for helping our Tina you are an angel. Tina I am so happy you are alright.
    I have had a few angels this last week it has been quite a challenge I have to say. Thank goodness for angels. HUGS B

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    1. Thank you, B. Hugs to you, too! I do think the whole medical system gets so impersonal sometimes. I felt like it was. Good luck with all the hard work you're doing!

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  7. I am so sorry you had to wait. God Bless a woman named Sharon!

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    1. Thank you, Jill, and I echo that--God bless Sharon!

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  8. oh, bless that woman for taking matters into her hands! and bless you for doing the same.

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    1. Thanks, Theresa. You don't know how glad I was when I heard Sharon say she was going to take care of it. It was such a feeling of relief and gratitude.

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  9. Bless that angel Sharon.

    I'm so so sorry you have been going through this.

    I'm so glad it's taken care of now and you will start to feel better.

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth. I am starting to feel better. I'm so glad not to be waiting for resolution anymore.

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  10. Tina, so glad you made that call and so glad you got your prescription filled! You have such a way of describing depression that I can totally relate with, and it breaks my heart.

    Proud of you.

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    1. Thank you, Jackie. I'm sorry that you know what depression feels like.

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  11. oh my Tina, what a horrible situation to find yourself in but WOW you did it, you fixed it, you with the kindness and keeping her word Sharon-I see two angels here...I am glad you shared, I think it important that we hear about your different phases and I am a firm believer that sharing lightens the burden most of the time. Or if it doesn't lighten it, it helps clarify things in our own minds you have a magic way with words. So a big thank you for this post,

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    1. Thank you, Lynn. I think sharing burdens does make them feel lighter, and writing about them does help me think things out. And support like yours helps tremendously, too. :-)

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  12. Isn't it odd that if we have a broken limb, we don't think we're weak...if we have diabetes, we don't think we're weak...but if we have untreated mental illness, we judge it and feel shame for our symptoms? When we are authentic and real, we give others permission to do the same. Thanks for taking the high road and telling the truth.

    Thank God for people like Sharon, who can be life savers.

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    1. Thank you, Nadine. That's such a good observation, that we tend to more easily link weakness with mental illness than with physical illness. We shouldn't do that. And yes, people like Sharon can definitely be life savers.

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  13. Being able to share your story shows how strong you are Tina, not weak. I am so sorry this happened to you..it makes me so angry that because of red tape you had to suffer so much. I'm glad you took matters into your own hands and as wonderful as Sharon is, I can't help thinking that how she treated you is how we should all be treated all of the time. Sadly, we have a ways to go in that department. Glad you are back on track..........

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    1. Thank you, Janet. You are so right--everyone should have the benefit of having help like Sharon gave. Too many people are left without such care and concern--and action.

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  14. I am so sorry you had too go through this. Thank goodness for Sharon. I hope it gets easier for you. Guys to you.

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    1. Thank you, Lisa. It is getting easier. I'm very thankful.

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  15. Happy tears. :) So glad Sharon did that for you!

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    1. Thank you, Kristina. I appreciate your support.

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  16. Self Advocacy is sometimes the only way.
    I am soooo happy to hear that you've got a stabilized dosage... with depression and can several 'tries' to get that right and while trying it can be crucial to the body and emotional health.
    Good for you, Tina!!!!!!!
    and hoping for no more panic attacks!!!

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    1. Thank you, Deanna. It's so important to be able to advocate for ourselves or to have someone who can advocate for us if we can't.

      I definitely don't want anymore panic attacks.

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  17. I have had "giant dips" in both my depression and anxiety levels and it is always really frightening ..especially the first dip I had, because the thought comes to mind that I might not come out of it. It is comforting to remind myself now that, like you and many others, I have come out of the darkness and there is always hope for healing and recovery ahead. I would encourage people to never give up, it is hard, it is such a struggle and so easy to lose hope when you are under that heavy blanket of depression. Your writing this is so brave and strong and I am sure it will encourage someone else.
    I have had many who were angels in my journey. My husband has stood by me through 34 years of my illness and my children are so supportive and kind. I even credit our family pet, Zoe Rose, with being an angel. My youngest daughter said she saw a complete turn around in me when Zoe came into our family. Pets can lend us powerful healing and comfort. Krystallynn

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    1. Thank you, Krystal Lynn. When I have the giant dips, I feel like it will never get better. I have to remind myself that I did get better in the past and I will again. You've got some wonderful angels in your life. And I couldn't agree more about the healing that can come from our pets.

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  18. It's good that you recognize the anxiety and depression. Better yet that you can stick with it and get something done. Depression is a rather overwhelming situation

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    1. Thank you, Red. It is indeed overwhelming, and it caught me off guard this time.

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  19. Thank God for all the Sharon's in this world, particularly your Sharon, an angel indeed. Oh Tina, those episodes are so hard, please don't hesitate to reach out to me when feeling that way
    Yes, it is an illness and when not treated can be dangerous, thank goodness for your awereness, you tackled the issue at hand and that is a good thing. Feel better my friend, you are amazing and strong.

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    1. Thank you, Madison. I appreciate your support. :-)

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  20. I'm sorry you had to go through that, Tina. You are right about self advocacy. We have to take care of ourselves. You are so in touch with what you need and so strong to write about this.

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    1. Thank you, Patty. Yes, it's so important to take care of ourselves, and to know that it's OK to take steps to do that.

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  21. THANK YOU for doing what it took - for YOU to be OKAY.
    Thank you for remembering YOU ARE IMPORTANT - and for Speaking Out.

    Then, thank you for sharing what it's like "on the inside."

    You are a remarkable, valuable gift - On MANY LEVELS.
    Thank you again - for being a blessing.
    love & love,
    -g-

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    1. Thank you, G. You are a remarkable gift yourself. You have such a loving and encouraging spirit. :-)

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  22. So glad you were able to get ahold of Sharon and get it all FIXED. My insurance company only allows for my refills every X days, I have yet to figure out what X is, ha.

    Glad that you are feeling better. I am trying to figure out if I need an adjustment, I have been feeling like 'one anxious gal' as of late. *wink wink, wave*

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    1. Thank you, Kim. I'm sorry that you are dealing with anxiety. It's hard to know sometimes when we need to make adjustments, isn't it?

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  23. Tina, I'm so sorry you suffered so much, but honestly that is a GREAT story for those of us with mental illness. We have to fight for ourselves. This can be hard to do when we are sick, but sometimes it is the only way we can get what we need. Good for you for taking care of yourself the way you needed to. And I don't think you are weak at all. It takes a strong person to share their struggles, and an even stronger person to remain in the fight for health.

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    1. Thank you for your support, Sunny. You're right--sometimes the only way to get what we need is to fight for it. It's so worth it, though, isn't it?

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  24. Experiences like you just shared remind us all that often we have to be our own advocate....It's so sad but this happens more than anyone would like to admit....I am so glad you were able to get the medicine you needed. Thank you for being so open with us...You are an inspiration...

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    1. Thank you, Nancy. That's very kind. And it is sad that there are people everywhere who are going through similar and worse situations, struggling to stay healthy.

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  25. I'm so glad to hear someone came through for you.

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    1. Thank you, Sharon. She really did come through for me.

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  26. sharon is an angel, someone who really cares about someone she will never meet. she will not receive "credit" for her act of kindness and she cares not. her heart has already received the reward!!

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    1. Thanks, Debbie. You are so right--Sharon won't get extra credit or a salary bonus for doing what she did--but she touched my life.

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  27. Oh, my. Oh, Tina. That's just...wow. My heart aches for you that you went through that. How frustrating, and how miserable. Bless Sharon for coming through for you!!! Gosh, it's so frustrating to have to keep advocating for ourselves...

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    1. Thank you, Jean. Yes, it does get frustrating. But we have to keep advocating.

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