Thursday, June 2, 2016

A few thoughts about Mental Health

I'm trying desperately to think of ways to help my oldest daughter be able to receive the therapy she needs to overcome some serious anxiety/depression symptoms.  I live with her and interact with her daily and I'm trying to be the listening ear she needs, her advocate, the support system that every human should have but I'm just one person.  Many are supporting her from afar and send their love and prayers. . . But this doesn't seem to be enough.  Olivia has been in counseling for about 4 months now.  After battling a couple deep depression bouts she found herself in a Behavior Hospital for 3 weeks which is a lockdown facility for people who are a danger to themselves.  I don't know that she would tell you that is was the best place for her.  She was immediately put on medication for depression and began to feel a bit better, if you can see past all the sleeping she did, seizing, and vomiting during the first few weeks.  She experienced extreme dizziness the entire time there and therefore was unable to attend any of the therapy session they held to help people.  This dizziness has now been determined to be from a condition called Conversion disorder or Symptomatic disorder.  It's just another symptom of anxiety that manifests itself through physical symptoms that make it impossible for her to function.  She was released after a few long weeks not a whole lot better than when she went in.  As I saw it, she needed to be released because being in this facility was causing her more stress and even more depression. The night nurses thought she was making all this up and even told her to stop faking.  This does not help someone with these symptoms get better.   But let me back up a year and explain another condition related to this one.

Over the past year she has developed what's called PNES, Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures.  These seizures haunted her for months and would show up at random times, interrupting her life at the most inconvenient times. She was forced to quit her job because she would inevitably end up in the break room unresponsive.  She was also forced to quit volunteering at the fire station because she couldn't get a doctor to clear her to be there.  She was let go from finishing Fire Academy because of her health issues just a week before finishing.  These seizures are a way of her brain disassociating from a stressful situation.  It just checks out when it senses an unsafe place and she has no control over it.

Her counselor has been working with her now twice a week but feels she needs more help and she needs it now.  She is still majorly depressed and is experiencing some pretty low, lows.  How do you make a person believe they have value when they feel worthless?  How do you encourage someone who is being bombarded with negative emotions?  Believe me I've quoted scripture, I've prayed and told her to as well.  She is trying but is not very motivated when all she sees is a bleak future.

A  Christian residential treatment center is what she needs.  People who struggle with trauma, anxiety, depression and many other mental health issues can go there and live under the care of qualified medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologist, dietitians, and nutritionists who treat the whole person.  They do not just put you through a program that generally fits all but they tailor the program to fit your needs.  You take time out of your life to get better, to learn how to cope with disappointment, to work through your fears and anxiety, to connect with others who struggle with the same things, to reflect, to understand how much God loves you!  Wouldn't we all want to go there?

Our big hurdle to overcome with this kind of treatment is the cost.  Many people who go have insurance that covers a portion of the cost.  We don't have insurance but we are a part of a program that pays each others medical bills called Samaritan Ministries.  We love this program and have had almost all Olivia's medical bills paid 100%!  The problem is they do not offer any mental health coverage.

We have looked into getting Olivia her own health insurance but the enrollment for all insurance companies right now isn't until November. As you can imagine, someone struggling with suicidal thoughts is not someone with time on their side.  Waiting 6 months isn't really an option.  As her counselor told me today, Olivia was ready to go yesterday.

I do not want this to sound like a plea for money.  Nor do I want anyone to think that we need others to pay our daughters bills.  She created a Go Fund Me campaign in hopes that if her friends and family pool their money together it could make a significant difference.  The program did say that they will help her with a portion of the cost but obviously they aren't going to give it to her for free.  Just like someone trying to raise money to go on a missions trip, would you consider donating to a good cause of helping Olivia get past these significant hurdles in her life?  Maybe instead of tithing to your local church for the month, you could give to her treatment?  Or maybe even just a part of your tithe? I'm just brainstorming here, please don't take offense.  Every little bit helps.  We as her parents will of course give her as much as we can, which will be a significant amount but still might only be about 1/4 of the cost.  This is the best care she could get and the hope would be that the tools she learns and the care she receives would impact her the rest of her life!

Her only other option would be to admit herself to the local mental health hospital where people who have no insurance continue to come and go only getting a tweak in their antidepressants to get them past their emergency suicide attempts until the next time. The care in these places can be very lacking although they do their best with the funding they have but lets face it, the care in these facilities is rough and although she would most likely be safe, I'm not sure she comes out ahead of where she started.  

Here is the link to her campaign
Olivia's blog where she explains a bit about her life the past few months:

I can't thank you enough for considering this!


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Signs that you live in East Texas

Since moving an hour outside the city of Dallas, I've noticed some pretty striking differences!

1. The mailman or woman drives her own car!  There is no cute little mail truck.  Our mail woman drives her own car with her windows down and music on.  One day a car drove into my driveway and starting honking.  I looked out the window and didn't recognize her and I thought, "what's going on?" Then it dawned on me as she got out of her car, it's the mail woman with a package! How was I supposed to know?  This was new to me.

2. UPS or FED EX drive into my driveway and leave packages in my garage!  My garage is almost always open unless I'm not here.  So frequently I find a box or two laying around my garage that was delivered a few days before!  Guess I didn't hear the knock at the back door?

3. Dogs aren't necessarily confined but roam the neighborhoods and when owners walk them, they don't have them always on a leash.  This just floors me that dog owners will go for a run with their dogs free to run off.  We've met a lot of our neighbors this way as their dogs come to meet ours.  Our dog (who we took in as a stray) stays in our front yard.  She roams to the neighbors to play with the other dogs but always comes back and pretty much hangs out in our front yard.

4.  East Texas is notorious for it's fried food.  Every restaurant I eat at around here has chicken fried streak or chicken fried chicken.  Fried catfish seems to be a favorite as that's always the special for the day.  One place I visited has fried pickles, fried green beans (so good!),  fried okra, fried zucchini, french fries and fried onion rings!

5.  Today I add another to this list of countryfied characteristics.  I had a neighbor's two boys over today to play for the first time.  Their dad picked them up in his tractor!  He was headed down the street to help someone till their garden.  I heard him coming from a few blocks away and quickly got his boys shoes on and they went yelling up my driveway, "Daddy!" It was a sweet picture to see him lift both boys up onto his lap and go tootling down the road.

6.  During hunting season all the grocery stores are stocked with large bags of deer corn.  I'm clueless about hunting but I assume they need this.  Another retail thing I saw was camouflage wrapping paper in the stores at Christmas time.  I guess I'm a city girl cuz I've never seen that before.

 7. Another thing I've noticed which isn't so positive is that businesses come and go quickly.  When we moved here there was an awesome hamburger joint called Charlies.  We loved the food and the place was decorated really cool.  One day it was gone and a Mexican restaurant took it's place.

 A clothing boutique on the town square disappeared one day and the owner opened a tea house across the street.  We liked that place too!  It was a girlie place with scones, tea and nice lunch options.  I arranged to meet a friend there one day and when I pulled up it was vacant.  Just after a few months . . . . gone.  Guess you shouldn't get to attached.  It must be hard to make a go of it when the population is only 3,000.

8. This list would not be complete without talking about the garbage company. Bubba is the owner and he drives a truck that pulls a trailer with gated sides.  He gets out, walks around to your garbage can and opens each can and throws the bags over the side and into this garbage trailer.  No big, high tech claw around here!  All garbage is required to be bagged or he won't take it and he does not supply you with a garbage can.  We had to go purchase a couple when we moved here.  Oh and did I mention, there is no recycling here?  We just save our cardboard/paper garbage and burn it. You can smell the burning of paper garbage frequently and I love it.

9. Most people do not worry about their yards.  There are no city regulations so lawns that are too long are not a problem.  I still like to spend time cleaning up the yard to make it look it's best since I love to be out in it but there isn't a sense that you have to keep up with the neighbors.  No one seems to care.  I remember in the city when we had bagged a bunch of leaves and stacked them along the side of the house.  Well, we got a notice from the city that we couldn't do that.  It was our property but I guess you can't just do what you want.  There are rules.  Here, there aren't.

 When we have a dead tree or broken limb, we cut it down, chop it up and stack it for firewood.  When we get too much brush we just drag it out to a big pile in our pasture and eventually burn it.

10.  In the country of East Texas, you really don't have to put your make-up on to run to the store or be seen in public.  Most people run around in jeans and work boots.  We noticed a man at Walmart when we first moved here wearing overalls with no shirt on underneath.  He was not a thin man either!  No one is trying to impress anyone.  In fact, if you go to the store looking like you came from the city, you just might get stared at.

When we first moved here, I was thrilled to get away from traffic, people and the busyness of life and I welcomed the peacefulness of the country, the slow pace and solitude.  Now, after a year and a half, I sometimes miss the safety of people, the familiarity of the busy streets and the variety of stores to choose from.  Living in the country can be lonely but I'm an introvert by nature so it suits me. I'm also glad, though, that we are only an hour from a big city like Dallas where we can return for the day and get a good fill of people and good food! 

 I think I've learned to appreciate both worlds.

Kristin Lodi