On getting some help

Should I get a diagnosis for my (potential, but extremely probable) mental illness? I only have friends with shit (and in one case traumatic) experiences with psychiatrists and psychologists, but on the other hand a diagnosis can give me some of the leeway I need in my uni system. I’m not sure how much longer I can pretend I don’t want to kill myself because it’s not convenient for my bank account to pay for help.

Yeah, definitely go get some help. If money is an issue, start with your university’s mental health services. Don’t put it off. Schedule an appointment, and then go show up. I know it’s scary, but you’ll be okay.

(Also, for the record, you don’t only have friends with shit experiences. Trust me, once you get some help, I think you’ll be surprised to discover how many people you know who’ve had decent experiences with mental health professionals.)


12 thoughts on “On getting some help

  1. Kirsch says:

    Also, don’t forget that you can always fire your therapist at any time, for any reason, and get a new one. Some health care professionals are shitty, some you simply won’t click with, and there’s nothing wrong with shopping around for either reason.

  2. Mel V. says:

    When I was at college, I attended an event where I heard a couple members of the counseling staff speak to the group. I thought one of them was a jerk and one of them was really nice, so when I scheduled an appointment I specifically requested the nice person. It turned out to be a really good fit, and we worked together for the rest of the time I was there. It helped that I was at a really small college, but you might see if there’s an opportunity to do something similar.

    There are bad ones out there, but as Kirsch says, you don’t have to go back. The good ones outnumber them. Please give it a try.

  3. People are Strange says:

    Look, unless you’ve committed to a plan and are really going to kill yourself soon, don’t go into a strange therapist’s office and use the ‘s-word’. You will get yourself locked up, and if you think your bank account can’t handle a counselor, good luck with that ten thousand dollar hospital bill. Once you tell them you’re a threat to yourself, that gives them the chance (they say they have the obligation, but I really doubt therapists have the obligation to have the cops aim weapons at you but whatever) to get the police to harass you and force you to take psychotropic medications and severely limit your liberty.

    If you have a serious mental illness, seek help for it. Just don’t ever mention suicide to those fuckers, they will use any excuse they can find to fuck up your life.

    • The Coquette says:

      For the record, I strongly disagree with this person’s comment. Please be honest with your therapist if you are having thoughts of suicide.

      • People are Strange says:

        Spoken like someone who hasn’t ever dealt with a mental health professional who was bad at what they do. Which is, I guess, great for you. But it means you give some godawful shitty advice.

        If you tell a good therapist that you have suicide ideation, they will ask if you’re safe and try to see you as much as possible. A bad therapist will call the cops, who have zero psychological training, to break into your apartment or area of work, handcuff you as if you were a criminal, and drag you into the emergency room for an involuntary 72 hour hold. That, by the way, doesn’t include weekends. Of course, weekends are still billed. All told, you could be held up to five days and presented with a $12,000 hospital bill just for seeking help. It won’t help you face your issues and it won’t help you trust anyone in a position of power. It was years before I sought medical help and by that time, the tumor in my brain was so large it caused permanent nerve damage. I needed a neurologist, not a shrink, and neither the shrink, admitting doctor, or psychiatrist I saw in that hospital were willing to actually help me, beyond giving me medication with horrible side effects. If anyone had bothered to do any sort of brain scan, they could have caught the tumor in time. It might have saved my hearing. It might have saved part of my cerebellum. But they failed me, it wound up costing me hundreds of dollars and years of my life.

        So, yes, go and seek help. But there’s nothing wrong with being selective. All therapists are not the same.

  4. Ashley says:

    hey. i have had it both ways. when i was in college i was extremely depressed and wanted to kill myself. i went to the school mental health clinic, and had a terrible experience that made it worse. i avoided treatment for years after that. then last year i had a crisis and again wanted to die. my friend was seeing a therapist who she really liked, and recommended me to her. I’ve been seeing her ever since and while I’ve had some bad times since (including another crisis this summer that landed me in the mental ward for a week) she’s been immensely helpful.

    TL;DR: find someone who is helpful and not hurtful. it might take more than one try. be wary of seeing anyone who wants to prescribe stuff immediately upon meeting you. you don’t have to go along with the treatment if you’re against it. weigh your options, make informed decisions. I’ve been wary of taking medication and my therapist respects that (not to mention, i can’t afford a psychiatrist, none are covered by my insurance in a 50 mile radius). some people have good experiences with medication so don’t be close minded to it either. i just know for myself that i have bad reactions to most psych medications. s0me make me violent (wellbutrin) others make me suicidal (klonopin). if you do take medication and don’t feel right, do call your doctor.

  5. Charlie says:

    @Op: Get the diagnosis. It’s better to know, than to live in constant uncertainty. A diagnosis is not an automatic command over how you may (or may not) go about treating your possible disorder. Get the knowledge – it allows more certainty, it allows more options. Medication, talk therapy, group therapy, find a better expert, whatever floats your boat.

    Back in my uni days, I also needed leeway like you. I went to my school’s mental health services. Think about it: if you’re already giving your school likely thousands of dollars, you damn well better get your money’s worth through their easy-access counseling services. They owe you at least that much. Visit a counselor and tell them about your financial situation, stress, and for possible resources. You may get free counseling via the school, or a source that has a sliding scale fee for low-income clients/students. That’s how I got $5 per therapy session, sessions that kept me alive–instead of wasting those same dollars on like say, some unhealthy cheeseburger.

    Like others here have said, you have the freedom to “shop around” for therapists. It’s just a usual part of their gig to have clients drop in and out. No biggie. Once you got your school’s mental health service’s attention of your problems, go to your school’s disability services and see what learning/testing accommodations they can set up between you and your professors. If there’s professors you trust, opening to them also helps for they can design more flexible deadlines, etc. for your situation.

    Having a connection with my school counselors, disability advisor, and professors also helped for when I did have to get admitted to a hospital for two weeks during a semester. Upon returning from the hospital, I received understanding and adjustment from all three aforementioned parties–allowing me to catch up and obtain the needed credits to graduate. If you give yourself enough time, you’ll have your own iron triangle of academic and emotional support. The more allies, the better. Even if you meet one shitty health personnel, there’ll be other hopeful examples of humanity within that triangle that’ll outshine that.

    Doing all of the above got me through university and a surprisingly decent GPA, even when I considered dropping out multiple times (and a hospital visit). This all comes from my own personal experience though, so you’ll have to customize some of my advice for your unique situation.

    Nonetheless, good luck to you, OP. Me and others who survived similar academic situations will be wishing you the best.

    • Charlie says:

      One Last thing: Depending on where you live and your disorder, there are cheap (and even free) ways to get the medication, if you decide you’re in need of it. Such social services worked for me when a medical case manager (a.k.a. social worker) assisted me with getting my antidepressants for free back in my uni days.

      Granted, it’s easier to do this if you’re in a larger cities which are likelier to have health services for its low-income clients. Thanks to technology though, even less-populated cities have more options for possible assistance (e.g. online shipping/E-Therapy).

      You may not always be in need of your medication, especially when certain life circumstances come to a close (e.g. graduation) so keep that in mind. Even if you need them for a longer period of time, like I did, do whatever keeps you alive and motivated to do other exciting life-things.

      • Ashley says:

        also to piggyback your comment, some therapists have sliding scale fees or if your insurance sucks they’ll take it anyways but make your copay a little higher.

        also, if youre not covered anywhere, call your insurance company and demand coverage. thats what i was told to do… but i didnt do it because i don’t want to go on meds.

        • Ashley says:

          ugh, i meant to add. before jumping to meds (unless your situation is pretty bad), try talk therapy or cognitive therapy first. meds take a while to kick in and they turn you into a guinea pig before they find the right combo for you since everyone is different. or you can be like me and have a bad reaction. and be extra careful with meds such as benzos (prescribed for anxiety) – they are HIGHLY addictive and hard to get off of. i know quite a few people stuck on them and zombie like, including my ex. when she didnt take her dose perfectly (same time every day no skipping doses) she became even more suicidal, but she didnt want to take her meds because they clouded her thinking and made her doze off all day (not good for a college student). i know even more people who abused them.

          that being said, if you need them, you need them. just make an informed decision and don’t just blindly follow doctors orders without making sure you get a full picture of the pros and cons. and even if you do go on meds, do some sort of talk or cognitive therapy besides – while insurance companies like to just drug you up, without actually talking to someone about your problems its unlikely they’ll go away with drugs alone.

  6. Dee says:

    Bad therapists are plentiful, but finding a good therapist and an experienced psychiatrist can be life changing. You’ll not only get the academic allowances a diagnosis might bring, but you’ll actually start to resolve the underlying problem.

    You will know a good shrink quickly, because a good therapist’s primary skill is empathy. With a good therapist, you will feel safe, validated, and you’ll trust their skill and that they know what they are doing far better than you do. You’ll be able to relax and heal, and you’ll want to.

    If you don’t feel that, then find a new therapist.

    Do find help. Please find and use all the resources you can, like the ones mentioned above. It’s worth it.

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