When You Can No Longer Afford Your Mental Illness

I tried shopping in my hometown for a solid counselor but I wound up in a decrepit old church building with Danny Devito sniffing out my secrets like a dog in a crotch. I walked backward out of his office, told him in an email it wasn’t a good fit and swung twice more at home plate before looking elsewhere.

[READ ALSO Why I Finally Decided To See A Mental Health Professional]

While my family doctor lives a mere mile, twitch and self-deprecating speech away, it takes me over an hour to drive to my therapist’s office in Detroit. That’s 89.7 miles, more twitches than the Kentucky Derby, and time enough for an internal filibuster. And, on top of what I pay for my medication, the doctor, the counselor, and whatever exorcist juju they prescribe, I’m now factoring gas as an added expense in the name of mental health. As I’m fighting to stay above the surface of my depression and my bank account, one pill is especially difficult to swallow: maintaining mental health ain’t freakin’ cheap. 

I mean, geez. 

***

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” Plutarch

***

It seems depression leads to the need for help, and the cost of help leads to more depression and anxiety. Half the time, I want to give up on the pursuit of professionally-aided mental health, buy myself a six-pack, and revert again to choking down my emotions in the Harry Potter closet under the stairs.

If you find yourself in a similar position, feeling as if your bank account is draining and you can no longer afford your mental health, first of all, consider these three insights.

Mental Illness Is An Illness

If my wife had cancer, I’d stop at nothing to find her health and comfort. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma around mental illness which can make professional remedies for mental health feel like an added and unnecessary expense. But, if we can finally set aside the nature vs. nurture debate, we can more fully recognize that those in mentally precarious positions need help in order to thrive in this life. It’s a fact as vital as chemotherapy.

It’s Good To Prioritize Mental Health

Plutarch (some dead guy who now has a bust) said, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” Too often, we revert to filling our minds with useless cure-all theories when we should be patiently nurturing them as a bonfire. 

Fires need constant care and attention or else they fizzle out. The mind needs to be prioritized, nurtured, and kindled if it is ever going to thrive.

This Too Shall Pass

Spending money now on your mental health doesn’t mean you will forever be tied to the financial drain of doctors, therapists, and medications. The season you’re in today might just be one in which you need the extra help. That’s okay. Don’t taint the future with strains of the present. This too shall pass.

Even still, sometimes, professional resources simply aren’t in the budget. Fortunately, there is a myriad of options to tide you over until you can find the chance to visit a professional.

Over the next few Mondays, I will be curating a series called “Cheap Mental Health” in which guest bloggers will be delving into the following alternatives or complimentary additions to professional help. There is no cure-all to depression and anxiety; these are merely kindling for your fire.

1. Personal Care

We should never give a doctor, therapist, medication, friend or family member the full right to determine our fate. While we need the help, it’s vital we take responsibility for our own mental health through day-to-day personal care. Showering is a good start, but you can also get into the practice of journaling, working out, eating healthy or expressing daily self-affirmations.

2. Church & Community Programs

Fortunately, the greater church has woken up to the realities of mental illness in recent years. Even if you don’t consider yourself a churchgoer, from Stephen Ministry to Catholic confessional, Church’s offer many resources for the mentally, emotionally, and spiritually struggling.

When it comes to community programs, Alcoholics Anonymous is just one example. There are also Mental Health Support Groups, social outings, or even online forums in which you can meet others with depression or anxiety and explore healthy and healing interactions through shared hobbies.

3. Friends & Family

Friends and family are on the frontlines of our battles, and yet, sharing our issues with them can often be the most daunting task. But, if we are able to fight past our pride and lean on those closest to us, we will be greatly rewarded with deepened relationships and meaningful progress. It takes a community.

4. Books, Blogs, & Other Building Blocks

If you don’t have a library card, get one. If you don’t have the internet…how are you reading this?

Like anything on the internet, you can’t trust it all, but there are countless free tools out there for the mentally ill. Read books, subscribe to blogs (like mine), or download helpful apps on your phone. Healing often starts with the little things.

Whether you’re giving your time or money, investing in your mental health is not only a (very) good thing to do, but it is vital if you’re looking to thrive. Explore not just the pricey options but the simple ones to compliment (or in certain cases to hold you off until you can afford it) professional remedies. Explore Cheap Mental Health. 

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