Deb's Mental Health And Wellness Guide
~My Tips When I Fell In The Pit~
~What I Did To Survive~
(Posted 2013 / Updated 10/31/15)
Everytime I speak with someone about my journey of life and surviving in the pit of mental illness, I share information and my tips as to what I did to survive. I think it would be EXTREMELY helpful for you to see what I did and what resources I found to keep me moving forward. My tips may help you in getting through your nightmare.
This information is also for the family members and friends, who suffer alongside of the person struggling with this very serious brain disorder, commonly known as mental illness.
MY CAR - (Securing A Car Disability Policy)
I bought my car on a manic whim in February 2005. I stopped taking my medications and disappeared on April 25, 2005. By the time I arrived at the hospital on July 13, 2005, I was receiving phone calls and voice mail messages that Toyota Financial was going to repossess my car. They had not received a payment since March or April of 2005.
I was released from the hospital around July 19, 2005. I went to my local Toyota dealership, (I have a Toyota Scion), and told them about my health issues and that I needed guidance as to how I could keep my car.
The salesman looked through all of my papers about the car and found a DISABILITY POLICY from an insurance company as part of my monthly car payment.
I contacted the insurance company and submitted my hospital records. THEY AUTHORIZED CAR PAYMENTS FROM JULY 2005- JULY 2011. They paid about $30,000 in car payments. I paid roughly $3,000 during the 6 year payment plan. My car has been paid in full since July 2011 and it is now mine. I own the car and have the TITLE. I can't begin to tell you how euphoric I felt when that title arrived. Now I continue to take care of my car and love it as it took care of me and loved me. I slept in that car for 2 weeks when I was homeless. We are bonded for life.
ADVICE - Check on all of your car policies to see if you have a DISABILITY POLICY. If not, pursue speaking to someone about securing some kind of health policy or a reduced payment plan.
CAR INSURANCE - The same thing goes for car insurance. Call them and tell them about your health issues and ask if you could speak to someone about lowering your insurance payments on your car. I am now listed as disabled on my car insurance policy and pay the bare minimum that I can have on my car.
MY MONEY - (Securing Social Security Disability Insurance) (SSDI)
I was discharged from the hospital in July 2005 and had to figure out a way to make money. I was in and out of jobs from 2005 - 2007 and realized that I needed help financially. I learned the hard way that I would not be able to work full-time and was barely able to work part-time. So I went to my local Social Security office to learn how I could apply for Social Security Disability on my own.
My discussion with the Social Security agent was tougher than I thought it would be. To do all the paperwork, secure more paperwork and try to process what needed to be done brought me close to another breakdown. There was no way I could do it on my own and I gave up pursuing Social Security Disability Insurance.
Then one day, I was watching television and I saw a commercial for a local DISABILITY LAW FIRM, talking about how they could secure Social Security Disability Insurance, if you qualified. I had no idea about using a lawfirm but gave them a call the next day. I needed all the help I could get!
(I used Insler & Hermann, NY, CT, NJ license, www.inslerhermanndisability.com,
I secured an appointment and they told me to bring in some documents so that they could see if I qualified. I had hospital records from 2002 plus other documents that they required and I went to have my appointment.
ADVICE - HOSPITAL & PSYCHIATRIST RECORDS - ALWAYS secure copies of your records from your psychiatrist's office and your hospital stays. These are VERY powerful documents that you need to have READY at any moment. If you are applying for any programs, these records will be invaluable as you submit yourself or your loved one for consideration.
MEDICATIONS - ALWAYS get a list of medications, dates and dosages and keep these records in a chronological order. Do this methodically with your doctor's and your hospital stays. If you are having your regular medical doctor prescribe you psychiatric meds, get the records from this doctor as well. Keep all of your records clipped together and in chronological order in a filing system. You will be SO GLAD you put in this extra effort. When you are in crisis, the last thing you need is to secure documents from doctor's offices or hospital's.
LAWFIRM (Continued) - My appointment at the lawfirm ended up being with a Disability Attorney (lawyer). I was thrilled that I didn't have to see this secretary or this counselor, etc....I went straight to "the source." The attorney was very pleased that I brought in my 2 hospital stays from 2002 and felt that my case looked very promising. This was January 2007.
I was then ushered into another office to meet with the woman who processed the account and sent the claim to the courts to be put infront of the judge. As it turned out, Stephanie (my angel), worked for the Social Security administration for 25 years and knew the process, the courts and the judges inside and out. She then left the Social Security Administration and decided to work for this disability law firm as "their golden angel." My words not theirs. She now had expertise on both sides of the disability process and was invaluable to me and my case.
She submitted my paperwork in February 2007 and I had my DISABILITY MONEY on June 1, 2007, direct deposited into my bank account. I was not even contacted that I was accepted or that the money would arrive. I just checked my banking and there was the money. I called the lawfirm immediately to alert them to this news. It was then officially processed in their office that I now received Social Security Disability Insurance. (SSDI)
Advice - SECURE A DISABILITY LAW FIRM IF YOU CAN! IT IS WORTH THE EFFORT! Their fee was one month's social security payment out of the 6 month's lump sum payment that I received in my checking account. I can't begin to tell you how worth it it was having them do the work. There was never any upfront money paid to secure their services. They took a piece of the settlement.
Health Insurance - (Being Insured Or Not Being Insured)
When I was employed and had health insurance, I had to work within my health insurance network to secure a psychiatrist, prescription drug coverage, hospital stays in psychiatric units and follow-up care. Being that I did most of this alone, had to go back to work after each breakdown, felt awful, etc., finding the right help and resources was beyond difficult.
Advice - Having Insurance - Wherever you are in your mental health journey, be it the sufferer or the family member, embrace your health insurance policy and talk to a representative to guide you through the health maze. Interview EVERY doctor and psychiatrist to see if they are really willing to spend time to listen to you and to work WITH you on your health plan. REMEMBER, THEY WORK FOR YOU! If you do not feel comfortable, move on to the next one. This is a very important and a serious part of getting well. Your psychiatrist, medication, support and resources are critical in creating your new life. This is a full-time job. But once you have all of the pieces in place, you can breathe a sigh of relief and move forward with knowledge and exceptional health care.
Advice - Not Having Insurance - For the first time in my life, I did not have health insurance from April 25, 2005 - January 1, 2009. When I went to the ER on July 13, 2005, I was uninsured. I looked up and saw a framed statement - PEOPLE WITHOUT INSURANCE WOULD BE GIVEN HEALTH CARE. IT WAS THE LAW. As I was crumbling from a devastating breakdown, I breathed a sigh of relief that a doctor would see me. It turns out I was committed and stayed for 7 days in their Emergency Room. I was put on a waitlist for a bed at a mental health hospital. The hospital I stayed in sent me a bill for about $14,000 for the week. The bill also included a statement that if you could not afford to pay your bill, that there was a fund that patients could apply for to help with paying their bill. I applied for assistance. As it turns out, the fund paid for my ENTIRE BILL. Always look for policies and staff help on every moment of your mental health journey. There are many resources out there that no-one knows about. ASK FOR HELP AT ALL TIMES! You never know what miracles will appear!
In January 2009, I received Medicare due to having Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). I had to wait 18 months to receive it. (June 2007 SSDI, 2009 Medicare). It is beyond a blessing to have it. I am on a spend-down Medicaid plan as well.
When I wrote this information in 2013 and updated it this month, it never dawned on me that I should include my contacting a police department for help when I was homeless.
I have included that information below:
*** I just about ran out of gas and couldn't sleep in my car anymore. So I decided to be brave and call the police. They called the shelter in town and it was the law that the police can put a police hold on a shelter bed for someone in crisis.
As there were only 4 beds for women and 15 beds for men in this town's shelter, I was so glad I made that call. They had one bed available. The other 3 were taken.
I walked from my parked car in town to the shelter as I was almost out of gas. It was nighttime. The manager of the shelter met me in the parking lot next to the building. I was signed up immediately and given a bed. Needless to say I slept deeply as I was exhausted.
ADVICE - It may be very uncomfortable for you to contact your local police department for help when you are homeless, but you may end up like me and have great luck. Think about contacting your local authorities for help.
It may be the best decision you make.***