Health Insurance Is Not A Guarantee Of No Stress

I am epileptic. I have given birth twice. I am a normal person.

Yet, one of the things that causes me the most stress in this life is my health insurance.

Unfortunately, I have a chronic condition. It’s not an option. I’m lucky enough that I can afford insurance. I’m lucky enough to be able to control my condition. I’m lucky enough to have a simple enough solution to handle it.

Dealing with insurance, however, makes the condition feel worse than it is. There are constant problems with meeting all the requirements to get the medicine I need to control the condition. The insurance doesn’t talk to the pharmacy, the pharmacy doesn’t talk to the doctor, the doctor can’t talk to the insurance. It’s like I need to conference call all of them constantly to make everything function smoothly.

In the past 4 months, I have had to deal with it all at least 3 times. For a month, I was constantly calling the insurance company, the pharmacy, and my doctor to get all the paperwork in order so I could continue to get the medication that I’ve been on for 13 years.

Why is it so hard? Why can’t something that should be so basic be easier? I’ve definitely read that it’s easier in other countries. I do realize that the insurance industry is a for-profit business and this is a way to make money. Why is that the case though? Shouldn’t our healthcare be a necessity, not a luxury? Shouldn’t we be able to get what we need without stress? Isn’t getting sick stressful enough?

I hope I get to see things get easier in the insurance world in my lifetime. I don’t know how this country can untangle the mess that it is. I don’t even know if the people in charge want to.

All I know is that it’s frustrating that in addition to whatever our bodies and minds are going through on a regular basis, we have to add a good dose of stress to it.

Controlling Your Thoughts

Have you ever had one bad thing happen to you and it made you focus on everything that has gone wrong in your life lately? How about thinking about one thing that scares you and it makes you go into an out of control negative thought spiral?

There are days that I will wake up fine and have a hard time dealing with my kids and then it just seems like nothing goes right. I start thinking of all the things I’m unhappy about and it grows and grows until I’m completely resentful. I think about all the things that used to make me feel good in the past and dwell on that instead of my present.

The crazy thing is that if I just change my point of view to focus on the good instead of the bad or found a better way to deal with the harder things that happened, I wouldn’t go into this downward spiral. That’s not to say that I’m not correct in what I’m feeling. It’s just that there are good, positive things that do happen. I just focus too much on the negative.

It’s hard to control our thoughts. It’s easier to follow our instincts. It’s an uphill battle to continuously think positively. It’s work to recognize the good things, especially because they may be little things. I can easily name 5 things that I don’t like about my life but constantly struggle to name 5 things I love about it.

If I continue to follow this pattern though, it will be hard for me to find happiness. I’ll stay in a constant state of anxiety and disappointment. I will miss the great things that are happening in front of me.

I also do believe that appreciating the good surrounds you with positive energy and it attracts more good stuff. So as much daily work as it is, it is definitely worth trying to stay positive. Recognize and understand anything bad that happens and feel it but don’t dwell on it. Shifting your thinking is a daily mind exercise.

So work on not sending yourself into a downward spiral. Find the good.

The Next Step

Last week, I wrote about mental health and yesterday, I mentioned how it’s important to be able to cope with the feelings that you might be having.

I also wanted to dedicate an article to what the next step is.

If you don’t feel like you figured out ways to cope and actually feel better, it might be time to seek help. There is nothing wrong with needing professional help. As I mentioned before, if you are willing to see a doctor for your body, why would you feel bad about seeing a doctor for your mind? It is a part of who we are and it also needs to be taken care of.

So what’s the next step?

When I finally admitted that I needed help, I literally just got on the phone with my insurance company. A lot of insurance companies have a phone number for mental health on the back of their card. And when I say I got on the phone with the company, I mean that my friend and I got on the phone because I still needed the support. It was a hard decision to make. It made me feel like I failed at something because I wasn’t able to deal with my issues by myself.

Sometimes, you need someone to help you stand yourself up again. And it’s okay.

So I called the insurance company’s mental health line and asked them who they covered in my area. They literally started at A and gave me 5 names and numbers. I called the first number on the list and made an appointment.

It’s important that you like your therapist and feel like they can help you. I needed someone to listen and to help me navigate my murky feelings. I needed someone who could help me take steps to become me again.

I was lucky that the first name that I called was the first person I saw was the therapist I ended up seeing for the next 4 years. Even when I felt better and more like myself after a year or two, I kept on seeing her every so often just as a tune-up. I saw her as I went through a few other phases in my life and she helped me get through them.

The only reason I stopped was because I moved away and physical distance made it difficult. I haven’t found another therapist because I haven’t felt the urgency to see one yet. After having 2 kids though and not quite feeling like myself for a while, I am thinking about finding one near me.

I want to be the best version of me I can be and be able to give that to my family. So I’ll do what I can to find that person again.

The Other Part of Me

It’s been 2.5 years since we had our first child. It’s been 1 month since we had our second. We have started doing the normal, everyday domestic things like managing our own house, cooking, and cleaning. We have to have a regular schedule throughout the week now since our first child does go to school and classes on a weekly basis. Even when I have a break, I just want to sit and binge watch some laid-back Netflix show. The only other things I think about doing during a break is catching up on sleep.

Let’s put it this way: it’s been a long time since I’ve thought about me. And I don’t mean in the way that I want to do something and haven’t had a chance. I mean in the way where I think about where I am in life.

Suddenly, my days were just about getting things done and taking care of my family. Everything started to become a routine. I was just trying to get somewhere on time, cook dinner, get laundry done, and get the kids to sleep so I could spend some time with my husband (that is, if one of us hadn’t already passed out from pure exhaustion). My entire goal for the day is to just get through it.

What about me though? I danced, I read, I wrote, I analyzed my life and tried to be grateful for everything that I’ve been fortunate to have. I stopped doing all of that. When I had a spare moment, I went on Facebook and just read the articles that popped up there. I occasionally danced for a friend’s wedding. I completely stopped writing. And I haven’t even thought about keeping a positive mindset or about what I am grateful for.

With all of the things going on in this world, I decided I needed to take a break and read something else rather than the articles on Facebook. I picked up the Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive from my bookshelf and am currently trying to read a couple of stories of it when I have a few spare moments.

It has made me realize that I haven’t thought about myself. My passions have taken a backseat currently. It’s not that I’m not enjoying the things I am doing now. It’s just that there is so much more to me than just being a mom and wife. There are things that make me feel alive in a different kind of way. I don’t want to resent not nurturing my passions. I want to feel more. I want to be aware of more.

Writing this post is a promise that I am making to myself to bring this part of me back to life.

Yes I’m Vain….But It Keeps Me Healthy

When I was 15, my metabolism quit. Like it got up and said “F*** you” and left. Prior to that, I was a super skinny kid and didn’t really worry about what I ate. After that, it’s like everything I ate just stayed on me. I ended up at around 130 pounds at the time. For a 5’2″ girl, there’s nowhere for that weight to really go that will look attractive. I wasn’t consistently athletic at the time so it wasn’t even muscle weight.

Now take a look around you. Take a look at yourself. Are you in shape? Are you taking care of yourself? Are you being healthy?

If the answer (the honest answer) is no, join the club. There are way too many of us out there that aren’t taking care of ourselves. The American Heart Association recommends walking around 10,000 steps or 5 miles per day. This is hard. I bought myself a Fitbit because I thought I must be easily hitting this number daily chasing my kid around plus working out once a day but nope. I still have to take another walk and really push my activity levels to hit this number. I rarely ever reach 5 miles. It’s frustrating.

After my metabolism quit, it took me another 6 years to come out of denial that I couldn’t just eat what I want and not work out and look like how I wanted. I always wanted to have the perfect body. I’ve always been a perfectionist. And somehow I thought that it would just come to me without me having to work for it.

One day, I looked at a picture of myself and saw how I looked in a shirt I really liked. It felt awful. I realized that I wasn’t just going to magically get into shape. It was, at the moment, I decided that I didn’t want to feel like that again. I joined a gym and started counting calories. I lost a ton of weight and not only was working out regularly but had joined a professional dance team so I was dancing regularly. I felt stronger and healthier.

I’m writing this because when I look around me and see so many people who don’t seem care, it’s frustrating and scary to me. My metabolism quit early and it took me 6 years to figure out what to do about it. But, mine quit earlier than it does for a lot of others. For those of us who are entering our 30s and inching towards our 40s, there are things that won’t work as well as they did before. We are at higher risk for health problems if we don’t start taking care of ourselves as soon as possible.

I’m sure a lot of you are thinking that you like the way you look or you’ve accepted your bodies for what it is. I applaud that. Here’s the thing. We don’t have to have the perfect bodies but we shouldn’t be treating our bodies like trash cans either. We don’t have to not enjoy food but we shouldn’t ignore the consequences of what we are eating as well. The point is that we aren’t eating healthier and exercising to look like supermodels. We are doing it so we feel better about ourselves. We are doing it so we can be there in the future to take care of our children. We are doing it so we don’t miss out on something just because we thought it was too much work when we were younger and couldn’t be bothered.

Unfortunately, I see way more people around me who don’t care than do. I hope they realize that change starts when you take the action to change. I’m hoping that most people understand that those who are physically fit really work hard at it. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Even for those people who are naturally thin, they have to watch what they eat and work out so they don’t end up with other health issues. In the end, we should all feel better about ourselves not only physically but emotionally.

Exercising and eating right does wonders for your mind and soul as much as your physical body. For me, it’s a coping mechanism. It helps my stress levels stay down and for me to deal with whatever problems happen in my life. It also boosts my confidence levels regardless of what I look like or how I’m feeling at the moment. There are plenty of times I’ve gone into a dance practice or work out feeling down or mad and 3o minutes later, I will feel really good about everything because I just needed to take a break from my mind and focus on my physical activity instead.

There are plenty of groups and articles to help you learn how to take care of yourself if that is where you are stuck. This is something I really believe in (even if I slip up every so often and eat a bag of jelly beans myself or have more alcohol than I probably should have). I hope you will be inspired to take the step to treat yourself with the respect you deserve.

Those People Who Know Everything

Do you know this person? This is the person that no matter what you’re talking about, they know everything about it. They know the best way to do something and they know what everyone likes all of the time. They know everything about everyone and they know what everyone feels as well and why they feel it. And if you ever correct them, they will find a way to argue their point or let you know exactly why you’re wrong.

I used to be one of them (and maybe I still am). When I was growing up, I had strong opinions. Well, maybe I still do, but I’ve learned over the years that not everyone shares them and that it’s my opinion and not fact. I used to argue about everything: why certain actors were the best, why the Lakers were better than any other NBA team, why what I liked made more sense than anything else. While I still maintain that I know which actors are the best and that the Lakers are the best NBA team, I also will admit that these are my views. I can also understand that other people have other opinions.

Everything is a point of view. And when we can’t understand someone else’s point of view, it makes us seem like we are know-it-alls. Just because you think you know something doesn’t make my point of view invalid. It just makes it different. And maybe we have different reasons on why we think the way we do. You aren’t doing yourself any favors if you are unwillingly to look at any other points of view. I remember when one of my friends told me while I was growing up that I was too argumentative. While I still believe in my opinions, I should have been more open to hearing other people out.

Opening up your mind to what other people think is a way to learn about things we don’t necessarily know about. It gives us the opportunity to see things in a whole new way. The next time you think you know something and someone disagrees or shares another point of view with you, try listening to their reasons why. It’s not going to hurt you to listen. In fact, you might just learn something new.

To Be Free

There are people who seem to glide through life just going with the flow. They seem so relaxed and nothing really seems to stress them out. This could be perception but I honestly believe there are people who really are able to just hang out and enjoy their experiences.

And there are some of us who stress at every turn, who let every little thing get to us, who are bothered by so many things. We can’t seem to relax and just enjoy the moment. We worry if things are going too fast or if things are going to slow. There isn’t a moment of peace for us. 

How do we achieve this peace? I know some suggestions are working out, yoga, meditation. It requires great discipline to be able to put your mind in the right place so that this is something is able to be achieved. But it’s a constant struggle. It definitely doesn’t come easy. 

Calming the mind, being free of your every day thoughts is a place that I strive to get to. It’s amazing how much power your thoughts have over your every day life. It affects your moods, your energy, your interactions with others, even your interaction with yourself. And it definitely affects your health. 

Positive thoughts are another challenge completely. To be able to really believe in the best of people and to be able to see the world as a beautiful place even when there are challenges is an amazing quality to have. 

Here’s a day dedicated to trying to free yourself from the confines of your mind. I want to try to just enjoy my surroundings and really admire the miracles that are occurring constantly in our world.

I want my mind to be free.