Getting through Challenges on the Autoimmune Mental Health Journey

Autoimmune conditions often come along with mental health challenges of stress, depression, and anxiety. Today I want to address these challenges and talk about the mental health journey and the various steps along the journey. Here are some key points to help you along the way.

  1. Acknowledge the need for counseling/therapy

    Sometimes it’s difficult for us to get into the realization that we need help. For many years, I refused to seek medication and treatment referrals from psychiatry. I was often successful at getting through dizzy spells, panic attacks, and feelings of dissociation for many years of my life. However, right before my autoimmune relapse, I realized that I was facing new levels of anxiety and panic disorder which were more intense than ever before.

    After a period of time spent finding ways to ignore, get past, ride through, or self-treat mental health challenges, there may come a point where we realize the patterns have been becoming way too frequent and we are too exhausted to get through this alone anymore.

    When the autoimmune relapse started and the anxiety became unusually high, I spoke gratitude to myself for getting through this far in life without seeking treatment. But I realized that I could no longer do this alone.

    Once I sought help, I was so glad I had done it, and really wish I had done it sooner, because my psychiatrist stabilized my mental health, and my therapist changed my life. (I’ll share more about this in an upcoming post.)

  2. Health Insurance Concerns

    I wish I could tell you that coming to terms with needing therapy was enough, but it’s often just the beginning. Unless you are able to pay full price for mental health therapy, it can take several weeks to find a therapist that is in your health insurance network.

    It has been over a year since my last therapy appointment. Since then, I have moved to a new location and would like to find a therapist near my new location. However, finding a therapist close to my new location has not been easy and the saga continues! So far, I have recently made 5 calls to various therapists under my health insurance plan. Two called to let me know that they weren’t taking any new clients. Two never returned my call. And there is one where we left two voice mails back and forth without any information on next steps. After a few weeks of these interactions, it’s time for me to contact my insurance provider and have them assign someone, anyone to me who is available. My next strategy is on being available to drive a bit farther out to see if this will help with availability of a therapist/counselor.

  3. Finding the Right Therapist

    This leads me to the next part of the journey, and this is about finding the right therapist. In an ideal setting where therapists are available to meet your insurance needs and there are many options, it’s important to find the one who is actually helping you. Some therapists are available just to act as a sounding board, some provide relaxation and awareness therapies, and some are able to provide clear guidance on solutions to mental health struggles. It can sometimes take a few tries, meeting different therapists until there is a good fit. In the past it took me a few visits to different therapists until I found someone who could help me make true changes in my mental health and well-being.

    If the first therapist/counselor you meet is helping you make improvements to your mental health, this is wonderful! If you feel like they are not helping, it is important to call up a new therapist.

The mental health journey is just another step in proactive wellness. Continue to be your own advocate in achieving mental health wellness options. Believe that it is achievable, and that it is possible. Continue the process of seeking options to make your mental health a priority.

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