The Cost of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder and depression run rampant on my mother’s side of the family.  My grandmother has been treated for depression, but I suspect she may have been Bipolar Type 2.  Out of her five girls, only one was not bipolar, but she did have anxiety disorders and one took her own life.  One of the Bipolar daughters self medicates with alcohol and is a raging alcoholic.  There are 10 grandchildren, and three of them are confirmed as having Bipolar Disorder, although I suspect more have been treated for depression or may even be a Type 2 and it is not discussed.

I was diagnosed when my son was 2; he is now 25.  I have often worried about passing this wretched disorder on to him, but apparently he inherited the vanilla depression and anxiety.  I worry about him often, and worry about him having children.  While he is aware that I have Bipolar Disorder, he says that he sees more of the depression end of it and figures I have depression.  He says I am not as crazy as my younger brother, who is a Type 1 and is not properly medicated.  (He either “fakes it until he can make it” and get what he knows doesn’t work or most of the time he doesn’t take his medicine consistently.  He is definitely addicted to the mania and topping it off with not being able to tell the truth to save his life is just the cherry on the cake.)

I watched Son like a hawk when he was  younger.  I even took him to counseling and be treated for depression when his father left the state when he was 6.  He was on a low dose of antidepressant for a while to get him over the hump, and I worked with his counselor on how to handle his behavior and his acting out over his father.  Even now, Son is grateful that I have always been an advocate for therapy as he is able to talk about it some with me and he was grateful that I helped him find a therapist he trusts and he can work with.  (Now, if I can just get him to be able to afford to keep going now that he has insurance again…)

It infuriates me that mental health is not taken as seriously as physical health.  In my state, it is the least funded mandate and mental health services are almost non existent.  Even with insurance, mental health services are severely limited and the costs are sky high.  I have a $1,000 deductible, which means that I have to pay for my therapy for an average of $80 per one hour session.  I have to pay for 13 sessions on my own first before my insurance will cover 80%.  This makes no sense as I pay a $25 co pay to see my doctor every three months to get my Latuda, afterward having to pay an additional $50 after my insurance is billed.  I can’t afford that.  I do good to pay for the psych doc and often my physical health is set aside because I can’t afford the additional cost every three months of a primary care physician to handle the diabetes.

I realize I am fortunate.  I shudder to think about those of you who don’t have insurance and who can’t afford meds or doctors or any other sort of help.  I feel your pain.  And I’ve been there.  It sucks.  At least now when the company I work for looks around for lower insurance rates, I am not the reason why the rates are so high.  That’s what you get for having a workforce made up of mostly women over 60.

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