An Addict’s Story About Being a Mom Struggling with Addiction
It was my first Mother’s Day as a mom. It should have been a day filled with fresh flowers, Hallmark, and pampering. Instead I spent it in the fetal position, sobbing my eyes out. I was giving every bit of energy I had to my son, so that I could smile and act like his usual mommy. Here’s the thing (and this is for all you moms out there): Being a mother—a new mother, an old mother, a stepmother—is amazing, but at times it sucks so very, very much. Everywhere I looked (okay, it was only on Facebook) these other moms were making it look so wonderful all the time. And I, the selfish one, was loving this small life beyond my wildest dreams, but also grieving the freedom I once had.
A wake up call.
In the midst of this, my own mother turned to me and said, “Maybe you should talk to your doctor.” I have been on antidepressants for a long time. Like, before the cheesy commercials. And while that’s not the sexiest fact about myself, they’ve helped me a ton. So I don’t care if anyone has a problem with it. Want to judge? Go on with it, I have a prescription to refill.
My mom looked at me and said, “Chrissy, you’ve had a lot of changes. Your body and mind might not be the same anymore. You need help out of this hole.” These were not typical words for my mom, so I decided to see a psychiatrist, instead of my normal general practitioner.
Trying to navigate the mental healthcare maze.
Please note: I am savvy. I have done care coordination for years. And I was gainfully employed and had had health insurance for a long time. So I called my insurance provider and was given a list of psychiatrists who take my (HMO) insurance. None were taking new patients. Grrrr …
So I called an extremely large health system in my area. They’re known to be one of the best hospitals in the world. They call themselves leaders and do amazing research. I talked to their psychiatry department. Here’s what I got:
Grumpy Receptionist: “Are you a (fill in the large university) patient?”
Me: “No.” Of course I wasn’t, it could take weeks or months to get into primary care there.
Grumpy Receptionist: “Well then, all we can give you is one appointment. We’re booked all the way out to October (6 months later!). And at the appointment, they won’t be prescribing any meds.”
Me: “Seriously, then what’s the point?”
And these people took my insurance! What. The. Hell. I was astonished and angry. What’s the point in the research if you can’t help people?
I reached out for help and took steps that I didn’t feel like taking but knew I needed. It seemed like I was ahead of the game. I was turned away.
So what did I do? I continued to see my very nice, considerate primary care physician. They would very much like me to have a psychiatrist but know how impossible that is.
I tell people this story for many reasons:
If you’re a mom and you’re struggling. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Trust me. For a lot of us, motherhood and mental health concerns often seem to go hand-in-hand.
Our healthcare system needs to do better.
There is no shame in having co-occurring issues. In fact many of us do. Come join—we are a fun bunch!