Today is the day the rubber hits the road. The pedal hits the metal. My alcoholism, depression, bipolar hit the proverbial fan. And a bunch of other stupid idioms that somehow seem appropriate right now.
My five-year relationship with a childhood sweetheart ended after he casually mentioned, while describing his “epic” vacation, that his ex-wife tagged along. He couldn’t believe I wasn’t more understanding because, really, it was in the kids’ best interest. Really?
The last time something like this happened I ended up in a major, major, major depression – a frog’s hair from a bottle or three of chardonnay – and on disability for two months. Depression is a bitch and relationship angst is my biggest trigger.
So, today I get to blow the dust off of all those tools I have acquired in countless therapy sessions, 12-step meetings, self-help books, feeble attempts at meditation and a stint in co-dependency treatment center. I am hoping they work. I am praying they work. I am counting on them working, along with my medications.
I have a soft, mushy spot in my heart for dogs, military vets and and people with mental illnesses and brain injuries. So, when I went to the AOL home page to retrieve my email and saw a photo of a young man with his arm around a dog and this headline - “Airline Staff Allegedly Abused Veteran” – I had to click.
In the story, Jim Stanek, a disabled vet who served three tours in Iraq and now has PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury) describes how he and his service dog Sarge were treated by United Airlines.
It is one of those flight-gone-bad stories that makes you want to escort the boards of directors at all the major airlines onto a plane, seat them in coach, close the doors, disable the bathrooms and leave them on the tarmac for eight hours with only peanuts, pretzels and water.
Stanek was trying to get back to his home in New Mexico after a fundraising event for Paws for Stripes, an organization he co-founded which provides service dogs for vets with PTSD and TBI. He got stuck in Dulles International Airport for a couple of frustrating days – flights cancelled, re-scheduled, cancelled, re-scheduled and on and on. It sounds like the kind of experience that would have driven the Dalai Lama to cursing.
Sometimes the little things are a really big deal.
I’ve been working on an article on the impact the Affordable Care Act will have on those of us with mental illnesses. I have been focusing on the big picture – no more denials for pre-existing conditions, parity coverage for mental illnesses and children up to age 26 staying on their parents’ plan. These are the big ticket items that will have big impact.
Under the ACA, you cannot be denied coverage because of your diagnosis for bipolar. You cannot be charged higher premiums or co-pays because of your history of depression. Your insurance plan will pay for your 23-year-old daughter to go to rehab.
Then I learned about a little thing that has not grabbed headlines but will have a profound impact on people with mental illnesses. It’s about the online directory of providers that insurance companies provide for consumers who are shopping for insurance.
Doesn’t sound like a big deal. I would have glossed right over it if it hadn’t been for Dr. Steven Daviss, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry for the Baltimore Washington Medical Center of the University of Maryland.