By: Andrienne Kennedy
Before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, I was clueless. I was clueless about mental health and mental illness. My knowledge on the topic was non-existent. The reason why I did not know about mental health or mental illness was well, I never needed to know. Mental illness had never affected me or my loved ones. It was a subject that I would get a thorough schooling in. I was somewhat detached. Pretty sad, right? I know, I’m actually kind of embarrassed just typing these words. Come to think about it, I did know about therapy, which is funny because no one in my family ever went or talked about it. I guess subconsciously, deep down inside I knew that I would need the help of a therapist one day!
When I was diagnosed back in 2014, I was in denial. I was in denial because of the terrible stigma that was still prevalent surrounding people with mental health disorders. Stigma literally forced me to be silent. I felt that if I admitted that I had a mental health disorder, I would be weak in some way. I thought that the diagnosis would in some way diminish all my accomplishments.
About a year and half ago, I decided to take my mental health seriously. I wanted stability, and I wanted to know what recovery felt like. I wanted to feel “regular”. That was the gift that I decided to give myself. The gift of stability. With this decision came the regular therapy and psychiatry appointments. What threw me for a loop was the cost of the regular appointments. When I realized what the cost of my monthly appointments and prescriptions would be, it did make me think twice. Should I choose to be stable or to save a few bucks? I am happy that I am blessed enough to be able to afford the copays for therapy sessions and appointments with my psychiatrist. This was something that I had to get serious about and commit to.
The Parity Act is so very important. It ensures that people with mental health disorders have the same level of coverage for mental illnesses as those patients with physical ailments. Mental health disorders are illnesses that affect the brain and they should be treated just like a physical illness. As a person who lives with a mental health disorder and works hard every day to maintain, I need to know that my health coverage is not in jeopardy because my mental health disorder is still grossly misunderstood by the masses or others in positions of power.
The Parity Act is necessary for me because I know that when I need to vent to my therapist or see my psychiatrist for my prescriptions that have run out, I can do that. I do not have the added stress of worrying if visits to my mental health team is going to be covered I do not have anxiety about the bill being so expensive that I must choose between necessities and a therapy appointment. I am at ease knowing that if I am in a state of manic or if severe anxiety sets in I will be able to seek emergency mental health care. It’s not a pretty picture when I am off my meds and not going to therapy, but the Parity Act is a great help.
For me on my mental health journey, please visit my blog.