this is fucking important.
One thing that I quickly want to mention is that it’s especially hard to get mental health help if you’re poor, because the amount of work involved in taking care of yourself is so much greater and filled with so many more obstacles, that many of us just quit. It’s hard to pay for insurance, it’s hard to find an insurance that covers mental health even when you can afford it, not to mention that everything is hard when you’re depressed. It’s cruel how hard it is when that’s precisely the time it should be easy. Poor kids or immigrant kids also often grow up with a biased view of mental illness. We’ll live with it, we say to ourselves, we’re tough, we can do it. When you grow up poor, you are often of the mentality (like I was) that it’s not a “real disease,” like cancer or polio, that there is no time and no money for taking a problem like “feeling sad” or “worrying too much” seriously. But listen: that’s a lie. We often don’t go get help, or don’t continue trying to get help because of the way we grew up, because it wasn’t considered a “real problem.” I can tell you that in my Ukrainian immigrant family, it was so. We often treat mental illness like it can be put on the back burner, but listen: it can’t. Imagine you have a tumor in your brain, and it’s fatal. Because it’s true. Your brain is trying to kill you every day, by telling your brain lies.
Getting well when you’re poor is so hard. But it is absolutely worth it. You owe it to yourself to KEEP TRYING. Mental health is not a precise science, and that’s also scary and fucking depressing, frankly. It often takes many many tries to to get well, but please keep trying. When I first tried to find medication, I was in college in DC full time, working 2 jobs, and I had to take the train to a free clinic in Virginia. It was so hard to get there I found another doctor. I also went to therapy at the graduate center by my college, which was sliding scale and I paid $10 a session. Those things sound like nothing, but they were monumental achievements. Finding those resources was like swimming in molasses. I had a breakdown over every single one of them. I would cry and rage trying to find a doctor who would take me with no money, trying to plan my appointments around my classes and jobs, trying to keep from cutting myself and throwing shit while filling out a billion approval forms, while taking trains across town, while crying in my boyfriend’s car. Every part of it was hard. It took me more than several attempts with several different psychologists, psychiatrists, medications, and more than 10 years to live a life that doesn’t spiral out of my control at random times. During that time I stopped trying for years, suffering because I couldn’t fathom going through looking for another shrink because I moved, or changed jobs, or lost my insurance. I don’t say KEEP TRYING lightly. I say it with the scars of someone who has and still is. KEEP TRYING KEEP TRYING KEEP TRYING. It should not be harder for you because of your means, and I’m sad that in our society it is, but you gotta KEEP TRYING KEEP TRYING because your life is worth it. I promise that you don’t even know how good it can be. I know I didn’t.