Tuesdays With Abhorrent Fiends vol. 51: acting lessons

Greetings y'all.

Despite beautiful local fireworks and a trip to Wisconsin to see my newest cousin, Independence Day passed without a post from me. (Although I was able to enjoy KoL's Dependence Day.) But that is okay, because Geds has posted a wonderful and captivating series about the American Civil war called Four Days in July. If you don't feel like scrolling to the bottom, you can start at the first post in the series, here.

I am working on American Idol posts, but have been lethargic and playing tons of Heroes of Might and Magic IV instead of writing stuff. I will post those eventually, in case they will be interesting.

Our local mental health place has experienced massive budget cutbacks--cutbacks with consequences. To wit, they are no longer able to give psychiatric care for free to people without insurance. Namely us. So after meeting some nice intake counselors, generating pages and pages of notes for our files, meeting psychiatrists, and getting on some meds that actually help us, we are now right back where we started.

My last appointment with the psychiatrist happened to fall on the same day the staff got the news of their budget cuts. I had wondered why she handed me enough meds to last me the next six weeks when my next appointment was only in three weeks, but it makes sense now. Nice of her. And since me and Dave are on the same meds, when we start to run low we can pool our resources for maximum duration.

I took the news pretty calmly; meds and counseling are very helpful but not life-threatening if I have to go without. Some of the clinic's other patients are not in the same boat, though. The counselor who brought me up to speed on the budget cutbacks said there'd been one very angry man who stood around in the lobby shouting after he got the news. I imagined a situation he might have been in; homeless, jobless, with a serious set of crossed brain wires. Suddenly told there would be no more help for him. Hell, I'd've been shouting too.

The previous week Dave and I had gone to the nearest Department of Human Services office to apply for welfare. Right off the bat, hearing that I am getting money from unemployment and am not disabled, the lady there told me I would only qualify for food stamps, not cash assistance or medical assistance. Dave might qualify for all three, since he has no income.

But to even apply for food stamps I need written proof of all my expenses, including rent. Which is kind of a problem, since the lease was between Dad and the landlord, and I just kind of kept on paying the rent after Dad died. So I have no written proof of anything from him; I had to call and ask him. Difficult, because even medicated, talking to hearing from, or otherwise dealing with our landlord throws me into a fearful state of mind. He seems like a nice and reasonable guy and has only once mentioned the possibility of us having to move out, despite the fact that I'm now a month and half behind on the rent and have been for some time. However, he'd be within his rights to kick us to the curb whenever he gets fed up, and I know it. I am acutely and fearfully conscious of this fact whenever I see his name on our caller ID. So far, though, I've either been lucky, have subconsciously guessed his schedule, or have developed some minor super power which allows me to only call him at times when I can get his voicemail. Hopefully he will send us a document we can use without getting too irritated.

There are some more hoops we can jump through to try to get state aid, though. The counselor who explained it to me gave me a letter which basically states "This person is in need of psychiatric care", and helped me find a local DHS office nearby which might be more sympathetic. She kind of walked me through some strategies for how to present myself and my case which might help.

First of all, me and Dave shouldn't come as a couple next time--that gives an impression of stability, which while it may be true in an emotional sense, does not translate for us into financial stability. Second, I need to talk about my problems and why I need mental health care in a way that makes me sound like a patient. I tried out some phrasings on her, and she said my natural way of speaking sounds way too much like therapist lingo and would sound coached. So she tried re-stating my issues in more normal-sounding words: "you know, I've been really depressed ever since my father committed suicide, and it's been so hard to find a job." And despite the seriousness of the subject I burst out laughing. She started laughing too. How funny it is, she said, that I'm coaching you on how not to sound coached. I said it was all about image, just like with homeless guys begging for change. I could be a genuine vet with two legs missing, but unless I have a loud voice and a jingling cup with change in it, people aren't gonna give me their money.

So much of everything is about image, is about acting the part so that people will put you into the role you wish to play. Write a resume, write a cover letter, so that you appear to be a consummate professional, eager to work your tail off and capable enough to tackle any task. Apply for public aid, and present yourself as a poor helpless person whose only hope for survival lies in a government program.

Every person has many facets, and though I am a capable (and after months of inactivity, most eager!) employee, I also hover on the brink of eviction, wondering which utility will be cut off first. So yes, all of these things are true. But what matters in any given endeavor is how true they appear to be.


kisekileia said...

Some of the drug companies have programs that allow people who can't afford meds to get them for free or cheap. I don't know the details, especially since I'm Canadian, but I know a woman in the States who gets her bipolar meds that way--want me to ask her?

Unrepentant said...

You are stronger than you think, making me think I need meds.

Our financial situation is good. Even if we didn't have jobs we would have a roof and food. Yet, when my husband told me his job would end in August, I went into such suffering and pain that I wondered if those 15 years of on-and-off therapy had been good for something.

I though that I was going to throw up and that my heart was going to burst out of my chest. I even thought of suicide.

But, this isn't about me. If I were a Christian I would say I'll pray for you, but since I am not, I suggest asking for donations on line.

Put a donate section on your blogs. It may give you spare change for bus fare :)

You'll find out that people are nicer than God!

Fiat Lex said...

Thanks kiseki--would you ask her for me? One of the counselors gave Dave a flier for a company that tests out new meds. I'm not so sure about signing up to be a guinea pig so they can learn about effectiveness and side effects, though, so some other option would be cool!

And thank you as well, Lorena! I send you imaginary virtual hugs. Imagine me hugging you, k? (With eyes closed I suppose, since we neither of us put our real pics on our blogs. ^_^) With a month's warning he at least has some time to find another job, even if it's just temp or contract work. I know that feeling! I've had it a couple of times in the past few months, such as following that one strained conversation with my landlord.

Yet even with our scary situations, you're right, there's a lot of good things too. Every day I hug Dave and think how glad I am to still be able to live with him. And even if we can't keep this place, we both have moms we can move back in with, so we're not facing having to live on the street.

Donation link, eh? I will investigate this possibility. I wonder if people would commission poetry from me. That'd be fun.

Unrepentant said...

Thanks, Fiat-Lex. We are pretty economical, so when times are good, our bank account fattens. So, we should be OK. I'm just a drama queen, really. It's the famous fly-or-fight response that screws me up.

Funny how working is much more than skills, ha? I am so traumatized by the work place that even though I have the skill, I just don't feel like going back.

Kind of like a homeless who prefers to live under the bridge rather than to join the human race.

kisekileia said...

Sure, Lex, I will check with her.

kisekileia said...

Link here: http://www.needymeds.org/indices/pap.shtml

Your clinic could consider passing this link along to other patients who can't afford their meds as well.