Access denied

First thing’s first: the Therapist Project’s therapist database went live today.  If you suffer from mental health problems and want a therapist who you know will treat you with evidence-based therapy, now, hopefully you can get it.

Speaking of which, today I go see the new psychiatrist.  I’m nervous.  I barely slept last night.

Imagine you were sick with something that at multiple times threatened your life.  Imagine that same sickness caused you a fair amount of grief for years and that the best that can be done to fight it is a daily pill that makes you lethargic and slow-thinking…but it has the upshot of keeping you alive and somewhat functional.  It’s certainly a step up, for which you’re undoubtedly grateful.  A life with less shimmer is still a life, and it’s a better life than suffering through the disease otherwise.

But now imagine you’ve found another med that does better.  It makes you almost fully normal.  Taking the pill produces no sluggishness, and it gives you your brain back at its full power while removing any hint of disability.  It’s not a cure, but it’s a damn good fix for as long as you take it that reminds you of how life used to be a half dozen years ago, before you fell sick.  Every medical person you tell says the same, obvious thing: this is clearly the drug you need to be on.

And now imagine you can’t get it, because they don’t prescribe it to people with your sickness.

It’s hard to describe how it feels knowing that an almost perfectly normal brain is so close, and I just can’t get it.  Today I’m going to ask my new therapist to give me a drug I know he can’t.  Is there a chance it’ll work?  A small one, but yes, otherwise I wouldn’t bother.  But I’ll likely return to a life of stability that comes with cognitive fuzziness and uncomfortable lethargy. I’ll be no worse off than I presently am.  It’s a good life, a better one than it could be, but it shimmers a little less knowing it could be better.  Being normal is just such a wonderful thought now that I know it’s possible.

It just sucks knowing there’s better out there.  I know I should root around and find some perspective, and I’m sure I will, but right now it’s kind of tough.  I find virtue in strength, but sometimes you just need a damn hug.

Wish me luck.

MENTAL ILLNESS: Time to go be a lab rat.
MENTAL ILLNESS: I see affection as a competition.
MENTAL ILLNESS: Today's session.
MENTAL ILLNESS: BDSM or Neuroscience?
About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • NFQ

    So many hugs for you, JT…!

  • Tina Marie in Houston

    Wishing you the best of luck! **hugs**

  • hopeevey

    Good luck!! *hugshugs*

  • Billy Clyde Tuggle

    Good luck with your medicine quest, JT, and thank you for continuing to discuss this issue so openly. I too count on my daily dose of “happy pills” (actually 4 times daily) to be able to function close to normal. Even so yesterday was a difficult day with anxiety off the chart. Today feels like it might be a bit better. Here’s hoping.


  • Stephanie Zvan

    Much luck to you. Also much admiration for being smart in how you’re going about trying to get your needs met. And many, many hugs.

  • John Eberhard


  • J*

    Does it actually make it harder for you to eat though? Could make the bad days worse maybe? Just saying they may have a point.

    *Hug* Good luck, dude!

  • lorimakesquilts

    Hugs to you hon. Hang in there. I hate being on meds (I take an SNRI) but I hate what I’m like without them. Still, it’s hard being so flat emotionally all the time. I feel like I’m missing the joy of watching my son grow up sometimes. And then I remember I’d likely be hospitalized and missed it all, so I deal best I can.

    To J*: Yeah, SSRIs and SNRIs can make it literally hard to eat for some folks. Some days just chewing and swallowing is a challenge, it’s a bit like being sore or stiff, very weird. Soft foods are all I can do on days like that. There is a great appetite stimulant out there but of course it’s not legal most places and probably not at all for mental health conditions.

  • Katie G

    Best of luck today, and thank you for being so open and honest about a topic so many people deal with that they try to hide. It’s so important to hear others are on the quest to find that shimmer.

  • CC

    I take an SSRI too, so I know about the mental fog. I have trouble remembering things. I take it with Wellbutrin, which helps. I couldn’t take either drug alone, especially Wellbutrin, which sends me off the rails with anxiety, but in combination, they make me feel just about normal. I offer my experience just in case there’s any help in it for you, but I’m sure you’ve done your research.

    Best of luck to you! I hope your new doctor gives you just the kind of help you need! {hug}

    • Drew

      Wellbutrin and Celexa is working as a pretty good pair for me right now. Adding the Wellbutrin definitely reduced the foginess.

      Good Luck, JT!

  • Cunning Pam

    Best of luck to you, JT! I hope this new psychiatrist can help you get what you need to shimmer even more brightly. *Hugs*!

  • Kaoru Negisa

    *lots and lots of hugs* Hope this works out for you and things go well. You’ve got a lot of people rooting for you.

    I’m not sure if that’s a correct cliche, but if not, replace it with the cliche of your choice.

  • Emily

    Hugs JD! Keep fighting and keep requesting the medication. Hope things get better for you!

  • Rory

    You’ve probably already thought of this, but are there any clinical trials ongoing in your area that would allow you access to the drug of choice for your particular indication? It’s not a perfect fix, but it would at least give you a chance to try it, and depending on the trial it might run for a couple of years.

  • Desert Son, OM

    Thought of you the other day on my run. I enjoy listening to music when I jog, and a particular song on the mix came up and I reflected on it in relation to my own mental illness and medication. Then I was reminded of your struggle and quest for treatment, as well. I found the tune, and lyrics, encouraging.

    “I’m tough, rough, ready and able
    To pick myself up from under this table
    Don’t stick no sign on me, I got no label
    I’m a little sick, unsure, unsound and unstable

    But I’m fighting my way back!”

    -Thin Lizzy, “Fighting My Way Back” 1975

    A warm embrace of encouragement from a fellow traveler on the brain chemistry road.

    Still learning,


  • StevoR

    Best wishes. Hope it all works out well for you -and you can get what you need.

  • Krisko

    JT, I know exactly what you mean. And if it’s the problem I think you’re talking about, the irony here is that I could get the drug that works for my disorder, but only if I had your disorder.

    I, also, am off to see my shrink and try to con her into giving me the drugs I need, not just the drugs she’s allowed to give me.

  • Scott Cragin

    Aren’t drugs prescribed for off label use all the time?

    • Rory

      It depends. Doctors are allowed to prescribe off-label, within the confines of good medical practice and federal drug scheduling requirements. What may be more problematic is the reimbursement of an off-label prescription. Depending on your insurance company (or HMO), they may refuse to reimburse off-label usage outright. They may require you to take and fail on other drugs before they’ll allow payment for an off-label product, or they may pay some of the cost but leave the patient with a prohibitively high copay.

  • stubby

    I hope things go/went well. You are awesome, JT.

  • Pteryxx

    more late *hugs* and good luck, JT.

    Off topic but maybe good for a smile – I recognized the image on that e-card! It’s from one of the Sam Campbell adventures-in-nature books from the 40′s, published by a Christian company and permitted to me as a child in fundie land. I adored those books, and haven’t seen one in decades… thanks!

    And several of them are online, drawings and all! *squee*

  • geocatherder

    Keep looking for a new psychiatrist. Mine is a gem; he keeps up on the latest literature, and isn’t a bit shy about trying off-label prescriptions. If something doesn’t work, or if the side effects are daunting, he suggests a different drug cocktail. It took a long time to get stable, and it takes periodic tweaking… but I have absolutely controlled depression now. I’m really jazzed just being able to type that…

  • LadyBlack

    Good luck to you.

    I’ve been told at work that I’m not allowed to use one of my coping mechanisms because it distresses other people. Which is fair, it’s just I don’t seem to have any other coping mechnisms which work. Well, which work as well. We’ve agreed I can go for a long walk, like….to Kansas, maybe. I should be calm by then.

    Hate this. Hate this. Hate this.

    Oh well, have my appointment this evening, maybe I can get sorted.

    Really wish you luck, but I know it can be difficult to get help – over here, it seems to depend on which post code you live in.