This One Is So Hard To Write, But I Think It’s Important ~Finances For The Mentally Ill, Elderly & Low Income Folks…

I am barely breathing as I write this. I feel shy, ashamed, afraid. But I am writing it because it came to me that it could be important for others to read. In Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life she writes, “One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.” On the second day of this September Blogging Challenge With Effy Wild it has come to me that I finally need to talk about this. Oh God help me. Here I go.

I have been blessed, in my life, growing up and through 31 years of marriage, to be financially secure, to have health insurance, to see good doctors of my own choosing. I did not, previously, have to worry about about how I would find and pay for health care. All that ended in February 2014 when my house burned down. Among all the losses, and there were many, physical possessions, beloved pets, and more, I lost any financial security I ever had, I had to cancel my health insurance, I was on the cusp of turning 60 at the time of the fire, struggling as I had my whole life and especially in my adult years with mental illness and after my marriage ended I fell into full blown agoraphobia in addition to clinical depression, a severe anxiety disorder, PTSD from a childhood full of abuse, and finally bipolar disorder. After the fire another layer of PTSD was added and I have not been able to get my bearings ever since. It has been like the tectonic plates in the earth, in the ground of my being, were forever shifting and I could not, have not been able to get my balance ever since. Everything in my life that made me feel safe and secure were swept away the night of the fire and I haven’t been able to recover. The last six months I have been drowning. I cannot see my way into a future. I am, as are so many other mentally ill, elderly, and low income folks afraid about money every day of my life. My therapist is trying hard to help me, my medications are being managed, I have loving family and friends and I love and appreciate them all but I do not feel safe and I am terrified all the time.

I need to take a breath…

After the fire my daughter Rachel, my staunchest advocate and supporter, stepped up to the plate to help me piece my life together. I simply could not manage at all. I was in shock, deeply shaken by the trauma of the fire, I didn’t know how to move forward at all. She became my financial power of attorney, helped me fill out all manner of applications, among them disability and medicaid, both of which were denied to me, and food stamps, for which I qualified for a modest amount. Every little bit helps. She found government programs for me — They are out there! They exist! Have someone help you find these things, do NOT go without the help you need! — that pay for both my therapy and the P.A. who manages my medications. And she found the clinic in town for low income families. There I found a medical doctor, a foot doctor when I needed one, and now I have finally given up my dentist of 22 years whom I loved so much. I simply cannot afford to go to her anymore. There is a dental office at the clinic. I went there for the first time this week. I did also apply, last year for the first time, for Health Net (which pays for medical visits if you are below a certain income which I am, for specialists the clinic does not provide.) and “Charity Care” (They paid for my colonoscopy in March or I would not have been able to have one.). At 63 now I am at a place I never imagined I’d be in my life. I sit at the clinic and feel lost and afraid. I have not had to use any of these types of services in my life and I have been ashamed, humiliated even. I have not been able to speak about it or write about it. I am doing so now because there are a lot of people out there who are not getting the care they need or don’t begin to know that some of these things are available. Gone are all the doctors with whom I had relationships for sometimes decades. I am a stranger in a strange land and I am not alone. And if you are reading this and going through any of this yourself, take heart, you are not alone, I am here with you too. And I’ll tell you something else…

I am beginning to feel deeply grateful for all of this help and all of these services instead of just being afraid and ashamed. “I never thought I’d have to live like this,” I have said so often in tears and feeling so hopeless, but guess what? I AM in this position now. I am 63, mentally ill, unable to work outside the home, I am divorced and alone with my little pugs and I need the help. And I am telling you from where I sit today that there is no shame in taking advantage of the help that is there to help you. Especially if you are mentally ill and need a good therapist and medication. Do NOT go without the help you need. I repeat, it is out there.

I dream of being able to do some work from home to help support me, to help me be more independent. I taught journal classes for 40 years. I have written professionally since I was 20. I have coached and mentored countless people. But… today, every day, it is a struggle to get up and get through the day and keep on going. I hold on hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute. I don’t know how I would be making it at all were it not for my 3 little pugs. They are my life. They sleep with me. I get up in the morning because I have to feed them and care for them, but once I make my coffee I sit clutching the mug often struggling to breathe. I am afraid all the time about vet bills. I know that I will not be able to afford to keep pugs when the day comes when my little ones are no longer with me.

I have not been suicidal in a long time, I am holding on, but as I look out toward the rest of my life, however much is left to me, it is impossible for me to know how I can hang on if I lose what I do have. I cannot see anything but darkness ahead. My therapist says that I am “perseverating” about the losses to the point that I cannot move forward. We are working together. I cannot see how to climb up out of this hole. But I can, I must, I will.

Getting older comes with a myriad of changes and adjustments, living with mental illness complicates things terribly both for the one who suffers as well as those who love them. Loss of income and financial security are devastating, terrifying. Put all three together and it’s hard to sleep at night, or even to breathe, or to believe there is a way out. But I am trying. I want to battle my way through this. I would like to write a book that people who are afraid can hold and know that they are not alone. A book that they can flip open anywhere and feel loved and cared for. I have imagined calling the book, If You Are Alone and Afraid, and Struggling, Come Sit By Me. I want to get through this myself and help others. I really do. I am not afraid to ask for your prayers and good thoughts that I can both survive and be of service. Finally, what else is there?

I will stop here but I really want you to know this. I hope you will come back and read my blog and know that if you comment I will answer you. You are not alone. I am not alone. It’s hard to remember this, but it is true.

I am sending warm regards and deepest blessings to each one of you. I hold you in my heart. I always will.

 

If you enjoy this blog a donation would be deeply appreciated to help me continue to bring “Maitri’s Heart” to you. Thank you, and many deep blessings to one and all…

Comments

  1. Maitri,
    So very well written and so touching in so many, many ways. I feel the the emotions that come from your heart. My therapist told me I needed self love, and that my bucket was empty and I needed to fill it…..don’t exactly know what that really means and have not been back to see him again. Like you, I am soon to be 65 alone and trying to figure things out for myself. Things I thought I would know by now and not have to be dealing with. I am glad you shared with us your thoughts and your feelings it helps to put pen to paper. And I think you should write (If You are Alone and Afraid, and Struggling Come Sit By Me.). I will buy the first copy……Hugs..JIM

    • Oh Jim you are so dear, and you do know what I am feeling, and it is hard, isn’t it? But we are not alone. Keep coming back here or on Facebook and I will answer you. I don’t know if we will ever have all the answers we seek, I expect not, but I hope and I pray I can find a way to survive and be of service in the world. And to not wake up every morning so afraid about money I can barely breathe. To be able to do my work, and write books that help others, that is where my heart is. Your note here meant a lot to me. Thank you so much. I am sending you love and a gentle warm hug… <3 Maitri

  2. Thank you Maitri for being on this blogging journey and inspiring me with your experience. Much love to you!

    • Thank you so much for commenting Leslie, it means so much to me. And I am deeply grateful if what I’ve written is meaningful to you. Love to you as well, and may you be blessed… <3

  3. It’s so important to get your message out there, so many people cannot even come close to imagining how it is to be in your position and change can only come with awareness ❤️

  4. So much “yes” to everything you said – thank you for writing this. ♥ If you do write that book (and I hope you will, and I love that title), it will be so helpful. So many don’t know of services that exist – I don’t know them all, and I get scared about what might be ahead for me, and my therapist reminds me that there are services and people and things available to help… But then when I get scared again, I tend to forget and need to reminded again. (And I realize I need to do less anxious looking ahead… I have a few different diagnosed anxiety disorders, and I’ve also dealt with agoraphobia (and am close to being there again, which I’m currently trying to fight with myself against) and my heart and thoughts go out to you around all that you’ve written here.) I am sending prayers and good thoughts. ♥

    • Thank you so much Gin, your kind words mean so much to me. And I am sorry that you suffer and struggle too. I can’t tell you how empowering it can feel — even though it’s scary — to find services that help you and meet your needs. It is so scary, going through all of this, but there are resources, there is help. I hope you find all that you need. Your therapist is right honey. And I appreciate the prayers and good thoughts more than I can say, and I am sending them right back to you. Bless you dearheart, and may you find peace in your heart… <3

  5. Maitri, please don’t EVER let go! You have so many people who love you, not least of all your daughter Rachel and your doggies. I’ve not ever been in your shoes so I can’t say I know what you’re going through. I have gone through my own vail of suffering. And remember, the Lord is ever with you. Love always, Memarge

    • Thank you so much Marge, you are so kind. It is a hard road but one that can be traversed with courage and prayers and the help of those we love and while I may often be lacking in the courage department the other pieces help me keep going. I am sending you love as well. May your days be gentle and may kindness be around you always…

  6. What a brave posting and so needed. As a healthcare worker, we try to connect people to the clinics that will provide free care. I knew that some people were embarrassed to receive this care and you have expressed this so well along with the loss of your previous providers. Yes yes yes I agree with your message that people should find the services they need. Simple things like blood pressure meds, antidepression meds and therapy cost so little compared to the good that they do. The people who work in these areas want to help make the lives they touch better.

    • Thank you so much for your support and kindness Jackie and bless you for the work you do. It has been eye opening for me to lose my financial security, insurance, and so much more, and have to piece together a life, bit by bit. There is a lot of help out here but it’s not always easy to find and so many of us feel so lost and hopeless. I am so lucky that my darling Rachel is here and such a staunch advocate for me. I hope to finish writing my book with a Resource section in the back with helpful information for those who need to find these resources. It is so good to know that there are people like you out there, your work and your kindness are appreciated more than you will ever know… <3

  7. Trece Wyman says:

    So glad you wrote this! It has been and is being, true in my life. We survived without health insurance because of charity care. It was a huge blessing when I had to be hospitalized twice last year, before I got Medicare. “There are always helpers”, remember when Mr. Rogers’ words brought us that comfort? It is still true today, you just need to nose around until you find them.
    Love you, Maitri. You are a very special friend.

    • Thank you so much Trece, you are very dear indeed. And yes, I am grateful indeed that I am able to have Charity Care and the other things that help. I don’t know what I’d do without them, but it’s hard sometimes isn’t it? I still feel kind of shy and uneasy around having to use it but I very grateful it is there. Sending you love and a gentle, warm hug…

  8. Oh Maithili, thank you for your openness and for sharing your journey with us. Keep writing and we will keep reading. ?

    • Thank you so much dear Cheryl, you are so kind to write. And your encouraging words mean more to me than you will ever know. I will keep writing, and it’s easier to do when you know that there truly are people out there who are reading. Bless you honey…

  9. We should have Medicare for all ages. Until we do, those of us who pay taxes or make donations want others to use what they need. Your gifts to the world are payment enough for you to deserve care. Blessings to you and your family, including your pugs.

    • Thank you so much dear Kathleen, you are very kind indeed. I appreciate your kind and gentle support so much, it means more than you could possibly know. Bless you dearheart, please keep me in your prayers…

  10. Maitri,

    these are brave and true words. thank you for writing them. I love you.

    • Thank you so much dear Cynthia, you don’t know how much your kind words mean. They keep me going and help me keep showing up to write the daily posts when sometimes I feel too afraid to do so. I am sending you love and a gentle warm hug. Have a lovely day dearheart…

  11. Maiti, I’m so glad that you’ve found whatever help that our government provides, through Rachel’s help. We should be providing more, that’s for sure. Thanks for lending your voice. When you’re eligible for Medicare, I hope it will be easier. Hugs.

    • Thank you so much sweet Lisa, you have been so kind to me and generous and thoughtful. Your friendship means so much to me, I just can’t tell you. I hope you are having peaceful days filled with the joy that your lovely garden still will bring. I am sending you love and a gentle warm hug…

  12. Dear Maitri, I know the terror of having a mental illness and having no money. I am so glad you are coming to terms with accepting the help that there is for us.
    We are not alone.
    xox

    • Thank you so much dear Siren, and yes dealing with mental illness and having to worry about money all the time is a double bind and can be crippling. Your kind comments mean so much and no, we are not alone. I am sending you love this day and always…

  13. Maitri, I am so sorry for your loss. I am happy that your daughter has helped you to get back on your feet and find the resources that you need to help. Getting older does lend itself to many challenges, I feel that too. I also feel like you are a woman with a voice that needs to be heard. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you so much Abby, you are very dear. And yes, I don’t know how I would have survived without Rachel. I am close to my other 2 children too but they are both out of state so I don’t get to see them but about 2 or 3 times a year. Having Rachel here is a godsend in so many ways. And I appreciate your kind words so much. I pray that I can get a book out into the world because I really do want to reach and touch and help others. It can be achingly lonely to live through these things when you live alone especially (And sometimes you can feel lonelier living WITH other people who just don’t understand…) so I’d love to write a book where I could talk directly TO people, give them something they can carry in their hands and keep with them to feel less alone. Your encouraging words mean so much. Bless you honey… <3

  14. I sometimes feel this way. We use the military hospital a lot, because we have many chronic health problems that need specialist care, and it’s mostly free to us. Otherwise we’re referred to local community services. As much as I would like to be financially independent, I just don’t have the means right now. What helps is knowing that I do deserve to have assistance, by the government that I spent so much time with by volunteering to sacrifice my life for this country. I do consider myself lucky, but I fear for my daughter as she braves this harsh new world.

    • Valerie, Oh honey I’m so glad you have the military hospital and yes, you surely do deserve the assistance and whatever other resources are there for you. I hope you find all that you need and I hope that your daughter does too. I am sending you love and a warm hug honey. May we both find peace and ease in our lives… <3

  15. You are so, so brave. <3 I am younger than you, but I really resonated with what you said about things ramping up after your divorce. Me, too. I'm grateful I have my work. If I didn't, I don't know where I'd be, but if that ever happens, I will remember this post, and I'll will go looking for whatever help I need. <3

    • Oh darling Effy, you have so much in you to give to the world honey, your work is incredible. When I’m having really hard mornings I go back and watch sometimes a few BHD’s and it is so lovely, it’s like I’m having coffee with you and not so all alone. And you are so brave too honey, you have been through so much and you continue fighting the good fight. What else can we do? You are in my thoughts and prayers and heart, always, and thank you so much. I am here at this computer instead of curled up in my safe chair with my pugs trying to sleep my way through the hours because this blog challenge you created for us is giving me motivation and a purpose for being here. I just can’t thank you enough. I am always here for you honey, and if you ever need someone to talk to I’m as close as the phone… <3

  16. Your words touched my heart and empowered me… the opening paragraph is going into my personal journal… I also have walked with Mental Illness and depression most of my life. THANK YOU for putting into words something that is so hard to express or define…
    Sending Loving Energy Your Way…

    • Lynne thank you so much for your kind words honey, it means so much to me that what I have written means something to you. I am sorry you have suffered too, I hope that days of ease and peace may be ahead for us both. I send loving energy to you in return. Blessings… <3

  17. Oh Maitri, I can’t imagine how much courage it took to write that piece. Thank you for sharing with us.
    And yes, I will pray.

    • Thank you so much dear Zoe, and yes, it was a hard piece to write, but the thing for me is to get beyond my own fear to a space that hopefully I might be helping someone else. That is my life’s goal. I have suffered and struggled since childhood, at 63 it’s even harder, but what I want is for all this not to be for naught, that what I’ve learned or gained or even if I’m just holding on in the moment, I might, if I write honestly, help even one other dear person to hold on for another day. We all must do what we can. Blessings and love to you… <3

  18. Bravo, my courageous and talented friend. I am grateful for the safety net your daughter helped fashion to keep you from falling through. Your willingness to accept help is a gift to the people offering the services. Their being able to have jobs like this is a two-way gift, from and to each side. Whenever you have the energy to share something so deeply personal, you enlarge those who read it. You teach compassion to those who look at mental illness or poverty as a failing rather than a difficult reality. May your words flow on and on.

    • Oh my dear dear Cathryn…

      How very kind you are, and you make me feel better about both my life as it is as well as my ability to write it all out and share from my heart. In the end it’s this ability to give to others through my difficult experiences any knowledge I have gained, wisdom I have earned, or to simply be present when another is suffering, alone, or afraid. I believe that’s what my life is about now. My words are what I have and I hope to use them well. And you are a very dear friend and constant inspiration to me. I am sending you so much love and a gentle warm hug. Please know that you are always in my heart, and I am with you in spirit, always and always.

      Blessings my dear one…

      Maitri

  19. I am so grateful that you were able to write this, breathing through each sentence. I have been in the position of needing help, having to ask for it, feeling ashamed for getting it, and then grateful for every bit of it.
    I hope you’ll keep writing, writing, writing. You’re words are vulnerable and honest, but also compassionate and healing toward others. It’s been said that a good way to start feeling better is to help someone even worse off than you are. I sense you know this and are getting ready.
    Keep breathing. Keep writing.
    Blessings.

    • Oh Sweet Karina, your words are so kind, they mean more to me than you will ever know. And yes, I breathed through each sentence, and sometimes the breathing was labored, and sometimes I was very afraid, but I am deeply committed to trying to be of service to others through my writing. It is the thing that I have to give, and now, at my age, I must give what I can in the way that I can. I shall keep breathing, and writing, and I send you many beautiful blessings in return…

  20. Hi Maitri,
    You are an angel. You wrote, “I want to get through this myself and help others. I really do.” Well, precious soul, you are helping others, with each and every post. Much love to you.
    Chandra

    • Thank you so much Chandra, your kind words mean so much, this was a hard one for me to write but I know how terrified I was trying to find help and services and I want other people to know that they are out there. I hope you are well this evening. Blessings and love to you…

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