You know how sometimes one person or place can completely change your perspective on something? That happened to me with the Delivery of services I received through my local Community Mental Health agency when I first moved back home from school.
I was already full of dread and terror about changing from a system where I saw my psychiatrist biweekly for 45 minutes and therapist weekly (and sometimes twice in the same week if needed), to a system that I knew was overburdened and underfunded. I was consumed with fears about getting lost and falling through the cracks. So much so that my psychiatrist at school diagnosed me with adjustment disorder in the months leading up to my moving.
I got to CMH, and while my psychiatrist turned out to be AMAZING, she is only available every 10-12 weeks. It was quite the change to get used to. I ended up qualifying for case management, and the first case manager I had was pretty good. She seemed to kind of understand what I needed and was interested in helping me to achieve goals. Then a few months in, she switched to another agency. I got assigned to a new case manager and this is where service delivery started to become a problem.
I had continual problems trying to get things accomplished with CMH. I couldn’t get messages through, I couldn’t get the help I needed, I kept backsliding, I never really got the right information about what was what and it created a situation where I really distrusted CMH and the services I was receiving. I didn’t realize at the time that it was due to the case manager that I had and sort of her chaos and truly earnest attempts to make things work that just never really panned out.
Going to her office kind of always felt like being in that early scene in Harry Potter where the letters are flying all around the room. It was always in turmoil and nothing felt settled. I never knew if an appointment was going to be cancelled or moved or late. I just realized that with my new case manager, after six months, I’ve stopped obsessively checking my phone before appointments to make sure that she hasn’t cancelled on me or that the time has changed. That’s how bad it was.
That isn’t to say that this person wasn’t lovely. I did love her as a person. It broke my heart to terminate our professional relationship. I’ve not felt that guilty about anything in a long time. I knew I needed to because nothing was improving, goals weren’t being met and I just felt the chaos, but it didn’t make it any easier. She is a nice person who has love in her heart for helping people. It was horrific really to say goodbye, and honestly one of the few times I have ever really had the guts to do it in person.
I now have a new case manager, well a team really, and it is sort of night and day on my perspective of service delivery and CMH. I am still a little gun-shy and I am still sorting out the realities from the fiction on some days, but I have to say that one person can make a HUGE difference in the care you receive.
The moral here is advocate for yourself in your care. I didn’t for nearly two years. It cost me a great deal of time, stability, and potential progress. I see how far I’ve come in seven or eight months and I’m kind of blown away. I know I’ve done much of this work myself, but I’ve done it with the help of some people providing sound counsel, a stable platform, and great communication with CMH. It’s made all of the difference in my world. If you feel stuck or struggling and you aren’t sure why, take a look at your providers and make sure that they are everything that you need in this moment. Sometimes our needs can change as we grow as well. There are providers I’ve had in the past that wouldn’t be appropriate for me now.
Advocate! Advocate! Advocate!