What should I prioritize: finances or mental health?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm 24, living in the United States.
I'm the type of person that tries to be totally above-the-water financially at all times. I don't want to have any credit card debt, even month-to-month, whatsoever. I'm also someone with a history of profound clinical depression. This was worst a few years ago, when a few things came to a head at once and I spent months in inpatient and day hospital psychiatric care. Since then, I've made great steps: moved to a new city, started on a career, come out of the closet, made some friends, weaned myself (with doctor's approval, of course) off all anti-depressants. However, in recent months I've felt loneliness and depression growing on me once again.
[I should note that I am not suicidal, or close to being suicidal, or at any risk of harming myself or putting myself in danger. Whatsoever.]
I recently found a therapist who I felt comfortable with in the free first meeting, and I have an interest in seeing him. (Past therapists haven't done much for me, but maybe this one is the one I need right now?) He is out-of-network of my health insurance, however, and even with a sliding scale it'd be a stretch, if a do-able stretch, to pay him. Plus, because he is out-of-network I would have to submit a claim myself while paying him upfront, and I imagine it might take a while for the insurance company to pay their share. I would set up an appointment with him tomorrow, however, if not for the following:
I recently needed to undergo a medical procedure (unrelated to anything else mentioned here). I will be physically fine, but medical bills will probably total between $1,000 to $2,000. I imagine that I will be able to set up a payment plan of some sort, but even if I get to pay the bill over the course of a few months, it still will be a huge and unanticipated monthly charge.
The question is the following: should I wait until the medical bills are paid off to start therapy, or should I start therapy right away?
My first and gut impulse, without any doubt, is to wait until I've paid off the medical bills before signing up for therapy. (I imagine it would take some months to pay off the bills -- hell, it might even take some months for me to find the final amount I'll have to pay, simply due to the maze of insurance stuff.) I'm just the type of person who feels so much more comfortable doing one thing at a time, being on an even keel financially before starting something new, etc. On the other hand, I do genuinely want to see this therapist, and I've been feeling worse recently. What to do?
My guess would be that many will say see the therapist and worry about the bills as they come. Because of the type of person I am, that would take a lot of convincing to get me there. Couldn't I just re-read Feeling Good or something instead until I feel financially ready enough to start therapy? (As it happens, this therapist is not at all a CBT person, but I've done a variety of modalities in the past, and this is the one I'd like to see now.)
The unmentioned option, as I expect some will recommend, is to see a psychiatrist and get on meds. For reasons individual to me, I do not think this is the option most likely to solve my problems.