Don’t Make Me Choose Between My Home or My Mental Health Care

Last Updated: 18 Jul 2019
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In 1995, my wife and I had to choose between the home we loved and the medications that keep me sane. I don’t want anyone else to be in that position.

I am not a political being. I am not a partisan. Today I tell an important part of my story that is relevant to current events.

Recent healthcare proposals take us backwards. People with a pre-existing mental health condition could be denied coverage putting hundreds of thousands at risk of losing services and medications.

In 1995 I owned four businesses which consisted of six Subway Sandwich Shops, two retail bagel shops plus a wholesale bakery and a franchise company. I had two mobile phones and a pager so I could be reached by everyone. The businesses were growing fast, too fast, and I was under major stress. I was also manic.

One day I was driving down the freeway on the way to one of my bagel shops where there was a problem with some equipment. The stress grew and grew and my mind was racing. I was overwhelmed with a sense of anxiety and dread that controlled my whole body.

Suddenly my mind snapped. I mean it literally snapped. I could feel it. It was like an electric shock to my brain. Immediately my mind went dull, my voice turned monotone and the muscles in my face went slack. I was done. I turned around and went home. Inside I sat down on the couch. Once there I barely moved except to go to bed and use the bathroom. Almost comatose, my days turned into weeks, and weeks into months.

The bagel businesses failed first.  I lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Sales at the Subways dropped until they were losing money. I was barely able to talk to anyone but my wife and kids let alone run a million dollar business. I was overwhelmed with guilt, anxiety and fear. I had to get out. I had to escape. I sold the Subways at a loss.

With the loss of my businesses came the loss my health insurance. I tried to get private insurance but no one would cover my mental health care due to my pre-existing condition. The money we had went to pay for doctors, a hospitalization, medications, bills and debts. We sold a car and all non-essential belongings but it was not enough.

My medications cost $800 a month and doctors $150. Our mortgage was $1100. It soon became clear that we couldn’t pay for both. We had to choose between living in our home or paying for my meds. What a decision. Lose our home or lose my mind. We decided my mental health was most important.

We ended up moving into the basement of some friend’s house. We went from 2400 square feet to 500 square feet. Life would never be the same.

Why do I tell this part of my story? Because if what happened to me in 1995, instead happened to me in 2017, my wife and I would not have had to choose between our home we loved and my medications that keep me sane. I don’t want anyone else to be in that position. I don’t want to go back to 1995.

Today mental health is covered the same as physical health. Just about everyone has access to healthcare.  My psych meds are covered the same as my blood pressure meds. That is the way it should be.

We have come too far to go backwards. Take a bit of time to share my story with friends, family, peers and decision makers. If you are comfortable, briefly tell your story of living with a mental illness before parity for mental health care. Our stories will make a difference. Not only for our lives, but for the lives of the hundreds of thousands who should not have to choose between their medications and their home. For this important issue it is time to speak up and be vocal.

Best regards,
Dave

About the author
Dave, who lives with bipolar disorder and severe anxiety, is the author of the Amazon bestseller and award-winning OMG That’s Me! Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, and More…. Recently, Book Authority ranked OMG as one of the “Best Bipolar Disorder Books of All Time.” Dave is currently the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness affiliate in Washington County, Oregon. His blog posts have been read by over 800,000 people, and his follow-up, OMG 2, is in the works. Dave lives just outside of Portland, Oregon, with his wife, Heather; daughter, Meghan; and grandsons, Van and Bourdain.
3 Comments
  1. Brave man. You gotta do what you gotta do. If the American Health Care Act is passed we will ALL lose what we have gained. Very few people know that the brain is intimately tied to the body. “When the mind suffers, the organs weep.” ~ Tom Updike. The unimaginative corollary: “When the organs suffer, the mind weeps.” ~ Me.

  2. I am also a bipolar patient. No one should have to choose between a home and meds. However your choice shows wisdom and strength. That is how you got out of the mess you were in.

  3. I have a daughter with severe bi-polar Our expenses are over $100,000 and insurance has paid less than $15.000. Mental Health is really a step child even or especially with the ACA.

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