Why I Started a GoFundMe for Mental Health

I decided to create a GoFundMe out of exasperation. It’s been five months of back to back EMDR and neurofeedback sessions and I was tired of AETNA rejecting my claims on trivial matters every time. In the midst of another rejection due to simple errors, I was sick of it and appealed to the community of The Internet for support.

I slapped it together by detailing my recent journey and describing how I came close to losing it. I was up front that I had paid for it already out of my emergency fund and essentially was asking for a reimbursement. Many are not lucky to be in this situation, but I could easily have been in the situation of putting it on credit and now being chased by debt collectors. The picture I chose to represent me was ominous. It was taken in the fall of 2019 near the end of the cherry blossom blooms when I was just barely holding it together between talk therapy and panic attacks.

I was planning on going through neurofeedback but on my own time, not pandemic time.

After I launched it and was surprised by donations from close friends on Facebook, I was immediately embarrassed. I regretted it in many ways as someone in a privileged position. The pandemic has already roared through and destroyed countless lives financially. But I also knew I needed to tell the world, look this is what happened.

Anyone seeking more intensive therapy options should know this: Have a financial decision maker by your side. This is someone who’s only guidance for you is whether the treatment is outweighing the cost. I knew the costs going in but my state of mind changed radically as we progressed into treatment. My decision making abilities were compromised and I wanted more treatment but wasn’t sure when I felt done.

At $300 a session, it was already pricey than the typical $200-250. We did a total of 30 sessions which is not unusual especially for being in crisis. In retrospect we could have stopped earlier after we had achieved some milestones. I don’t regret any of it and it’s treatment of additional past trauma I would have done anyway. Did it have to happen all in the Year of Hell (2020)? Probably not.

In any case, being zapped in the brain, as I liked to describe the treatment, is far cheaper alternative than entering myself into a in-patient facility or hospital. Even that emergency parachute was a more hellish option as the only mental health facilities in the city were overrun with COVID outbreaks and by most accounts are not places functional people would want to be. I was shocked actually that the available services and facilities for the public in D.C. were quite limited, given it’s the home of NIH and the national leader of mental health treatment for veterans. I suppose to deal with living in D.C. one might just be really medicated.

My hope for the GoFundMe is to keep myself accountable. Exposing my story is both important societally to encourage an open discussion of this before you hit rock bottom, and to remind myself to stop bottling it all in until it’s too late. I’m encouraged by those who have donated and hope to honor these gifts by continuing to share.

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