So, one of my major concerns about moving here to the bush was whether or not I'd be able to get decent care (or any care, let's face it) for my bipolar disorder. This is a big deal. I am very high-functioning, when I have treatment. I am a good kid who takes my pills everyday, I don't decide to go off of things because I'm feeling better, I recognize that this is a lifelong, permanent condition, la-la-la. All that. When I don't have medication, I am a miserable, non-functioning basketcase and life sucks for me and everyone close to me. I need regular treatment and I know it. Initially I was not persuaded by Esquire's argument that there are 6,500 people in this town, surely there must be a few good psychiatrists among them. I looked and looked online and eventually found a listing for a psychiatrist, and felt relieved. I let it go at that and agreed that we should move here.
I should have called when we were still in Denver. If I had, I'd have known earlier what I learned the other day when I called the "office" of the aforementioned psychiatrist. I got a switchboard at the Native Corporation hospital (which will treat us qussiqs, or non-Natives, but only when we pay more and wait longer, and I have no idea how that is possibly legal because it's very obviously discriminatory) and the operator informed me that Dr. Aforementioned no longer works there. I asked if I could please speak to the office staff for his replacement. No luck. She couldn't find one. She connected me to the Behavioral Health unit. More run-around. More transferring me to a different unit. Eventually I dead-ended at the voicemail of someone who has yet to get back to me. That was over a week and a half ago. The only good to come out of my otherwise unsuccessful contact with the hospital is that somewhere in there one of the incompetents I spoke with told me that if I needed to see someone sooner than eight to ten weeks from now I could try calling the Family Clinic. So, I tried the Family Clinic. They don't have apsychiatrist, but they do have a psychiatric PA. Huh? I didn't even know such a position existed. Perhaps it doesn't in Colorado. Apologies to the PAs out there, but that doesn't inspire my confidence. Psychiatry is a tricky, delicate little art, and I believe it warrants the specialized training that psychiatrists endure to practice it. I need a psychiatrist, and so far as I can tell there is no psychiatrist in Bethel, or at least not one I can access.
I was getting desperate. I made a few more phone calls, this time to check into my treatment options in Denver. Yes, I can still be seen at the clinic where I was being treated before. Yes, I can even make an appointment right now if I need to to (I waited a day). Esquire and I talked it over. I got on the Alaska Airlines website and found an unbelievably cheap fare to Denver, and took it as a sign from God that this was the way to proceed. So, LittleBit and I are headed back to Colorado in a couple of weeks, to spend several weeks there getting my medication regimen tweaked to work so that I won't go over the edge up here. When that's all in order I will come back to Bethel and I will go to the psychiatric PA at the family clinic. I'm okay with trusting a PA to prescribe my maintenance care, but not to overhaul my regimen. That takes more skill. I will go and see the psychiatrist-therapist team that got me through my pregnancy and postpartum.
I have to do this. I have to get it together because LittleBit is getting to the point where he will remember things and I don't want him to remember early childhood as a crazy, crying, dysfunctional Mommy. I have to function highly enough to be able to raise my child as a happy, healthy person. I want to be a partner and not a millstone to my husband. This is and will be a lifelong struggle (which I resent sometimes, but so it is) and most of the time I am up to the task, but right now getting control of the situation requires somewhat drastic measures. I wish it didn't have to be this way. I wish I could get the care I need and still keep my family together in the same town. I wish this place weren't so desolate, that it weren't the far end of the world. I wish I could just live like this, but I have to recognize that I am, in fact, ill, and chronically. It's easy to forget that because the pain isn't usually physical. All the same, it's crippling when it goes unmanaged. It's so easy to forget how limiting this can be, until I am pushed to or past the limits. I forget sometimes, when I am feeling fine and my medications are working for me, how deeply this affects my life. Those are good days when I forget, though. I miss them.
So, I am plugging away for the next two weeks, pushing through the days, doing what has to be done, leaning on my husband more than usual, reminding myself that there's a reprieve coming soon, that this will get better. I am looking forward to green grass, to sitting on my parents' back porch, to letting LittleBit run through the yard and taking him to the park and the pool. I am looking forward to healing and getting back on track. I am looking forward to coming back to my husband functional and smiling and ready to take on life in the bush. Wish me luck.