I just had a three-hour talk with my best friend…

My best friend and I talked on the porch with masks and social distancing for the last almost three hours. She is the type of friend who you cannot see for 6 months and then pick up and connect just where you left off last.

It was wonderful to know more about how she’s been doing and helpful to feel that I might be of help just listening to some of the things that have been occupying her life — like caring for her teenage son who has had some mental concerns and being a teacher in this time of distance learning and covid-19. The teachers right now in the States are having a time of it.

Talking also helped me put my own problems into better perspective. The challenges of my life seem to largely revolve around my anxiety even when the actual problems themselves are not that dire. Talking to my friend helped me gain some insight into my own peculiar need to always have something to worry about when that is not necessarily helpful or needed.

My friend is also an avid exercise person. I gave her permission to get on my case for not exercising on a regular basis. I asked her to reach out to her son and to her ex-husband and let them know that she respects the work they are putting in daily to overcome anxiety and other related challenges.

Once again, I am reminded how thankful I am for the relationships in my life. It makes me want to invest more time in developing more meaningful relationships across the board. Even when the conversation moves to serious topics, it is good to know we are not alone and that we can do our best to put on each others’ shoes and walk a mile or two.

My Sojourn through Bipolar Illness – Cohort Model Proposed

Adequate resources for mental health in my book would include funding allocated to the development of a Cohort Model to assist those experiencing a debilitating health event to gradually reenter society.  In my opinion, it would be less expensive for the State (at the State and Federal levels) to offer a Graduated Reentry Program than it is to provide disability insurance payments for all those who are unable to work a full-time job due to some sort of behavioral health or developmental disability.  This might include a mood disorder and/or an addiction issue.  In my opinion, people with behavioral health diagnoses ought to be able to work a 10 to 20 to 25 to 30 hour week and bring home enough pay so as to be a valid contributor to a family’s income.    Today this is generally not the case.  There are few part-time jobs available in the market today and the ones that are available do not provide a living wage or health insurance or occur during times of the day that are generally associated with sleep or family time. Also, disability payments in the US are few and far between and very difficult to qualify for.

The idea of a “Graduated Reentry Program” is that behavioral health consumers would progress from a 10-hour work week to a 20-hour work week to a 30-hour work week to a 40-hour work week depending on their health.  Participants would still be eligible for health insurance during this time provided they were engaged in all prescribed wellness activities.  When the hourly work week is at a reduced level, participants are expected to attend any given number of behavioral support meetings with their doctors or their therapists or in their community in order to prevent a repeat occurrence.  The reduced work week would be coupled with a regime of self-stewardship that might include mood support and recovery meetings, meetings with a therapist and/or meetings with a psycho-pharmacologist.  This time might also be time spent developing an exercise regime to reduce stress and limit unwanted thoughts.

The idea of a “Graduated Reentry Program” assumes:  1) behavioral health patients have serious work to do that is not part of a paying job typically and 2) it should be cheaper in the long-run for the State to sponsor a partial work week for behavioral health patients until such a time that they are ready to work a 20, or 30 or 40 hour week.  3) This type of program would allow people who manage a serious behavioral health disability or addiction to still earn a “living wage” even if they were working 25 or 30 hours of work per week.  4) This ability to work at a reduced level in order to dedicate time to managing aspects of the prescribed illness through support groups and support group programs, exercise and diet regimes, talk therapy programs and med management programs is hugely different than how that juggling act occurs today. 

Many people with mental health conditions, including myself, may not be able to work a full-time work schedule.  These people should have the sponsorship in society of working a 10 or 20 or 30 hour a week job as they are able.  Many people with mental health conditions seek financial assistance through Social Security Disability Insurance payments.  While this is often considered a critical financial development for some people with a mental health diagnosis, consider if more emphasis was additionally provided on programming to reentry society and the economy. 

Again, it is my belief that such a Graduated Reentry Program would pay for itself by increasing the productivity of workers who may move from a disability status to a 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 hour a week job status.  If it does not pay for itself, I believe the cost savings from the Paranoia Hotline / Paranormal Institute would pay for this Graduated Reentry Program. (See prior post regarding Paranoia Hotline).

Through the on-going development of this text, I am becoming more and more clear to myself and in myself as to my current emotional challenges.  While I am clear that a high paying job in project management is not a fit, I am not completely clear what type of job might be a fit for me.   While just a few years ago I was a keen advocate for a Graduated Reentry into society of working first 10 hours, then 20 hours then 30 hours a week, I currently am of the mindset that applying for Disability Insurance may be an important option for many people particularly in the absence of the Cohort Model in today’s America. If I am to continue to place a premium on our daughter’s development and on my own health, this may mean not working a job in the traditional sense.  This leaves the door wide open as to the possibility of making writing like the writing of this text to become “my work.”