When No One Answers the Call

When No One Answers the Call

By Nicole Nagy

I was a prisoner inside my own body.

Like many people, I struggle with anxiety and depression, which started when I was a teenager. Somehow I had the will power to document my journey from hospitalizations, suicide attempts, brain surgery and just navigating life. The rest is history inside a book I wrote called Creative Mind: Diary of Teenage Mental Illness.

One of the issues I chronicle in my book is the challenge of finding a psychiatrist that has openings, or is on your insurance, or is available to see you within a reasonable amount of time. This is a national problem, as well as a personal one. (Editor’s note: click here to read more about the issue of timely and affordable access to treatment for mental illness.)

Not long ago, I found myself once again without a doctor to treat my depression—or in this case a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP), whom I had last seen in June. When I went to refill my prescription, the pharmacy informed me that they could not reach anyone from the PNP’s office. When I tried to call her, I expected to at least speak with the secretary, but I couldn’t reach anyone. The next day I called again. Still no answer.  I left a message stating I needed my medication refilled but my call wasn’t returned.

Luckily my neurologist had the prescription refilled for me and I was able to pick up my medication, but for so many people, this can be a truly devastating situation. 

With my medication taken care of for the time being, I was good for a while. I had some wonderful changes in my life: I got married, returned from my honeymoon and enjoyed the summer.  I had nothing to worry about—or so I thought. With the summer coming to an end, work became busier and I returned to school. It was stressful, but I was able to handle the stress.

I didn’t see the dip that was coming.

A “dip” is what my mom and I call it when I go into a deep depression, and unfortunately, I started to dip. Could this have been due to an extra work load and anxiety from the anticipation of school? Whatever the reasons, I decided that I needed to make an appointment with my PNP. It was the end of July; I was making calls to her office every day. One day I even took a drive to her office. The office was shared by other practitioners, but my PNP and her secretary were nowhere in sight. 

I heard another worker in the office; I rattled my car keys to get somebody’s attention, but got no acknowledgment. I resorted to loud, obnoxious coughing, which finally did the trick. A counselor came out of her office and asked me what I needed. I explained my situation and to my surprise the PNP’s absence was due to a hospital stay. Additionally, her secretary just returned from vacation and I had just missed her. 

With all of these complications and uncertainties, I decided to search for an alternative to my PNP, so I researched various doctors and made some phone calls. 

Finding a specialist shouldn’t be this difficult. It should require making a phone call, making sure they accept your insurance, and booking an appointment. Simple, right? Not the case. I quit after four phone calls. 

The offices I called did not accept insurance, which is common. There are so many people listed on Psychology Today’s website, but almost none of them take insurance. My mom and I accepted that, for now, insurance did not matter—until I found out that an evaluation was $500!

The good news is that I am doing well right now, and I can get my medication through my neurologist, but not everyone has that option. Although the journey is rough sometimes, I urge people not to quit seeking help. It’s important to remember that every day is another opportunity for a great day.

I will continue to write my story and help others along the way.

Bio: Guest blogger Nicole Nagy is a social worker and author of Creative Mind: Diary of Teenage Mental Illness, available at amazon.com

Finding Help

If your child or teen needs help with anxiety, depression or any other mental health issue, contact North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center at (516) 626-1971. We take most insurance plans, and we never turn anyone away for inability to pay.

Finding Help

If your child or teen needs help with anxiety, depression or any other mental health issue, contact North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center at (516) 626-1971. We take most insurance plans, and we never turn anyone away for inability to pay.