Medical Debt

From Michaela Mujica-Steiner

I have accrued over $6,000 in medical debt within the last month and I am reaching out to my community for support.

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I have accrued over $6,000 in medical debt within the last month and I am reaching out to my community for support. I am hesitant to ask for financial help from my community but have decided that this is the most tangible way people can support me. I have health insurance, but because of my high deductible, I am still in this medical debt. The debt has been accrued through a long inpatient hospitalization, a trip to the ER, several trips to urgent care, medication costs and all these costs are related to the same mental health condition. I am not getting any other financial support to help me get through this crisis so anything will help.

Earlier this month, I was admitted to an inpatient mental hospital because I was having severe visual hallucinations and was coming down from mania into a depressed state. I was totally unfunctional, I took apart my fridge, believed bugs were growing inside me (infesting my house, etc.). I kept having visual hallucinations of having a doppelganger and people following me. I was hoarding unprescribed meds, and making plans to end my life. I was admitted on a 72 hour hold and stayed in the hospital for a while to stabilize. l was given a new diagnosis: schizoaffective disorder (bipolar type 1 variation) and put on meds. While the meds helped me mentally, they made me feel very physically ill and I was experiencing severe physical side effects such as stiffened limbs that the nurses said could become permanent so I was taking additional meds to counteract side effects. I received a lofty, unexpected medical bill even though I have health insurance

After a while of being in the hospital, I was discharged but was still experiencing horrible side effects including severe physical pain from the meds. The physical side effects were so unbearable that I went off my meds unsupervised and immediately started experiencing medication withdrawal. It spun me into a 9 hour panic attack that landed me back into the ER. This panic attack was one of the scariest experiences I've ever had. It felt like my body did not know how to breathe on its own and when I did consciously breathe, it was challenging. It felt like my throat was closing up, I was losing massive body temperature, and I was shaking uncontrollably. The ER told me I was having a panic attack and gave me sedatives to take if I got more panic attacks.

I thought that the panic attacks would be a temporary side effect of going off meds but I am currently experiencing daily, debilitating panic attacks now. Just drinking a cup of coffee is currently enough to send me into one. During a panic attack, it feels like I am choking, cannot complete breaths, cannot swallow, am losing body temperature, my heart is beating super fast, and I cannot verbally communicate. This will last for hours if I don't have sedatives. My schizoaffective disorder does not help as it is easy for me to start believing that the panic attack is me being possessed by a demonic entity or that it somehow fits into an evil doppelganger's plan to replace me. The panic attacks often happen in public and I am learning how to self soothe myself but I am worried that they may be a permanent impact of going off meds unsupervised. Oftentimes, throwing up is the only thing that gets the panic attacks to leave because it changes my breathing pattern and makes me feel like my throat isn't closing up. Because of current mania, I am getting about 2 hours of sleep per night.

May has honestly felt like hell. I want to find treatment and healing that will work for me, but I also really need to clear this current medical debt. I could also really use prayers. I am trying to keep my spirits up. Any support would be very appreciated.

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