Monthly Archives: September 2013

Creating Goals for Therapy

Well, my therapist has informed me that it is that time of year again, time to review my annual therapy goals. 

You may be confused, but it is pretty much standard practice at this point for therapy to employ the use of goals, and you can bet that if you’re beginning a new relationship with a therapist, they’ll want you to come up with some of your own. It is also pretty common for these to be reviewed from time to time and updated or changed as needed.

Personally, I’m not really a goals sort of person. I don’t like adding any extra pressure on myself to preform, when I know that from day to day I do the best I really can. These goals, however, act more as an outline for your therapist so they know what areas you want to improve, and that way they know which areas they need to explore with you.

The first thing to consider when making your therapy goals is what brought you to therapy in the first place?

  • Could it be that you’re struggling with the ups and downs of bipolar disorder?
  • Or maybe you’ve experienced something traumatic that you want to find closure with.
  • Could it be that the relationships in your life aren’t going as well as you’d like them to go?

These are just a couple examples, but people seek out therapy for all kinds of reasons.

Goals for these issues could be as simple as:

  • learn techniques to help combat mood swings
  • find closure around trauma
  • improve relationship with _____.

As you can see, these goals don’t need to be incredibly specific.

Having said that, if there is something specific in your life that has been bothering you, it isn’t a bad idea to make some specific goals as well.

For example, you might make specific goals about particular behaviors that have been disruptive to your life. Here are two examples from my own goal list:

  • work on not feeling guilty for making decisions to care for myself
  • increase communication with Corey

Those were two of last year’s goals, and my therapist is probably right in prompting me to come up with some new ones because I feel like I’ve definitely improved in both of these areas.

Don’t be discouraged if coming up with goals takes time. I have often found that in my therapist’s office she’ll ask me about my goals and I’m kind of put on the spot. This year I asked to think about it and come back in with my next session with some goals (like homework) instead of anxiously grappling around my mind while my therapist sits and stares at me.

Realistically, the easiest way to come up with goals are to consider these two questions:

why am I seeking therapy?

and

if I could change anything about myself or my life to improve it, what would it be?

As long as your goals are thing you are willing to talk about with your therapist and you can make an effort toward working on them, improvement shouldn’t be too far behind.

Latuda Patient Assistance Program

For those of you who have been reading fairly consistently, you probably know that a relatively new drug called Latuda has been approved to treat bipolar depression.

My doctor recently suggested this new medication as one for me to try, but I wanted to do a little research about it myself before going there. After all, I knew there was no way I could afford a new medication like that, even with my best tricks at the pharmacy.

As it turns out, like many other psychiatric drugs out there, there is a patient assistance program for Latuda, which means you may be eligible to receive a year’s worth at no cost to you. 

I personally experienced using one of these programs to receive Geodon for free when I was taking it, and though I must say the paperwork in the beginning was a little taxing (having my doctors fill out the forms, faxing them to the company, and then waiting what felt like an eternity to hear back) I received two packages with six months of medication at a time, completely free with no strings attached.

If your current medications aren’t doing the trick and your doctor has suggested Latuda, and especially if you have a low income and no insurance, I would highly suggest the Sunovion Support patient assistance program for Latuda.

For a long time, being expected to pay hundreds of dollars for my medications left me feeling hopeless, but these programs are designed to help those who can’t pay on their own.

These programs exist for a number of psychiatric medications, you can find a list of the patient assistance programs I know of in the Links portion of this website.

GoodRx

GoodRx-App

Today I want to let you in on one of the best and most helpful apps I’ve found recently. This thing has seriously saved my behind on more than one occasion, I’ve been using it for about two months and I must say, it has saved me at least three hundred dollars (if not more) in prescription costs in that time.

GoodRx can be accessed via an android or iphone app, or through your web browser and is a great resource for anyone who doesn’t have insurance but still needs to buy prescription medications.

It works by allowing you to search for the medication you intend to purchase and entering your zipcode, and then the search engine provides a list of the closest pharmacies by medication cost, lowest on top. You can easily change the type of medication you want (tablets, dissolvable, capsules), or between generic and name brand to compare prices.

GoodRx also provides coupons for many medications, allowing you to receive an even lower price at the register. You can email the coupons to your phone, text them to your phone, or print them. I’ve used this feature at least five times and always have been surprised by the discount I’ve received!

I can’t even begin to describe how much time and energy this service has saved me. I used to call around to all the pharmacies in the area to check the prices of my prescriptions, and now I don’t have to! On top of that, I can use the app in my provider’s office to search for the medications they want to prescribe and see if I can actually afford them before getting to the pharmacy and being disappointed.

For anyone who doesn’t have insurance but needs to buy prescription medications, I would highly recommend this product. It is quick, it is easy, and best of all -it’s free!

 

A New Normal

Starting or stopping a new psychiatric medication can often mean having to adjust to a new normal. 

This new normal might involve adjusting to a new sleep schedule, or doing things like drinking more water to counteract side effects, or requiring routine blood work to make sure the medication remains at a healthy level.

There might be things like side effects to get used to, nausea or headaches or tremors, and if you’re coming off a medication it might be losing the side effects and returning to a state of less physical agitation.

Let’s not forget the big kahuna and the reason for these life adjustments in the first place; our mental state. Having to adjust to changes in our mental state might mean facing a change in mood or symptoms we haven’t experienced for a long time (for better or worse), or a change in things like our anxiety level, or even more pressing matters like suicidality.

Adjusting to the new sorts of actions that accompany medication changes, as well as the physical changes we must monitor can be very overwhelming. On top of that, adjusting to the mental changes that may (or may not) come with a medication change can leave one feeling exhausted.

That isn’t to say that the point of all this adjusting is, well, pointless. In fact, it serves a very important purpose, and the vast majority of people who engage in this manner of adjustments find some kind of relief.

Really the point of what I aim to say is that it can be a taxing process, and that is why it is so important to take care of yourself, and to go at your own pace.

Many doctors often lose sight of the fact that the patient must to so much adjusting to medications, and, at least in my own life, I’ve seen them prescribe medication after medication after medication without so much as allowing me to find my footing before launching into the next.

Right now my psychiatrist has prescribed a new medication, but I don’t think I’ve really adjusted yet to life without Geodon. I can’t help but feel that without knowing what my new normal is, how could I possibly know if the next medication is making a difference, for better or worse?

I think I just need to allow myself a little time to get my sea legs before jumping into a new medication again and allow myself to ask, what’s my newest normal?