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My Insurance Didn’t Cover Therapy, So I Coped With Weed and Alcohol

"I couldn’t afford it anymore so I quit. As a result, I started getting into a very dark place mentally."

by Tonic Editors
Feb 21 2019, 4:27pm

Lia Kantrowitz

Ah, therapy, the elusive grande dame of mental healthcare. It has been shown to help for a wide range of mental health issues, but for so many people it's inaccessible.

First of all, it's expensive. Often, insurance doesn't cover it. Other times, insurance does cover it and it's still too expensive. Or maybe you just can't find a good therapist. Or you did, but you feel weird about telling your boss and family you need to carve out time to see them.

Here at Tonic, we wanted to know: How are people making it work despite all these challenges? How are they paying for therapy, and how do their lives change when they do actually make it to the couch? Welcome to Therapy Diaries, where we explore all this and more.

To submit your experience to the therapy diaries, answer a few questions here.

Marti, 26, Italy

Are you in therapy now?

I am in therapy right now. I just started with a new therapist for eating disorders, [alcohol] addiction and depression.

How often do you go, and how much does each session cost?

Once a week. It costs €55.

Does your insurance help pay for this? If so, have you had any difficulty trying to get reimbursed for your therapy sessions?

It doesn’t cover it.

Has the cost ever deterred you from seeing a therapist?

Yes. I live alone and support myself, so €220 per month is a lot of money to spend on top of every other expense.

Have you had to turn alternate strategies for dealing with mental health?

I was in therapy for a couple of months last year, but then I couldn’t afford it anymore so I quit. As a result, I started getting into a very dark place mentally. I didn’t talk to anybody about it, until some people who are closest to me started to see some signs and decided to confront me. For a couple of months I kept dealing with the struggles by myself with the help of a couple of close friends, but it got to a point where I couldn’t function anymore. I stopped eating, stopped sleeping, stopped going out and was just living for my job and the gym. I started smoking weed and drinking heavily to try and stop thinking when I really needed it. I kind of used it as a coping mechanism.

What would you be spending that money on instead, if insurance actually covered therapy?

I would go out more often. Right now I can’t afford to go out for dinner, or parties or events where I have to pay anything. I miss out on many experiences because of that, but at the moment my priority is getting better, so I don’t feel like I have much of a choice.

When you're able to do it consistently, how does being in therapy make you feel?

It helps a lot. I have been through some pretty big changes in the past two years, and never really stopped to think about it or allowed myself to metabolize anything because it was easier. Being in therapy, as hard as it is, forces me to confront those issues so that I can feel a little less heavy, [less] like the world is on my shoulders. I also have less panic attacks, because I have someone to unload on.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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