Charged for being ill; Long term mental illness and paying for prescriptions

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I have Bipolar, a life long mental illness. I take medication to help me have some form of stability. Without it, I can become manic and a danger to myself, or severely depressed and suicidal. I need medication to function, to get up in the morning, to survive. Yet, I have to pay for my prescriptions. If I had diabetes, thyroid problems, or epilepsy, all life long conditions, I would not have to pay for my prescriptions. This is surely an example of mental health stigma.

Currently, individual prescriptions are £8.60. I have monthly prescriptions, of three individual medications, which would cost me £25.80. Recently I have had fortnightly prescriptions, which would cost £51.60 per month, which is £619.20 per year. If I had to have that prescription for forty years, fortnightly at today’s prices, it would cost me £24,768. Fortnightly prescriptions are not unusual for people with mental illness, so this isn’t a huge exaggeration of the cost. That’s the deposit for a three bedroom house, and more money than I have ever earned in a single year.

With the Prepayment Prescription Certificate (PPC), it is £104 per year, so over forty years that is £4,160. I have never been told about this saving by any medical professional. I simply happened to glance at a leaflet at the pharmacy one day. The fact is they don’t want to promote this. As someone who is currently unable to work full time, because of my illness, you can imagine not having PPC medication would be unaffordable. If I did not have my husband, whom I rely on for financial support, I would not be able to afford to pay for my medication without PPC.  Before I realised I was entitled to PPC, I had been taking medication for Bipolar for over three years.

There are still people in our society that would say to me “just get over it!” or “you can recover” or “you don’t need to take medication, learn to meditate!” What these people don’t seem to realise, or are unable to grasp, is that I have tried. I’ve tried to get over it. I’ve tried to recover. I’ve tried to not take medication. These are not solutions. They do not work. In fact, that warped way of thinking only exacerbates my condition. Without medication, to put it bluntly, I would be dead. The same way a diabetic would die without their insulin. Medication helps me to survive, but the right mix of meds helps me to thrive, and live life the way I have only dreamt of.

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