Thursday, April 10, 2008

the drugs are very effective. i want to be on them.*

I'm uninsured. I have been since I started my new job at the
beginning of January. Which is a strange position to be in when you
work for someone who provides free or low-cost health care to people
in DC who can't afford health care. I am now one of them apparently.

My employer takes this whole 90-day probationary period really
seriously. I don't have any benefits I can use for the first three
months of my employment. I accrue vacation and sick time but am not
allowed to use it. And I don't get any health insurance until after
the 90 days.

This sucks. I am on so many medications. Well, first off, there's
the birth control, which is an every day thing. Then there's the two
different medications for migraines (which I get when I've been sleep
deprived or stressed or both), one of which doesn't have a generic.
And then there's the two medications I'm on for my generalized anxiety
disorder, both of which are daily and one of which doesn't have a

I'm running out of my non-generic anti-anxiety pill. And it's
freaking me out. Because I still don't have insurance.

I've been running low on this drug for a couple of weeks now. When I
noticed I only had a few left in the bottle, I started rationing the
pills out. I began to take them every other day. Mind you, I'm
supposed to take them daily in order for them to be effective.

And boy are they effective. In fact, it wasn't until I started to
take them every other day that I realized just how I different I am
when I'm on them. I'm calm and rational. I don't let the little
things get to me. I sleep really well. And most importantly, I
haven't had a panic attack in a really long time.

Last week, on my 90th day of employment, I submitted my paperwork for
health insurance. I had been looking forward to that day for a while.
In fact, my aide had been counting down for me too. I had told her
about having to pay full price for birth control and how I was OD-ing
on vitamins every day so I wouldn't get sick (and I'm pretty sure I
won't be getting scurvy this year). She understood how important it
was to be insured.

When I submitted my paperwork, the HR lady told me that I didn't
qualify for health insurance until the 1st of May (she had her reasons
which don't make much sense but I will spare you the legal mumbo jumbo
here). I did my best to remain calm and composed, but the minute I
began the walk back to my office, I started to gasp for air. My body
tensed and my heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest.
I tried to take long deep breaths and felt like there wasn't enough
oxygen in the air for me to breathe. I was starting to have a panic

Not wanting my aide to see me in this state, I walked around the
neighborhood, trying to think of a solution to my problem. I
desperately needed refills on all of my drugs. But how was I going to
afford it? But instead of finding a solution, I became angry and
frustrated. Negative thoughts filled my brain. I couldn't have
health insurance right now because of some stupid administrative
reason. I alternated between stress and anger for awhile. I walked
slowly and timed my breathing in an effort to thwart the panic attack.
I tried every relaxation technique my shrink ever taught me (BTW, I
can't see her any more because I don't have health insurance and can't
afford to pay her out of pocket). They distracted me, but I was still
upset. I had no choice but to go back to my office in this state.

Immediately upon walking in, my aide knew something was wrong. I
broke down and told her. She countered by taking me out to lunch. It
was a pleasant and welcome distraction.

It's been a week and I've been waiting to hear if there's a way around
that administrative loop hole so I can be insured. I haven't taken my
anti-anxiety medication in 5 days. Every day, I am on the edge. My
whole body is waiting for the world to come crashing down. Every
little thing irritates me and makes me want to scream inside. I can't
believe that I lived this way for so long. I really don't want to
continue like this. I've been back to my old life for a few days and
already I want out.

I have one pill left. It's a tiny reminder of how much that
medication has changed me and helped me. I'm not sure why I've held
on to that one pill. Taking it now would make it completely

*This is the first in a series of honest and personal posts about mental
illness. The series will culminate on April 16th, 2008, the one year
anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech.


Capitol Hill 20210 said...

Can your doctor give you samples? I know that the ob/gyn can give you buttload of birth control samples.........

But for the other meds - is that a possibilty at all? Explain the situation and usually they are pretty cool about it.

Insurance issues suck......I would offer a "I Now Pronounce Chuck and Larry" scenario - because in the government its effective the day you start work and/or for your spouse the day you put in the work.

Keep your chin up --- I know all about anxiety issues.

Mme. Meow said...

Oh jeez... I'm so sorry you're being forced to go through this :o(


Anonymous said...

I don't understand why you didn't select to participate in COBRA when you left your last job. I know premiums are high (I've done it) compared to having an employer foot part of the premiums but paying 100% of your own medical bills should a personal medical disaster strike is far worse.

I'm surprised you wouldn't at least purchase the anti-depressants you obviously need for your health. These obviously are necessary for you. You should try to find a way to get them. May, after all, is a long way off.

jason said...

Nice one. A very well-written post on methods to attack anxiety.Here is a very good wesbite that has plenty of guides regarding simple methods toattack anxiety. Thought I might share it with you. It's at

lizzie said...

CH 20210--I'm not too worried about the BC. The generic version is pretty affordable.

About 'Chuck and Larry', before I left my job, I asked my bf if his job offered domestic partnership benefits and his employer unfortunately doesn't.

Thanks for the support. Means a lot, really.

Madame Meow: Thanks. I'm trying to be as strong as I can.

Anon: Before I left my old job, I got 90 day prescriptions on all of my meds, thinking I would have insurance within 90 days of starting my new job. I refilled them all on my second day of work. Unfortunately, we are past the 90 day mark and clearly, I am out of meds except BC. Yes, I know how important my meds are, especially the ones I have to take daily. And obviously not doing COBRA was a big mistake on my part. I thought having a 90 day supply would be enough. I had no idea that my benefits would be delayed.

jason: thanks for the info.