Repeal of the ACA Obamacare — Vignettes of a Traveler
Many people are sharing their stories of how the repeal of the ACA (or Obamacare) would impact them through the denial of services because of pre-existing conditions. Here’s my story.
For over 25 years I have battled major chronic depressive disorder, major anxiety disorder, and PTSD, a set of conditions that often left me, at best, in bed for days at a time and, at worst, suicidal. In addition, my panic attacks, a separate type of torture, felt like someone was stabbing me in the heart over and over for ten to fifteen minutes. These are just a few of the consequences of my mental illnesses.
For the last 22 years, I’ve basically had three good days a year. That’s right, three days a year where I didn’t feel like a pile of crap, didn’t want to kill myself, and could smile without feeling like I was a lying sack of shit. This condition cost me jobs, friendships, relationships, and financial stability.
2005 Bachelors Degree
Twelve years ago at the age of 30, a therapist finally gave me a proper diagnosis because I finally had access to healthcare because I was school. Before diagnosis, I alternated between feeling like a weak-ass sucker who couldn’t suck-it-up or a crazy schizophrenic. You cannot imagine the confusion. The only reason I sought therapy is because I thought I was a bi-polar schizophrenic. When I was diagnosed, at first I felt skepticism, then relief, and finally anger. But, I finally had a name for my demon, and this I could fight.
However, instead of going on record for a pre-existing condition, I paid out of pocket for therapy and refused to be prescribed antidepressants or SSRIs. Instead, I quite drinking, changed my diet and began meditating three times a day. Hiding an illness from healthcare records is just one of the stigmas that people with mental illness face.
2014 Graduate School
Flash forward nine years to the end of my first year of graduate school. I am working two part-time jobs, struggling to pay bills and rent (often a month or two behind), commuting 90 miles to be a full-time student all while managing a severe mental illness. I cracked, hitting bottom so hard my head spun and my wife cried.
The next day, I drove the 90 miles to campus, saw a NP, and was prescribed an SSRI. Even though I still have nightmares 3–5 nights a week, you cannot imagine how drastically my quality of life has improved. For three years I have not felt suicidal or had a panic attack. You cannot imagine how grateful I am to have crawled out of hell and into the sunlight.
If the ACA (or Obamacare) is repealed and my wife looses her job, I will probably never have health insurance again because of my pre-existing condition. Whatever, I can take care of myself.
My actual fear has to do with who I might re-become around my daughter and my wife without access to healthcare and SSRIs. Watching the fear and pain in my wife’s eyes during my struggles before medication was heart breaking. She suffered her own set of traumas unique to people who have to live with someone struggling with mental illness. I don’t want to pass this trauma on to my daughter.
The repeal of the ACA (or Obamacare) will affect more than those of us who need healthcare; it will affect those we love.
This breaks my heart.
Originally published at aaronschultz.com on January 13, 2017.