preexisting

to already be in existence. to exist already. existing before.

like my depression and anxiety.

they’ve been with me for some time. the first time i remember seriously contemplating how to die i was twelve. i am now thirty-eight.

though i am trying to be more open about my clinical depression and anxiety disorder, it is quite possible that even if you know me, you don’t know this about me. i did not understand why i was in so much pain for so long. but i hid it very well. there are plenty of articles about high functioning depressives — maybe i’ll write one of those in the future. but i hid my pain until seeking help was the only way not to die.

my hospitalization in 2015 for depression and suicidal ideation saved my life.

and now, it could very well become a big red flag impacting my access to healthcare for the rest of my life. (along with my womanhood, motherhood, and miscarriage — but that’s also another story.)

As it currently stands, the American Health Care Act — passed by a “pro-Life” Congress — has stitched this flag. By removing protections that require nondiscrimination in coverage for preexisting conditions, Congress has created yet one more barrier for people seeking help for highly stigmatized illnesses. And if people do not seek treatment for fear that the result will be a diagnosis that could be categorized as a preexisting condition later, people will die.

I am aware that I haven’t even touched on the staggering list of experiences (rape, domestic violence) and health conditions (asthma, cancer) that could be considered as preexisting conditions if the AHCA continues its decimating course or the even longer list of already vulnerable people who will lose health care as Republican leadership in D.C. looks for victories on the backs of the poor and marginalized. The result of all of this loss of access is death.

death. a lack of existence. no longer existing.

My preexisting condition exists, whether I am aware of it or not, whether I acknowledge it or not, whether I am in treatment or not. But I have had the benefit of treatment — life-saving treatment, and others will not if the AHCA is enacted.

If insurance companies can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions like depression, who won’t seek help? Is that you? Is that someone you love?


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