As I very publicly discussed last year in a TEDx Talk, I have OCD.
In my 30 years of life, I have spent far too much time worrying and catastrophizing -- about illness, about injury, about money, about success, about completely unlikely things that will never ever come true unless you're me, then they seem destined to happen. Through the support of my husband, family, friends, and a lovely little pill called Fluoxetine, I have worked through these issues quite successfully. My OCD is now very manageable. I am one of the lucky ones who can say this.
Mental Illness is a serious issue that is hugely silenced, stigmatized, or at best, just left un-addressed in this country.
Recently I decided to assuage my fears about illness, injury and money a little bit more by applying for short-term disability insurance. I wanted to feel protected if one of these catastrophes might actually occur.
On Sunday I received a letter in the mail that at once upset and enraged me. You can read it here for yourself.
First, let's talk about the Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which I was mis-diagnosed with over 10 years ago and show no symptoms of whatsoever. That's irritating enough on its own -- pun intended for levity...
But to be denied for a Short Term Disability insurance policy that wouldn't even cover a Mental Illness-based lapse of employment because of a Mental Illness Diagnosis, THAT is the definition of crazy. How in a million years would OCD make me uncoverable for a policy protecting my physical ability to work?!
If you're reading this, you probably know me at least a little bit. You know that I'm not going to just take this "no" and go away. Decisions like this serve only to perpetuate the way Mental Illness is addressed. Now they've directly denied me from giving myself a little bit of piece of mind -- piece of mind that I would have happily paid into twice a week even though I would probably never end up needing it.
Even now, as I sit typing this, one of my friends said "What's the point? It's just how insurance is. Insurance companies are just the worst thing in the world."
Well why is that ok? Why do we put up with it? Why do we just accept the diagnosis-based discrimination that hundreds of thousands of Americans face on a regular basis?
I'm done with being quiet. I'm done with feeling embarrassed about OCD, being shy about taking meds, and being understanding about MetLife calling me uninsurable.
If you have a friend, or a family member who suffers, or if you suffer from a mental illness, I hope you are upset and enraged too.
You know what? Even if you've never met a single person on the planet that you sympathize with who has a screw or two loose, you have to see that this can't continue.
Yes, I have OCD, but I'm still a human being.