Dragging the chain

My Sweetie changed firms in February, so we changed health insurance. The new employer has a web-driven healthy behavior tracker—trade our personal details for cheaper (to us) insurance rates. I think the website said it was all still HIPAA-private info… too late now.

So tonight I filled out the health questionnaire, the first step in the trade. Let’s see. I drink not-much, I’ve never smoked, I exercise three times a week, My Sweetie makes sure we have healthy food choices. I think I’m a pretty good risk, as Americans go.

I get to the end, where they show their results, and the page is full of: You are at risk of depression. You should address this immediately. Fill in your phone number here so our person can call you.


In the “have you ever?” section, I naturally checked “yes” for asthma, and for depression. Because I have ever. My asthma is currently untreated (they asked that), because it’s exercise-induced, and the exercise that induces it most consistently is swimming, which I’m not currently doing. If I enjoyed long-distance running, that likely would too, but I don’t like running and it hurts my knees. Still, I’m not wheezing now, and haven’t wheezed in five months of personal training. I think I’m okay there.

My depression isn’t being treated because it isn’t here. It was last a medical issue in 1996. Over twenty years ago…yeah, just before I had my first kid. I stopped treatment in 2000, which I think is a plenty long ramp-down time. We were trying to wait for me to stop having major life transitions—A, B, grad school, new post-grad-school job. Four transitions over four years, and nary a dip. If one could ever say that a person had healed from depression, my therapist and I would say that.

Except one doesn’t get to. Say that one has healed from depression, that is. Sometimes I wonder if it’s like cancer, if when a cancer survivor relates their history to a new practitioner, that practitioner also shifts from “getting to know you” cheerful to a solemn demeanor and slower movements. It’s like flipping a switch.

It’s also a pain in the ass. It made sense to me that in my twenties, when my hospitalization was in the recent past, that I would get this defuse-the-time-bomb treatment. And I put up then with the persistent, skeptical questions from bodily-health professionals. It’s their job, in a way, and it’s good to see medical folk taking their front line responsibilities seriously.

But it’s been over thirty years since I was in the mental hospital. And since I can’t prove a negative, my telling them I’m fine—no doubt in an impatient voice—doesn’t actually get us anywhere. Besides, the web-form didn’t ask. Just “have you ever been diagnosed.”

So here we are, about to go around again. Depression is welded to my leg like a shackle and trailing chain, and the links just caught on a hook on the floor. It’s almost enough to get a sarcastic person to pull out all the remembered stops, to give the people the show they seem to want. Almost.

Really, if I thought it would get them to drop it, I would.
But I know better.

Comments (2)

  1. Robert N Olsen

    Kimbol, if it’s any consolation to you, health care professionals would make sure that every diagnosis you ever had follows you around perpetually. The things I see…. Of course I’m not allowed to comment on. The points you make are extremely valid. At what point do these diagnoses fall off of me?