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10:10 a.m. - June 27, 2006
It never fails. I make a solemn declaration that I wouldnít ever, EVER do something, and inevitably, Iím in there.

I once said that Iíd never, EVER listen to country music. I have Hank Sr., Buck Owens, the Louvin Brothers, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard in my iPod.

I once said that Iíd never, EVER have a cell phone, and even decorated my office cube with anti-car phone slogans. Two years later, I had one.

So a few years ago, when I saw a little sad Pac-man dude was moping across the screen, and all of a sudden became happy when he took a pill, I turned to Liz and said that while Iím not opposed to meds for anxiety and depression, Iíd never EVER take that stuff.

Well, guess what?

As of yesterday, I AM taking Zoloft.

So Iím part of medication nation.

Yesterday I had my annual checkup. I was all worried that my blood pressure was out of kilter because of all the stress, but it was fine (with my medication). I got some blood work done, and I was told that my knee wasnít a problem (it stopped hurting) and that some weight training may be good.

Then we talked about my stress levels and my OCD, and he asked a lot of questions and I answered them. No, Iím not suicidal and never have been. No, I donít think about hurting myself. Yes, I think my life is going pretty good, but there are times when I get down and sometimes it does seem all overwhelming, and thatís when I tend to self medicate or make bad choices.

Iíve been pretty open here about my OCD, and yeah, this all stems from it. Iíve been stressy, edgy, moody and making poor choices and decisions based on a combination of factors. Now while a lot of my decisions are just that, decisions, my doctor and I both think this could help.

And Iím going to go back a third time for some therapy. The first time, I think I was misdiagnosed with ADHD. Now I AM a bit high-strung and hyper, but I donít flit from project to project. I AM focused. I GET stuff done.

I took Ritalin for a while, but it didnít help.

The second time, I think the therapist got right at the heart of the matter, and she helped a great deal. But my sessions ran out, but she said we covered a lot of ground, and that if I needed some medication, by all means get it, but see what you can do without it.

I made it about 18 months before realizing that I may need it.

So now Iím taking it for 30 days and Iím seeing how it goes.

But then thereís step two Ė more therapy.

Iím all for therapy, because itís important to talk about things in a private, confidential manner to someone who will listen to you and try to help you sort yourself out.

I also believe that your mind is just as important as your body, and you need to take care of it and nurture it. Just like youíd want to treat your blood pressure or cholesterol levels, you need to treat your mind for any problems that you may have.

When Liz was working, we had great benefits. Her company, which was rather large, had covered employees for almost every possible situation, and had favorable rates for medical, dental, and vision.

I never worried much about the benefits here because of the benefits we enjoyed there, but when she stopped working, we went on my benefits package here.

Because weíre relatively small, we donít have the purchasing power for certain insurance plans to make it cost effective. We DO have a flex plan, and money comes out in pre-tax dollars for that, and that does help a bit. I really donít see the money, we donít miss it, and we save money on taxes.

Except with two kids now, we need to put more and more money into it. Thatís eight dental appointments, plus vision screenings, and who knows what else.

It used to be that we had an Employee Assistance Program, where you called a number and theyíd refer you to a group of therapists, and youíd pick one. The first few appointments were fully covered, and later you just had to pick up a co-pay for a course of ten or so.

But when they changed life insurance carriers here at the college, that service went away. They looked at having it as a separate program, but they looked at the stats and saw only two people used it in five years. So it went away.

I can understand that decision.

So I looked at what our medical insurance would cover for mental health.

It treats it like an emergency room visit. You have to fulfill a deductible (which is large, really) then it covers 80%.

For something that is just important as your physical health (your mind), theyíre making it hard for someone to take care of it.

So now weíre in a dilemma. What do we do? Do we increase our flex plan to cover this, and basically eat up all of my salary increase because of my head?

Or do I not go to therapy because of the expense?

Iím not rich, but Iím not poor either. But I have to balance everything. I need to take care of myself, but I need to be sure we have money so that Katie and Kristin can do whatever they want and need to do

Mostly, though, Iím angry at an insurance company that doesnít make it easy for someone to take care of themselves.

Thereís no stigma to this Ė everyone has issues that need addressing and I think itís wise to take care of them. And perhaps, if people took the time to take care of their minds, then maybe a lot of more expensive problems would go away.

So here I am, medicated, alive, happy, yet seething.

Thatís a nice mix for a summer day.


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