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.

2 thoughts on “Dragging the chain

  1. 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?

    1. That’s the thing. I don’t think it should fall off my history. But if I haven’t been in treatment for 10+ years and my affect seems average, why does a non-mental-health practitioner need to grill me? Cancer remission/cure is after 5 years…

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