My petition to the life insurance company was denied.

“The combination of depression and ADD/ADHD precludes [me] from being eligible.”

I don’t think I really believed it would work, but it still hit like a sledge hammer to the chest. I couldn’t get off the phone with the representative fast enough.

Those diagnoses. Depression. ADD. They are hard to pin down. I’ve always grappled with the appropriate incorporation. How do they define me? Sometimes their presence is an unbearable weight, stifling who I feel I’m meant to be. Sometimes they are a fog I walk through, a mist that swirls around the spaces where I brush it away, making it impossible to see. Other times they are a shadow cast behind me as I walk purposefully into the light, only visible when I glance back.

I’ve spent so long wondering how relevant they are to my own self-identity, and yet I’ve never formally denied them. Why then has it been so shocking to witness someone else, a nameless, power-wielding entity, conjure them into undeniable existence. It’s as if this one action, this single determination has forced them to materialize as solid evidence that I am forced to acknowledge. Certain. Indisputable. Obvious.

It’s so obvious to them.

Why isn’t it obvious to me?

These parts of me that I have fought for so long. That I have cursed at and cowered from and fought against and succumbed to and triumphed over. I have always suspected they were there, an inextricable part of me. So why does someone else recognizing them for the liability they are cut me so deep? Why do I feel so betrayed by myself?

Is there a part of me that has been denying them for all these years?

Did I need someone else to deny my denial so I could see them for what they are?

And what are they, really? Notes in my medical history. Coded authorizations for treatment and prescriptions. Abbreviations. Explanations. Generalized depression. Bi-Polar II. Anxiety. Attention Deficit Disorder. Referrals. Group therapy. Doses. Refills. Side effects. Co pays. Phone consultations. Thyroid tests. Milligrams. Take once a day with food.

May cause dizziness.

We are an under-diagnosed but over-medicated generation. Do I really suffer from these things? Or do I just want a quick fix to make myself feel better? Would I still “need” them if I ate all organic, raw foods and got eight hours of sleep and meditated two hours each day? Am I doing this to myself? Am I imagining it?

And even if they are “real”–whatever that means–should I have sucked it up and trudged forward without asking for help so that they wouldn’t have grounds now to penalize me?

They have always been there. Threaded through me. Stamped on the pages of my medical history. Were they they before the professionals identified them? Or did they only crash the party after they were formally invited? Before I existed in the uncertainty. Now they seem real, even if they may have once been imagined.

Now there are consequences. Now they are being claimed for me.

It’s strange how much it hurts. I guess I didn’t realize I wasn’t ready to claim them for myself.


  1. I’m confused – they’re denying you life insurance coverage completely based on those diagnoses? That’s unbelievable to me (knowing we were able to get my husband covered who has a history of depression and a myriad of more “severe” issues). Where did you find this company? I’d encourage you to try with another company… I can assure you someone WILL cover you.

    1. I was not denied coverage, I was just precluded from a more affordable plan. My depression and ADD nearly doubled my premiums.

    1. You know, it’s not really the actual doubled premium that is hard (although knowing this is costing me $20K+ over 30 years is REALLY hard to swallow). It’s more the reality that these issues are having this kind of impact in my life. I just didn’t expect others to consider them liabilities in ways that I don’t.

    1. If there were a definitive test that could tell me I have depression or ADD, then no, my feelings would not differ. If we didn’t live in a culture where way more people are taking medications for depression and ADD than problem need them, then no, my feelings would not differ. But since there is no definitive test to know someone suffers from these things, and since they are frequently misdiagnosed and doctors are quick to prescribe medication as treatment, I do feel differently than I would if I had diabetes or some other clinically diagnosable disease.

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