Heath insurance claim formIn November of 1995, Dr. John published The Horror of HMOs, my rant on the subject of how mental health patients are treated by their insurers. Well, I’m back, like a bad smell drifting in from the local landfill.

If I were paranoid, instead of a garden-variety severe unipolar depressive, I’d assume that they tracked me down and decided to make me pay for shooting off my mouth. Instead, I guess that my luck simply ran out.

In late April, I was downsized/re-engineered/Dilberted out of my job, and as of June 30 I’m still unemployed. Believe me, on the stress-level scale, losing your job has to rank right up there with losing your mind. For years I had been reading about what was going on with the untold thousands of Americans similarly blindsided by their employers. Now I was experiencing it.

You learn to squeeze a quarter so hard that Washington’s profile is permanently embossed on your thumb. The help-wanted ads become an obsession. You stay off the phone during business hours for fear of missing a call from someone to whom you sent your resumé.

Most — or worst — of all, you wonder how you’ll pay for your medications when your insurance runs out.

The equation is simple:

      no job = no income = no insurance = no meds

For the past few years, my daily dose of Effexor has allowed me to feel and function more or less like a human being. Without it, I doubt I could have ever dealt with my employment situation, which was rotten; even the psychiatrist said I’d never make real headway against the depression until I extricated myself from that cesspool. Still, the cesspool’s most recent HMO did allow me to purchase my prescription refills at a deep discount.

How ironic: the very monster that situationally fueled my ongoing condition also helped supply its palliative. It’s as if the Romans routinely supplied combat medics to the gladiators in the Coliseum because it was more cost-effective than obtaining and training new ones.

So here’s the message, hockey fans:

  • I have to find a job. As the old Gillette Blue Blades jingle said, you’ve got to look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp.
  • I’ve got to perform that job.
  • To do either, let alone both, I must continue to take medication that soon I won’t be able to pay for.

Some years ago, Gary Larson, creator of “The Far Side,” published a cartoon panel that depicted a pair of deer facing each other in the woods. The buck on the left has a bull’s-eye on his chest. The buck on the right says to him, “Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.”