I am a 20-year-old woman of color with physical and mental health hurdles, and like most people, I often find myself trying to find better ways to cope with my problems. The hardest ones to deal with, such as my seemingly never-ending financial situation, are those out of my control.
If I get sick, I do my best to keep costs low. When I got the flu, I searched online for every home remedy, because seeing a doctor for 15 minutes will cost me $60 out-of-pocket. Then, medication alone cost me another $60. Having the flu that month cost me more than my phone bill. Had I had health insurance, those prices could have been greatly reduced.
Unfortunately, I have been denied by countless health insurance providers, so I have to get more creative about maintaining my health. The closest to approval I got was to a plan that started at $150, which still required a co-pay for doctor visits. As someone with physical disabilities, but no health insurance, I am more inclined to depend on smaller things I can control, such as nutrition. My circumstances have led me to question if I have vitamin deficiencies, and combat those fears by keeping my diet consistent with a higher intake of greens and grains. I surely feel better in my day-to-day by doing such, however, these changes themselves come at a higher cost. How I choose what to buy when circumstances are rough solely depend on my finances the week of. If possible I am likely to choose what will give me the nutrition I need at that moment. Other times, I am stuck between what will allow me to be fed and what will give me higher nutritional value.
Similarly, I find that the amount of thought being put into what I’m feeding myself falls under my mental health altogether. As someone who values receiving therapy, problems tend to arise without it. Coping daily turns into a battle rather than an accomplishment. Having a professional growing alongside you changes how you look at what was once strenuous. However, given the predicament I was in, I had to choose between continuing therapy and paying out-of-pocket, or stopping it due to high costs. Unfortunately, I had no choice but to stop going to therapy.
Without help from insurance, seeing a professional two to three times a week, where each session costs $70, could have summed up to $210 per week. My salary was certainly insufficient to cover this and my pre-existing expenses. Even so, I learned to pick up forms of coping that would allow me to continue to better my mental well being despite the predicament I was placed in.
To illustrate, I learned that the key to surviving was to try new things. Such things included journaling, learning new recipes, taking care of my plants, and communicating emotions properly. I regained some momentum in my life after what felt like a major pause. It is easy for me to drown in problems I did not plan for, so I began finding smaller things that were in my control to enable a lifestyle of balance. I still hit plenty of roadblocks, as any human would, yet I made it a priority to have conversations with those who felt the same. I found purpose in offering the same resources I used in my own time of need. With this in mind, it is important to note that health care is not optional, but rather a human right.
Health care allows us to live without constantly being restricted to things out of my control. Such events are more difficult to deal with because if something goes wrong with my health, I will have to no option but to disrupt other facets of my life as well. Medication is expensive, and I rarely have the funds on-hand to afford it. Since a healthy lifestyle is optimal but not always possible, insurance is needed to increase the quality of my overall lifestyle and health. Having no access to a mental health professional seriously strained me, so, to counteract this circumstance I had to find creative ways to uphold my mental health. I did so by having a strong support system, journaling, and learning to communicate effectively with those who can help. Health care plans not only to make doctor visits cheaper but also prevent a cascade of detrimental effects on your mind and body. Every human being deserves to take care of themselves without having to ironically sacrifice their well-being to do so.