Trigger warning: Anxiety, job loss
Amidst all of these road blocks, I had switched jobs four times in search of better insurance coverage.
I had worked for the same hospital for almost three years coding medical records. Basically, if you go to the hospital for pneumonia, there’s a code for that. That code tells insurance how many resources were used to treat you. Then insurance pays the hospital a certain sum of money for your treatment. That’s the short version – I won’t bore you with the long version. However, in fall of 2015 my job went through a major upheaval in terms of the codes we use. (Think: You speak English, but you are moving to Mexico, so you need to learn Spanish. You’ve listened to Rosetta Stone and can, in theory, talk the talk. But now you must walk the walk.) During these changes, opportunities for contractors had popped up seemingly overnight like chicken pox. I decided to strike while the iron was hot and took a contract job.
But one contract, turned into three. I didn’t know it yet, but all of those new positions were very temporary. At the time, I thought I was making a good move – supply = demand, and there was definitely a demand. It took three contracts ending to see the writing on the wall: I had horrible timing, and had left my stable job, for jobs that were downsizing and companies that were combining due to lack of contracts. Sounds fairly straight forward in summary, but my anxiety continued to grow.
And that’s the thing about anxiety. I can summarize the situation into a simple paragraph, but I didn’t see it quite so clearly at the time. Simultaneously while in a tumultuous job situation, I was beginning my journey with infertility. Remember how I mentioned a post or two ago, about the lies my anxiety told me?
“This is somehow your fault.”
“You’re less of a woman for your inability to conceive.”
Well, now add in: “You’re a failure – you can’t even keep a job.” “Obviously you’re a terrible employee or you wouldn’t keep getting laid off.”
Anxiety likes to lie. It tells you you aren’t good enough. It tells you you’re inept, incapable, unable to be a functional person. It tells you it is your fault that things aren’t working out. It tells you that it’s your fault you can’t do things right. Anxiety is a liar, a thief of joy, and it is exhausting.
I was with my last contract less than six months when they gathered our team up for a conference call. My manager at the time started the conversation with “I just want you all to know, this is NOT your fault.” The rest was noise. I shut down. My anxiety started to swirl around my mind like a python constricting its dinner. My hearing clouded over and all I heard was Charlie Brown’s teacher wah-wahwah-wah-wah-wahwah.
I think something snapped, and it wasn’t just my heart. What more could I give? I was cranking out productivity numbers that would make a veteran coder cry. I routinely forced 110% of my self and abilities to try and prove that I was needed to a hospital that didn’t care. Because I was a number. I was a contractor and I was dispensable. The toll that took on my mental health was tremendous. I finally saw the writing on the wall, and it was back to the drawing board to look for a new permanent position. I needed to go where my talents meant something, somewhere I was valued.
I considered trying to go back to my old job, but it didn’t feel right. I am a firm believer in always moving forward. I managed to find a position in Chicago, and I’ve been there ever since. HAPPILY. At the very least, I had landed somewhere that had amazing coverage. Part of my job search – thanks to infertility – now involved what city or state offered infertility coverage. It just so happened that Illinois now covered infertility via a state mandate, and that the company I had been
stalking scoping out researching offered insurance that covered IVF at 80%. Halle-flippin-lujeah, and now I work there. Being that we were now faced with IVF or adoptions, at least IVF didn’t seem quite so far fetched. The adage about lemons and lemonade crossed my mind, and I felt like this was meant to be. I believe things happen for a reason and I can honestly say I learned a very valuable lesson through all of my jobs. Each one taught me something different and shaped me into a better employee. But the constant change also brought upon me a darker side of anxiety I hadn’t known before.