(Fair warning: This post is about women’s health issues. Accordingly, it talks about female reproductive health. If you’re squeamish about this kind of stuff, feel free to click away.)
I’ve been struggling, emotionally, the past few months.
Even with regular exercise, having quit caffeine, daily meditation and journaling, consistent therapy sessions, cultivating healthy diet and sleep habits, and even quitting alcohol for a bit, I’ve had trouble sleeping, waking up sweaty in the middle of the night, then having an awful time getting back to sleep. I’ve been moody and irritated and angry a lot.
And then I had a week where I felt an utter and abject hopelessness. I felt numb, and deeply sad. It felt like joy was something other people felt, that I’d never find it myself. It was terrifying and awful and I had no idea what to do. I waited it out, hoping that it was something that would wane.
Thankfully, it DID wane. The day I got my period, I slept a full 8 hours without waking once, and that day, my mood lifted and I felt a billion times better.
I started putting two and two together: night sweats, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, depression… correlated with my cycles.
These were symptoms of menopause. It couldn’t be a coincidence.
So I made an appointment with a new gynecologist whose special interest was menopause symptoms, who told me that it was actually normal to have menopause symptoms in your early 40s. She confirmed for me that yes, it seemed like I was experiencing them. I had multiple options to ease my symptoms, which included both medication and/or hormones. We talked through them all, the pros and cons, and I left the office with a prescription for medication, which, as of today, seems to be helping.
All’s well that ends well, right?
For me, yes.
I live in Massachusetts, one of the states that actually cares about making sure that its constituents have access to health care; Mitt Romney’s 2006 health care reform bill was the basis for the national law to allow access to affordable healthcare for all.
And I am watching what our new administration is doing to try and resurrect the dead ACA repeal (also known as the AHCA) bill with anger at what they are trying to do.
Because yes, I live in a state where I will likely always have access to healthcare. (I mean, seriously – the governor of Massachusetts even pledged state funding to Planned Parenthood had the AHCA passed.)
One of my best friends who lives in Kentucky, though, has a different story.
As does my sister in North Carolina.
And my mom in Texas.
And my girlfriends who live in in Georgia. Or Alabama. Or Nebraska. Or Michigan. Or Pennsylvania.
You get the picture, right?
Women will suffer under the new administration’s version of the AHCA.
Prior to Obamacare, only 12% of insurance plans covered maternity care.
Prior to Obamacare, less than half of the states in the US had mandates requiring coverage of mental health treatment.
The new AHCA strips out the mandate to provide preventative health care for women: mammograms and pap smears. And also mental health services, which, based on my recent personal experience, actually kind of go hand in hand with physical health.
The new AHCA will not allow for organizations like Planned Parenthood to be reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid for birth control and preventative care for women. And since Planned Parenthood operates its centers in mostly low income and rural areas, it means that women in low income and rural areas will lose access to women’s reproductive care.
I feel like, ever since November, I’ve been sitting here, watching what’s going on in politics and shaking my head, saying, This is NOT OKAY.
This is not SO not okay.
So this week, I called Seth Moulton – my US Rep* – and told him that I stand for women’s health**.
We need to make our voices heard. Still. Now. Until we ALL have access to the kind of healthcare that we all need.
*Need to know who your rep is? Click here and enter your zip code.
**Don’t know what to say? Click here for a sample script.