My fellow Americans,
This year, I am going to vote for Barack Obama in the presidential election. If you would like to know why, please take a few minutes to read this. If you’ve already made up your mind, feel free to ignore it.
Last year, in support of working on a few projects for my full time employer I was working a lot of extra hours (voluntarily) because I believed in the projects we were working on. The work I was doing was so well received, that the company gave me a gift card for the Apple store, which I used to purchase an iPad 2, and I separately ordered a stylus for the device. It’s an amazing device, and while certainly capable of being used for entertainment purposes, I wanted it because I could replace my notebook and pen that I was using for work and constantly using up with something where I could take handwritten notes and email them to myself.
Unfortunately, all work and no play doesn’t make you “dull”, it can literally cause you to lose your mind. Not long after I got the device which assisted me in being amazingly productive, I wore myself out and suffered a mental breakdown, finally being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
I managed to work through it with my employer (who was there for me without fail, every step of the way, offered every available option to me, offered to let me take disability until I was ready etc.) and make a recovery. The doctor said I was ready to go back as long as I took my meds and continued in therapy, so I didn’t take disability, I went back as soon as I could.
But through no fault of my own, nine months later, the company I was working for ended up losing a few accounts because of the downturn in the economy and had to make some tough decisions, in the end laying off about 50% of my department, myself included. It’s important to note, if I was a different sort of person, I probably could have made a case under the Americans with Disabilities act that I was discriminated against - there were people who were hired after I was hired that got to keep their jobs. But my family and my country taught me values that mean something. My company didn’t lay me off because I’m bipolar. I got laid off because the economy went south.
I have a medical condition. I am not disabled. I can support myself, I can work. More importantly, I want to work. I choose to work.
After losing my job and being unable to find work before my severance pay ran out, I filed for unemployment, and started looking at health insurance options. Obviously, having a mental condition for which there is literally no cure, health insurance is something I simply can’t afford NOT to have. When I had my initial mental breakdown/manic episode, I was in the hospital for 3 days. I even tried to leave at one point, I told them I was fine and just wanted to go home - the reason I couldn’t sleep was because I was in a hospital and not at home. Fortunately, they didn’t let me walk out of there, but at the same time, if that happened and I hadn’t had health insurance, how much would it have cost?
Frankly without health insurance, you may be better off literally sneaking out of the hospital in the middle of the night (as I tried to do even though I HAD health insurance), as soon as you’re physically able, no matter what they tell you; and walk home barefoot. If you drop dead on the way home, a funeral may simply be cheaper for your family than the cost of you staying in the hospital long enough for the doctors to figure out what’s wrong with you and save your life.
But I no longer had a job, and COBRA was going to cost me close to $500 a month. That’s a lot of money to me. It’s almost as much as my mortgage.
What’s more, I had a pre-existing condition. A pre-existing condition with no cure.
A pre-existing condition, with no cure, that when it first struck me I had to be in the hospital for 3 days because nobody knew what was wrong. I tried to leave, and I got stopped. If someone hadn’t stopped me, I would have been wandering the city in the middle of the night, not fully in control of even my own mind.
Under the old health care laws, a condition like that could have cost the insurance companies a lot of money, so there’s probably a pretty good chance they’d deny me coverage.
However, thanks to Obama’s healthcare legislation, I was able to find affordable health insurance with an HSA option for about $100 a month. The HSA means I’m going to have to take a greater stake in my personal health, but I’m ok with that. The problem is, right now it’s Sunday and instead of taking my dog for a walk (healthy outdoor exercise), I have to work to pay my bills.
Because I can afford health insurance without an employer, I’ve been able to just this week pick up enough freelance work to pay my relatively modest bills (in my opinion anyway, I’m aware that there are people in the world who make far less than I do) and NOT file for ANY unemployment assistance this week. One of the things that really helps is that because I don’t have to commute to an office and I can just work from home all day, I barely have to use my car so I’m saving a ton of money on gas.
I’m grateful for the opportunities I have right now… frankly without a college education and health insurance, I’d probably still be on unemployment. But I can make it on my own, I just need a fair amount of help.
Americans WANT to work, and they want to work hard. They just want to work for something they believe in. So even though with a college education and affordable health insurance I can make it… this country wasn’t founded on the idea of mediocrity. I can make it, but at what cost? And what about the people who weren’t lucky enough to have a family that was willing to invest so heavily in them as I was?
The reason I started writing this at all today is that in order to make it under the current conditions, I have to work on a Sunday.
I should explain that. I have chosen to do as much work as I am humanly able to do, even at the risk of my own mental sanity, my financial state, everything I have worked my entire life to achieve just to keep it, and that’s not fair. I’m not a religious person, I don’t attend a church, but according to the bible even God got to rest on Sunday. So, if God gets to take today off, but I still have to work, I’m going to keep voting to change things until I get Sundays off too.
American’s are asking for a fair shot, not a free ride. If Americans were lazy, our grandparents would have stopped voting after social security passed.
If Americans were lazy, we wouldn’t have won independence.
If Americans were lazy, we would have lost WWII.
If Americans were lazy, we never would have gone to the moon.
If Americans were lazy, Osama Bin Laden would still be alive and GM would be bankrupt.
If Americans were lazy, I wouldn’t be working on a Sunday, I’d be doing what I wanted to do.
Which would be to take my new dog Malloy (that I just adopted from PAWS animal shelter in Philadelphia) out for a walk. But I can’t do that.
In fact, I may have to give him back, or find somebody to take him. Why? Because I adopted the dog, and I’m going to do everything I can to give him a good home. If I can’t afford to give him a good home anymore, I don’t have the right to keep him. I’m engaged, so theoretically my fiancee could take care of both me and the dog if I lose my mind again and can’t work anymore, but I don’t see how that’s fair for her. It’s my signature on the adoption form, so if I can’t take care of him without her help, I have to find someone who can.
Because if the republicans are elected, they have already said that they are going to un-do the healthcare law. If they undo the healthcare law, I may no longer be able to afford coverage. If I can’t get coverage and I lose my mind again, I’ll be unable to work and I’ll have to give up my dog. Plus, my fiancee will probably end up having to take on a second job in order to pay for hospital visits, and since I’ll probably be completely gone at that point, I’ll never get to have a family.
Because I wanted a dog this is what happens?
So I’m not asking for a handout, I’m asking for somebody to quit lying and start telling the truth. I’m smart enough to figure it out for myself, thanks to the tried and true American method. I want people who aren’t going to use their own set of facts, because there aren’t two, there are one set of facts we all need to abide by.
When I came upstairs to my office today, I was doing it begrudgingly because I had to work on a Sunday. I got distracted by the thoughts in my head, (because remember, I’m bipolar, this is a fact and I do not dispute it - I have a professional medical diagnosis of being insane without my medication) so I started writing this letter instead of doing what I was supposed to be doing.
So, I guess really the reason I’m voting for Barack Obama is that if he wins the election in November, I might get to keep my dog.
At least, all of this is what I think, but you probably shouldn’t listen to me, there’s a lot of very smart people who will tell you I’m completely insane, and you should probably listen to them and not me, they know more than I do.
Thank you for listening,