Yesterday afternoon I experienced three hours of severe stress.

I received a notice in the mail that our health insurance will be cancelled effective June 1.

Once a year we have to update our insurance info to make sure our family info is current and I did all that even though the notice said I hadn’t.

My hands started shaking and I recalled stories I’ve heard of people getting their insurance cut off in just this way with no mercy.

I immediately emailed the clerk and waited in dread for her reply.

During those three hours I took my youngest daughter to the library and barely listened as she happily chatted.

I had intended to try a new exercise routine outside today but I couldn’t begin to fathom doing that.

I had a humorous blog post in progress but couldn’t imagine writing anything funny ever again.

Mostly I LONGED to think about my regular worries again. Those worries suddenly seemed like luxuries compared to the prospect of losing insurance.

Being overcome with fear, when the limbic brain is at high alert in the face of an imminent threat, isn’t a fun thing.

We often use the terms fear and anxiety interchangeably but they are two different things. Anxiety is what we feel about things that may or may not happen and results in constant what-if self-talk.

Which reminds me of the 1980s Bloom County comic strip character Binkley and his closet full of anxieties (click here to see a fun collection of strips about his closet full of anxieties).

Anxiety doesn’t protect you from danger, the way fear does. It mostly prevents you from doing great things.

Anyway, the clerk emailed back and said, oops, she hadn’t seen the info I mailed in last week until that moment so she processed it and marked the continuation of our insurance as “approved.”


I felt no anger toward the clerk because I recalled the time when I accidentally suspended someone’s driver’s license and caused him extreme inconvenience one afternoon.

More than a decade ago I worked as a court clerk and part of my job was to suspend driver’s licenses when people failed to pay their citations.

My first day on the job my boss said, rather dramatically, “You WILL accidentally suspend someone’s driver’s license at some point. It’s gonna happen. Just try not to do that, OK?”

The man whose license I accidentally suspended had to have his car towed because the police offier who pulled him over for another matter wouldn’t let him drive it after noticing in his record that this man was driving with a suspended license.

The man was furious, of course, and contacted me. I felt horrible about how my clerical error caused him trouble and reimbursed him the towing fee from the village funds. I offered to my boss to pay the fee with my own money but he said no.

So, yeah. No anger toward to clerk.

I also mentally made a list of people who I knew would react with compassion if our insurance really had been cancelled.

I’m deeply grateful for insurance and for not having to tell my two oldest daughters, who have health needs that require very expensive medical supplies each month, that we don’t have insurance.

I’m so glad I don’t have to be in the throes of fear on a regular basis like some people do.

Now that I’ve been set free from that fear, maybe I’ll not only be grateful for my regular, ordinary closet full of anxieties, but actually start cleaning out that closet today.


Filed under: AnxietyStories/Storytelling


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