“You know how much it costs, right?” she asked.
“Sure. Thirty-five dollars,” I said confidently. The cost had been thirty-five dollars since I had met my deductible earlier in the year.
The pharmacy tech looked down at my bill and leaned forward toward me over the counter. “It’s four hundred and fifteen dollars,” she whispered.
“What?!” I nearly shouted, “That can’t be! I met my deductible a long time ago.”
The pharmacy tech looked as though this wasn’t the first time she’d received this type of reaction. “I’m sorry, ma’m,” she said, sympathetically.
I left the store and sat in my car as I called my insurance company. After fiddling with menus and tersely responding, “Yes. No.” to the many automated options, I finally sputtered, “REPRESENTATIVE!” Once I was connected to a human being, I told my story three times to help the representative understand that, yes, I had met my deductible in March. Finally, he put me on hold briefly then came back on to tell me that I had also unfortunately met my “prescription cap” for the year.
Oh. I weakly thanked him and hung up. I felt a knot of panic form in my stomach. I was sure the insurance company had made a mistake about my deductible or someone had just hit the wrong key on a computer somewhere. But it wasn’t so. Because my medication had been increased, it cost more than it had in the past and I had truly hit the top of my prescription coverage.
I sat quietly in my car as the gravity of the situation sunk in. I took the medication monthly, I had to pay the full amount in January and February each year until I met my deductible and now I was going to have to pay the full amount from September through . . . Oh, no. I would have to pay four hundred and fifteen dollars per month for half of the year.
Like many people, the recession hasn’t been particularly kind to me. I sat in my car trying to fight the panic rising from my stomach and coming up into my throat. Where was I going to find an extra four hundred dollars per month? I had to have the medication, I couldn’t just stop it.
I went back into the store and paid four hundred and fifteen dollars for less than a handful of pills. On the way home, my mind flitted through a dozen different ways that I might be able to save money here, cut expenses there. I took a deep breath and loosened my grip on the steering wheel. I noticed my anxiety and thought, “Well, I just had a big expense I wasn’t expecting, no wonder I’m freaked out.”
I started to relax even more, suddenly feeling my confidence starting to seep back in through the cracks in my anxiety. I paid attention to this new feeling. Where was this coming from?
Then I got it; I realized what I was doing. I have been noticing and writing about resiliency for so long that I had automatically engaged some of my resiliency coping skills without even thinking about it. I allowed myself to experience the natural emotions that come with an unpleasant surprise; I acknowledged that this news was freaking me out. But instead of staying with my anxiety, my mind immediately started to seek out ways to solve the problem. I also noticed my own thoughts and my physical experience and took a deep breath to relax. As my body relaxed, my mind was able to slow down and come up with even more ideas to address the situation.
By the time I arrived home, I was still feeling somewhat shaken, but I had also developed several options to pursue that would help, if not resolve, the prescription problem. At the same time, I was proud of myself for reflexively using the tools in my resiliency toolkit to help me quickly recover from an unexpected shock.
So, the moral of this story is not so much the actual tools that I used, but the fact that the practice and repetition involved in thinking about resiliency allowed me to act quickly on my own behalf.
Takeaway point: The more you think about and practice your own resiliency skills, the more prepared you will be when life throws you a curveball. So make sure to notice and be conscious of the coping skills that work for you.
How confident are you with the tools in your resiliency toolkit?