Facebook Meets Faceless Insurance Company

This is so depressing. On one hand, it took a lot for me to even look at this story, because I didn’t want to read about a company being such pricks. But that’s exactly why I needed to look at this, and post about it.

Nathalie Blanchard was off on sick leave because she was diagnosed with major depression. Manulife Insurance was paying for her leave. Her doctor encouraged her to take trips or go out to try and help her forget her problems. She did, and posted pictures on Facebook. According to her and her lawyer, the insurance company saw the pictures, and cut off her benefits because she looked happy, so they deemed that she was no longer depressed.

There are so many angles from which I need to hit this. First, there is no way an insurance company should be able to discontinue payments solely because of seeing a picture. Even if the picture was of me, say, driving a car, someone could have photoshopped me into the driver’s seat. I understand opening an investigation because of pictures, but simply cutting off benefits? That’s not even remotely close to the right thing to do.

Second, a picture is a moment in time. You cannot look at a picture and assume that because the picture looks happy, the person is happy. Take it from someone who knows, and I’ll get to that later, you can have moments of happy amid depression. Doing this is the same as that dickhead lawyer trying to say that his client’s rape victim wasn’t traumatized because she was smiling on Facebook. Was that horrible? Yup, and so is this, for the same reason.

Third, I get so angry when I see that nobody, and I mean no fucking body, seems to understand depression. The ones who have been there do, but nobody else does. They assume that there is one way to be depressed, and that’s it. If you’re depressed, you lie in bed all day and weap. Maybe you drink too. You drink and weap and lie in bed with unwashed hair. That’s depression, that’s it, that’s all.

No it isn’t! Listen up, and listen good. That can happen, but that’s not the only way depression manifests itself. Sometimes when you’re depressed, you’re angry. The world is black, everybody’s a prick, and there isn’t anything good in the world. You don’t have much motivation, but what you do have, you divert to raging about the state of your life, the world, the people around you. You look like you have the power to move mountains, but all you can use that power to do is hit people on the head with a sledgehammer.

I was never officially diagnosed with depression, but I firmly believe that years ago, I was depressed. When I could finally crawl out the other side of the pit I had dug for myself, I thought “Hmmm. If that’s not depression, I don’t know what is.”

It all started when I put on my moron hat and stopped taking all those pills I had been ordered to take to, ya know, do the job that my lazy-ass pituitary wasn’t doing. I had decided that I don’t think I need these…and stopped ’em all, cold turkey. I have been told that it’s a miracle that I’m still alive today, because according to all the textbooks, my heart should have ceased to baboom from the shock of having its prednisone supply cut off abruptly. I should have just been found dead one morning. But I survived, and I digress. That started me down the road to boohooland, because I think it created a nice chemical imbalance that, well, wasn’t very nice.

First, I started sleeping a lot. I told myself that this was a habbit I had created from the little bit of time I had stayed at my parents’ house and I was avoiding some people who were angry with me. But I never stopped sleeping in whenever I could. I’m not talking about sleeping in until 10. I would snooze until 2 in the afternoon!

Then I started getting angry at everything that wasn’t accessible, I started getting angry at government agencies, professors, students helping me out with stuff, anybody who did the slightest thing to piss me off. I even started getting angry at poor Steve and our poor other roommate. I was a hag of a woman, and I didn’t notice. I probably lost a lot of friends because of that stage of my life. I felt completely justified in my actions and my words. But the problem was I had no balance, no voice of reason. I rampaged through everything I wanted to do. When Steve tried to reason with me, it was pointless. All he got back was rage. He got the sledgehammer, that’s what he got. And I will carry guilt about that until the end of my days. He has forgiven me, but I will never be able to forgive myself.

Then, a friend committed suicide, and so began the manifestation of the stereotypical half of depression that everybody knows. At first, I thought it was my own way of grieving…but it never stopped. I was late for everything. Steve had to prod me into doing every fucking thing, even getting out of bed. Then I’d sit at the computer and play solitaire when I should have been doing my assignments or getting ready to go to school. I started failing everything. It must have been horrible to watch.

And through all of that, I’m sure I smiled. Hell, when Huppy’s mom used to work at a convenience store where I’d go to get stuff, she’d call me Smiley even when I felt I wasn’t smiling. So how dare anyone look at a picture of me then and claim that I was not depressed. How dare they! Do they live inside my head? No! Hell, do they live inside my house? No! They can’t have the slightest fragment of a clue how I’m doing from a few pictures, a few separate milliseconds of life.

I know that there are a lot of fraudulent insurance claims, and invisible disabilities are easier for someone to “make up”, but they are also harder to diagnose and harder to pin down. It is not even remotely close to good business practice to cut someone’s insurance claims off because of a fucking picture.

I hope all this coverage can do something to make Manulife reconsider their decision. Sometimes the media is a great thing. I know insurance companies are usually compassionless, robotic entities, but this is especially bad.

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