For the period of time between the end of university and landing a real job I didn’t have any health insurance. So I did what every unpaid intern does — I stopped going to the doctor, the dentist and every other medical professional in an attempt to save money.
When those benefits finally kicked in I started to take advantage in a big way. With the promise of financial reimbursement I began filling up my lunch hours, evenings and even weekends with a long list of appointments. I didn’t just schedule an annual checkup — I enlisted a diverse team of medical experts to poke, prod and examine every inch of me.
For more than a year I was under the impression there was nothing wrong with me. Now, there are an endless number of reasons to visit doctors, dentists, naturopaths (because maybe Western medicine doesn’t have all the answers) and a whole range of specialists.
All of these appointments have to be painstakingly organized in my BlackBerry and colour coded in an agenda (yes, that near-obsolete thing with paper pages) just in case my digital calendar malfunctions. My time management skills may be improving but I’m starting to develop serious appointment fatigue.
Even my efforts to improve my own health — the high-intensity spinning classes, the backbreaking boot camp — necessitate more medical intervention. I have to recruit chiropractors and physiotherapists just to fix the damage I’m doing to myself. My strict schedule of self-improvement has left me feeling overbooked and overwhelmed. Now, even the fun activities — an occasional manicure, a day at the spa — have come to feel more like chores.
I have become my own Tiger Mom.
It seems the more I focus on taking care of myself, the more anxiety I feel. And I know I’m not the only one. The pressure to push ourselves toward perfection means there is always something more we can be doing and, as a result, we’re scheduling ourselves to the point of exhaustion.
But taking care of yourself shouldn’t feel like a full-time job. Claiming every penny of my insurance plan just because I can might actually be more unhealthy than skipping out on that annual checkup.
So I’m done with my tyrannical timetable for now — the only appointment left in my agenda is with an accountant. Because you can always avoid the dentist but you can never, ever avoid your taxes.