Allison Kerek

Some people see an older homeless person, and think, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” That’s not what I think.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and an on-again, off-again relationship with OCD. I worked at a non-profit for 14 years and therefore don’t have a 401(k) or savings. When I see an older homeless person, I think, “That’s me in 20 years.”

Now, with the GOP continually attacking pre-existing condition protections while trying to sneak in lifetime caps on coverage, it’s more possible than ever.

You might be thinking, “Well, little lady—your brain sounds like the place where joy goes to die.”

First of all, it’s odd that you’d use the term “little lady,” even in your head. That’s hella condescending. That being said, you’re right, imaginary person. It’s true that anxiety can drive some nasty negative ruts into our neural pathways by constantly telling us things won’t work out. But with the current state of healthcare in this country, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that any one of us who’s not in the one percent could end up homeless, regardless of our mental health status.

That’s possibly the biggest tragedy about a healthcare system that’s built on profit instead of healing—that, as Americans, we don’t just have getting ill to fear, we have the possibility of losing everything we’ve ever worked for just because our body has decided to turn on us.

A company called Nerdwallet did a study back in 2013 on American healthcare and finances. They found that 56 million adults struggle every year to pay medical bills. More than 25 million of them skip doses on their meds, and almost 2 million are filing for bankruptcy.

That would make unpaid medical bills the #1 cause of bankruptcy in America.

I once had a hairstylist tell me a horror story about losing her house because she developed an MRSA infection on a bachelorette trip to Vegas. She lost her house because Vegas is a cesspool of staph bacteria, rum-drink detritus, and stripper glitter. She also cut my bangs too short, which was a different kind of tragedy.

But the biggest tragedy of all is that, while mental and physical illnesses can be random, capricious, devastating, and unrelentingly cruel, that’s just nature. They don’t have any choice in the matter. Congress does.

I don’t know why the world’s become so cruel. I find it interesting that much of it has been ascribed to “economic anxiety.” Strangely, my anxiety doesn’t make me want to ram my car into protesters or take healthcare from 30 million people. It mostly makes me want to sit in a hot bath and eat Jacked-Up Doritos.

That’s why I’m creating a “Send Jacked-Up Doritos to Congress So They’ll Stop Trying to Take Our Healthcare” campaign. You can send any extra Doritos to the Mercury offices. I promise not to eat them. All.

(You can also do whatever you can to support Democratic candidates in ’18. Whichever one feels more productive. Thanks!)