mood Health Week

by Susan Witter

Published in Issue No. 253 ~ June, 2018



Hello, Stella,

Welcome to your enhanced mental health portal! We at the new, local, improved Citizens’ Mutual Health Exchange franchise continuously seek ways to make your health care more effective, and our just-perfected Patron Check: In® module will be of special use to you. During the episode you are having, we’ll send you a comprehensive, customized instant email describing your healing strategy for every day.

Based on the medications you’re taking and notes from both your physician and your counselor, we are aware that stress is an issue in your life. In fact, today especially, we have noticed that your heartbeat has shown a mild but steady (in fact, continuing) increase. It should be perceptible to you—a thrumming slightly more prominent than your typical heartbeat. Can you feel it, resonating within you? If yes, click here.

We want you to know that you are in good hands. We are not at liberty to share your counselor or physician notes with you, or your exact pulse or blood pressure, but rest assured that your information will remain confidential within our network of care.

Our suggestions for your best all-around health are:

Take five deep breaths in and out while focusing on something pleasant or comforting to you.

Stay away from sugar, caffeine, and alcohol today.

Maintain a mindful and easy pace at work.

Choose to avoid any confrontations whatsoever.

When you get home, take a bath.


Our kudos for what you’re doing right:

Keep up the meditation and yoga! It’s helping you.

We feel sure your current aberration is just that, and we’re confident you can lick this. We will support you in every way possible.


—Marlys, your new Personal Health Coach




Greetings, Stella,

Excellent decision, to sleep an extra few hours! Nothing helps reduce stress like sleep. It is unfortunate that you were so late to work, though. Your promptness has been in question for most of this last year, so this is another in a string of infringements. Remember: if you end up losing your job, you won’t be able to afford the higher-tier health insurance that allows you access to exclusive resources like Patron Check: In®.


And I would certainly miss my little chats with you.


Watching three movies in a row without even getting up to relieve yourself probably won’t help things. Keep in mind that we at Citizen’s Mutual Health Exchange have two Neighborhood Zumba classes within a twenty-minute walk of your house. And the walk would do you good, too!

Just another small note: we would prefer you not have another seven-visit series to the chiropractor. With a little bit of effort on your part, that kind of expense is entirely avoidable. You’ll do best to follow the directives we give you rather than striking out on your own.


—Marlys, your avid Personal Health Coach




Hey There, Stella,

I’m so glad you went to the Zumba class last week. Relieved, in fact, because in case you didn’t know it, my job standing is based on patient success, which in turn is measured by the proportion of advice followed. So that’s a plus there. A win-win for both of us, if you know what I mean.


Just a small drawback: rotating your facing so that you kick-boxed everyone around you in succession is not in the technique of this movement practice. Luckily the Center had ice packs and bandages handy; you can see what a useful, vital service our dedicated staff provides to you. I’m sure you recall Amber, the assistant teacher enthusiastically talking down the officer who wanted to take you in.


Your heartbeat is a little better today, so I conclude the Zumba is helping. The loss in my ratings is more than made up for by your steadier heartbeat.


Quick tip: if you haven’t realized it already, your debit card is temporarily suspended. Instead, our EatRight team is shipping you a hearty kale salad with quinoa, mung beans, carrot shreds, and beet bits, as well as some lovely chicken. We need to act on your eating habits. You’ll be thrilled to know that the quantities are unlimited: you can have as much as you like! Just text us for refills.


—Marlys, your helpful Personal Health Coach




Hi, Stella,

Your behavior, although disappointing, is not at all atypical. Midway through our FastFixTM seven-day rehab blitz, you are slipping into the familiar resistance-denial phase. We are always prepared for this, though we don’t like to see it.


This is a good time for you to take a survey. We find that surveying our patients, besides providing us with useful information to further enhance our services, also gives people like you a little lift, because it makes you think that you matter to us. As indeed you do, but our research has uncovered that the sensation on your part that you are important to someone—anyone at all, really—can improve your recovery.


So, here goes.


1. At the halfway point in my rehab blitz, I notice (choose one):

_ A slight tendency to calm down.

_ A growing feeling of well-being.

_ No change at all.

_ A desire to gain back the free time consumed by the rehab blitz.


2. I think of myself as (chose any that apply):

_ An introvert.

_ A rager.

_ An insightful, creative, empathetic person.

_ A truth-seeker.

_ An escape artist.


3. True or False: I have eaten all of the healthful meals delivered to me from the EatRight team and have not mooched junk food from neighbors. T F


4. In taking a moment to become aware of my breathing and listen to its rhythm, (choose any that apply):

_ I enjoy the smoothness and longevity of my inhales and exhales.

_ Paying attention to my breathing makes me breathe differently, in a more labored fashion.

_ Paying attention to my breathing makes me breathe less.

_ I can sense the monitoring apparatus that is comparing my actual breathing with my perceptions of my breathing.


Thank you for the thoughtful time you will have invested in self-exploration through this survey. To see how your results compare to everyone else’s, please Reply All to this email.


—Marlys, your loyal Personal Health Coach




Okay, Stella,


Although we are monitoring your actions, we have not heard back voluntarily from you this week. You did not complete our survey, and you have made no other response of any kind except for the behavior and physiological reactions we have gleaned from our monitoring equipment. We recognize this as a continuation of the resistance-denial phase we mentioned yesterday. Such resistance occurs in about thirty-seven percent of patients.


We find that just a smidgen of shock therapy, quickly and decisively given, renders our patients much more compliant. The difference is astonishing, really! Oh, and to be sure, the voltage is quite subdued—just a lively pulsing, after all, and only for about twenty-five seconds. We save your healthcare dollars by keeping the Placid· JoltSM dose low enough to avoid giving you painkillers.


Oh, here’s an interesting aside. If you were thinking of bailing on us and escaping the therapy, we understand. That’s a classic manifestation of resistance-denial. I don’t suggest it. Cutting and running right now would send your adrenaline levels through the roof. Remember, from our very first daily missive to you, suggestions 3 (mindful and easy pace) and 4 (avoid any confrontations).


Also, the Placid· JoltSM practitioners are at your door now. Knock knock!


—Marlys, your Personal Health Coach




Stella, really,

Turning a water hose onto our practitioners was not fair play. Martin had his glasses broken, and some of the glass got into his eyes. He’s now undergoing our QuickPikTM cleanup surgery and should be out within the half-hour. I’m sure you’re relieved to hear that, as your in-depth character profile has shown that you have no strong desire to hurt others. I do wonder at the accuracy of that profile, though, given your behavior at the Zumba class.


Note that even though you removed the electronic monitors that you knew about from your person, we embedded several devices subcutaneously in you when you passed out a few weeks ago. We can’t pinpoint your exact location, but we know within two miles where you are. And we can still monitor your hormonal imbalance, which is extreme right now.


I feel I need to tell you that I am really on the line here. I was essential to the development of Patron Check: In®, and in your case, the results have not been satisfactory so far. If you have any compassion (and your in-depth character profile indicated that you did, remember), you will recognize that you are hurting more than yourself when you fight treatment. You are bringing about some unwelcome changes in my own psychosomatic functioning. I’m beset by heart palpitations at odd moments in the day. I’m not eating or sleeping well. And worst of all, my stutter has come back.


You appear to be very valuable to your employer, who has placed you on administrative leave until we straighten out your challenges. That is not the case for me. The disappointing indicators from your treatment have caused my employers, Citizen’s Mutual Health Exchange, to place me on probation. If you agree to another two weeks of treatment, they will extend the probation, giving me a chance to turn your treatment around.


I feel sure we can make this course correction without requiring an actual person-to-person visit. As you know, such visits are our greatest expense. The Placid· JoltSM home visit we arranged on Thursday, with Martin and Josie, has used up your yearly quota of one visit. Please support the franchise healthcare ideal and extend your treatment.


—Marlys, Personal Health Coach





We certainly spotted you just now when you sprinted naked through our lobby, giving us the finger as you dashed out. This is a first in the history of Citizen’s Mutual Health Exchange. None of us were prepared for such a thing, so we had no chance to apprehend you.


Your monitors did show that your heart rate was steady and strong as you ran and that your stress level is down to almost zero. For this reason, we are dismissing any charges that management had considered bringing against you. We are, however, terminating your service and ceasing to monitor you. You will have to find health care elsewhere.


Sadly, you are the latest in a string of unsuccessful Patron Check: In® experiences. In fact, you are the straw that broke the camel’s back. I have been let go until I can come up with a more effective idea for patron service. The silver lining for me is that, given my escalating health problems, People’s Mutual Health Exchange has allowed me to take over the health care spot that you have vacated, at least until the end of the quarter. They are giving me this valuable health care in lieu of severance pay. I’m going in for my (your) Placid· JoltSM treatment as soon as I finish this email. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.


Yours in health care,


—Marlys, former Personal Health Coach

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Susan Witter has bounced back and forth for most of her adult life between the east coast and the west coast, where she is now, working as a community college librarian. In addition to writing and reading, she is interested in dance, Buddhism, gardening, biking, wandering, yoga, family dynamics, folly, absurdity, humanity, and the fate of the individual and the community in an ever-more-dehumanized world.