The world just tilted on its axis: today, Dr. Awesomesauce broached the subject of disability.
I couldn’t believe it. We have had this discussion before, and at that time he insisted that he’d never sign off on a disability claim because he believed I was perfectly capable of working full-time. But even though he still wants me to keep trying, and thinks I’m better off when I have “something to do” (as do I), he acknowledged that work, especially full-time work, might be too stressful for me. And while he didn’t come straight out and say it, he indicated that he would support my case if I were to file.
I think it had a lot to do with my latest tale of woe, which has (for the first time ever) completely flummoxed him. He was trying so hard to think of something, anything that would help, and after several rounds of pensive silence, he had to concede that he was pretty much out of ideas, although he did suggest Will and I should move sooner rather than later so we can cut our expenses. He also wants me to look at some of the clinics in his area that need nurses—we both think that clinic work might be doable—and consider moving the 25 miles to the north.
I couldn’t help but be touched by his efforts. It was obvious that he wants SO badly to be able to fix my life, or at the very least give me the tools to fix it, and it frustrates him that there really are no answers right now. Today we didn’t do much of our normal teasing and joking around; today was sober and serious, with the exception of the “Hello, Beautiful!” greeting I got when I came in. And though it wasn’t stated outright, we have turned a corner in terms of dealing with my disease and the changes that have taken place in my life as a result of it. And the truth is, in spite of excellent care, the disease limits me.
There. I said it.
That doesn’t mean I’m giving up. I have a lot more job-hunting to do, and hopefully a job to find, before I start the paperwork for disability. Dr. A did say it would be difficult (but not impossible) to get for mental health reasons, but knowing that it’s an option takes a little of the pressure off. Maybe if I can relax a bit, the desperation won’t show in my job applications and cover letters, and maybe even at some point I’ll stabilize to the point where we can decrease my medication a little.
He still isn’t a big fan of having me on two anti-psychotics for long periods of time, but as I’ve learned to my sorrow, it’s best not to fix that which is not broken. In fact, he was amazed at how calm I am under the circumstances and asked me if I was having any more thoughts of suicide, to which I truthfully answered No. (Robin Williams’ death today was a little triggering—I wish I didn’t understand that kind of desperation, but I do and wouldn’t wish it on anyone—but suicide hasn’t even crossed my mind since I went back on the full Zyprexa dose.) So he’s not going to try pulling the rug out from under me anytime soon, and that’s one less area of stress to deal with.
I think I will end up researching the Social Security website to see how to file for disability, even though I’m not planning on doing it unless I absolutely, positively cannot find a job I can handle. I know that no one who cares about me will judge me; in fact, this was about the 20th conversation I’ve had on the subject, and it probably won’t be the last.
To be continued…..
6 thoughts on “Turning A Corner”
For me accepting that my condition limits me was the first step in making progress towards a stable career, and being able to progress within that career (all be it very slowly). I only work part time, having a day off in the middle of the week in order to rest and regroup. Both my physical and mental illness can feed into each other and both are made worse when I get exhausted which I do easily, so having Wednesdays off works really well for me. I no longer aim to be ‘normal’ I am to be the best I can be (taking into account my illnesses not what I could be if they didn’t exist because they do). I totally agree that accepting our limitations isn’t giving up, its dealing with reality instead of fantasy. Its only when we know and accept where we are starting from that we can build on where we are. If we try to build on where we know we could be/or wish we could be without the illness we are not building on firm foundations, in fact there may be no foundation at all depending on how far what we desire and what is are apart.
There is no shame in claiming disability, the shame is that those who genuinely need it can not access it because it is set up only to accommodate physical illness. In the UK nearly all the questions are based on physical activities etc and if you don’t get a high enough score you fail, but most of those questions don’t apply to someone with a mental illness so how can the pass, it’s ridiculous. Its even worse when you consider that those suffering with severe mental illness are likely to have less mental/emotional reserves needed to deal with what is already a stressful process without the odds being stacked against them. Its always worth looking at websites other than the official ones to see how people with mental illness have successfully made a claim, often its all in the way you describe your symptoms, use the words they want to see and you pass, explain it in a different way and you fail, there the same symptoms, but you’ve got to word it right. Its ridiculous, here those doing the assessments aren’t medically trained in effect they are going from a tick list.
Hopefully you won’t need it, but it does sound like you have the support you need to take a claim froward should it be essential.
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if you goggle how to apply for ssdi for bipolar..they literally list what they look for for approval. i helped someone use that list and changed it to apply to her list of problems…and she got approval first time within a month….it is out there to use. you need to think negatively and extreme……because if you write like you do for a blog it will not be approved.
you worked all this time and deserve to get it asyou are not able to function normally any more…but remember it is not just nursing it is based on meaningful employment. so you need to say why you can not handle a retail job….have difficulty dealing with customers who get in you face or stand for 8 hrs. you must go into why driving over 20 miles can cause panic attacks…not that it is non stop but it does happen and you can not predict when. and once approved you are allowed to work so many hours or volunteer and not affects your money, and if you ever feel let’s say working part time and want to try full time they will give you 90 days to work and get SSI to try it out.
if you want me help, just let me know. this is a good thing and if nothing else gives you an out for some help and something to do. you need to know last day yopu worked as there is waiting period based on that and after another waiting period you will qualify for Medicare..long before age 65 or whatever time th ey use as time progresses.
I totally agree with DR A. about moving now not keep killing yourself. do not try to work part time or volunteer till SSI is approved. you need letters from people like Will, Dr A. other dr’s, your clergyman would be good. i am happy to write you a letter based on my knowledge of our correspondence. is bankruptcy possible i do not remember it you have in 10 yrs. this is a challenge..
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Thank you for the advice. You’re right, I do try to soft-pedal things and I can’t afford to do that if I file for SSDI. I do have plenty of physical problems along with the mental health issues, and it seems that whatever I can handle physically, I can’t handle mentally and vice-versa. I also have trouble dealing with pressure and become easily exhausted from working full-time. Which makes it really hard to find something that pays the bills without driving myself crazy (literally).
Sumegoinvicte: You nailed it in that first paragraph, especially the part about trying to build a foundation upon what we WISH to be or think we ought to be. That’s the part that’s been hanging me up all this time—I was basing my expectations of myself on a version of me that doesn’t have a mental illness, which of course isn’t realistic because I *do* have a mental illness.
Thank you for your comments, they’re very helpful. And thank you for reading my blog! 🙂
I had to laugh as I talked today about my very own experience with disability. It’s a tough nut in more ways than one. I wish I could just enjoy having it and let it go at that. But it is complicated.
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Good to see you here, lilypup! Thanks for the visit and your comments. 🙂