You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone

I’ve had time now to reflect on both the game-changing appointment with Dr. Awesomesauce and the death of Robin Williams, and between those events and my chronic worries, I’m feeling sort of, well…..squirmy.

It’s hard to describe, this restless, inwardly agitated sensation; it’s not depression, and it’s certainly not mania. In fact, it doesn’t really have anything to do with my illness at all. I just feel like I’m on the precipice of some major alteration in the course of my life, and I don’t know what to do with the accompanying emotions.

Don’t worry, I’m not contemplating anything foolish, like dinking around with my meds. Far from it. I got that out of my system in my last post, and I apologized if I scared anybody. A dear friend of mine told me that sometimes I do scare people when I talk about certain subjects, and all I can say is, by the time I get to writing it down the danger has usually passed, and sometimes I’ve even figured out how to handle whatever prompted it. Even the times when I talk about death, it’s basically only a thought that I’ve let out for a little stroll…..and believe me, if I’m talking about it, I’m not going to do anything about it.

I think I am going to file for disability though. In a way it feels like I’m giving up on myself, and of course there’s the discomfort about living off the taxpayers…..although as more than one person has pointed out, I’ve paid into the system for 35 years. I’ve gone so far as to contact an attorney who specializes in disability law, and she thinks I should get benefits fairly easily because of the combination of physical and mental problems I have. She’s being realistic in that most people are denied the first time they try, and said it will probably take quite a long time to see a check; but there’s no question in her mind that I’m disabled enough to qualify.

I’m not sure how I feel about that. In one sense, it’s a relief because it validates my experiences with my illness and the world of work, which have not meshed well despite many, many tries. It also acknowledges that my physical issues (including aging) are a big factor and that I shouldn’t be expected to do strenuous labor, in nursing or anywhere else.

There’s only one problem: it feels like defeat. I have always prided myself on my ability to keep going in spite of my weight, my arthritis, my bipolar. No matter how much it hurt or how hard it was, I just kept pushing myself. But even though I’ve reached a place where I don’t have much pushing power left, I’m still in denial…..I keep thinking I can do it, and that if I simply take myself by the scruff of the neck and make myself do it, everything will be OK.

Then I bump up against the reality—again—that there are limits to what I can do, and it will not go well for me if I keep trying to exceed them. That’s what my mind says; my heart still wants to go back to the way things used to be, even though I know life will never be quite the same again.

No, we really DON’T know what we’ve got till it’s gone. I just hope that whatever replaces my old life will be OK. I’m afraid to ask for more than that.


Published by bpnurse

I'm a retired registered nurse and writer who also happens to be street-rat crazy, if the DSM-IV.....oops, 5---is to be believed. I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder at the age of 55, and am still sorting through the ashes of the flaming garbage pile that my life had become. Here, I'll share the lumps and bumps of a late-life journey toward sanity.... along with some rants, gripes, sour grapes and good old-fashioned whining from time to time. It's not easy being bipolar in a unipolar world; let's figure it out together.

6 thoughts on “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone

  1. I know words are clumsy ways to describe emotions and your comment “It’s hard to describe, this restless, inwardly agitated sensation” if a very brief description but it does remind me of my experience of either euphoric hypomania or agitated depression depending which is the bigger factor depression or agitation.

    You’re not giving up on yourself by claiming disability you are looking after yourself. Continuing to force yourself to try and work when you are not able is just hurting yourself repeatedly.

    Realising the limits imposed by our illnesses is hard and you need to give yourself time to grief all that you have lost, because it is a loss, a whopping big one. So be nice to yourself during this time and once you have had time to grieve you will be able to get on with your life, it wont be the same life you used to have or perhaps were hoping for, but it can still be a very good life.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your comments. They were exactly what I needed to hear, as I do feel pretty banged-up and adrift in a world I don’t recognize. I’ll try to give myself that time to mourn my losses so I can gather the strength to fight the next battle. Bless you. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Apply for disability. Take care of yourself. Mourn your losses. Take your time finding your new path. Being on disability does not mean that we (you, I, and others like us) are no longer productive. You can volunteer. You can continue to write. You are of value, whether or not you earn money.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi, bpnurse. I’m not a very good writer so, I hope I am understood without offending or confusing anyone. I am the same disabled nurse from another web site. I know exactly how you feel. It took me 5 years to finally realize I can no longer do the work I have dedicated my life to for the same amount of years you have. I took pride in my skills set and the “power” to work circles around my colleagues. I even thought that was a gift. I crashed and burned in my mid40’s I was devastated, not so surprised deep down but,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. (continue) I began burning bridges in the workplace which, was not something I ever did. That’s when I sought treatment but, while adjusting medications, my exacerbating disorder had other plans. I had already done all I could to readjust my career by leaving the bedside to case management, insurance, and so on. Placed in a cubicle didn’t go well as you can imagine. Burning more bridges, I removed myself from nursing all together and got a BS in Business Executive Management with honors. Amazing. There was no work to be found so, I became homebound. Physical illnesses began to step in and a back problem became more difficult to manage. There was no alternative but, file for disability. After two denials, I sought a lawyer and an award followed shortly thereafter.
    The shame was unbearable. It took a few years of therapy to work through my low self esteem and shame. My therapist informed me that we Americans are the only culture who defines ourselves by our level of education and monetary social status. Apparently, Europeans don’t define themselves by social status. This remains a difficult concept to capture. It is a work in progress to settle into my abrupt retirement. Finding this web site is a start for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m very pleased that you have found my blog to be of some use to you. 🙂

    You really have been through a lot. I hope you are taking good care of yourself now that you’re receiving disability. I feel like I’m taking a shot in the dark with filing for SSDI myself, because *I* don’t see myself as being sick enough to qualify. However, my pdoc is ex-military and he’s all about standing on your own two feet, and if HE thinks I stand a chance of getting disability, I have to take it seriously.

    I dunno. Guess we’ll see what happens next. In the meantime, thanks for reading my blog!


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