That’s not a mistake—it’s shorthand for Social Security Disability Insurance. There’s a big difference between SSDI and SSDD (Same Shit, Different Day). Then again, there might not be.
I just got done filling out about 20 pages of information about my functional status and all the jobs I’ve held over the past 15 years. They didn’t give me enough pages for that. And how the hell am I supposed to remember how much money I made way back then? I did the best I could, until my hand started cramping and my handwriting looked like a four-year-old’s scribbles. Fortunately, my ability to focus has improved somewhat since my meds were increased, so I was able to get the job done in two sittings.
The hard part was making myself look as pathetic as possible without letting go of ALL of what little dignity remains to me. I don’t do the poor-poor-pitiful-me routine very well. But this is definitely not the time for false bravado—this is a time to talk about how much my illness has impacted my life, especially my work life, and I have to be brutally honest about my shortcomings in that regard. I have to make it known that I’ve lost several jobs and quit several others because I couldn’t play well with others, or because I became manic or depressed or anxious (or all three at the same time). I also have to spill the beans about my inability to handle stress, whether work-related or not.
To say the least, this makes me feel like the world’s biggest loser, even though in my heart of hearts I know I’m not. I hate having to depend on others to provide for me—I even applied for food stamps last week—because I believe I should still be working and providing for others. I don’t want to think I’m disabled enough to merit SSDI, but after the events of the past few weeks I realize how tired I am of fighting the truth. It doesn’t mean I have to accept the “loser” label, just that my circumstances have changed and I can’t change them back.
This reminds me of what it was like back when I stopped drinking. Once I finally realized that I really was an alcoholic, there was no unringing that bell—no going back to being in the dark about the disease or the fact that I had it. But for some strange reason, that was relatively easy to accept and it took me only about six months to stop feeling ashamed, and even to embrace it. Bipolar, on the other hand, has been ridiculously difficult to wrap my mind around, and it wasn’t until I received a definitive diagnosis that I finally—finally—“got it”. I wish it had happened sooner; I might have spared myself a lot of internal conflict and delusions of being in the middle of an existential crisis that would end at some point.
But everything happens for a reason, and perhaps the bipolar 1 label will help me get Social Security. Which would mean that I could stop looking for jobs I can’t do and not need to depend on others for support. I paid into the system for over 35 years; it’s not welfare or charity. I do expect to be denied the first time; it’s pretty common, and I know better than to expect a ruling anytime soon. I’ll probably have to see their doctors and/or psychiatrists, even though I’ve seen five of them in the past three weeks (including my own). But I’ll do what I need to. Because that’s how I roll.