The SSDI Physical and Other Stuff

Today was my Social Security physical exam. I was up way too early and so heavily caffeinated that my blood pressure soared into the 160s, and on top of it I was nervous. Not because of the physical itself—I’ve had three of them since my hospital stay—but because I was afraid the doctor would be gruff and accuse me of malingering. This exam may very well make the difference between being approved or denied…..I figured it would be tough and possibly traumatic.

I needn’t have worried. The doctor was maybe 30, easy on the eyes, and very nice. As he put me through my paces, he didn’t make me do anything that hurt or that I knew I couldn’t do. I did the best I could at what I was asked to do—no faking pain when there was none, no exaggerating it when range of motion tests did hurt. I have no idea what his determination will be, but the honest truth is, I really can’t do very much. Between my back pain and all the joints with arthritis, any sort of physical labor is out, and of course we all know what my mental illness has done to my ability to handle professional-level work.

However…..I’ve begun to doubt the actual seriousness of it just a bit. Maybe that bipolar 1 diagnosis was a knee-jerk reaction to what the attending psychiatrist found in Dr. Awesomesauce’s notes, or maybe the fact that I “saw” cats in the ER prompted him to think I was crazier than I really am. I’ve read so many stories about people with BP 1 having these huge manic episodes in which they thought they were God or royalty, or hopped on a plane bound for Europe at the drop of a hat, or stripped off their clothes in the middle of a busy street. I’ve never done anything like that. How is it that I came to be lumped in with the really psychotic folks?

The fact that I am indeed bipolar is not in question. EVERYBODY agrees with that diagnosis. And obviously it’s much more important to treat the symptoms than a label (and Heaven knows I’m on a buttload of meds). But now that it’s been a few months since I was hospitalized—and time has blurred the memories of those days somewhat—the BP 1 designation seems a bit overblown, especially since it’s splashed indelibly all over my medical records,

Of course, someone will come along and tell me I’m in denial again, and who knows, I might be. I’ve been on a little upswing of late and the rose-colored glasses look pretty good on this late-middle-aged face. In fact, I feel more optimistic now than I have in over a year. It’s Spring, after all…..time for life to burst forth and make all things new. Maybe even me!

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.

15 thoughts on “The SSDI Physical and Other Stuff

  1. I honestly believe God can heal all things. He could heal your BP 1, but on that note I wouldn’t get too comfortable with the idea maybe you don’t have it. I think there’s a flamingo shirt somewhere with the sole purpose of countering such thoughts as this . 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You know all of our medical records are full of stuff…much hopefully true but some??? Are you on different meds with bipolar 1 or bipolar2 or bipolar mixed.Lasttime I checked mine was mixed and appparently always has been. The people who do the CRAZY shit are ones that DO NOT take their meds properly.

    You are not crazy and have never been even while inpatient. Or everyine is crazy but you sought to change. Bipolar is a dx that is practically different for everyone. If we go with the thought that it is some neurons not firing at the exact perfect time. Have you not noticed most Bipolar be it 1 or 2 are above average intelligence? I have also noticed most people go to DR because they know they are at least slightly different from what they have seen in others. How many people do you bet have never been diagnosed because they are smart enough and happy enough not to want to deal with it. Maybe they self medicate be it drugs or booze. It is only when the person seeks to change that they go to DR. and most of them already have an idea and WANT to change.

    Years ago when PCP’s would write for scripts people were bipolar maybe their Dr knew,maybe not. But some got by. How many a bipolar has moved and not told anyone about having MI. But the degree of problems and the actual persons concerns over themselves are what separates dx or not.

    You do not owe anything to any one about your diagnosis at all.

    It is good that more of the world knows about Bipolar nowadays and hopefully it will allow more people to open up and get help to be happier and not ashamed.

    So regardless you are a loving kind person who tries to help others and I for one am proud to know you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve decided that making a distinction between BP I and BP II is somewhat false. BP is a spectrum disorder. Some research seems to indicate that even MDD and SAD fall on the spectrum. To top that off, I do not believe the spectrum to be linear, nor is our experience of this illness. Spring, without a doubt, colors one’s glasses rosy, sometimes too much so (for me, hypomania, mania and once manic psychosis visit). Be thankful for that diagnosis and hospitalization. A psychiatric hospitalization and diagnosis of BP I should make qualifying for SSDI easier. I know it benefitted me that I was hypomanic and agitated when interviewed recently by a psychiatrist for my SSDI review. The review determined that I am still eligible for benefits.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hadn’t thought of it that way. A lot has happened during the years since my original BP-NOS dx, lots of instability and med changes, and of course the hospital stay. Hmm…..maybe it’s just as well that I have the BP 1 label, even if I don’t 100% believe in it. Thanks, Kitt.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. If it gets you SSDI (the hospitalization will help), then it’s a good thing. It’s just a label, after all. Bipolar is bipolar. We delude ourselves in thinking that it really matters which subtype we have. Either way, we must take meds.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Yaaay!! I bet it did help that you were a bit squirrelly during your review with the SS psychiatrist. Do you have to do this yearly? What happens if they decide you can work when you know you can’t?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. No. I think it may be every five years. This is the second review interview that I recall. I’ve been on disability over ten years. (Honestly, I feel somewhat guilty, even though I know
        “working” hurt me. I do try hard to give back.)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Psychosis helps a lot. Something about talking trash cans in the classroom gave me a big edge. BP 1 or 2…so what? Mania is mania. I’ve kept my clothes on too but who knows what’s around the corner? LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ll have to tell me more about those talking trash cans one of these days. I’d like to say I can’t imagine it, but after “seeing” those black and grey cats hanging out in the ER I totally believe it.


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