Thursday, February 11, 2010

in response

thank you so much for all of your supportive comments. And Bannanas, I would love to have a to shirt like that! Anyways, after a great session with my therapist, I have decided to write a post in response to some of the things my friend said to me the other night. I might also point out that we are still good friends, I value her honesty, and also, she does not read this blog. If she did read this blog, this is what i would tell her.

so here it goes....

I am recieving social security/disability because of my eating disorder, anxiety, and depression. This does not mean I am lazy, ignorant, or do not want to work. I am not, as was suggested to me by my friend, manipulating the system. I am on disability because I am sick and unable to hold a full time job. Period.

I have been on disability since may of 2000. From 1996 to 2000 i had 16 different jobs. Durring periods of stability I was able to get a job, go to work, and be a good employee. Even at times when I was homeless and living in a shelter I went to work every day. But it never seemed to last. My mental health would deteriorate, or my physical health would go downhill due to my eating disorder, an I would be hospitalised, often involuntarily. And I would lose my job. When you cant go to work they tend to fire you. There were also times when I was not hospitalised, but my mental health would be so bad that i simply could not function in a job. I could barely function at home. I would begin to miss days at work and lose my job.

There would be times I would be better and then I would get a job and things would be looking up for awhile. Then something would happen (or sometimes nothing would happen) and I would go downhill and find myself hospitalised again. Eventually, they stopped letting me out. From the hospital I would be discharged to a group home. And that is how I ended up on disability. The social worker had me apply for it so the group home could get Medicare funding. I never seeked out disability. This is just how it happened.

Eventually I ended up on my own in a supervised adult living apartment. Then I became a mom, was discharged from the program, met my husband and got married. But things have not been easy. Becoming a parent, or getting married, did not magically banish my demons. Since my 8 year old was born i have been hospitalised or in treatment 9 times. Durring one of my last hospitalisations, my doctor tried to send me to a group home, despite the fact that I have a husband and children waiting for me. I lost my commitment hearing and only narrowly avoided being institutionalised with the help of a wonderful mental health advocate and some serious wrangling. I am so greatful for this because I have no idea what that would have done to my marriage and family if I were sent away.

Last fall I was going through a serious depression but was adamant about staying out of the hospital. There were times I maybe should have gone in, but I hate what it does to my family when I am inpatient. Fortunately I made it through.

My disability is up for review this spring. I am vey nervous about this. I am maintaining my mental health (just barely, on 5 meds and 2 therapy sessions a week). I have not been hospitalised in a year. Does this mean I am ready to go back to work?

Our society does not make it easy for the mentaly ill to work a normal job. I think this is partly due to the economy, and partly due to a lack of compassion and understanding. There is no tolerance for someone who is having a "bad day" and cannot make it in. Not when there are 10 other people who are waiting to do your job, who would be there every day.

You said that I believe I cannot work because i have been labeled "disabled". I disagree. I recieved disability after years of struggling with chronic mental illness and instability.

And another thing. I do not "stay sick" so I can recieve disability. I am sick just because I am. I did not ask to be sick, and in fact I fight it every day with every resource that I have.

I would like to believe that I will go on getting better and better, but realisticaly I dont. I believe that I will have periods of health and periods of illness. I am not being pessimistic, or subscribing to a self-fulfilling prophecy. I feel I am being realistic based on 18 years of experience with my mental illness. My task is to take the best care of myself that I can, to be gentle with myself, and to use the skills that I have learned to be as healthy as I can be. Right now, for me, staying well is a full-time job.

so please,

Do not tell me that I am manipulating the system. Do not tell me that a job would be "good for me". Do not tell me that I am staying sick because there is a payoff. Do not assume that because you have struggled with depression in the past, but got over it without medication using positive thinking, that the same is possible for me. Do not tell me that soc security is the same as welfare. Please understand that if it were my choice, i would be mentally healthy and a productive member of society. No contest.
Realize that you have only know me for 5 months. That you only see me on my good days. That you don't know the half of what I struggle with. You may have ideas about people on disability, but please, do not judge me until you have walked in my shoes. And I hope you never have to.


Anonymous said...

As someone who has been suffering from an eating disorder for only a fraction of the years you have,4 years, I am so thankful to you for sharing this. While it is hard to desire recovery some days it is amazing to see you trying and not giving up!

Lost in Obsession said...

I shook me head in disbelief towards the end of this when I realized you felt so upset about something some said about you that you have only known for 5 months. It pisses me off that we care sooo much what others think about us, but yet we still sit here and struggle to lead healty lives despite the fact that everyone talks about how sick we are.

I hope that you continue to keep progressing. I would sit here and blow smoke about how I think you'll recover but hell idk if you will. I am always hear as an ear tho even tho I might not have any advice.

Katilexis said...

woah, thats a bit harsh to say about you. i hate how people think that we choose to stay like this. but we would MUCH rather be healthy.. itd be so much easier.

to me, you're an inspiration because youve been through so much and you're still struggling through but you're still here for your family, and trying your hardest at keeping healthy.

i hope you dont believe what your friend said. you cant help being sick just as much as a paraplegic or someone with cancer. its no different.

take care

Lou Lou said...

im so glad that you shared that. im on a government sickness benefit, my parents pay for all of my treatment that i have ever recieved. i am in no way fit to work, if i do, i just go back off the rails, i would rather work, but when i do i lose my path in recovery and fall back. what your friend said was pretty ignorant. and hurtful. and i think you have written that post out so well, would you be bable to print it off and show it to her? i understand that it could be too difficult. i am so sorry you had to deal with someone who doesnt understand and hurt you, but you know that you are not the things she said. i think every person with an eating disorder would give anything to magically be healed by positive thinking, it would save our loved ones grief and money, the govenment benefits doesnt even scrape the sides on how much is spent on treatment. and you need all the assistance you can get to work on your health. you are so brave to be fighting this, and supportive people is what you need in your life, i was upset by a girl last night who despite knowing i am in a really sensative place right now was an absolute meany, and i just thought "goodbye". i hope this miss-perfect-life can realise at some point recovery isnt easy, and that comments that arent supportive should be kept inside. i just wish i could give you a big hug. kia kaha be strong, thinking of you lisa. and i know its hard to not let people upset you, but just talk to the ones who support you 100%

Alexandra Rising said...

Lisa, I hope you read this. I;d like to email you if I could. My father was also on disability for depression and anxiety. He recently had to sue his boss citing the disability as part of the reason [it's a long story, hard to get in to, but the main thing was he had to sue].
As a result [not only because I, myself, was forced to leave my job due to my own mental health issues] I am very sympathetic AND empathetic to what you are saying.
I watched my [ex] stepmom go through this. Now I am watching my dad lose his job because his boss is such an asshole.

Claiming disability over mental illness is, in my eyes, completely legitimate. Jane [the ex stepmom] was a therapist...yet, she was so depressed and suicidal that she tried to kill herself 8 times my senior year of HS. She was hospitalized 7 times because she was not successful [a cry for help? most likely, but also OBVIOUS mental illness at work]. As a therapist AND Psych Professor at BU...was she just trying to find an easy way out of the job? Hell, no. She tried to go back to her job even when she wasn't well enough.

As for my dad, he couldn't deal with the shit his boss [sorry for my language] was putting him through, anymore. My father was an addict and only became clean months before I was born. His mother was an alcoholic. He claims he overcame depression in 1996, but who knows. He STILL tried to work but after nearly 20 years at this place and at the mercy of his boss he had had enough. Does that mean he was using his mental disability as an excuse not to work? Ohhh, no.

I know how it feels to be so overwhelmed by mental illness that working makes you want to die [Im sorry if that sounds dramatic, Starbucks did that to me]. I have also seen it VERY clearly in my father and his ex wife.

I completely respect you and what you are saying and think your friend was wrong to say that to you. Until you've walked in someone elses shoes or worn a pair similar...who are you to judge?

I wish you all the best and I am on your side, cheering for you. <3

jodilynn said...

Lisa, I am so sorry that someone said this to you. As you and I have already discussed, this is NOT TRUE. But, I also have people in my life who tell me very similar things. "You'd be better if you just had something to keep your mind off of it." "You can't live off of the system forever." "You're using the system." Well, I had to go through a very extensive application process to get the medicaid, medicare, and ssdi. They are not just hand-outs. Obviously someone thought I was disabled enough to need them. Just because you can't see my disability doesn't mean I don't have one.

I've been thinking about getting a job. But, lately, it's become more and more obvious to me that that is not a possibility right now. I have my OP treatment for my eating disorder. Then my anxiety has been so bad that I can't sleep, I forget to eat, I can't remember whether or no I took my medications, I get physically sick, and I have panic attacks. Yeah, I can function perfectly well at a job. Not so much.

Anonymous said...

bless your heart girl i wish you the best. while there are many people who do abuse the system, you ar NOT one of them. get your health and self together because it is of PRIORITY importance!!! never give up! i m rooting for you!

Angela E. Lackey said...

But you do have a job - you're a fulltime mom. That's harder than any other job in the world.

Please be gentle with yourself. You've obviously been through a lot, you're battling an eating disorder, and you are caring for your two daughters. That's a lot!

Sending huge hugs your way!

Keely said...

I definitely hear you and am so sorry that happened. (hug) I would be balling in my room with Tucker... I don't believe you're manipulating the system and "choose" to be disabled or receive assistance of any form because you are lazy or ignorant. Not at all.
That kind of criticism isn't constructive; It's toxic and eats away at you because it is so hurtful. And the worst part is that its not true.

I don't know many people who would trade health for asking for help because they can't function.

(hug) I love you.