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.
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.
7 months ago