I just wanted to say Happy Valentine’s to everybody who have been so supportive and kind to me. I appreciate your comments, the conversations I have had with people, and getting to “know” so many wonderful and interesting people! I know Valentine’s day can be rough for a lot of people, and it has been for me for years. However, I can report that after my lovely (not) marriage and ensuing divorce that I have found love in the oddest place. I have known him for years (22) and have been secretly in love with him for years. He is a long time friend and fellow cyclist who used to be one of my favorite riding partners before I became Buddhist and my Sundays got tied up.
So, I sent him a PM on Facebook explaining all of this to him. He didn’t read it before I deleted it. So, I rewrote it and determined that he was going to read it, and just anxiously waited (trying not to delete it, again). He, being a guy, had no clue and asked why I hadn’t said anything earlier and why had I married in the mean time. I told him he was in the middle of a divorce back then, and he needed time to heal from that. Can’t argue with logic. Then I was in the middle of a divorce and healing from that. So, that, in a round about fashion is how we ended up together.
Now I am stressed about Disability and in love with someone I have loved in secret for years. And, he loves me in return even with all my nuttiness :)
About 2 weeks ago I got a letter from SS Benefits Determination department indicating that my benefits would be ending in March, including Medicare which means Medicaid would stop; the whole house of cards that I have lived under for the last nine years would crash to the ground. I have appealed the decision as I think they were erroneous in labeling me as “fit to work”. However, I never filed the claim for medical (physical) reasons. It was for mental health reasons.
Now I am questioning whether those reasons may have changed. I do not feel unwell or unstable although I must admit the letter of cessation of benefits rocked my boat quite a bit. But, now I am back in my gently rocking boat surfing the nice calm sine wave. If I am completely honest with myself, I have to see that I am not really completely unfit to work. Of course I have been physically able to work the entire time, but my mental state was unstable. That’s not so true now. I seem to have come to rest in a valley between mania and depression which, being balanced, represents a certain type of stability, and quite possibly, remission of the disorder that plagues me the most: the dreaded Bipolar.
There are some obstacles to my going back to work, although I do not think they are insurmountable; it is simply going to take an employer willing to take a chance on someone whose resume lists their last job as having been in 2007. The job gap is probably the biggest hurdle. I have no children, so I can’t say I was at home raising children. I have been going to school off and on in that time frame, but not consistently. Mainly, I have been focused on getting well. So, I really do not know how to explain the time gap effectively. I do not want to just blurt out I have Bipolar disorder and I have been sick for the past few years. That would be akin to committing job suicide. I can only imagine the face of the interviewer if I were to do that. I am sure there are ways around that. Then, there’s the issue of the resume itself. It clearly shows a pattern of only working two years at any one job since graduating from college. An astute potential employer pointed that out to me (more like he asked why had I only stayed two years at any given job). It is a very valid question. Due to reasons that are no longer valid, I was fired from one job. And, due to reasons that are only partially valid now, I was fired from the second job. And, I was fired from the third one by a crazy, micromanaging boss due to medication issues, and just generally, because she was horrible to work for. That one’s kind of up in the air; I quit in an email. and then she turned around and fired me in the response to the email. Its ambiguous.
What I don’t know is how long the appeal is going to take, and I really can’t be job hunting while I am appealing the decision to stop my benefits. So, come March 2015, my benefits stop. Which leads to another problem. I do not make enough on Disability to save money. I have broken the monthly amount to an hourly wage, and it is less than the legal minimum wage in my state. The entire check goes to paying my bills. And, if I cannot job hunt during the appeals process, how do I cover April, May, and potentially June? I also lose my insurance because Medicare stops and that has allowed me to enroll in a Medicare advantage plan that is much more cost effective than getting individual insurance. By quite a bit. I take medication that costs $38.00 and $16.00 per dose. So, that’s another hurdle. How to pay for insurance and medication that costs an ungodly and obscene amount of money?
Lots of questions with no clear answers yet. I just know that if appeal number one is denied, I will have to hire an attorney, and I really do not want to do that as it would be very expensive. I would rather have help with my bills while I look for work than pay an attorney. There’s also the possibility that the appeal will be successful and I can enter the “Ticket To Work” program where you can “test” the waters of working while maintaining your benefits. So many questions, so few obvious answers.
The unthinkable has happened. In June of 2014, I was sent a packet of forms by the Social Security Disability department. It was the warning flag thrown to alert me to a medical review of my benefits. A medical review?!?! I never applied for benefits for any medical condition. I applied for benefits for mental health reasons. Why is it that mental health is so stigmatized and underground yet when it comes the Social Security office, it suddenly becomes a “medical” issue? How, exactly, does that happen? I have Bipolar Disorder not a heart condition. My medical (read: physical) fitness for work was never the question. My mental state has always been the basis for the claim that I cannot work. My mental state has not changed all that much from my last review.
Last Monday, I received a letter in the mail from the Determination Department. It was a letter of cessation of benefits; to be stopped effective March 2015. My reaction was not one of a “normal” person. No, I viewed it as the end of my world, and immediately called my mother. I told her that this was the end, and I was going to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription, and that upon returning home, I was going to count my pills to see if I could end my life. She told me to call my therapist. Which I did, and landed in her office for an impromptu appointment.
I was still suicidal when I returned home, and had picked up the prescription at the pharmacy. I decided to play “pull out all medication and see how much is there”. Its a “game” I play when feeling suicidal. If there are enough pills, I go to the hospital, if there are not, I get angry that there aren’t enough and stay depressed and suicidal.This time I had 1.5 prescriptions of Abilify, one prescription for 150 mg Welbutrin, one for 300 mg Welbutrin, a full bottle of 120 2 mg Klonopin, and a full 60 tablet bottle of Seroquel. I had more than enough to kill myself. I sat and looked at those bottles for what seemed like hours trying to decide what to do. Now, I ask you, is the first thought you have after receiving very bad news that you might as well just kill yourself and get it over with the workings of a rational mind? No, it is the workings of a mind that cannot handle stress, a mind that is fleeing the scene, a mind that is dysfunctional.
I am still having a hard time not just killing myself and getting life over with. Life has always been so difficult, and it just got a whole lot worse. What am I supposed to do? Go get a job that I hate just to pay the rent? I realize people do that every day. I do not take supervision well; especially people who micro-manage you and are in your face all the time wondering why you aren’t getting the task done sooner. Well, gee, maybe if you’d quit interrupting me every fucking few minutes, I might have the time to complete the task. Why do managers not get this?
I have been waiting on pins, needles and eggshells for the outcome of the review. I have waited nearly 7 months to be told I am fine now. Go on ahead and go back to work. What am I supposed to do when the bone-crushing depression comes along and bites me in the ass? Call in for however long it takes to go away? That’s what happened to me when I melted down due to the high level of stress and the Department’s manager’s inability to think we could work with two men down. Therefore, she made it her personal mission to make our lives as miserable as possible by being in our office every hour. How the fuck do you get anything done with someone interrupting you every hour on the hour? Just leave me alone; I will work and I will get it done.
However, between the overall stress level of 4 people doing the job of 6, and the micro-managing style of the “lead” manager of accounting, I just one day tried to get up for work and couldn’t do it. It went on that way for 11 workdays. Yes, I called in sick for 11 workdays. In the meantime, recognizing that this was unlike any depression I had been through before caused me to seek out a psychologist. She diagnosed me with first, Bipolar Type II, and then quickly “upgraded” me to Bipolar Type I with psychotic features. Boy, was I happy to graduate from one less severe level to another much more severe level.
I have been hospitalized more times than I can count, I have attempted suicide more times than I can count at this point. I know my first serious attempt was at 16. I swallowed a bottle of aspirin; learned later on that is an extremely effective way to kill yourself. Between 16 and nearly 44, I cannot count how many times I have tried to end the pain, the boredom, the isolation, the depressions, but I am still as fit as a fiddle and can go right out there and get fired…….again due to mental problems. Employers take a dim view of people who call in sick for extended periods of time. They tend to fire them which has been my experience my whole working life. I have only quit one job that I have held; I got fired from the rest. However, I am fit to work medically; I have questions about that since the brain runs the body, and my brain is prone to serious depression, delusional thinking, and overall dysfunction. I wouldn’t hire me. I am not a reliable employee. Sure I’ll work my ass off……when I am there.
My house of cards is falling. If I lose my benefits, I lose Medicare. If I lose Medicare, I lose my insurance. If I lose my insurance, there will be no doctors and no medication as it is cost prohibitive. If I lose my meds and my doctors, there is a very good chance I will also lose my life because I will once again be an untreated Bipolar with PTSD, Panic disorder with and without Agoraphobia, and Adult ADD. I know exactly what happens when I am not treated; I turn to alcohol and methamphetamine to try to balance myself. The Social Security Administration is trying to kill me or force me back into addiction just to save a few bucks. I also discovered that my student loans which were discharged for total medical disability can be reinstated if it is determined that I am medically able to work by the SSA. So, that $30,000 debt may very well come back.
I have appealed this decision. I think it is wrong on so many levels. First of all, they relied solely on reports from my psychiatrist (my psychologist forgot to send in her report; this may not have happened if she had). I have my medical records. I have read them. I see no progress at all. Progress is always written down as “average”, month after month. To me, that is a plateau. I am neither getting better nor am I getting worse. I have stagnated. How can they see that as progress? Because I can paint my nails, and wear makeup and appear like I am not ill. Obviously, I am ill otherwise I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble to not only eyeball the pills, but actually count them. Not rational thinking; that is the thinking of a sick mind. And, I have been this way as long as I can remember. My flight impulse has always been stronger than my fight reflex. And, I really want to flee right now. My house of cards is crashing to the ground.
Jimi Hendrix, among others, was one of the biggest influences on Stevie’s Texas Blues style. I was lucky enough to have the privilege of seeing Stevie about a year before he died in one of the most awesome venues in my state: the Paolo Soleirie (?) ampitheatre. It was built to be acoustically perfect……
Jimi Hendrix is one of my all time favorite guitarists ~ He made a huge impact on the way electric guitars were played from the 60’s through today. He pushed the envelope; he almost made love to his guitar. Jimi did not express himself well in words or in person. It made him very nervous. He also happens to be one of the most famous Bipolar musicians. Here is Voodoo Chile Blues ~ One of my faves…..it’s long but if you are a Hendrix fan, enjoy…..