I apologize in advance if this seems a bit scattered, but I really needed to get these thoughts out of my head and share with you all, what’s been going on. I do this as mostly therapy for myself, and hopefully it helps someone else who can relate, feel less alone.
It has been over a year since my last blog post, and a lot has happened since then. Some experiences have been good and some not so good. If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you know I have been going back and forth with trying to work full time, while managing my bipolar 1 disorder. This has been a pretty constant struggle for the past 10 years and I’m finally trying to make the best choice for me and my sanity.
A lot has been going on, not only for me personally, but in the world as a whole. We’ve all been dealing with the pandemic and how it’s affected many aspects of life, as well as the racial injustice crisis, which has plagued our society for a long time, and seems to have come to light globally as of late. All of this is a lot to digest for anyone, not just me. On top of all of this, I’ve been dealing with my personal bipolar disorder struggles.
For the past couple of years I have been able to work consistently, but have found it very hard to maintain. I have severe anxiety and occasional panic attacks at work. The stress from the tasks at work and the chaos in my chemically imbalanced brain cause either depression or mania or sometimes both at the same time….ugh!!! The depression and mania make it almost impossible to maintain a full time job. Because I have a mental illness, I have the option to apply for permanent disability with the Social Security Administration (SSA). I also have the option to work part-time once approved for SSA disability. So, at the end of January this year, after having another panic attack and depression issues while working, I decided to go on state disability and resign from my Executive Assistant Position.
In April I applied for permanent disability with SSA. It’s July now, so I have not worked for over 6 months. A ton of emotions and thoughts have crossed my mind over this time. Sometimes I think maybe I’m wrong and can work full time and just need to try to suck it up. Sometimes I think I’ve made the right choice given my past history with this disorder and work. And other times I think this disorder has taken too much from me, and makes me feel like a complete mess of a person.
My claim with SSA for disability will be approved or denied soon, according to my claims representative. I have fear with either possible outcome. If it’s approved, I’m fearful of what I’m capable of doing as part-time work, and how I will fill my free time. I also fear financial strain, since disability payments aren’t that much. If it’s denied, I fear having to appeal the decision with SSA and I fear possibly having to return to full time work.
What really bothers me though is the stigma that is attached to people with disabilities, especially when they cannot work. Because my disability is not always visible, I feel like some people don’t always take this disorder seriously. To me it’s just like any other medical condition which needs to be treated. You wouldn’t tell a person fighting cancer and going through chemo therapy, to suck it up and keep working, right? You wouldn’t assume they were lazy while they were getting treatment, right? I would hope you would want them to take care of themselves and focus on getting the help they need. To me, bipolar disorder is no different, but unfortunately no everyone sees it this way.
I really need to get over what other people think and ignore the stigma some put on people who have a mental illness. I’m working on it, and that’s whole other topic for a different time. For now, I’m going to see what happens with my SSA Disability claim, and focus on my Psychiatrist appointments, medication and talk therapy with my psychologist. I believe things will work out one way or another, and I’ll update you all once I hear back. Stay strong and safe everyone, as I know this is a trying time for many!