Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 16 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Monday, March 3, 2008

if only I had a TUMOR

If only I had a nice, socially acceptable illness, I wouldn't be treated like a pile of shit.

If Hallmark recognized my illness, the vocational services professional (and I use that term loosely) looking down from across his desk wouldn't have interrupted me and asked, "so when you say you 'got sick' what does that mean, are you bipolar, do you hear voices..."
"No, like I said, I have unipolar depression." I replied.
"So, you take some sort of medication," he sneered?
"Yes."
"Are you com-pli-ant?"
His tone was decidedly Un-Hallmark-like, and I was seething internally! I was trying to maintain a cordial, professional demeanor, but I wanted to scream at him! If he had bothered to look at me with open eyes or listen with open ears, it should have been obvious there was no need for that demeaning question! I've worked in his field. I've been in his chair. It is after noticing certain signs and symptoms that one should ask a person that question and ask it out of concern not cocksureness.
But rather than scream, I quietly stated, "My first career was mental health. I was a master's level clinician." I rarely pull that card from the deck, but in this situation I believed it was my best move.
"Oh," he said, as he leaned back in his chair. "So what you're telling me is you know all about this stuff."
"Yes," I stated. "Like I said, I didn't get sick until 7 years ago--November, 2000." We were back where we had started.
"So why are you here," he asked again?
To make a long story short, I began explaining, again, that I was on disability because of my depression and no longer able to work full-time. I told him the unpredictability of my illness made it difficult even to predict success in a regular part-time position. (I noted that most employers don't allow their employees to nap in the middle of the day!) Since his organization provided funding for disabled people seeking job training or developing businesses, I briefly described my ideas about creating a home-based internet business.
The effort was futile. I was talking uphill the entire time and repeatedly interrupted with questions such as, "Who said you couldn't work?" and comments like, "Well we only have X-amount of dollars. Where are you going to get the rest?" In the 2 seconds it took for me to amble from his office door to my interrogation chair, this bureaucrat had figured me out, or so he thought. Before I even sat down, he knew who I was based on my diagnosis alone. Prior to opening my mouth, Mr. it's-my-job-to-help-people-return-to-work concluded that I was a malingering, lazy, manipulative "consumer," and I was only there to steal funds from other, more deserving victims of real illnesses. I didn't have a chance.

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