Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 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!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

To work or Not to work

One of the minor (she states facetiously) issues of having a chronic, unpredictable, life-threatening illness is work. Work is an issue. Not only because I was fired while participating in treatment for my depression, but because there is never a clear indication of when to go back, when to increase hours, when to decrease hours, when to take a break...you get the idea. Work is an issue.
Finances, benefits and survival while ill are also issues. For me there was initially the issue of survival once my company-sponsored disability eligibility expired. Then there was the overwhelming Social Security Disability paperwork. What a nightmare! If I didn't have severe depression before completing their questionnaires, witness statements, doctors' opinions, etc... I sure as hell felt like crap afterward!
As a professional familiar with scholarship applications and resumes, it was devastating to eloquently define myself in such unseemly terms! The goal, ultimately, was to make sure everyone agreed I was a listless, non-functioning, hopeless mess (which, thankfully[?] I was). If I had claimed any sense of pride or accomplishment, my benefits may not have been approved.
It's even worse during periodic SSDI reviews, prior to which I sometimes had some progress to brag about. SSDI is a tightrope of working to regain and improve function juxtapositioned with focusing on my defects and non-function when the reviewers come calling. It's odd, stressful, and necessary.
I understand the necessity of the questions, progress reports and reviews. I am extremely grateful for the assistance I receive. Without it, I would be hospitalized, or homeless, or dead. I survive partly because I qualify for benefits. And I can hardly wait until I no longer qualify...

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