Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Back to the Beginning - New Stormfront: Disability Attorney (posted Aug. 22, 2008)

Yesterday I met with a Disability attorney to see if I can get on Disability, I have to at least try. I hit my wall of fatigue last fall knowing full well I cannot continue to devastate my body and life by the continued, ongoing struggle to just merely survive.

For over two hours she asked questions and I tried my best to dig into the "deep storage" of my brain to answer her. I found it quite gracious all I had to do was answer her questions, instead of having to fill out the paperwork too. That was a huge help for me. I was already on day two of a continuing migraine, so that coupled with an injured brain with very slow processing, I was slower than cold molasses.  Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

She said we may have difficulty proving my case in that I have been able to work in the past. I explained that's just it, I hit that wall last fall and I'm still a Go-Getter, Type-A Personality inside, but I can't continue living at this pace. I've already undone some of my own health by trying to continually work so hard. It's not like I want to be rich or famous, I just want to have a good life. Losing my house and everything, including my pets, just doesn't feel like part of a good life.

My options are few, because I have some resources I've been saving for a long time, I do not qualify for certain assistance. It is a Catch-22 being neither fully abled nor fully disabled.

A disability hearing will probably be in eighteen months. I've already done everything else everyone has suggested to me, everything. I've gone through the systems I once thought were there to help people only to learn systems exist for systems themselves, not for people. I don't think I take this personally because I know others who have struggled in the same system.

I can't help but wonder what happens to people's psyches and spirits when they fight so hard to do the right thing, live an honest life, and find there is no help for their situation. It is almost as if the world speaks to those who are disabled that they deserve to lose everything that matters to them. I always had faith there were systems in place to help people. Maybe they're out there, but finding them, being eligible, and not being put on an endless waiting list seem difficult to find at best.

I find this all tremendously embarrassing. A couple weeks ago I had to go to DSHS for assistance, all I could qualify for was food stamps, but I'll tell you, I'm grateful for any help I can get. At least for now, no worries about where the next meal will come from. But I did struggle all the same with having to go get help.

Perhaps it's pride. Perhaps it's being fiercely independent, I don't know - I was not quite sure if I wanted to cry or throw up! - I do know we were raised to have strong work ethics and to not be able to work myself into being better, or let me rephrase that, being able to work myself out of a disability, feels like failure. It feels more like a life out of control instead of all the planning and preparing we were taught to do as children. We were taught to save, plan for retirement, etc., planning for being disabled just wasn't on my list and honestly it's a struggle. I just never imagined this as part of my future.

I've often said that early on in the discovery of my Brain Injury that it felt too much like I was the center of attention. I didn't want to go walking around like there was this big arrow over my head pointing at me. And, it often felt like I was in a group of strangers, I was pulling open my chest cavity and everyone was pointing at my mistakes and blatant shortcomings I could not see. 

It feels embarrassing, bewildering, and like everyone is constantly taking a microscope to my life, and I don't get to do the same to them. So the vulnerability of all this has never become comfortable in the last six years. Some people are in this to help and have the best of intentions, but oftentimes those who rush in are the very ones who will take advantage of a disabled person who has hit rock bottom...I know.

And I think, most of all, I just wish more than anything to get back to more of a life that isn't so constantly threatened by the loss of everything that looms on the horizon. I haven't known for six years if I'd be able to keep the house or not and I've been fighting like mad to keep that major loss from happening. I have seen what happens to other people in my shoes, they lose everything, and I have fought like crazy to keep that from happening here.

I encountered all this loss of life and purpose because of one person's inattentive driving. If I had caused this to my own life through recklessness or substance abuse I think I could stand letting my life and possessions go.

Isn't it enough relationships were lost, the ability to go to concerts, church, fairs, any loud event, being able to handle groups, heck, just being able to work in a normal environment. All other aspects of my life have been lost to this, must I lose my house and pets too? It is not easy for a social butterfly to be caged, but once her cage is gone, what is left?

I want to get back to being able to make a difference in this world. I miss teaching, ministry, volunteering, having friends, being connected to a community.

Just because I'm disabled now doesn't mean I care any less about this world we live in or wish to no longer make a difference. I want my life to matter, to count for something other than this struggle no one sees.

I want to, as one of my heroes, Mother Teresa said, "Do something beautiful for God."
It is tough to go through this entire process of going from being fully-abled to partly-abled/disabled and keeping my heart and spirit open. It is tough because the news is not often good, so much so I became accustomed to the bad news, and would be surprised and unbelieving at the good news! Yes, it is a tough journey, not for the faint of heart. So, getting help often feels more like bringing more bad than good...

Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst...

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