From Illness to Disability

Four major episodes. Didn’t even include that rumble with post-partum depression. On and off meds. Currently on and have been on for God knows how long. Hours and hours of churning out my life’s story and picking apart how I approach life, marriage, and motherhood. Everything had to be optimized, improved, and honed. Still does. Maybe I could get to the point of standard neurotypical endurance. One nagging question left. Was afraid to ask my therapist. Knew I had to do it. Deep down the answer was there. Did I really need to go there? Took the leap anyway.

“Do you think I have a mental disability?”

She asked what I meant.

“I mean as far as it being an overarching entity affecting my day-to-day life.”

“Oh, yes, you do.”

Thunk.

Well, shit.

I knew she explained herself a bit more, but I was still digesting the “yes” part and keeping my cool while my internal “Oh, Fuck” alarm was going off. Then she offered to help with government benefits paperwork, if I wanted. My innards folded up on themselves even more, and my alarm level went up to “Red Alert Oh, Fucking Fuck” while I turned her down. I am fortunate enough to have The Boffin. While I love the intangible benefits about him the most, he is a very good provider.

Language is important when discussing medical issues. Even though I knew depression was something I had to manage the rest of my life, I always told myself that I had a mental illness. With the word “illness,” I hung on to that last bit of denial…that bit that said if I can just get the right mixture of meds, therapy, exercise, and diet, I can tame this bronco completely. If I am just “ill,” I can be “cured”.

But disability? No, no, no. That’s not right. I was fit for the military. I…I…I…could hold down jobs. I was never fired from anyplace for being a flake, even though after a year or two I was mentally planning office coups and working myself up into a lather every Sunday at the thought of starting the week over. It was just a matter of figuring out how to turn staplers into catapults.

However…

Is it normal to be forgiving of other people while setting unattainable standards for yourself?

How rational is it to find the thought of asking your husband for help, even for something as small as cleaning the cat box, excruciating?

What would life be like if every task on your list carried equal importance, and you did not know how to prioritize them? Should I go to the grocery store, or make appointments? I don’t know! I’ll just write for the next two hours while vacillate over such an arduous decision.  Forget about asking me what I want for dinner.

On top of that, what about constant ruminating and worrying about all of those things and a host of other issues while feeling like a big fat failure in life?

Welcome to my brain.

I have a mental disability. It’s no one’s fault. It just is.

And I am looking down the barrel of a neuropsych eval next month to find out what flavors of insanity I have.  I am even anxious about that.  I wonder if there is a “Messed Up” diagnosis in the DSM-V.

Bringing this part of my life out in the open is not about awareness or sympathy; it is about accountability to myself and my health. I need to find a different way to live because my emotional and mental energy are finite. I can’t make anyone who thinks all I need to do is eat a salad and take a walk understand, and I do not want to put in any more effort in trying. I can’t waste time on matters that do nothing but sap me. It is about streamlining my life to get rid of the things that are burdens and keeping the ones that are beneficial, so I can create as fulfilling and productive life as possible.

It’s time to clean house.

31 thoughts on “From Illness to Disability

  1. You were fit for the military, which is a pretty high energy standard.Cleaning house now could start with unattainable standards and identifying burdens and finally finding what really works for you, and you alone. Yes, you’ve started on your journey, godspeed….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh dear. I’m sorry to hear of this struggle. Good luck.

    My experience with my chronic disease is that it helps to write down everything, the things that seem important and the things that don’t before going to any sort of test or evaluation. Ask questions. Ask. Ask. Ask. Do not let folks blow off your questions either (because they have limited time they will try to do that. Don’t let them).

    Remember also that some of them are things that others share. For example, I hate hate hate hate to ask my husband for help, too. and I’ll struggle to do something myself even when he is standing right next to me. It’s so silly, and I know that … but still …

    hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    1. (Hugs) back, Elyse.

      I did drill my therapist about the eval about the methodology and scientific validity, but I am sure I will have more when the time comes. I’m a pain in the ass that way.

      I understand what you are saying about whether what we have is a quirk or is it a sign of something deeper. The problem is that my barring The Boffin’s help has a profound effect on my mental health and our relationship. I let tasks pile up and get anxious over them to the point where I end up breaking down, and The Boffin has to come in and do clean-up. That is no way for a relationship to function.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I think you’re just more like the rest of us than you realised.! Still very scary though. Hang in there and remember you got this far pretty much on your own, so you can’t be doing that much wrong. Thank you for sharing this, I wish it had been a bit funnier like your usual posts. Maybe next one, eh?

    Please keep us (your followers) posted……not that you have any obligation to do so. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I had no idea you were going through all of this.

    I am by no means an expert but, it seems that getting to the point you have has got to be a huge step in the right direction, and one many don’t get to. My thoughts and support are with you.

    Wishing you nothing but the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nodding along to most of that. Particularly about the asking for help. Then ostriching about it. Where it usually turns from being a small task into a giant wall of shit that the needs unblocking bit-by-bit. And usually not by me. This is the only way I could explain how depression is, for me: https://flic.kr/p/7HNFaF the accompanying words have some common ground with yours.

    Big hugs. It’s ok to not have all the answers, and not to be strong and capable all the time. Love you. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

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