Wanting to work doesn’t equal ability

I threw a little bit of a fit yesterday, sparked by the fact that I got denied for social security disability.

Even worse, I slipped back hardcore into denial about the extent of my disease and how badly I was doing when I was working full-time.

I had myself thoroughly convinced that I could still work full-time (especially since social security says so!) and that it was only the specific job I had earlier this year that was the problem. I thought maybe other jobs would be just fine.

Furthermore, I thought that the fact that I’m as depressed right now as I was when I left Michigan almost 5 years ago meant that I was otherwise in the exact same circumstances with the same capabilities.

Here’s the thing, though. I have persistent depression and have had it for almost all of my life. The fact that it has resurfaced again isn’t necessarily because of my circumstances, just like the times when I was less depressed were not entirely due to better circumstances. It’s cyclical and often debilitating no matter what; it’s the nature of the illness.

Some things are triggers for my depression. Winter is one, with its shorter hours of daylight and more cloudy days. Even though it’s substantially better here than it was in Michigan, that doesn’t mean it no longer affects me.

I know I’m not getting enough exercise. That’s not a cure, but I do know that my depression is less bad when I’m getting more exercise.

I’m trying to do more freelancing again, which makes me very frustrated because I’m constantly aware of how much capacity I’ve lost. I simply can’t do the work the way I did even a year ago. I really need to stop freelancing because at this point it seems actively damaging for me.

The other really important factor is that my brain and functioning are not as good as they were five years ago. Just because I can remember when I was more functional and it seems relatively recent, I have gotten markedly a lot worse since then.

Realistically, I am sure that a major factor in my social security disability denial is that my doctors didn’t forward my records. I know for a fact that at least two of them did not. I need to collect my records on my own and take them directly to the social security office in person instead of just trusting people to get stuff done.

I need to hire an attorney who has experience with disability. And I probably need to find a way to get some access to mental health services I can afford so they can create additional documentation.

In the meantime, I may not have wanted to quit working. I may have wanted to have more of a career than just being home with my kids and trying to supplement it with freelance writing. But I can’t change the past. And that doesn’t mean that what I’m doing isn’t valuable.

I took one of my kids with me when I was running an errand last night and we got talking about some things. He told me that my being the one to pick him up from school alleviates some anxiety for him.

Some of the times when we’ve had to rely on other options for their transportation so I could work were far less than ideal, to say the least, and they bothered him. (Some of them were even unsafe, as in the person who picked up so many kids she didn’t even have seatbelts for them all.)

I don’t know how much stock I should really put into that. Maybe he was just telling me what he thought I wanted to hear. But even if that’s the case, it helps me to feel like what I do matters.

I may not be able to work full-time at this point in my life. I’m not sure if things will ever change for the better and allow me to do so. I think that means that in the meantime, I need to make peace with things as they are. Living in denial is not going to cure me and hasn’t so far.

Simply forcing myself to live as though I’m not sick doesn’t make it the case. I just need to continue trying to accept that I really do have this disease, whether I want to or not, whether social security will give me disability payments or not.

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