I’m comfortable with my mental illnesses. After all, this blog isn’t called The Bumble Grumble. I know how they affect me, I know which things will help me cope with them, and which things will make me worse. Society finds me (as in generic, mentally-ill me) creepy, but that just makes me talk about mental illness more. My status as a member of the disabled community is comfortable and familiar.
But last April, two new conditions developed. With almost a year’s worth of experience, I’m not new to the health problems, but I feel like a beginner in terms of coping. I rarely leave my apartment. It’s unhealthy to stay isolated and uninvolved in things, but what’s worse, those behaviors trigger my mental illnesses. But it can’t be helped. Going anywhere is difficult and intimidating.
On Saturday, I went to pick up some medication from a pharmacy that is so close, I used to walk to it to pick up my drugs. But, I let that memory go, and I drive to the damn pharmacy. I refuse to use the drive-through. I have a disabled parking permit, so I can park close to the front door. Like many drugstores, the pharmacy is located at the very back of the store. Halfway through the store, I realize I probably can’t make it to the back without sitting down. I will not sit on the floor in the middle of the aisle like a bratty 5-year-old. I’m a bratty 37-year-old after all, and I’m sick of embarrassing myself. I manage to get my medicine and leave without sitting anywhere inappropriate. But when I get home, I have to lie down for the rest of the day. That’s why I leave the apartment so rarely!
Of course, one of the major issues disabled people have to deal with is how to support themselves in spite of their disability. Social Security rejected my application for benefits on a technicality. There is no appeal-there’s no way I can get disability benefits unless I work this year and part of next year. I was applying for benefits because I’m unable to work. Ah, bureaucracy crushes another little bug.
So I’m trying to cope. I haven’t figured out how to cope with the symptoms, the inability to get around or to function, or the guilt at not working. But what’s intolerable is how small my world is now. Thinking of all the things that I’ve lost leads to pity parties. But I can’t help noticing so much absence in my life. Without email and blogs, I would truly be lost right now.
In spite of all of this, I’m one of the lucky ones. I have it better than many people do in terms of symptoms, financial support, and medical care. How do other people manage? How does a person cope with the stripping away of every facet of their life? Becoming disabled shouldn’t mean the automatic loss of people and things you care about. Disabled shouldn’t mean disposable.