Saturday, July 31, 2010

I am not a bum.

I'm on Social Security Disability. The odd thing is that when I went on SSD I didn't know what it was, hadn't asked for or suggested it, & didn't even think I was eligible. My therapist at the time, Dr. K, had prepared all the forms, a case management panel of psychiatrists & other mental health pros had approved &  signed it.  All I had to do was agree  & sign my name.  It wasn't an easy sell for Dr. K. She had to convince me of the severity of my struggles with depression, the need for stability, & the probability for maintaining  the kind of modest  lifestyle that in fact I liked. I did accept it.Over the next few years it was a constant source of exasperation to her that I didn't take full advantage of SSD.  One very early mistake I made was not bringing some of my financial problems to the  ace social workers at Bridgeway House who, as it turned out, had solutions.

Dr. K & I together made another mistake. We didn't bring two of my siblings in on the details of the decision. They should have been given the opportunity to review the case file & have it explained.  We made assumptions. Dr. K's goal was to strengthen relationships, not weaken them, & she had  what she assumed was a sound, practical strategy based on what I had told her & what she had observed.  It was embarrassing to me that my sister had felt obliged to bail me out financially, at considerable expense, although I was very grateful. Dr. K reasoned that that if I could have basic economic independence via SSD, my sister & I would have a deeper friendship  & she'd be free to help me in other  ways  she might want to help out, without needing to get out the checkbook. & my brother, with whom I  had little contact, would at least understand & accept the situation.

All the time I've been on SSD, a part of me has resisted it.  My eligibility has been reviewed twice, never questioned on the evidence. Part of my eligibility - eyesight - isn't even used. I could be more comfortable, in a better apt building, in better health. I'm having a scary weekend. I'm alone. I'm broken down. But I am not a bum.

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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