Deciding To Go On Disability & The Depression Aftermath, Part 2
In "Deciding To Go on Disability and the Depression Aftermath, Part 1," I talked about the anger and bargaining that came with applying for permanent disability. And one of the few pieces of advice I would give to anyone embarking on this process would be to seek medical therapy and counsel on all the emotions you are feeling. It doesn’t mean you are broken. However, we all need help with this grave and drastic life change. It took me years to notice I had fallen into depression. If I had known, maybe this would have not been a 5-year process.
Out of nowhere, it hits, and short-term disability turns into permanent disability. This was rock bottom for me. No medical insurance for 2 years. All my former doctors of 17 years could no longer see me unless I paid cash. MediCal didn’t assist me with being able to seek medical attention. No one talks to you about planning for losing your insurance.
No job means no money, which means no continued care. With no ability to see my regular doctors cause the insurance shift, my reason for going on disability worsened. There was no hope and no idea of what was to come. Also, learning after you are accepted into disability you had to wait 2 years to receive Medicare. I could go 3-4 years uninsured. What was I going to do? Sadly, what I did was not see doctors for that time, causing my condition to worsen.
Feeling a loss of self
As you fight the social security battle waiting to see if you are accepted. During that time it's hard to function as an individual. Your life depends on a government institution judging you on your disability. The thought was confusing. My doctor made me make this change in order to live a longer and healthier life. However, your doctors’ word may not be good enough at this point. Social Security puts you through the wringer of their doctors and diagnoses. This caused me more anxiety and depression. The unknown out of your control is scary.
On top of that, I was having an incredible loss of self. Who am I? What do I do with my time? I no longer have my career to define me, what happens now? Motivation to get up every day was lost. The need to see people, or have friends, goes away. I turned inward. I could not put into words what I was experiencing. The loss of self was real. I never thought I would have a point in my life that I did not have direction. I always knew where I was going, what was to come next. Yes, the time off was great to rest and take care of yourself. But at times of wellness, my brain yearned for something more.
The years passed. Disability was accepted. Medicare was in place. I started seeing my regular doctors routinely trying to re-stabilize my condition. At this time, it was 4 years since I decided to go on disability. Now with a small sense of normalcy, I started looking at me. I wanted to regain a part of me again. Once I was stable, I stopped sleeping 4 days at a time. I began to get up earlier on a more regular basis. Slowly reinventing who I was. I began working out, losing weight, eating better, pushing myself the way I use to in life, and talking to my loved ones about my struggles. I accepted the new life I had set before me. Accepting that life was slowing down. Accepting that I could not do as much as I use to. Accepting that I need to take the rest days. Accepting that my life was now different.
This is where I am at today. I continue to work on what and who I want the new me to be. Not because I wanted to change who I was, because life handed me change that I needed to accept. So, moving forward, I will continue to find who I am and what I want to accomplish in life. A new adventure awaits, and I am finally ready for it.
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