Posts tagged ‘disability’

My SSDI Story part 3

The next few months weren’t too bad mentally, but I had started taking the atypical anti-psychotic Zyprexa in the spring. Today it is notorious for causing extreme weight gain and encouraging the development of diabetes. In the end I gained 70 pounds on the drug — very damaging to my self-esteem! I don’t remember much more about that year (the reason will be evident shortly), but in the fall the depression began again. In November or possibly December I
went inpatient for the first of many times throughout the next five months. I just couldn’t stay out — I was not safe. My pdoc (psychiatrist) tried different medications; nothing helped. Eventually we tried ECT — shock treatments. Even those did not lift my mood, although they did erase portions of my

After the ECT, the pdoc sent me home, mentioning the possible need of a stay in the state hospital since I was not responding to treatment. Needless to say I was terrified! The next time, I went to a different hospital but it was a very bad situation. My friend indicated that perhaps I should move back home and live with my mom, and since my mom was willing, this was what I did. After that I returned to the hospital only once then had two years without being inpatient.

In the meantime, I applied for Social Security Disability, since it was obvious that working was out of the question.


April 26, 2009 at 5:52 am Leave a comment

My SSDI Story part 2

It was the additional weekend job that finally broke me. I could barely manage to go to work, and when I did go I was nervous and agitated. I fell down a staircase at the preschool and injured my knee, requiring arthroscopic surgery. At the same time my depression became acute and I was suicidal. I spent much of my time with a friend of mine because I was afraid to be alone.

One night I took an overdose of tranquilizers — just enough to make me sick. The next day my therapist found out, and she instructed my friend to take me to the emergency room.

I was in a severe psychotic depression by this time, which led to my first inpatient stay in a mental hospital (and my only involuntary admission). After a week in the hospital, I returned to my friend’s home and she helped me move out of my apartment. I was nervous about getting another job, but about six weeks later I started a temp job that ended up lasting about 16 months. The first half of that period I worked for the temp agency, then the company hired me directly.

I was the assistant to an administrative assistant, and she was a kind and friendly person. If she had not been patient as well, I would not have lasted a month. But it was summer before I had another manic episode and I was able to conceal it most of the time. It appeared occasionally in the form of unexpected insolence. I could tell she didn’t know what to make of it, but she didn’t question me.

Of course, as day follows night, depression follows mania, and once again I was suicidal. My boss had been depressed herself in the past and when I told her how I felt, she told me to go home and call the doctor. That was the last day I worked.

I went back to the mental hospital, then remained out on short-term disability, possibly a little longer than absolutely necessary. Meanwhile there were massive layoffs at the company and my boss herself was laid off. I returned from disability for only one day, so that they could give me my pink slip.

April 25, 2009 at 5:49 am Leave a comment

My SSDI Story part 1

I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1997, after a personality test resulted in referral to a psychiatrist. But it was not until 2 years later that the episodes began to seriously affect my ability to work, and I decided to seek out SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance.

Somehow, I had always been able to “scrape by” with excuses before then. Mania inspired me to overcommit (I believed I could do anything when I was manic), but the inevitably ensuing depression proved me unequal to my promises. People get tired of hearing excuses after awhile, and I was tired of making them. I felt guilty and ashamed for continually letting others down when they were counting on me.

In early 1999, I was “strongly encouraged to resign” from my position as
research assistant in the study of child language disorders. At the time I was supposed to be working 20 hours a week in my assistantship, 20 hours a week as a speech-language pathologist in my local school district, plus a regular load of doctoral courses. Looking back, I’m surprised I didn’t break down then!

In some ways, losing the assistantship was a relief. But the consequences weren’t — I had to move from my school-owned apartment, I couldn’t pay my bills with just one job so I took extra speech pathology work, and there was no time left for courses so I dropped out (besides, I absolutely could not face that professor again).

I managed that way for several months, until the end of summer — and my school salary — approached. I had not been offered another school district contract; apparently my performance in that job was as dismal as in the assistantship. I had to find a new job, so I began teaching 4-year-old preschool. Twenty children, one teacher, at $10 an hour. Much better than minimum wage, of course, but very stressful and still not enough to pay the bills.
— to be continued —

April 21, 2009 at 2:12 pm Leave a comment

Recent Posts

The WeatherPixie