So this morning I finally met with a disability attorney. For about ten years, until 2006, I worked for a large mortgage company in a senior position. I was lucky and had a boss who came to appreciate my hard work and so was willing to overlook some inconsistencies regarding days and schedules. I had lots of alone space to work and help with the public parts. The work lent itself well to the particular issues and obsessions within my disorder.
In 2005, the company went through a reorganization. In order to keep my job I was required to accept a transfer to a new department with a new boss and co-workers, in a new town, in a much more conservative part of the country. Most of the understanding and flexibility I had had previously, vanished the moment I walked in the door. After a year of uprooting my family from the comfort of our home of ten years, trying to acclimate myself to new people, new rules, and new social expectations, and the new division moving me from department to department, I was laid off.
Next came numerous months of facing my fears and interviewing with new companies, trying new positions, and slipping into either the anxiety and panic that comes with new things, or the depression accompanying my feelings of failure. This, on top of getting used to new doctors, a new city, a new regime of meds, and our declining financial situation, eventually led my psychiatrist and my therapist to both recommend that I look into state disability until I was able to get stable once again.
This turns out to be the most demeaning experience I have ever had. My friends and previous co-workers are all wondering aloud why I am still not working. The social security office, a fund that I have been paying into throughout all my life of hard work, looks at me as if to say "What's wrong with you.....you don't LOOK disabled?" There are people who assume I am just lazy and trying to get out of work. I get no credit for the previous 20 years I have worked. There are people who tell me to just "get over it" or those that want to "help me to do it" rather than let me admit I can't right now. They tell me its all in my head. Duhhhhh!
And the worst of it is that so far everyone I met with regarding the disability claim expected me to "dumb myself down" in order to be eligible. I do not believe that the person coming in with a wheel chair is expected to do that. Anyways, after what seems likes months of jumping through SSI hoops already, I finally received my obligatory denial letter....the golden key to the attorney's office. My person is not actually an attorney but an advocate and she is wonderful!
The very first person who not only did not want me to be LESS than I really am but instead stressed the importance of my background and encouraged me to be the real me..... including my intelligence. She assured me that it was ok to take some time for me....to get back to a place where I am feeling better. And now that she is now working on my behalf I am beginning to feel better already.