Monthly Archives: February 2016

What if they don’t believe me?

It’s Saturday, the end of my first week of “disability”. I put that in quotes because the paperwork is not complete or approved yet. My psychiatrist called me today to ask me some questions she needed help with on filling things out. Something about her tone of voice worried me, like maybe she wasn’t even convinced. I mean, this whole “time off from work” thing came from her. I would have asked about it in that same session anyway (I had already discussed it with my therapist) but she brought it up first and for a moment I was relieved. She could see it too, the trouble I was in. She wanted to help.

But today seemed different. If I were to guess I would think she’s mad I didn’t say anything sooner. That I had been telling her I had “some anxiety” but that’s it. Maybe she’s right to be mad. Nobody can help me if I’m not willing to speak up. Now I’m speaking up but I don’t feel like anyone hears me.

I’m petrified my claim will be denied. What will I do then? I can’t just stroll back into work right now. Just because an insurance company might not buy it doesn’t make me any less sick. I guess I could take it as unpaid personal leave. That would eat pretty harshly into my savings but I can’t go back in there. Not now. I will crack.

But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Maybe the paperwork will go through and it will all be ok. The next few days will be endless with wait. I just wish this wasn’t so seemingly a game of subjectivity. I suck at games.

In the meantime I will continue to make really awful art (my art is only good when I’m manic), sleep when I can, and get out of the apartment some. I want to see friends but most of them don’t know I’m bipolar, so how do you explain being on disability when you can’t say why? It’s just plain awkward. Maybe I should just come out of the closet altogether. So what, I may lose some friends but the real ones will stick around and this will be one less secret to keep.

Well, you seem fine to me…

loss

So, after 10 years of diligence and dumb luck it finally happened again. I’m off of work because of my illness. Time estimate- 6 weeks. Beyond bipolar depression I’ve also been having severe anxiety. I saw this coming probably 3 months back but I thought I was just having a temporary case of work-based “fraud syndrome”. But no, it’s the real thing. Maybe triggered by the perfect storm of stressors going on in my life, but it likely would have happened anyway. I guess I was just due a meltdown. Also, I’ve been rolling the dice the last couple of years on a relatively low dose of meds.

But here’s the thing. I have this evil superpower of pretending to be ok when I’m clearly not. I can fake a lighthearted mood and (with enough Xanax in me) sort of fake being calm. This is all fine and good until you’ve realized the fake-it-till-you-make-it strategy has painted you into a corner. There are two reasons this was a bad strategy for me.

  1. I believed my own bullshit. I waited too long to get the help I needed because I thought I would snap out of it and that if I was fooling people maybe I wasn’t “that sick”.
  2. Everyone who knows about my disorder and several of the ones who don’t know but who know I’m off of work have said the same thing. “Well, you seem fine to me…”

Guess what people, I’m not fine. I will be but I’m not right now and I (plus all of you) need to accept that. I guess we still have a long way to go, myself included, in finally accepting mental illness as illness and treating it as such. I’m as big an offender as anyone else. I cannot cast stones. Until I overcome my own shame and closeted behavior surrounding my disorders I don’t see how I can really blame others for their lack of understanding of the disease.

So this post is as much for me as it is for everyone else. Seeming fine and being fine are not always the same. Try really hard to notice the difference.