I have a few buttons, admittedly. A former acquaintance, an ex, actually, managed to push probably the biggest one a couple of days ago. After stewing on it for a few days, I blew up at him in a DM on Twitter this morning.
I didn’t even look this guy up. He found me on Twitter. He’d requested a LinkedIn connection a couple of years ago but since I am relatively dormant on LinkedIn, I let it pass and he never reached out via a message there. I’d blocked him on Facebook years ago.
So….back to the button….
I have worked long and damn hard on my self-image in the face of receiving SSDI. It’s mostly thanks to Jared’s near-constant reassurance and building up, along with my family’s encouragement (and discouragement of job-hunting in the times when I was feeling particularly down), that I can have the self-esteem that I have, even though my doctors say I shouldn’t work outside the home full-time.
It was a hard pill to swallow, disability was. My Nannie, my Aunt Lollie, and my Mama– all worked hard, full-time, for 30+ years. I assumed I would do the same because I wanted to be like them. I took great pride– gained too much of my identity– from my job titles in those 10 working years. Taking disability meant that I was different, that I had to put my mental health above all else, and even though I lived through all the evidence that was presented which confirmed I am disabled, I didn’t want to admit that my particular needs were severe enough to warrant a different kind of lifestyle.
It may look like I play and do what I want and such from the outside, a happy and enviable lifestyle, especially the portions I share on social media. SSDI and bipolar disorder and PTSD come with a price, however. I will never, ever completely trust myself or my own mind, because I know how easily I slip into psychosis. In times of stability like this, it seems even to me like it could never happen. However, I know I am a couple of days’ worth of bad nights of sleep and a stressful situation and BAM…..back in the mental hospital, paranoid and delusional and generally out of my mind, for God knows how long.
And for those who think mental hospitals are places of rest and respite– they are not. They are full of crazy, dangerous people, all with their own individual issues, all thrown into one big room together during the day. There are no private rooms, you sleep in a room with another crazy person. While I am mostly harmless amidst psychosis, that is not the case with all those patients. There is always a recovery period from the hospital for its own sake, too, after the fact, because….crazy, dangerous people don’t make for rest.
I don’t write about it often because I don’t like to remember that it is my reality. But it is, and it is a reality I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
But this guy….this guy has his own pretty severe mental issues. Thankfully, whatever spark there was once upon a time was mostly just passing hormones in my boy-crazed college years and I realized even then that a long-term relationship with him would have been bad news.
I don’t lightly suggest SSDI to people, but he is amongst the few that I think it would be appropriate for. Amidst his describing job struggles, I made the suggestion last week.
His response was something to the effect of thinking that accepting SSDI would be contrary to contributing to society, something he values greatly.
My first response was, “Yeah, I get it. It took a long while but I got my identity from working, too. I’m so glad I’m through mindset, but it was a process.”
But then I remembered exactly how hard I have worked to fight that very stigma and mindset, and I got ANGRY.
This is what I wrote him this morning:
“I take pretty severe issue to your assessment that people who claim disability do not contribute to society, or take something away from society– that’s highly offensive and ridiculous, and an incredibly immature viewpoint. That’s bullshit.
“In claiming disability, I made it such that I CAN contribute in the ways in which I am most able. I volunteer. I am a much better mother than I was when I was working. And, I do actual work for people who appreciate my efforts far more than the ever did when I was collecting a regular paycheck– I make a real difference in the memories of people’s lives.
“Saying people who are on SSDI or SSI don’t contribute to society is a cop-out. It’s an escape which only keeps you from figuring out who you really are when you are at your absolute best. That’s the freedom that SSDI has allowed me.
“And, I worked 10 hard years paying into the system such that I was eligible. So it’s hardly a handout.
“I hope someday you can get over yourself.”
Be proud, Jared. Today, I get it.
There is a lesson here, too, about maybe keeping the past in the past. I am only actual friends with two of my exes, and that is because they have shown themselves to be redeemable human beings who are genuinely good people.
There was a time when I thought I had to hold onto everyone I’d ever known, that letting a “friend” slip away was a negative mark about me.
Oh, no, it is so not. I have no tolerance these days for nonsense. My life and the people in my life are too important to dilute with people who are going to drag me into their own psychoses and hang ups. I have worked hard to prune and cultivate my circle of friendships into the people who I love to lift up and those who I am grateful reciprocate that lifting up. I have no room for someone who thinks ill of my life circumstance. Especially in the name of 20-year old ancient history.
So yeah, that’s a block on another platform. And yet another reason to be grateful for the current people in my life.