In early 2015, after quitting my overwhelming warehouse job and being prompted by both Sadie and Sierra, I applied for disability. I was immediately rejected due to not having enough work credits. I needed to work 6 more months to become eligible. A year later I had worked enough in my occasional job at the hospital, and the social worker in inpatient encouraged me to reapply. I did so in early February.
A couple of weeks ago I received a call from the local Social Security office. The man I spoke with told me that under the current conditions he could not send my application on to state with any expectation of approval – I had earned too much money in 3 out of 10 months. He said that he understands it is hard to turn down hours when you need money and that people often push themselves too hard as a result. He said that he could update the onset date on my application to the present if I limited my hours to stay under the maximum earnings. The conversation otherwise indicated that he thought I had a good chance of approval.
I figured up that I could safely work 10 days per month – half time, when I was only hired for 1 day per week. I made a pros and cons chart and planned to discuss it with Sadie, but I already knew I wanted to tell my crew lead not to schedule me as much as she has in the past.
Then I talked to Sadie. Before I even brought up the topic of the disability application she had mentioned that she was confident I could handle full-time work, or a second job if I couldn’t get more hours in this one. She told me that her supervisor, Nelly, had recently asked about me and mentioned that I could do any of their jobs. I asked if that meant she was no longer supportive of me pursuing disability. She ended up saying that if that was the fastest route to moving out of mom’s house then it was a good idea.
Sadie also said that I understand DBT better than anyone else she has worked with and that although I think I need therapy for the rest of my life I could walk out of there right now and be fine on my own. I left feeling torn. I really didn’t feel confident about my ability to work more, and I knew it would be a long time before I’d ever get a shot at full-time in my current position. I don’t want to give up the work I’m doing now though.
I kept thinking about what Nelly had said. I don’t have the qualifications for most jobs in their field, but on a whim I checked the CMHC website and found two positions as program assistants in inpatient – one full-time and one part-time. The requirement is a high school diploma, with preference for experience in health care.
I’ve actually applied for this position twice in the past but never told Sadie about it. I’m sure there’s no chance of me being hired, but I do sort of have health care experience now (although probably not what they intended). So I applied for the part-time position. I figured if I got it I’d be working nearly full-time between the two jobs, and if I didn’t then my disability claim was still in process.
I didn’t plan to tell Sadie unless I got an interview, but I let it slip today. I said, “I applied for a second job that I’m definitely not going to get.” She told me I could have left off the negative part of that sentence. Then I had to explain that it’s in inpatient and that I didn’t think the rest of the staff would feel comfortable working with me even though I was fine with it. She didn’t seem to think it was definite that I’d be rejected, but she did bring up the question of what would happen if someone I knew as a peer were admitted and I was in a position of authority over them. I don’t think it’s a problem – most of the people I know from my past admissions have moved out of the area, and I can end up in a similar position in the job I already hold.
Sadie asked if there were other job openings. The only other one I qualify for is in dual-diagnosis residential treatment and I am not comfortable with that. I go to DBT group with many of the residents and am not willing to give up the group. She suggested some kind of job mentoring kids and I asked, “Do you want to visit me in prison?” I’m sure I would end up strangling them. I did mention that I had applied and been interviewed for a CMHC accounting position last year and Sadie asked why I had never told her. I guess I didn’t realize that I hadn’t.
Before the appointment with Sadie I had one with Brent. We were discussing work and I brought up the full-time vs. disability debate. He told me that he absolutely thinks I can handle full-time work, so long as I focus on doing what’s required for my job and stop trying so hard to make everyone else’s jobs easier. He said pushing myself that hard will just lead to burnout and me cutting myself.
I feel a transition happening. I’ve applied for that second job. I don’t see Brent again for 2 months and after the next two weeks I’ll only see Sadie every other week. I’ve also tentatively taken on a challenging volunteer task.
Monday night I went to the annual board meeting for my local NAMI affiliate. As the only one there who personally has a mental illness I felt a little out of place while they all discussed difficulties with their mentally ill family members. I stuck it out for the whole meeting though and at the end I approached one member privately to ask if I could help in some way with the Crisis Intervention Team. They hold monthly meetings which are leading up to a 40-hour training program for police officers, scheduled for early 2017.
At first she said no. I don’t know what possessed me to keep talking, but I explained that this was important to me because the way I got help was through an officer doing a wellness check. Apparently that made a difference, as she was suddenly telling me I could be a presenter for this training program. She said it would probably be in the format of the NAMI In Our Own Voice presentations, and there just happened to be one the next day I could attend to see how it works. I had already planned to go, so I said I’d be there.
The presentation consists of a video divided into 5 segments and after each segment the two presenters tell their personal stories on the same topic and answer questions from the audience. I am terrified and excited at the possibility of doing this in front of dozens of police officers. I almost forgot to mention everything NAMI-related in my appointment with Sadie and after I told her she said it was a big thing to forget.
Speaking of NAMI, the NAMIwalk for southwest Ohio is taking place on May 7th. You can donate here or sign up to join a walk in your area.