This week, my blog post is going to be a little different than usual. If you follow me on Twitter, you might know that I am applying to my province’s disability support program. It has been my goal for a while, but I’ve had difficulty getting started.
The application has three parts: (1) information on my diagnosis, (2) my ‘activities of daily living,’ and (3) my personal statement. The first two are filled out by my family doctor and my therapist, but the third part is all me. Great. We all know that motivation is my forté… (/s)
I couldn’t seem to buck up and write down the essay about why I’m too crazy to work. The idea of having to divulge all about myself to strangers is not my idea of a fun afternoon, as it happens, I am not a fan of vulnerability.
While I was talking about my issue with a friend, I realized that I would probably be more motivated to write it if I adapted it into a blog post, and it turns out, it actually worked! Today, I sat down and hammered out all 633 words of my personal statement. It was sad, revealing, and difficult, but I really hope that it helps my case.
Reality is, I’m most likely going to be rejected and have to appeal my case before finally being approved. Getting on disability in Ontario can be quite a fight, and I’ve heard some horror stories.
Well, without further ado, I invite you to a scarily vulnerable account of my everyday living with mental illness and the explanation as to why I’m not working.
I struggle with my mental health and am diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (depression), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (anxiety), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Binge Eating Disorder (BED). I have been out of work since the end of July 2017. I resigned because working became too difficult for me to manage because of my mental health.
I have not looked for employment since last summer because I am confident that it would only worsen my mental health. Managing stress or deadlines is very difficult for me because my anxiety exaggerates concerns and my OCD can lead me to obsess over unimportant things.
I live with my father because I am not able to live on my own anymore. Before moving in with him in August of 2016, I was struggling to keep up with the housework at my apartment and it very quickly became overwhelmingly dirty and disorganized. My safety during depressive episodes was also in question as I have been suicidal in the past.
In my day-to-day life, I struggle with keeping up with personal hygiene. Because of my depression, I can often lack the motivation to shower or take care of myself. It is common for me to go days without showering or washing, sometimes without even changing my clothes.
I currently see my psychotherapist (a Registered Social Worker) once per week but have been unable to find a psychiatrist to see me long-term. My family doctor has been monitoring my condition and medication; I see her about once per month. My medication and condition are not stable. I have struggled to find a therapeutic program that has been especially helpful.
I am currently in a community support group in Toronto and have participated in a full-time outpatient program and a weekly outpatient CBT program hospitals nearby. I am currently on the waitlist for a full-time outpatient program in Toronto which was approximately four months long in late January 2018.
In the past, I have used resources available through the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) nearby. I have had a Case Manager and attended their Community Connections programs, but did not find them useful for improving my mental health.
My mental health causes many unwanted thoughts, emotions, and physical feelings. My depression has led to overwhelming sadness, demotivation, and helplessness; I have had bouts of suicidal thoughts in the past, but I am not actively suicidal. My depression often leads to poor quality of sleep and sleeping too little or much; even when I’m awake, I spend a lot of time in bed or on the couch.
My anxiety also causes troubling thoughts. I find it difficult to leave the house and interact with others because I think that people are lying to me, trying to trick me, do not like me, or will make fun of me. I am not able to effectively handle situations in which I am not in control — I do not answer my phone or the door unless I know who it is. Being forced into situations where I am not comfortable often causes me to have a panic attack with symptoms like racing heart, headaches, rushing thoughts, chest tightness, hyperventilation, difficulty breathing, feelings of dread. Panic attacks are emotionally and physically exhausting for me and can take me a long time to recover.
Even more, my OCD can sometimes make simple tasks take much longer because I can become obsessively focused on completing a task or having to compulsively repeat it until it ‘feels right.’ My OCD also causes repetitive, intrusive thoughts that can differ from day to day. In the past, they have included suicide, paranoia, self-harm, worry about my future, self-deprecation, and organization.
Clinical, right? That was my goal, so I hope it came across. I’ve never been a huge fan of formal writing, and I have instead opted for the super-casual, fake-word-friendly style that I use on my blog.
My therapist told me that they often look for very clear ‘because (A), (B)’ structure in the applications, so I tried to mimic that.
I don’t really have much more to add, but I will ask you, have you ever had to explain to someone why your mental illness was getting in your way? Does anything here sound familiar to you?