But for the grace of God

Today is my last day in my job.  I’m a contractor, and the contract ends today.  The reason I was given for the cut was that the workload has dropped to the point that they don’t need me anymore, but if I had to bet, it’s due to my decreased production due to my depression.  I really haven’t seen a decrease in the work at all and no reason for my job to end.

One way or another I’ve lost every job I’ve ever had as a result of my illness.  I quit my first job at 16 because I was too depressed to work.  I resigned from my first ‘real’ job after I graduated because I was so manic I believed I was too good to work for the pay I was getting.  I was so brilliant they should have been paying me twice as much as they were.  That’s been the pattern my whole life.  I’ve only actually been fired a couple of times; almost always it was my choice to leave.  But it’s always my illness that drove the decision.  With only one exception I’ve never been in a job more than a couple of years; the longest job was only five years.

Being bipolar can make a normal career impossible.  When I had my first appointment with my new Doctor, after going through my history and symptoms she was shocked that I was able to work at all.  She asked me several times if I’d considered going on disability; she was sure I’d qualify.  I have no doubt that she’s correct.  With all the lost jobs I’ve had, the hospitalizations too numerous to count, how long I’ve been in treatment without any significant remissions, all the medications over the years and the severity of symptoms, I don’t think it would be difficult at all to qualify for disability.  There are just two problems.  The first is practical.  It can take a year or more to go through the process and there’s no way I can survive financially without any money coming in.  I live one paycheck from disaster as it is, if the income stopped it would only be a matter of months before I was homeless and starving.  The second is stubbornness.  I refuse to give up.  If I were to quit trying to maintain a career I would be giving into my disease and accepting defeat.  I just can’t… no, I just won’t do that.  There may come a day when it’s just too much to try to fight it anymore, but as long as I can I’m going to keep trying.

Not that there’s anything against anyone being on disability; quite the contrary.  I’m very fortunate that I’m able to keep working in spite of my illness.  But there are those who aren’t as lucky, and those whose illness is so much worse than what I have to deal with.  On the one hand we do live in a society that recognizes that there are illnesses so severe that it’s impossible to live without help.  It’s also a great shame that the amount of help is so limited.  I’m not going to get into a political rant; there’s enough of that going on with the upcoming election.  I believe that blame can’t be given to any particular political party or individual politician.  But it’s my opinion that as a country we give away billions and billions of dollars to help other countries and Peoples, when we aren’t taking care of those who need it at home.  Our mental health systems are woefully underfunded.  Several years ago my State drastically reduced mental health funding with the idea that services would be picked up in the private sector.  Needless to say, that didn’t happen and the result was that thousands of people stopped receiving any care at all.  State funded mental health hospitals were never good places but now they’re being closed down completely.  Even people like myself are neglected.  I cannot afford health insurance.  I’m greatly limited to the types of medications I can take because I can’t pay for the newest (and most expensive) drugs.  But I make too much money to qualify for any help.  And if you’re ‘lucky’ enough to actually get disability, the amount of money available only provides the barest of survival.  I know too many people on disability who are living in near hovels and reduced to eating nothing but the cheapest of foods because they just don’t have the resources for anything more.  I’m not saying that the government is responsible for keeping the disabled in the lap of luxury, but it does seem like with all the wasted resources and foreign aid that our country provides we could do a lot better than we do.  It’s bad enough that we have to live with such a horrible disease; we have to live like paupers too.

I didn’t intend this to turn into an indictment of our society.  But it’s so frustrating to have to deal with the same day to day problems as everyone else, and have to go through such an overwhelming illness at the same time.  And I’m so much better off then so many others who are cursed with this devastating disease.  I’m extremely grateful that I’m able to continue working in spite of everything, even with all the job changes and lost opportunities.  There may very come a day when I’m not able to cope anymore and find myself struggling for the barest of survival.  Who knows?  With the end of this contract I may already be on the verge of catastrophe.

And it’s not just the mentally ill who have been left behind.  There are many other illnesses that keep people from working that have to depend on the meager existence that is available.  Multiple sclerosis, arthritis, cystic fibrosis, fibromyalgia, cancers; there are so many disabling conditions it’s impossible to list them all.  I believe that we, as a people, have failed the ones who need it the most.  We live in the richest country in the world, yet too many of us are reduced to the barest of survival.  As I move into the next phase of my life I need to remember that as bad as it seems, it can always be a lot worse.  I still have the ability, the strength and the will to keep fighting this beast that can so easily destroy me.  There are so many others who are dependent on the limited government support and the charity of others.

And there, but for the grace of God, go I.

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21 Responses to But for the grace of God

  1. Have you found a support group yet that I wrote about last week?

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  2. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

    It’s difficult for people who haven’ gone through what you are going through to totally understand, but God does. Stay encouraged =)

    Like

  3. the seeker57 says:

    By the Grace of God, indeed. Thank God, there are so many support system and it’s no longer a stigma. I took suffers and sing the song “I was born this way” by Lady Gaga. Illness: mental, physical, emotional… it’s a gift from God. All we have to learn is to use it wisely. Write on. God Bless you.

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  4. buddhasal says:

    Your piece was very moving. I couldn’t agree more that there are so many people out there who need assistance and all they get are “turned backs”.

    Life is about living now and dealing with obstacles because that’s life and you’ve decided to win despite the challenges. Congratulations!!!

    NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO..,,,you are living proof of it!!

    Have a FANTASTIC day!!

    Like

  5. buddhasal says:

    Reblogged this on buddhasal's blog and commented:
    Your piece was very moving. I couldn’t agree more that there are so many people out there who need assistance and all they get are “turned backs”.

    Life is about living now and dealing with obstacles because that’s life and you’ve decided to win despite the challenges. Congratulations!!!

    NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO..,,,you are living proof of it!!

    Have a FANTASTIC day!!

    Like

  6. MDawson says:

    May I just say, you are an inspiration. I have been on disability for two years now because of my illness. I also was never able to hold a job for more than a few months, a year at best. I was hospitalized for a breakdown about two and a half years ago and thus began the process of filing for disability. I have been working from home nearly a year now, and it’s the only thing I’m capable of doing. I am in my trial work period right now (I get nine months to work as much as I want.) The only reason I’m working is because my husband and I cannot afford the bills without it. But every job I get (I’m a freelance transcriptionist) is a struggle for me. Even now, I should be working to make sure I meet my deadline, but my focus and concentration are almost non-existent. I’m lucky if I get two posts on my blog per month, despite wanting to write daily (which I usually do, just not on my blog.)

    But for you, despite all you are going through, and even though it is difficult to stay at a job, you still keep pushing yourself. You aren’t letting it push you down so far that you can’t get up. I am in awe of that. I only wish I had half the strength you have to keep going like that.

    I can’t wait to read the rest of your blog.

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  7. MDawson says:

    I also wanted to add that if you are having a problem paying for your medications, you can get an RX card online (I think it’s medsaver.com) and it could save you a lot of money. My medication (I am on Lamictal, 100mg) is over $250 and I only pay $20 for a three month supply. Maybe it could help you out a bit. The right medications make a world of difference. I was on tons of different ones before they found the right ones for me, and once they did, a slight improvement was seen. Unfortunately, I think its effectiveness is wearing off now, but that’s a story for another time. Anyway, good luck to you. And if you need help finding that card, let me know. 🙂

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  8. Such courage is phenomenal! Keep hope alive and it will sure turn out even better than you anticipate.
    Your words, despite your circumstances, are encouraging and full of strength.
    I hope for the best for you. Lovely post and thanks for sharing!

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  9. Some of the greatest leaders in our history were bipolar. I think you would be an amazing leader if given the chance. Keep up the hope and great blogging. I am praying for you and I know that God answers prayers.

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  10. Hi- just found your blog and wanted to reach out and say hello 🙂 I am relatively knew at this blog thing so not sure is this appropriate? Kinda feels like I am knocking on a strangers door two blocks over- and my internal 8 year old says will they want to know me? Will I like them? Eek what if they don’t like me ——:(
    WTF – I’ve been ran away before- what’s the worst you can do? Hmmm I won’t go there let’s focus instead on can we be friends? Can I help you or you me?
    I have fought similar battles for different reasons and have moved beyond it but I thought you might find some of my blogs helpful and wanted to invite you to come visit, have a figurative cup o tea so to speak maybe a lil chat 🙂
    Maybe— maybe not- it’s all up to you– such is life- what ill you make it once you reach the summit of the mountain that stands before you….
    Hope to hear back from you-
    Sincerely,

    Loneheron

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  11. jpruettpoole says:

    I started following your blog about a week ago and I have to let you know that every post I’ve read has ended on a note full of hope for me. My mom is bipolar, so I understand how detrimental the illness can be, but I feel I don’t completely understand her, who she is. So, I am hoping that through your writings I can relate to her a little bit better. Thank you for carrying on.

    Like

  12. Mom says:

    The system for helping people with mental disabilities is broken. Health insurance sometimes covers mental health issues, but usually only so many treatments per year, as though a person can choose whether or not to need a doctor or therapist. Depending upon your location, social security disability will usually allow a person to get their meds covered by the state medical card even if they are not eligible for cash because of income. This varies.

    I have a son with severe autism. He was on SSI and didn’t get cash because of our income, which was just above guidelines, but he got a medical card that covered meds and therapy. It’s one of those things that you could look into, it might relieve some worries to have a safety net. I am bipolar, too, and have an eating disorder and SAD, which turns into “OMG these kids are HOME for three months???” in the summer.

    . I don’t talk about it, I don’t admit it, but I think that most people know already. Losing and regaining 120 pounds might just have been a clue.

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  13. You are brave and you are strong. I admire you and wish you well, day by day.

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  14. Rossi says:

    I am profoundly moved by your thoughts and really appreciate you sharing them. Your strength is an inspiration … Kia Kaha … this is a much loved New Zealand Maori expression meaning ‘Stay strong’

    Like

  15. wildechilde67 says:

    Going through the fresh pressed blogs and saw your blog mentioned, and I had to check you out. I admire the courage you have in sharing your experiences. An old friend of my was diagnosed more then a decade ago now, and I know the pain of watching someone you love struggle with this …but I can not know how it feels from the inside. I lost touch with him when he went up north to his family. I think of him often, and miss him deeply. Thank you for sharing.

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  16. pajarigirls says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience, strength, and hope. It was just the push I needed today 🙂 Best of luck,

    Like

  17. lilyboat says:

    Just wanted to cheer you on! I’ve lived the same story. With God’s help, we will survive till the end!

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  18. marci2125 says:

    Your courage and writings are very inspirational and moving. Best of luck to you. I have just come across your blogs and I will continue to follow your success and determination. Thank you so much for giving me hope.

    Like

  19. heranchor says:


    Your honesty is beautiful and amazing and admirable.

    Your writing, your thoughts, YOU<—- are amazing. And I meant that.

    I am just a random passerby who stumbled upon your blog today… and I will look forward to hearing about you and your future posts Every Single Day.

    I am adding you to my favorite bloggers list.

    Continue to write. Continue your honesty. And praise God for people like YOU.

    sincerely,
    heranchor

    Like

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