“When you hear the word ‘disabled,’ people immediately think about people who can’t walk or talk or do everything that people take for granted. Now, I take nothing for granted. But I find the real disability is people who can’t find joy in life and are bitter.” -Teri Garr
As I reflect back on my day, I think I’m happy.
How did this happen?
I woke up this morning with a lot of pent-up anxious energy. I sat on the couch perseverating for about three hours when I realized that I just better do something, so I started cooking. I prepared cinnamon apple steel cut oats in the crockpot (I had wanted to make them last night but was too tired) and then I chopped up all my remaining vegetables, threw in some other ingredients that were laying around the kitchen and tossed it with a quick homemade tahini dressing that I had wanted to make.
I made some changes to my “Adult Function Report” needed for disability, which I printed out, and then I put my shoes away, got dressed, tidied up my bathroom, and then changed the cat box.
I drove to my therapist’s office and for the first time I did not nearly have a panic attack on the I-85 connector.
I told my therapist about how anxious I was about the stupid disability review and how I kept on comparing myself to other people I know. She reminded me that the relapse actually is a good thing, as far as disability is concerned. I decided that the next thing I needed to do was to fax the forms, so that I wouldn’t have to think about it anymore. My therapist told me that she would like for me to have more compassion towards myself. I shouldn’t beat myself up for a relapse that happened due to a trauma outside of my control. That this is the longest I’ve ever been out of the hospital, that I was able to keep my job, and that I listened to my treatment team and followed their suggestions instead of being impulsive and making the situation even worse.
That was helpful.
I posted what my therapist had told me on Facebook. I needed some validation and figured this was a safe way to get some.
I went to Kinko’s and faxed the SSDI paperwork.
I went to Sam Flax and they did not have the brand of paint pens I wanted.
I went to Dick Blick and they did not have the brand of paint pens I wanted. I remembered that it is not the cashier’s fault that they do not carry what I want and held myself back from being rude and instead thanked him for trying. That’s actually a pretty big deal - in the past, I would have been rude and loudly complained.
Finally learning, I CALLED Binders before going to the store. They also did not have the brand that I wanted but they were able to order some over the phone.
I went to Sprouts. Except for the bananas, everything I bought was with electronic coupons. That really was a proud moment, as I had almost ordered from Instacart this morning. To order from Instacart, I would have needed to order at least $35 worth of food and I told myself that it is silly to make yourself order $35 worth of food when all you really need is Greek yogurt and bananas. As I was checking out, I checked my FaceBook feed and became a little teary after seeing all the words of encouragement from my friends.
My anxiety finally started to diminish after saving the money on groceries.
When I got home at 6:30pm, I put another set of paperwork in the mailbox.
*BIG SIGH OF RELIEF*
The disability paperwork is out of my hands and head now.
I was greeted with hot cinnamon apple steel cut oats. I put some in a bowl and stirred in some peanut butter for protein.
Then I put in some coconut ice cream and ginger snaps with the steel cut oats and nearly had an orgasm. I sat down on the couch in utter delight and savored the food that I had made.
My roommate came home and I offered her some of the steel cut oats, which she enjoyed. I figured out how to get Showtime to stream on our Roku in order for us to keep up with the latest season of Shameless.
That is a top priority for us.
We watched an episode of Family Feud together and I realized that I was genuinely happy and content.
It would be great if I had just woken up happy but that is not often reality. Today I worked hard and I feel satisfied. I won’t have this amount of energy every day, so I am glad to take it when I can.
I don’t really have a moral to this story. While I know I worked hard today, none of that would have been possible without the support of my therapist, family, and friends, without nutritious food and without the medications that ensured that I slept well last night. I am aware that if I had kids I would not be well. Everything is so precarious for me - when people tell me how “mentally healthy” I am, I have to remind them that I also do not have children, a romantic relationship, or a job that pays all my bills. I have a disability and if I have figured out how to have some peace, it is not without a cost. I do not say this to make anyone feel bad or to make myself feel bad.
It is what it is.
I think I wrote this just to say that lately I have come to realize that I want a peaceful life.
That’s it. That’s my goal.
I don’t wish for a lot of money or a prestigious position. I don’t wish for marriage or kids. I don’t even wish to be self-supporting, although all of those things would, of course, be wonderful.
I just want peace from my incessant anxiety.
The world measures our lives through the lens of productivity and monetary wealth. It measures our lives by how well we conform to the “norms” and by those standards I don’t do so well.
But I’ve got a purring kitty beside me, warm food in my belly, supportive friends, and the knowledge that I did all I could. I feel pretty rich in the things that matter to me and I guess that’s all that really, truly matters. I may not have made it by society’s yardstick and yet I have created for myself a life I consider worth living.
When I tell my story, so many parents want the end of my story to be that I work full-time and am completely independent, but that is not my story.
My story is that even after how hard I work, I still need the support of many people, including financial help from both the government and my parents still as I approach middle age.
I guess I just want to say that there can be blessings found in disability. If I had everything else but was not content, would any of it really matter?
Maybe. Maybe not.
It is nice to give up striving and when I start comparing myself to others who appear more "successful" I remind myself that my goal is to experience peace and that may not be their goal. I look at all the people that strive and strive and still aren't content. I am not always content but I'm better than I used to be. That is enough for today.