Years ago, shortly after I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and was hospitalized for my second manic episode, I was considered disabled and approved for Social Security. I’m not the one who signed myself up for it. A social worker got my parents to sign me up when I was 19. My episode was severe. Before this episode, I was working at the same job for over a year and putting in 50 hours a week. I worked ten days back to back and then someone assaulted me. It triggered a manic episode, and I had a lot of anger. But I also wasn’t on medication at the time.
During my hospitalization, I was put back on meds, stronger ones and more of them. I can’t even remember all the medications I’ve tried. I became a zombie. I was very confused. I couldn’t do the things I used to be good at. I didn’t know black from white anymore.
For years I was on disability. It wasn’t much. Eventually I started working part time to supplement my income. My dad was my payee and he discouraged me from working too much, because then I would lose my benefits. I felt like I would never go anywhere in life. I didn’t have a college degree, so I worked retail. I turned down hours for a while but eventually accepted a promotion to management that included full time hours. During this time I was taking a medication that worked, and also in a committed relationship with a supportive partner. Eventually my job became too toxic and the low wages weren’t worth it, so I quit and got a better job. This time I got paid more to work in an office.
The office job lasted a couple years until there were mass layoffs due to the economy. Then I went back to college. It had been years since I pulled out of school due to my first manic episode. When I went back, I was surprised that I was able to get straight A’s again. I was a good student when I was younger, but I wasn’t sure if I could still do it. Turns out, I could. I was fortunate enough to be able to go to school full time and not work. I was afraid that if I had to work through school, I would get overwhelmed and it might trigger an episode. I notice that when I’m overworked and over-scheduled, manic episodes tend to happen.
I graduated college a few years ago, with honors. I was able to secure a competitive full-time job in the field I majored in. But it wasn’t what it was cracked up to be. I stopped taking bipolar meds because my doctor said I wasn’t disabled and I wasn’t bipolar. I thought if you are bipolar, it’s for life, but she said I must have been misdiagnosed before I started seeing her. I mentioned this in a previous post. After going off meds, I started to slip, due to many factors.
I didn’t work for awhile and now I’m trying once again to put my life back together. It isn’t easy. I envy people whose lives never got off track. Sometimes I feel like my best just isn’t good enough. Everyday things that most people are able to do, are hard for me. Just taking care of my basic needs is difficult. I can feel judgmental vibes from some of my coworkers, who don’t know my whole story. It’s not their business anyway. It’s not easy to stay positive all the time.
I know I have come a long way despite having setbacks. I imagine how far I could go if I had never had those setbacks. Perhaps I could have a successful career by now, instead of always having to start over at the beginning.
2 thoughts on “Trying to Rise Above”
Similar story. I finally applied for disability at 31 after becoming so numb I had to take medical leave to have ECT several times a week. After 2 years I finally saw a judge, and the one thing that made my case is that despite the best care bipolar is a chronic and volatile disease, and I simply couldn’t be relied on to not just disappear from work one day. Now I work part time doing something I love and have time for self care, appts, therapy, and the occasional day to crawl into a blanket fort and hide out. It’s hard not to push myself further.
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Hi @BPinBloom, I’m glad you got approved for disability and are able to do what you love and have time for the things you need and love to do. Being bipolar is a challenge!