I have been on disability for the past four years. My last job was through the federal government, which has its own disability safety net — basically, if health problems render a federal employee unable to work for an extended period, the government provides a fraction of her former salary plus access to health insurance at employee rates.
On its face, this may sound like the best deal ever — money without any requirement to work!??!? I’ll admit that when I first stopped working, visions of endless craft projects danced through my head. In fact, Two Wishes began as a craft blog, back before the distractions of engagement, wedding blogging, and baby. But there are two problems with this supposedly sweet deal.
One, I’m too sick to enjoy it. The dream projects never happened because my energy was already spent on the basics of daily living, or I had another migraine, or I was too brain-fried to think straight. And that was before the baby came along — now she claims all available energy, and even those “basics of daily living” take a back seat. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, showers? Sometimes, but less often than I care to admit. Less immediate needs? I’m still working on action items — important action items — from two years ago. Personal projects? Never gonna happen.
Two, the constant parade of tasks undone lays waste to my self-esteem. The failures are generally small, but failure is more common than success. I try to put a good spin on things, but the fact remains that once I was a functioning human being and now I am not. Before the government would grant me disability, it had to investigate and declare me unable to do my job. My supervisors had to swear that I couldn’t meet even the most basic requirements of showing up regularly and producing minimally acceptable work. I went into that job a high-achieving perfectionist with sterling credentials, and I left a declared incompetent. And that was before baby, when I was at least vacuuming and bathing regularly! I’m usually blessed with an optimistic outlook, but it’s a struggle to keep up my self-esteem when life is a long series of unmet expectations.
Here is the problem with Unfinished Posts Month — often the posts are unfinished because I have no easy wrap-up for the thoughts. Nice if I could tie this together into a deep thought or lesson for living, but life isn’t always that neat. And I’ve never been good at writing conclusions. So, yeah … long story short: disabling illness can make you feel bad about yourself. The End.