Living and Working with Disability

During this past year, I sought out and was granted a disability accommodation at my job. My work is about to start back up after a natural break and I am filled with constant dread. I’ve searched for years for an alternative to working where I do and I’ve concluded that my disability (primarily PTSD but other issues as well) is so severe that I may need to seek permanent disability status. If I knew that I would be granted this if I sought it and that it wouldn’t be taken away from me, I would have applied for it yesterday. That’s how difficult it is for me to make it through each day at my job.

I am about a decade and a half from the earliest at which I could potentially retire with some benefits. I cannot imagine how I can possibly get through this as I feel that I’ve been running on fumes for the past three to four years and am about to coast to a full stop. The triggers that are present at my job are constant and intense and, as such, they overwhelm my capacity to cope. I’ve had time off and have done nothing but worry about what is to come in the next year; even away from it, my job consumes nearly all of my mental and emotional energy. Coming out as trans and non-binary has only escalated the situation and increased the likelihood of triggering situations.

I feel less stuck now that I’ve come to accept the reality that there isn’t another type of job that would alleviate my symptoms. I both can’t do my job and I’m choosing to do my job for right now as I weigh the pros and cons of applying for disability. I do not feel any shame about getting to this place, but it is bewildering to think back to my early 20’s where I never would have imagined I would be at this place (in fairness, I was frequently suicidal so I often saw no future at all for myself during that time).

I’ve told people again and again that getting up each day and taking care of food and shelter has felt as though it has taken everything I have in me, but I didn’t actually hear what I was saying because I couldn’t imagine a world where I wasn’t forced into an impossibly stressful and overwhelming experience every workday. I’ve significantly reduced my commitment at my job to the bare minimum of full-time work; in doing so, I’ve given up tens of thousands in income every year. This change has helped but, when a person is running on fumes, pushing with less intensity on the gas pedal still uses up whatever fuel remains.

I would be extremely grateful to read about your experiences if you’ve been on disability or thought about pursuing it. There are so many stereotypes and judgments about “not working” and I’ve definitely fallen for them myself for far too long. It took a lot for me to apply for disability accommodations and I regret not going down that path earlier, so I want to keep an open mind about my options now as well.

Indulge in Self-Care (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

As a person affected by multiple chronic physical and mental health conditions, including trigemnial neuralgia, complex PTSD, neck and arm radiculopathy and an undiagnosed systemic illness that has left me dehydrated and exhausted after multiple episodes last night that included digestive distress, fainting and low body temperature, I have no spoons to give today. The daily chores that must be completed to keep me fed and my house cleaned seem significantly more insurmountable than they do when my physical state is healthier. Taking time to engage in a simple pleasure on a day like today is another task rather than a bright moment of joy, but I felt determined to persist as I know giving up when I feel like this will only restart a cycle of depression.

As I use my Simple Pleasures cards, I am giving myself permission to adjust their instructions to a certain extent. Today’s draw was actually to buy up to five dollars in lottery tickets, but I know the excited anticipation they could perhaps bring would be missing with me feeling as sick as I am. Instead, I decided to use the money to buy myself flowers, which have a coalescence connotation which feels appropriate to my current state. I like the fact that they will last at least half a week and will continue to uplift my spirit as they fully blossom. Everyone deserves to have the ability to engage in self-care when they are feeling down; I am grateful for the privilege of being able to do so for myself.