Something finally happened. No verdict has been reached in my social security disability case, but at least my case has been acknowledged.
I am someone who has a very difficult time talking on the phone to people I don’t know. I get really severe anxiety in many situations, anything from calling my workplace (in the past), to making a doctor’s appointment, to even ordering a pizza. I don’t know what it is, but that anxiety has left me having panic attacks (both about the prospect of talking on the phone as well as talking on the phone itself) on more than one occasion.
That said, I think you can understand that if I knew someone from the social security office was going to call me, I would have been a mess. I suppose at that rate, not knowing was a little bit helpful, but I was totally and completely thrown off when I got the call.
Then came the actual talking. The man on the other end of the receiver had questions about my condition. He wanted me to recount why I had lost my last job, how severe my symptoms were, and then (to my surprise) he asked about chronic headaches -something he was reading about in my medical files.
The bits about bipolar disorder I really think I can understand for the most part. Reflecting on being off my rocker in October is much less embarrassing now that I’ve had some time to really think it over, and I’ve had this blog to help me piece it all together.
The chronic headaches I have, however, are a different story entirely. I found myself at a loss for words, really unable to describe what neither myself (nor the doctors) understand. My head hurts, is really all I can tell you, and it hurts every day. Some days I can’t function because of it, other days I just push through. Subjective, yes, I know.
I don’t know if it was my anxiety or the man I had the conversation with or if I was just blanking out sporadically, but I have a vague recollection that I only answered half of the questions he asked. He was talking fast, my responses were slow, and I recall not having answered many of the questions before me moved on to the next.
That fact left my stomach in a series of painful knots as soon as I hung up the phone, and I spent the next two days fretting over what had taken place. Was I helpful to my case? Had I hurt my chances by not talking faster and answering more? I didn’t even know someone was going to call me! If I had known I could have prepared!
But… maybe they don’t want people too prepared. That could be part of it.
This whole thing has been very elusive and tricky and, at times, difficult to understand. Who are these people who decide who is disabled enough to warrant federal aid? I’d like to believe they are fresh, bright people with a substantial desire to help others… but I’m sure that is just brazen optimism on my part.
It is hard to willingly put yourself in a position where people are judging you without having mixed emotions I think. Feeling hopeful but defensive really leaves one open to having their feelings hurt.
In any case, I decided to stop thinking about it because the initial denial rate for SSDI is so high (and I certainly expect to be denied initially) that my awkward phone conversation couldn’t have really hurt me in the long run.
I know there is still a long way to go on this thing, but the best I can do is move forward and not allow it to drive me (entirely) crazy.