Daily Archives: January 13, 2014

SSDI Prep – Things I Can No Longer Do

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the fact that my SSDI hearing is coming up quickly means that the main topic on my mind is… the social security hearing!

Today I’ll be playing off my last social security update where I mentioned a list of things I need to get together before the hearing. The list is as follows:

1. Keep a diary
2. Make a list of things you used to do but can no longer do
3. Make a list of medications
4. Write out a description of your job duties of your former jobs
5. Meet with your lawyer

So I’m already on that diary bit, as I mentioned before. It has been getting easier to bare my soul in my notebook, and I am trying to be as candid as possible to be as transparent as I can about my symptoms and how they effect my life.

Next up on the list is to make a list of things I used to do but can no longer do.

I imagine that for someone with a physical disability, this would be rather straightforward. What about for me?

The biggest trouble I have with this task is that most of the time it seems like our government considers a disability to be something that suddenly happens to someone in one fell swoop. One suddenly becomes disabled under this system, and when considering mental health, things often aren’t that simple.

I’ve had symptoms of bipolar disorder for over ten years. The moment at which I am choosing to consider my “date of disability” is the last time I was hospitalized and my employer fired me. Though I’ve worked somewhat since then, I have not been able to reach a level of employment I was at previously and couldn’t stay employed at any one job for longer than two months.

So… even though my bipolar (and anxiety) symptoms have reached a point where I can no longer keep working at a full time pace, I’ve had evidence of symptoms for years prior to that.

It is all kind of a gray area.

Despite not knowing the exact moment I began having ridiculous paranoia about imaginary things my friends are doing, this is obviously still an issue… so I tried to think of specific incidences that have happened over the course of the last year or two that I could build my list with. Here is a taste of what I came up with, things I could do before that I can’t seem to do now:

  • Go out after dark (with friends, support groups, on dates, or walking the dog) without experiencing paranoia
  • Ride in a quiet car or bus without having a panic attack
  • Listen to music (including in waiting rooms, grocery stores) or attend a show without experiencing severe mood swings
  • Sit comfortably in a group (friends, co-workers, weaving guild events) without feeling anxious or paranoid
  • Commit to plans (with friends, family, or appointments) and follow through
  • Feel motivated and focused when doing creative projects (weaving, drawing, painting, writing etc.)
  • Work or socialize past 8pm (partially a side effect of the medication and partially sleep issues)
  • Feel motivated to leave my apartment
  • Go without accusing my friends or boyfriend of doing things they didn’t do
  • Be able to rely on myself to use tools for projects including knives, razor blades, power tools, scissors, etc. without fear of impulsive self-harm or suicide attempts
  • Be able to follow through with calling friends to make plans

There’s a brief smattering. I still have a bit of time, so I am kind of just adding to the list as I go.

The problems I have with work are largely social, combined with my inability to work consistently at any given time. This list, however, is more about the way my life has been impacted outside of being unable to work, how my daily routine might be effected by bipolar disorder and anxiety.

I’m just hoping this will seem as signifiant to my lawyer and judge as it does to me.