My eldest cat, who is eighteen, is blind. She screams all day. I say “screams” and not “meows” because it is usually not her standard meow, but instead a howling caterwaul that sounds like how I sometimes feel when I post to this blog. It is blood curdling and, frankly, nerve-fraying. I do my best to soothe her. I make sure she isn’t hungry or thirsty, I make sure she doesn’t have to use the litter box. I pet her, talk to her, sing to her, kiss her on top of the head. Any fix I try lasts for approximately 10 seconds. And then it’s right back to Scream Time. So basically everything I am doing lately is with this backdrop of abject feline misery.
If that’s not enough to make me feel not so good at the life thing, clips are not doing well at all this month. I mean, generally speaking I am not pulling in much from them, but every little bit helps and some months are better than others. I am pretty sure that other people doing this are better at it in one way or many and make significantly better bank than I, because I don’t see anyone besides myself doing this for long without much reward. Why then do I do it for not much reward, and for as long (excuse me, fucking long) as I have? It takes a long time to recover from a psychotic break, first off. Secondly, systems are not set up so that one can easily be weaned off of them, particularly when said systems are set up only for subsistence and not for leveling up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Spending every day scrambling to do better sucks up a lot of focus.
Not that this will stand in my way. I am stubborn. And though some may believe that hope is a pipe dream, I still see value in it. It is the fuel that keeps me going. The hope that with enough focus, enough effort, even with the bullshit obstacles that stand between me and the serious improvement of my situation, I can overcome. Some may say that my hope is directed toward something ‘too good to be true’. That it’s overshooting to imagine that I could go from what I do now to what I want to do. To that I say, it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t have a choice.
I got started on this road because I lost my job due to mental illness, which violates the ADA – but I didn’t know about the ADA, and I didn’t know that I could apply for Social Security Disability. At that time, I had enough credits. I was absolutely eligible. But my husband, who loved letting everyone know what a Socialist to the Nth Degree he was, didn’t bother to tell me about these two things. I just figured, well, I have to do something to earn a living. And so I did. I I pulled something out of thin air, rather than get assistance from the government. Who knows, had I pursued the idea that the government could help me, what might have happened had I applied for SSDI at that time. I would have gone down a completely different road. I would have had access to needed medication, I would not have worked in jobs where I got no SSDI credit, I would not have met the person who put a gun to my face and who would eventually hold me against my will and assault me in numerous ways. A lot would have been different. A few things might be much better. A couple of things would be missing from my life though, and the people that I now treasure, I would not know. So you know, it evens out. In fact, interpersonally, I come out far ahead. I am lucky, and grateful for that fact.
But, because I worked instead of applying for disability at that time, I am now a “lifer” on a much lower, less survivable form of disability assistance. That is, unless I can pull off the rabbit in the hat trick. Some may think it’s not feasible. But some didn’t think it was feasible that I would be able to rehab myself to the point I am now at, post-psychotic break. One therapist even went so far as to say, “You will never be happy. You will be lucky if you are able to function at all.”
Yeah, she probably should not be a therapist.
There are still some speed bumps, even if the road turns out to be mostly smooth, which is a big even to throw in there. I am still inconsistent in a lot of things, though I try to work on this fact daily. I have a lot of ups and downs and bursts and dearths of energy. Sometimes my brain is a really scary place in which to hang out. And sometimes I get stuck in the past, because there is just so much of it that was traumatic and hurtful and confusing, and because I am trying to unravel all the wrong things I learned and replace them with correct things.
I read a tweet yesterday that nearly knocked the wind out of me, it was so resonant. It was about being just intelligent enough and just high-functioning enough for people to glance over and assume that any sort of difficulty a person was having with things like organization or going places or communicating or what-have-you was not due to illness or disorder – in this case ADHD, which I also have – but to be difficult out of spite. I can’t even tell you how many times that has happened to me. How many times people have summed me up incorrectly and figured, “Oh, well if she can do THAT, then she can also do THIS, and she JUST DOESN’T WANT TO.” In fact, shortly after my psychotic break – which lasted four months before anyone even thought that maybe my bizarre behavior was a sign that something had gone terribly wrong in my brain – my mom said to me, “That stuff was all just because you were mad at me, wasn’t it?”
She wasn’t saying that out of any kind of cruelty or anything, she just did not understand, having been born in the times of Walk It Off or Be Lobotomized. She listened when I explained that it was mental illness, not spite, that caused me to behave as I did. But a lot of people don’t listen, and they don’t believe. Some of these people are actually doctors. But present as high-functioning and you can be easily labeled as attention-seeking or worse, a malingerer.
Whatever, though. In the end, all of this is a bunch of words, and I will be aided mostly by action. And that action is learning to code. I have achieved a total of seven certificates so far, but only one of them recently – the first six were from a false start two years ago. Still, this one cert is a big deal for me, and now I am trying to figure out something I was never taught – how to set goals, and create a logical daily plan of steps to achieve them. We shall see how that goes.
In the meantime, I am doing the best I can as I can grab time to focus on it. It can be frustrating, because sometimes the free site I am using leaves important info out and then gives you a problem to do that utilizes the info they left out and it feels like you are expected to just magically “know” it. It is really easy to say, “I’m not cut out for this”, but the thing is – I am.
I am cut out for this. I believe I can do it. I do not know how long it will take. I do not know if it will result in my super-hoped-for goal of a really good job. But I am finally using my mind again, and that feels so amazing, and so right.
There is a place within each of us, no matter how stressed, no matter how crazy, where the judgement of others at long last falls away, and we feel most ourselves. The trick is finding out how to access it.
What can you do today that will help you access that place?