Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Short Term Disability

Five and a half years ago my Mother decided to blow up our life.

I'd stopped responding to abuse in the ways she'd trained me to. CK had seen through the mirage, catching my Mother being emotionally & verbally abusive to me.

I think it was the moment, as movers were trying to remove her things from our home, when we were informed her bed frame had bedbugs, that something just snapped. I was crying. CK was laughing.

The last straw fell in that moment and all my careful juggling and managing of my mental health over the years just stopped working.

In November 2014 I took what I thought was a month of Family Medical Leave. We were moving my Mother out of the house and I wanted to be free of the considerable distraction of my job, a job the often demanded 50-60 hours a work. Work often at night, weekends, on holidays, etc.

In December I was out on short-term disability. In February 2015 I wanted to extend it 6 months. Three members of my healthcare team, including my doctor, my PMHNP, and my trauma therapist, all were urging this. All, my doctor emphatically so, told me I needed to leave not just my toxic job, but my whole tech career.

At the time a strong breeze would cause me to dissolve into weeping. I'd lay on the sofa with our dog, blanket pulled over us both, crying. I attempted to go to a job interview to get out of my job and not go back, but I nearly threw up in the parking lot. This attempt at an interview, plus the fourth member of my healthcare team involved, sank my request for an extension of benefits.

The CBT therapist I'd been seeing for several years agreed that I should just leave tech and teach yoga, become a yoga therapist. It would be so much better for me. Despite this, when she got the paperwork to extend my short-term disability, she refused to confirm that my PTSD was trigged to the point of weeping on the sofa with the dog for hours at a time.

In our last session she said to me, "If I give you this diagnosis it will enable you to not try. Besides, your wife has a good job, you'll be fine without continued disability payments."

I still cannot believe I paid her for that session. I walked out of it.

I was reflecting on this on Twitter this week, in a thread about things that folks with disabilities run into. It was so destabilizing to my health, to CK's well-being. It put so much stress on her to take care of it all.

I was able to get unemployment insurance, I had to jump through several hoops to get it. I had to convince them, having a panic attack in front of my case manager probably didn't hurt, that I wasn't cleared to do a job search for tech jobs. I was ONLY cleared to search for yoga instruction.

I got classified as a "dislocated" worker. I was able to get full benefits for the maximum length of time. I was also put into a program that helped me create my business plan for transitioning into yoga therapy.

One of the things that's been filled with grief for me, even as there is so much success to celebrate, is how I've spent nearly the past 6 years rebuilding my life after a mental health breakdown. I built a whole new career and was getting established.

Now COVID. Now protests continuing. Russia still meddling in our elections.

There's so much grief and anger.

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