Riding the Wave ... And the Trough

I am mentally ill, diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I, OCD, ADHD, PTSD and a vitamin B12 deficiency (a key element in brain development). For over 12 years, I took anywhere from 5-8 psychotropic meds each day, and have been recently giving myself a monthly injection of B12.

In January 2012 I was hospitalized for depression, and management of my currrent med cocktail. Immediately all but two of my meds were discontinued and, after a few weeks of adjustment, and some near hospitalizations, things seem to be going much better.

I have been on permanent disability since January 2010, and am adjusting to life on a very limited income.

My prayer is that in walking with me during the ups and downs of Bipolar Disorder, you might find solace, and benefit through my experiences.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Forms, Forms and More Forms

Well, the good news is that I was approved for disability through my employer, the United Methodist Church. From the beginning to the end, the process was quick and painless; really! Once I notified my DS, the church, both at the Conference and General level, took off running. All I had to do was fill out and sign the form they sent, and they pushed the process along. I have worked for a number of large corporations, and their unwritten policy was, "Once you're gone, you're gone ... and forgotten about".

However, the other processes are another story, and can be divided into two areas; social security disability and financial protection.

Getting approval for Social Security disability is a difficult, involved and time-consuming process. Once the initial paperwork is submitted, they schedule two or more doctor appointments for you. I'm not really sure of the purpose of these visits, although I imagine it is to make a preliminary determination as to if you actually have, to some degree, the health issues that you claim. I often leave asking myself, "What in the world did that accomplish"?

The entire process of applying, doctor appointments, responding to inquiries and waiting, waiting waiting can take, so I am told, anywhere from 5-8 months, or more. Nearly 3/4 are denied the first time, since they need to make certain that 1) the disability fits their criteria and 2) you really have that disability. If denied, you can appeal up to three times, the third time being before a judge. I imagine that this person actually seeing the candidate could be helpful.

On nearly all of the loans I've taken out I also bought "payment protection", a policy that protects the person owing the money by either making the payments for them (with no interest) for a specific time period, until the loan is paid off  or actually pay off the loan in full up front. Each one of these requires a significant amount of paperwork, application and approval process and medical paperwork verifying the illness and dates of the illness. I am about half way through the process (about five), with only one rejection - which should be approved after an additional letter from my pDoc.

All in all, I must say that the process isn't all that bad. To apply for disability, you do need to be disabled, if for no other reason than to have the time to fill out all of the forms. And you have to keep good records, because there is occasion when someone will lose a copy of this, or require another copy of that, and having those on hand can be a life saver.

Throughout this process God has blessed us, and given us much more than we deserve. With all of my heart I tell you that none of this would have been possible without Him; He has watched out for us, kept us from making foolish mistakes and provided for us when the need was there. We try to do our part by following Him in prayer and devotion, but it's His plan, and we are honored to be a part.

Let me share one little story before I close, to let you know the miracles God can perform in our lives, if we simply let Him have control. I call this my "literary miracle".

About 15 years ago, I was Environmental/Safety Director of a large silicone-manufacturing plant in Amish country in northeast Indiana. One Saturday afternoon, my wife and I went to a Salvation Army store, and one item I purchased was a small booklet, "My Heart, Christ's Home", printed in the 40's. I fell in love with it; it was a story of how your home has separate compartments, like rooms, and Jesus wants to clean each one.

The following Monday, I took the booklet to work, sharing it with everyone who would listen. Throughout the morning I showed it to everyone I knew, and a few people that I didn't. Later in the morning one person I told was especially interested and, feeling that I needed to, but saddened by the thought, I gave it to her. I was truly heartbroken; as far as I knew, that was the last copy, never to be reprinted.

At noon I drove to the local Christian bookstore, my heart burdened with the book I my never see again. When I walked in, the store owner, who is a friend, grabbed me by the arm and hustled me to the back of the store. She was so excited. She had received a shipment of books in that morning, and told me, "I received a book today that I know you would love. I thought of you when I first laid eyes on it, and I won't think of selling you a copy. I am going to give you one."

 She reached behind a workbench and handed me a NEW copy of, you guessed it, "My Heart, Christ's Home". She gave me a copy of the very same book I had reluctantly given up no more than 2 hours earlier. There is no other way to explain this without using the words "miracle" and "God" and "blessing". This was a true gift from God; plain and simple. Whenever my faith wavers, or I question, I simply reflect on this gift of God, and I'm right back on track.

It also turns out that the time when I gifted the booklet and the delivery to the bookstore were the same. Isn't God wonderful!!!!

Until the next time.


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