Today was my disability hearing.
I was terrified.
My attorney had me to his office last week to explain what would happen, what would be expected of me, how to dress, how to address the judge and the role of the Vocational Technical Analyst. I hated that analyst from the moment I heard about him. He listens to the testimony and then the judge asks him, based on a “hypothetical” patients symptoms and needs, what work is available for that person in the marketplace. “Button Sorter” tends to be a big one around here. I don’t know why. I don’t think there is a button factory anywhere local.
I spent the weekend frustrated, agitated, anxious, depressed and generally annoyed. What was I going to say? How was I going to explain this mess of mental illness in a way that would satisfy the judge? I soon realized that there was no way I could prepare. I wasn’t allowed to bring notes with me and any speech I crafted would be forgotten by the time I would have the opportunity to give it.
So, I chose to have faith in my attorney. He said that if there was anything I missed or anything he thought I should cover more fully, he would ask those questions on redirect.
So today my husband and I went to the Social Security building for the hearing. As I began to speak, things got a little easier. Yes, I can give an example of rage. Yes, I can give multiple examples of my forgetfulness and lack of concentration. Yes, I can talk about my need to isolate when rage or depression or unwarranted sadness reared their heads. Yes, I could talk about my inability to get out of bed because of depression, my ultradian cycling and the side effects of my medications.
Then the moment I had been dreading. The Judge gave the Vocational Analyst the problems of that “hypothetical” patient (that patient we all knew was me) and asked if there were any jobs in the American Job Marketplace that this patient could do. And the answer was an immediate “no”.
I think that means I win. They can’t deny me if there are no suitable jobs for me right?
It’s not official, it won’t be for at least a month or two, but I won. I freaking won! Two years of stress and feeling less then useful because I’m not bringing in any money was over with that “no”. My attorney confirmed that the judge told him she would be approving my claim.
There is a monumental weight that has been taken off my shoulder. There will be no more obnoxious denial letters from the SSA. There is no more fretting that I’m not contributing financially to our home. And there is no more waiting for and working towards an uncertain goal. It’s done. I’m free.
What this has also done is freed me with my blog. It has freed me on Facebook. I can talk about my life. I can talk about my struggles. I can advocate, which is something I desperately want to try to do. And it’s ok that it’s my real name out there. I have changed to my real name on this blog. I have changed my Gravatar to a picture of me.
My name is Leslie Bracken and I have Bipolar Disorder 1, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder with OCD tendencies, Panic Disorder with Agoraphobic Tendencies and Borderline Personality Disorder Traits.
And this is what I look like.
Thank you to all of you for your support during this long and arduous journey. For those of you currently in this fight, do not give up hope.