Today I am feeling very "blah", hence the title. I'm having a very hard time getting myself motivated to do much of anything. There is a lot running through my mind about what needs done and what I should do, but it's just not happening today. These days are more common for me since my TBI, but I know they happen to everyone. So, for all you out there who are having a "blah" day too, make the most of it! Be mindful and live in the moment. Enjoy all that is going on around you, take a deep breath, and exhale. It's a good day to be alive.
To say it has been a long couple of weeks would be an understatement. The retirement board chose to deny my retirement, based off of a check marked on a list, regardless of the doctor's opinion. They proceeded to assure me it was due to the fact that they had to follow the way legislation dictates, regardless of whether or not I am actually fit to do my job. To summarize it, as I understand it, is that if I were not able to do my job due to a physical disability, I would have received my retirement pension. However, since my disability is deemed a mental illness, (regardless of the fact that it has occurred and then exacerbated as a result of TBI), I do not qualify for the same rights. I was advised that the opinion of, the quack psychologist (my own description), was not taken into consideration and that his report was for the psychiatrist to review (discussed in my prior blog).
I sat in front of a group of 5 people on a board, while they essentially judged me. My husband was sick, so my mother accompanied me. And thank goodness, too. I started having a panic attack as I was walking into the waiting area. It was a bad one. I really don't know what triggered it, other than the stress I was feeling- and this was BEFORE they denied me. I believe that the worst part, was that they asked me if there was anything I wanted to say. This would normally be a good thing, but I felt humiliated. I do not recall everything I said to them, but I was emotional (not a shocker since my last TBI) and I let them know a fraction of what I was going through when I was at work- to include the type of panic attack I was having at the time. The part that upset me was that it did not matter what I had to say. They had already decided. This was the humiliating part. What did they even ask me for? To put it on record that I now have a mental illness? It was a public hearing and the minutes can be publicly accessed. I am feeling better now, which is why I am only now writing about the experience, but I felt humiliated. I asked if my employer would hire me back, and they said "no". So, now I cannot go back to work, and I cannot collect my pension. I paid for 15.5 years into a system that, even though they do not believe I am fit to do my job, they also do not believe they should allow me my pension. How is this right?
This is how I summed it all up in my head:
I have less rights than a person with a physical disability.
I think that a disability is a disability. It was made clear that I should not be in my job, I know in my heart it is not right for me to do my job, and I know that my head no longer permits me to do my job. However, legislation states that a mental illness is held to a higher scrutiny, regardless of where it initiated from. THIS IS NOT RIGHT, AND IT IS TIME THAT A CHANGE IS MADE.
I understand that there are people who fabricate mental illness, but they also fabricate physical disability as well. Just because it cannot be seen by the naked eye, does not mean it does not exist. After I calmed down (it took a couple of days), my self-pity party ended and I realized what I need to do. I need to help make the changes that are necessary for people with TBI and subsequent illness (mine are depression, PTSD, anxiety, and symptomatic ADD/ADHD) to be treated fairly in legislation, in addition to being a voice for those who may be silent.
Since my TBI, I definitely lack a filter, which I am acutely aware of (as I am sure are others around me- lol), but I am not afraid to speak-up for what is right.
I feel like I now know why I am going through all these experiences. It does not make the struggles any less real or painful, but it gives me a purpose for why I experience them. With all the most current information and research on TBI and long-term effects, it is time that legislation and policies catch-up. There is no room for ignorance.
Thank you for listening to me, and for all of your support!
P.S. March is TBI Awareness month! Be on the look-out for some cool items that will be available for purchase (profits will be used to support TBI awareness, education, and support). Thank you!
In my last post- which feels like forever ago (December 2015)- I said I would discuss one sexual topic per day, that is relation to TBI. However, when I posted that I would commit that way, I was being extremely optimistic. Optimism is one of those outlooks I try to have more of since my TBI. Though, lately it is increasingly more difficult.
In December, I was medically released from my career of 15.5 years. I went on FMLA leave in June 2015, and since I am not able to return to that line of work, I was medically released after six months. Though I knew it was coming, I had a difficult time accepting the fact that I was no longer employed, especially at a place that I was with for so long, and the only place I ever had a career. Additionally, the short-term disability company that I was receiving my benefits through, stopped paying me in the beginning of October 2015, forcing me to dip into savings. I won't place their name in the blog (right now), but their reasons are the most appalling. I have never felt so stuck in a situation as I do right now.
I am currently pending approval for an early retirement for disability reasons, relating to the depression & ADD symptoms I have now since my TBI. As part of the process, I had to undergo independent exams with a neuro-psychologist and psychiatrist. These professionals were chosen and paid for by the board which is reviewing my retirement application.
The neuro-psychologist was first. He spoke with me for about 10 minutes, and then left me in a room, alone, to do a series of tests, including the MMPI-II and others. I took one bathroom break and he entered the room one time to check on me. These tests were all true and false, with no in-between. When I asked for clarification on answering the questions before the test, he said to answer anyway I interpreted the questions, and he would answer any areas I left blank after the test. Unbeknownst to me, answering honestly was setting me up to look like a liar.
The tests had questions that inquired about whether I got headaches, neck aches, trouble sleeping, etc. I answered honestly. However, what I found out in the results was that my honest answers showed me as a "malingerer"- aka LIAR. What????? Of course this was more difficult for me to deal with than not having a job. I have never been called a liar. If anything, I tend to say more than I should. Why would this test do this? In speaking with my therapist, and of course doing some research, I found out that these tests are so poorly designed, that anyone with trauma, PTSD, injury (especially TBI), and ADD are going to result as "malingerers", since the questions target symptoms and experiences that this population suffers from and deals with. After finding out that these "fake bad scale" is not used by reputable psychologists or recommended in a forensic setting, or to be used for people with documented trauma and injury, I felt better. However, now I have the word of a irreputable psychologist with antiquated TBI knowledge, going before the retirement board. He had the nerve to say that all mild TBI are 100% recoverable with no symptoms of trauma occurring. I thought this was interesting, especially considering the mass amounts of research and information being disseminated daily about the impact of even "mild" TBI on the brain (additionally, my TBI was a "compound TBI", stemming from multiple head injuries (the last one was "the straw")). The medical psychiatrist perspective was much more aligned with current fact and information, and was entirely opposite the psychologist opinion. I guess I will have to wait and see what the retirement board believes.
For my short-term disability claim, I received a notice that there was not sufficient evidence to support my claim, and essentially pay me the money they stopped paying me from October 11 through December 3. I did not see that coming. They noted that they could not reach my psychologist, psychiatrist, internist, neurologist, or therapist, but were still able to conclusively make a decision based on the fact that my one year vision appointment noted no change in my double vision, and that I likely exaggerated my symptoms based on the independent exam by the independent medical exam. They received that information from one note that my therapist wrote, where she stated that I was upset about the malingering conclusion, and continued her note to include that the results would not be supported based on medical information, etc, and that she believed him to be inaccurate in his findings. The short-term lady chose to exclude the content apparently.
I am going nuts with all this.
So, though I am still trying my hardest to stay positive, I am having a VERY difficult time. I have applied for a cashiering job to make some money, but I am not confident right now. I still have my personal business, but my depression is really in the way of my success. I am my own worst enemy. I am logically aware of the issues, yet I continue to struggle to get past them. I know in the long run I will be okay, but I really feel as though I am not being heard.
Thank you for listening here.
Be the reason someone chose not to give-up.
Photo credit to https://beacon.wharton.upenn.edu/entrepreneurship/2014/11/scale-your-mindset/