Today I met with an agent at an organization called ‘Cowichan Independent Living.’ They provide assistance to those applying for permanent disability.
I was quite nervous that I would be misunderstood as a fraud and an attention seeker, but was pleasantly surprised to be received with sympathy, compassion, respect and support.
Generally, I am hesitant even to share my process here. Who knows where it will go. My hesitancy is the fence post i so often find myself upon — whether I am a gifted leader and artist or a patient in the lock-down psych ward. Whether I am minimizing or over-dramatizing. I have chronic confusion around this. One day, I wonder what all the fuss was about. I’m fine. What the hell was I complaining about. The next day, i wonder if I should admit myself into the hospital.
And so, here I am, embarking on this path, being met with compassion and support. No one is saying I don’t fit in, or I shouldn’t bother applying, and to some degree, this is still shocking to me. To another degree, it is the biggest relief of my life.
The rep at CIL read what I had written, expressed sympathy and invested his compassion in hearing my disability. We began by making a list of key words, and we began the process of putting my history into words–what are the events and experiences that have brought me to this application.
It’s daunting, and it could have been more terrifying, considering I had met this person at a social event in my neighbourhood a few weeks ago, and he remembered me. But his response was so genuinely caring that any embarrassment was soothed. He said how glad he was that I had found CIL, and that I he felt there was more the organization could do for me, beyond the disability application.
What remains intact in me so far is a striving for integration, a wholistic approach to the term ‘disability.’ The possiblity that I am both gifted and talented as well as requiring a higher level of emotional support, more processing time, and less stimuli and pressure on an ongoing basis.
As I was telling the rep about what I experience, it was clarifying how the things I go through really are exceptional and hindering to many things that the status quo take for granted.
This is quite a radical shift in how I view and present myself in the world. Quite the transition, quite the process of integration I am in.
I’m not sure how much I’m going to post on here about this as it evolves, but I’ll share this snippet that came to me at 3 AM last night:
I have an incredible diversity in me — an abnormal range on the scale of confidence. I go from being able to present myself confidently with warmth, humor, intelligence and leadership to social phobia, indecisiveness, insecurity, isolation and hopelessness. I have a regression into the later rarely less than once every week. It makes a fool out of me. Makes it hard to trust myself, know how to present myself.
This range of confidence is a significant part of my illness. I have difficulty maintaining social connections and community involvement and frequently feel disconnected, somehow at odds with the flow of things. People misunderstand me, call me a fraud and say that I am faking it for attention. They cannot imagine that someone who seems so competent and confident could also be at an emotional / psychological / social / economic disadvantage. And, because I compulsively hide the darker end of my experience, it’s easy for people to disbelieve that it exists. It’s even easy for me to forget how it feels until I am back in it. For the most part, the most that people would see of it is a shyness and awkwardness that seems out of character. A childlike quality where once there was a leader; someone with professional knowledge and expertise to offer. A shy person where once there was a ‘life-of-the-party.’ A person who doesn’t show up for things, who once seemed so gung-ho and like such a positive addition to any event. They are not sure how to take me — do they look up to me or bring on the extra compassion and support for me? Few of them I’m sure realize how much I share in their confusion. They do not engage in the relationship; it’s not a conscious decision, but rather like an inadvertent, unconscious rejection. There is nothing solid for them to attach to, so no attachment is formed.
I feel incredibly vulnerable posting this. I fight with myself in this process, with my insecurities and the chronic confusion over what is real. I’m going to try it out and give myself permission to change my mind and remove this post. It’s a fragile thing.