Part of the 99%???

Why I Understand Struggle and Heartache

I read the stories of others and am reminded to be thankful for all the wonderful blessings I have.

I have Schizo-Affective Disorder, which is in simple terms a combination of Schizophrenia and Bi-Polar Disorder. My condition is debilitating and without medication, I am unable to function.

I was originally diagnosed as a severe Paranoid Schizophrenic in 1981. It was then believed I would never be more than a vegetable needing care for all my needs. Thanks to my parents, medical intervention, and a great deal of prayer I recovered enough to go to work and live normally. I continued to have breaks with reality because I was unable to afford regular medication and in those periods, I would become unable to work. Hallucinations and paranoid delusions make one unfit for the working world.

During one of the good periods, without medication, I became pregnant and gave birth to my wonderful son. His father did not want our marriage to continue and did not want a child. We returned to my parents’ home because the stress of the break-up caused me to breakdown.

When I recovered, I went to work and became manager of a convenience store working for Marathon Oil. I paid for Cigna health and disability insurance. I won many commendations for my accomplishments at work. I worked diligently and well for several years. Workers became undependable and scarce and I had to work eighteen-hour days to keep the store operational. I hardly slept or spent any time with my family. After months, I lost my grip on reality and had to stay home one day. My district manager fired me rather than allow me the sick days and vacation time I had earned. I lost my health and disability insurance. The disability insurance would have been paying me a comfortable wage all these years, but the company cheated me out of my earned benefits by unfair termination. I was too sick to fight for my rights. I was married at the time so my husband and family helped me regain my senses. I was a full-time homemaker, wife, and mother for some years.

My nephew and father died suddenly and the stress led to my having another breakdown. My husband was unable to deal with the pressure and divorced me. It was 1997 and I was finally forced to seek Social Security Disability benefits because I could not survive without the help. Even then, I lived with my Mom to avoid homelessness for my son and myself.

There have been three more significant breaks with reality in the intervening years. I eventually had to declare bankruptcy because I could not maintain the payments on my debt.

I managed to raise my son and he has become a United States Marine. I have become full-time caregiver for my Mom who has serious health problems including Parkinson’s disease, mini-strokes, and mild dementia.

I live on a Social Security Disability Income of $790 a month and a medically needy Medicaid benefit that helps pay some of my medical expenses. I contribute by caring for my Mom who would otherwise require full-time care.

I would enjoy a part-time job, but I would lose my Medicaid benefits and the stress might bring on another breakdown, so I remain unemployed.

I am very thankful to be able to write this today because there have been many times when I was unable to form cognizant sentences. I hope my words touch you and make you realize there are some who need government benefits to survive. I am doing my best and functioning at a high level, but this is a good moment. God willing things will continue well, but with a condition like mine, there are no guarantees.

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