My supervisor Scott was very supportive of my attempt to work from the moment I came back and felt his hug in the hallway. He was also watching me like a hawk. There were days when co-workers would stop by to ask what they could do and of course, interact with day to day business operations. There were several times when I was found in my make believe state, upset, in tears, angry, and at a loss for what I should do next. I wasn’t able to keep up with the pace my position demanded and the ride share I had worked out wasn’t working out. Cambria is a distance from the town my co-worker lived in, Beaver Dam. It was a huge ask for her to pick me up at my home as it was about 15 miles out of her way each day, 30 miles round trip. I was grateful for her generosity and compassion and I tried to help by sharing money for the extra gas she had to use, However, it was far too much to expect her to continue to give me rides. We did, however, work it out where I would drive to the Pick and Save grocery parking lot in Columbus, about a 15 mile drive from my home. As she would pass this on her regular route, there she would meet me and we would ride together from there. Thing was, I now woke to my days with an added and noisy unnerving task of getting into my car and driving. The only remotely comforting thing about this drive was that 95% of it was on country roads so I could take my time, a real long time, but even still, it was terrifying and stressful beyond words. By the time I arrived my destination and then to work, I was fully overloaded with noise and no room left to do much more than wish I was still “normal”…
Long story short, the time came when I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder, heard a kind and sincere voice, “Cheryl, I don’t think you are ready to come back to work”… Scott knew I just could not keep up with my job but most importantly, Scott knew that working was not helping me heal. I understood, I sobbed, and I regretfully moved on from the one job I found that would have taken me to a lot of success and a lovely retirement.
However, in my mind all I could think about was, I need money to survive! How would I pay bills, my mortgage, buy groceries? Unfortunately, I had not opted for the long term disability option in my work benefits. Unemployment was an option, but really, what did that get someone those days, even these days. My then partner did provide some assistance but the relationship between us was very stressed, it was prior to all this happening, now even more so.
So, in keeping with the fortitude I somehow continued to dig up to keep on going, I found a job very near my home, a short 4 mile ride. But really, who was I trying to fool, other than myself, that working was not in the cards for me anymore. With just one day to go to be eligible for benefits, I was fired. Ouch, the slap of “disability gets in the way” fired…
I looked for other jobs and even in the unbalanced state I was in, I had a few offers. However, it all came down to driving long distances, one was even an outside sales position. Kudos’s to that employer wanting to take a chance like that with me! See what making believe can do for getting a job! At least I knew I had an impressive resume that could get me jobs but, it all came down the fact that I was physically, cognitively, and emotionally far too unstable to work. Thinking back on this now, I’m sure I wouldn’t have lasted long in any employment.
All my attempts to make believe finally caught up with me and I slipped into a place of forced admission to disability permanency defeat. I reluctantly yet necessarily applied for Social Security Disability Benefits. It was here that I was branded with a label on which every attempt to coordinate my life depended on. And… another chorus of noise joined the already screaming choir.