Today, I found another one of Tim’s blog entries. Before I go on, I want to make one thing clear: I admire Tim for the clarity of his thought processes even in the face of horrific adversity and all the feelings – largely on the fear end of the spectrum – it is usually associated with. In other words: I think, Tim’s really thinking on his feet even when – or especially when – he seems consumed by fear. I get that. And without meaning to sound immodest, I think this particular quality has gotten me through life to begin with. This is why I have subscribed to Tim’s blog and this is why I usually always find something worth reading and learning in his blog, although I won’t beat around the bush: His writings trigger me, and they do so hard. So I have to carefully scrutinize my own emotional status every time before delving into the wealth of his findings and experienced maneuvering of very harsh territory, territory most other people never have or ever will come across, a privilege I lately find them not to honor enough. But I’m digressing…
This current post of mine is in part about the kinds of thoughts and memories Tim’s blog entry set off. The other part is a rant. In above paragraph, I think I have outlined or alluded to the positive aspects of this particular article and his writing in general. However, there are some other aspects which – for me anyway – may not be as productive. Again, I must certify that none of it is Tim’s “fault” in any way, shape or form. It just so happens that all the things he writes about with this laser precision mind of his touch upon a plethora of experiences I have gone through as well. I might come from a slightly different place, but let’s say disability – although in a different form – is no stranger to me – anymore, that is. And so when he talks about fear, for example, I have to be careful not to get stuck in the emotion or get paralyzed from a flashback that might occur. But deciding whether it’s a good time to read him or not is my responsibility and freedom, completely.
Fast forward to the rant part – or rather backward: I filed for – initially partial – disability in 2007. I had come back from a six week itinerary that took me to Las Vegas, then Seattle, then Vancouver B.C., then Greater Las Vegas again. I had meant to migrate to Vancouver, Canada, but for reasons of apparently not too robust (physical) health – which I only found out about when actually going to Vancouver in the spring of 2007 and with my papers and situation as well prepared as it can be – I had to call off the whole thing at last. So I decided for “Plan B” (or C or D or even E, I had prepared a number of plans at the time), returned to my native country Germany and accepted an offer as editor for a tech journal at the time. Three weeks into that job, I had to let my editor-in-chief know that I wasn’t going to be able to keep showing up at the company’s office on a daily basis anymore as symptoms of C-PTSD had taken such grim and complete control over my body that I started to be afraid I’d embarrass myself in front of everybody at some point. When I say “embarrass” I actually mean to say – graphic language warning! – shitting or pissing myself or throwing up inadvertently and the latter for reasons of my body totally taking my mind and spirit hostage in the most adverse ways anyone can (NOT, actually!) imagine… So we agreed I’d work from my home office for the time being until I’d feel better. At this time I wasn’t even aware just yet what the exact source of my overwhelming symptoms were (but was determined to find out and get rid of them!). I never received an official diagnosis until early 2013. But I’d always taken a pragmatic and responsible – or so I thought – approach with me and my life, firmly insisting on being “hands on” with my own destiny as much as possible and taking full responsibility with whatever it was I was deciding for or against. Little did I know at the time that some of the things in my life did not fall into place as I had envisioned them for reasons of my early history catching up on me in the most brutal ways. And little did I also know that my approach of “what’s best for me” wasn’t reflected in the system, whose only reason for being there I – naively – thought was for periods in a person’s life like the exact one I was currently going through.
The point I’m trying to make is this: I’m not helpless. I’m not paralyzed by fear (not anymore, anyway, but do remember times when I was). I don’t have problems being disciplined or taking action. And I don’t think I’m weak and – forgive me for being a bit immodest at this point – I don’t think I’m a total “retard” in the realm of cognitive capacities, either (which also means that much of the “advice” I’ve received along the way felt rather intrusive – as much as it may have come from a place of meaning well…I don’t need ideas! If anything, I’ve always needed a compassionate companion or an ear or a hug – for starters… ). I made it my personal prerogative for all of my adult life that I wouldn’t allow for fear or adversity or history or any such elaborate concept to control me or my life – ever! Talk about overbearing…. 2007 came and ended this ride on my personal high horse. Eventually, early as well as later as well as most recent life history caught up on me and – felled me like a tree who’s time has come. I haven’t gotten up since, but I’m not willing to give up hope or determination or dedication. I’m telling myself every single day and first thing in the morning that I will rise from all this once again… Scared? Yes. Controlled by fear? No. And a firm, committed “No”!
However, what followed then, i.e. my filing for partial disability and the associated circumstances and legalese, is the exact opposite of what I had “planned” on…. Initially, filing for partial disability was an idea that was born of materially pressing circumstances and that should have done no more than enable me to slow down a bit and have “the system” make up on loss of income for not being able to be my usual 150-200% any longer, so I would have time and resources to figure out where I needed “fixing” and then – getting “fixed”! (and mind you: With my taxes I had been supporting “the system” up to this point and sometimes in not too modest figures. So I didn’t feel I needed to have scrouples here). Plus, I had started to research my condition and ways to attenuate or heal it and had to use ever increasing, substantial portions of my – still modest – savings on the latter. Long story short: The combined effects of my decreasing productivity, the additional cuts into my savings for need of finding and applying medical treatment not included with my health insurance plan plus my poor assessment of cost of living in the 21st century as opposed to my college student days despite my cutting back expenses any way I could eventually forced me to file for a) full disability and b) bankruptcy. Again, the idea was to a) stop the landslide my life was currently turning into and b) giving me time to breathe and figure out what best to do next. Little did I know at the time that “the system” was apparently not designed to make sure of any of this….
Today, I depend on welfare. It pays the rent and health insurance and after all deductions – you would think there aren’t any more at this point….? Think again – I’m left with the equivalent of about 150-180$ – at best – per month for …. food, transportation, clothing, repairs, replacement of things that break down, some medical costs not covered by health insurance or “the system”, for “entertainment” etc. No – it never pans out. Never, ever. If I take on occasional paid writing assignments or other jobs I think I can do despite my condition, they – as in: “the system” – keep 70% of that, while another part of the system will revoke their “benefits” later on, leaving me in the impossible situation of needing to return every additional EURO or Dollar made 1.7 times… Has anyone ever seen anyone being able to spend a EUR or Dollar 1.7 times? If so, please introduce me to the fella and his secret. Because this is how the system “works” here, meaning to say: Any attempt at getting back up on my own feet is not only not rewarded, it is factually being punished.
Again: Scared? “Scared, my ass”, at this point. I think, I’ve exhausted my sentience – or at least the fear part of it – on the insane adversity I have faced and am still forced to face and largely coming from the overly ill-designed make of the system in my country. (Desensitation therapy? Ha! Maybe….) If I ever want to get back on my own feet, the only thing I actually can do is to … really take it upon myself and/or collaborate with similarly affected individuals and try to change the system… (for people like me – people shackled with disability of some kind -, anyway.) You think shit like this is conducive to healing the outcomes of complex PTSD? It’s actually the trigger to end all triggers in regards to the condition. Maybe there’s a good thing in that. I’m still looking for it….