I know I’ve been writing mostly back story, my origin story if you will. But I read this piece on The Mighty today that really reminded me of my experience and I feel compelled to write about the good that is happening for me in the here and now, and how much privilege is involved in being able to get the proper help and why we, as a society, are actually really really awful to anyone who isn’t “normal” enough. I mean we are terrible and awful. But I digress. Let’s start with me.
I am currently not working. Between my mental health, physical health, and taking on the caregiving of my mother with dementia it has been impossible. I’ve been unemployed for 3 years now. The first year was all about hospital visits and surgery recovery with my mom. I wasn’t even home but living with her and that whole saga is another post altogether LOL…but, after awhile, we moved her back to California and bought a house with her divorce settlement so we could have some security and I could take care of her properly. That was about 2 years ago. It took some time to settle in and I started to think about going back to work but needed something flexible, and at home so I started building my own Voice Over business. I found I have a talent for it, I love it, BUT sadly I did not have the stamina or stability to run my own business successfully. Sure I was making strides yet I could see how I would struggle to be available for sessions, I had to cancel so many things because sometimes even my voice will change depending on where I was physically. I simply wasn’t ready. Additionally having to be there for mom and her medical care was time-consuming. It was too much for me to handle. Yet I was determined. First, I thought it was just me being scared and lazy. So I started and ran sessions of The Artist’s Way for a year – which led me to even create my own process The Way of Your Inner Voice and that helped me move past a lot of mental/artistic blocks. I was opening up creatively, I was starting to feel again, I even started to have hope. But that’s when I hit wall after wall mentally and physically. So 9 months ago I made the decision to go all-in on making myself better. Facing my demons and my past and truly building a sustainable future. And 6 weeks ago it all finally came together where I could really dig in.
Here is where the privilege comes in. See, I live with my grown children and they help me. I have a support system. I live in California and I have Medi-Cal, Medicaid for indigent Californians. It has, quite simply, saved my life. It took nearly 16 months since getting on this insurance but I now have a TEAM of people that I am starting to trust. It was a process I started about the same time I started doing “The Artist’s Way”. At first, it was just all about my thyroid and fatigue etc, etc, but then I realized it was so much more (that was the 9 months ago mark when I knew I needed to face my mental health issues) It took months of PCP appointments, MONTHS of waiting for referrals, and then longer to get the appointments with specialists, and it took months of struggles on the phones and people driving me to said appointments. Hours in lines at pharmacies. It has taken a team, consistent insurance, and a lot of literal blood, sweat, and tears… And that was just to get started about 6 weeks ago to try out medication and start with my therapists (mental, physical, speech). None of that would have, nor has it ever been, possible to do while working full time. We expect too much of people already struggling. I think it’s why I’m so dedicated to working on myself right now. Because I absolutely understand and appreciate the mega shite tonne of luck and privilege I have right now to be able to do this work. I stopped everything else. I am dedicated to my morning pages. My meditation. My walks. but most importantly I am dedicated to riding out getting on medication and changing doses and all the side effects that process entails. Dedicated to fully communicating with my doctors and therapist about my progress. Faithful to my routines. Devoted to full honesty and transparency. And most importantly feeling all the feelings I haven’t had the time or energy to face before.
So yes there are sleepless nights, Yes we are poor AF as I have been denied disability and SSI several times (I don’t honestly understand) yes the medication has side effects and the therapy is painfully slow. But by hook or by crook I’m riding this particular wave to the end because it’s the best one I’ve seen in a long time. And although I won’t be able to cure anything or become a superhero, I know that this will set me up for success in a way that I have never had the chance to even hope for. I’ve been swimming against the tide and ignoring how the undertow has sucked me under time and time again so I’m learning to surf and building a better board (that metaphor took on a life of its own but I’ll allow it)
Because I’m done being ashamed of my struggles and I’m recognizing the absolute badassery of what I have managed with shackles and weights tied to my feet – imagine what I can do with just a little bit of support and time to recuperate. We all need time to heal. Hustle culture is deadly. Breathe deep. Find the spaces to heal. And if you see someone who can’t? express nothing but empathy. There are no damn bootstraps, hell there are barely boots for most people. Compassion begins with yourself.