My initial time off work was considered sick time. I had accumulated a number of sick days, at the new job and from what was carried forward from my other position. When the sick time was used up I went on Short Term Disability…for two years. I treated it like one long, long weekend, never looking ahead to what happened on Monday.
I hadn’t let myself think or plan beyond that 2 year time frame, because I didn’t want to think about what I would do if I didn’t get the disability. At times I didn’t care one way or another if I lived or died, that was how isolated and alone I felt.
I had lost myself. Though there were the times I played the role of Mom and Grandma, it was never enough to fill the empty spaces. It’s hard to explain, because I love my kids and grandkids so much, but there was a big part of me that was missing. Some of that has to do with being alone, trying to come to terms with the empty days, and finding some purpose in them.
It’s funny, but when my father died, I thought my Mom would turn to her art, because she now had time to give it all her attention. She didn’t, and I couldn’t understand that until I was faced with too much time on my hands. Art was never going to be enough to replace what we had lost.
At the end of this two year period my ability to return to my previous position would be assessed and a determination made regarding Long Term Disability. Did no one ever tell these insurance types that ongoing stress was harmful to someone dealing with a chronic illness? Two years is a long time to live in limbo. I was a workaholic, and for the first time in more than ten years I faced empty days with no where to go, and not knowing when it would end, how it would end. If I got turned down for the disability, what kind of work could I do? Fatigue was a constant concern, but it was more the problems with my working memory, how was I to learn new tasks?
I was depressed, and further isolated myself from everyone I knew. The loss of my career was to lose myself, my identity. As far as I was concerned, I had two years to live, depending on whether I got the disability. Depressed, yes, and at times I know I was suicidal, but beneath the depression I think it was more suicidal ideation, thoughts born out of desperation, but not something I would do in reality.