I’m definitely doing better with the depression. The pain’s been worse, but I’ve been fighting through to keep working when it comes in, and accomplishing more of the bureaucracy stuff I have to do in applying for disability.
The tip about assessment of disability is this: A really useful thing I did when going to my doctor for the forms was to bring along one of my partners, a woman who helps me out a great deal in terms of how I live; she does the laundry, for instance, and prefers to do most of the cooking (for her reasons, which I’ll respect her privacy on). So she has a great position from which to be able to assess the ways in which my life is deflected from its path by my disabilities.
I tend to minimize the impact of my disabilities on my life, for several reasons. I was raised to not complain, to not whinge about things that made me unhappy. I also have lived with them for so long, it’s very hard for me to imagine how my life would be different if I didn’t. How do I assess how much more I would go out and spend time with people, or how much more I might work, or how much farther I could walk without stopping, when those activities have all been circumscribed with pain for as long as I’ve been considered an adult?
So when they ask me to explain how my disabilities are having an impact on my life, I’m at a loss, somewhat. Humans can normalize almost anything, we’ve seen this in all sorts of situations when people have done amazing or appalling things at the edges of human endurance. How far could I walk without a cane? If well-prepared with sufficient meds (more than my usual amount; I reserve 25% of my meds in a given month to allow me functionality on occasions which require the extra help to be accomplished), I could probably walk a kilometre; without the extra meds, I’d be lucky to make it 100m without my stick. I don’t take stairs unless there’s no option. I don’t have a car anymore, partly because I can’t afford it, and partly because I don’t feel safe driving with the huge load of meds I now have to take to be able to go out in the world*.
I don’t see these as impairments, anymore, they’re just the limits of my life.
Any road, that’s my tip of the day for how to get a more accurate picture of your own impairments: ask someone who knows you well, and doesn’t share your impairments, what they view as the ways in which your life is different from what might be expected.
* Before you ask, no, I never use my herbal remedy and drive (minimum two hours, prefer three, after last use before I’ll drive, and remember, I use it constantly, so my intoxication from it is pretty minimal – even so, three hours if I can get them). My physical crippledness comes from an encounter with an intoxicated driver. The last thing I ever want to do is put someone else in a casket, or in this same state, because I thought I was too important to pay attention to research showing how bad it is to drive intoxicated.