Friday, June 23, 2017

Disability

I feel absolute relief. I made the call to admissions to find out how my financial aid would be affected by withdrawing from 8 of 12 credit hours this semester, and it is fine, because my course completion rate is on par. I let my mom know I made the decision to withdraw. I know she will be disappointed, but I do hope she will be understanding. For me, it is not as much about admitting defeat as it is being mature enough to recognize my limitations. I explained I would rather focus on and pass two classes than complete and fail three of four, because I cannot keep up with the homework load.

I've never viewed my depression as "severe" enough to be considered a disability. I often find myself frustrated with people who appear to have a higher level of function, and accept the classification and services associated with being legally disabled. But I can definitely look back on my life, and identify many places where depression and anxiety have been absolutely debilitating to me. These last few weeks have been a small example of that. I mentioned the same to my oldest daughter, because she's noticed, and we were talking a little bit about the limitations and expectations of persons with disabilities, particularly in reference to an Autistic young man she knows. We were talking about the need to coach and teach people how to work around and overcome their limitations, while at the same time, as outsiders being understanding of the limitations there aren't ways to overcome or work around.  She said to me, observing on the outside as she has, that I could probably qualify for a disability status. I told her that was not something I really want though. Despite the challenges, I want to live as much of my life as I can, and try to participate in and function in life as normally as possible, despite the dark moments. We talked about the chicken and the egg, with chronic pain exacerbating depression, and chronic pain being a symptom of depression. I think these conversations are helpful, as I know she at least inherited the anxiety I carry, and I hope that it will help her understand herself a little, and to be able to openly discuss mental health issues in general.

So I guess this semester has been valuable for me in that I am able now to recognize, I do have a disability, even if I do not legally or otherwise claim the status of being disabled. Sometimes it does limit and debilitate me. It is not a crutch or an excuse not to participate in life, and I have not, nor will I use it as such. But maybe I can be a little more forgiving of myself for the path I've taken in life, and feeling like I've wasted a lot of time. Maybe I can start accepting that time spent on self-care is not selfish or wasted, but it helps me to cope with the dark moments, so I can participate in and enjoy the larger more positive make up of my life.

I'm ok with my decision to withdraw. It will mean more credit hours taken during regular semesters, and a little extra effort down the road. It may even mean a delayed graduation goal date. But that is ok. I will get this accomplished, in spite of, and maybe in part because of this disability of mine.

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