*I started this on March 19, and haven’t really edited, so I’m just posting the draft, so I can start fresh with today’s thoughts…*
I have a lot of opinions and thoughts to share, but I don’t really feel like Facebook is the appropriate place to share them right now. Not because I don’t feel like they should be heard, but because it stresses me out when I come across what I feel is hurtful/dangerous ignorance, and compels me to explain my point of view to people who just basically aren’t going to hear it anyways because they’re too busy trying to convince me why I’m wrong. Let me state for the record that I have NO NEED to be right. I don’t WANT shit to be so chaotic that most of the world is experiencing what people with panic disorders and anxiety issues go through on a daily basis. Or people with financial stressors. Or people with health issues. Or people without a support network to rely on. But the fact of the matter is, regardless of your opinion on how the world got here or if it’s a conspiracy perpetrated by [fill in the blank] or being used for [fill in the blank] for some unknown purpose, here we are.
Here we are.
This morning, I was exchanging emails with the medical records department where I had some testing done years ago. Here is the exchange (haha…the original question was made on their website where it says “Please enter your question here” and I didn’t expect a human response, actually):
- Me: How can i obtain the mri images to provide to my doctor, who needs to compare with current mri?
- Med Records (MR): f your doctor is in our system, they can view them already. If not the doctor that wants to see these needs to obtain a signed release of information from you to release these films to that physician and fax that to Medical Records at 724-284-4532 and the films will be ordered and mailed to the physician’s office.
- Me: Ok, is there a way i can just obtain them myself? I’m having neurological issues and need to see a bunch of specialists, who prefer the records at the time of visit. Most of them are about 2 hrs away, so obtaining signatures and appropriate releases for each one is kind of a nightmare and also impossible to do prior to my actual visits. Thanks, Holly
- MR: Right now we are a lock down at the hospital. Contact Radiology 724-284-4065 order the CD and you will have to make a time for me to bring this to your car to sign the release and see photo ID.
- Me: Ok, thank you! (I also appreciate the quick response. Stay safe.)
- MR: You are welcome thanks for being kind.
That’s it. The smallest act of kindness can go SUCH a far way. No, I’m NOT pleasant 100% of the time. And, right or wrong, my closest friends and family experience the brunt of my attitude or irritation. I can easily apologize to them…I am more familiar with their life circumstances at any given time and what they’re going through than I am of the cashier at a busy Dollar General or the person at WalMart who has to scan my basket as I leave. Or, in this case, of the people who are still providing me services and answers as best as they can despite the uncertainty of the state of the world right now. Maybe it’s because I can relate. I’m still on call and still “have” to provide in-person service if there is no other solution. Turns out I work in an “essential” field… I say “have to” because, ultimately, I have total power over whether I stay at a job or leave it. But realistically, if I want to stay in my house, keep my pets, have transportation that enables me to work what little I do, keep the utilities from being shut off, and buy necessary hygiene products…then I have to obviously have income. I am SO FORTUNATE because I know if push comes to shove, I have people who would provide me or my animals shelter, make sure I get to where I need to go, and have the essentials. I know this because I’ve lived it. I’ve lived rent-free in a crawl space above a garage. I’ve survived on friends’ cooking when I couldn’t afford food and didn’t qualify for food stamps. I’ve spent weeks in the psych ward knowing my pets were safe and cared for in my absence and come home to a stocked fridge/freezer. I’ve had friends who paid for my car to get fixed when I simply couldn’t and it was unsafe to drive. I’ve had friends send me money when they knew I was struggling and friends who offered to pay for my dinner because they knew I needed socialization but couldn’t afford to eat out. ALL OF THIS without me ever asking. When I actually ASK for help? I have NO DOUBT that my support system will support me.
I am BEYOND grateful and fortunate that I happen to have friends with financial resources that they can share. I started to ask myself…”why should they?” because for a long time, I didn’t feel like I deserved the help I was receiving. But. I’ve worked hard and steady since I was 15. I NEVER had unmanageable debt until I went back to school in order to try and get a degree in a more financially stable career (nursing)- so I’d be better able to pay my bills and not depend on others as much. And, beyond that…my friends, I assume, help me financially because they KNOW I would do anything possible to repay them if I could with cash money. But all I can offer, often, is myself…is kindness and patience, odd jobs (haha. Bat Catcher Extraordinaire and feeder of reptiles and rodents are two that come to mind first, lol) It helps that I enjoy doing these things, but if asked, I’d try to help with whatever I thought I was capable of.
So my question changed from “why should they help?” to “why should they HAVE to?” Once I was unemployed for 3 months because I quit a job that I was failing horribly at due to my own issues. Once I took a planned, scheduled week off to go to Arizona as a vacation. I’ve taken several emergency mental health breaks, which were basically me trying to avoid another hospitalization. And I’ve been inpatient 4 times, never less than 12 days. Otherwise I’ve been some combination of full time employment and/or school. Often this involved more than 1 job at a time, to make ends meet.
I’ve been pulling my bootstraps up since forever. And who the hell knows, maybe I’ve been doing it wrong. But you know what? My hands are still bloody and unusable from my efforts. And my usual course of action is keep trying until I absolutely can’t work anymore, force myself to take a roadtrip or voluntary hospitalization in order to avoid taking drastic measures to quell the pain and keep fighting the suicidal thoughts that never seemed to go fully away for so long no matter what medications I was on or what support I had. Then I get back up, go back to my job or find a new one and push on for a for more years or months. That’s what I know I’m supposed to do, that is what is expected of me as a “contributing member of society.” And you know what? I LIKE working. Having a purpose keeps me going. I always have been and I always will be a helper. I don’t want to stop working. And yet…right now, the pressure to perform is more than I can handle. Do I put a lot of that pressure on myself? Yep. But also, maintaining even a basic standard of living is really impossible on 23 or 24,000/yr. My brain can’t handle the jobs that will keep me fed at this time. And my body’s not doing so great at handling anything at this point. But on paper, I’m really employable. So I’m fully expecting to get denied Social Security, return to full time employment, and hang myself with my fucking bootstraps. It’s the American Way.
And this is absolutely not a plea for help. It is a plea that once/if the dust settles. that the people who are newly terrified about how to survive without being able to work will remember what that terror feels like. That the people who are newly terrified about being unable to get healthcare if/when they need it remember that fear once they’ve recovered. That the people who impede progress towards more equality for EVERYONE realize that when it comes down to it, we’re all more alike than different- that EVERYONE deserves a chance at more than killing themselves to survive.