Author: Natalia Beiser
I have always carried various degrees of shame over having bipolar I disorder and receiving income through Social Security Disability. I worked really hard to shine in spite of my diagnosis. I obtained a bachelor’s degree and was very proud when hired as a professional advocate and case manager for individuals with disabilities.
Due to the pandemic, my hours have been cut at work. I know that I am fortunate to be working at all, but my current profession as a caregiver categorizes me as an essential employee. I am very grateful for the hours that I do have. Because of receiving federal disability payments, the pain of working fewer hours is not so great.
The payments are not enough money to survive on, but my disability safety net is much more money than many Americans have now. Most are experiencing varying degrees of fear about a myriad of topics to ruminate over. Some are losing loved ones due to COVID 19, while others wonder if their small business will survive. Many are concerned that they may not have a job when the pandemic is over.
So many children are struggling socially or academically because they are not attending school during these trying times. So many families cannot feed their families and are asking for help from the community; these folks feel such shame because they are not accustomed to needing a hand up. Everyone is trying to be patient while waiting for a government stimulus check that will barely make a dent in their missing income. Mental health awareness appears to be receiving more notoriety than ever due to the anxiety that individuals and children are feeling because of this virus.
I am fortunate to work with shut- ins that have less likelihood to catch COVID-19, and my employer requires that I wear a mask while working with clients. I always wear masks with cute fabrics that generate conversations. I am grateful for my work, even though it was not what I set out to do over twenty five years ago.
I occasionally receive negative feedback when someone becomes aware that I am on disability, but for the very first time I feel less shame and my sigh is of relief.