So I spent some time on the phone with my MIL. My FIL recently had to go through the process of getting SSDI so she was very informative! She encouraged me not to give up, because the process can take months or even years. She also helped me realize I didn’t give them NEARLY the amount of information I should have.
I first sought help for my mental health when I was 18, though I know I’d had problems before that. I think my number one problem was not including the information for the doctors that initially treated me for what, at the time, we considered depression. The first one put me on… I think it was Zoloft. Anyway, I spent years thinking I was simply depressed, not fully understanding the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder. I had tried several antidepressants – the Zoloft, some Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Prozac, Abilify… I can’t even remember what else. This lasted until I was about 30. One day I read an article about Catherine Zeta-Jones, sharing her personal story of bipolar disorder. It was then I first understood that bipolar disorder was so much more than I’d realized. I started writing down things from my past that I’d considered manic episodes: I occasionally left town without notifying friends or family; once I went to see a boy in Kansas City that I’d met the previous spring while visiting Worlds of Fun with my high school choir. I vowed that I would stay there, live with him, marry him! A week later my parents had convinced me to come home. Another time, I was on my way to work at the casino and just decided NOT to take the exit… just keep going… and go out to Denver to visit an ex. To change up the pattern a bit, one winter I told my parents I was going to fly up to Canada and visit a boy I’d met on the internet. They discouraged this but, being 18, they could not forbid it. I spent an amazing ten days there and came home, dreaming of the day I’d marry THAT boy! A few weeks later our “relationship” had ended. Oh, and very very shortly after that I met NE’s father… again on the internet. I moved out to Ohio to be with him, got pregnant, and a few short months later my brother flew out to drive me home. Yet ANOTHER time, when I was 23 and a mother to NE, I took my child and secretly flew out to Hawaii to live with a man I had met once. That turned out to be one of the best ideas I’d ever had, but my overall score is still shit ;)
Anyway, tangent again. When I realized I had bipolar disorder, I asked my Primary Care Doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist. Up until then my mental health had always been managed by my PCD, and I occasionally had talk therapy with a counselor. At this point, though, I knew I needed more. That psychiatrist, I have spoken of before. I’d go in, she’d weigh me, then ask me how my meds were working. I spent 15-20 min with the woman every 2-4 weeks and all she ever did was prescribe me medications. I also saw a counselor at this location, and I loved her, but I severed that relationship when I stopped seeing the psychiatrist there. I did not include either of these women when I first applied for SSDI, and though they only treated me briefly, I think it would have helped. Just some documentation showing that I was being treated. I believe that when I did apply, I only included the information for my current NP and counselor. This morning I called my PCD for a referral to a psychotherapist. I was very specific this time, as I do NOT want another prescription dispenser. I want a psychiatrist, a DOCTOR, that will evaluate me properly. I don’t just want to vent my feelings to a counselor, I want a doctor to tear apart my brain and give me some insight on just how crazy I am. I think that will go a long way towards helping me with my SSDI application.
Now that I know what I know, I’m going to give this psychotherapist a few months to really get into my head, then I will reapply. I will be extremely thorough, including my doctors in New York and Hawaii, etc. Actually it occurred to me that I WAS given a psychiatric evaluation in New York, but they’d determined it was just Major Depressive Disorder at that time. Still, those records should help, and I HAVE been re-diagnosed since then.
MIL also told me that, if I am eventually approved, the benefits are retroactive back to the date of the first application, so I need to make sure I have documentation of my initial application. I’m fairly certain I threw the denial letter in the trash shortly after I opened it lol but I called the SS office and they said they’d send me another copy. By the way, apparently its been nearly a YEAR since I first applied for it, I have no idea why I thought it was this spring. Maybe thats just how long it took them to do everthang and get back to me :P
So yeah, there’s my update, all the information I’ve gleaned from others since my last post. Do with it what you will. And please contribute! Comment, message me, etc, I’d love to hear from you!