Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Income After Disability

Discovering Disability

The shock that a person has a serious condition when they visit the Emergency Room is like being burdened with an invisible Bushmaster snake to carry around-you can feel the weight of it, you know how deadly it is, but you don't have the ability to get it off of you. Late in July in 2011 I left work after being unable to stand due to excruciating pain. I had the very humbling experience of being in a wheelchair for 2 weeks straight and it shook me to my core. I felt very defeated, like a social pariah and did not have much hope of a regular life moving forward.

This is soooo not my favorite place! But my visits here have educated me as to why I can't work at a regular job, with regular hours and be anywhere near as healthy as most people. I need other options and I have been looking for them, applying for possible jobs and trying to buy work at home education. I am stuck, I am needing more information and help and like so many people waiting for disability, I need it now.

The Crucible To Beginning To Fight

January of 2011 I got the confirmation of my worst fears(at that time) and complicating news- I had Fibromyalgia and since it is considered a secondary condition I went to a rheumatologist and learned that I had Lupus markers. I was in denial. I was only 28 and a single parent without family support. I had just tried to give my estranged mother the opportunity to be a part of my life and had moved to Florida right before Christmas. I had had a sneaking suspicion that something was not right with my health after going through a pathology course in college and I wanted a safe place to be able to handle the news of a sure diagnosis. Instead I found myself in a domestically violent environment with a 3 year old. I was homeless with a child for the first time and scared out of my wits. I didn't have enough money to get back to Colorado Springs, so I called my ex-husband's mother to see if we could come to North Carolina. Let me just say that we spent the night in Georgia with a really great friend and spent one night in North Carolina and we haven't had much communication since. I had a friend in New York and I liked a college there. I thought that I would be ok if I had a chance for a new start. I was so wrong. I tried very hard to get stable, but the housing was too expensive and then when my physical strength began to wane and I couldn't wait tables anymore.

A Brick Wall & A Sheer Cliff

My soul-crushing moment was July 29th when I left my job in an ambulance because I couldn't walk or stand. I spent the next 2 weeks in a wheelchair. I felt defeated and hopeless.
I was fortunate to have a kind doctor and an altogether efficient medical experience. I got on a total of 9 prescriptions and I was able to walk again, but without the massive amounts of caffeine that I had been used to being on my stamina was really that of a 4 year old. I only had 4-6 hours of energy and crashed to nap whether I wanted to or not. I kept stuffing the feelings that I felt and the depression & anxiety with medication. I finally admitted defeat after a month of struggling and losing my apartment and most of my possessions. I called up my step-dad, who I knew would have space for us, and I came back to Widefield, Colorado. I got an education first-hand about what a traumatic brain injury does to a person. My son and I quickly became a burden and were in transition again. I struggled again living only on public assistance as I got weaker and started to put on weight from the medications that I was taking. No energy, no help and no hope-that is what I woke up with every day. No answers, no love input, stress and anxiety were what clung to me as I medicated myself to be able to sleep. Fears and questions about my son's future haunted me. Feeling inadequate, broken, and like walking dead weight are not exactly self-esteem friendly things.
When I had lost my keys for the 2nd time in a week only to find them on top of my vehicle and had too many , "What was I doing? What was I looking for?" moments all to often. I went to my really nice doctor and got an MRI of my brain and then I waited. I had hoped that I was just concerned about nothing, but the more I had researched and learned about FMS-fibromyalgia, the more I discovered about PTSD, depression and anxiety and the nervous system, both parasympathetic and autonomic, the more I felt dread at what results I would receive. I have a great reference in my 21st edition of Taber's Medical Dictionary. I also had read the material for my pathology course while at a medical trade school and I read topics online via Google & Wikipedia.
My doctor told me not to worry, that I was probably fine, but if my results said something different that he would refer me to a neurologist.
I got my referral to a neurologist in the mail after my 30th birthday. That was my breaking point. I was in a further decline than I thought, but I didn't have the luxury of giving up or getting worse.

If Nothing Changes I Have No Future

I had to find a solution because I am a very solution-minded, positive individual. I would go somewhere
that I was loved and supported, that would have warmer weather and where I would not have so many bad memories, and maybe a chance to thrive and to take care of my son. After all, what kid deserves the life that living below poverty affords?
I made a fearless attempt at starting over in Mesa, Arizona and thought that I was doing well, but I was dosing myself with caffeine to make it through 14-16 hour days for months on end, and I re-injured my sacral illiac joint that put me in a wheel chair and the pressures of a hostile work environment...I just couldn't push any longer. But every morning I got up and did it for my son. I had been working 6 days a week trying to pay my down-payment for my vehicle because I couldn't walk miles at a time. I lived on $20 a week for food, I paid $145 for childcare and I was broke.
I lost my job the day after Christmas. I was just a temp, disposable and when I didn't cow to a permanent employee's bullying I was a threat. I had been having to medicate to be able to get through each week.
As scared as I was to be unemployed, I was actually relieved. I went to DES and I got the food benefit, for the first time I was able to fill my cupboards and fridge. I had time to go to the doctor, time to talk to a disability attorney, time to drop my son off at school, time to bake and cook healthy food, time to pick him up, time to help him with his homework and time to shower.

Creative Solutions For Income

The challenge was keeping my apartment and vehicle and my bills while not becoming ineligible for disability. Wow is that ever a challenge!  A person is deemed unable to do conventional work because of health, but you have to make money to live, how? I found part time contract work, but the guy reminds me how his business is not doing well and how he can't afford me. So, I look for and apply for at home
customer service jobs and I don't get them. I have a headset and laptop cooling pad now, though.
Then there is the "get paid to post ads, pay to learn how" and I went through my share of painful lessons(with refunds) on how to get into internet marketing. I was lucky enough to meet a couple great mentors in this journey and a couple of great ladies, one of whom brought me a life changing product and I will be chronicling my journey back to health as well. I did not know how to effectively market the ahhh-mazing things that I found people could really use; a pre-paid cell phone service that pays for itself, travel coverage for my vehicle that goes beyond what insurance will do(unless you can afford the premiums), the wellness products that I discover work and of course my favorite commodity- knowledge.
I learned that ignorance is expensive and that a dedicated mentor is worth their weight in gold. It is important to be patient and to have faith, and to have a treadmill, and to eat regularly & hydrate, and to sleep...oh is that a challenge. Stress is the mother if insomnia and partner to anxiety which doesn't stop jabbering. So, I guess my really lesson that I have learned today is to reach out when I am frustrated, confused and scared and not to keep it to myself. I can work at home, because I have to and I am not alone in this journey.

Stress Fights Your Wellness

 As defined by


Stress is defined as an organism's total response to environmental demands or pressures. When stress was first studied in the 1950s, the term was used to denote both the causes and the experienced effects of these pressures. More recently, however, the word stressor has been used for the stimulus that provokes a stress response. One recurrent disagreement among researchers concerns the definition of stress in humans. Is it primarily an external response that can be measured by changes in glandular secretions, skin reactions, and other physical functions, or is it an internal interpretation of, or reaction to, a stressor; or is it both?


Stress in humans results from interactions between persons and their environment that are perceived as straining or exceeding their adaptive capacities and threatening their well-being. The element of perception indicates that human stress responses reflect differences in personality, as well as
differences in physical strength or general health.
Risk factors for stress-related illnesses are a mix of personal, interpersonal, and social variables. These factors include lack or loss of control over one's physical environment, and lack or loss of social support networks. People who are dependent on others (e.g., children or the elderly) or who are socially disadvantaged (because of race, gender, educational level, or similar factors) are at greater risk of developing stress-related illnesses. Other risk factors include feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, extreme fear or anger, and cynicism or distrust of others.

Compartmentalize Your Stress

The way I see stress is my reaction to my perceived circumstance being the cause. Think of the last thing that stressed you out and then the outcome and the fact that you are still here today.

Here is my example: Homeless 11 weeks pregnant with a dog, a cat, possessions & no job due to horrendous morning sickness.
Solution: Reaching out to others for help, got help moving, dog & cat got new homes & I got well
enough to work.
That was 7 years ago, but at the time I felt like my world was coming to a crashing halt the day that my then husband handed my divorce papers and a 48 hour vacate notice.
What was most paralyzing about the experience? Fear. A friend once told me that fear is just an acronym;
I remember that when I am overcome by feelings of fear. On July 29th, 2006 my world stopped, but it did not come to an end. I did not dissolve into a helpless puddle of nothingness. I put my stress in a box and became active, vocal and unrelenting to get where I needed to be. The few relationships that I had and the kindness of others bore me through that time. This is my seed for hope.

The reality that you might be that what you are facing right now could be more than you can bear, but it is temporary!
If your stressor is your work environment, then it might be time for a change. I could tell you studies and stories about people who have had extreme health improvements just by changing what they are doing for work.

                                                         Wellness Wheel

Wellness: Occupational

Unless you are a trust-fund baby, you have to work. To achieve wellness in working it takes more than just a job that you like and an income that you can live on, it takes having a supportive network that not only feeds into you, but that you can give back into to feel like you are a part of something and that you have a value that others need. Take time to cry and vent, then look at your goals and ask for help when you need it to get to those goals.

You may need to evaluate a few things;
Why do I work where I do?
Is this the job I want in 5, 10 or more years?
Am I treated with respect here?
Do I have more income potential?

My questions were a bit more based on working for 14 years and feeling stuck.
How come people with degrees and less experience get higher paying positions than me?
I can't afford the time for school to finish my degree, but I need more money...why doesn't anyone listen to my ideas?

I had to find something that outlet my creativity so that I was not stressed anymore when I was trying to make an income. Stress is also a creativity killer, a strategy killer and overall your brain's cement boots.

Success doesn't happen overnight, it might take a week, or two to see the fruits of your labor, sometimes a month or longer. You just have to not put down the tools. And don't try to go it alone.

Your work should not consume all of your energy hours of the day. It is important to make time for wellness activities, like yoga, walking(which helps defeat my insanity and anxiety), and of course taking time to create a healthy meal, to create something and relax your brain.

Working At Home 

I see having a work at home job as having a way to control multiple aspects of my wellness wheel my occupational, environmental, intellectual, emotional and spiritual wellness. Why? Because for the most
part, I control what I come in contact with and that affords me a sense of security, elongates my energy and provides me with a sense of fulfillment that allows me to sleep better at night and wake up with peace that I had previously never known.

Can you put a price on; 

Lower blood-pressure?
Lower weekly expenses?
More time?
No one telling you what to do?
No one questioning your capabilities, intellect, or motives?
No one talking down to you?
No harassment?
Getting to know people that you like and choosing whom you work with?

I think that you would feel the freedom of having your little universe in the palm of your hand, like the above tiny tree, a micro-ecosystem contained and calm.

Maybe you owe it to yourself to look into working at home.

For more information and to start working with me at home the smart, productive and affordable way.

Please see my blog for how to work at home too!
WorkingWithAmyAtHome YouTube channel

*This Blog is the intellectual property of Amy J. Smith, all rights reserved 2013

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