Applying for SSDI soon.... for both RA and Bipolar

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Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 553
   Posted 4/24/2009 10:25 PM (GMT -7)   

Now that I have been out of work for 2 years, our bills have made it necessary that I need to get a job. The problem is- I don't think I could hold a job anymore.  I used to do retail selling or lactation counseling, but on MTX and almost a year on prednisone, I am afraid to work a job that puts me so close to public.  I'm not qualified for much else. 

I don't have extreme pain, but I have moderate pain and irritation nearly all the time from RA. And I am also Bipolar.  On the whole I am much more stable than I once was.  I have learned coping techniques, and I am happy with my Bipolar meds on their own.  I do have swings, but not nearly as pronounced or as often as I used to have.  Some are worse than others.  The RA meds are still a work in progress.

My last swing brought me 36 hours without sleep, and another couple days of very little sleep.  Lots of fights, and I bought and read a book series that I knew I couldn't afford within that time.  Afterward, I spent almost 3 days in bed.  I didn't eat, and I didn't sleep, I was just there.  After 3 days I made myself get moving, and after a few days of pushing myself through the fatigue I felt better. While I am better than I was before treatment, I am this way without the stress of employment.  No employer would tolerate someone to flake out of work for 10 days or more in a row several time a year.  

Because of the bipolar tendencies, I am nearly unable to make subjective decisions concerning the pain I feel over time.  When I am in a high cycle, I can't seem to remember any pain.  I don't seem to remember being depressed.  I feel like I must have been over exagerating my intolerance and can do without most treatment.  I will downplay symptoms in my own mind, and overstress my body without seeming to realize it.  When I am in a low cycle any discomfort is excruciating and I am unable to cope with it.  I can't remember ever feeling better, and I have no vision that it will ever get any better.  I might not physically feel any worse than I did in a high, but I am unable to cope with the pain.  Fatigue causes me to stop moving and joints become more painful.  It all depends on when you speak to me as to how I feel I am doing- even if the situation is exactly the same.  I must depend on my family and friends a journal to give perspective to the situation.

The worst part about all of this is the side effects and how it affects me mentally.  My word recall is terrible.  I sometimes just give up on what I want to say because I can't remember how to say it.  It drives me crazy.  Sometimes when I drive I forget to turn when I need to turn, or just pass by where I was supposed to stop without even realizing it.  A few blocks later I figure it out and have to turn around and backtrack to where I wanted to be.  Sometimes my car seems to just go on autopilot to church when I really wanted to go somewhere else.  I get halfway there and have to turn around.  I'm starting to think I should avoid driving, but how can I avoid it?  I can't seen to make my brain do math.  The concepts that my 2nd and 5th grade children are learning are hard for me to get my brain around.  I used to love math, right up till I started some of the medications, now I can't do it without extreme difficulty. Also, be able to complete a series of tasks I must make detailed checklists and refer back to them consistently to remain on task.  I have dry erase boards posted around the house to right TO DO lists of that day's chores and needed tasks.  I check them off as they are done, and add to it as I come up with more. If I go out, I write the list out and carry it with me, checking it throughout the day.  My calender is a lifesaver since I forget appointments without it and constantly overbook myself.

Because of the clinical aspect of both RA and Bipolar I don't have much in the way of actual times and locations of when I became "disabled".  There is no "line in the sand" that I crossed on a particular day.  I have lost no jobs over these conditions, but I have gotten worse over the 2 years I have been without a job.  I could possibly find a job that I could do, but I would need a degree to get it, and without being able to concentrate in simple tasks, unable to handle stress (aggravates both conditions), unable to predict how much energy I will have in the future weeks, prone to extreme fatigue or strange decisions, I cannot foresee me passing many classes. 

With just one of the conditions I think I would be able to "push on" to get a job and make money, I did it for over a year before I left my job to go to school.  I pushed through school with Bipolar and learned great coping techniques from it.  I don't believe I could do it with both conditions.  I feel like I can barley get through being responsible for my own children sometimes.  I have to rely so heavily on friends and family I find myself refusing to ask for help when it is not absolutely needed, because I absolutely need their help so often.  I don't want to become the "needy friend".

So, after all of that to explain my position, do you think I have a case to get labeled as "disabled" and in need of a monthly check?  Has anyone else done it?  What kind of opposition did you face?  I see it as swallowing a big chunk of my pride to say that I am unhireable and in need of public support.  I don't see that I have any other choice.  Do you think I should go ahead in my case?  Just tell me I am not crazy.

Current medications:
Bipolar treatment-Lamictal, 200mg, Mood stabelizer, daily(main side effect: brain fog) Bipolar treatment-Cymbalta, 40mg, Antidepressant, daily(main side effect: GI upset, decreased clotting, insominia) Anemia, Fatigue treatment- Iron supplement, 65mg, daily(main side effect: constipation) Insominia treatment- Ambien, 10mg, daily(main side effect: amnesia eppisodes between taking pill and falling asleep) Mania treatment- Alprazolam, .25mg, Very rarely(main side effect: fatigue, slowing of thoughts, depression of CNS, can't take ambien or vicodin when on it) RA treatment- Plaquenil, 400mg, daily(main side effect: GI upset, decreased clotting) RA treatment- Methotrexate, 25mg, 1X weekly(main side effects: hair loss, stomach upset, mouth sores, sore muscles, fatigue, brain fog, compromised immune system, decreased Folic Acid absorption) GI upset treatment- Leucovorin Calcium, 10mg 1x weekly(main side effects: ?) Folic Acid defintioncy- Folic Acid, 1mg, daily(main side effects: ?) RA treatment- Prednisone, 8mg(and decreasing...)daily(main side effects: increased manic eppisodes, constipation, brain fog, bone density degeneration, compromised immune system) Multi-mineral Supplement (main side effects: constipation, GI upset) Constipation treatment- Docusate Sodium, 200mg, daily(main side effects:?) pain control- Motrin, 800mg, PRN Q6hours daily(main side effects: GI upset, decreased clotting) Pain Control- Vicodin, 5-500mg, PRN Q12hours regularly (main side effects: brain fog, fatigue)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2008
Total Posts : 1670
   Posted 4/24/2009 11:05 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Christina, I don't live in the States so I'm not sure how disability works over there, but to me I would go and have a serious talk with your doctor about everything. You really sound as if you are stressed with the uncertaincy of your arthritis and bipolar conditions, I think you are definately not crazy and need help. When things are tight financially it is even more stressful, I'd go and see your doctor and lay it all down. Are they sympathetic to you? I'm sending you a huge hug and much positive energy. Go and get some help.
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