Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Getting Off SSI? Maybe...

So it's been a kinda crazy week. When it rains, it pours. First I got accepted to a screenwriting program at the College of Santa Fe - a lifelong dream come true, certainly - and then I saw the price tag.

$13K just seemed like an awful lot of money to try and borrow - particularly when you really live on a fixed income from Social Security. Rules say someone *can* loan me the money, even if I can't actually repay it. In other words, the loans would live under my parent's names, and if I didn't make as a screenwriter, I could mow lawns for the rest of my life trying to pay them back.

They were into it. Despite my mostly miserable track record (ha!) they still believe in me. I should say my mom does - my dad does too, but he probably wouldn't have helped - he's got a lot on his plate, but maybe he might've. In any case...

As I was trying to figure that out, I was Offered a Job. A real job. 40 hours a week. With a salary. And benefits. Paid vacation. Insurance. A fancy title. And more or less a dream job - doing what I already do but for people with Budgets and Bottom Lines and Business Sense. For a gallery, writing and marketing and all that good junk. A gallery with 60 artists and an 8000 -plus mailing listing and scores of regular buyers. Name artists. People I'd get to meet and talk to about their work. Ho-boy.

I had to take it - I had less than a day to decide - the owners were taking off to Art Basel-Miami the next morning. I panicked - fled to the casino to play penny slots (one of my weirder not-so-coping techniques) but stopped half-way there, called them, and accepted the gig. Then went out for drinks with friends, celebrating, chasing the numb and the tingly away. Ate a fattening dinner of chicken fried steak and went out to some club.

Today I met with my psychiatrist and my therapist, nervously wondering aloud if I'm actually sane enough to work. The big big issue, of course, is the insurance. Can I hang on to Medicaid for awhile if I get off cash benefits? Better still, since my doctor doesn't take the company's insurance, can I hang on to Medicaid after that? Going to Social Security tomorrow to ask. But here's some reassuring gobbledy-gook I found on the Social Security website:

  • Extended Medicare Coverage. Section 202 extends the period of premium free Medicare Part A coverage and requires consumer protection for some individuals with Medigap coverage. Individuals receiving Social Security Disability Insurance who elect to work above threshold levels (substantial gainful activity) can maintain their Medicare coverage for eight and a half years after they return to work.
Wonder if that's the way it really works. I sure hope so.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Retire the Bouncing Blogger? Not Yet

So, I had a weird but positive experience with this blog recently. I was busy schmoozing folks in a certain ogranization for work, when I got mail from the Admin. Assistant inside the company. He told me he'd google'd me and checked out some ALL of my blogs, including this one, and replied in more or less the following fashion:

"I think you're really brave to be upfront about your condition. No one knows but my shrink and I would be really scared if anyone at work knew. I don't know how they'd treat me or if they'd figure out ways to fire me. I've never talked to a fellow patient - do you think we could meet sometime and talk about meds and stuff?"

Absolutely, I replied, and we set a date, but it started me to thinking: should I really be as out there as I am with all this? After all, I'm a writer, which is fine if I just write fiction and hide in my little garret. But I write PR and marketing copy and all kinds of goofy stuff for companies that want CLEAN high-profiles, not messy crazy ones. As a client and friend recently pointed out, "your business is PR, so to a degree, you gotta be squeaky-clean yourself."

With everyone and their dog out there googling potential hires or scouring the Internet looking for people's posts with Deep Content, you'd think I'd wise up and stop telling people I'm a manic-depressive, live and global like I do.

But the way i figure it - it's just too damn late for me to hide. And besides, there are folks out there like that A.A., who find me and figure out that they're not the ONLY BiPolar kid who isn't drooling in a gutter somewhere. (Been there, but now *there's* a story I might not repeat too often.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Free Meds are Cheaper than Jails

So there's this law down in Albuquerque that has hit my radar but which I've also been avoiding - these types of things tend to make me mad enough to wonder if the meds ever worked, so I'm not thinking about the new law *too much*. The gist is this: it's now "illegal" for the mentally ill to not take their meds. Uh-huh. And I suppose what this means is that if you commit a crime on a med vacation, you can get charged with two crimes?

Who *are* these idiot lawmakers? (Mayor Chavez is the most grand-standing shit I've ever come in contact with,) but let's face it, he's not dumb enough to know that the reason that most people are OFF their meds for an extended period of time is because they can't AFFORD to buy them. So the city of Albuquerque ponied up some dough to make med compliance a possibility for Duke City crazies, right? Wrong again, pistolero. Compliance is your responsibility, financial and otherwise.

It's like they want to criminalize a *medical* condition. I hear the ACLU is suing, but jesus h. christ - the ignorance is just appalling. Are voters in the northeast heights sooo stupid and so mental health unaware that they think this is a just law? Chavez better hope so...