I have my hearing today. I’m not sure what’s going to happen. My worry is that one of a handful of things will go wrong. I don’t exactly look sick, physically, and I look very young, so it does worry me that the ALJ will make a snap judgment about me based on that stuff and not about whether or not I really need help.
There’s also the matter of my transness. Most people are fine with it, but those who aren’t fine with it are typically very far from fine. The fact that this person is educated and living in a larger metro area means that she is more likely to have liberal leanings and therefore to be, if not understanding about my transness, then at least fair about it.
But this isn’t something I can predict with any certainty. After all, many conservative republicans become lawyers and judges, or are otherwise highly educated, live in large metro areas, and so on. It doesn’t mean much that these things are true of her.
For the last decade or so, whenever I’ve dealt with a major life event, I’ve dealt with it by restricting my food intake for a period of time. At this point, I’m not necessarily doing it with intent, but I’m not sure I can make myself eat anything until at after the hearing is over. This may prove advantageous, if the object of the event is to convince those present that I’m not well. I’m at my least well when I’m starving. It brings out all my symptoms. But it doesn’t make this a good idea.
I’ve waited a long time for this, and it’s hard to believe it’s happening, but even if I get approval, I won’t likely receive any benefits until December or January at the earliest. I wonder if there is anything I can do to expedite things.
It just seems that there should be a way to prioritize cases in which the person is essentially destitute, as I am, in a manner similar to the way that they’re apparently able to prioritize cases which are terminal and will quickly lead to death. I should ask my lawyer about this, I guess, but I have a feeling he’ll just tell me to wait.
I’ve done years of waiting. I’m tired. It’s been a demoralizing, arduous process, and coming to terms with actually being disabled and being unable to work has not exactly been fun for me. I don’t mean to say that I look down on others in similar situations, but productivity has been core to my sense of self for as long as I can remember, and so has my independence, and in this, I don’t feel productive or independent at all.
So, I have this appointment at 11 AM for a hearing, with an ALJ, and a vocational expert of some sort is going to be offering testimony of some sort. My dad is taking me. We’re going to leave at about quarter to 8 and go to the health department to attempt to get my records from there, and then we’re going to Jacksonville, which Google says should only take about an hour and 20, but it’s on the southside. We almost always get lost when we go over there, so we want to give ourselves plenty of time for that.
I’ve looked at the checklist of things that you have to have in order to get approved for bipolar disorder, and I meet the criteria, and I’ve written up some notes about that. I have directions. I have a folder full of records I wanted to turn in last week but couldn’t because of the storm. I have my outfit prepared: black jeans, probably a blue shirt, a gray blazer, and a pair of tennis shoes with black socks. The blazer is wrinkled, but honestly, that can only help me at this point.
I might trade in the blazer for my black cardigan. But I don’t know. The point is, I’ve tried to think of everything I could possibly do to prepare, and I feel like I should get approved. But I also feel like a lot of things should be different than what they are at this point, so until there’s money in the bank, I won’t believe anything is certain.
In other news, I’ve had a lot of time to think lately, and as hard as it will be, I think I need to start actually dealing with the fallout from dropping out of grad school. Philosophy is a part of me. I don’t want to be unable to engage with that for the rest of my life because of bad experiences I had in the past. I don’t want to lose it forever.
I’ve been looking for something to replace it, because I didn’t want to deal, and honestly, I’m tired of looking. I still can’t work, and I don’t know if I’d ever want to go back to graduate school, but that’s not exactly a requirement, these days, for becoming an expert in much of anything.
I’ve done all I can to this point. All I can do now is go to this hearing and be honest. That’s the good and bad of it: I don’t have to make anything up. I hate that I’m sick, but at least if I am, I don’t have to worry about being caught in some lie. I say this, because I worry, like I said, given my age, people might think I’m faking. People say, you don’t look sick, as if that means anything.
It’s like saying, you don’t look transgender. So, what, you’re the trans whisperer now? All trans people look alike? You’re an expert at spotting trans people, of all kinds, “passing” and otherwise? What are you trying to say? It’s like that. It makes no goddamn sense and just shows how ignorant people are.
I just have to hope that these people are less ignorant when it comes to mental and invisible illnesses than the general population tends to be. The unfortunate truth is that this is not a guarantee. Anyone has the capability to be ableist. A system that keeps someone waiting for over two years like this doesn’t exactly make me optimistic when I think about their hiring choices. Approval rates for ALJs are a matter of public record; however, there’s virtually no data on particular rulings and why they ruled the way they did, which is understandable. But if any data could help me to better predict the outcome here, that would be it. Then again, as I say that, I’m painfully aware that most days I don’t exactly have the spoons to peruse a mountain of data, no matter how useful it could be.
Anyway, I’m just tired, and I’m ready for this to be over. I have no idea what I’ll do if it doesn’t work out, but I’m trying not to think about that.