Basic Needs Disability Grant For Cecilia With Borderline Personality Disorder
by Cecilia Lira
(Houston, Texas, USA)
My name is Cecilia Lira and I am a 47-year-old Mexican-American woman currently living in Houston, Texas. I am originally from the small towns and largely rural economy of the Rio Grande Valley of Texas.
My parents are both deceased. I share an apartment with my brother who is my only family. I never married nor had children, mostly by virtue of circumstance and not necessarily active choice.
I am trained in the biomedical sciences and in French pastry and have worked in both fields as research assistant and pasty cook/baker, respectively. While apparently startlingly disparate career choices, there were commonalities. For example, both arenas allowed me the opportunity to explore my analytical need to understand and my creative impulse to experiment.
The symptoms of depression first asserted themselves when I was four years old. The social withdrawal of Dysthymia and the alternatively unstable and intense relationships inherent to Borderline Personality Disorder kept me isolated from most normal interactions.
At this time, I started abusing food as a form of self-medication. This emotional dependence on food led inevitably to morbid obesity, which has plagued me to this day. I began to take proper medication for depression with a battery of antidepressants during my late twenties. However, the weight gain continued.
Obesity eventually led to the development of adult onset diabetes in my late thirties. As treatment, I follow a course of diet, exercise and oral medication.
I developed a fatty liver and the resultant liver cirrhosis in my forties. My pancreas is compromised and a myriad of other liver dominated biological functions are vulnerable to damage and must be held in check also through diet and medication.
My back was first damaged in college by a swimming mishap involving hyperextension of my back muscles. I was incapacitated for several days by the pain associated with walking and even sitting upright. Eventually the pain faded, but my balance and stability were never the same.
Incidents of incapacitating back pain have recurred with increasing frequency over the subsequent years. I began to miss several days of work every few months. I was dismissed first from jobs in science and then in my dream career in pastry.
I reached a point whereby I could not physically sit nor stand upright for any viable length of time. Emotionally I became prone to bouts of debilitating depression that limited my ability to concentrate and focus on detail-orientated tasks. I finally accepted that my overall ability to function was disabled by my host of escalating health conditions.
My brother and I are both disabled. We are truly grateful to have each qualified for assistance from Social Security and Medicare. However, even our combined benefits are inadequate to cover health-related expenses that fall outside the lines of Medicare coverage.
We have had to make decisions to cut costs that are now disrupting efforts to maintain our health. We no longer own a car and have grown isolated from the community and many essential activities.
Public transit is limited in my neighborhood. Even if it were readily available, I could not utilize this service in that I can not successfully climb up into a bus or even a disability van.
Taxi services in our area has become unreliable as well as cost prohibitive. I have been stranded for hours on more than one occasion. Despite their shortcomings, cab rides remain the only option open to me.
To minimize transportation expense, groceries are only purchased once a month. Items with an appropriately long enough shelf life carry high levels of sodium, fat and carbohydrates. These all aggravate both diabetes and cirrhosis.
Upon recommendation of several of my physicians, I have begun low impact water exercises. This activity has positively impacted my back pain, weight issues and even my mental/emotional state.
Lack of transportation has restricted the performance of this therapeutic activity to the unheated open-air pool at my apartment complex. Drops in temperature have turned the water bitterly cold and increased the incidence of back pain. Formal aqua aerobic classes in a climate-controlled facility are needed but inaccessible. The lack of reliable inexpensive transportation and the eventual cost of membership fees at the pool keep me isolated and ill.
I worked as a research assistant, laboratory manager, baker in a corporate cafeteria and a pastry cook in an international hotel. These jobs all required standing for long periods of time. My health issues ended these careers.
I took several temporary jobs in customer service. Emotionally ill suited to this occupation as well as physically subject to chronic pain, I could not acquire permanent employment.
I attempted retraining with the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. My physical and emotional limitations made it difficult to participate in many of their programs. It was concluded that the rehabilitated services they offered could not help me and my file was closed.
I started a small online storefront where I sold crocheted crafts. It never proved to be lucrative, only earning enough to pay the operating fees.
I applied for social security disability benefits and was thankfully accepted.
The primary obstacles I face are related to the lack of reliable and inexpensive personal transportation. This would provide access to neighborhood resources that promote healthy life choices such as fresh food and the performance of regular exercise.
I have researched the options for reasonable personal transportation. I have found that Low Speed Vehicles (LSV) would best serve my need as a low income disabled person. The batteries in these vehicles are low maintenance and inexpensive to run. Large door openings and low ground clearance allow easy entry and exit.
I am currently seeking out agencies that provide grants or vouchers or some other up-front assistance for the purchase of a used LSV.
I also seek advice and perhaps financial assistance as seed funding in establishing a savings account to facilitate saving money for vehicle maintenance and pool membership dues.
I have sold crocheted crafts via a small online storefront. It has never proven to be lucrative, earning only enough to pay the operating fees. I began crochet as a form of therapy in the treatment of depression.
The site successfully allowed me to share my work and connect with other yarn enthusiasts online. Therefore, I have held on to the store despite a lack of inventory.
I would like to revive this business by restocking it with my handmade items but need access to local suppliers and shipping vendors. I have tried online venues, but have found them to be restrictively expensive.
I would also like to explore the feasibility of the low speed electric vehicle for disabled people as a means to gain access to the community.
The creation of a nonprofit organization pilot program to test this idea is currently beyond my ability to do alone. I would like to propose the plan to existing organizations both governmental and charitable.
I would like to participate in establishing any such test program by collecting and analyzing data generated, filing grant proposals with government institutions and whatever other activities that need to be addressed and for which my background in scientific research is well suited.