Bipolar Disorder Disabled Writer Seeks Spirit Uplifting Disability Grant Money
by Ebony Woods
(Lawrenceville, GA USA)
I am a single, childless 50-year-old woman with an unwavering determination to reach my potential. I am driven by a desire not to be defined by my past.
I have worked hard to overcome the obstacles placed in my path early on in life. And I am reaching out for help now to help me achieve the goal of becoming a writer.
I have had a passion for writing since early adolescence. My ability to articulate well and vent my pain and frustration through the written word has enabled me to cope and endure seemingly insurmountable odds.
I started writing shortly before I ran away from home at age 13 to escape a very abusive home life.
I became a ward of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Initially I spent some time in foster care, but eventually entered an all-girls boarding school.
I received an excellent education and worked part-time after school babysitting, housecleaning and working summers in other odd jobs until age 16.
At age 16 I petitioned the court for emancipation. My petition was granted, and I became my own legal guardian.
I finished my last two years of high school while working part-time.
Throughout my childhood, it had always been my dream to become a pediatrician and open free clinics to serve the underprivileged.
But because I needed to be self-supporting and I knew nothing about financial aid back then, I had to give up my dream and join the full-time workforce.
I have done clerical and accounting work for most of the last three decades, not because I had a passion for it, but rather as a means to an end. Namely, to put food on the table and keep a roof over my head.
I stopped working in 2008 but maintain a desire to be self-supporting. However, as much as I want to return to the workforce, I have no desire or ability to go back into accounting.
I would like to spend my remaining years doing something I have a passion for… writing.
With my personal experiences with sexual, physical and emotional abuse as a child coupled with the psychiatric help I have received as an adult, as well as my faith, which has been an anchor for my soul, I am convinced that I could make a meaningful contribution to society through my writings.
However, because I have no formal training in my field of interest, I would like to return to school and get at least an Associates degree, possibly a Bachelors.
As far as employment is concerned, 50 is not a desirable age. But I feel I can make a successful transition back into the work force because writing is essentially an ageless profession and one in which life and experience is a definite plus.
Being able to be self-sustaining has always given me a measure of dignity and self-respect, two key elements of self-esteem that I was virtually stripped of as a result of the abuse and depraved indifference I have experienced with my family.
I earnestly struggled with poor self-esteem for years. Through my faith and intense therapy it has finally been restored.
But the crowning touch would be my being able to make a meaningful contribution to others like me, whose experiences in life have left them broken in their strong places.
I would rather work at something that could benefit my fellow man than sit at home and wait on a government check each month.
I can remember suffering with mind-numbing depression and suicidal thoughts from the age of nine onward. I had my first psychotic break at 18 or 19.
Initially, I was diagnosed as Schizophrenic. But once I started being seen regularly by a Psychiatrist, my diagnosis was changed to Bipolar I.
Thirty years ago the drugs that were used to treat bipolar disorder caused some very debilitating side effects. Had I been compliant with treatment, I would not have been able to maintain employment.
In fact, during my second hospitalization (also due to a psychotic break), the attending Psychiatrist told me that I would "never be able to hold down a steady job," or "make a meaningful contribution to Society. You need to get on Social Security Disability."
I'll never forget those words. It made me angry and fueled my dogged determination to prove him and everyone else like him dead wrong.
So for the first 20 years following that second hospitalization in 1982, I was basically non-compliant with treatment. I only consented to it when I would get sick and be hospitalized. However, as I grew older, the relapses became more frequent and my quality of life suffered.
Fortunately, the drugs now offered to treat Bipolar disorder aren't as harsh as their predecessors and no longer turn you into a zombie. Because of these advances, I have been compliant with treatment for the last 10 years.
Unfortunately, this is now the second time In 21 years that circumstances have caused me to become disabled.
The first time was December of 1991. I received benefits from 1992 until 1994 or 1995 (can't remember which), until I was strong enough and healthy enough to return to the work force.
I worked from 1994 or 1995 until October 2008 when, as a result an unreasonable work load that led to 80 hour work weeks, and insomnia, I had a major psychotic break and became disabled.
I have been receiving Social Security Disability since April of 2009. While I am eager to return to work, I know that the deadline pressures and demands of the accounting field are more than I can reasonably handle.
I am stable and have been able to go from taking more than half a dozen psychiatric drugs back in the early 2000s to taking just three. Basically, as long as I get sufficient rest and take my Anti-psychotic medication I stay on an even keel.
I need a low-pressure, minimally stressful career. Writing is perfect for me. Expressing myself through the printed word is as natural for me as breathing.
My basic living expenses use up virtually all of my Social Security Disability benefits. To reduce my monthly expenses, I have applied to public housing. Unfortunately, even if I do qualify for that, I am still in need of assistance.
Due to hospitalizations stemming from my bipolar disorder, I have some unpaid medical expenses. Some have gone to collections; others are more recent.
I also have severe periodontal disease which necessitates the removal of all my upper teeth, as well as some of my lower and I will need dentures.
This is key to my making myself presentable for employment. I have applied to an online/on-campus University, and I have applied for financial aid as well.
Financial aid covers about half of the tuition and expenses, but I am still left with the remaining balance. Although this is the closest school that offers the degree I am looking for it is not accessible by public transportation and I will need a car.
I have been receiving SSDI since 2009.
In December of 2011, I started working part-time as a telemarketer for the American Kidney Services. Unfortunately this was a commission-only position and I was not able to make a livable wage (I averaged between $12-$20 per week). I stopped working for them in April of this year.
I have been searching for work online but have been told that I will need to upgrade my computer equipment, as it is 10 years old.
I will also need to install a landline and purchase a couple of other telephone accessory items in order to qualify for employment. Those expenses are more than my budget will allow at this time.
However, if I successfully enroll in school, and receive financial aid, the cost of a new computer would be covered by my financial aid.
Also, I am very much interested in the job opportunities that your organization, Accessible.org is offering.
While I am in school, my goal is to supplement my Social Security benefits by earning $700 per month gross, preferably by working online.
With this additional income, I would be better able to meet my financial obligations.
I am looking for grants that will help me to pay for school, medical expenses, dental expenses and transportation.
I came to this website some time ago, but was reluctant to apply because I don't like asking for handouts.
However, after many months of job searching for online positions, I recognize that I need financial assistance in order to become financially independent again.