This Twisted Web

abstractish.jpgAnother piece of ‘art’ courtesy of yours truly.

Let’s set the stage. I’ve currently got over $60,000 of student debt to pay back before I die. The reasons for that amount are their own story. Had I got into nursing school my freshman year of college, or applied to OT school after my junior year (and made it in, and graduated, and then got a job), I might have more or less loans, but I’d likely be able to pay them off in due time. If I were working as a full-time recreation therapist, having not gone to OT school, the progress would be a bit slower, but still achievable.

Instead of getting references and GRE scores near the end of my junior year, I was served with a incurable chronic illness diagnosis and some medication Rx’s.

And now, in spite of some more Rxs’, I can only work part-time. I can’t do that as a recreation therapist – if I end up making too much I can say goodbye to my Medicaid health coverage, which is enabling me to work in the first place. However, I’m also not making enough to comfortably take on all of my student loans, and this is while living at home.

How am I expected to escape this web? Watching the progress of the latest healthcare massacre bill, I’ve nervous. What’s going to happen to me? Maybe I won’t lose my healthcare immediately, but what about a few years down the road? I still won’t be working full-time as far as I know, so I won’t be able to get employer insurance. And without those essential medications, I regress. I can’t concentrate or remember things, and then it becomes difficult to stay awake. Not just difficult, impossible. I remember falling asleep while standing up, during conversations, dazedly walking from here to there and not remembering how that happened.

I remember desperately running stairs, pinching and scratching myself, eating or drinking, anything to stay awake. And usually failing; unable to concentrate because everything about me is just.so.tired. and then getting to the point where cataplexy is inevitable. Not feeling like anyone believed me, and questioning whether I was, in fact, making it either worse than it was or making something out of nothing. The depression that whispers at first and sounds inviting, but only wraps you in a cold blanket of self-loathing or numbness.

I know I’ve written this all before, likely multiple times, but I think it’s because I’m still trying to make sense of it. Myself had no idea what was going on and truly believed I was causing my own problems. I coped in every way I could possibly find, and a lot of those were not healthy. I try to revisit this time period, to learn from it, and find that it’s hard – I cannot stay long because it feels suffocating, overwhelmingly sad and dire. I’ve obviously got some processing to do, but I’ve come so far in the last few months. I can’t lose that, whether it’s to my loans or job or insurance.

Reality may hit sooner than I’d like. Here in a little over a year, this unicorn of a job that was literally placed in my lap, with an amazingly compassionate manager could be gone. With an aging owner in another state, this local health foods store has been picked apart by large chain competition also has an expensive lease that will be counterproductive to renew. What then? Grad school, to do what, escape? Or pile on more loans? Start my own business, but with what saved up?

I’d love to get out of the web, but with no ground, branches, or anything in site, I don’t know which way to jump. If it were just me I had to worry about, it might (or might not) be easier, but my jump will inevitably create ripples or waves for others. Dwelling on it doesn’t help me, as I’ve learned the hard way, but I think acknowledging and giving it a voice on my own terms does.

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