If you see the relatively short snippets of "ok," "not ok," "REALLY not ok" and "ok but not really ok" facebook posts from me and wonder about the details, where here's a bit more info about the how I'm really doing picture.
I'm working part-time. It works out ok. I can do it from home and it doesn't usually suck up too much brain or really any creativity. I like it pretty well and even love some aspects of it, and it does good things for the brain. It doesn't pay all the bills, but it does most of the most important stuff. I am not able to do that job full time. I tried last Spring, and while it kinda went ok as far as the work goes, everything else in life was all but completely off the table. I don't think I did any dishes for like 4 weeks. And then it took at least 2 weeks after going back to part-time before I kinda sorta resumed what had been passing for normal functionality (*for me, which is a low bar). And that wasn't even FULL full time. It did 30-35 hours/ week for 4 weeks. It was not a good time. So, day job has to stay part-time.
But since day-job takes up very little creativity, I can work on art or writing in some of the remaining time. It uses different brain and contributes greatly to the "positive feedback loops" that my brain most needs, so the cumulative effort cost of that + day job part time is lower than the effort cost of day-job at full time. And when art pays, it pays a lot more. I've been very fortunate to bring in commissions (combined with graphics & video gigs) with increasing consistently for a bit now, even though the pace at which I can get them done wobbles a bunch & varies widely.
Great, right? Well. So here's the thing.
Not a lot of people know, but I suspect many could guess, that I've been on medicaid for some years now, during the worst of the brain injury and the very slow and very wobbly ramp to current functionality. And yeah, I was on SNAP ("food stamps") for much of that, too.
With that consistent extra artstuff income, I have edged above the medicaid qualification line (I haven't qualified for SNAP for quite a while now). I still qualify for tax credit / subsidy towards an individual healthcare plan, but even low premium / low co-pay is beyond a budget that is still struggling to handle the rates increase on electricity. Going from no-copay to "just $20" for my once-a-week therapist (yeah, that's $80/month if you math, on top of the premium and any other health stuff that might come up) gave me a helluva few meltdowns. Oh, and all my prescriptions have co-pays now, too, to the tune of $85+/month total. And that's after my awesome pharmacist has searched high & low & far & wide for discounts & coupons. I am looking into direct fill options to see if that can save a little $.
Multiple people suggested going to the therapist every other week to reduce the costs, but I don't think the world could handle more unsupported meltdowns (I KNOW that I can't).
I am doing VERY well COMPARATIVELY speaking, but it does't take much to trigger a meltdown, whether it be water in the basement again, not getting invited to a thing, or dealing with the health insurance options that changed from 2023 to 2024, it's been weeks since I've had a week without a meltdown. Unless some of y'all want to volunteer to handle the off-weeks' meltdowns, it's not viable. And then there's TRYing to return to the big stuff & EMDR I was working on BEFORE the accident happened. I'm a mess.
I have wonderful amazing supportive friends and I am deeply grateful for & indebted to, but they have their own things going on and boundaries and some things are really truly therapist-only, and much of what I need is not just someone to listen. And no, some cheaper or free online therapist is not viable, I switched last year and it took like 6 sessions just to get her up to speed on most of the lay of the land. And I'm picky about therapists. I need way more than another set of eyes / an objective perspective on life. I have old traumas I'm trying to (re-)process. In the years before the accident, I tried a few therapists to work on that stuff, and it took a bit to find someone that was right. I'd rather switch cars while speeding down the highway than add a personnel change to my current mess
Have I mentioned all that stress & meltdowns seriously impacts my ability to get those artstuff commissions done, AND also impacts my day-job capabilities, not to mention getting to *my* personal art & writing projects… ?
Somewhere in there, and medicaid woulda covered it or at least appeared like it was going to, I got referred to ADHD / neuropsych testing, the theory being that with a better sense of what was up on my brain, I could develop better strategies to ease the load and level up and be capable of moar. I even had appointments all lined up for the end of last year, but had to cancel them when the insurance changed. Sure, a quickie gofundme might've covered it, but at the very least, it seemed prudent to wait so it would all apply towards 2024's deductible.
And so that's where it's at. The Amazing Heather wondered very quickly if a gofundme should be the answer to the ADHD testing. And then more recently, tallied up the expected costs of my healthcare throughout the year. And the Amazing Cousin Amy also offered to help with some costs. So there will very probably be a gofundme thing about that stuff relatively soon, and so the immediate short term and mid-term extra red-alerts will probably be yellow alerts soon enough. Then maybe long-term possibilities can find their way to the table. In the meantime…
With the alleviation of some of the worry over the things that are the scotch tape & rubberbands & paperclips holding me together, I can maybe figure out how to sort out the Oranges' health care needs - They're a month overdue for routine shots, and as they're turning 16 and the end of February, they need full senior cat test panels. And there's enough elder kitty "up" with them that they might need additional tests or imaging.
Can I just say I hate this? That I can be doing SO much better and still be SO far behind? To have had SO MUCH HELP already and still NEED SO MUCH MORE? I have climbed SO FAR out of a VERY DEEP HOLE, and there's still SO MUCH MORE HOLE ahead of me. Someone keeps kicking sand & rocks & twigs from above, too.
This is not where I thought I would be as I muddle through my mid-50s. Particularly with the suspicion that there may be no combination of therapy & prescriptions & diagnoses that will ever really get me over the functionality line to actually manage the minimum requirements of getting by.
Here's another picture of my cats. XOXO & peace.
Edit/Addition a few weeks later: After some further healthcare plan adjustments and financial shifts, things are less overwhelming and bleak, tho' still needing some assistance. It's more finite, and I'm still gathering data before doing anything further or more specific. So the cats' needs are more pressing now while "my" kerfuffle is sort of leveling out.
author / artist rambles on about painting, writing, cats, punk rock, vampires, ska-core, mTBI, comics, and life in general.