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The Unseen Side of My Life on Disability Benefits

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“It must be nice to not have to work for your money.”

“I’m jealous you get to do nothing all day.”

“What do you have to be tired for, you don’t do anything.”

At some point it seems like we’ve all heard our fair share of misconceptions about being on disability.

As someone with a physical and mental health disability, I’ve heard it all. A lot of times I hear it from people close to me. Because my conditions are not visible to the eye, some people think they must not be real. You can’t see the pain I’m in every day because of my fibromyalgia. You can’t see my anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.

You see that I don’t work. I don’t go to school. I don’t go out much, and I don’t have many friends.

You can’t see that I worked my ass off to get into college and maintain a 4.0 until I got too sick to continue. You can’t see that I’ve left numerous jobs that I loved because my anxiety told me I couldn’t. You can’t see that because of my issues, I’ve lost a lot of my friends.

You see that I’m home all the time. I’m always online. I’m up all hours of the night.

You can’t see how my depression and anxiety keep me indoors from the fear of having to interact with people. You can’t see that the reason I go online is to connect with people in the only way I know how to right now. You can’t see that I’m in so much physical pain I can’t sleep.

What you can see are the years of medical bills from being in and out of the hospital so many times I can’t count. You can see the pill bottles. You can see my scars. You can see my body twitch when I get a stabbing pain. You can see the exhaustion in my face from fighting these battles on a daily basis.

Being on disability isn’t easy, and it’s not what most of the people who are on it want. We don’t want our lives to be altered by an illness. We don’t put in all the time and effort into making a good life for ourselves just to have to call it quits. It can be very isolating being on disability. You don’t see your coworkers every day anymore. You don’t see your friends as much. And a lot of times, you lose yourself in the process of grieving the person you used to be.

When you look at disability, what do you see? Look deeper. Don’t judge. It’s impossible to imagine what someone is going through if you are not living through it.

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Thinkstock photo by Mubai.

Originally published: November 6, 2017
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