restricted access Expose of a Breakdown
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Expose of a Breakdown

Iregard my pension as a social wage, and even though I wish it took my disability and the extra costs that brings into consideration, eighteen years ago, I felt privileged to be able to work in the community, not in a sheltered workshop.

At this time, a number of us worked voluntarily for numerous little organizations when the government cut their funding and in effect, took away our jobs.

It was around this time that I started a “stress cough.” Foolishly, I didn’t take much notice. I was enjoying “life”—studying, working, taking part in a documentary called “Untold Desires” and being a member of the “Friendship Group”—in which a group of us tackled the subject and nature of friendship for people with and without disabilities. . . .

The processes and the cohesion of the group brought up a lot of “stuff” for me that I wasn’t able to articulate. It made me question the wisdom of my lifestyle up to then—of marrying a person without a physical disability, for example.

My mother used to tell me to tell him to tidy the flat, not in the least realizing that: i) it was distressing that I couldn’t do this; ii) that given all our interests it was difficult to tidy up. (This situation was also not helped, I now realize, by us trying to live and run home businesses from my small three–roomed accommodation behind my parent’s home, without enough support worker hours. . . .)

The flat was always cluttered, not conducive to encouraging a feeling of ease in us bringing clients onto the premises. As Robert’s massage workload grew, so did our underlying tension, I see now. And when I was starting to counsel other people with disabilities the situation was made worse. . . .

Added to this, my mother had, just prior to this period in our lives, stopped giving us our main meal because we were becoming more and more interested in eating organic and vegetarian food.

At the same time, listening to other group members’ stories made me realize how “undervalued” people with disabilities are in society as I had been brought up in a loving extended family and had not long been “out.”

It made me realize how much people with disabilities were constrained by lack of governmental funding for recreational—especially relationship options—with each other and with able–bodied people. The government was trying to close down little advocacy organizations that could keep this issue in the forefront of policy makers’ minds. No wonder I was getting close to breaking point! [End Page E1]

When I got really bad, my husband almost went mad himself trying to cope with me. I had been the outgoing partner in the relationship for the past 12 years. Now I was getting panic attacks and clinging like poison ivy. . . .

And the therapists I went to at that stage didn’t help. The Naturopath was so expensive she made me much worse. She had told a “friend” of Rob’s that she would treat me for $30.00 a time. She did not say that she would present me with an ever– increasing bill every time I had an appointment—to pay her back when I could! And that her admin assistant would keep commenting, in my hearing, that people wouldn’t pay their bills on time. . . . At last, when the amount got to $450.00, I paid her all my savings, and managed to quit.

I now also believe she treated me with a totally inappropriate therapy—colonic irrigation—for far too long, any natural therapist would say nowadays—five weeks!

I believe it made my mental state worse. People say that an unquiet mind can stress the body into illness but I believe losing too much weight too fast as I certainly did, stressed my mind, instead of other way around.

By this time I wasn’t only having panic attacks. I had slipped into, what I recently discovered, was a clinical depression. This brought in its wake, a terror so real, so all encompassing that I wonder I lived through a day of it—much less four...