There are so many things I am still learning to deal with post-stroke and one of those things is STRESS. I’ve learned some of the bigger things to avoid like waiting last-minute to do gift shopping for holidays and birthdays (doesn’t mean I always succeed at avoiding it). One thing I can’t avoid that causes me great stress, however: the mail. It’s become an evil demon that lurks in a metal box just outside my cul-de-sac. I can see it from my kitchen window. Sometimes it brings awesome things like gift cards from my kids’ insurance just for keeping up with appointments. But those times are so few and far between that it doesn’t make up for the many times I chew my nails down to the skin as I stand and stare at the thick stack my husband just brought in from THE BOX.
I can tell just by the width and length of some envelopes when it’s time to really panic. Long envelopes are usually nothing more than junk mail: snail spam and scams, and reminders to attend local events I’ve never once considered to participate in. Shorter envelopes are usually bills. I pay all mine online so those are actually quite irrelevant to me. Every now and then you get a long envelope that is asking you redo your electric contract and those stress me out. I know I’m going to be confused. I know when I open the stupid thing all of the words are going to blur into one big puddle of whaaaat? I set those aside, wait a day or week and then I freak out because
I have one day to send this in or I lose my offered discount!
Anxiety is not my friend. We don’t have one of those love/hate relationships. It’s just straight hate. Little bastard likes to bring me trouble and I like to do my best to fight it off like a beast, which probably makes me a nuisance to the fucker. He won’t let me outside alone, go to the store alone, answer the phone for unknown callers or answer the door when “we’re” not expecting anyone. Anxiety hates me…but I hate him too. See how it works?
Kasper brought in some mail yesterday and he didn’t tell me. I think he knew what he had done the moment I said “Oh is this the mail?” and he came running in. He knows I don’t handle the mail very well. It’s why he sorts it first before handing it to me. Sometimes I forget we do things a certain way for a reason. It was too late. I had already started looking at the envelopes and all I kept yelling out was “What is this?” and “What is this?” and “What is this?” and finally, after going through it all then back again, “What is this?” Another envelope I dislike greatly is very familiar to us 47%-ers. They are wide and sometimes fat because they jam so many different papers and such in them. They freak me out! Yesterday I got three of these puppies. Want to talk about a nervous breakdown because I about had one. One was to verify my disability to SNAPS and a job verification for Kasper to send in from work. That’s fine and I actually expected it. I had to reapply recently and they told me they were sending “forms” but that was it. I go through the papers and see there is a due date and it was for yesterday. They sent the letter last Monday, the week of Thanksgiving. It didn’t reach my house in enough time for me to see my doctor about it or for Kasper to have had his boss fill this paper out before it was due.
I open the next envelope, it’s actually from SSA and there’s two of them. Both of them are addressed to me. I initially thought they were notices about the COLA which gives me a couple extra bucks every year as a type of raise. It’s bullshit. Last year I got like 8 bucks. Year before it was 13. My kids each got an extra dollar. I have no idea who they think that will help. I take that extra few bucks though and I’m grateful for it; I won’t send it back! So I’m reading the first envelope assuming it’s COLA-related and thinking the second envelope is for my other son. I quickly discover there’s a reason we shouldn’t assume things and yeah, asshole of the day award goes to moi!
The first letter was to tell me I will be representative payee for JJ. I already knew this so the panic from the SNAPS papers is returning with a little kick to it. Something felt off and the parts of my mind that function correctly was trying to locate the cause of the confusion while the rest of my head was lost in questions. The second envelope is to tell me that I am NOT representative payee for JJ, and, “Oh, hey, here’s this tiny envelope to send us a check for all the big bucks you have received for this child.” They didn’t say anything else but that! So here I am thinking I’m about to lose my SNAPS benefits, my kids healthcare and now I think I OWE SSA money and don’t know who my son’s SSI will go to or if he will even continue receiving it. And why only one kid was affected? Why was Skas left alone? And what about my Medicare? Does all of this mean my Medicare will somehow be affected? How will I get my meds? What if I start having one seizure after the other because I don’t have medication? What about JJ’s therapy? Do you see how quickly these things build up in my head?
Kasper left the room to go shower. By the time the door closed I was in full-blown hysterics all while trying to saute some mushroom, onion and garlic for dinner (I made baked chicken alfredo which was super awesome and delicious). Skas is watching me cry, JJ is running around laughing – I think he has difficulty registering emotions of others. I was not being a very sturdy or wise parent and the realization of that made everything so much worse. I think Kasper saw that my anxiety had gotten the best of me eventually. He tried to chastise my behavior but I was too wrapped up in it. I threw the papers at him, I cried harder and yelled louder. I explained to him that I’m just too stupid to handle these things. I just can’t do it. I keep trying but I only fail. I told him to take over and the fear in his eyes nearly had me laughing. Instead of accepting the challenge, he took my stack of papers and called my benefits case manager. The man who did my interview weeks ago had extended our benefits another month so we are good for December; we just have to send everything in ASAP. Kasper can fax in his verification form from work today. The woman on the phone noted our papers will be late so it “shouldn’t” close our cases to be a week or so behind the date. That brought me a great amount of relief. We can eat this month! JJ can go to therapy!
I called my doctor’s office this morning; I don’t even need an appointment. I just have to bring the papers in and they’ll fill them out and fax them for me. I called SSA to find out about JJ’s check and while I was on hold I was reading the papers over. They have the same date on them, the same case numbers and the same dollar amounts. I have to return Decembers check, not November’s. The more I looked over it the more I think it’s a clerical error of some sort. It’s too confusing still so I’ll call again for an explanation. Apparently Monday is NOT a good day to call SSA.
So it all seems okay for now. I freaked out over nothing I guess. To me, this was a lesson: a reminder that I am not exactly as cognitively improved as I like to think I am but it also reminds me that if I just take a step back and go through the problem/s one step at a time, I can actually find my way through the maze of worry. I just have to remember that every time I go through the mail before Kasper sorts it.