Image by Strikkelise via Flickr
In completing my continuing disability review paperwork for Social Security, I admit I was struck by the absurdity of some of the questions. Like this one: Do you have hobbies and interests? At first glance, I couldn't imagine answering NO to this question. I mean, come one, I am still alive and engaged in life. Hobbies and interests comprise the 'fun stuff' I do every day that keep me feeling like life is still worth living, even if I can't do all the things I used to be able to do.
Then I thought, 'Wait a minute, is this a trick question where they are going to say I could turn my hobbies into a job and no longer be eligible for benefits?' Yes, being on disability makes me feel vulnerable and a bit paranoid that at any moment my benefits could be taken away. I know this is probably irrational thinking on my part, but when you have FIBROMYALGIA, the mystery illness that not everyone believes exists, it seems I spend a lot of time explaining I am disabled even if I don't look sick.
So I answered the question with a YES and then got real with myself when answering the second part of the question: Please describe what they are and how much time you spend doing them. Here is my answer:
- bird watching in my backyard (a few minutes each day)
- container gardening (1 to 1 1/2 hrs/week in the Spring/Summer)
- watching nature and science shows on PBS (2-4 hours a week)
- loom knitting (30 minutes/week in Fall/Winter)
- reading (about 1 book a month)
- writing--made possible by Dragon Naturally Speaking software on my computer (15 to 30 minutes a day)
- teaching my dog tricks (5-10 minutes a day)
Sadly, it's not the list I would have written six years ago. Heck, this isn't the life I had six years ago. Yet, as I review this list now, I think I actually forgot to add a few other fun things I do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. I guess my excuse is that completing this paperwork when I had a cold made it difficult to think.
I hope the reviewer can see that I am trying my best to adjust to this new life with chronic illness by developing new, fibro-friendly interests and hobbies. Conversely, just because I have interests and hobbies doesn't mean I can work. Most of all, completing this task made me acknowledge once again that I would so much rather be healthy and working than completing pages of paperwork detailing how my life has changed and is now filled with much less...
Funny, but they don't ask a question that would get them this kind of response on their forms.