Some (private) videos I made of major meltdowns and decompensation episodes were not admissible as evidence for my psychological disabilities in my Social Security Disability Income Case. Therefore these vlogs I share also should not be counted as evidence against my case—especially since I am not making money at them (not even one cent from any ad revenues, they’re too obscure), very few people make money at them, and no one would ever conceivably pay me to make these videos any more than they would pay someone to make a video of a turtle having sex with a clog. (Actually the latter someone probably WOULD pay for.) The videos I make don’t demonstrate a capacity to work full-time or demonstrate many other vital capacities and skills necessary to work full-time. If people can make videos of their cats in Edwardian dress reenacting a scene from ‘Persuasion’ on a large trampoline covered in dawn frost on a whim that are more popular and get more ad revenue, making my videos is not a job.
This is a lot of things—video diary, self-expression, anger management, closure, letters to my beleaguered past self, processing ideas more deeply by saying them aloud. Lastly, it’s a little bit thinking that there could be another person out there a bit stuck where I used to be, confused, feeling completely alone, unable to understand or even name what’s happening, despairing and wanting to die. Thinking about what I would have wanted to hear, and paying it forward. Then any future stolen child can sweep through my words, hear what they need, and let the lest blow away in the wind. And that’s ALSO not a job or even volunteer work. It’s a moral imperative to me. It’s leaving a trail of pebbles out of the woods so Hansel and Gretel can get away from their abusive parents AND detour ’round the ginger house to change their names and start a new life, maybe found a city called Joy. It’s carrying out everything I carried in. It’s taking the extra few seconds to chuck the recycling in the other bin. It’s doing the right thing, not the lucrative thing. That might not make sense. But Hansel and Gretel aren’t going to pay me either. They didn’t hire me to make these videos. No one did. No one will.
I heard tell of a case in Sweden where it was argued that a person who kept a blog was not disabled because of the blog. Oh really? Virginia Ridley, housebound and plagued with seizures that eventually killed her, compulsively kept a 10,000-page diary that, among other things, detailed her urinary output. (Why wasn’t that ever on the New York Times Bestseller List?!) Good grief. Even the judge that presided at my hearing harped in his decision on the fact that I have on occasion written the odd (bad) free-verse poem as evidence I’m not disabled. Which is ridiculous. People can be disabled in all kinds of ways and still write poetry, and poetry is not a job. There’s a whole studio of developmentally disabled people in Oakland, CA where they work with wood, textiles, clay, painting, even an entire upstairs filming, mixing, and recording suite, writing and producing their own material, and their artwork has had national showings, with no disclaimers about their disabilities. They’re too disabled to hold normal full-time jobs and they need to supervision and staff there. Free-verse poetry—anyone with a fridge and a set of the right magnets can do that. Anyone with a pen and a piece of paper. Poets don’t make money, as a nearly universal rule.
It is virtually impossible to sustain gainful employment in any of the arts. Merely being able to point a camera, being able to speak, does not make one capable of full-time employment. Merely being able to read assemble words into speech does not grant the massive other skills and tolerances needed for consistent gainful employment that many take for granted because they’re not noticeable unless you don't have them, unless it’s increasingly excruciating and suicidally deranging to be employed. There’s a huge gap between those who can work full-time year round and those who can’t even feed themselves and need assisted living situation and this is the majority of the disabled population. We need differing levels and kinds of support.
Some people receiving Social Security Disability Income also hold part-time jobs. The point of SSDI is if you’re too disabled to make enough to live on. My problem is that my disabilities are psychological and invisible and therefore difficult to demonstrate, show, prove. How can I prove a negative? This video elaborates some of my frustrations with these issues, the process, and double binds, as well as the disconnect between what you see and my experience.