Stigma of Invisible Disability

Stigma & Invisible Disability
Those of us living with invisible disabilities face stigma not only from others but sometimes from ourselves.

Recently read Work Ethic, a post by bpnurse, in which she discusses her life since she stopped working and went on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

People judge those of us with invisible disabilities. We even judge ourselves.

Someone once asked me if I questioned the ethics of receiving disability. I explained that my disability wasn’t visible. I ran down my history of hypomanic workaholism and subsequent crashing into depression, rapid cycling and mixed states which lead to my hospitalization.

Although I appear fine, traditional work and I do not mix well. My bipolar type II is well-controlled with medication and my careful avoidance of triggers to mood cycling.

Because my brain disorder is invisible and because my husband provides for our family, someone believe that I take advantage of a government program I do not need.

You see, I receive SSDI, which is based on my payment into Social Security taxes from past income combined with my current inability to work. I do not receive SSI, which is based on need (lack of resources).

Still, with this understanding, even I have felt guilty about being on disability (SSDI), about not being “productive.”

One of my psychologists (I’ve been in therapy since I was 18, so I’ve seen many psychotherapists over the decades) suggested I reframe being on disability (SSDI) as a long-term sabbatical. Reframing enabled me to accept my changed life circumstances.

Since then, I’ve further reframed my experience as God making me stay home to care for my high needs son (a migraineur who has struggled with co-occurring anxiety, depression, and health issues).

Of course, I don’t receive disability to be a stay-at-home mom. But, I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom. So, I’ve chosen to reframe my experience this way. I had to be broken to leave my ambitions behind, to accept a new lifestyle, to reprioritize my life.

Now, I do other work — I volunteer my writing, my time, and my knowledge and experience — while on my extended sabbatical from my former work.

What I can do, I do, and I do it well. No longer expect myself to work as I once did. It wasn’t good for me or for my family.

Where Am I Going Now?

Wife Mother Writer Artist Advocate Activist Speaker Performer Passionate Empath

Originally written October 2015, a month before my mother had her stroke, before my life changed. Still settling into my new normal.


How do I describe myself? How do I best describe my blog? What has my blog become? What direction do I want to take it?

What direction is my life taking? Is my writing taking? Is my (dare-say) art or photography taking?

Back in the 90s when I registered my first corporate URL, I knew that some day, some year, some decade, I would register the URL kittomalley.com. I knew that I wanted to post my writing online.

I never envisioned kittomalley.com as a community. Didn’t realize that I’d be conversing with others. Never imagined what it has become.

Kitt’s Invented Platitudes

Nothing is always true

Rarasaur’s Platitudes

“But then…
people learn.”

“Everything’s gonna be okay.
(Except when it’s not.)
((Except that’s okay, too.))”

I think it is human nature to ascribe or find meaning to events in our lives. Sometimes platitudes makes us feel better. Sometimes worse.

My Invented Platitude

Nothing is always true, except when it is.

The Platitudes I Use Regularly

You are loved.

You are worthy of love.

You are not alone.

Yet, at the same time, I can feel both so very alone and so very much a part of everything.

Which leads me to…

Another Invented Platitude

We are both alone and connected

We are both alone and connected.

Even as I share my thoughts and feelings through words, I protect a part of myself, and do not let anyone completely in. No one really knows what it feels like to be me, but when I find others who seem to understand, something magic happens. I feel loved, supported, accepted. That feels good. That is what we do, what we can do, what we should do, for one another.

About Me and This Blog

Blog for Change

Blogging can affect both personal and social change. I started blogging because the thoughts and words in my mind simply had to get out. I hope this blog offers support, educates, and fights stigma.

Though I am a minivan-driving wife and mother, unlike most of my suburban neighbors, I live with bipolar disorder. My Story, My Path to Age Thirty, Psychotic Break at Thirty, Thirty to Motherhood, Mystic or Mentally Ill?, and Mystic Psychosis recount my struggle with mental illness, the two decades it took to get a proper diagnosis, and how my journey has ultimately given me a sense of purpose – and at times, a sense of religious calling.

As a perpetual and proud geek, I always liked going to school. My brown-nosing and hard work got me a BA in Legal Studies from UC Berkeley, an MA in Psychology from New College of California (never heard of New College? well, it no longer exists and was never as prestigious as Berkeley), and twice I’ve attended Fuller Theological Seminary and twice I quit.

Though I’m a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I haven’t practiced in over 20 years. My varied career path has included working as a legal assistant, psychotherapist, and commercial real estate professional. Obviously, I haven’t stuck to one thing for very long. In fact, if you take a look at my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see that I was a job-hopper, shooting high, rapidly rising, then crashing and burning, over and over – fairly typical of someone with bipolar disorder type II.

My Battle with Mental Illness:

I’m All Over Social Media:

TwitterFacebookGoogle+LinkedInPinterestTumblrInstagramflickrYouTube

If you take a look at my social media presences, you might think that either I’m really committed to making a brand out of my name, or I am a narcissist. Probably both.

Here’s My Contact Form: