Never say, “it can’t get any worse than this.” It always does. Maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe it’s self-sabotage. Maybe it’s fate. Maybe it’s a “jinx”. Whatever it is, it can and most of the time gets worse.

I’ve been writing through it. I can’t seem to finish anything to post. I’m afraid to post certain things about my life. I am breaking my entire life’s goal to hold nothing back in my writing. I find myself holding many things back for various reasons. I don’t want certain people to know certain things about me. I am embarrassed and ashamed of my life conditions at times. I am afraid of letting you in.

The more down hill my life seems to go I am les inclined to write and post about it anywhere. Fuck it. I’m going to start letting things out. I am helpless and feel hopeless on and off through this past year. It’s mostly due to my Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) and Bipolar Disorder and related depressions and anxiety. These conditions led me to my financial condition and create more stress, which is the key activator of my conditions.

At first when I was fired last year I was devastated but I had things under control financially because I was living with my mother and had a lot of money in the bank. I didn’t want to work right away. I wanted the summer off to publish my novel and promote it to minimum prevail and create videos and more books to sell. It was the ideal life of a single artist from my viewpoint. By August and September 2010 I noticed that my mother was increasingly unhappy with me around the house all day with the exception of my AA meeting attendance. I was less and less interested in socializing and I even started getting anxiety when I did socialize followed by depression when it was over. Since I was fired I lost my health insurance and stopped seeing a psychiatrist and therapist. My family doctor kept up my prescriptions.

I started looking for ways to make money and jobs and made a little bit here and there. My savings started dwindling by September 2010. I knew my mom and I wouldn’t get along without my getting a job. At the same time I was talking to my friend from meetings and he mentioned in passing that he was getting a house he owned ready to be rented out. I asked how much and how many bedrooms. The price was cheap and it had 2 bedrooms so I immediately jumped on it mostly to save my relationship with my mother. I didn’t want to move. I had no ego about living with my mother at my age like I would have at one time due to the circumstances. I had a friend in mind to move in with me that I’ve known for years and we’ve talked about living together despite our similarities and differences.

I admit I was excited about the house when my friend told me about it and the first time I took the tour. The day I drove to the house to sign the lease and pay our deposit and rent I got a really bad feeling that it was a bad idea. My blinders were down and I looked around the bad neighborhood I was about to move into. Camden. Camden, NJ has the highest crime rate in the country. My new neighborhood id the nicer part of Camden. I grew up here years ago before it got so bad. My friend now landlord assured me that he has had no problems in the 30 years he lived here. My roommate and I went out to celebrate the house at a big steak house and chowed down and I repressed my feelings pretending to be happy.

I moved in reluctantly October 1st 2010 and I have yet to be entirely comfortable in the house, the neighborhood or with my roommate since. Once in a while I would be ok. At first I couldn’t find my creative inspiration. After living in the house I grew up in with parents that were successful artists supplying me with inspiration on a daily basis it was a huge adjustment.

I was set financially to cover the first couple of months or so. I was collecting little unemployment. My great aunt’s boyfriend who I consider an uncle threw me a little work here and there with his business but not enough. My bills were barely getting paid but there were getting paid. I cashed out my 3 401ks to help pay bills. Each month something would come up to cover my bills. From little jobs here and there to selling my serial killer collectables and my personal artwork online.

In November 2010 another friend said he could get me a job doing phone collections. At first I was hesitant but I eventually got excited. He set me up with an interview in November 2010. I fell in love with the job and I was hired on the spot due to my experience in phone sales. I was given the runaround with a start date. I was told I’d start the middle of December 2010 and didn’t get my start date until the middle of January 2011.

After a 2 year remission my TN came back a week before my training date. I went back on painkillers and increased my anti-seizure meds. I made it to my first day of training and it went well. That night I had a major TN attack and had to take pain meds and was up all night. I woke up at 12 pm and I was supposed to be there at 10am. I blew it. I tried calling. I thought about going in anyway but didn’t want to waste the long drive. I eventually talked to the boss and he fired me. I was devastated. My pain got worse and my depression kicked in. I was in shell shock. This hasn’t happened since I was an active drug user and alcoholic 20 years ago but I was sober.

I was a wreck. I had such high hopes for the job and the money. I had started a social network called Novaboon with my roommate and I was going to out money into that and many other internet projects. I had goals and reams again before I started the job. It all came crashing down in one event as a result of my TN and Bipolar.

I got through the following months selling things and spending less. It was barely enough. I was coming to the conclusion that perhaps I am one of those people that needs to be on Disability. I’ve always viewed people on disability as copping out unless they were seriously and visibly disabled. I was also worried about my mom’s opinion. She always said she would disown me if I were on disability. Maybe not that extreme but she would be unhappy. The day came months ago that even my mom suggested I apply for disability. I did. I am. I used a service that a friend recommended to do the work for me.

I have a friend that has been on SSD for the past 15 years or so and I used to watch him having to jump through hoops and go crazy to meet the requirements to stay on it. I remember thinking that it’s easier just to get a job because it’s less work and aggravation than trying to get SSD. It’s a catch 22. Most people that are disabled whether it be mental or physical have trouble making appointments, filing paperwork, meeting deadlines, following through with things and functioning on any “normal level” therefore it’s a fight for us to get the disability. That’s why I used a service. I still had to follow through with paper work and phone calls. When I get depressed I can become immobilized. I am literally unable to move or do anything. I used to think that I was a lazy person. I’ve come to realize that it’s depression that keeps me from doing things. Most people don’t see the difference.

The last week of May I was committed to traveling to Indianapolis, IN for a true crime convention called The Crime Scene to sell my art, my books and perform my songs about serial killers. One of the guys in charge who I call friend now, took care of my flight and a place to stay. I was taking a big chance buying a bunch of my books to sell there when I barely had enough to pay my rent. My car broke down the week before. I had major bills due as well. The travel was a pain but the event was a nice escape and I sold out of my books and sold some art. My agoraphobia disappeared for the weekend. It was like a fantasy escape. No thoughts of my problems for a few days. I came home and I was worse. More pain. More anxiety. I was short paying the rent.  Owe my cousin money for helping me with the rent. I owe my roommate money for my car because he got it fixed since he was driving it at the time. My registration expired and my insurance payment is over due. I have barely enough money in my pocket to buy food and smokes for the next couple of days.

To top the problems of the month off, my unemployment is being held and reviewed and will not be settled until June 15th 2011 on a phone interview. I was informed it’s because I was fired. I might lose the little unemployment payments I was getting.

I am planning on going to Welfare and apply for food stamps and see about rental assistance. My depression is getting so bad combined with my fear and agoraphobia I am having trouble getting out to the office. I ried calling and the phone system hung up on me several times after 20-30 minutes of waiting.

My roommate suggested I try and get a job yesterday and work the minimum hours allowed when on disability. He went on line to find out the minimum etc. I’m afraid if I get a job I will be rejected on the disability. Not to mention that I might not be able to handle working which is why I applied for disability in the first place. I called the company handling my case and asked them about working. I can work 10-15 hours a week and I can’t make more than $800 a month. I have to call them if I get a job and fill out more paper work. I asked the representative to be honest with me off the record. I asked if I worked on record would it affect my case and are the chances good that I will be turned down if I am working. She said yes it would look bad if I worked.

So here I am. Depressed. Afraid. In pain. No income. I am selling nothing and falling into more debt. I have projects in the works but no motivation to get them going. I’m living in a house and neighborhood I hate with an unpredictable roommate that I like but I am uncomfortable living with him.

Through my life I have always survived. I know I will survive again. I am an artist, writer and a creative mad man. I am a Bipolar, agoraphobic, anxious artist with the worst pain known to man and as hopeless as I feel I know this will pass and I will come out alive.

6 Responses to Broken

  1. The girl next door says:

    Hi Rich, At the risk of the old cliche’, my grandmother always said, “when the going gets’ tough, the tough get going” and my mom always said, “pull yourself up by your boot straps”.

    Sure, sure. It’s much easiear said than done.

    You and I have shared much here in the last year or more; I say all that to say that you have done just that. The two quotes above, I have seen you in action and I know this too shall pass.

    You have an extremely strong sense of survival along with your creativity and gifts. They are very evident in your blogs of which I have had the priviledge of being involved in all three (when there were three). YOU will be fine, you know that and I know that. Now, here is my take or two cents or whatever you want to call it.

    File for disability, right now. Today, hasten. Wait on the job offer for now. File the papers today.

    Go online, and get started. You are very computer savy and will have no problems.

    Have all your Dr.s addresses, phone numbers and as many dates as you can come up with, prescriptions, tests run. EVERY medical piece of information you have build it at the SSA.GOV site.

    Then once you are approved, you can make up to like 15K per year without being penalized. Then take up that job.

    I had a friend and kept telling her to file, file, file because SS is not retro. It only starts paying from the date of submission in the computer.

    Don’t pay anyone to help you, you will get through the system with flying colors.

    Rich, being on SS is not weakness honey. It shows your strength of character honey. You don’t have to tell anyone anyway. If it bothers you keep it to yourself.

    But begin the filing today.

    I have much more but little time as I am and have been being a very naughty girl with what little free time I have now the kids are out of school and my time has dwindled to almost zero.

    So, hug hug and let me know if you need any help. You have my email.

  2. The girl next door says:

    Oh yeah, on my friend she kept saying, I’ll never get approved, I’m still ok. I can walk and I could work a little if I could find something easy. But after a bit I would wear down and be worse off physically and mentally (she would tell me). I said, you don’t hve to be in a wheelchair or on a cane to get SS, just file!

    Bottom line, she filed and was awarded the fastest I’vew ever seen. It might have been a couple of months but usally it takes years.

    I think your case may be similar.

    • richhillenjr says:

      I did file through the service already. things started rolling a few months ago. It’s worth the fee to have them on top of everything.g. My greatest concern is how to pay bills if I lose my unemployment. That will be determined on June 15th. meanwhile no income.
      Thanks for your input. It’s nice to have an outsider friend that knows me like you. Sorry I don;t write to you more.

  3. Sheri says:

    Hey sweets…. Something interesting… I can’t keep up with facebook, blogs, email or anything else because of the cloud I live in due to all the freakin’ medicines, but somehow I always end up accidently reading things that are important to me.
    First, I want to speak to you about the unemployment situation you are facing I think I can help.
    I have already gone through or I am facing a lot of the same situations that you are. Everyone thinks I’m this unbreakable strong person who can handle anything and the truth is that I’m falling apart. I love to help people and I always have. The bubbly girl you always see feels better if she can fix someone else’s problems with a smile. I am one of the most honest people that you will ever meet, but the actress with the smile is hard to shut off.
    I have always been ashamed and embarrassed when something has gone wrong in my life. This has caused me to hide from humans when something terrible happens to me. I will hide and not talk to anyone when things are bad. I could be thinking of killing myself and no one would ever pick up on it. I hid my Trigeminal Neuralgia during the 4 years I worked at DuPont. I’m so used to pretending that I’m not in pain, it’s hard for me to show when I am in pain.
    I have NOTHING right now… I lost my food stamps in Feb and didn’t get them back until May. Did I tell anyone or ask for help? No. I just lost a boatload of weight and suffered even more, since my pain is worse when I don’t eat. My depression and OCD are out of control right now. I have spent over 24 hours strolling around my neighborhood countless times lately.
    I know that I really have always been a survivor. I’ve had home businesses and have found all sorts of ways to pay my bills in the past. But now, I’m TOO sick.
    It’s so hard for me to write and I feel like I’m talking in circles. I know that I wanted to say that I have been through many of the things you have and I’m currently going through a bunch of them now.
    I hate when a family member or friend says to me, “You are so smart and strong, I know you’ll be fine.” Well dammit, I’m not fine!!
    I’d love to chat with you today, which is insane because I haven’t wanted to talk to anyone. If we could hang out soon that would be cool too.. hey I’m agoraphobic too, so feel special.
    Sorry for the babble… there’s a point in here somewhere.

    • richhillenjr says:

      Thanks Sheri. I didn’t even post this blog on FB out of shame but I was compelled to post it here because it usually helps to get it out in writing. I just have to be more careful about who I talk to because people like to give advice and judge. I even had someone say to me today “I’ve offered you options, solutions and alternatives to what you are doing and you didn’t try any of them so I gave up on you.” Try following advice when you are crippled in physical and mental pain. This person has bipolar too and I reminded him of the days that he has spent in bed or the 6 years he didn’t work and had no income. My mommy and daddy won’t bail me out like a lot of people I know.
      My mom even said even if I am homeless she won’t help me financially but she will pay for my prescriptions and pay me to do odd jobs. I used to worship her but now I am pissed off at her. It was the way she said it.
      I guess I should just call you.

  4. Tim the Bass Player says:

    So i’m 4yrs slower than you guys, and only read the part about SSDI, cuz it caught my eye, after i found this looking for novaboon… So only commenting to say that i’m tired of telling the lawyers that i pay to apply for me, that make me do the applications myself and still take my money, that if i could fill out these forms i’d get a job! 10yrs later, claim still appealing… and how can they just arbitrarily move my onset date? they did, & do. the last judge was Literally getting paycheck from SS admin, just an employee/adjuster. And unlike TN and physical disabilities like loss of limb, or severe back, mine is just a cluster of symptoms, called a syndrome… after i take six days to make sure i can make a court appointment, or a gig, or 6 weeks to fill out a simple financial statement, people plainly forget the effort it took, even my closest friends… 25yr bandmate asks me last month, “why you the only sweaty one here?”. I have Never not been soaked, had the fever for 35yrs. The other 40 rant examples went to a chat to my friend, good to have em, esp when on the rare mania that rises above the exhaustion… Cheers

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