Beliefnet
Beyond Blue

I always knew that a person had to be without disabilities to work (I’m self-employed) or have health-insurance coverage (I’m on Eric’s company plan). But I was reminded today–while renewing my driver’s license–that you also need to be perfect in order to drive.

“Do you have any physical or mental disabilities that could interfere with your operation of a vehicle?” asked the nice bureaucrat at the MVA station.

I immediately flashed back to the morning I smashed into my neighbor’s Land Cruiser on my way to the outpatient program, that afternoon I drove over the sidewalk because my shaking hands (a panic attack) couldn’t hold the wheel, and that night I was crying so hard (with the kids in the backseat) that I didn’t see the car in front of me slam on its brakes.

“Nope,” I replied to my MVA friend, as confident as ever.

I lie so often regarding my mental illness that I sometimes forget the real story.

I recently fibbed on a job application. Would my prospective employer really let a crazy lady tutor the impressionable young? And I took it a step further. I pleaded with all of my references to lie, too–to “forget about” that recent trip of mine to the psych ward.

“For all you know,” I instructed them, “I’m a perfectly normal, capable person with no mental baggage.” (Ha!)

Regarding my half-truth today, I don’t know how the cops ensure that no panic attack happens on the road. I suppose they could randomly pull over cars for psychiatric evaluations (“Who is the president of the United States?”) like the alcohol testing stations set up on New Year’s Eve. If I start to cry or shake at a red light, a policeman might handcuff me and send me back to the OT (occupational therapy–but having nothing to do with employment) room, where I painted a birdhouse with my fellow inmates as our meds kicked in.

But come on. If I were completely candid, I’d never be allowed out of my house.

Until the government and health-care insurance companies and bureaucracies of every kind swap their discrimination against the mentally ill for a well-informed and nuanced understanding of mental health, I am stuck with no option but to lie, lie, lie.

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