It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I don't mean computer files, I mean check the info said professionals keep on you. Check them yearly like you're supposed to check your credit score.

[image description below: 3 file folders. When I searched for them I found a flash drive shaped like a file folder. How cool!]

I received my admissions letter to transfer from a 2-year to a 4-year school in November of 2005. November 4th to be exact (I remember because we were supposed to move that day). I registered with disability support services at my new school in November of 2005. I gave them just 2 pieces of paper as documentation, a copy of my current memo with the accommodations I had at the school I was attending, and a letter from my physiatrist, not even one page long, attesting to the fact that I had a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. And all was right in the world.

When I was finally formally given the correct psychiatric diagnosis, which took a bit of time between October and December of 2007, I did not do that. I verbally told people (professors, DSS staff, whomever) what I was dealing with and probably sent them an email or 2. I did nothing more as I was not asked to do anything more and did not think it was necessary. Nobody was questioning me. That was a mistake.

It is now 2010, 25 months after the fact, and it is a big mess. After having a small feeling that I needed to update my accommodations spring semester 08, I finally realized fall 08 that this need was desperate. I've had to jump through hoops. It only took 9 months of continually being denied an accommodation I have every right to receive to even find out that they would not do anything at all because actually they had no proof that I have this diagnosis. No documentation in the file. Good grief! Said documentation was faxed in about 2 weeks later I would say. That was this past June finally. No just handing them a piece of paper, "Cheryl has been diagnosed with bipolar II disorder as of such and such date and it affects her in this way. Please call with any further questions." That's basically how the first one went, but it's just not good enough this time. They had a 3 or 4 page form.

I did not go to school this past fall semester. I just didn't have it in me to keep up the fight. So we skip to the first week of December when I went back in there on an information quest. I needed to decide if I was going to give this school thing one more try. I was told that they still could not modify my now 4 year old accommodation memo because the documentation submitted in June was incomplete. GAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!! Does it have to take SIX MONTHS to tell me this? Later that afternoon I sent an email requesting an email back with my latest memo attached. I needed it to reference in order to be able to complete what they were asking. I never got it.

Finally I decided I'd had enough of this. I remembered back a year ago when I needed very specific documentation in some other completely separate matter and had to get it from my vocational rehabilitation case manager. That documentation ended up coming in the form of a confidential interoffice memo pertaining to my neuropsyc testing results from 2005 that I was never supposed to see. This memo would have been incredibly helpful to have seen in 2005, as I have been classified in all of their documentation since that date as having a mood disorder (not specified) and I had no idea! Remember, my bipolar disorder diagnosis came in 2007, and I had gone all that time thinking I had a much milder diagnosis then their stuff said.

My point about this being that I realized if I wanted a copy of 1 sheet of paper I was going to have to physically go there and get it, and as by this time I was getting such a convoluted run around, if I was going to go through that effort I might as well request access to my entire file and check out what they had on me. A lot of it was crap. There was once an elevator outage in a building I had class in and I had emailed to find out how long the repairs would take. That was printed and filed. However, I did find interesting stuff as I suspected and ended up coming for 1 sheet and leaving with 9.

Now this is the really important part. I've had a concern since the summer of 2006 or so. Something school related but not at school. It took me a LONG TIME to finally verbalize my concerns as I wanted to believe they were all fabricated in my head. It took about a year and a half or so. I verbalized them after someone at school approached me about a situation more directly related to school. They said it "didn't go well." When I asked what "didn't go well" meant they said they didn't know. I pressed on and off over 8 months and finally gave up with them as a lost cause, even though I just knew they were hiding something. People not at school but related to this were equally or almost equally as vague. A year later I got the guts to pursue this with someone else not associated with school and she told me stuff I already knew, but I also had this feeling that she was being evasive and hiding something. I cried after that phone call.

You know what I found in my file? A typed note with details from a phone call between my then DSS case worker and my then academic adviser from March of 08 that flat out said what "didn't go well." Guess what it was? The stuff I already knew and nothing more! So why has this been hidden from me for a span of over 2 years?

This lack of information has contributed to exacerbating depressive states twice over this 2 year time span (fall 07-winter 09). When I don't have all the facts I tend to fill in the gaps with things I invent in my head. I think all people do this. I however insert the worst. Because they had not been straight with me I assumed something much worse had occurred in addition to what I knew. Something so bad it was too awful to tell me. Nope. But all this time I had assumed that I had some sort of horrible defect, that maybe I had done irreparable damage to another human being or something along those lines. They (both the school and not school people) totally wrecked my self-concept. Made me feel hopeless. How would you feel if you thought you did something so horrible no one would tell you?

Instead they identified a defect (for lack of a better word) that I had self-identified a long time ago and had finally decided to actively work on about 6 weeks before the whole thing went down (in the interest of full disclosure, I was in a manic state so I had the guts to go for it finally). They'll never know this because I was only able to work on this issue for about 4 weeks before entering into the worst depressive state I've ever been in in my life. Because they weren't straight with me I never had the courage to pick myself up and try again. I just gave up entirely, even though this was something I had been wholely invested in improving.

Because they weren't straight with me they may have done irreparable damage to me.

So everyone check your files! You never know what's in there that you should have known 3 years ago.


Laura O said...

Wow, Cheryl, I am so sorry you had to go through all of this!

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