• Charles H Coutts

Personal Logs... A Search For Answers


After being declared disabled I did not waste any time hiring an attorney and filing for disability because I needed to have some kind of income to help pay the bills, buy food, etc. I had to do something to help provide for my family and try to take some of the pressure off of my wife who was covering all of the bills. Besides, this is money I have paid into for 30+ years for the very reason that someday something may happen to me and I need it. It is my own money being returned to me just like any other insurance I pay into.

Like that commercial "It's my money and I need it now!"

It took about a year to get a deposit even though unlike a lot of people including a friend of mine, I was not denied, full benefits, done deal. I read somewhere that over 70% of people who file for disability get denied at least once.

The attorney took their share out of the backdated first deposit and that was that. I went from taking home about $60,000 a year in paychecks to $13,200 a year in disability payments, $1,100 a month.


But we adjusted...still adjusting in a lot of ways and I wish I could say it has been a smooth and easy transition but that would be a lie, especially for myself personally and that is what I am going to stay focused on, family matters are personal but suffice it to say, you can not have such a drastic and sudden change to your life without it impacting everything from relationships to finances, to mental health. It is a cascade effect that goes from top to bottom.

As for myself, I was struggling pretty bad over coming to terms with my new life... or lack thereof. So I started visiting groups and chats centered around being disabled thinking maybe I could pick some brains and maybe find some advice on how to deal with the depression, anger, and feelings of fear and hopelessness I was experiencing at the time.

I mean my personal world had just collapsed around me and I was not taking it very well.

What a nightmare that turned out to be. I am sure there are some very good groups and chats out there but I couldn't seem to find them.

One group was all people who just kept saying "just pull yourself and get past it" well, OK, I know that much... how do I do that? They meant well but they had no solutions for anything, they were stuck in the same rut I was. I know what I need to do, I just don't know how to do it.

Another group was like a bad AA meeting, everyone just repeating and reliving their misery over and over again while putting no effort into trying to move on from the misery towards something better.

And then there was a group where I actually had someone try to get into a pissing contest with me over who was more disabled. You know, the same mentality behind all of this victimhood nowadays. "Oh yeah, well I am this, this, and this so I am more oppressed (a bigger victim) than you are!" Can you imagine?

The scariest one though was a guy who said he was disabled from an IED in Afghanistan and my disability was nothing. The same mentality as the person in the other group with a sinister side though. I told him that the way I see it disabled is disabled. No matter what happened we all have had our lives turned upside down and are dealing with a lot of emotional issues from it. We are all in the same boat and we should help each other find ways to cope and find some support.

I got a DM from this guy that just said four words; "I WILL KILL YOU!

First time I ever talked to this person and needless to say it was also the last. It was the end of my searching for answers from online groups as well.

I had no interest in wallowing in self-pity and being a realist I had accepted the situation, it is what it is and the same as today my focus needs to be on what comes next. A chapter of my life had been brutally slammed shut on me but that does not mean my life is over. I hope to have at least another 20, maybe even 30 years left in me so I need to be about writing the next chapter of my life.

The problem then as it is now, is that I have a bad case of writer's block.

I have no idea where I go from here, I don't know what to do and that is a foreign feeling to me, I had a plan in my life and I stuck to it, I didn't have a plan B, I mean who does? Who lays out a plan just in case they become disabled and can't work anymore? Maybe rich people can afford to do that but my life plays out paycheck to paycheck and it's pointless to plan too far into the future because too many things can change very quickly and I am living the proof of that right now.

Medical bills and loss of income eat up your savings very quickly and a lot of life changes need to happen as well. Not just for myself but for everyone in my family. It is hard for me not to own that because if I had not become disabled they would not be having this impact on their lives.

They have to change their lives because of me and that can be a real guilt trip even though it is something I had no control over. Add to that an inability to identify what my value is anymore and one's thoughts can become quite dark driving them into a deep depression. Sometimes my thoughts cross the line becoming Nihilistic in that I wonder what meaning my life has anymore and I struggle to drag myself back up out of that hole sometimes. But I do.

I can not say that I have become suicidal because suicide in my belief system is a sin. I believe that all life is too precious of a gift to throw away under any circumstances. This is MY belief system and I am the only one it applies to. I also see suicide as an act of cowardice. If I check out my problems are over but the people in my life I leave behind, those who love and care about me will be the ones who suffer for my actions.

I would cause them great pain and this I can not do... I WILL NOT do it. My wife and daughter are the meaning in my life and they are my anchor but what I have lost is the meaning in my life beyond them. I lost the personal meaning of my life, I don't know who I am anymore.

Like not being able to work. I did one of three things for work in my life. I built things, I fixed things, and I cooked things. More than anything else though I had a deep passion for fixing things. No drug in the world could get me as high as taking something that is broken and making it work again. I believe everyone is born with certain talents and I was born with a natural understanding of machines, how they work and how to fix them. Usually when I say I am a mechanic people automatically assume that I work on cars but that is just one of the things I work on. Basically, if it has moving parts, I work on it no matter what it is made of, I work or rather worked on machines, all types of machines.

It was not just what I did, it was a big part of who I was as a person, a major part of my identity, and a major factor in how I determined my own worth as a man. It was my contribution to this world and I can not do it anymore. How do I make myself of value to the world now, what do I use to determine my own self-worth now that I can not work anymore?

This is what my life consists of now beyond my family and given that I have nothing else to do I spend a lot of time in my own head thinking about it.

I am on a search for answers and I do not know where to find them.

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