I had an appointment with my primary care doctor so she could fill out my application for student loan forgiveness.
This was one of the more mortifying things to go through that I’ve dealt with.
Not as bad as applying for SSDI.
But still awful.
I have two disabilities, both of which will get progressively worse over time. I’m never going to get ‘better’, and I just focus on the here and now.
I did attend college, and it was a disaster. I worked through McBurney Disability Center for accomodations, but it was still a disaster.
I was SO SICK.
I nearly died three times.
I tried to drop, which required seeing a dean, and Dean Geoffrey Thompson talked to me, so instead of dropping I kept fighting.
He had to step in and wipe some of my classes from when I was dying (THREE TIMES) so that I’d pass with a high enough grade point average to graduate.
He brought me ice cream in the hospital which was beyond nice of him. He was absolutely amazing, and I wouldn’t have finished without his help.
But I was sick.
One by one my friends graduated ahead of me and left.
I had no insurance to get my medications.
It was an ordeal.
And the degree I chose, which was useful: Japanese Language, dropped me from the program in fifth semester because I wasn’t keeping up.
I wasn’t keeping up because I was DYING, but I wasn’t willing to tell them that. I also wasn’t willing to tell them I was mentally ill because of the stigma in Japanese culture. I felt like it would a black mark against me that I’d never be able to work past.
So, instead I got a degree in East Asian Area Studies to use as many of the same classes as possible. I’d taken so many classes related to Japan and Asia that I wouldn’t need to add a bunch to my roster, even though it would still take longer. You make do with what you can, right?
And I ended up with $40,000 in student loan debt for a degree I didn’t want, that took me SEVEN YEARS to get, and doesn’t do me any good at pretty much any job I’ve ever had.
I’m happy that I stuck it out and finished, because that meant I hadn’t entirely failed.
But I hated doing it, which is sad because I LOVE learning. Ya’ll, I pay for and take classes all the time simply because I love learning, but they’re on MY terms and on MY schedule. Which college definitely wasn’t, and it wasn’t flexible enough to work around my disabilities and the ebb and flow of my health.
I will NEVER go back to college. For anything. Ever.
It was a wonderful experience because I learned to live on my own, away from family, and I made life long friends during those years. Fantastic friends who live amazing lives and are so creative and intelligent that I can’t even express how awesome and accomplished they are.
But the actual college attending was misery.
So I’m stuck with student loans for a degree that’s worthless that I didn’t want.
I’m disabled and on SSDI. I’m on a set income with very little flex room, and I’m so low income my loans aren’t having me pay for them right now.
The current administration has been focusing on forgiving student loan debt, and I looked into it. I don’t automatically qualify, despite having SSDI, because my ‘reviews’ are supposed to be every 3-5 years. The forgiveness requires 5-7 year reviews. I mean, I’ve never HAD a review, but that’s the schedule on my initial paperwork, and that can’t be adjusted.
I can also apply through my doctor if she can show that I have been A. continuously disabled for a period of 60 months or more or B. will be disabled for a period of 60 months or more.
Or, you know, if it looks like it will end in death, which I’m HOPING is not the case. That’s option C, but let’s not, okay?
I have been on SSDI since my determination in 2012. 108 months total so far since it’s almost exactly 9 years right now.
My disabilities will never go away. They’re not going to miraculously resolve. They will dog every step I take for the rest of my life, and they will eventually kill me. Not soon I hope. But eventually.
So I swallowed my pride, and I went and asked my primary care doctor if she would fill out the application for me. I was mortified, stammering on the phone with the desk to set up the appointment, flushing hot and cold while I sat in the waiting room.
I was dreading this appointment, half convinced she would laugh at me and turn me down.
But she didn’t, and she filled out the application. It was fast, fairly painless because she knows me and my disorders well, and I had it in the mail the same day.
Now it’s a case of hurry up and wait.
The paperwork has been turned in and I’ve received acknowledgement that they got it.
The current administration is looking for excuses to forgive student loans.
Now I wait.
And feel ashamed because I should have been able to do better in college. I should have been able to manage a good job and paying the loans down. Or I should have been smart enough to stand my ground and drop out while I still had my scholarships.
But I didn’t.
And I can’t.
And I refused to give up.
And now I’m just waiting.