The Soapbox Papers

The Soapbox Papers is my two-cents worth.

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Location: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States

I am a cross between Tinkerbell and Calamity Jane.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Can More Space Make You Healthy?

I am trying to make sense of it all.

I have been living in an efficiency apartment for about a year and a half now, and have never yet been completely unpacked. I am grateful for it - make no mistake. When I was declared completely disabled back in 2001, I applied for Social Security Disability. In the interim, I went through the severance pay provided by what was probably the last straw before my mind totally went South, and my Shrink Team formed and declared me in the midst of a Massive Depression - the result of a build-up of one Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after another after another after another (ad nauseum) since I was so small I had not learned to speak. And then there was the physical disability I had been living with for several years prior. Not only did I exhaust the severance pay, but my savings account and the savings bonds I had been purchasing on a regular basis for four years, my ENRON and 9/11 adjusted 401K, and funds culled from selling off things I had accumulated over the years.

I had nothing. What I could save of that nothing I ended up putting in storage: dishes, household linens, the television my son gave me when he left the country, books ( lots of books) and book cases, art, tons of poems and poems-in-progress, family papers, stuff like that. I was eligible for food stamps and a housing allowance, but there was nowhere I could find to live for $250 a month after being unable to stay in my comfortable apartment in Clearwater. I went to places that were supposed to help people in my situation (it typically takes three attempts to be proclaimed disabled enough to qualify for Social Security) but I discovered I was not in a bad enough situation for most places. I was not a recovering addict or alcoholic, I was not pregnant, and I was not escaping from an abusive relationship. There was no help available. I lived in my car for five months. (Someday I will discuss that - how to do it, what the good parts of it are, what the bad parts are. Not today, though.)

Anyway, I applied for an apartment with the local Housing Authority. Eventually, they found for me this efficiency apartment. It is impossible to keep up. It has never been dirty, but always messy. I have never had bugs of any sort, but I have never really been organized, either. Still - for 1/3 of my adjusted income, I have a place to live with electric paid. I live in a "Congregate Living Facility. That means there are counselors on site to aid with any problem one can imagine; there is a computer learning center, where I tutor 2 hours a day 5 days a week. There are fire alarms and - sprinklers. In my tiny apartment, I have 5. There is a good Security team. They do 'TAB' checks, expecting each resident to call down every morning to report in. If one fails to do that, Security uses the house phone (every apartment has one - a phone for contacting people in the building and - most importantly - Security.) to call the tenant to be sure he/she is all right. If there is no answer, Security will come up and personally check to be sure the tenant is not on the floor someplace - fallen and unable to get up.

But I have no room for anything. So I decided to ask Management what it would take to get a (huge compared to this!) one bedroom apartment.

And this is what I am trying to understand. Management told me all I would need to move to a larger apartment is a statement from my doctor saying that a larger apartment is medically necessary. Now perhaps there is a certain advantage to be able to reach everything from one central location in the middle of what I humorously call the "Great Room "that makes this the ideal apartment, I don't know.

Huh? Based on what? That I can never get this place in order enough to comfortably invite someone in? And that adds to my usual anti-social behavior? That I have no space to do the exercises my Physical Therapist set up for me? What else...?

I will ponder this while I try again to clean up around here. My youngest kid will be in town at the end of the week, and I have no place to put him. I hope to find a cot or something to use while he is here - but even that is a challenge.

Trying to figure out how more space will benefit my health, I will leave the move open to suggestion.



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