So, after almost four years of doctor visits, tests, medications, treatments, reports, blood work, pain, stress, panic, anxiety, chronic daily migraines, fibromyalgia, insomnia, depression, and countless forms and paperwork, I was approved by SSDI for Disability benefits. I had been denied twice before. And probably would have been a third time if not for my attorney and law firm. I did so much research about the SSI and SSDI programs, I have numbers and percentages stuck in my head. 900,000. That’s the backlog of cases yet to be heard by a judge. There are so few offices and judges and so, so many people in need. I consider myself extremely lucky to be done with the process and to have received a favorable outcome. My stress and anxiety level has dropped tremendously. My pain level remains the same, but hopefully now I will be able to afford some of the treatments that I couldn’t earlier. I am still crying relieved, happy tears and have been since the bench decision was reached on the 15th at my hearing. It’s been such a long, energy-zapping, faith-testing, soul-searching, emotional roller coaster ride. I’m saddened that I had to fight to prove that I’m as sick as I say I am. Especially to people who don’t know me or see my endless struggle to get through every minute of every hour of every day. I was a case number to them. Quickly forgotten as my case was dismissed and the next began. The judge in my case was respectful, empathetic, and compassionate. He has my undying gratitude and thanks for treating me as a person and an individual. Well, I’m officially “disabled” now. I am not going to think of this as a sad designation, but as a means to an end. I see myself as a capable, strong, brave fighter. I have had to be to live through this and to continue to do so. I refuse to think of my condition as a permanent disability. I have to believe that there is proper treatment out there for me. Something to give me my life back. To allow me to live, instead of just survive. I want to thank everyone who has supported me since the beginning of this nightmare and those I’ve met along the way. My mother is number one on my list. My hero, my inspiration, my heart. You’ve never stopped loving and caring about me and I felt your prayers and positive thoughts each day. You’ve kept me strong and pushed me to #AlwaysKeepFighting. I love you with all of my heart! To those chronic pain warriors out there still fighting for Benefits that you so rightly deserve, I stand with you! You have my admiration, empathy, and love! You are not alone!