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Am I a Psychobum? Is there any way to escape the feeling that those of us on Social Security Disability Insurance are in some way malingering no-goods? We tell ourselves that SSDI is insurance not charity. Yet we are stigmatized, and at times the stigma of unemployment looms as large as that of mental illness. The first question a new acquaintance asks is "What do you do?" My response is usually to mumble something about "creatively blah blah" and hope they don't ask too many questions. Sometimes I wish I could shout "My brain is bad so the government gives me money!"

How does one get to feeling better about not working? For me it's been two things: a change in values and a reorientation of my productive energies. The change in values has been the hardest part, and I'm still trying to shed my bourgeois work ethic. I have to realize that one doesn't have to be contributing constantly to be deemed worthy, and that just having a job of some kind doesn't mean one is contributing anything to larger society. Secondly, I've found ways to take negative feelings that have sprung up around my inactivity and use that energy to push me toward meaningful goals. For example, my efforts in helping to craft this site have really made me feel better.

My Advice Whenever you get the "I'm a psychobum" blues, think about what's most important in life and consider undertaking a constructive project of some kind. Start with something small. You never know where it will lead.