Another injured worker left a comment on one of my vlogs about WSIB that I made in February 2012 (a year before I would see a final resolution to my claim of several years) and this is an excerpt from my reply to an email correspondence we shared today. At first I felt overwhelmed by the emotion in the person's email to me because I know those same feelings still remain raw inside me, though pushed down as I try to move forward with my life. But this proved to be a good outlet for me as shown by the ease and length of my following response.
My WSIB appeal hearing was at the end of February and there was a decision made by the end of March. I didn't receive the follow up or money from WSIB for a few months after that (even after you win, they make you wait!) and even though I'd fought for so many years, I didn't feel the resolution that I had hoped for. Maybe it's because you can never get back everything you lost over the years, you know?
My case, when I was cut from the LMR program back in 2007, was given to the ministry of labour and handled by the office of the worker advisor. They lost my case a few times but in the end, with a new representative and at the final appeals hearing, we won. Partially. I mean, I'm not back in the labour market re-entry program but honestly, I don't think I could have handled the stress of it with the fact that WSIB could cut me again at any time.
My original claim went back so far into my younger years that I was fighting this in one way or another since my early '20s. I'm now 35. At this time, I'm receiving "extra" while I'm under psychiatric care but it's up to WSIB to decide for how long they'll pay that extra amount. When they decide I'm "cured" (which is never likely to happen) they will cut my income. It will be cut to an amount that is just under what I would receive if I was on ODSP - so not enough to live on if I was on my own - but thankfully, that's not my situation. I have been through that though and I had to do hard things and make difficult choices to survive. I'm trying to put that behind me but it's hard. WSIB has a way of making people suffer in ways they can't imagine.
I'm so sorry to hear that you are struggling with suicidal thoughts. I have been there (and was there for a long time, with several attempts) but at one point I decided I would live, somehow, regardless, because even though WSIB / previous workplace / people who have come and gone from your life because of the circumstances have made you feel like you're nothing, the fact of the matter is that you have just a right to be here as anyone else. Some of us are dealt a harder lot than others. It's not fair but it is how it is. I think there is something incredible about the fact that we survived all that we have. There is a part of you that is very strong to have done so.
I can relate to the loss of relationships (and friendships) because of what I've been through. Yes, I recently married someone and he is someone who has been my friend for the past few years and we've been through a lot together, but he wasn't the one I was in love with who broke my heart and discarded me, who didn't understand what I was dealing with when fighting WSIB. (Edited to add: I should also state that as someone who was going through what I was, with illness on top of it, I realize it couldn't have been easy to be with me, a common outcome for many injured workers, sadly!) I also lost a best friend as well through the years which still hurts very much. As for family, there was no one to help me through the financial times except for one person for a little bit of a time but it caused us great strain and in the end I had to find a way to make up the income to keep myself housed on my own, in a way that will haunt me.
But it hasn't all been terrible. I've tried, when I can, to live my life. To enjoy what I love when I can. Books and music and what-have-you. Of course when the depression is really bad I don't do much at all. I still have crash naps during the day. The agoraphobia limits my outings (yes, I went on a big trip recently but was quite ill at times and also, I had my "support" person with me (my partner) and that is the only way I could do it) and anxiety is a daily thing as well. I have times where dark thoughts have crept in but I have learned to be more aware of it and become better as time went on at saving myself. I had to save myself. No one else could.
The resolution of my claim helped me to pay off all the debts I owed to people over the years of struggle and I was able to put money toward the trip. It did not give me back the years I lost. It didn't make me feel any better. It didn't change the lack of options for me as far as a future in a workplace or anything like that.
I'm still trying to figure out how to make a life for myself. Can I become a writer? Will I ever follow through on something like that? Could I tell my story someday with the mountains of documentation that I have from all the years of my case? Could I do something with my life to make up for the years of barely existing and of all that waiting? I don't know ---- but I hope so.
We're older than we were when we were injured. But we're still here. We're still alive. That counts for something. And no one knows how long life is for any of us. There's still time to do more than just exist. It's just a matter of figuring out how. That would be the way of ultimately beating WSIB. There's no other way to truly "win" (even after we have won the claim) than to survive and eventually, find our own special way to thrive.
I'm hoping to get to that point someday.