Yesterday, I exmatriculated from university. Thirteen and a half years of fighting, and then it took all of 58 seconds to leave – there is a form you print out, fill in your name, address and student-ID number, give the reason for exmatriculation (I checked “illness”), and hand it over to the student secretary. She double-checked with my student-ID, stamped the form, gave me a formal statement that I had left uni, said goodbye, and that was it. My niece, who had accompanied me, timed the procedure.
That was in the afternoon, however. The morning my husband and I spent at the job centre, where we had an official appointment to start the welfare process, and saw someone from the employment agency afterwards. She might help my husband find a job, and I had to see her to work out the procedure regarding the “impaired working-ability” label. We got a total of about 50 form sheets we have to fill out: the actual application, and different questionnaires on just about every aspect of our existence, from the flat we live in (size, number of bedrooms / bathrooms / kitchens, how much rent we pay, what kind of heating it has, how much we pay for water and electricity, etc.) over our respective job résumés and occupational histories to a questionnaire on my depression history. We have to bring bank account activity statements for the last three months, and attestations of my health insurance, my husband’s integration class, the exmatriculation from university, a copy of my rental contract, yadda yadda yadda. And all of that has to be ready by Friday next week, because then we have the next appointment.
The procedure regarding my medical status will be that I formally release my general physician, therapist and psychiatrist from their obligation to secrecy, so that the job centre’s medical experts can inquire about my depression history, the treatments and my current status. They will then write a formal assessment, based on these facts, and I will get an invitation for discussing the results. If the results are clear and nobody objects, I will not have to undergo any further examinations through a medical officer.
The lady from the employment agency was very nice and sympathetic; she even inferred that she had personal experience with it – I just could not tell whether she meant depression, panic attacks or both. Regardless of what was the case, I felt treated with respect and in a non-judgemental way, which certainly is a first in my dealings with bureaucracy outside of the mental health sector. She’ll also remain our contact person for the rest of the process, so I’m doubly glad about this.
We were at the job centre for over two and a half hours, with over an hour of waiting in chairs in between. I had not taken the venlafaxine that morning, because I didn’t want to go into a side-effects frenzy during the appointment, but halfway through the withdrawal set in and my brain started buzzing like a mobile phone. I hope that for our appointment next week the timed-release capsules will prevent that scenario.