Daily Archives: May 14, 2014

Help Wanted

So I’m on Week 3 of my job search, and yesterday I got slapped upside the head—again—by the realization that no matter how capable I still am, there are some jobs that are not for me. This is not rocket science; everybody has limitations. But I’m still having trouble wrapping my brain around that concept, and if I can’t do that I’m apt to wind up in still another unsuitable position.

I interviewed with a home health agency for a position as a case manager, which I thought would not only be interesting since I’ve never done it before, but give me the opportunity to work 1:1 with clients. (I’ve been healthy enough, for long enough, that I think I could handle clinical nursing again as long as I’m not dealing with 35 sickly and/or demented nursing home residents, or 7-8 acutely ill medical/surgical patients.) But then the interviewer began to outline the requirements for the job, which includes being on-call night and day for a full week every third week, and that’s when it struck me: There really are things I can’t do.

There are many things I shouldn’t do, and still more that I don’t WANT to do, but this is one thing that would be impossible for me to do if I want to remain mentally healthy. There would be times when I’d have to drive out to a client’s house in the middle of the night to deal with an emergency; how would I manage that when I’m so drugged I can barely even walk the fifteen feet to my bathroom in the middle of the night? Worse, it would screw up my sleep schedule and keep me from taking my nighttime meds during on-call week…..and we all know what a cluster-fuck THAT would be.

Plus, there’s the probability that my job would end up eating my life. Again. I’m sorry folks, but I just don’t have that kind of dedication anymore. I want to work to live, not live to work. So I’m going to just say No to this opportunity if I’m called for a second interview, even though I need a job like a week ago.

I could curse my limitations and continue to try to defy them, even in the face of mounting evidence that they actually do exist. However, doing so is a mistake, and I’m done making that one. Just the idea of having to get out of bed and drive someplace at 2 AM or so gives me the willies, but the thought of not taking my meds in anticipation of the above is far worse. I can’t do that to my family. I can’t do that to ME. It took too long for me to get to this place where I’ve been stable for a couple of months and have the right number and amount of medications to keep me that way; if I mess with any of the elements, the whole damn opera will fall apart and I know it.

Therefore, I shall continue to peruse the Help Wanted ads, comb through Internet jobs pages, and e-mail resumes to every employer that sounds even remotely suitable. And if you’ve a mind to, please send up some prayers and/or positive energies…..I need all the help I can get!


When I Grow Up,I wanna be…

At age six, seven, eight, kids want to be princesses, firemen, doctors, cowboys…

At some point, everyone kind of falls into or aims for the direction they want to go in life.

It occurs to me, all I ever wanted to be was…high functioning. It didn’t matter at what. Waiting tables, working a cash register, changing bedpans…I just wanted to consistently function at a higher level. Because, let’s face it, the rest of the world does. There are overachievers and supermen and superwomen who do a juggling act every clown on Earth envies…Good for them. It was never in the cards for me, even without a wonky brain. I’m just not that…inclined to overachieve.

But to function regularly and highly, like the “normal” folks…That would be a winning lottery ticket for me. After today, I am more certain than ever I am never gonna be a lottery winner.

This stems from a sick kid and a simple doctor visit. She was fine when I put her on the bus, she came home moaning in pain and throwing up. I called the dr. They declared her constipated then poured water down her gullet in order to make her pee for a urine sample. When that failed, they sent us home and told me to bring the sample as soon as I could get it. Before we even hit the parking lot, she was throwing up all that water. Big time. In the car. Then when we got home. Then she said she wanted food. And couldn’t keep that down. So do tell, how can I get a urine sample out of a kid who won’t keep anything down?

And between that and picking up her new glasses, which she hates, then going to the pharmacy and coming home to my dad taking away some of the cats outside so the landlord will shut up and the maintenance asshole won;t bring his pit bull to kill them…while neighbor girls pop out of the woodwork saying that cat’s mine, that cat is ours, you can’t take them…

I think my brain has become cerebral puree. TOO MUCH. ENOUGH. I mean, here I am getting all this shit for the cats…and suddenly the owners come forward. REALLY?

And how do I send a perfectly chipper and healthful kid to school and get a sickly spew machine back? And why was she perfectly chipper and healthful at the dr’s, talking so much even the doctor was growing (politely) annoyed then she gets sick on me, like I’;m some munchausen by proxy histrionic? I mean, I have the shirt covered in spew if you want proof, there’s something not right with the kid…

Overwhelmed doesn’t begin to cover it. And throw in the guilt for being so self absorbed that even my kid;s sickness becomes about me…

This is never what I wanted to be when I grew up. What you want rarely has anything to do with how things turn out.

 


“Hey I Heard You Lost Your Job! So Sorry….”

I know I mentioned last week that I lost my job. This is the job that I HATED and I’ve been off from since December, on Disability for “Treatment-Resistant Bipolar Disorder”. Dear old Dr. BigHeart wrote the latest update letter to my employer saying that I was completely unable to work for at least A YEAR and that was what clinched it: My employer said they could no longer hold my job open. Overall I feel tremendously relieved that I don’t ever have to go back to that job. I do have some mild anxiety regarding my Disability, which is private Disability through the employer’s insurance company. It shouldn’t be affected by my termination, but I imagine that they’ll do whatever they can to bump me off of Disability.

I’ll tell you what I don’t love: My family talking behind my back about this. I received a text this morning from my sister-in-law stating that she heard the news of my job loss from my oldest sister. Now what the fuck is my oldest sister doing talking about my business? It seems that ever since this latest “breakdown” or whatever you’d call it, my family likes to talk about me and treat me as if I’m not competent at running my life. It just completely IRKS me to think of them discussing my personal business, and even more so to think of them PITYING me!! AHHHHHHHH!!!! Time to engage some DBT skills to deal with these intense emotions ;).

How do you deal with your family infantilizing you?


Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar Disorder, I do NOT love my job, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Hope, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader, Treat Me Like A Child

I Don’t Like Mondays


I don't like Mondays (or this video)
Boomtown Rats

This is what I wrote yesterday at starschmucks...          

Tuesday

I don't like the idea of hating Mondays. Yesterday I posted the very old song "I Don't Like Mondays" by the Boomtown Rats (awful name) on G+ yesterday because I had to go to the therapist. being with the therapist is not the problem. Anyway, if you're not old enough, the song is about the news of one of the first school shootings in the US that hit the UK. Supposedly, the reason the shooter (a girl) gave why she did it was, "I don't like Mondays", hence the song and the terrible 80's video.

I had never had a morning/early afternoon so awful, so filled with anxiety as I did yesterday in such a longass fucking time. It was fucking horrible! The more I tried to stop thinking about it, the more I did, and made things even worse. Breathing didn't help either. I kept eating bits of seroquel that I'd cut off a 200mg chunk and another piece I'd found sitting on the table from who knows where. I stopped at about 1.15.

At about 1.30, I thought, I just grabbed my shit and left the house before I could really form a thought. I had no idea what time it was, but figured I'd have plenty of time to make it since my appointment was at 2. I was overdressed for the weather in a big black hoodie, and I pretended no one could see me. That didn't work.I was really struggling up the street with a cigarette in one hand, and the other hand in my pocket, tightly clutching my keys and mini Swiss army knife. I had to make one stop alone the way because it seemed I couldn't do 2/3 things at the same time - smoke, walk, listen to music. 

So I stopped in a doorway to finish my smoke, looking like some kind of sleazy freak. My back hurt again, but I wasn't going to let it hurt me more and make things worse. We're talking about a 4-5 block (?) walk!!! WTF!! I know!! 

I was listening to  - get this and laugh - Boston "Peace of Mind" - over and over again, and one of the lines was "look ahead", so I did. Above all the heads, there was the sign I was waiting to see, the Haagen Daz ice cream shop on the corner. The therapist's corner! I tried to remember eating ice cream there as a very young silly punk rock teenager, barely 14. I tried to think of a flavor of ice cream with all different kinds of things in it, kept struggling up the street, trying not to trip up, or crash into anybody along the way. Oh holy ice cream fucking store, let me reach your fucking corner! Don't let my back give out! Don't let my lower back kill me, even though I no longer find ice cream appealing! Fuck! Please!

I made it across the street and to the door of the offices. I saw my reflection in the glass door and thought 'you pathetic fuck!' and the shame came raining down upon me like a thunderstorm in New Orleans. Fuck you, reflection. I opened the door and checked my phone for the time. It wasn't even 1.30 yet. I left my place around 1.27ish. This had to be wrong. Did I lose some time somewhere? Disappear into the Awkward Dimension for a while? It seemed to take forever for me to get to the office. There was no way that I made it there so fast. If I was going to teleport there, could we skip the fucking MISERY next fucking time?JFC!

I made it to the therapist's and back, and I did not cry a single tear. Mostly I just couldn't shut up about how I'd sort of reconnected with some cousins via FB, remembering only those as the good times - playing with cousins in childhood. Towards the end, I thought WTF?! Structure! There is no structure here! I'm blabbing for nothing. She's not even taking notes! Something's very wrong with this picture. BP's need fucking structure in this yap therapy thing, otherwise it's a waste, and I'm not doing it again. 

I'm cancelling next Monday, and telling her what my be is, asking her where her notes are, why she never takes any, why she hasn't mentioned the possible cause of the anxiety maybe being some unconscious fear. Well, that's what I'm starting to think. An unconscious thing or maybe something that's shoved so far back in my head that it is there, that it's not unconscious, that it's something I can't dig up just yet, maybe something that I can't or don't want to admit to myself. I fucking do not know, but IT IS SLOWLY FUCKING KILLING ME.

I crashed on the couch from mental/emotional/meds exhaustion and woke up with a "meds hangover" the next day.

I don't want to hate Mondays when I used to look forward to them! I cannot take this shrink schedule, and I won't.

Obesity and Bipolar Disorder: A Difficult Choice

Having attended numerous depression and bipolar support group meetings, I have heard one complaint from new people over and over again – weight gain. When the new person timidly asks if anyone else has experienced weight gain, the usual response is a lot of stifled laughter as nearly every person in the room raises a […]

Seriously?

I’ve had a very strange day. It started out fine but everything at work was just driving me nuts and everything was grinding on my last nerve. After work was the chiropractor, who still could barely get at the bones in my back because I’m still so tense. Hey, at least he’s trying. I wasted some time between that appointment and therapy by running to Walmart and returning an antenna I have gotten in the hope that I could get at least a few TV channels to distract me. Needless to say since I was returning it, it didn’t work. At all.

I did manage to finally fill out that little part on the medicaid forms about why I think that I’m disabled. I don’t think it’ll sell it. But at least I finished it and handed it in for my psychiatrist to fill out the rest. There are only two options for her to check, permanently disabled and unable to work at all or employable. Doesn’t really leave a lot of room for the gray areas I seem to always fall into when it comes to bureaucracy. Maybe the part about “life sustaining medications” will do the trick.

Honestly I don’t remember a lot of what I talked about in therapy, or at least can’t recall the details right now, because my car decided to die on the way home from that appointment and I had to use every bit of RAM in my head to deal with that. I had no idea that a battery could fail while you were actually driving – so it looks like my alternator is shot. Great.

At least I had the sense to pull over with my car started bucking all over the place while I was driving down the main highway through town. I managed to keep my wits about me long enough to leave a note on the dashboard to please not tow it, call my office to warn them I might be a little late in the morning, and arrange for a ride to work tomorrow. That’s all I could handle, at least for now. My mom came and rescued me and brought me home. I know these are things that happen, that everyone has to deal with, but it affects me a lot more than everyone else. It’s just one more thing.

I decided once I was hoping that maybe this would be a good time to start that course in the science of stress and resilience that I signed up for the other day. I got through all the material, and it was absolutely fascinating. Who knew that stress actually causes your brain chemistry to change and your frontal lobe literally just kind of shuts down… It turns out that’s a fairly important lobe because it’s where the center for reason resides. A stressful situation or thought actually has physical effects on all of your body through the nervous system. Chronic stress can actually become toxic, literally, and cause all sorts of problems, not just mentally but physically throughout the rest of your body. Apparently we’re going to learn how to become resilient, and somehow be able to control which part of the nervous system takes over. Sounds good in theory!

I was feeling good, competent, and excited after finishing the first week of the course until I started reading the discussion boards. Some guy posted something about it not being catered towards people with mental illnesses especially bipolar disorder or anything else debilitating because, well, I have no idea. Of course, it got me totally riled up and I had to respond. Part of what I said was that I actually might have an edge over the material, since I have been dealing with and studying stress and it’s pathology from brain to body for quite some time now. I was just so angry!

I guess I’m angry about a lot of things right now, that stupid guy on discussion board probably being the least among them. I’m actually so out of it and I can barely articulate this post, I had a blank screen in front of me for over an hour. Its almost 2 a.m., and I’m taking all my meds, and I’m still not in bed. It wasn’t until around midnight that I remembered that I actually haven’t really eaten today. No wonder I feel physically sick on top of any physical symptoms from anxiety or anger or whatever it is. I’m just pissed off and frustrated.

I describe this kind of mood as an “I can’t handle ZZTop right now” reaction. That kind of phrase was coined on a drive back from one of my best friends funerals a few years back, during which so much stuff had happened (apart from the sudden passing of a great friend, we had to dig ourselves out of 5 feet of snow that shut down DC and live off of dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets for days and showed up after 4 hrs in the car still soaking wet from digging out of a blizzard) that my brain was shutting down – so when my dear friend K started telling a story about meeting ZZTop at an inaugural ball, that was the sentence that came out of me. For the record she countered with “I can’t handle 9/11 right now” as we passed through Somerset and the Flight 93 memorial on the drive home. Sometimes you just completely lose the ability to function I guess.

Hopefully that ability will return tomorrow in time for work.  All I want to do is just curl up in a nest and never come out… At least until my strength returns. Maybe that’s why I’m so resistant to go to bed? Because if I do I might never come out… going to bed feeling like this feels like a defeat, like I’m slipping into depression. I’m trying to convince myself that the truth is I just had a shitty shitty day.

Plus I’m still hungry and have no desire to eat…at all.

image


I Think The Dog Is Bipolar

No, seriously! Well, OK, I’m half-kidding. I am watching my Pug mix dog,”Zinnie,” bounce off the walls. It’s sunny and warm today, and consequently she is losing her mind. She hates the cold and spends the winter lying around in front of the heater, usually rousing herself only for the briefest of walks and of course, food. But at the first sign of good weather, she races around the house like her tail is on fire and proclaims her unappeasable joy by barking at things that don’t even exist. She also seems to have trouble with the concept that not every person walking by with their dog is an ax murderer coming to kill us, or that the deer that frolic on our front lawn are not alien beings from another universe.

You laugh, but this little hound’s behaviors parallel mine rather uncannily. Loud noises make her irritable and prone to yap annoyingly until we have to have a discussion, which follows along the general lines of “Zin, shut UP!!” to which she’ll respond with a defiant “woof!” I say it again; she woofs again but in a quieter voice. At this point I say “NO” and she turns it down to a low growl…..until I look away, which is when she starts the cycle all over again.

She also has a major case of canine mania that manifests itself whenever we have company. The primary symptoms include prancing on her back feet and doing what we call “doggie donuts”—she gets herself wound up like a coil and spins out into multiple 360s until she gets dizzy and falls onto her side. Meanwhile, she’s hitting the high notes, which hurt the humans’ ears and cause us to wince while the object of her attention tries to make his/her way past the welcoming committee of one.

But it’s the way Zin does winter which pretty much convinces me that while animals probably DON’T suffer from psychiatric illness, they are incredibly attuned to their owners’ quirks and behaviors. She looks—and acts—depressed. She’s lazy, and even having no idea what the outside temperature is, she has to be dragged out in gloomy weather to do her “business”. Then she can’t get back in the house fast enough. Like me, she can almost always be found near a heat source or under fleece blankets, and she moves so infrequently that she could be dead for a week before anyone would notice. Hmmm. Maybe we were bears in a past life…..hibernation does have its attractions, you know.

That’s what makes me wonder if she actually knows what’s going on with me when I have my mood episodes. When I am unwell, she refuses to let me out of her sight and will follow me back and forth throughout the house like a little black shadow. She whimpers when I cry and barks her head off when I raise my voice. She waits for me patiently outside the bathroom door when I’m in there, and sleeps between my knees whenever I nap in the La-Z-Boy. Then just like me, she reverts to normal and resumes her appointed rounds…..until the next time I come unspooled and rock her little world.

You know, this is the reason why I often prefer the company of animals to people. Pets—especially dogs—give us their all and serve us without thought of reward (except they do have a way of guilting us into giving them the last few bites of steak). They don’t care what kind of day we’ve had, or whether we’re the world’s biggest loser. Humans sometimes stop loving and leave one. Dogs never do.