Daily Archives: May 16, 2018

Work Ethic

Here’s something I haven’t talked about in a long time: my life on Social Security Disability Insurance. Or rather, my life without work.

Four years after that spectacular flame-out at my last job, it still blows my mind that my career is over. I was supposed to work till at least age 66—70 if I’d had my druthers. I loved being a nurse, even though there was a lot NOT to love, like micromanaging managers, poor staffing, and heavy physical labor. Taking care of people and making them better was all I’d really ever wanted to do since I was a small child, and I sailed through nursing school without difficulty. Later on I moved up to management, and proceeded to go back and forth between it and floor nursing for the rest of my career, unable to commit more than a couple of years at a time to one course of action or another. I didn’t know why that was at the time; all I knew was that I’d get restless at a job after a year or so, then quit (or be fired) when I’d had enough.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have a work ethic. Oh, no—I worked HARD and was totally dedicated to the job, often at the expense of my family and personal life. I lived, ate, and breathed nursing, no matter what the job was. I was the first to clock in and the last to leave (often because I, like most nurses, had a lot of charting to do at the end of the shift). I was so devoted that I seldom took breaks or lunch, and sometimes I didn’t even pee for eight or 12 hours at a time. And what did I get for all those years of hard work and sacrifice? A broken body and a broken mind.

Still, it took me a lot of time to accept what was obvious to everyone in my life, including my psychiatrist. My family and friends kept telling me I should file for disability, and finally so did he. I couldn’t believe it. I’d gotten so wound up in my career that I couldn’t distinguish between what I did for a living and who I was as a person. What would I do, who would I be if I couldn’t be a nurse? Be a waitress? Work retail? I couldn’t imagine not working, even though I certainly wasn’t fit to work at anything at that point in my life. But I decided to file anyway, thinking I wouldn’t get it even with the bipolar 1 diagnosis and hospitalization, and continued to look, fruitlessly, for any employment I could find.

So it came as a complete shock when I received my first check six months later. The government had agreed with my doctor and family and friends that I was indeed too impaired to be able to work. I didn’t even have to see a SSA psychiatrist. I’m sure my poor physical condition was part of the decision, but the memory loss, the anxiety, and the medications had rendered me pretty much useless for economic purposes. Now here I am, four years after losing my last job, still wondering if maybe—just maybe—I gave up too soon, even as I realize that my life works only because I lead a relatively low-stress lifestyle.

After all, I don’t have to struggle with getting my butt out of bed and trying to clear the cobwebs from my brain before 10 AM. I don’t have to face other people at an hour when I can barely stand to look at myself in the bathroom mirror. I don’t have to try to memorize things (and fail miserably) or deal with the confusion of multi-tasking and multi-line phones. I don’t have to run in 15 different directions at the same time or manage competing priorities. And that’s a GOOD thing, because I can’t do any of that anymore.

I guess it’s time to stop wishing for something that can never be, and to be content with what I have and who I am. It’s not a bad life, and in fact it’s been a lot better since I stopped throwing myself against a wall every day. I have very little money, but I manage what I do have quite well, and that’s a lesson I might not have learned any other way. When I had money I spent it recklessly, most of it on stupid crap that didn’t last, and never got to do anything really fun like go on cruise vacations. Sometimes well-meaning friends and family say things like “you’re so lucky, you don’t have to go to work”; well, I wouldn’t call it lucky, but it’s a damn sight better than trying—and failing repeatedly—to do what most people can do without difficulty.

It’s all good.

Graduation from Therapy

So I finished therapy today in my outpatient program.  Had a bit of a gathering to celebrate with everyone in the program and all the therapists in the same room–we talked about my progress and about how I had come through the program and what kinds of insights I had been having as the results of the therapy and that was cool to talk  about.  It’s designed to give the new people hope for the future so that is why they have everybody come and  participate.

I got a bracelet with the words “Can Do–Get Through” and a keychain medal with the sycamore tree and the same slogan on it so those were nice tokens to remember everything by,  It’s going to be weird to get up tomorrow morning and not go over there.  I will miss the people I got to know so that will be sad. But it’s going to be good from here on out I think.  I will have Tillie to go see and plan to try to see her weekly throughout the summer.

So high hopes for the future and what is coming down the pike.  Hope everyone else has a good rest of the week.

 

Should I Lower the Price of My Book?

Considering lowering my book prices. Average paperback price is $13.95 to $17.95. $3.99 is the most popular ebook price.…

Stripped Down Naked:Part Two

This is Part One if you missed it.

Did you know that my Debbie Downer personality has an alter ego? I call her Susie Sunshine and she annoys the hell out of me. But it is in keeping with my shelf-full-of-skulls-pet net-full-of-Furbies style. I’d like to say all the ‘negative’ comes from depression but I’ve been a little dark and ghoulish since I was 6 years old. Some are girl scouts, I’ve always been a ghoul scout.

Sometimes…

I laugh.

I like to watch College Humor videos on youtube. Of course, the horror parodies and anything making fun of Apple products are my favorite. Oh, and “If Google Was A Guy’, my kid and I both love those. (Don’t ask me to explain my severe hatred of Apple stuff, I’m not even sure myself, though I think it has something to do with my upbringing of paying too much for stuff that’s not very special outside its brand name.)

I read theoatmeal.com. That dude is funny as hell. And the comic about your cat trying to kill you is way too true.

Sometimes, I visit fark.com. People get pretty creative with their titles and the articles are often interesting.

I watch sitcoms. The Middle, Mom, Big Bang Theory, Young Sheldon, Superstore. And yes, I laugh out loud sometimes. And sometimes I laugh so hard, I have to hold my sides. Other times, I just half smile because my spirit isn’t feeling too humorous.

The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy is one of my favorite funny movies. I also love the horror parodies like Scary Movie, Vampires Suck, and a lot of stoner films. That last one is probably growing up during the heydey of Cheech and Chong, but then again, Harold and Kumar are just funny without pot.

Susie Sunshine may not come out to play very often and she certainly doesn’t appear much in this blog, but she is here, part of me. Just not a part I’m all that fond of. I think it’s an attachment issue. Because when I feel good, I never want it to stop. But then if I feel too good, I get scared it’s the start of a manic episode and I could do so much damage…So I muffle and muzzle the very part of myself that might actually draw others to me and make them see I’m not such a bad chick.

I play kickball in flip flops with my kid. I splash around in kiddie pools and run through sprinklers when my mood is amenable. I’ll jump on the swings or slide at the park with her. I even have a character in her dollhouse I named Drunken Giraffe because we were playing one day and I was in a winter depression and distracted and she accused me of being no fun to play with. So the plastic giraffe became drunken or hopped up on energy drink and suddenly, she’s laughing her butt off and I am the best playmate ever.

Drunken Giraffe in his snazzy cut off shorts stolen from a Barbie.

The point of this post isn’t that I am cured or that life is all fun and games.

The point is that I am not just depression and desperation. I have more going on than the negative even if it’s a low background hum.

There is positive here.

I’m just glad Debbie Downer is here to smack sense into Susie Sunshine when she starts getting too damn happy. No one needs to be that cheerful, damn it, it’s unnatural.

Stripped Down Naked

(EMOTIONALLY NAKED, move along, perverts who thought otherwise.)

I like to think I am pretty transparent in my blog about my feelings but then, I have to come to grips with my coping mechanisms of sarcasm and macabre humor, not to mention mood-fueled rants often masking the true emotions that might actually resonate with others. Those coping mechanisms have kept me alive my whole life at times when I was being so mentally beat down I could have easily exited stage left never to return again. I treasure my mechanisms even when others don’t get it, or doctors or therapists say they’re not healthy. They’re mine and they work for me.

At the same time I realize they can mask a great many things about me that might actually be likeable. In the interest of transparency…Allow me to remove my masks and strip down emotionally bare.

I wasn’t always this angry sarcastic bitch monster. Once upon a time, I was a vivacious girl who loved watching Madonna and Cyndi Lauper on MTV and mimicking their fashion. I loved cherry Slush Puppies from the gas station. Walking to this corner hole in the wall mom and pop stand with a dollar in coins and coming out with a paper bag full of penny candy. I loved staying up late, drinking Mountain Dew, eating nacho cheese Doritos with beef jerky, watching cheesy slasher flicks. I relished warm summer nights when we had an old horse trough as a pool and the water would be so warm under moonlight and I was so free, unwatched, unjudged, just splashing and having fun.

The flip side of this would come, of course, when the depressions hit and I’d retreat within myself because no one wanted to hang with Debbie Downer holed up in her bedroom listening to sad or angry music.

It wouldn’t be til many years later I’d find out that the vivacious side of me that pondered no consequences and just lived life to the fullest when I could was actually part of a mental disorder. Mania or hypomania. I was flabbergasted. Being happy and loving life is MENTAL DISORDER,WTF? I just couldn’t reconcile with what the professionals were saying about extremes. To me, happy was happy, I didn’t know you could be ‘too happy.’

Wasn’t til after too many cycles of too happy and too sad with way too few episodes of stable that I saw the damage being done to my life, and my mind. I wanted nothing to do with medication, convinced it was all artifact of a dysfunctional family and childhood bullying. Eventually, though, I had to face that happy behavior or not- it was a problem.

Money-or more aptly, spending it, became what made me feel happy and alive. Eating would take its place when it ran out. Then when money for food ran out, it would become sexual extremes. I’d draw people to me, then become some other person and drive them away. Over and over and over. And I’d always go running to the counselor, asking why, what is wrong with me, why can’t I stop???? Why can’t you just say it’s okay to be too happy and let me ruin my life naturally instead of it happening anyway even with the damned pills? Little did I know at the time thatn while the counselors had diagnosed me manic depressive, their ancient, inept shrink labeled me dysthymic and kept feeding me antidepressants that sparked the mania episodes. It would be over 12 years before I’d find a correct diagnosis and mood stabilizers.

In doing so, I felt like I finally had an explanation for so many things. But I also felt like the vivaceous part of me was dead and gone. Depression or not, everything that had made me fun and creative seemed to get sucked up by the stabilizer meds. To some extent, I still believe that, though Lamictal is the only one I can tolerate without horrid side effects and being numb.

I have been so caught up in this cycle of mood swings and anxiety and dates that ended with me throwing up after a panic attack. Hard to see the up side of life when that is your life.

So bare naked truth.

We need money. What I value most, though, what I have always value most…are words. I guess as an avid reader and writer it makes sense. I got my first pen pals when I was 15 and my name was published in Metal Edge magazine looking for other music fans to write. Over the years, I lost touch with dozens of people, then submitted my name again, and made new pen pal friends. I wasn’t a snob, I even wrote to inmates. And some of those inmates may have been working an angle, they may have been puppy smothering goat molesting scum for all I know but…words. And some would send me artwork of dragons and such and I was in awe because I always wanted to be able to draw and…I simply can’t, even my stick people suck.

Once the internet became a thing, letter writing has died off more and more. I can’t remember the last time someone sent me a handwritten snail mail letter.

During the move, I came across my stash from an old friend I met in a mental health chat room. He would write me even when he crashed and burned and had to go into the psych hospital. I haven’t heard from him in 8 years and I miss him so very much. He struggled so hard. Every part of me hopes the silence is because he found his magic cocktail and got his life on track and not some…darker reason. But I still have his beautiful words, his amazing artwork, his stark naked thoughts and feelings that he chose not to just share on line with me, but to pay postage and send to me.

Of all the things found during the move…it’s his letters that I treasure the most.

It is difficult for me to bond with people but when I do…it’s also hard for me to unbond.8 years without a word and I still love that boy like he’s my child. What others see as words on paper, I see as a beautiful treasure I can keep for the rest of my life. Knowing at least for a bit, someone cared as much for me as I did for them.

But technology has changed everything. Much as I love the internet…I am sickened by ebooks. I want paper, ink, pages, bookmarks, I want the entire writing and reading experience sometimes. It may make me a relic but this is who I am. These are the things I treasure when I am not overly focused on money and depression and anxiety and just trying not to fail my kid.

My family was non demonstrative of any feelings except anger and hatred.

So I’ve spent my life searching for someone who feels things deeply, like I do, not just the negative. These feelings, when put on paper with pen, become a thing of everlasting beauty.

If this makes me hokey, so be it. This is me, stripped emotionally naked. I am not a money grubbing bitch beast under it all.

But since letter writing has gone the way of landlines and social media basically turns everyone into 160 character simpletons…what I value most is what I cannot have. It is sad but I am trying to change with the times.

I will never forget this is who I am, though. Retro, relic, old school, nerd-whatever label you wanna slap on me. Some values should never be trends, they should just be who you are deep down.

Answered Prayer

“I’ve seen you move!  You move the mountains! And I believe I’ll see you do it again! You made a way where there was no way, and I believe I’ll see you do it again!  I’ll see you do it again!”

–“Do It Again”, Elevation Worship