And the festivities continue: my maiden voyage at work was a disaster, and tomorrow I get to meet with the bigwigs and the trainers for the postmortem…..oops, I meant performance review. I’m looking forward to that about as much as I would my own execution, but in a sense it’ll be a relief to find out exactly where I stand. Which is probably somewhere out in left field.
I have so many conflicting emotions about this job. It’s such a noble undertaking, but there are literally millions of details and I’m not so hot at being detail-oriented. I can’t remember all the steps of the computerized documentation—I who otherwise am very computer literate—and have to be coached through it like a little kid who’s just wet her pants. I’m not retaining what I’ve learned. I’m having trouble organizing what I need to do in a short time span because I get panicky and my brain vapor-locks. And I can’t put it all together because the pieces are scattered from hell to breakfast.
In essence: I completely SUCK at this. I know it, the brass knows it, everyone knows it. I’ve never been so far in over my head in my entire life, at least as far as work is concerned, and I don’t have the slightest idea how to fix that. I do know that it’s not likely to get any better, because it requires the ability to learn very, very quickly and I obviously don’t have that ability anymore. I’d thought I was doing better; my memory, while never great, has sharpened over the past few months and I’ve been able to remember some things without needing visual cues (e. g., sticky notes). But it’s not anywhere enough for a job that requires being able to absorb massive amounts of input, let alone put it to good use…..and that’s just in the training phase.
Needless to say, the up-and-down mood I’ve been experiencing over the past few weeks has not improved with these latest developments. As I think I said yesterday, it’s not the kind that can be medicated away; it’s purely situational, and only resolving the problem itself will resolve the mood swings. I know some of my friends are concerned about me; but the truth is, I just need to figure out a way to wiggle out of this as gracefully as possible, and right now there doesn’t appear to be any.
I have a sneaking hunch that it will resolve itself, though…..maybe as early as tomorrow morning. Maybe not. But no matter what happens, I will never regret doing this. I knew I was taking a big calculated risk when I took this position, and yeah, I’ve pretty much fallen flat on my face. Okay. It doesn’t make me a loser. It just makes me someone who needs a much less-complicated, less-stressful, less detail-oriented job.
I just hope I can remember that the next time I interview for one during a spell of hypomania……..that’s how I got here in the first place!
I know, again with the song titles…..but living on a prayer is what I feel like I’m doing nowadays.
I mean, I’m not certain of ANYTHING in my life right now, except for God’s love and Will’s devotion. Oh, and the fact that everything’s better with bacon. But seriously, this is about as weird as it’s been in several years, and I don’t like it one bit. I have this crazy urge to pack up the husband and the pets, throw a few prized possessions in the car, and run as far away as a few tanks of gas will take us. Someplace warmer and drier. Someplace where we can start completely fresh, like we did when we were young and still had a sense of adventure.
This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way. Before the grandkids started arriving, I had us halfway to moving to Arizona and was actually looking for housing and jobs there. I wanted to be where there was sun and warmth and outdoor swimming pools. Then our daughter gave birth, and that was the end of that idea. I can’t even imagine living someplace where my kids are more than a few hours’ drive away….but that doesn’t stop me from fantasizing every so often. Like now.
I feel restless, full of ennui, and worst of all, trapped. Nothing is really going well; money remains problematic because everybody, his brother, and his house cat want a piece of me now that I have an actual job, and it’s making me nuts. Our one and only car is becoming quirkier every passing week, and it reminds me of nothing so much as a middle-aged grump. I am also VERY unsure of whether or not I can continue in the position; I feel totally incompetent at learning it, I don’t know if I’m cut out for it, and to be honest I don’t think it’s what I really want. At this age and stage of life, I had no intention of taking on the equivalent of nursing school, which was an enormous project even when I was thirty-six, or working this damned hard just to learn the computer programs which are only one small component of what is turning out to be a monster of a job.
This isn’t what I thought I signed on for. If I were younger and had more stamina, if my husband could travel with me, if I didn’t have so much trouble with retaining information, I probably wouldn’t think twice about pushing through the pain like I did in nursing school. But the bottom line is, I don’t think I can do this. I don’t know what else I can do either, because returning to clinical nursing is out of the question. I’m not depressed—this is situational and has nothing to do with bipolar—but when I wake up in the morning and my very first thought is of how badly I want to start throwing stuff away so we can move to a small house and I can afford to work for peanuts, life is most definitely not on the right track.
Sheesh. Somebody PLEASE shoot me if I ever forget my meds again…….no wonder I was such a hot mess yesterday. I didn’t realize it until late last night when Will asked me, seemingly out of the blue, if I’d taken my pills that morning. Of course, my immediate reaction was “Why? Am I acting weird or something?” And of course, he knew perfectly well I hadn’t taken them because he monitors me at random times, and they were still sitting in the pill box in the downstairs bathroom at 10 PM.
It doesn’t happen very often, although I have forgotten the morning meds on weekends several times in the past few weeks…..apparently my usual self-discipline leaves something to be desired on Saturdays and Sundays. I’m not sure why that is, but I’m going to have to figure it out because it is completely unacceptable to miss a dose at 7 AM and feel like all hell is breaking loose by lunchtime.
I suspect I’m forgetting because I’ve had to sleep in the recliner upstairs for three weeks due to the lingering effects of my bout with bronchitis, and the daytime pills live downstairs. It’s not a problem during the week because I HAVE to go down there each morning to pick out fresh clothes and do my little foo-foo things, but if I’m not going anywhere I tend to let myself go and not bother with the social graces of changing clothes or doing more than running a brush through my hair. Sometimes Will brings the pill box up to me and all is well, but it’s NOT his responsibility to remember them for me and if I forget, things are very likely to turn nasty on me.
It pisstifies me that this is so. (Pisstify = pissed + mystified.) It simply does not make sense to me that missing ONE tiny bit of antidepressant and ONE dose of mood stabilizer can play hell with my brain chemistry. Yet this morning I took them as usual and I’m fine. I don’t know why this illness keeps me on such a short leash, but it’s clear that it does and the only way to avoid the consequences of missing meds is to be 100% perfect in taking them.
That’s hard to do, even when one is as motivated to stay healthy (and is as well supervised) as I am. The best I’ve ever done was a three-month period where I never missed a single pill; not coincidentally, I was stable for much of that time. Obviously, as a medical professional, I know that the meds don’t work as well if they’re not taken regularly; as a patient, I don’t have ANY wiggle room and that befuddles me.
So now Will says he’s going back to reminding me every day and night, which is a setback for both of us because he didn’t have to for quite a while. But with spring coming on and all the unsettledness in my life, it’s a dangerous time for me to be erratic about medication. I’ve already had a few hiccups in recent weeks, so I REALLY need to get my shit together.
Thank you, Constant Reader, for coming along on this long strange trip of mine. That’s really what this blog is, a chronicle of my life with bipolar disorder, and I appreciate it that you listen when I’m actually preaching to myself, and offer your support at those times when I’m feeling lost. I may be on a short leash, but at least I have companionship on the journey.
Ever have one of those days which makes you question whether or not you can actually rely on your own impressions?
Well, imagine EVERY day being like that, and you’ve got an idea of what millions of mentally ill people live with. It’s as if the world is full of passive-aggressiveness, which is a mind-fuck of epic proportions that can drive us to the point where we can’t trust ourselves to separate what’s real and true from what isn’t. Sometimes it gets so bad that we become suspicious of everything and everyone—especially their motives—and we take absolutely everything personally, even though on an intellectual plane we know our response to this manufactured stress is irrational.
Some call this behavior ‘paranoid’; others call it ‘delusional’. But whatever it’s called, it makes life really, really uncomfortable. No one WANTS to think the people in their lives are trying to make them crazy, but evidence seems to be everywhere: the son who remembers every birthday, anniversary, and special day in his father’s life, but doesn’t even bother with a phone call on Mother’s Day. (For three years running.) The co-worker who spends her lunch hour visiting all of the other workers in their cubicles, except you. (And speaking of which, there are two women from the other office who were surveyors at the facility where I lost my shit, and I know they remember me. I also share Dr. A’s hunch that they were told on the follow-up visit why I wasn’t there anymore.)
Even the bill collectors are conspiring to ruin my life and make sure I spend the rest of it in a cramped apartment in a bad section of town, just so they can extract their pound of flesh. A LOT of pounds, actually…….between medical bills, some back taxes, and student loans, Will and I are close to $100K in debt. There’s no way that we’ll ever make even a dent in that, and we know we’re close to having to file bankruptcy. Again.
The first two times, I spent us into bankruptcy court; this time, it’s no one’s fault, but I’m still embarrassed to approach our attorney with yet another request to file. And it doesn’t look like we’re even close to the end of the medical spending, even with good insurance, so I’m not sure how beneficial it would be to file now. So the bills continue to wash over us like a flood of garbage (which is where most of them wind up) and the phone messages are becoming more frequent and insistent, while all I want to do is tell ‘em to take a number and get in line behind everyone else who wants a piece of me…..if I could screw up enough courage to call them back, that is.
I’ve NEVER been good with the telephone, as I mentioned some time back; it’s one of those bipolar “thangs” I’ve had to fight all my life. I’d much rather text, e-mail, or even talk to someone in person. The phone is an instrument of torture for folks in bad financial straits anyway, and if I don’t recognize a number, I’ll let the sucker ring and go straight to voice mail. I’ve had too many collections people threaten, badger, and humiliate me into payment “plans” that I couldn’t afford, so I’m not gonna make it easy for those damned sharks. It’s not that I’m unwilling to pay what I owe……I just can’t see myself becoming destitute so they can earn their commission.
And by the way: just because I’m a teensy bit paranoid does NOT mean they’re not out to get me. So there.
I swear, some days it’s just not worth chewing through the restraints.
It all started with the hour I spent this morning arguing with my cell phone carrier over unauthorized charges on my bill. My husband, sister and I are all still on the family plan she started some five years ago, for which we used to share the cost; now that she’s in an assisted living facility and all her money goes toward her care, I pay the entire phone bill. So I’ve gotten pretty assertive about questioning all these little extra charges……only now, they’ve hit me with new ones and activation fees for a new number that evidently none of us asked for.
Suffice it to say that I am frustrated. Not only with AT&T, but just overall. There is a lot of uncertainty floating around in my little corner of the universe these days, and I’m so OVER it. I’m sick of limping around my broken toe (yeah, it’s busted all right, there’s a hard knot sticking up over the base of the toe that I still can barely touch, even after 3 1/2 weeks). I’m sick of winter. I’m sick of money (especially the lack thereof) and the bills that just keep piling up because everything involved in Will’s cancer diagnosis and treatment happened before we got health insurance again. I’m sick of worrying about whether or not this job is going to work out, and of feeling completely non-productive even though no one expects me to perform as yet.
Yes, sports fans, I’m irritable and restless, and if truth be told, downright cranky. Or as my kids used to call it, “in a mood”. Not that there aren’t good reasons for it; lately it seems that absolutely EVERYTHING I want is just out of my reach, and that is crazymaking. I can see things like job and financial security…..remission for the cancer……mental stability. I can even touch them if I stretch my hand out far enough. But maddeningly, they continue to elude my grasp, and sometimes I just want to give up even trying.
Heh. I guess that’s what I get for giving up sweets for Lent. Nothing like doughnut withdrawal to shake things up. I know how to soothe my ruffled feathers without resorting to food, but I’ve been out of practice since that three-and-a-half stint on Zyprexa last fall (to say nothing of the fact that I needed it for over a third of February as well). That’s part of the reason I decided to use these 40 days (actually, I think it’s closer to 45)—not only to make a sacrifice for the Lord, but to jump-start a somewhat healthier life.
I know I feel better when I don’t eat much sugar; besides, I’m apt to be more physically active when I don’t feel weighted down by a load of cake or cookies. Like I said the other day, I’ve got that old familiar urge to go outside and work in the soil…..trouble is, I’ve gained back some of the weight I lost, and I feel thick and heavy. But when I eat decently, I have more energy and my attitude is better. Not that my version of a “healthy” diet is what the Food Police really mean by healthy—I still enjoy my meats and my salad dressings and my coffee, and by gosh I’m going to have those things. I refuse to give up EVERYTHING that makes life worth living. But between the two extremes, there exists a happy medium. (My job: find it!)
I know I’ll get over all this, although right now, the ice cream is calling my name and I want to throw things, scream profanities from the rooftops, or sit down and cry. Maybe all three at once. FML.
It was 63 degrees today. The sun was out for part of that time, the breeze was soft and almost warm as it kissed my rain-frizzled hair, and over the sounds of traffic I thought I could hear birds chirping as I munched my tuna sandwich. I almost didn’t even need a sweater.
Spring may still be a little over two weeks away, but signs of it are stirring all over, including on the inside. I want to dig in the dirt. My appetite is going away and I’m sick of junk food. I can hardly wait for Daylight Saving Time to begin this weekend. And I’m not sleeping well even though I’m sticking to the script.
Yeah……oh, shit is right.
I get it every year, this spring-fever thing. Only I’ve learned to recognize it for what it really is, and warning bells are going off even as I lose myself in pleasant imaginings of the blooming flowers and warm twilights to come. All winter long I dream of sunny spring and summer days, and the intoxicating aromas of roses and watermelon and grilled steaks. Even now, with more rain to come in the days ahead, I’m ready to stash all the dull, dark clothes far back into the closet and bring out my bright turquoises and yellows. I want short sleeves and gauzy skirts and a tan.
And then I wonder for the 457th time how a perfectly innocent time of year can be so seductive, and yet hold so much danger for the poor schmuck who just happens to have bipolar disorder.
I’m not manic. Not even hypo, even though I was bordering on it as recently as a week ago. I don’t feel like I could jog the 40 miles home like I do when I’m in that state. (Broken toes don’t allow for much jogging, anyway. Neither does being too-many-hundred pounds and badly out of shape. Besides, I hate jogging.) I’m still fighting my asthma and I’m not healthy enough yet to actually go outside and start prepping my flowerbeds.
But I have the feeling that it wouldn’t take very much to turn the tide. I’m not sure if I can describe what the sensation is like; it’s almost as if your head is slightly abuzz, and the rest of your body is thrumming with anticipation—of what you don’t know, but it’s something you can hardly wait for, even as your logical brain says “oh, no you don’t either!!” It’s like Christmas and your birthday and all the days you’ve ever looked forward to in your whole life rolled into one glorious event, and you can hardly breathe for the excitement.
Ever wonder why people like being manic? There’s your answer.
Thankfully, the practical side of me is still in control and it knows that spring fever or no, I can’t have an episode of any kind right now. I’m at a crucial point in my training where things could either go well or suck rocks—not a good time to have to deal with this pesky illness. So I will turn the salsa music off, resist the temptation to have both the heater and the fan on to simulate a night in the tropics (um, yeah……I do that sometimes), and take my meds no later than 9 PM so I can at least wind down a bit before I attempt to sleep.
Wake me when it’s May, will you?
Sometimes I feel sorry for my kids, particularly the two who aren’t firmly attached to any one significant other right now. Actually, the one I REALLY feel sorry for is the new love interest they bring home to meet a family in which—as my younger daughter so delicately puts it—there are some ‘irregularities’. Actually, what she told her new boyfriend was that her dad’s got cancer, her mom is bipolar, one sibling’s doing well, one brother is doing God-knows-what, and the other brother is married to a fella. Nope, nothing to see here, move along please.
Which reminds me that this Friday marks the two-year anniversary of my diagnosis. During that initial evaluation, the consultant psychiatrist whom I’ve come to call Dr. Awesomesauce asked me a pointed question about whether there might have been any mental illness in my family of origin. Fiercely loyal to a fault even though almost all of them are long gone, I remember denying it, and rather vigorously at that: ours was a GOOD family. We were upstanding citizens who paid our bills and voted Republican. We had no skeletons rattling around in our closets, and if you didn’t believe it, all you had to do was ask us.
It never occurred to me then to think of my relatives with depression and anxiety as “mentally ill”. I didn’t see the family members who popped pills and drank like fish, the grandmother who spent time in what was politely called a sanitarium following a nervous breakdown, or the mother whose moods were every bit as mercurial as my own as “mentally ill”. I also didn’t understand that being MI has nothing to do with social status, or give myself credit for having the courage to become the first in my family to be labeled as such.
Now that I’ve had a couple of years to get used to all this and logged a whole lot of hours on Dr. A’s couch, I can see not only the crazy in the mirror, but the crazy that goes back generations. Better yet, I can forgive it because I know NONE of it is anyone’s fault. We were dealt some bad genes, and some of us didn’t do much to help ourselves when John Barleycorn called our names. But like Maya Angelou said, when we knew better, we did better…..today, both my sister and I are in therapy and on medication, and while the process slips from time to time, life has improved considerably overall.
I wish the one son who’s got mental health problems would extricate his cranium from his rectal cavity and do something about them, because I spent the better part of fifty years fucking things up so HE wouldn’t have to. But I suppose we all have to learn the hard way, and with the combination of his mule-headedness and his youthful stupidity, he’s got a looooooong hard road ahead. I can’t save him from it; hell, he hasn’t even spoken to me in five months. Even blocked me on Facebook. He knows what I have to say, and he doesn’t want to hear it. End of story.
In the meantime, this bag of mixed nuts will just have to keep doing the best we can to get through life without encountering too many disasters……or scaring the bejeebus out of the poor girl or guy the kids want to bring home to meet us!