Kitty Walkabout

I slept terrible Thursday night. After the Latuda incident, I just couldn’t sleep. It was hot in the house and we had opened some windows, but eventually resorted to the AC, so I went around and shut all the windows before bed. I had a bit of that 1/2 awake, 1/2 asleep stuff until I got up to write the Latuda post, which was about 4am local time. I thought I heard some meowing, like a cat was trapped in a closet (pretty typical scenario for our youngest) but I couldn’t find any trapped cats. So I chalked it up to my sleep-deprived imagination and went back to bed.

I finally woke up at 6:30 and so did DH. We both heard the meowing then, and we couldn’t find Saxon. DH opens the back door, letting the dog out, and sees the cat sitting on the windowsill meowing. Saxon had torn open the small hole in the screen, letting himself out to chase bugs, and I had unknowingly closed the window behind him. Poor fellow was out there all night and meowing for half of it! He didn’t seem to get the idea of using the door, so the dog went over and started nudging the cat towards the door with his nose until the idea clicked. The two had a long, affectionate reunion and Saxon doesn’t seem inclined to leave the house again.

Best Buds


Moral of the story: It is possible to herd cats!


© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Latuda

The second anti-psychotic my doctor prescribed for me is Latuda. She must be using it off-label for bipolar because the manufacturer website makes no mention of bipolar, only schizophrenia. The nice thing about it is that it doesn’t have the same weight gain effects as other atypical antipsychotics. The downside, for me, is the nausea.

I’ve been taking it on and off for about 3 weeks. Sometimes off because it does make me very sick to my stomach. However, it does wonders for stability. It stopped the Ultradian cycling cold. It’s kept me stable. And until tonight, I’ve been able to handle the nausea.

Tonight it made me violently ill. It wasn’t dinner because DH was fine. No, it didn’t start until I took the Latuda. I was sicker that I had ever been on it before. Previously, it had gone almost to the point of dry heaves. Tonight it went further. No, it was not pretty. DH was most wonderful for cleaning up after me.

Now it’s 4 am, my stomach hurts, my anxiety is through the roof (even though I’ve tried shoving a little klonopin down there) and I can’t sleep. I think I’ve had about 1 hour of sleep tonight. Between the anxiety and my stomach, I just can’t get any rest. Even after a hand full of crackers, some lukewarm water, and a sip of milk, my stomach still feels horrible. My body does not want this stuff in it.

Even though this may be TMI, I felt I had to share it with you in case your doctor ever decides to try Latuda on you. I hope you don’t have the same reaction. But if you so start feeling nauseous, keep an eye on it. Talk to your doctor. Don’t just stop it without your doctor’s consent, nor continue it because you think it will get better or you can “handle it”. It may be more than a simple nausea side effect.

High school may be out of the question

Well, I was reading up on the requirements to teach high school, once I found them buried in the state board of education website, (don’t you love broken links?) and discovered there is another whole application process that I have to do before I can take the tests. This process can take up to 6 weeks, so if that happens then there is a very slim chance I can take the tests (with results) in time to teach this year. Since the schools aren’t even willing to entertain the notion of hiring me before certification, this leaves me in quite a bind.

So where do I go from here?

Even if I get through all that process, they do a FBI and criminal record background check. Would I even pass that with bipolar disorder?

There are so many fees involved too… each test has a fee. There are enrollment fees, application fees… it would be about a $400 job application to teach high school, and I’m not sure I have the self-confidence to do it in the long run. I’m not sure I have the self-confidence for anything.

I dreamed about the university position last night. I dreamed that I was doing the interview all over again, only not screwing it up. I really want that job, I just wish I had answered that one question right: which upper division classes would you be comfortable teaching? Well, hell, I can teach all of them (if I have the self-confidence). That’s what it all comes down to in the end: self-confidence. If only I had been hypo-manic instead of stable for this interview, I would have nailed it.

This waiting is killing me. If I had done that right, I might have an offer by now. I really hope I get the university job. My self-confidence tells me I can’t do it, but another part of me says I can. It’s all pointless now until I hear back from them.


© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Can I teach high school?

I went to the job fair yesterday for the school system. I know they desperately need math and science teachers at all levels. I gave my resume and talked with the high school for a bit. I think they are very excited about me because after I left the table, I was tracked down by one of the teachers and he gave me his card. Before I made it to the next school (middle school) I was also tracked down by one of the assistant principles. He was trying to lure me into teaching their program for students needing special help in graduating. Not slow learners or disciplinary students, but students who need extra help because life has not been kind to them. (They may have children already or a non-supportive home life.) He gave me his number and asked me to call him next week if I would like a tour or to sit in on a class.

The downside is that all of the certification tests are expensive! They have a general test and a professional teacher test (why they have two is beyond me) and then there are the subject tests. At $100-$150 each, that adds up quick, plus there are fees. To qualify for just one subject, I would be spending about $400 all total. Is it worth it for essentially a job application? Granted, I would have my certification for 5 years. I wouldn’t make very much money, but I would be “in high demand” as they put it. Teaching school here would be a nice, easy commute but teaching high school is hard. Very hard.

However, I like the idea of touching lives. Of making a difference. I have no children and I’ll never win a Nobel Prize, so basically I have no legacy. Once my life is over, who will remember me? I will have left no footprint on society or this planet. Only a lot of empty pill bottles.

I am getting maudlin. I need to keep an open mind. High school might be the place for me after all. Or is it only my lack of self-confidence telling me that I can’t teach at a level higher than that? I don’t know.

Also, how will my mental illness figure into all of this? I have to take a drug test – how will I pass it with my Klonopin?

Anyway… do you think I should hand over the money and go for my certification?

First Job Interview in Review

I’m calling this post the first job interview, but in all honesty, I hope I get this job and won’t have to apply for any others. It’s for teaching at a local university. They asked me to come in and teach a class, which I did, and I think it went pretty well. The students clapped at the end. I’m not sure what to think of that since they also clapped when I figured out the light switches. (We were doing a demo that required darkness.)

Overall, I think it went pretty well, except for one thing. They want someone who can teach upper division and graduate classes as well. I didn’t answer those questions right because a) I have low self-confidence, b) I didn’t want to impose on anyone’s current schedule, c) I never picked up on the clue that this was something they wanted and needed, otherwise, I think I might have walked out much better situated. I didn’t get the click that this was what they wanted to hear until I was driving the hour-long commute home. DH says I would sound too much like an eager puppy-dog if I tried to call or email them now to explain that yes, I would teach those classes. Ugh. I need to wait on pins and needles for the next few weeks and see what happens.

I wasn’t hypomanic either. If I had been, I may have been less hesitant and more willing to commit to those upper level courses. I should be happy that I had a stable day, but it’s screwed me in the long run! Can’t I ever win?

This second anti-psychotic seems to keep me in check better than the Geodon (or maybe it’s the combination). The stuff makes me sick to my stomach after I take it (think near dry heaves for about 30min-hr) but maybe that side effect will go away. I forget to take it every day and that seems to make a difference. I am better on days when I remembered to take it the night before.

Anyway, the most stress of the day came when I got home after having reviewed the entire day in my head during the hour-long drive home. I was so worked up that I had to take extra Klonopin and sleep on the couch. A lot of the interview was good, but the answer to this question was horrible. Stupid, stupid, stupid. How can I fix it?

Suggestions, thoughts, prayers, and hugs are welcome!


© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hypomania: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I am starting to get hypomanic with this job interview coming up. This always happens to me, at least if I am interested in the job or not so depressed that nothing helps. The job is for a teaching position, and I will be teaching one of my favorite topics. I am not sure whether I want the job or not – it’s on a yearly renewal contract basis. It’s also an hour drive each way. Blech. I hate that long of a commute, especially in winter with the ice storms we get out here.

As for the hypomania, I am trying to control it without too many drugs. I have a lot of trouble focusing, and I tend to want to talk too much, too fast and interrupt. I have to curb these urges for a job interview, but usually being hypomanic helps me – I’m charming, outgoing, and friendly. I give the outward appearance of being all the things I’m not: focused, interested, comprehending, and extroverted. I know hypomania is considered “bad” but all these effects help me get through an interview and get the job.

Oh we all know the bad side of hypomania… one of my biggest vices is shopping. I needed to go shopping to buy a new suit for the interview because all my old ones are two or three sizes too big. This meant new skirt, blazer, blouse, camisole, stockings, and I bought a “briefcase” like purse. At least I am wearing shoes that I already have. I had such a hard time restraining myself from buying jewelry, extra camisoles, extra skirts, extra blouses, etc. Fortunately, I didn’t even go near a shoe store. I have developed a passion for shoes over the past few years and good ones at that like ecco or Clarks – $100 shoes. Gotta keep the debit & credit cards in check!

The ugly… we are all susceptible to poor judgement when hypomanic. We may say things we don’t mean, give offense, find offense or be quick to anger, drive too fast or too recklessly. I find myself saying things I shouldn’t or interrupting people, trying to finish their thought for them. It’s a bad habit that only occurs when I am hypomanic and it’s hard for me to control. I know it really pisses people off too. My brain has bounced ahead along so many paths that I just can’t wait for the other person to catch up. Finish talking so I can talk! Ugly. Bad impression. Rude. Offensive. I usually am a happy manic but I can be short tempered, especially when under a lot of stress. I do drive too fast or I might drive and eat or something else distracting at the same time. I’m on overdrive, why shouldn’t my car be? Potentially ugly consequences.

I am taking all my medicine and I really don’t think that there is anything else my doctor can do for me. I’m not a real danger to myself or others. I just have to keep aware of how I’m feeling and acting to make sure I am being appropriate. Use the cruise control to eliminate speeding. Follow the directions on the GPS, and focus on the road. Try not to let my nerves get the better of me. Fight my mind to focus on what people are saying and don’t cut into conversations too early. And go easy on the bad, self-depricating jokes. I killed my reputation at this last company with too many self-depricating comments that others took seriously. So if I work on my focus, which is really hard for me, and try to plan and prepare as much as possible, hopefully I can get through this interview with flying colors.

The professors there are so smart that I am terrified of sounding stupid. Remain calm. Smile and nod and pretend you understand. Try to think of questions that don’t sound too stupid. I wish they made a medication for self-confidence!

I start at 8am and meet with nine different people. It’s going to be a busy day! Wish me luck!


© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Missing Goldie

It’s been a month since we lost my cat Goldie. Although she wasn’t one for demanding a lot of attention, I still miss the little things she did, like moving the water bowl and pointing at you with her paw when she wanted to be petted.  She was also a self-brushing cat, which was pretty fun to watch.  She would take the brush right out of your hands then rub her cheeks on it.  She didn’t meow, she would meowf.  When she jumped down, there was always an “oof” involved.  The house is definitely a lot quieter now.

As for the other cats, I think they miss her too.  Our tuxedo cat, Tux, tried to go out of the house a few times; presumably to look for her.  The only time he ever tries to leave the house is when we have a missing cat.  After it was apparent that she wasn’t returning, he started spraying the couch.  He only sprays when he is nervous.  We had to wash everything a couple of times.  Boy was that one stinky week!  Since then, he must have accepted her loss because he has stopped all that.  Sometimes he sleeps on the same blanket/footstool that she would sleep on.  We didn’t get rid of everything.  Didn’t have the heart too.  But the house will gradually have less orange fur in it as time goes by.

Missing Goldie?

One place that definitely still carries her scent is the scratching pad.  I’ve noticed Sax lying on the scratching pad lately.  He doesn’t scratch it, he just lies there looking forlorn.  (He probably doesn’t look as forlorn in this photo as usual due to the flash.)  We don’t put catnip on the scratchers, so it’s not that.  It was her scratcher and everyone knew it.

Maybe I am reading too much into the cat’s behavior.  Perhaps they don’t miss her at all.  But I have read articles where cats go through a mourning phase when they lose a housemate.  Perhaps my fur children are mourning the loss of a sibling in their own way.

I found an old picture of Goldie when she had climbed in the laundry basket to take a nap, so I thought I would share it with you.  She had so much personality it’s difficult to summarize her life in any amount of words.  She was sweet, she was grumpy, and she was loving.  Despite all the troubles our family has been through over the years, I think she was happy.  What more could a cat-mom ask for?

 
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24 hours

It’s amazing what 24 hours can bring: happiness or despair or complete apathy or sheer boredom.  Sometimes all of the above and then some.  Twenty-four hours can crawl by at a snail’s pace or it can fly past quicker than you can blink.  For those of us with mood disorders, we can feel everything and nothing in that amount of time.

Let me tell you about the last day or so…  yesterday I was so depressed that I couldn’t even finish an email to a friend of mine.  I had to drag myself into the shower because I was meeting another friend after dinner for crafting and ‘catch-up’ time.  We had a great time, and I felt my depression ebbing.  I even revealed to her my bipolar disorder.  She took it in with a simple nod and then acknowledged how difficult it must be to have BP and do all the things that we have to do as scientists. Especially working with the crowd I had to work with – who would drive a sane person crazy any day.  We talked about my illness, my medicines, and other things completely unrelated to mental health.  As we were wrapping things up, her husband came in.  He is basically a nice guy with no social skills.  We discussed how things were going and he was trying to cheer me up with compliments that also included potential insults, but knowing him I didn’t take the insult aspects because it was in reference to my job not my person.  But what bugged me was that he started asking about a job that’s posted in my former department.  I know the job, I know the hiring manager, and so he asked about all of that.  We even went through his stack of business cards from his last interview there four years ago so I could tell him who was still there and who wasn’t.  I think in part he wanted to make sure I wasn’t applying for the same job, but I can’t imagine why that would make a difference. Even though he apologized, I was angry that he brought it up.  I felt used.  Two hours of fun, followed by 30min of grilling about my former employer and group.  I came home nearly as miserable as when I left.

This morning, we went to see DH’s doctor who (at long last) is doing some blood work to see if we can narrow down what is wrong with him.  But both of us were so tired that we fell back asleep after we returned home and slept for another 4 hours.  I’d been dealing with anxiety and depression all day, then I got an email in the afternoon asking if I would like to come in next week for an interview.  I have to teach a class (it’s for an instructor position) and meet with the rest of the faculty.  I was a little bit floored to get the email, and once I picked up my jaw, I was excited.  But then I started thinking about it, and now I’m nervous.  Sure, I can go through the motions of teaching but am I really any good at it?  A friend of mine tried to cheer me up on that point saying that there were students who loved me, so I must have been good, and there were students who hated me, which also means I must have been good.  However, it all boils down to I still had crappy evaluations. 😦

Well, this conversation turned because this same friend just got a job with my former company, and she started ‘picking my brain’ about benefits until I told her I didn’t want to talk about it anymore.  I begin to feel like I am nothing more than a source of information for a company that threw me out in the garbage.  Will people please stop talking about the company before I start screaming?!?!

Now I am in some sort of mixed state of anxiety, depression, and self-worthlessness.  How can I wow them next week when all I can think of is: will they see how stupid I am?

Anyway, that’s how the last day went for me. From utter despair and depression to fun and a lightened load, quickly back to anger, frustration and depression, then excitement, fear and worthlessness, back to frustration at my other friend who won’t shut up about her new job.  And now I’m just tired.

Too many emotions in too short of a time.  I want to get off this ride.

 
© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Quiet Composure

One of things that has been bothering me lately is that I am taking this unemployment situation with graceful composure.  With the exception of a couple of down days, I’ve been working through this unemployment problem with no actual outward sign of mental illness.  Although I am still laden with some depression and my Moodscope chart puts me in the teens in terms of emotional state, I am by all appearances, calm.  Even behind closed doors.  DH & I talked about this the other day.  He was surprised that I am not more upset.  He came home from work and told me how he was feeling stressed out over our situation.  We hugged and talked… even with his admission, I remained oddly calm.

Is this me?  Is it the real me?  Am I hiding something from myself?  Am I in denial?  Or is the medication numbing me?

I talked with my new therapist about this yesterday.  We didn’t come up with an answer, other than maybe my mind recognizes and accepts that this situation is not as bad as previously similar situations.  This time I have savings (which will be eaten up quickly by my mortgage and COBRA), and I do not have a $450 a month car payment.  But we do have a $300/mo student loan payment for my husband’s education that we didn’t have before.  Our mortgage is $500 a month more, and my husband had a job with health insurance last time so we didn’t need to COBRA.  Our medical and phone bills are certainly higher. Maybe we aren’t so much better off this time after all.  Damn, why did I have to follow that train of thought?

This morning I began to feel a crack forming in my calm facade.  A thin stream of mental instability shot through the opening.  Maybe I am not as composed as I think I am.  I’ve not been taking Klonopin because I am trying to avoid it whenever possible.  Stubborn me, I’ll suffer before I ask for help.  At least this time I have people to help me.  My therapist might be young, but she is enthusiastic and genuine, whereas last time my therapist was only interested in dragging out my therapy and not focusing on things that would impact me immediately.  The pdoc I had last time was nice, but he didn’t have the same amount of insight or time invested with me as my current pdoc.  I have a better support network of friends now, even if none of them know I am bipolar.  Last time, my friends abandoned me when I lost my job or perhaps just before because I scared them all away with my wild mania.  Odd, isn’t it, how quickly people will turn tail and run rather than try to help?

I’m walking on paper-thin ice here.  I fear the day it cracks and I fall into the dark cold of depression.

 
© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chapter Read and Lesson Learned

The title of this post was actually snagged from a line in the Barenaked Ladies song, “Who Needs Sleep?”  It’s just one line, but a very powerful line that takes on a different context in the song than how I am using it.  For me, this marks the end of my dalliance with a high-paying job.

It’s been a week since I last wrote.  I couldn’t bring myself to write about work and unemployment last week.  Things were still too raw.  At times, I am still stumped about the whole thing.  I feel like I should be more angry or sad than I am.  I simply feel resigned to my fate.  Mix in a little terror and self-deprecation when I think of my situation and the lack of funds that will be coming in.  Basically, I’ve been spoiled while out on medical leave.  Sure I had a lot of healing to do, but I didn’t worry about not being able to pay my bills.

Chapter Read refers to an ending, the ending of my employment.  Part of me is dying to work, to earn money, to be useful.  Another part of me never wants to work again.  Mostly, I just don’t know what I want to do with my life.  It was pointed out to me once that my resume looks like someone who spends a lot of time running away from things.  Is that true?  I am an expert in one specific field, a high-paying field, if you can get the work.  If the job isn’t taken over by a bachelor’s degree technician.  How could they possibly know what I know?  Probably fairly easily. (Or am I being self-deprecating again?) I’ve been overeducated and probably forgotten more than I ever knew in the first place.  You hire a PhD to run the lab, to take care of the helium tanks, track the standards and chemicals… yuck.  All the things I hate about working in a lab.  But all my experience puts me in a lab with a (hopefully high-paying) yet utterly boring job containing droplets of excitement when you happen to work in collaboration on something that is patentable or publishable.  That is, if your work isn’t being questioned or stolen.  What’s the point of being good at something if everyone thinks you suck?  Or thinks your opinion is worthless?  Or questions your conclusions?  Maybe I am better off with this chapter closed, but what will the next one bring?

Lesson Learned refers to what I’ve learned from this job.  Money is awesome but it’s not everything.  Right now, I am unemployed with limited funds, thus once again, I must take what I can find, be it industry or academia.  What I learned from this job is that after the original “honeymoon phase” where I am learning and being challenged, this job is downright boring.  And when I get bored, I get lazy or I watch how others work, and some part of my brain thinks it’s OK to do X or not do Y if other people are doing X or not doing Y.

For example, I watched as lazy Dr. B (short for Dr. Bastard) get away with everything.  He swears he has something in his personnel file that says he shalt not be fired.  Who knows? Maybe he does.  He must have done something valuable for the company at some point because they let him get away with all sorts of things that no one else can.  He would stroll in at 10am. He would leave at 6pm.  (Core hours are 9am-3pm.)  Sure we are salaried and have flex time, but you were expected to be on site for 8.5 hrs a day, excluding lunch. He would ramble all day long to anyone who would listen – not getting an ounce of work done.  He brags about how great he is and how the company has wronged him.  His stories are 20 years old, yet he tells them like it happened yesterday.  He brags about how he got his revenge on people by getting them fired.  (And now I am one of them.)  He is mean to people who report to him or work with him if they don’t do exactly as he wants.  He is insulting to anyone he doesn’t like.  He is bigoted and reeks of harassment.  But the company thinks he is some sort of god in the field and that they can’t part with him.  Not everyone does, but enough people to keep him around.  Some people see him for what he truly is:  a narcissistic ass who is not always right (scientifically) even though he is trying to BS you into thinking that he is.

My other lesson learned is that I need to admit when I need help.  I needed to have this surgery a year earlier.  I needed mental health help a year earlier.  I went through hell because I didn’t seek the help I needed.  I thought I could control my bipolar, my OCD, my PTSD all through sheer willpower.  It’s taking me 5 prescription drugs a day to control all that and still I have to contend with symptoms from my mental health problems.  I need to have a psychiatrist.  I need to have a therapist.  I need healthcare coverage.  I am jealous of people who can get away without coverage or who just need the bare minimum or people who only have to take two or three pills a day.  I have in total 11 prescription medications per day and I am barely into my forties.  I have to learn to admit that sometimes I need help.  I am too damn stubborn for my own good.

So where do I go from here?  Without my six figure income, how do I live?  How do I get to travel?  Take my photographs?  Do the things I enjoy?  How did I ever survive on $40k/year?  For starters, I didn’t have a 4 bedroom home with a formal dining room.  I didn’t get to travel.  I didn’t have an iPhone, an iPad and an iMac.  I didn’t eat out that much.  I thought a little bit more about what I spent money on.  I didn’t spend hundreds of dollars on steel swords for renaissance costumes.  We didn’t have an Xbox or a Wii or a flat screen TV.  I certainly didn’t have this many pairs of shoes.  We never remodeled the house and I didn’t have nearly  the wardrobe I have now.  (Some of which I no longer fit into – thank you meds.)  Still, I am at a loss.  I don’t know where to go from here.  My mortgage is too high.  I have too much junk.  This house is turning into a money pit.

Some days I am good – I can handle the stress, focus on the tasks ahead, and move forward.  But always in the back in of my mind is: Where are you going?  You aren’t going anywhere.  You spin your wheels wandering from job to job.  Sometimes making money, sometimes not.  Always banging your head on some wall.  Always allowing your illness(es) to encroach on your life.  Mania or depression coloring your view, affecting your productivity. Like a hamster on a wheel, I am forced into running through these cycles, never getting anywhere.  I never get a productive hypomania like other people do.  I’m either constantly distracted, fidgety, talkative and flighty, or touchy, angry, and easily set-off.  My depressions are laden with anxiety, sadness, and a lack of energy and focus.  How the hell did I get through school???

Well, there’s my emotional core dump.  (For now.)  Where do I go from here?  That is the biggest question on my mind.  Everything else is details.


© Manic Monday (manicmonday123) 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.