The Cost of Mental Health

I’ve written a post on the costs of mental health on A Canvas of the Minds WordPress blog, which is a multi-author blog about mental illness. I can’t figure out how to reblog the post here, so you’ll just have to go over there to read it. Sorry about that, but there are lots of other really cool posts for you to check out while you are there. 🙂

The Cost of Mental Health.

Enjoy!

-MM

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First Blog-o-versary!


Yes, I stole the term from Lulu, who recently celebrated her blog-o-versary. Thanks Lulu!

It’s both difficult and easy to believe that it’s been one year since my first blog.  I’ve talked about moods, work, photography, my family, my pets, my mental health, my physical health, and I’ve started working on the 30 Days of Creativity and 30 Days of Thanks projects.  I started out coming down from a mania, and plunged into depression, with glimpses of stability.  It’s been quite a ride.

I’ve gone from 1 reader to over 50 readers.  My world has expanded, my writing has expanded, and I’ve made new friends.  Thank you, readers, for sticking with me through out this journey of self-discovery.  This blog has become a large part of my world, it’s a support network, a place to vent or cry or whatever I need to do at the time.  A place to speak freely about whatever I want to talk about, whenever I want to talk about it.

I enjoy blogging, even though some days I am not up to it, but I do the best I can when I can.  That’s anyone can ask for.  Thanks for coming back after the silences.

Now I’m ready for ice cream.  Anyone want to join me? 🙂

Phone Interview in Review

OK, this post is two days in the making. I’m still having trouble with focus.

This isn’t the school, it’s actually a picture of Victoria College in Toronto, but I thought the image would brighten up my post for today.
Image (c)ManicMonday

Yesterday:

Hot off the presses… I just had a telephone interview for a teaching job (a long distance away). I think it went well. I’m still processing it all. At least I went in prepared with what I was going to say although I got a few curve balls. I think I did pretty well. I can’t think of anything major that I screwed up. We will see how it goes. Now I wait to hear word back from them, but I should know something within the next couple of weeks. My references fell a little short, i.e. some of them didn’t make it, so I have to followup on those.

I wish I was more organized! I can’t keep things in my head straight. 😦 I think I am slightly hypomanic. I need to get focused. The school is actually hiring for three positions, so if I got one, I could be starting as early as August!

Today:

I’ve had a some time to process the interview. I still feel confident about the interview, although I probably could have handled a couple of things better than I did. I’m trying to figure out how to send a thank you note since the entire committee wasn’t there and also because I missed the name of one of the committee members. I could send one directly to the chair and ask him to pass along my thanks. That’s about the best I can think of. If anyone else has any ideas, please share! 🙂

I started on the higher dose of Geodon last night, and already I feel my hypomania fading away. It appears that I react very well to antipsychotics. Either that or it’s just a new episode, this time of stability. Wait, scratch that – I’m distracted today. Maybe it’s ADD. During this post (today) so far, I’ve talked with DH, checked facebook, mail, and texted.

I’m trying not to think of the “what ifs” – what if I get this job? How will we move? DH is committed to the fall semester here so that means time apart. We’ve done it before, but we really don’t do well apart. And we’d have to sell the house, which we may have to do anyway, so we better get cleaning. We have so much junk to sort through! But how to clean when you keep getting distracted?

I am getting a head of myself. There’s no guarantee that I will even get this job.  I’d like to ask if you, dear reader, would please cross your fingers, think good thoughts, or say a prayer for me.  I need to get out of the rut that I am in and I think that getting this job would do that for me.  Thanks!

© 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.

Failure?

I feel like this blog is a failure.  I originally intended it to be someplace where people could read the internal day-to-day struggles of being a professional dealing with bipolar disorder.  Instead, I’ve been on medical leave and dealt with so much medical stuff over the past 10 months that this blog has almost nothing at all to do with career oriented matters.  Now, if things don’t start moving very soon, it will be about being bipolar and unemployed.

Is this blog really a failure?  I’ve got all these awards that say otherwise.  Or does it just mean that its deviated from its intention?

Am I a failure?  This is a different question, one I ask myself frequently.  I have all this education – 10 years post high school – and I’ve forgotten 90% of it.  I’m good at what I do, but I’m not the best or even nearly the best.  I put myself above average: maybe B+ range.  My student evaluations were not great either.  There were reasons for that too.  One other teacher who taught the same classes as I was a very easy teacher: 27/30 students got an A in his classes.  So why would students want to take mine?  I had pretty much bell-curved grades and everyone got what they earned. But if they passed my class, they had learned something.  Not true in his class. I lost my teaching job through no fault of my own. I was good for that school, all the teachers knew it, but administration couldn’t see it.  It’s very difficult to get respect from anyone (administration, colleagues, students) as a female science professor.  This has been statistically proven, although I’ve long since lost the reference.  Maybe I’m just trying to justify my situation, but there are facts to back it.

My first job loss was directly related to euphoric bipolar mania, and this one was in part due to bipolar dysphoric mania/hypomania.  My therapists tell me not to look at it that way – each job has been a particular set of circumstances and I should not blame myself for job loss.  But aren’t they paid to tell me that?  Would I still be employed if I wasn’t bipolar? Not at the first company – they went out of business.  Maybe not at teaching either, because my bipolar cycles were not that bad throughout that time period.  (I had some mild depression and one manic period during the summer of ’06.) Thus, it didn’t impact my work like it has at other times.

But this job… it started with my OCD.  I didn’t help people enough because I didn’t feel comfortable with the safety situation in the lab.  By all the rules and regulations, it was “safe”.  But I wasn’t comfortable, so I would gradually try to avoid it – it escalated and I was washing my hands constantly.  I had this belief that I couldn’t leave a water bottle sitting on my desk because someone would put something in it so I would fail a drug test or outright poison me.  Seriously, my cupboards were full of partially empty bottled waters. I’ve had this irrational belief for a long time. Is this a psychotic break?

Anyway, I pissed off the narcissist by taking advice from someone else, but he never forgives or forgets. When I’m gone, he will probably brag about how he got me fired.  When my dysphoric mania hit I became a difficult person to work with.  The narcissist triggered all my PTSD buttons and I was afraid to go into work. I would go and cry in people’s offices.  I couldn’t concentrate.  I couldn’t do my work.  I had nightmares about work 2-4 times a week. I should have sought help then.  Every time I complained to management I was unknowingly committing self-sabotage. I was breaking, but I thought: I can control this.  I can keep it together.  No one needs to know I am bipolar.

I should have been taken off of work much sooner – not for my arms but for my mind.  Before the structure fractured and I tried to patch myself with willpower duct tape.  Before things got out of hand and I got hurt again – physically and emotionally.  I’m basically a nice person and I generally work well with others, but it got so that every conversation, every rumor, flung shards of insult in my direction, slicing and fraying nerves as they flew.

Now, look where I am 10 months later: fixed physically and mentally, up for the challenge of dealing with anything, even the narcissist. Up for the challenge of anything but unemployment.  And that’s the demon I must face now. The argument that twists in my mind is: am I a failure?

 

© 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.

Estimate

Note:  I started this post yesterday but got too tired to finish it, so I’ll separate the days.

Yesterday:

First things first, I met with my pdoc today.  She seemed very concerned about my depression, so she is increasing the Paxil gradually up to 40mg.  I asked if that was a good idea, but she said we would watch closely for switching.  Apparently, the more depressed you are, the more likely you are to switch when when things start getting better.  She commented, “We’ve got to get you out of this depression.”  Which makes me think that maybe I look worse than I thought. I meet with her again next week because she wants to watch me closely for any sign of mania.  If I didn’t have 6 months worth of Geodon sitting in my pantry, I’d throw up my hands and say: let’s try lithium.  Why I would rather take three meds than one is probably beyond any rationalization, but I have my reasons.

On to the title… the husband of a good friend of mine is a general contractor.  We had him come over to our house and give us an estimate on updating our kitchen.  The estimate was a little disappointing, but pretty much right where I expected it to be – just under $5k.  One of the biggest expenses will be the tiles I want, so I went to Lowe’s this afternoon to look around at options.  (I watch too much HGTV and I wanted those little glass ones, which run about $12/ sq. ft. whereas regular tile costs $3-$4/ sq. ft.)  I found some stone tile that I’ve fallen in love with that will probably knock the price of tile in half, more if I don’t add the decorative ones.  Which would bring the total under $4.5k.  It doesn’t sound like you get a lot for that money, when you consider all that I get is new counters, backsplash, sink and faucets.  However, this would completely change the look of the kitchen and really modernize it.  Yes, it would be cheaper for us to do the work ourselves, but we would never do it if left to our own devices.  We are terrible homeowners.

Today:

Well, to pick up where I left off… yes, we are terrible homeowners.  I HATE home ownership.  If I could, I would live in a townhouse, except for one thing: privacy.  I like my privacy.  I like being able to sit on my back patio and read and not have the world watching me.  Maybe it’s a little paranoia, but I always feel like I am being watched.  I know I am at work because everyone watches everyone else so that they can draw false conclusions and develop gossip. Maybe our jobs just aren’t interesting enough so everyone feels the need to indulge in gossip.  This is the most gossipy place I’ve ever worked.

Back to home ownership… I found this wonderful tile, so I bought one of the decorative ones to take home and see how it would match up with what we currently have in the house and it goes wonderfully with everything!  I think it will go well with the stainless steel sink and the new counter tops (which will be jade green concrete), it also works with the tile we already have and the white cabinets that will stay white until we can afford to have them painted and glazed.

The decorative tile I want

Retail therapy works really well for me.  I’d been planning on spending $3-5k on the kitchen anyway.  DH and I are not handy with tools and such.  I love my drill and electric screwdriver, but I have a saw I bought 4 years ago that still sits in its box.  (I was going to make bookshelves.  Yeah, right.)  I even have a small saw bench for safety. Never been used. (Obviously.)  We barely hang up pictures.

I slept for 12 hours last night.  This depression is really kicking my ass. I know I’m worried about money, but I think putting a little bit into the house is worthwhile.  This is not the only thing that needs fixing… we might have termites too around the front door.  I wonder how much that is going to cost to fix.  At least a new kitchen will look pretty.

Argh! It’s always something…. 😦

 
© Manic Monday (manicmonday123). 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.

Manic Monday

I can’t say it’s a “Manic Monday” because I am neither manic nor is it Monday.  You might be wondering why I chose to go by Manic Monday.  Well, there is a story behind the phrase, but the blog name and my pen name are the same because basically I was rather stumped by the whole setup process in WordPress.  (Go ahead, laugh, it’s OK.)  Having bungled it from the beginning, and after making a few friends in the neighborhood, it didn’t seem like I should put forth the effort to change anything at this stage.  Besides, I’m not sure I can come up with a more creative name anyway.

On to the story behind the name… you may recognize “Manic Monday” because it’s a song by The Bangles.  A song from my teenage years – so you can estimate my age now.  They were never a favorite but I did like The Bangles.  (I was more of a Duran Duran girl at the time.)  However, when my obession with this song started about a year ago I actually was manic.  I didn’t recognize it for a long time – until after my new neurologist point it out.  That’s when I started writing this blog.

Things at work had been pretty rough for about a year.  It’s difficult when your supervisor is a narcissistic bully.  I went through a lot of depression, abuse PTSD and just general instability.  My health was rapidly going downhill with symptoms that still can’t be explained but had me convinced that I would be in a wheelchair within a few years.  The symptoms suddenly subsided sometime in April or May and I hope they stay that way.  But in January 2011, my previous neurologist prescribed me Cymbalta for the neuropathy pain.  A red flag should have gone up but didn’t.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Cymbalta, it is a strong anti-depressant that is also used to treat neuropathy.  I took the minimum dose for about two weeks.  It didn’t help with the neuropathy so I quit.  I don’t know if this is what started my mania, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it had an impact.  I don’t know when my mania actually started.  I was so worried about losing feeling in my legs that any mental health signs were lost.  For all I know, the mania and Cymbalta might not be related. I was only taking Lamictal for my bipolar so I had nothing to prevent mania. All I know is that by the time I met my psychiatrist in July I was coming down off of a manic high.  Not a euphoric mania either – I think that’s why I didn’t recognize it.

Wow, I really got off topic here.  What I was aiming for was not a bio but rather why I like this song now.  It’s because I hated going to work. And our manager started cracking down on people coming in late – well, except for the narcissist – he’s always the exception to every rule.  So you can imagine these lyrics…

But I can’t be late
‘Cause then I guess I just won’t get paid
These are the days
When you wish your bed was already made

I never make my bed.

Got to be to work by nine
And if I had an air-o-plane
I still couldn’t make it on time
‘Cause it takes me so long
Just to figure out what I’m gonna wear

It takes me forever to get ready in the morning.  I can’t figure out what to wear, and even when I decide the night before, something goes wrong and I have to start over.  It takes me about an hour and a half – longer if I wear makeup or eat.

As time went on and every day seemed like a “Monday” I started thinking of this song every time the alarm clock went off.  Eventually, I made a ringtone for my alarm.  I don’t know if I will still feel like every day is a “Manic Monday” once I go back to work.  We’ll find out in about a month.


© Manic Monday (manicmonday123). 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.