Independence Day

One day is pretty much like the others for me now but I thought I would wish everyone else (American at least) a Happy Independence Day! And since it’s Independence Day, I should declare myself independent of some guilt. My (new) therapist has asked me how long I intend to keep punishing myself for losing my job and she said I just need to declare that I am done. Put it in writing, she said. So here, I am publicly announcing it:

I, Manic Monday, hereby do declare that I shall not feel guilty over losing my job.
-Thursday, July 4, 2013

Things didn’t go exactly as I planned there, some of it was my fault, some of it wasn’t, but I can’t keep blaming myself for losing the job. It’s gone and done. I just have to try to find a new one. (Easier said than done, sadly.)  It was a really bad place for my mental health and my mind is better off not there.  I might have to work three jobs instead of one, but everyone goes through phases in their life.  Hopefully, this is just a phase.

Wow, my therapist was right.  It is liberating to write something like that.  She also told me to draw with my left hand using crayons.  That’s kind of liberating too.  I did it one day when my anxiety was really high and discovered what anxiety “looks” like to my inner self.  It was really interesting.  I’m going to take it with me to my next therapy session.

Anyway, that’s all I have to share for today.  🙂

 

 

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Why am I not writing?

Even just now, I wrote the title and then left the computer. Why? Why am I so subconsciously opposed to writing? We talked about this in therapy. My therapist wanted me to start a journal. I wrote the first three days, missed a day, wrote, and now it’s been two or three days since I picked it up. Why?

After exploring it in therapy, I know why. I probably didn’t need therapy to tell me this, but I did need to think about it for myself. You see, any time I tried to keep a journal, my mother would read it. I remember one time, I was in junior high at the time, I wrote out on a couple of sheets of paper how I felt about my home life. I wrote that we (my mother, father and I) were three strangers living under the same roof. My mother found it, read it, and beat me for it. It was the last time she ever used the leather belt on me.

I kept a journal for a while when I was recovering from my car accident. I had to stay with my mom because I had no where else to go during my recovery. I kept my journal buried in the nightstand next to my bed. It didn’t matter because she found it and read it. I can’t remember how I found out, but I did.

Since then, I have intermittently kept a journal. I will buy all these cool journals but then never write in them because I feel that they are too good for whatever I have to say. Or I will start a journal and not finish it. I have one, it’s a pretty pink color, that I have intermittently written in since 2008. I’ve gone through about a third of the pages. I would write for a few days, then nothing for six months. When my cat Luna died, I wrote simply Luna died today. The way I wrote it, with such emphasis on the phrase with underlines, I can recall the pain I felt then.

When my therapist assigned journal writing as my “homework”, I went out and got a new journal. I found this composition notebook at the dollar store that has a funky colored cover. I also got some butterfly stickers at the dollar store and decorated it. I could have used my old journal but I wasn’t sure where it was and I wanted to start “fresh”. It sort of worked. I write in it some days. I’ve got no excuse for the most part except that I don’t make time for it. Or I don’t find anything to say. I mean, my life is boring and all I do is worry about being unemployed or money, so what else is there to write. I wrote at first about my therapist, maybe that’s why I wrote so much for a couple of days. Now that that well has run dry (I had no appointment last week) and I’m out of stuff to bitch about. 😉

I haven’t been writing here either. I did have a busy week last week, since I substituted four days. (One full day, two half days, and a 3/4 day.) It definitely kept me busy and I was tired by the end of Friday. I’ll post more on this separately.

It’s all just an excuse, isn’t it? Writing is supposed to be therapeutic, and it is when I have something on my mind, otherwise it’s just a chore. Most of my blog posts take me an hour to write. I spent about three hours yesterday on my next Canvas post on The Compassionate Brain webinar series. I wish I hadn’t committed myself to it. My summaries are two weeks past the air date and they take so much time to write. It all feels like so much effort for me right now. I don’t think I’m really depressed, although I am doing a bit of cycling, but still it feels like so much effort. I can’t imagine if I did this for a living. It takes me so long to write anything! (And it’s not my typing speed slowing me down.)

Well there. I wrote about not writing. Does anyone else have this problem? If so, how do you get around it? Any suggestions are welcome. 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.

Therapy

I’m really feeling a little mixed right now.  I don’t mean a mixed manic-depressive episode, I mean that my feelings are a little uncertain.  I went to therapy today.  I remember having a lot to write about therapy last week, but I’ve since forgotten and because I didn’t get it down into words while it was fresh, I’ve forgotten.  Other than this: my therapist has read a few of my personal posts.  I sent her to A Canvas of the Minds because I think there is good stuff there that people are sharing, but she somehow got connected to this blog.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  She hasn’t mentioned anything this week, but I haven’t written anything much that’s personal lately.  (I’ve got all these posts rattling around in my head, the ideas slowly slipping away before they pass through my fingertips to the keyboard.)  I didn’t bring it up because I didn’t even think about it.  I’ll have to think some more about it before I bring it up next week.

My therapist is wicked sharp – she picks up on things both in what you say and how you act.  She is a master at reading body language. She points out when I’ve crossed my arms or a look on my face or if I start tapping a foot.  Things that even I don’t notice. One day she commented on how I was dressed in brighter colors and my nails weren’t painted in this black (actually, a really deep plum) color and how it was indicative of my mood.  Well, the next week I wore black just to mess with her and she got that.  I don’t like having ‘tells’.  We all have them, but I don’t like having them.  Usually my clothes aren’t much of a tell these days because it mostly depends on what’s clean and what fits.  (Most of my clothes are too small now 😦 )

Back to therapy… sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but I guess it’s supposed to be uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to have these things pointed out to you.  We talked about therapy being uncomfortable.  If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t get anywhere.  (So if PT stands for Physical Torture, does MT stand for Mental Torture?)  We are trying to work on mindfulness.  She’s been photocopying stuff from books for me.  The latest one is from Mind Over Mood.  I HATE self-help books.  I feel like I am being talked down to and that everything in there is so cheesy.  But I told her to present things to me as research results instead of just whatever – therapy talk, I guess.  So does this book qualify as research based because it’s got copyrights stamped all over the pictures and worksheets?

NOT MINE – See copyright

No, it’s still a self-help book.  I can buy it on Amazon for $16.47.  Maybe I should give her the benefit of the doubt – perhaps she is photocopying the clinician’s guide version of it.  Oh wait, I just checked that out on Amazon and it looks to be identical.

The basic theory makes sense: everything impacts everything else.  I’ll go so far as to agree that thought affects moods, behaviors, and physical reactions, but I have a hard time with the vice versa.  When I am feeling down, not even a walk is going to rattle me out of the blues.  It just doesn’t work for me.  Just like the magic ‘fake it ’til you make it’ doesn’t work for me either.  If that were the case, then I’d have self-esteem by now.  But apparently (based on my therapy session), I am being too pessimistic and that’s why it’s not working for me.  Just because I’m in a semi-stable mood, does that mean that all the psych tricks are going to work?  And if they work so well, why doesn’t everyone do them?

So maybe I am simply a pessimist and doomed to be miserable.  I don’t see how this is going to help me deal with difficult people or lift my recurring depression.  DH recommended a couple of chapters in one of his old psych books.  Maybe that’s more my speed.  I’ll try it.  That’s all I’m going to commit to.

 
© 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.

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

Applications

I hate filling out applications. It becomes so disheartening. They always ask: What was your reason for leaving?  I got fired, OK?  It’s more than that, my therapist even said so, but that’s the short answer.  I was let go.  That sounds so much better than I was fired.  At least when you are let go you get unemployment.  And believe me, unemployment helps.

Let me recap my experiences for you:

I lost one because of my bipolar.  I was dumb enough to tell them about my Multiple Sclerosis and bipolar diagnoses.  The company was in the process of downsizing anyway and they couldn’t count on me to be in the office with my medical issues. I sued them unsuccessfully.  This is why I will never tell another employer about my bipolar.

I lost my academic position because of sexual discrimination.  I had always suspected it was an administrative decision, but one of my former students came across a memo from the dean to the chair stating that they were impressed with my progress as a teacher.  This was less than six months (including summer) before I was berated by my department chair for poor student evaluations.  I also learned from another student that my evaluations were not as bad as stated because he had seen them.  He also found out that the chair had the good ones removed and shredded.  Can you believe this?  I considered suing the university for sexual discrimination but decided against it.  After all I was going on to a $100+k job – it wasn’t worth my time and effort.  Everyone knew that I deserved to have my contract renewed – except the people who had the power to make such decisions.  Part of me berates myself for losing that job even though I didn’t do anything wrong.  I stood up for myself, my students, and what I thought was right.  I rubbed the wrong feathers the wrong way.  I don’t regret what I did there.  But as a friend of mine put it, if you rise above the rest, someone is likely to chop your head off.

I really blame myself for this last job.  I couldn’t handle the people, the pressure, the work.  I was out of my element and I hated what I was doing.  All my mental illnesses began to implode as I worked with the narcissist and his henchman.  I lost grip on reality and I lost my grip on myself.  The harder I tried to hold on, the more my illnesses bled through, mixing into the pot of bad blood between my coworkers and myself.  My PTSD skyrocketed.  I started having nightmares several times a week.  I was afraid to go to work.  When I was there, I couldn’t concentrate.  Something would happen and I would be out working off my temper or crying in a friend’s office.  I wasn’t effective.  I couldn’t be effective.  Add to all that my injuries and several work-related relapses, they determined I was no longer fit for duty.  I hadn’t been fit for duty for a while.  I should have been out on mental health leave a year earlier.  Maybe none of this would have happened then.  My wrist wouldn’t have been injured and maybe my right arm would have been fixed sooner.  I don’t know if either will ever be 100%.  I gave too much of my soul to this job for the sake of a lucrative paycheck and a little prestige.

Now I’m filling out applications again.  And faced with the question: What was your reason for leaving?  You can’t write: sexual discrimination. You can’t write: forced out for medical reasons. So sugar-coat it and call it contract not renewed, received other offer, company downsizing. What else can I write? I wasn’t needed, I wasn’t wanted anymore. End of story. But that’s difficult to handle, even when your therapist says, “it wasn’t your fault.” Because yes, some of it is my fault. It’s my fault for not trying harder. It’s my fault for letting people get under my skin. It’s my fault for being dumb enough to share personal information. Information is a weapon. This is why I write anonymously.

 

© 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.

Stability

I saw my pdoc earlier this week.  I told her that I was reluctant to say this, but I think I might be stable at the moment.  Why am I reluctant?  Because I didn’t want to jinx myself.  I’m still reluctant to post this subject.  Stability is weird.  It feels foreign to me.  I can be happy and laugh, without going overboard.  I can think at a quiet pace, without my thoughts rushing ahead of me.  I can be sad without being immobilized.

My doctor is also treating me with Straterra for ADD.  This also appears to be helping with my focus.  I don’t get up and do other things four or five times in a two paragraph email message.  My thoughts are slow, compared to what I am used to. But I feel like I can finish this post without running and doing a dozen other things at the same time.  Maybe that’s just called multi-tasking, but that has always been beyond me.  And honestly, I don’t think multi-tasking is good for anyone.  You do a dozen things at once, but do they all get done right?  Doesn’t it take some focus to complete a task well?  I’m so used to hyperfocusing, that I don’t even know the correct answer for those questions.

Maybe this is the time to work on me.  Time to work on more core issues.  Things that are too hot to touch when in an extreme state.  I need to come to terms with my past, my childhood, and my mistakes.  I need to learn but not mourn.  This is the perfect time for CBT.  I need to dig deeper into my psyche while I have the opportunity to do so without it blowing up in my face.

I am afraid.  I am afraid that this plateau won’t last.  Stability has only come to me in spurts: a week or two here and there.  I don’t predict it lasting, although that would be nice. Or would it?  I once had a therapist tell me that I have so much drama in my life because I seek drama. I never thought that I seek drama, but it always seemed to me that drama finds me.  But is there a kernel of truth in there?  Maybe when I was younger but I am too old for that crap now.  But I do wonder… Do I know what to do with myself on a daily basis if I’m not fighting depression or mania?

I don’t call myself in recovery though, because I will never fully recover from bipolar disorder.  I think of bipolar as a relapsing/remitting illness.  And right now, I appear to be in remission.  I don’t know how long it will last, but hopefully long enough that I don’t feel so foreign to myself.  Some part of me worries – who am I without my bipolar?  Am I still an interesting person?  Will my friends still like me?  Will I like me?

So many philosophical questions, things that can only be answered by time.  I hope I don’t become so mellow as to be boring.  I hate boring.  But I guess it’s time to find out who I am beneath this layer of illness called bipolar.

Turning Point

I’ve been reluctant to write this post in fear that I may jinx myself, but I think I’ve reached a turning point in my depression. I’m not out of the woods yet, but neither am I being rapidly consumed by a voracious black hole of despair.  The flood of Paxil seems to be helping my depression, now the worry is switching.  Sadly, Paxil may be responsible for some of my weight gain as well.  I saw my psychiatrist and she said we will give the Paxil another two weeks and see what happens.  It’s always been my go-to drug in desperate times… how dare it make me fat?!?! There has to be another way to deal with the weight.  I hope the walking will help soon.

Today was marginally easier to get out of bed.  It was definitely easier to take a shower.  I wouldn’t say I was excited or anything, but it didn’t take as much out of me as usual.  I did my PT exercises early in the day (before my shower) and my arm doesn’t hurt as much today.  It hurt a lot yesterday, so I missed my exercises. 😦  It’s really difficult to push past the pain so this is something I need to address with the doctor when I see him next week.  I seriously doubt he will keep me off work any longer, so I’ve got to get prepared.

This afternoon, I made some phone calls and started getting the ball rolling on my house.  Tentatively, the week after next.  (Just when I should be going back to work.  Oh joy.)  But it will be so nice when it is done.  I’ve got another exterminator coming on Friday for a second estimate, but he already told me it will cheaper ($600-800 instead of $1200).  I’m also going to have to get the front door worked on too to replace the destroyed wood and clean it all up. There’s not a single termite in our neighborhood except for my house.  Why me?

I went walking with my husband and the dog this afternoon.  It was another nice day out.  (We’ve been lucky to have a mild winter this year – knock on wood.  No excuse for the snowblower I bought though!)  I’m not sure today’s walk was as long as yesterday’s was but I was still aching when I got home.  I will be so glad to see my massage therapist tomorrow.

Tomorrow I get to meet my temporary councilor too.  My therapist is out on maternity leave for the next two months so I am seeing someone else in her office in the meantime.  I may have to cut back my sessions from every week to every other week.  For one thing, they don’t take my insurance anymore so it will cost more.  For another thing, I’ll be back at work and all these doctors and therapist appointments will be a lot harder to schedule.  I’m overwhelmed with the thought of it.

Well, I guess I have caught up on the boring world of the down and out, so maybe I will be able to tackle all the lovely awards that Lulu has given me.  🙂

 
© 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.