The Conference

Three busy days. There were supposed to be four, but I had to leave early in order to go to a job interview across the country. I got the student housing rate for the conference and I had a roommate for two of the nights. It was weird, but OK. She said something wrong in her talk, but I didn’t correct her. Not my place, actually. That and she came back after I had already gone to bed.

I did run into Dr. Bastard. All he did was nod and say hello. No scene, no conversation, nothing. Oh well, what was I expecting? I had no idea. He got what he wanted (me out of his lab) and I had my own business to attend to. At least he wasn’t nosy or nasty. Just cheerful as if he had met any other colleague, except he didn’t stop to talk my ear off like he would have with someone else.

But you know, when I saw him, I kept trying to think of what my therapist said, “He’s a pathetic man.” And I just kept thinking about that. There was one point, during one of the receptions, I could see him across the room and I’m pretty sure he could see me, that I developed some of that old fear. But then I was talking and laughing with a group of our peers. He might have just been jealous. I did avoid going back for some of the good food just so I wouldn’t have to go to near him. Cowardly of me, I know. But I think when we are faced with our abusers we tend to retreat into the shadows, hoping not to be seen, rather than to confront them. I had no intention of confronting Dr. B, but I do wish I hadn’t been so fearful as to avoid looking at some of the posters just because they were near by. Time will heal this wound too.

I did run into and talk to one of the other people from my former workplace. He’s someone who wants to be a nice guy but has some complicated mental issues. I don’t know exactly what his problems are, but I was told that he has periods when he is “off his meds” and can be extremely difficult -more than usual- to deal with. He has issues with touching (so he and I did not get along at first) and he has some attitude issues sometimes. He doesn’t respect female bosses, he told me that himself. He’s really smart and despite all his eccentricities, I really respect him as a scientist. I had sent him an email to that effect before he retired and I “left” but I didn’t know if he got it. So when I saw him, I told him again. I wanted him to know that I respected him. I don’t know why I felt that was so important, but it was to me. He thanked me, and then tried to change the subject, because I think he is uncomfortable with compliments.

I gave out five copies of my resume and several copies of my card. (Make your own business cards.) I did two interviews (with the same company) and talked to a couple of others. (It is a VERY small conference.) I didn’t get the chance to enjoy the conference part of it as much as I would like to have, but I went there for job searching and networking so I accomplished my goal.

Overall, it wasn’t a negative experience. And I am thankful for that. Maybe next time I won’t be too afraid to go over and view the posters that he is hovering around. Or better yet, maybe he won’t be there next time I get to go to it. I’m sure there will be a next time, just who knows when. 🙂

As an aside… no amount of ADD medicine can help you pay attention through a boring or incomprehensible talk!

© 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.

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.

Under the Knife

I get my elbow reattached in the morning.  I’m not sure there is enough Klonopin for me to deal with this. There are a million things going on in my head, but I don’t feel manic.  I do feel anxious.  VERY anxious.  I called the pre-op department today because I had forgotten to tell them about my Lyrica and I mentioned that have severe PTSD from a past medical trauma.  (For a brief description see Donation: One Slightly Used Gallbladder.)  She asked what the trauma was from and I said a car accident that nearly killed me. I told her how I get very upset and start shaking and my blood pressure goes up, etc.  Then she asked what time I was due to be at the center and I said 7:30am.  She said not to worry, I would be the first one on the schedule and they would get me set up with an IV and a sedative.  I forgot to ask if my husband can come back and keep me company while I wait for the surgeon and anesthesiologist to make their rounds.

I’m already trembling, how will I survive the hour long drive down there?  And I certainly hope they give me something to keep the pain at bay for the long drive home.  (I’m assuming that I will get a script but it will take time to fill and I still have to get home.)  I’ve prepped a pillow for the car ride and a spare bottle of old Lortab in case they won’t give me a parting dose for the ride.  I have backups upon backups and still I don’t feel safe. I worry about the procedure, I worry about the recovery, I worry about everything.  Worrying doesn’t do any good, I know, but how do I stop it?

Today I was really busy with therapist & doctors appointments and the like.  I just settled down to write this about an hour ago.  Just to update on other things – worker’s comp appointment wasn’t as bad as I feared.  He is sending me to a hand specialist to check but it seems that I have inflammation in the wrist joint that will probably go away over time.  Maybe.  We’ll see.  Oh and I was able to get a copy of my job description from my nurse case manager.  I’ve never had one before.  It’s interesting to note that my job description (as a professional with a PhD) is the same description as the technician’s job.  Remind me again why I went to college for 10 years???

Thank you all for the good thoughts for tomorrow.  I’ll post when I can.

The Fallen Man

This has taken me a long time to write because I found the situation traumatic, as I describe below.  It’s a personal thing, so I doubt it would trigger anyone but me, unless you have elderly parents.

Have you ever come across a scene and just froze?  DH & I were shopping in Sam’s Club and an elderly gentleman fell out of his motorized shopping basket chair.  The man lay there, struggling to get up, and I stood staring mutely, rooted to the spot.  My husband moved forward to help him up and it was only after DH crossed my line of vision that I could breathe, think, and be useful.

I wasn’t seeing a stranger lying on the floor.  I was seeing my father in my mind’s eye.  My father is 82, in poor health, and wouldn’t ride one of those scooters if you sat him on it.  He’s diabetic, he has trouble walking, but he’s too stubborn to use a cane.  He smokes like a chimney and coughs like a choking man.

Another gentleman came over and together with DH they helped the fallen man stand up.  I picked up his ball cap and his phone and handed them back to him.  I moved on autopilot, trying to be useful where I could.  The man had tripped because he had put too many items on his cart, blocking the foot rest.  His foot caught one of them as he got out of it to reach for the Kleenex package.  DH got the package and put it into the man’s basket, and moved the offending item from the footrest to the basket.  Sometimes I swear I am married to an angel.

A little while later, after we had all parted ways, DH and I were shopping in another part of the store.  I suddenly started to shake. I was trembling and digging nails into my palms to keep from crying.  When this started happening, DH and I had a conversation that went something like this:

Me:  Why am I doing this?  (Shaking and crying)
DH:  Because you’ve had a terrible shock.
Me:  How so? I didn’t know that man.
DH: Because he reminds you of your dad.
Me:  I think I need a Klonopin.

A friend of mine called me the next day and she asked about my dad.  That’s when I broke down into tears and told her this story.  I said that I felt bad that I couldn’t help the gentleman more.  And I feel ashamed that I was just stood there and didn’t rush forward to offer my assistance.  If DH hadn’t been there, I don’t know if I would have snapped out of it.  My friend told me that it was understandable given the situation with my dad.  (My dad slipped and fell when he visited me last year.  He wasn’t hurt, but I felt horrible, and I’m not very good at forgiving myself.)  She has been through the same thing with her mom, who is in a wheelchair.  She said that it is natural to hesitate when faced with this sort of thing.  We all have aging parents, and it’s difficult to handle this type of situation.

I talked to my therapist about this situation.  She basically said the same thing in that it was natural to be shocked in this situation.  She suggested that I do something to ease my mind about my father, so I called the office of the trailer park he lives in.  I spoke to the woman at the office who said she checks on all their residents every morning and the other office person checks on them in the afternoon.  My greatest fear is that he will fall ill or pass away and no one will find him for days.  I love my Dad very much, regardless of the childhood trauma he knowingly or unknowingly imposed.

In any case, I feel better now that I have done something to ease my mind about my Dad.  I’ve enlisted the help of my ex-stepmother (they are still very close) to try to ensure that he is not alone for Thanksgiving.  I don’t know if he can make it out here again with his health, and it would be difficult to go there since I can’t procrastinate with my surgery too long.  It’s all so complicated.

Now that my depression is abating somewhat, I am going to make a conscious effort to talk to my Dad more often.  I think that will help ease my mind too.  It’s about all I can do from 1500 miles away.  So it will have to suffice.

Maybe I can be of better assistance the next time I see someone in trouble.  One can always hope.

© 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.

Over-reacted

OK, so I over-reacted to the situation.  Fear will do that to you.  Found out some things though – there was a strong implication that it was my group manager who was responsible for putting me out on STD.  Good News: He’s no longer my group manager. Unfortunately, I’ve still got the same direct supervisor.  Someone who is a (mostly) nice guy but so horribly incompetent as a supervisor that I’m sure they will promote him.

One topic of discussion on the table is whether to operate on the arm.  Pros: It may fix the problem.  Cons: I would probably lose full range of motion on my arm.  Bad news: Surgery only has a 60% success rate.

Next order of business: when will I return?  Not until the 22nd (at least).  I need to have my gallbladder out in the meantime.

I feel relief that I have another 3 weeks of reprieve.  Isn’t that the wrong way to think of work?  Pretty soon they will realize that they really don’t need me back.  It’s playing into the hands of the crazy people on my “team” (loose definition there) – the older ones want to retire and they don’t want anyone trained up enough to take over.  They figure they can screw the company that way; these individuals have an overly inflated view of themselves.  I was the one they were training to take over.  But I suddenly became incompetent because I couldn’t work in the lab due to this tendinitis. Of course, each time they bullied me into working in the lab I ended up injuring myself.  But remember: “Safety First!”  (So long as it’s not terribly inconvenient or time consuming.)

On the other hand, perhaps this separation will make them realize just how valuable I am.  Lord, I hope so.

 

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Anticipated Fear

I am feeling overwhelmed by fear at the moment.  I have an appointment with the company doctor in the morning, and he will determine if I can go back to work or not.  I have doctor’s appointments, hospital appointments, surgery and 5 days of family obligations within the next two weeks.  Of course, I could go in and he tell me I can go back to work, then I go and they fire me.  That would certainly give me plenty of time for all of these things.  My mind is spinning in fear – I don’t know what to do or what to think.   I don’t know where my time goes.  I am constantly overwhelmed.

And maybe tomorrow is nothing.  I did sort of suggest it.  I want to be back at work because I can focus on something productive that way.  But I am afraid to go because I can not give them what they want – a complete and uninjured me. I am terrified of this upcoming gallbladder surgery and even more terrified at the idea of having my arm operated upon.  I am supposed to learn how to control my fear tomorrow in therapy (at least my medical fears).  I can’t even write this because I don’t know where to begin nor do I know where I am going.

How does someone as intelligent, educated, and talented (supposedly) end up where I am?  And why does it seem to happen to me continually?  Is there some fundamental flaw in me?  Is it because I am bipolar?  Is it bad luck? Is it a combination of some or all of these?  Why do I keep finding myself here – at the bottom.  My house has depreciated $20k since I bought it three years ago.  According to my mortgage statement, it is worth $1000 more than what I owe on it.  (Thank you economy – figure out the damn debt ceiling crap before it goes any lower.)  I owe less than average on credit cards (~$5k), one car loan, one mortgage, two student loans and I have a respectable (albeit not generous) savings account.  So how do I keep ending up here?

OK… it’s an hour or so later than when I started this post and the Klonipin & Lyrica have kicked in.  I still feel panicked but like it is from a distance.  As if I am sitting here and the panic is attached to a string that is floating around in the wind.  It’s there, I can feel it tug at me, but it’s not controlling me.  Maybe it’s time for bed now.

 

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What to call today’s post?

I don’t know what to call today’s blog.  I haven’t written in a few days.  Too many things and yet nothing is going on.  As usual.  And still I have not done anything.  Where does the time go?

Thursday night we went to the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows part 2 movie premiere.  It was quite a phenomenon.  I was part of it.   Me, in a green velveteen dress, dragon necklace, and robes with a Gryffindor patch, a small part of the phenomenon.  I am glad that we did the two part double feature midnight showing. (Part 1 started at 9pm, part 2 at midnight.)  It is odd – it’s like the end of an era.  The end to a series of books and movies that have defined an entire generation and may define many more.

Naturally, since we did not get home until 4:00 AM and I did not fall asleep until 5:30 AM, Friday was quite a waste.  We tried to take a quick trip on Friday (despite my earlier warnings) but DH’s back and other minor problems made us abort it at the last moment.  Surprisingly, I did not freak out during the rush packing phase.  I don’t know whether to consider that progress or coincidence.  Since we were so tired, I ended up taking a haphazard nap.  Unfortunately, that means that I did not fall asleep until 2:00 AM Friday night.  I know I keep shortchanging myself on sleep, and that is the worst thing I can do for my bipolar, but I don’t seem to be able to help it.  I have an 8:00 AM PT appointment tomorrow, so we will see if I can do better tonight.  Since it is after 11 now… maybe I can fall asleep in the next 45 min.

All the things that did not get done last week, must get done tomorrow.  Things that I procrastinated on out of fear, depression, or (intentional?) forgetfulness. I have three days left before I see the doctor about my arm.  I may be allowed to go back to work at that point.  The question is: can I handle it?

Perhaps that is the biggest question on my mind.  Can I handle going back to work?  The workers comp doctor will not give me any restrictions for my wrist even though it hurts like hell to do anything.  My right elbow is still giving me grief, of course.  So maybe I can procrastinate a little longer.  I spent some time today looking for a new job.  Sadly, there is nothing that matches my skills.  Or is my self esteem so low that I don’t believe I’ll ever find anything to match my skills?

You see the reason why having written?  It’s been pretty dull here and I’ve been waffling about what to do.  My mind still jumps from topic to topic.  Not rushing right now but still scatterbrained.  And I don’t know what to say.  I don’t feel that anything I have to say is important enough to be read.  I wish I could share with you some words of wisdom, or some links to some words of wisdom, or at least an interesting tale, but alas by life is just boring.

 

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I’m waiting…

I feel like I am waiting for so many things… right now I am waiting for my medication to kick in so I won’t be in so much (neuropathic) pain. I am waiting to see the counselor, I am waiting for (and in some cases dreading) doctor appointments. I am waiting for the weekend to be over and I am waiting for it to start. I am waiting to heal, I am waiting to go back to work. I am waiting for my friends to have time for me.

I have so much going on, and yet at the same time, I have nothing going on. I am on short term disability (STD) until my arms heal. I did not choose this – management chose this.  One arm was already injured then I hurt my other arm at work.  So they decided I was too fragile to work at all because I can’t work in the lab.  (Of course there is more than enough desk work to keep me occupied for the next year but they are unwilling to accept that – unwilling to make and support accommodations for temporary work restrictions.  Mind you, there are other groups where the PhDs never work in the lab, but that’s another story.) So now I am waiting for workers comp so the doctors/therapists can work on my new injury. (Worker’s comp is another nightmare to be addressed at another time.)

I am waiting to get fired. Why would I get fired? Because the new management can not see my value. I work with a manipulative narcissist who has most people fooled – and he has been trying to convince everyone of my incompetence. Those who he does not have fooled, for the most part, have befriended me – or at least feel sorry for me. I have proof of this individual’s duplicity: I’m keeping records, saving emails, collecting evidence. You could say that I am being paranoid, that my illness is taking over, but there are others (outside my situation) who see it too. Those who recommended that I keep records in the first place. Even our new supervisor is starting to see through my co-worker’s games.

Why do I feel the need to have outsiders justify my concerns? Because otherwise I might think they are all in my head. It’s too easy to dismiss my own thoughts and feelings as related to my illness. Or to dismiss them based on a lack of self confidence.  It’s bad enough that others are so willing to dismiss me.

Why do I have to constantly prove everything? I feel like I have to prove that I am good at my job, prove that I can work with others (even the crazy people), prove that I am sick, prove that I am sane, prove that I am worthy. And maybe it’s the last one that summarizes all of the others. I have to prove my worth. Prove my value. Justify my existence.

Existence is not such a simple thing. My father once told me that he caught my mother trying to abort me. When I confronted my mother, she said, “well, I wanted you after I had you.” I was in a car accident once that nearly killed me. It should have killed me. Odds were well against my survival. And yet I did survive. Was my survival a mistake? Was the failed abortion a mistake? Am I a mistake?

Are all of these rambling thoughts and feelings solely a product of my illness?  Or are they just accentuated by my illness?  Sometimes I just want to pull out my hair from frustration and desperation.  These things spin around in my head and attack me – torture me – questioning my worth, my abilities, my sanity.  Is the world attacking me or is it only me?  Or is it both?

Sometimes I think the only ones who believe in me are my husband and my dog.  It sure as hell isn’t me most of the time.  And I know it isn’t the rest of the world.  They are busy asking me to prove myself.

 

© 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.