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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A couple of down days

OK, I’m having a couple of down days here. Tuesday was great as I spent it with my BFF and we had loads of fun! But yesterday and today it was back to the job hunt, and that has me down a bit. There just aren’t jobs out there for me.  I’m going to a conference in August, and hopefully something there will work, but mostly I’m SOL.  I am still holding on to hope for a few of the teaching positions I’ve applied for but I’m getting nervous as August, and the school year, is fast approaching.  I realize that it’s just a numbers game and it only takes 1 success.  But what if that one success doesn’t come until after unemployment runs out?  I am half-way through unemployment, and since unemployment in my state is dropping, the tier 2 and tier 3 federal government unemployment won’t be available.  So I will be on my own.

OK, so I figured I would lower my standards and apply for any kind (within reason) of job after unemployment runs out.  I don’t need a PhD to type letters or file forms, but I have done it before.  It’s depressing work and last time led me to a suicidal ledge, but hopefully this time I can keep it together.  Hopefully, it won’t get that far.  Hopefully, I will have a job soon.  I am so over sitting at home.

I wish I could have written a novel or done something more productive during all this time off, but it was time well spent working on me.  Getting myself stable is no easy feat, and I think I should give myself some credit for it.  Even though I’m having a couple of down days, I don’t think this is going to turn into a mood episode.  I hope not.  I need to keep myself upbeat in case something good comes up.  There’s nothing worse than blowing a job interview because you are depressed.  (And believe me, I’ve done this several times before.)

Another thing that has me a bit down is my schizoaffective niece – Persephone.

She called me in a panic yesterday and asked me to co-sign on an apartment so she would have someplace to live.  I told her I had to discuss it with DH first.  She said she would call me back.  That was 12:30 yesterday afternoon.  I’ve not heard from her since.  When she does call back, I will have to tell her that I just can’t be a co-signer.  First, I don’t have a job, so I wouldn’t qualify because I have no income.  I think she would understand that.  But on a more personal level, even if I could qualify, this just isn’t something I could do right now.  I can’t make that kind of financial commitment to someone else when I am struggling to keep my own head above water.  Co-signing on a lease makes you liable for everything that other person does – if they trash the place, you are responsible, if they default or get evicted, it shows up on your credit score.  No, I can’t take that kind of risk.  She is un-medicated, unstable, and I know nothing about her boyfriend other than he appears to be irresponsible.  If I was working and making a $120k a year, I would probably do it.  But not now, not in this situation.

So I am upset with her – she only calls me when she wants something.  She isn’t going to see a doctor for either her mental or physical health.  She is acting irresponsible (not surprising since she is a manic state), and spending money on geckos that they don’t know if they can take care of.  They had one month of free rent, but instead of using that month to find their next place to live, they spent it having fun.  There’s nothing wrong with fun, but you have to take care of the real world too.  (I’m one to talk, but we aren’t talking about me right now.)  So instead, they paid for a week in a hotel while they look for a place to live.  Then I get a panicked phone call and now nothing.  She’s 24, in love, in a manic state with schizophrenic hallucinations.

It is so frustrating when you watch someone you love throw their life away on partying and bad relationships.  She had such a promising future when she graduated community college, but then she took a year off, and now she is in a mess.  She had been stable on medications for nearly 10 years, but she got sick and tired of the side effects and the fact that she couldn’t go out drinking while taking them.  So she stopped taking her meds.  First the Lithium, then the Seroquel.  She is allergic to Lamictal and Trileptal, but doesn’t keep very good medical records so she doesn’t know what she has tried and what she hasn’t, or what makes her sick and what doesn’t.  “I’ve tried everything,” she said.  I know that feeling, but it’s probably not true.  I don’t know.  There’s nothing I can do to help her.  I don’t like feeling helpless.

And I think that is the reason for my melancholy.  I feel helpless.  I feel helpless to help my niece.  I feel helpless in the job hunt.  Now that I’ve identified the problem, I can work on it.

 
© 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.

Routine

I am no good with routine. I never have been. Perhaps my parents weren’t good at it either. I have childhood memories not of babysitters but of smoky bars and loud country music. Bored and tired, I was to be quiet and not interrupt – as if anyone could have heard me over the noise anyway. Even with my eyes stinging and my ears ringing, I would still fall asleep in the car on the way home. Dad worked the evening shift and sometimes I would fall asleep in bed with Mom. When I was little, he would carry me to my bed when he got home from work at 1am. When I got too big to be carried, he had to figure out how to convince this sleepy slug to shuffle across the hallway on her own. I was always hard to get out of bed in the morning (still am), and always running to catch the bus at the last minute. I had to walk to school in middle and high school, and never could be ready early enough to walk with the other kids. Instead, I procrastinated on getting up until absolutely necessary, and was frequently late for home room. By high school, my parents were separated and my father left me with the responsibility of taking care of myself because he worked when I was home and I was at school when he was home. He also believed so strongly in self-responsibility that I never had a curfew. By my second year of college, I was in a long-term abusive relationship. Chaos flowed around me as much as within me.

Not a lot of routine in my life. I despise routine.

As much as my body craves it, my mind fights it. I rebel against any sort of routine. I’m compliant with my meds, but I never take them at exactly the same time every morning. Or evening. Or bedtime. So setting the alarm to take my bedtime meds is really just a suggestion and it lets me know that 10pm has rolled around again. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, rarely the same time now. Although when I am working, meals do happen at roughly the same time, give or take an hour.

But I hate routine. It’s boring. This from a girl who, from all outward appearances, is boring. Even I think I’m boring. Although, DH doesn’t think I’m boring and he probably knows better than I.

I’m no good at organization either. I understand the concept, it’s the practice that eludes me.

Back to routines… I have a confession to make. I haven’t kept up my new routines like four things or one mile. I’ve outgrown four things for now (let’s hope it stays that way) and the weather just bounces around so much that it’s an easy excuse not to walk. The only routine I’ve kept up with is my PT exercises – I do them every day, albeit not at the same time every day.

Why do I fight routine so much? Is it just in my contrary nature? Does anyone else out there have trouble with routines? How do you deal with it?

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.

Dear Paxil

Dear Paxil,

What happened?  We used to be such good friends.  We were happy together.  I know we haven’t seen each other since 2004, but are you holding a grudge?  You need not make me anxious just to prove a point.

Perhaps you are angry because I have let Geodon into our family.  Please, it’s not personal… well, OK it is, but I was hoping you would understand.  You make me happy – too happy – we just can’t be left alone together.  Geodon is our chaperone.  I swear, it is nothing more than that.

We were united twice before – once in 1997 and once in 2003.  You didn’t treat me like this those times.  Or is my memory just hazy from the beauty of mania we have shared?

Please Paxil, I beg of you, send your side effects away.  I wish to be friends, good friends, but not BFFs as we once were.  I need you to do this for me, because Klonopin does not play well with Geodon, so he must be used sparingly.

I plead my case.

Thank you,

Monday

© 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.