I’m still breathin

I was breathing again.

Apparently I got drunk on date night and said some things I shouldn’t have.

Apparently I got drunk on date night and did some things I should have.

I was touchy-feely playing miniature golf. That’s a plus for someone whose love language is physical touch. Mine is acts of service, however I abhor physical touch; wanna take a wild guess why that might be? Give you a hint: it starts with rape.

Anyway. We got home and I almost spilled the beans on some other psychological problems I’ve been having since early childhood that have been exacerbated since I started working in this field – more so over the past 3-4 years or so. I’ve never spoken of them to a soul and, honestly, they’ve become so ingrained in my everyday life that I don’t think about them much. If I were to summarize these issues/behaviors in a nutshell, they would fall, broad spectrum, in the category of Anxiety Disordered behaviors. I could do without yet another diagnosis – as the behaviors I’m exhibiting as I age would definitely fall under that umbrella.

I’m over it. My doctor has treated me for something similar to no avail. I’ve lost hope regarding this particular set of behaviors. I will not discuss them, they continue to serve a purpose, they are not harmful to me or anyone else – just mildly inconvenient to me. When it becomes overwhelming or I develop more behaviors, I’ll worry about it. I do realize the behaviors cause undue mental anguish and stress at times however it’s, again, something I’ve been dealing with several times A DAY since I was 7 years old. I will not address this issue any further and will not disclose any further information regarding my behaviors.

Last night and this morning were also a shitshow. Again, I seem to not display the appropriate emotions or use the appropriate language. I thought I was doing better with things but I guess I wasn’t. My husband said he almost prefers me in a manic state. I’d be more touchy-feely, more loving, more horny.

I don’t know how to respond to that. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do anymore. With the sweet comes the sour; with the mania eventually comes the depression. Don’t get me wrong – I love my mania. I absolutely love it… well, most of it. I’m productive (until I’m so frazzled that I’m not), I’m focused (until I’ve lost so much sleep that I’m physically unable to focus) – I’m on top of the world (shit, I think I AM the world). It’s an amazing feeling – to live on the top of a roller coaster, like you’ll never come down.

Until you come down. Straight down. All the way down. You wake up and the feeling’s gone. No warning, just pain. You think about taking a shower, but the idea of leaving the bed makes you wince in pain. It takes effort to change channels on the TV. All you can think of to do is cry until your eyes burn, and then until you’re out of tears. Then you try to cry but there’s nothing left.

That’s rock bottom. The emptiness. The thoughts come creeping in about your inadequacies, how you and your disease are nothing but a burden. Then more thoughts come until you complete the cycle in two ways: pull yourself through the pain (survival) or out of the pain (suicide).

Hopefully you, dear reader, find a way through every time.

In any case, I’ve found myself trapped mid- cycle. I’m at what is called “baseline.” The problem is I have a pretty flat affect*. Many psychiatrists would consider this “stable” considering my past, however my husband does not. He knows I’m capable of more vacillations in my mood (see: drunken golfing). I know that tweaking my meds could mean more than just a “vacillation” – it could mean mood lability.

Do I risk my certain stability and new job? Do I stay an automaton and risk my marriage? He shouldn’t have to live like this. And I don’t know how to fix it.

*until a situation arises and then I tend to respond appropriately.

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amnesia lane

Children should be seen and not heard, apparently.

When I was a child, I would frequent the principal’s office, complaining of stomachaches. I told him to call my mother or grandmother immediately, I needed to go home. I couldn’t take those damn math tests, I couldn’t go to recess – the pain was too intense. I needed to lay down. He said to get up and go back to class – I was fine.

My father was scary to me. He never came to pick me up and when he did, I didn’t want to go. We always did what he wanted to do and after all the horrible things told to me about him by my mother and grandmother – about what he did to our family – why should I give him a chance to be my dad? I was 8 years old and given the choices of an 18 year old and provided with information no child needed to know – ever.

My principal didn’t know what I battled at home. And he didn’t know I was bullied at school. When I tried to explain this, he laughed. I explained who was bullying me: the Spanish teacher’s daughter. The teacher, who’s husband had government plates on his car, had a daughter who was untouchable. The bullying continued and so did the stomachaches.

My grades dropped, but my grade in Math dropped the furthest and fastest. I remember my math teacher held a contest – the students who reached page 100 in our textbook by a certain date could have a pizza party. I didn’t learn as fast as they did, so I wasn’t invited – the whole 3rd grade class, I heard, had a lot of fun. I was forced to sit in the classroom next door with the French teacher watching me attempt to finish Math problems I didn’t understand. My Math teacher told me how stupid I was. I never told my parents; I thought she was right. I didn’t learn until after college I had a learning disability.

Fast forward: I was hospitalized in 2009 after a huge breakdown overseas on a vacation with my family. I came home and had some very bizarre thoughts (I’m not going to go into it. They were very, very bad.) I woke up after my first night in the ward and went to breakfast and sat across from this lady; she looked very familiar.

It was my Math teacher.

She didn’t remember me, of course. I asked her about her life, what she was doing in a psych ward, blah blah. Inside, however, I have to say a part of me was laughing. Pure schadenfreude. After everything she put me through as a child? My self esteem. My self image. My confidence. She was supposed to recognize there was something wrong with me – not berate me and call me names. What kind of teacher does that to a child?!

Another part of me felt pity. How fucking sad is it that after all she put me through, she ended up here, across from me, suffering from the same shit. You’re no better than the 7 year old child you used to torment; how utterly pathetic. I felt sorry for her.

The question is: did I let her have it? Did I let her know what she did and ream her out for those years of pain? The answer is no. She asked me what I’ve been doing all these years and how I’ve been. I told her I come to the hospital to have my meds re-adjusted occasionally and need to be monitored by my psychiatrist, otherwise I’m doing quite well. I told her I graduated from a Big 10 school and am pursuing my Master’s. She said how wonderful that was to hear, how great it was to see that I wasn’t letting my illness hold me back from pursuing my goals and she’s happy I was still doing well. She said she was sorry to have run into me under these circumstances but glad to have seen me again.

In the end, maybe my not cussing her out was something else. Maybe it was more than pity, more than schadenfreude. Maybe it was empathy. Call me a softy, but kicking another member of my club – club mental illness (contact me after the meeting, we give out membership cards and there are cookies in the back) – when they’re down seems like an awfully shitty thing to do. We’re all dealing with our own stuff; who needs drama from 25 years ago too? I realized that while she was a mealy cunt towards me when I was a child, I’m not a child anymore. I can advocate for myself and no one will ever speak to me that way again. Alison from back then, unfortunately, has a lot of healing left to do however it won’t be healed just by cussing people out otherwise I’d have no voice left for the rest of my life.

Reinforced buttons v2.0

I had my muscle relaxer, anti- anxiety and antipsychotics in my hand, ready to blast off to Sleepy Town and there’s an incessant banging at my door. I wondered who the fuck read this and called for a welfare check until I checked the peephole:

Mom.

She’s got ESP, all right. She knew I was upset, knew my coping mechanisms, knew the hubs was working and came over to watch me.

Slick-ass bitch.

G-ddess works in mysterious ways.

I mean, I took my meds anyway, but it was nice to have her here for a while to talk me out of taking extra of the Xanax to zone way the fuck out. I only took a little because I’ve had this migraine for 72 hours and I’m getting nauseous at the smell of everything and the sight of Earth’s yellow sun.

Life is blurry now. Goodnight moon.

Reinforced buttons and sweat proof waistbands

It’s a “turn your phone on airplane mode and take a bunch of fucking pills” kind of day.

Because I just don’t want to deal with this shit any fucking more.

No I’m not trying to die. I just want to sleep and wake up on the greener side of things.

Hahahahaha the grass is always greener until I step on the lawn. And subsequently kill it with my sunny, sunny attitude.

To think I was manic and happy 2 days ago. Fucking migraines. Goddamn money problems.

C’est la vie. I’m going to bed. Eff this noise.

Hush/just stop/there’s nothing you can do or say

How do you stop being angry? When the reminders of your anger are shoved in your face?

I shouldn’t be here.

I shouldn’t be dealing with this shit.

I’m stuck in this house and it makes me angry. I was able to pay my half of the rent; my husband couldn’t. We moved back in with my mother. I freaked out so bad I couldn’t move any of our stuff in. It was years ago that I had the opportunity to go to a local graduate school to get my Master’s and disenrolled. I enrolled to a much more expensive, Big 10 school 1.5 hours away to get away from my mother. Our relationship had become so toxic I felt I had no choice. Now I was being forced to move back in with her after the loss of my child. Fucking great. We’re still here 5 years later and the relationship between her and I continues to deteriorate.

Now that I’m unable to work because I’ve fallen off the tuna truck, I’ve left my finances in his hands. And I can barely look him in the face without becoming angry. A part of me is so fucking angry that he was so fucking selfish. If he’d committed to something, anything besides 18 things other than what he thought he wanted I wouldn’t feel obligated to go back to work before I’m ready. A degree. A trade. A job that led to a career. Fucking anything.

But alas here I go, back to work despite the fact that the meds have caused permanent damage to my kidneys and they will be taking me off them and starting me on something else. Probably sending me back before we know whether or not I’m stable at this point because we need the money. I don’t have a choice anymore. We need the money to move out of here for good.

Talking out of both sides of their mouths. My mother says not to go back to work until I’m well, but has her fucking hand out asking for money every 5 minutes. Husband says the same thing, tells me he’ll take care of and pay for everything. He says he’ll get a second job to help support us while I recoup yet he talks about falling asleep while driving home, can’t sleep because he works midnights and sleeps through date nights. Yeah, I see that second job going real well. I’d be collecting his social security after he dies if he gets a second job. I can’t have that.

The clownery is real. I know you can’t fix the past, but I don’t know how to move past this anger. It stares me in the face when I wake up and when I go to bed. I know he’s trying to fix it. He’s the absolute perfect man in every other aspect.

The only solution is to pick myself up by my proverbial bootstraps and go back to work even if it kills me (like it tried to before). I’ll fix this myself.

Like I always do.

Y’know, one day, one of these years I’d like for someone to say they’ll “handle it” and mean it. And by “mean it,” I mean have a plan and resources by which to handle it. Saying that you’ve “got this” isn’t actually having it. There’s no security there. I fear failure. My overarching need to control will kick in and I will fix it.

Like I always do.

The problem is that I’m getting tired of being the one to fix things. I feel like some days I’m hanging on by a thread and I’m yelling out for help but people just keep walking by. They stare me dead in the face while walking right by.

I don’t need to be

What’s the point of anything anymore? Why do I write in here at all? Just to hear the sound of my own voice I suppose.

I ended up back in the hospital and now face losing my job.

Am I ready to work again? No. Do I need to work? Yes. But I’m terrified to go back in any capacity. My moods aren’t stable and for once I’m 100% compliant with my medication. I vacillate between stable, numb and moderately suicidal – an improvement according to my psychiatrist.

How the fuck is having my husband hide the mags of his gun under his side of the bed, having nightmares of me killing myself and waking up in a panic a fucking improvement exactly? Oh, I see. Because I’m not manic anymore my mood swings aren’t a major concern. Not like I was ever truly manic to begin with. Let’s be very fucking clear, people – I experience hypomania. Not full on mania. Totally different.

Right now I’ve lost the ability to give any fucks. I don’t care about anything anymore. I don’t care about life, I don’t care about death, I don’t care about you – the same as you don’t care about me. I. Don’t. Care. I’ve tried to explain to my husband – who probably wishes he’d choked on the phrase “I want you to share everything with me; we shouldn’t have secrets” – if for some reason I was in a severe car accident and a call to the authorities was the difference between saving my life and not, the call would never be made. Because I don’t care enough at this point to make the effort to go out of my way to survive however have no thoughts or plans to harm myself at this time (let’s be clear with each other, shall we?). I don’t take the meds, I end up in the hospital. I take the meds, still feel like absolute shit. What fucking incentive do I have to continue to work towards wellness here? Absolutely none.

I went to lunch with my mom and my favorite uncle. He knows about what’s going on and has been hospitalized himself. He asked me how I was doing. I told him: “You ever step in dog shit? Ever try to shake it off the bottom of your shoe but it just doesn’t come off – it’s just stuck there no matter how hard you shake? I feel like that piece of shit.” He just stared at me, no words. What can you honestly say to that? Nothing. I feel like a car windshield under a power line most days recently.

I know I need to go back to work because I need the money. My husband says it will be okay and he’ll take care of us, but that’s a hard sell. He falls asleep while he’s driving home. He falls asleep while we’re having date night. He falls asleep while we’re watching tv. He’s exercising almost daily to lose weight. He’s going to school online. He’s working full time graveyard shift. He’s breaking his back and without my income, we’ll have maybe 100 whole dollars at the end of the month – you know for incidentals like doctor’s bills and, you know, food.

So I have to work no matter how unstable I am. But then I get fed this bullshit line: “you have to take care of you, Alison. Your health comes first.” Bullshit. You know it doesn’t. My mother doesn’t give a shit – she wants my money. Always has her goddamned hand out. She asked me for gas money the other night because her car isn’t as economical as mine and we were on a family outing. A family outing! I told her to get bent and a non-Luxury car that takes regular. The night before I went to the hospital I told her I only didn’t feel like dying when I was at work because my mind was occupied; the minute I’d step in the house I’d want to die. She told me it would behoove me to go work – I’d feel better eventually. [But, like, a bitch has to come home sometime though, right? And be in my own thoughts? The ones that wanted me to die? Does that not worry her? No? Ok.]. No one gives a good goddamn.

So I repeat: what’s the point? I don’t think there is one. So why bother.

Where the dogs of society howl

Lots going on.  Mainly feeling lost.  I’m still on FMLA per my psychiatrist.  I’ve been off all this month and won’t be going back until next month.  I’m having a hard time keeping my medications down and we’re not sure why.  My moods are cycling rapidly and I’m thinking it’s because they aren’t being absorbed properly since the surgery.  I’m worried about having all this time off, how it’s going to affect my job.  It gets more interesting: I have an interview for another job next week.

I reached out to a friend of mine regarding a possible job opportunity in a private practice setting.  I was doing some research and found that working midnights with bipolar disorder is a no-no.  Apparently most people working midnights – mainly those in the healthcare field like nurses – with bipolar disorder have circadian rhythm issues, leading to shift-work disorder (which I’ve been diagnosed with).  This triggers mania and many times, hospitalization.  Sound like anyone we know?!  

So I got freaked, reached out to a friend and asked if she knew of any job opportunities.  She reached out to her boss who reviewed my resume and offered me an interview.  I miss doing therapy.  I remember my old supervisor said to me ages ago while I was in training after graduate school and doing therapy in an underprivilaged area with substance abuse clients.  I was burning out hard, between the clients and the administration I couldn’t seem to meet anyone’s expectations of me and wanted to quit doing therapy altogether.  I told him that I wanted to work in a hospital doing intake assessments and case management to take a break.  I said that it would be “one and done” – I’d never see the people again after they left; no need to build rapport and no need to terminate; they couldn’t accuse me of abandoning them if I’ve known them for 20 minutes.  He told me that I was an excellent therapist and working in a hospital setting was “a waste of my talent.”

He burned out too and moved out of state.

I didn’t listen and got a job doing assessments.  The population I work with tend to abuse the system.  I often see the same faces – sometimes 3 times a week.  I’ve had some people discharge because they tell me they are not suicidal, turn around in the parking lot and walk directly back into the hospital stating they are suicidal and homicidal and want 3 sandwiches.  The record turnaround is 7 minutes – I actually counted.  It is rare that I assess someone that actually needs help.  I got into this profession to help people.  Will I have better luck doing so in private practice?  I think so.  I think I will because people are paying to be there.  Sounds messed up, but it’s true.  This is your “managed” care/health system at work, USA.  I have “managed” in quotes because there is nothing manageable about it and you, my dear reader, know it.  I’d be ignoring the system by leaving, but I’m not single-handedly going to overhaul the health care and mental health system – I know that.  Contrary to popular belief by many recent graduates in my field, you cannot change the world.  You can only make a dent.

Here’s where my trepidation lies.  I would have to file quarterly and withhold my own taxes.  What a pain in the ass.  I’d also have to go on the exchange for health insurance.  God please no.  Right now every doctor I work with is in network because they all work for my employer LOL.  If I go on the exchange, there’s no guarantee they take that insurance and I’d have to pay astronomical premiums.  It would take several weeks to build a caseload and get paneled with insurance companies, which means I would not be paid by the patients or insurances for those weeks.  Weeks.  Flipping WEEKS, man.  I’m torn.  Do I liquidate my house fund to pay my bills while I’m not paid for those few weeks – if I’m even offered the job?  Do I leave my awesome co-workers because I hate the population I work with?  The population, the crushing rules of administration and low wages are what keep me from wanting to stay are my job.  I know once I get a full caseload as a private practitioner I could rake in double what I’m making now, but I’m afraid.

I’m terrified.  What if I’m not good enough?  What if I fall on my face?  What if I messed up my taxes?  What if my clients don’t like me and I end up without anyone and I’m broke?  My psychiatrist told me it takes a while to build a caseload too.  How do I work both jobs to cover my butt?  Work midnights and days?  I freaking can’t.

And Mom’s going into surgery.  They said it’s going to last 8 hours and due to the definite blood loss, she had to sign a waiver permitting them to give her a blood transfusion.  So I’ve been scared about that.  Lately her voice has been irritating me for some reason and I’ve been blocking out most of what she says, but I think it’s me being irritable because of my mood cycling.  I apologized to her if I had been short or curt with her and explained I had been tuning her out.  I told her I’m scared shitless about her surgery next week.  I wish she didn’t need it.  She’s going to lose 20% functionality of her back in all directions.  She seems excited she’ll never have to load the dishwasher again.  Lucky.  Not the way I would want to avoid that chore, but still lucky.  I’m just scared – I keep telling myself not to tune her out.  Not to put this bed vibe out there in the Universe, but if her being annoying is the last thing you ever hear her say, hear it anyway.  I try to remember that and listen to her give me instructions about how to feed her fakakta fish.