Connecting the Dots

It’s funny how it can take someone else to hear your story and connect the dots. Well, I guess that’s what therapists are good for in the end. It was in her office a little overa week ago I sat with tears in my eyes telling her I didn’t think I could handle my full time job anymore. I have been at my agency for 17 years. They have put up with my numerous leave of absences for the past three years thanks to bipolar disorder. I like to think its cuz I’m loyal and they like me, but really it’s probably because of the law.
I was explaining how I feel like a failure and a burden to my boss and coworkers. I had just taken 2 weeks off needing some crisis treatment. The amount of work and stress of the job has been steadily increasing and I’m not adapting so well. Combine that w a new supervisor who doesn’t know what she is doing, and my overwhelm and anxiety is charging through the roof. If I go to her for guidance, she in turn looks to me because I have worked in this department the longest. She feels more like my team leader than a supervisor. She looks to our unit for input and feedback, which I guess is nice but ends up feeling like MORE work.
So, as a good therapist should we switch our focus to what would work for me. What would the ideal job look like. I already knew my answer: 30 hrs per week, full benefits to start immed, good salary, ideally in social service/nonprofit world that I would find meaningful. So, I guess here begins my intention. We talk about pros and cons for a quick second with my homework to be writing about this further.
The next morning at my current job my cell phone rings. It’s my friend who just left my agency to work for a vendor. I had mentioned to her half heartedly about a 30 hour position w her. Well, she took it seriously and pitched it to the Executive Director. She was calling to say they are very interested and willing to offer a 30 HR position. That same day I agree to a Skype chat with the ED. To be fair, I should tell you I work closely w this vendor on projects so we know each other. I’ve had lunch w the ED more than once. But the position they are hiring for is completely new and different to me.
My friend also tells me they agree to benefits immediately. This is huge and really my priority over salary. I need to know mental health services are covered..obviously. So, I have the skype chat. Basically they want to know what they can do to snag me for their team. So, I now have to think about my offer.
I’m going to cut to the chase. I begin to envision myself in this new role. I feel a sense of relief at the idea of leaving my current job wash over me. I talk to others to check in about making such a change. I write pros and cons. I decide I am going to go for it. It took several days to get medical information. I needed to see the Plan coverage. When I got my hands on it, the air went out of my sails. I would have so many out of pockets expenses for psychiatric care it just didn’t make sense. I was willing to pay a hefty amount out of my paycheck to be covered, but I just couldn’t walk away w a $3000 hospital bill for EACH admission..if that were to happen. I have not gone a year yet w/out a hospitalization.
So, in essence I had to turn the job down because of bipolar disorder. If I were healthy, it wouldn’t be an issue. Once again on my therapists couch w tears in my eyes. I was telling this story. Just yesterday I was full of life, putting out fires left and right. Social. Participating in group discussions. Even picking up the phone-which I NEVER do. But today, I can barely walk up stairs. I stared at my computer at work not comprehending much. I’m slow. Heavy. Lifeless. I didn’t understand why as I woke up this way.
She said I was grieving the loss of a job opportunity that was only lost because of a mental illness. I thought I had put it away as the insurance was a deal breaker. Period. But, truth is I’m really disappointed. A bit disillusioned because everything fell into place so naturally. Cosmically. Then fell apart so quickly.
It’s not that I’m not grateful for the amazing benefits my current job provides. It’s been a life saver. It’s that I feel stuck. Because I’m sick. Always at risk of getting sicker, I can’t move about freely. I’m beholden to a benefits package that covers the chaos of bipolar disorder. I feel guilty and ashamed I’m even complaining about this. Others have no job or coverage at all. I’m lucky in so many ways.
I have to find a way to respect my needs as a person with an illness, not feel like a failure.


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