The 11th Hour

I start my new job tomorrow after a 2 month layoff. We negotiated my position back in January/February. Its a smaller company and I was concerned they couldn’t handle my need for time off. I chose to be completely upfront with regards to having Bipolar disorder. This particular executive team believes in having cameras in the offices to monitor employee activity. It was a little off putting in general, but for me it would easily breed paranoia. I asked for an accommodation of no camera in my work space way back during negotiations. Didn’t seem to be a problem. I was told they were discussing which office made the most sense.
Well, got a call today from my new supervisor and was told the executive team changed their minds and they weren’t going to implement this accommodation after all. At the 11th hour, I’m just a little confused. Makes me concerned I don’t really have their support after all. A little disappointing.

Swings and Arrows

Monday I was filled with anxiety, but that was to be expected  as I returned to work after a 3  week leave of absence. In that span of time I was hospitalized, had a med change,attended outpatient, and tried to stay stress free. The only goal for the day was to wade through all my emails.

Tuesday I had an unexpected “run in” with my supervisor.  She did not follow through on something for me as she had said she would.  In fact she almost looked like a deer in headlights. She vaguely remembered our brief exchange around my request. I suggested I had emailed it to her the 1st day I was on leave.  She then said, no she must have “missed that.” Within a half hour she shot me a series of emails telling me she did not receive such email from me. She scoured the special email folder she has for me.  This began the email war.  She demanded I send the actual forwarded email to her. Well, I didn’t have it.

Wednesday morning she sent an email at 6:23am stating, thank goodness for text records.  It was through text I had requested assistance on a few items, not email. But, no mention of the billing.  Awesome idea…texts!  I also have text records. Which indicated among the texts she recalled, I also sent one regarding the billing and she said she would email the vendor and request it be sent to her for processing.  The war ended here. But I still felt thrown under the bus. She didn’t admit or even acknowledge she dropped the ball and I had to let the vendor know it wouldn’t be done.  All this drama may have sparked a touch of hypomania. I was so obnoxious and sarcastic and witty and just over the top silly the entire work day. So much so that I apologized to a few people.

Thursday I couldn’t get out of bed.  My body was so heavy. I lied to my supervisor and said my car wouldn’t start, I’d be late. I got there a little after 10. I had no energy.  I couldn’t get my brain to work.  I can’t understand what this unspoken tension is with my supervisor. I have been at my agency for 17 yrs, had countless supervisors and never any trouble.  I feel like I have a target on my back.

Today, Friday, our entire team is supposed to participate in a panel interview for a potential vendor. Its an immense and important project. I am the only one who has experience with this vendor. I have been excused in order to work on an emergency situation.  Confused is what I am.

Thing is, I’m a good worker. Probably try too hard. I know my stuff. In fact, know more and have done way more than her. I don’t care about that. I just think a little respect goes a long way.  I’m becoming paranoid because I have divulged my illness to her. What if she tries to use it against me? Is there an arrow pointed at me?

 

Willingness is the Key

Life lessons. Sometimes they bonk us in the head seemingly from left field. But more often than not they’ve been staring us in the face and we have just been unable to see them. Until the bonk. Or at least this is my experience.
Sipping on coffee, under my favorite blanket embracing the ease of Saturday morning. In just a few hours we will hop in the car and “begin” our weekend. I find myself in contemplation mode. It’s been a week of erratic thinking and loss of perspective. I was manic and paranoid at the same time. I awoke on Tuesday at 4 am and was convinced I had betrayed my agency. My mind literally took on a mind of its own. For 2 hours I laid in bed while thoughts raced, confusion stirred and I was paralyzed. I work in social services. The rate we fund various agencies for their various services is set by the state. Very rarely do the rates change, much less rise. But there are always caveats. This time the nonsensical direction we were given is that already existing vendors would receive new rates, and soon to be or potential vendors would get the old rate. A collective HUH? was sighed around those of us dealing with this issue.
Somehow my mind was convinced I sent out the rate scale to all the soon to be vendors. While this is public knowledge, we do not hand out this information. We would share it at the time someone were to get vendorized with us. I had become a CIA operative in the social service world gone rogue. I agonized over this for 2 hours. I was so uncertain and confused of my actions I checked my sent email file to see what damage I had done. Which of course, was absolutely none. But it spawned the paranoia.
In all of this chaos I lost sight of my role. I was wanting to control anything and everything. If I “fixed” issues outside of my job description it was redemption. So in other words crossing work boundaries. Dipping into other departments. My new supervisor is all about the mantra of staying in your own lane. I was having trouble understanding what that meant. I kept on veering. Throw me a curve ball and I’m probably going to chase it.
Last night, well after work hours, I was bonked in the head with a realization. If I solved every problem that even remotely affected me, I would be in charge. In control. But really, I am ultimately wasting energy and causing myself stress. These are not my problems. I sent my supervisor an email asking her for guidance throwing the situation way out of proportion. She had a one line response. It didn’t indulge my drama. The answer she gave reiterated what I had said without trying to fix what I didn’t actually break. I was wanting to fix the ENTIRE situation, when clearly that is not my role here.
The internal chaos was quickly seeping to the outside world and breeding more chaos. I was waiting in the wings with bandages, band aids, and whatever else. My effort to regain control.
I am a social worker at heart. I truly do want to help. But I am starting to see that’s all well and good, but not in my job description. It’s cleaner if I stay on my side of the street until someone actually asks me for assistance. I jump the gun and bum rush a situation that doesn’t need my fingerprints.
A hard won life lesson embedded in a one line response. I had to be willing to read between the line(s). Which, when I think about it, prompted the bonk. Willingness. That’s all 😊

Forever in the Throes

The devil whispered in my ear
You do not belong here
The spit from his words
Still rustling the tiny hairs
I shot up like a rocket
My bedcovers in disarray
My husband quickly corralled me
So in the bed I would stay
He pulled me in tight
I nestled close
But the Devils breath
Still stinging my nose
I laid awake
while his message echoed
Suicidal chatter and I
Forever in the throes
Irony stares me in the face
So afraid you’ll pack your bag and go
Yet I in a constant state of planning
How can I leave without a trace
My intentions serve no malice
But to relieve you of my frenzied state
When the darkness enters
My body
My mind
My soul
I reach for my armor
I try to wage war
But it always proves to much for me
I just wish for these blue eyes to close
As I can’t fight no more

The Jig is Up

I have a full time job. I cannot profess that I love it, that it’s my passion, but I do care. In fact, I think I care too much. I am so driven to do well, some may say be perfect, that it’s becoming harmful. I’m not looking for attention, applause or accolades. It’s simply in my DNA to want to do so well it’s sometimes painful. I mean I’m good at my job. Been at my agency for over 15 yeas. Coworkers tell me I’m well liked and highly regarded. I’m a project manager. I put my blood, sweat and tears into my projects.
That is not necessarily a good thing. Let me explain.
The blood and sweat is from the self harm I have started doing to cope with the anxiety. Tears are from the self doubt and fear I truly am not doing a good job. I’m just putting on an act. My ability to work with people is a sham. My ability to stay organized and follow a project all the way through is a hoax.
I feel such self imposed pressure to complete the project even if I am not given the information or direction I need from superiors. I find ways to go around and get the info. Just recently I did this and was met with the stark statement of “stay in your own lane.” Not only am I confused by that statement but angered. My supervisor is not only new to my agency w 1.5 yrs under her belt, but new to politics of resource development and the world of developmental disabilities.
When she said this to me In Front of her supervisor and another supervisor I froze. Felt betrayed. My old very seasoned supervisor would never say this to me. I looked at each of them and they just stared back. I gathered my 150 page program design I have been working on for over 6 months and said, okay. I got in my car and went home.
I began to fear they wanted me fired. Maybe they were trying to get me to quit. I suddenly felt like I crossed a line that I didn’t know was there. My anxiety was through the roof. I need this job. I need these benefits for my medication.
I reached out to my boss and made an appt w her the next afternoon. My development team was setting up for an event off site. I cried in my car as I drove over to the location. I was not in charge of this task, but quickly fell into the role once we arrived for set up. This is not like me. I do not take over things. Many of my coworkers are new and look to me for help as it is, so maybe it came off naturally. I don’t really know. I feel like I can’t read situations and don’t know when I’m stepping on people’s toes anymore.
My afternoon appointment with my boss got cancelled as she went home sick. I knew for sure she was avoiding me. All the uncertainty and fear is just fuel for my chaotic mind. Thoughts racing. Heart pounding. I don’t think I slept at all that night.
The event came and went. I was on autopilot buzzing around. Solving problems. Greeting families. Schmoozing w vendors. I barely remember it. But once I got to the safety of my home an explosion occurred. My mind broke apart. My body lost control. The biggest most intense panic attack took over my being. I couldn’t breathe. I was throwing up. I was hearing voices. I was lost in a circular pattern of thinking and incoherent. My husband had to shake me a few times to bring me back to reality. It scared him. It scared me. He demanded I quit my job. We would figure something out. There was no need for this kind of reaction to a job.
Here’s the thing. I’m not so sure this is only related to the job. I did some neuropsych testing…6 hrs of it. Part of it was like an IQ test and I did not do well. I felt like a complete failure and my cognitive skills are disappearing. I don’t have the results yet, but I am terrified of what they might say. That truly my cognitive deficits are abnormal for my age or whatever. I am also afraid I’m going to get slapped w another diagnosis. Self stigma looms large in my head. I had not shared any of those fears w my husband, kept them bottled up.
Being told to stay in my lane just means I am fucking up. Maybe I’m not doing as good of a job as I think I am. Maybe I am a sham. And soon, it’s going to be presented to me in black and white.

Taking Names

Today at 9:27 AM

Crawling to Stand

Woke yesterday morning with a sadness draped over me. I didn’t want to open my eyes, but I could no longer sleep.  I just felt this deep depressive weight. If I hadn’t woken up at all, I don’t think I would have been disappointed. What makes this even more despairing is I was on vacation in a beautiful beach town with my best friend, my husband. I was eating at nice restaurants, shopping at nice stores. My husband let me pick out a few things that were quite expensive that I had fallen in love with and he carried them to the register thinking nothing of it. The sun was shining bright. The ocean was a brilliant blue. The sea otter poked his head up to say hello to me as we walked down the pier.  We heard the cries of hundreds of sea lions vying for a spot in the sun. Laying on top of each other, curled up trying to stay warm.

However, the ghosts that have been haunting me followed me to Monterey. I mean the hallucinations graced me with their presence even while I was away.  I heard voices telling me the beach is where I die. I heard a voice telling me to jump from a bluff. Its true…wherever you go, there you are. I was really hoping for a reprieve. Just a mini vacation from my own mind. A respite. Fucking anything that would allow me a little peace just for 2 days.  My husband is worried about me. Asking me over and over if I took my medication or not.  This is not typical behavior for him.  He is the one that has to console me when the voices and visuals come. He is the one that has to hear my hysterical cries of fear. He is the one whose shirt I soak with nonstop tears. Without him, I think I would be in a psych hospital right about now.  The psychosis isn’t lifting. Been with me for a month and a half. Been off work for 2 months.

I am tired. I feel defeated on most days. We drove home from the beach today in silence.  Maybe he was needing a respite from me. I’m not quite sure. Its not like I had much to say either. Don’t get me wrong we had a great time. It was just tainted with my madness. We listened to music as the road carried us home.

We settled back into our little abode. Talked about a few of our favorite things on the trip. Unpacked a few things. Made breakfast.  We both seem to have little energy and opted to flop in front of the tv. I don’t remember what we were watching. I started to hear..if you don’t harm him we will harm you.  It repeated. I looked over at my husband kicking back in the recliner and his neck was slashed and blood was everywhere.  I tried to remind myself this wasn’t real. I again watched tv and again there was chanting of harm. My husband was slumped over in the chair with a wide gash on his throat. I jumped up, muffled a scream and stated I was going to take a nap. I needed this to end.  I was about to burst into tears. I laid down and closed my eyes and tears drenched my pillow.

My husband came into the room and I kept my eyes closed. I could not look at him. I didn’t want to express what was happening for me. I didn’t want him to know the voices were threatening me to harm him. I was scared. I was feeling so alone. He crawled into bed with me. He held my hand. He talked to me. I finally told him what I was hearing and seeing. I told him maybe it would be better if I did just jump off a bridge, then all this would be over. He reassured me that would not be an option he wanted.  I cried so hard I think I almost ran out of tearks.

Psychosis is exhausting and confusing. I’m waiting for my new medication to do its thing and make them disappear. So far, this hasn’t happened. My patience is waning. These hallucinations are unpredictable as far as time and place.  I’m afraid to go running outside by myself. I don’t venture very far from the house. It is shaping the way I move about my life. This is unacceptable, but it’s the way it is.  For now. I’m staying the course and fighting hard. Right now, I’m just tired. My husband promises I’m going to be okay. I’m going to come out the other side.  Even if its crawling. I will soon stand once again.

This Isn’t Real

I had a hallucination last night while my husband was not home. I could have gotten hurt. Maybe even quite hurt had I not “woken” up. I don’t know any other way to say it. I guess I could say, Come back to reality.  I tried to make a ladder with a mish mash of things in our shed. The plan was to get my body, which was very cold and dead, down from the noose which it was hanging from.  What I chose to make the “ladder” with was very unstable, and well just not viable or realistic. I attempted to climb on top, but as would be expected I fell backwards.  I hit the wall, which is made of cinderblock.  This is what jostled me.  In that moment, looking at what I was doing, looking up for something that wasn’t there, I was able to remind myself “this isn’t real, this isn’t real.” This is the much needed mantra I have adopted to help me out of a hallucination when I am by myself. It works sparingly.

I left everything as it was and fled the shed. As I got back to my kitchen and sat down, I could feel anger welling deep inside me. I had no one to call. So I took to my virtual pen and paper to expel the pain. I am writing this to the devil or whatever evil spirit that keeps taunting me:

Can there be no fucking respite? Can I not just have one night to myself. Please explain to me what this is all about. Please step up and show yourself. Tell your story. Accuse me. Blame me. I need to know what it is I have done to deserve this. This torture. This agonizingly slow passing of time where I am at risk of being assaulted.  Assaulted by invisible fucking things by most respects. I tip toe around the corner because I don’t know what might be coming. If you are here please stand tall. I can’t play hide and seek much longer. I don’t like your game, your style, your vicious chanting. I may not be innocent but I am not evil. I will repent. I will make it right. I beg of you to bring the truth forward. Help me solve this painful riddle. Help me out of this maze of confusion and chaos. I can change, if that’s it. I can be quiet. I can be better.  Whatever it is, I can adjust myself.  Until I know what needs to be addressed I am left with this fear. Please, that seems so unfair. I didn’t ask for any of this. I’m trying to accept what is before me. As the days drag on it gets harder not easier. I simply don’t understand.
The tears keep falling as I slowly collapse on the inside.  If it’s defeat you are looking for, declare yourself the victor right now. Take the trophy. Carry it proud. I am weak in the knees. Deflated. Beaten.  I would think this is enough. But no, you just keep coming at me. Please just let me be.

I cried so many tears as I wrote this.  I felt empowered, broken, flawed, alone and beaten all at once. I think I wanted these words to be more powerful in the sense that I was standing my ground.  But, I have to honor where I was at that moment. Let the words hold the power as they are.  There is still time for more pungent rhetoric.  This feels like a battle and I may not have won yesterday, but there is a second chance today.

Merry Go Round

I  am Alice
No!
I’m the wizard
I am a mastermind
Destiny
At my fingertips
Dancing with shadows
Bare feet trampling
On the mysteries of life
No time for desires
The well has gone dry
Laughter in the morning
Deep sorrow into the night
The darkness reaches
Into my soul
I careen farther
Into the abyss of despair
Yet light bleeds
As dawn ushers in
A romantic notion
That I can re-enter the world
Face flush as I flirt
With the devil
As he pushes me on
My very own merry go round

 


Medication chronicles

Bipolar is stealing my thunder.  The symptoms I am experiencing now have me cowering in fear and then hysterical in tears. I feel like I have no say in the matter, no strength. My tool box is out of reach when these “attacks” as my husband refers to them come a calling. Its not a panic attack per se, but it causes panic. I tend to stop breathing, I get disoriented, my heart beats wildly.  It’s the hallucinations first, then panic, then hysteria? I don’t really know what it actually looks like when I am in it. All I know is its painfully scary. I am being terrorized by my own mind.

It is now 5am, I have been up since 3am.  I had a night terror/hallucination. I’m not sure of the correct psycho babble label for it. Pretty much I had gone to the bathroom. Then settling in trying to go back to sleep. I think I was almost there when I felt, and I mean FELT, a rope (noose) around my neck and I could not breathe. I was gasping for air. I eeked out the words, please help me in a voice I didn’t recognize. I was thrashing around. My husband immediately woke up, I don’t think anyone could sleep through this. He nearly laid on top of me to calm me down. He reassured me I was safe. No one else was in our bedroom, there was no rope and I am okay.

All I could mutter through pained sobs was, “they are trying to kill me. They are really coming for me. I don’t know what to do”. I could still feel the rope and wondered if there was a burn mark. I wondered how much longer I could endure these “attacks.” I started thinking maybe I should just end it now, rather than wait for whatever is out there trying to get me. I thought about options. I may need to rid myself of the evil that is trying to invade me.  The devil has made his wishes known for some time now. That I must die.  Better by my design than his.

Meanwhile, my husband was holding my hand or touching my body to let me know he was there. He also has endured. This has been happening since mid October.  He has caught me and held me in a fit of emotion in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in our bedroom and in public.  His strength is carrying me through. He promises there is no judgement. His love is not wavering. He promises he is not going anywhere.  He is here and will always be here no matter what.  Lately, it seems he is always standing at the ready. I am forever grateful and feel like a huge burden at the same time.

I’m constantly on edge. Any noise, any noise at all, and my head is at full tilt. Just this morning, the sound of my cats chomping on their food raised my anxiety level. Only because I didn’t think that’s what it sounded like. I didn’t know what it was and that was the problem.

I had hoped to start a new medication today. I have never uttered that sentence in my life.  Not a fan of medication. Especially not a fan of those of the antipsychotic persuasion. I hate that I am clinging to the idea that it will save my life. Feeling like its all I have left.  I am trying and trying to get better but my mind has its own ideas and they are detrimental. They are damaging my belief in myself.

I stood at the pharmacy counter checking to see if this mighty miracle had arrived. Somehow I knew it hadn’t. They told me the manufacturer is actually out of the medication. They were not able to fulfill the shipment. WHAT?  Since when do medications run out? She replied more than I realize. Tears were in the back of my eyes. She said she would like to give me the generic brand, which they do have. However, my doctor has specified it has to be the Brand only in her notes.  So, someone has to check with her to see if generic will pass or???  This woman behind the counter promised she would call me by the end of the day with information.  All the information I have is that something in the universe is wanting to keep me ill. I must have done something awful along this lifetime and something is trying to kill me. I think it’s the devil.  Evil lurks inside me, deep. He is coming to take me home.