Trying to find my voice

It’s been a long time since I’ve truly written for this blog. I’m not sure how I lost my virtual voice. It’s the one thing I felt I had no matter the bipolar episode I was or wasn’t immersed in. My actual voice often goes missing in depression, points fingers in mixed episodes and is in another world when lost in mania. My fingers always work no matter what, or so history could support. I’m not sure if I feel I have nothing to say or I can’t organize my thoughts enough. I don’t know what it is. I guess it doesn’t matter.
Here i am trying to reach out. Trying to find the words to let you in, know where I’ve been, maybe where I’m going. Maybe that last part is a stretch..anxiety talking. Just about a year ago I made the decision to leave my job of 17 years. Since my bipolar diagnosis in 2013 I had missed a significant amount of time per year to hospitalization. But, that’s not necessarily why I left. It  became clear full time work in a demanding position was too much. I negotiated a part time position with a vendor that seemed almost too perfect. Seven months later, I resigned. Not perfect. What job is? But, verging on toxic. Testing my work ethic and belief in accountability. It’s young, ego driven leadership. That’s all good. Just not the right environment for me. I need teamwork and desire for improvement, willingness to look at systems and…
I quit without a future job. That scares me most. Without structure and purpose, depression nipping at my heels, always wins. Under the covers I think I feel safe and sound. Isolation becomes my best skill.
So…I applied for a job I am over qualified for and applied for a job I think matches me most. Somehow applying just makes me feel better. Like I’m trying. Like, perhaps, this last job wasn’t a failure, but a gateway. I have new skills on my resume. More importantly I honored myself and was willing to walk away from a toxic environment into uncertainty. Uncertainty is my nemesis. Fear. It breeds such fear.
One day I’m dancing to the thought of freedom. The next I’m crying over future bills. The next I hover over my resume the entire day. One day at a time. Maybe even half a day is my ticket I think. Still trying to get to the gym. Might try my hand at art. I would love to learn who I am outside of a job.
I wonder what that would look like?

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Recovery for Introverts

I went on a business trip for 3 days to our corporate office in So. cal. I live in N. Cal. Thankfully a short and sweet plane ride. However, much longer working days than I’m used to as well as having to “perform” in a way. The role at my current job is a bit of a solo gig. Our office is quite small.
The office down south is much busier. A bustling HR department with lots of would be candidates for direct care staff coming and going. Interviews. Applications. Phones ringing off the hook. I can be quite bubbly and gregarious when I need to be. I know my game and can speak well when the time comes. I have over 20 years of experience in my field. I carry myself well. But, really. Truly. I’m an introvert. Perfectionist is also in my resume.
So each morning I arrived earlier than needed. Stayed longer than needed. Smiled bigger than needed. I can only work part time these days. 24 hours. My first day with travel was 12 hours and my last day with travel was 12 hours. The in between day was a solid 8 hours. I was buzzing. Running on adrenaline and expectation. On the inside. On the outside I wore my badge. Took notes. Shared information, both personal and professional. Smiled some more.
Today I am home. I slept fairly well last night. Got a great workout in. Cleaned the house a bit. But….about 3pm I crashed. I sent my husband off to a baseball game thinking I needed “me” time. But within me, myself and I, sometimes, is not the place to be. Racing thoughts I didnt present well. Intrusive thoughts of self harm. Some visions. Some voices.
Ya know. I ask myself if I’m trying to be more than I can be? Should I have known it would be too much? Was the trip truly too much? Maybe I just need more rest, less expectations for a few days. Recovery. Allow myself the idea of recovery.
Its okay. I know I did the best that I could. I may have even done better!

 

 

Its Not Easy Being Honest

An old friend once said the hardest part is putting your feet on the floor. I remembered this as I laid in bed unable to move this morning. My alarm had been blaring for over 2 hours. I couldn’t will myself to throw back the covers. I insisted I get myself up right this minute so as not to be late for work. No movement. I stared blankly at the black out window shade in my bedroom. The clock ticked. The 8 o’clock hour passed me by. I should have been sitting at my desk. I had quite an important meeting w my supervisor at 1pm. I negotiated w myself that perhaps I could go in around 11. I was also supposed to run an errand first thing this morning for my husband. Important as well. Paralyzed. I just stared.
My phone was on my nightstand. I finally reached over about 8:45 and sent a text to my boss requesting to reschedule. Not 2 minutes later anger and guilt floods me. I “recalled” that text by sending another stating I would most definitely be in by 11am sharp. No response. Now I did it. I must get up. In one fell swoop I threw back the covers, put my feet on the floor and barreled into the shower. No energy to wash my hair. Looking presentable was the hope at this point.
Out of the shower I was trying to figure out how to proceed when I got her text. She replied, its okay. No problem to reschedule. I have personal things I need to take care of this afternoon. I don’t know if that was true or she was kindly letting me off the hook. I have been upfront with her, she knows I have bipolar disorder. I collapsed on the floor when I read her words. Relief. I crawled back under the covers wet hair and all. Slept for about 3 more hours.
The kindness and understanding of another can be so powerful. I cried on the floor out of shame, anger, relief and realizing my boss is on my side. Its not easy being honest with the outside world. Sharing vulnerabilities. Letting people in. But, today I am so grateful I did!

Right here! Right Now!

I’m really trying to be more open, honest and communicative w my husband. I start a new job in 58 days. My mind is almost constantly hurling obsessions and worries around on spin cycle. You see I have been at my current job for 17 years. 4 years ago I made the decision to switch positions within my same company..a promotion. I started in my new role on February 1st 2013. I was hospitalized April 5th after I stood on a bridge for several hours on the verge of jumping. By May, I was experiencing psychosis for the first time in my life and another round in the hospital. By June, I had a diagnosis of Bipolar I w psychotic features. To be fair, I was already being treated for major depression for several years. Delusions, hallucinations, serious suicide attempt, severe manic episode, and probably 7-8 hospitalizations later, here I am, getting ready to start a brand new job at a brand new company.
I can’t stop thinking about this tragic timeline. The safety net in that scenario was my 13 years of being a pretty damn good employee and a union. But now, I arrive w no years of service, on probation, no union. My anxiety is having a field day.
So, yesterday I unveiled my concerns. Recounted my initial descent into bipolar disorder. My husband suggested he has also been thinking about this. To which I was glad because my memory is terrible. Reaching back into history is difficult for me, especially if trying to attach it to a date. He remembered me to be drinking at this time. Did I mention I’m also an alcoholic? I didn’t think I was, but have a few relapses under my belt since my rehab stint in 2007. I honestly can’t keep it all straight. I went w his assumption alcohol was involved and therefore I was unstable and susceptible to such a breakdown. It was highly likely.
I agonized much of the night. Pushed my brain to walk back in time to 2013. I recalled going to depression in sobriety meetings. I was positive I was not imbibing at this time. I could also remember being present and able to learn things. A sign I wasn’t hungover. While this is good news, not only being able to remember something, that I was sober, but maybe it’s not. That “instability” my husband was referring to wasn’t there. Does that mean it was the stress of the new job alone was the culprit?
The wheels on this bus are going to begin to fall off if I don’t get ahold of my mind. Its a new day. Its a new year. I’ve grown. I’ve learned. I’m trying to be more open, honest and communicative…with myself…and others. Awareness is good. Reality checks are helpful. But, having some FAITH IN MYSELF is paramount.
I look down to see where my feet are. Right here. Right now. Not in 2013 and not 58 days from now.

Downward spiral

Tomorrow I am going to walk into my place of employment for 17 years and give notice.  I’ve been negotiating a position w a vendor for a month or so.  I have the opportunity to work part time for a little while.  I’m hoping this will help my mental health.  I received the job offer on Friday.  I’m in a bit of a depressive spiral and can’t find the joy in the news. Thank goodness I get some time off between jobs.

My marriage feels off. Sometimes it’s like we are best friends holding hands while walking on air. Other times it feels like we are two razors nipping at each other. Each little cut stings.  I think for me, it’s ten times worse.  I can’t sleep. I worry I’m a burden.  Then I begin to think he is much better off without me.

Ive been unable to write lately. I stare at my blinking cursor on the empty page. I got nothing.  I have lost all motivation and interest. I just sit on the couch and stare.  My only real desire is to sleep.  I’m not exercising. I’m not eating healthy.  I feel like a sloth.

Blah blah blah

Let me apologize in advance

I am wrestling with myself. So agitated. Every noise and every light grating on me. Every email I read sets off rage. I hate everyone. In the next moment I am cowering in the bathroom crying. Uncomfortable. Disgruntled. But then just overwhelmed and sad.  A lovely mixed episode according to my doc. What did I do to deserve this?

I think this started last night. I was wanting to peel my skin off out of disgust. I have just let myself go. Any semblance of a workout routine gone.  I used to be so fit and dedicated. Now I’m a sloth.  I curse myself, but do nothing about it. I set my alarm last night to exercise this morning before work. I got my out of shape butt on the treadmill by 6 am.

In addition, I am having trouble w my supervisor at work. I’m trying to get a new job. The environment is making me unhealthy.  I’m frustrated and confused about her responses to me.  I came home upset last night and as a result could not sleep. My mind was in overdrive and I began obsessing.  Catastrophizing. Creating immense anxiety. Then my mind was scripting interactions and exactly what I should say, what they would say…on and on. Agonizing.  I had to take an additional medication to make it stop.

This post is nothing but a rant. No substance. Sorry.  I have nowhere else to go!! well except the bathroom to cry some more. Pitiful!

 

As Real as it Gets

Sometimes I wonder if my life is real. Especially when I am feeling up. I question if it’s all a fantasy. Is my perspective really in line with reality?

I am planning to quit my job. I’m sacrificing a bit of security, in that throughout the last 4 years I have had numerous hospitalization and taken countless days off. Twice, since May 2013 I have taken 2 extended leaves lasting 3 months. It might help I have been st my job 17 years and have been a “model” employee. My perfectionism, workaholism, and the fact my identity is wrapped up in my work, probably played a major role.

I have 2 job opportunities in the proverbial hopper. I think they are legit. But, I fear they are not. My anxiety certainly tells me they are not. Paranoia creeps in and I think a new place of work can’t handle my “issues.” Should I be transparent and divulge I have bipolar disorder now? Should I wait? Should I just close my eyes and hope for the best? Everything is uncertain. I don’t do well with that. Its fodder for my restless brain.

I do feel like I know my current work situation is not healthy for me. Its taken me a long time to admit that. I always thought it was my fault I would become overly stressed and symptoms would arise. Turns out with bipolar disorder I am more susceptible to stress, which in turn can trigger either mania or depression. I can attest to both. I’ve reached heights of psychosis that were terrible frightening and lows of depression that were devastating.

I think it’s important to acknowledge I have to do my part. Utilize coping skills, communicate w my treatment team and take my medication. But, there is also a point where raising the white flag makes sense. Self care and self compassion need a place in my life. I can push and push. Pull and pull. Demand I do better. Work harder. Not allow stress to overtake me. But, there’s reality.

I am stressed. I am exhibiting symptoms despite my best efforts. Sure there will always be ups and downs, I’m the first to utter those words…damn roller coaster. But, if I can help myself avoid peaks and valleys, shouldn’t I at least try? If it turns out no matter what I do, this is my lot, this is my coaster..well, that’s for another day.

So, as I envision turning in my resignation letter, its bittersweet. I literally grew up at this agency. It was my first career type job. I was a young, naive 25 with a heart of gold ready to solve the issues that plague social service agencies. I was going to be the best social worker they had ever seen. I’ve made my mark. Its time to move on and put myself first.

The hopper I mentioned is as real as it gets. I’ve put myself out there. Maybe it’s a fantasy I get hired, maybe not. Its a resolution I find a new place for myself in 2017. I listen to my needs. Make time for self care and self compassion. Honor myself in a way I never have before. I’m going to let that unfold as it may. No expectations, just intentions this year.

Dancing with bipolar disorder can be exhilarating, fun, devastating, confusing, uncertain..but it’s definitely real. One step at a time. One day at a time. I’ll keep moving forward down the line.

 

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?

 

More than a good ol College try

I’m trying my hand at art. I hesitate to call it that. Maybe it’s more like I’m trying to explore a creative outlet. I seem to be drawn to collage and mixed media. My loving husband often suggests it’s about the process, not so much the outcome. My perfectionism can get in the way of my enjoyment of things. I’m practicing letting go. Anything I’m doing, and I mean anything…laundry, washing my face, remembering medication, attempt at creativity..is more than I was doing pre-hospital.
I return to work tomorrow after 3 weeks off at one of the busiest times. I’m going to practice letting go. I can only do what I can do. One thing st a time. Whatever damn Mantra i can carry through the day. I want to return. I just want my response to the return to be healthy and productive. Fingers crossed!

What the F** am I doing?

I am scouring my house clean. I am blasting music to keep my “morale” up. I am pretending to try to dance. Let go. Release. Stop fighting. Yet, at the very same time I want to lie on the floor and tantrum. Pound my hands. Kick. Scream. Release. But I don’t. My doctors words floating in my mind…I see you as high functioning, going to work just about each day.
Yes. Yes I do present my body at work a majority of the time. My mind. Well, it’s a crap shoot. Today, I lost my cool in the restroom with a supervisor. Not mine. Thank goodness..I guess. I cursed like a sailor, tears in my eyes declaring I am fed up. Who exactly am I fed up with? Me or my supervisor? Great question.
I walk myself backwards through the day. Where is my voice? Not in my supervisors office. Not in my doctors office. In the bathroom, off line. In this blog post. But, not where it needs to be. Not in the proverbial light of day.
What a painful revelation. What a godsend. What in the hell do I do now?