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?

Chaos, Confusion & Wonderment

I often wonder about myself. And even more often I have doubts about myself. When push comes to shove I have to ask others to help me define my reality. I spin round and round like a top on a table. It’s not joy I am feeling but chaos. Intervention is typically required. Could be a gentle prompt, like breathe, or a more serious proposition such as please take some klonopin to help yourself calm down. Mostly I oblige, but, if I’m honest, I can also be a little resentful.
So in my wonderment I ask my husband if I’m a people pleaser. He replies I’m a people worrier. We laugh gingerly both knowing he is right. My heart is big and wide. I’m a helper inside and out. Seems perfect I landed in social services. It was and it is. Until it isn’t. I’m burning out. Burning up. My energy stores are depleting. As a person with bipolar disorder, I really cannot afford to give energy away. I am finding helping and caring about others is becoming a blurred line. I care about my work. I care about the people I serve. But it has to end somewhere. I am giving myself away. When my defenses are down I am subject to psychosis in both depression and mania.
Delusions tip toe around my mind. I begin to think my boss is avoiding me. No longer wants to provide support to me. She secretly wants me to fail. She is discriminating against me. She is pushing me out. I have no allies. Im not part of the team. Never mind I have been there for 17 years and she barely 2 years. Never mind I know more than she does and could be an asset. The bottom line is she wants me gone. She has the ear of those that can make it happen.
I begin to worry about the people, the clients w developmental disabilities, who need my help in creating resources for them. I begin to worry about the people I am guiding in the process of developing such precious resources. Am I letting them down? Am I not working hard enough? Do I not play well with others anymore? Everything is blurry. I am so very tired. Confused. Worried.
Where in all this do I consider I am okay. Doing the best I can. Care, but not too much. Give, but leave some for myself. Unblur.
Truth is…..I don’t know. I’ll keep asking my husband questions of wonderment and hope somewhere along the way I’ll stumble upon answers.

Who am I anyway?

On a quest to find my identity outside of work and outside of bipolar disorder. I’ve always been a passionate, and quite possibly over involved, person when it comes to my job. Whether its case manager (previously) or project manager (currently) I obsess over whether I am providing excellent guidance to my “people.”
I can tell you who I used to be with ease: tennis player, runner, fitness junkie, concert goer, lover of the beach, social, engaged, hiker, friend, loyal, sensitive, empathetic, energetic, sober and willing.
Now? I’m not so sure. I am still a concert goer, but it is so hard for me to stay present. I am still a hiker, nature is important to my mental health. Continue to be sensitive and empathetic. I think I was born that way. I do love the beach. The smells, the sounds, the feeling of walking on sand are all soothing to me. It feeds my soul. And I simply do not make my way to the great sea often enough!
As I see it right now, I can no longer cast myself in an athletic light. I would go trail running every weekend up until a year ago. I took a hard fall during a manic episode and ended up at the ER. Walked away with 15 stitches, bruises up and down the right side of my body and a black eye. I think my ego was hurt the most. The funny part is I hike that trail and often wonder how I even ran on that terrain. Don’t be fooled I maybe hike it once per week. I have stopped working out pretty much altogether. For no reason. Other than I lost all motivation. Meanwhile I feel awful in my body and hate what I see in the mirror.
Let’s cut to the chase. Who am I on this day in 2016? A wife who is very lucky to have such a supportive and loving husband. I’m a project manager. Im a writer. a very caring person who takes relationships seriously, yet can’t seem to keep any going beyond my husband and brother. I’m very sensitive. Easily confused by social situations and assume most breakdowns are my fault. Empathetic. Patient. Diligent. Uncertain. Ive never been more uncertain about my distance and place in this world. Constantly, and I mean constantly, battling myself. I’m an introvert!
I’m a wanter: I WANT to workout, try yoga, finish what I start, express myself in the real world, accept myself, find my place. But, what do I do instead? Sit on the couch, recline and try to sleep. I have no gumption. There was a time I had non stop energy for almost 4 years. Bootcamp before work, work, then 2-3 hrs of competitive tennis 3-4 days after work. Now, I can barely get out of bed and it’s all I can do not to go back to bed once I arrive home from work at 4pm.
I’m probably off topic. This is the vicious circle I get into. Reflect on how I used to be, wish I could be that way again. When I can’t or I’m just not, I get angry and disappointed in myself. Then I become a slug on the couch. Sigh. I’m just so tired.
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” “Your time will come.” “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
All things folks have kindly said to me. Smile and nod. Smile and nod. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, it’s just. I mean. I’d like to say, walk a mile in my head. Then come back and tell me those cliche’s again.
Yah, so my identity. Some days I have no clue who I am. The up and down roller coaster of emotion, the delusions, paranoia impact my sense of self. Just last week I was convinced I was some sort of CIA operative. At my core, what little I have left, I do know I am full of loving kindness. I’m not always able to show it or express it, but it’s there. My heart is big. When it’s not extra heavy it exudes compassion. Mostly for others, but that’s another topic.
If there was one thing I want you to know about me, the real raw fanatic, is that I am scared to let you into my inner world. I am scared it is too much for you and ultimately you will walk away. So I hide. Smile and nod some more. It can be lonely. But somehow it feels safer.