Whew.

So, my first week of having two part-time jobs is complete. I ended up with a smidgeon over 27 hours at Wendy’s, and 16 hours at my new agency, so we’ll see if I can keep up with a schedule that has one day off a week. I went seven days without a day off last week, and I did not want to do ANYTHING that day, despite needing to actually do a couple things. It looks like my manager at Wendy’s has settled on just giving me Tuesday every week, as she’s added OFF to that cell of the spreadsheet she uses for scheduling, and I didn’t specifically ask for it off. It’ll be nice to have a day to get myself ready and switch into case manager mode. It’ll also be nice to have a day off on a day of the week I can sleep in without getting ranted at by a parental unit. Of course, my manager and I had discussed me working the weekends, as she felt that it would make my life easier if I wasn’t there when my parents are. Oddly enough, when I sat down and figured out my budget with my mom, she assumed I’d be working the weekends, too. And Fridays, Fridays I definitely need to be there, and all day if possible. It’s our busiest day of the week. I will only be working Friday afternoon this week, though, as I have a staff meeting at my agency that day. I’m completely okay with not working a Friday lunch rush once a month, that’s for sure.

I’m still plotting ways to make myself so useful at my agency that they will want to make me a full-time employee. I’m also having to remind myself almost constantly while I’m there, that they don’t know me, and I need to not say or do anything stupid that might lead them to believe I’m not the best person for the job, or that I am a bit overzealous. I want to be the very image of professionalism and competency. I think I need a sign or motivational poster that reminds me to keep my big yap shut…

I still am having trouble believing I got a job. Being there for two days didn’t really cement it, either; I then turned around and went to Wendy’s after two days, and it felt like a dream all over again. Hopefully with repetition will come the belief that yes, I am actually employed there. I just have to not blow it, and things will be good.

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So… that was entertaining.

My first day at my new job was eventful, to say the least. By 10, one of the clients had assaulted two staff members, broken an office window, and smashed another staff member’s windshield. She left in an ambulance very shortly thereafter to go to the hospital for an assessment, and likely won’t be coming back, as this is the third time she’s destroyed property. She was on my caseload, so we’ll see how that goes.

I read charts to familiarize myself with the clients who live there. This is a residential treatment facility, and primarily adult foster care. My job will be the local case manager, who works with the client’s county of origin and their case manager there, if they have one. A couple clients don’t, so I’ll be their primary case manager. I’ll also be in charge of the handful of clients that live in monitored apartments on campus. (Most of the clients live in cottages, which house four clients each.) I’ll make sure they have ID and food stamps and all those things they need to function in the community. I’m excited about doing it, and I don’t have a productivity requirement, as we do not bill insurance for their care. I just have to show up and help people. Only working 16 hours a week, I’m pretty sure I’ll find plenty to do, and I might be able to plead a case for developing a means to bill a client’s insurance for case management services, though I don’t know if any sort of framework exists for that at this agency. I don’t have a clue what the billing codes are for Michigan, but overall it looks like it’s very, very similar to Ohio, based on notes and treatment plans I saw in the chart that were from the client’s agency.

I only have four charts left to read, as the campus is only about half-full at the moment, so there are only 24 clients total. I’ll have a caseload of eight, it looks like, though only four of them will have me as their primary case manager, and the other four have a case manager in their county of origin.

It feels SO GOOD to be using clinical terms again, though I’m quickly discovering I’m rusty as all hell in using them. I had forgotten so many medication names in particular. The clients are all very low functioning, and upon reading charts, I noticed most, if not all, have developmental disabilities, and those remaining had a head injury that led to disability. I’m not even kidding; a good fourth of the clients have head injuries from various things. Two have English as a second language, so communication with them is difficult. All of them have extensive histories of abuse and most were in foster care for good chunks of their childhood. All have been unsuccessful in any placement other than a hospital before ending up at my agency. I wish I’d had access to an agency like this down in Ohio, because I’d have the entire place full to capacity with clients who could benefit from the 24/7 staffing and extensive rehabilitation available. It’s the group home my coworkers and I always threatened to create, where our clients who had been unsuccessful at every other group home in the city of Cincinnati could live. Basically, I am now working with the problem children of other people’s caseloads, from all over the state of Michigan.

I couldn’t be more excited about doing this if I tried.

It’s amazing how much I missed working with mentally ill folks, but so far I’m happy as a clam. I have an office, I get to use professional clinical language, I get to wear business casual again. It’s wonderful and feels like a dream come true.

Now if I could only make it into a full-time job, either because I’ve found a way to argue for a full-time schedule, or I’ve found another job on campus. Then it would be absolutely perfect in every way. <3

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Huh. Never had to delete something that wasn’t spam before.

I got my first angry comment the other day. It was mostly unintelligible, to be honest, but it was railing against Health at Every Size, and Regan Chastain of Dances with Fat in particular. So it wasn’t even really MY hate response, it was more hers that got sidetracked on my post. Honestly, I think I’ve mentioned Regan once, maybe twice, so I’m not really even sure how I ended up getting an angry comment about her. Google search, maybe? I should’ve saved it for posterity, but my finger was itchy to use the delete button for the first time on something that wasn’t spam.

If I haven’t made it abundantly clear in this blog, I do apologize. I am a fat activist. I am a firm believer in Health at Every Size, and I highly recommend actually reading Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight. It opened my eyes to a world where I don’t have to hate myself, and where I can be whatever size I am and still be healthy. I am not going to be convinced that it is a crock, no matter how much you rail at me about it. Believe me, my family does it enough just fine on their own. Also, I will not be persuaded by abundant scatological references. Telling me that I shouldn’t believe someone that it is okay with who she is, and insisting that she is more or less whitewashing the fence, with lots of colorful shit metaphors? Yeah, that one’s not gonna fly.

No matter what, I am going to be a fat person for the rest of my life. I am fine with this. Hell, I’m content with that, if not happy. I am fond of all of me, even the lumpy bits and the bits that jiggle when I move. I am most assuredly NOT fine with being told I should be ashamed of this amazing body that does so many amazing things, and being told that I should hate myself skinny. I have done enough of that to last a lifetime and thank god I came to my senses before losing any more of my precious time here on this planet.

My opinion will never be a popular one in my lifetime, at least not at the rate it is going. I will be verbally abused for the rest of my life by just about anyone; people who are cruel, people who are well-meaning but horribly misguided, and by people who love me and think they are doing what’s best for me. But none of that will change who I am or what I look like. None of that will change the research out there. Insisting that said research is like “the six articles that make a case for the earth being flat” isn’t going to change the fact that the dieting industry has been selling us a bill of goods for a long time. It isn’t going to change the fact that hundreds of messages about how I am not good enough because I am fat are being thrown at me every day. It isn’t going to change the fact that the diet industry is raking in $60 billion annually, and this number will likely only go up.

I guess what I’m getting at, is that my mind is not going to be changed about this, no matter what. Mostly unintelligible diatribes in my comment queue certainly isn’t going to do anything but amuse me for a minute, or piss me off, and will be deleted. You have a right to free speech, sure, but this is my blog, and it is a dictatorship. So feel free to go rant at Regan, as she posts her more interesting hate mail on her blog, so at least it’ll see the light of day, maybe. Or rant at me if you need to get it off your chest. But it will most assuredly not be published.

I am fat, and I’m ok with that. I’m more ok with being fat than I am with being bipolar, in fact, and that’s 95% of this blog. So please take your vitriol elsewhere.

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I think the wait was worth it

I got an email from my new job- two of them, actually. The first was from the executive director (!) letting me know that they’ve set up my work email to automatically forward to my gmail account, and asking me to reply so he knows it worked, along with instructions on how to use said new superpowers. He said he was excited to meet me next week. The other email was sent to everybody, explaining who I am, what I’ll be doing, and what office I’m going to be living in, encouraging people to come say hi when I’m there.

Said email:

Hi Team -

You may or may not know that we just hired a PT Case Manager. Her name is Nadja and she is very excited to start working with us approximately 16 hours per week. We are very happy to welcome her!

Nadja will be working on Wednesdays and Thursdays so she can overlap with [the other clinician], learn the ropes, attend Thursday clinical meetings and generally get a sense of what the heck we do here. I’m not exactly sure! These days may change in the future, but for now, look for her on Wed & Thurs.

Nadja will have a caseload of consumers that she will case manage along with helping us connect consumers with community resources when needed, contacting payees, guardians, getting IDs (!), applying for benefits, etc.

Since case management is *new* to [the agency], we will be learning as we go along, but luckily, Nadja has a ton of experience in the field. Although she is new to case managing in Michigan (her experience comes from Ohio), she is eager to learn how we do things here!

We have agreed that Nadja will be begin next Wednesday, April 2.

She will work out of the front office (across from records room) – so stop in and say hi when you see her :)

Thanks all. Let me know if you have questions.

I’m not even kidding, you guys. I have a crush on my new job. This is a dream come true. The only thing that could get better, would be it becoming full time, either because I get more clients, or they find other things I can go do.

I can’t WAIT for next Wednesday!

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I missed this so much.

Monday morning I got to my new work bright and early to sign paperwork. The facility I’m working at is a residential facility, and it honestly just looks like an apartment complex, with a bunch of small multi-apartment buildings surrounding a parking lot. There’s a gazebo and a basketball court, and maybe other things that are still buried in the snow. The different buildings are called ‘cottages’ and a handful of clients live in each. There are clients from all over Michigan there, and part of the reason my job exists now is because a couple of counties that contract with the facility want case management services provided there, versus their case managers having to come do that. Honestly, when I was working as a case manager, the clients that we sent to a live-in facility were often closed if all of their needs were being met, such as if they went to a nursing home. Unfortunately we had to keep the ones we sent to the group home in the boondocks on our caseloads, and thus had to drive an hour and a half one way to bring them to see the doctor every couple months. Having to schlep out there periodically to see them, when I had a whole caseload of folks within throwing distance who ALSO needed my time, got old really fast, especially with productivity requirements. There are clients here who are from three hours away. It makes more sense to hand off case management responsibilities to someone who’s actually there, especially as the client still has things they will need from a case manager, be it assistance going to the store, getting paperwork completed for SSI, Medicaid, or food stamps, or just daily monitoring and redirection for behavioral issues.

The agency just created the case management position, and are genuinely looking to me to help them figure out what all a case manager does. I’m curious to see what I can bill for in Michigan, and honestly, given how much of a handful the couple of clients that I encountered today look to be? I think I could create a 40-hour work week out of redirection alone, which would help the other clinicians focus on what they need to be doing. At my other agencies, the lobby had locked doors leading to the clinician’s offices that had to be either buzzed in via the front desk, or ID badges. Here, there are no such doors, and thus they’ve taken to locking the main door and having to answer it. One client with serious boundary issues simply followed me in and barged into someone else’s office, as I didn’t realize she didn’t need to come in. Evidently this is a newer phenomenon, and they’ve only been having to lock it for a couple months, but it’s something I wonder if I can help with somehow.

I filled out paperwork, and then got sent to get fingerprinted, and then to get a physical and drug screen. I also got a TB test, which means I have to drive a half-hour on Wednesday to have someone look at my arm and say “yup, no TB” and sign a form. I then returned and filled out MORE paperwork, and talked with the woman who hired me, who honestly might be more excited about me starting, than I am. I start next Wednesday and evidently we’re doing to start the day by auditing charts. XD I love chart auditing, as I love having everything in order, and it also helps me really get a feel for the client. She was particularly excited that I enjoy doing that and was in charge of monthly chart audits at my first agency, and I think she’d probably be happy to pawn that particular job off on me entirely. I’ll be working on Wednesdays and Thursdays for now, though there’s a monthly staff meeting on a Friday, so I already asked for that off. I think my days might change once I don’t need to overlap with the other case manager, as right now we’re overlapping so I can get a feel for the position here.

It just felt so NORMAL, to be there and setting boundaries with random individuals in the parking lot. It feels amazing to get to wear my professional clothes, and I’m even excited about makeup, which I generally don’t wear at all, but right now just being able to mentally distance myself from Wendy’s in every way possible is helping.

And I’m driving my car again! I’m still sorting out insurance on it (I tried to go see the guy twice, but he was out of his office both times) but I’ll get it sorted Tuesday first thing. Hopefully I can actually *afford* it, as I checked at State Farm but now it’d be even higher than it was when I moved to Michigan, because now I’m considered ‘high risk’ because I haven’t been driving in six months. (?) Hopefully my parent’s agent at Farmers Insurance won’t have the same problem. Otherwise I have no idea what to do.

There’s nothing quite like feeling like you’re in charge of your own life again. I feel like I’ve found equilibrium again and it’s marvelous. Now to just hold on to it…

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What a difference a week makes

This time last week, I was falling apart. I was at my wit’s end, and desperate for a job, anything, even part-time, that paid better so I can finally begin the process of escape. Last Monday I saw an email from one of my many, many job recommendation programs, for a case management position nearby at a substance abuse residential program, and they did not require a license or master’s degree. I applied for it, hopeful.

Tuesday, I got a call inviting me in for an interview on Thursday. I didn’t work until 3:20 so we scheduled an interview at 11:30. I met with the woman who’d called me, the other case manager, and another woman whose job eludes me. We had an amazing conversation and it was the best interview I’ve ever had.

Friday morning, my phone rang at 9:30. I was getting ready for work, so I wasn’t able to answer it, but I called right back as soon as I was on my way to work. It was the woman who’d scheduled the interview with me, wanting to discuss the job. I had to leave a message and said I’d call back on my break, which is usually around 2:00. I called as soon as I got on break, and was offered the job. She told me that she was sad that it was only part time, but given my extensive experience with all kinds of things, especially the CARF certification process and chart auditing, she was definitely looking for some help in that department, and they’d been discussing other things I could do to make it full-time for me. It might not all be at the amazeballs $15.68 pay rate, but it’d be full time and I could escape Wendy’s. She said she’d called my manager from my first case management job, and the former coworker I’d trained there, who then got me the job at the second agency, and she said both had given me glowing reviews. But she’d called them AFTER she called me initially to offer me the job, so she had already made her decision before the good reviews cemented it.

I was very nearly in tears, and jumping around for joy. I called both of my references and thanked them for giving me good recommendations, as well as my mom, who was with my sister. Both were at the hotel they were staying at (they were on the other side of the state, as my sister is looking to move there, and so they were checking out apartments, after she had an interview on Friday for a job there.) Both were evidently jumping on the bed, and I was on speaker phone, so I have no idea how much any of us understood of the conversation, other than being giddy with joy.

To think, a week ago I wanted to give up, and now I got my birthday wish in the eleventh hour- a professional job.

Best. Birthday present. EVER.

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Woo emotional rollercoaster!

So my last post was pretty damn angsty, and I was feeling so frustrated and hurt and tired that it sapped all of my strength for a while. Things just weren’t going so well.

Monday morning, I planned to call about the job I’d interviewed for on the 5th, as I hadn’t heard anything yet, positive or negative. I also planned to call my Toyota dealership in Cincinnati because I’d been sent an email about jobs available there, and there was an internet sales position available that I was sort of hoping might be a remote one. I realized I hadn’t written down the name and number of the guy I was supposed to call, so I hopped online to check my gmail. Now, ever since I lost my job, I have joined every single job site that I think exists, and I get emails from these places daily based on various keywords I have set up. I still have case manager set as a keyword, despite it being a mostly useless one here in Michigan. Except… there was a job listing for a case manager at an agency in Lansing, and it didn’t require a license. Just a bachelor’s, though they are looking for people with more than that. I had to get to work, but I applied for the job as soon as I got home on Monday.

When I checked my voicemail on Tuesday during my lunch break, I discovered that I had a message from that agency, asking me for an interview. I called and made contact, and we discussed the job. It’s part time, only 16 hours/week right now, but they hope it will go up as they get more clients. She told me that they would like people who are licensed and have their master’s degrees, but it isn’t a requirement, and my six years of experience was definitely indicative that I’d be a good fit. We scheduled an interview for Thursday morning at 11:30, which was the earliest she had available, as I have to work at 3:20. So now I’m sitting here, mentally preparing myself for another interview. Two in one month is amazing. This hasn’t happened in quite literally a year.

I also finally got into contact with the guy at the Toyota dealership after playing phone tag for three days. One of his voicemails said that I got points for tenacity, which amused me greatly. Unfortunately, the job is not remote, but he said to come in the next time I’m in Cincinnati, as he is very interested in speaking with me, based on my work history. As the dealership doesn’t have the sort of turnover that other sales jobs tend to have, I was heartened to hear that. If I can get back to Cincinnati by some dark magic, at least I’ve got one potential job lead.

Right now, though, maybe things are finally coming together for being here in Michigan. I am pursuing the ASL route for now, as it is less schooling and I think would me more immediately useful, job wise, than the three to four years a master’s degree will take me to complete. If I could get both mental health jobs, I would be happy with that for the time being, especially as getting my foot in the door in either place could hopefully lead to full-time employment down the road. Even one or the other would be an improvement over just working part time at Wendy’s. And so long as my schedule was concrete, my manager at Wendy’s is happy to work around it.

Maybe, just maybe, things will go right after all.

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