Coping Skills

I have as of late discovered the wonder and joy that is multi-hour tracks of spa, meditation, sleep, etc music. I have youtube open at work and at home with one of these tracks loaded, and I listen to it when I’m having trouble focusing at work, or to help me wind down for sleeping at night. It has made a HUGE difference in my sleep cycle. I wish there was a way I could listen to headphones at night- I couldn’t play it due to the fan and A/C running, I can barely hear my white noise machine over the A/C. These are all so peaceful and I find a new one every so often. I’m listening to one right now, actually. It blocks out the A/C and helps my mind quiet down so I can meditate or concentrate.

The new case manager at work has officially taken over, and I’m just the community integration coordinator. It feels really weird to be giving away tasks that defined who I am for SO LONG. My professional identity has been as a case manager for my entire professional life (other than that year and some that I was unemployed/working at Wendy’s) so it’s a bit scary to take this new step. I love the CIC work, though, and had been struggling to juggle it all, and tended to favor the CIC stuff versus the more involved case management work. Now I get to focus on running meaningful groups, planning fun events, doing things on campus like gardening, volunteering in the community… SO MUCH GOOD STUFF. The more I can get people engaged, even if it’s just in one group or activity a week more, can help so much.

Still feels a little… empty, almost. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but it’s just… weird, to be closing a chapter in my life like this.

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I swear I’m not dead.

I have just been alternately really busy, and really apathetic.

For a while, posting to my blog felt just… wrong, because I felt so much better. I still feel much better than I did back when this blog began. My downswings are not quite as bad, and don’t last quite as long. I haven’t found myself in an ER in more than a year, now. I can recover from a bad couple of days, within a couple of days, and a mental health day from work usually does the trick.

I have a job I really, really love, which helps. I’m transitioning into being just the Community Integration Coordinator (we have too many case management clients for me to manage both jobs any more by myself) and this basically means I will get paid to plan fun things and go DO said fun things with my residents. For example, today I bought 17 tickets to a 4th of July basketball game, and a fishing license. I can get a special license to cover all the residents of the facility once I had my own, so mine has now been submitted to the DNR to get the special one. I bought supplies for the resident store, and started planning and purchasing items for a sensory room for one of our autistic residents. I rented a movie for movie night on campus- the new Robocop, since residents wanted Jurassic Park until I can afford to send them to Jurassic World but the Family Video people were like “HAHAHAHA yeah right we can’t keep our one copy here to save our lives right now.” I ran an Independent Living Skills group about food and kitchen safety, I talked to residents as they wandered in and out of the rec center about a whole range of things… and I enjoyed all of it. I’m tired, because I’m pulling 10s all week to make up for Monday, and I didn’t get quite enough sleep last night.

May was a little rough and I had some of my usual seasonal downswing nonsense, plus something very triggering happening at work, so I have finally had The Talk with HR and my boss about my illness, and FMLA has been applied for. (My boss evidently thinks I can schedule my episodes, but enh.) My wellbutrin was upped and that seems to have made the difference. I don’t know if we want to bring it back down or not, I’m not feeling overmedicated or anything, and it might’ve helped me bounce back from this weekend as quickly as I was able to. (Two days to come back to baseline from a night of very serious suicidal thoughts, for me, is DAMN fast.)

I am struggling a bit with eating. I know I need to, but money is tight, and most nights I just don’t care anymore. I eat very little now and a full meal makes me feel queasy. I have more or less gone vegetarian because I simply cannot afford meat, so red meat and my insides really dislike one another. I eat a lot of other kinds of protein- eggs, dairy, peanut butter, refried beans- but I just don’t think I’m eating enough. I’m writing this at 9:45 at night and I have yet to make myself dinner. I’ve been vaguely hungry, but I keep coming up with excuses to get up and make it (current excuse: I’m writing a blog post! Two in a row! I can’t stop now!) I am also sometimes not letting myself sleep, because I feel like I don’t deserve it. This is usually when I’m already feeling down and then the more tired I get, the more self-abusive my thoughts get. I also tend to have a panic attack once I do lie down when I’m in that state, making falling asleep even harder.

I wish I understood why I do this stuff to myself. I know I deserve to eat and rest and take care of myself, but I just… I dunno. I’m not sure why I’m punishing myself or what I did to ‘deserve’ it. I guess it’s still self-harm, just a less immediate form, like cutting or swallowing. It doesn’t make me feel better, though; it just makes me more susceptible to the insidious whispers of the illness. Stupid illness. :/

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Bad, bad weekend

I don’t even really have the spoons to talk about the damn thing, but my weekend was really bad. Saturday there was a cousin’s wedding that involved traveling to Toledo, wrangling my crazy grandparents (grandpa is a crotchety old grumpus that I wanted to yell at several times and grandma has dementia, so I had to re-explain how they were getting home to her about 20 times at the reception,) and helping to wrangle my very energetic nearly-four nephew, and everyone was stressed and grumpy. Everyone I was in the car with rushed out of the reception before they finished cutting the cake, which upset me a lot. I needed meds out of the car, but nobody would let me take five minutes to go get a drink so I could take them- my brother was in such a goddamn hurry I had to make him stop so I could buckle grandma in, as she couldn’t find the buckle and I had to go around to see around the carseat. By the time I was able to get the words out that I needed to take some medication, because I was shaking at that time, I ended up having to stop at a random Kroger to get a bottle of water to take them. My brother and grandfather were both pissed off at that point and it was scaring me. I was crammed in the backseat with my grandma and my nephew in his carseat, so I had to fit myself into a space big enough for about half of me. I was carsick because I had to ride in the back, having an anxiety attack from all the stress around me, and I had a headache. I ended up crying for about the last hour of traveling home, after we dropped off my grandparents and my brother was driving me back to my car where I had met my mom that morning. And this whole time I was also convinced Chihiro was dead because she usually greets me in the morning and she didn’t, but she was just being a jerk who hid in the closet when I opened the door, and she’s fine.

So Saturday night I had nightmares all night where I woke up crying, and I did the same during a nap on Sunday. Sunday night I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep again so I called off work at 2 am via email. My boss responded with a rather long bit about how I was inconveniencing them before ending with this jewel: “I am thankful that you notified me and I can empathize with you; however, I really encourage you to handle personal business on the weekends and not miss work on Mondays or Fridays as it puts a whole strain on our entire campus.”

Yes, because I can totally schedule my episodes. I’ll get right on it.

Weddings in general kick off some really bad brainweasels about how I will never get that degree of normal in my life. Chances are I’m going to be alone. I won’t have a spouse, and I’m not planning on having kids. I doubt I’ll ever manage to get my master’s degree because I can’t work full-time and manage school as well, plus I’m still in obscene amounts of debt from my bachelor’s. My life right now, while independent, is a far cry from comfortable. I keep having to beg for money to make things happen like going to the doctor, getting meds, and buying food. The more I think about how this illness is chronic and basically terminal, the more tired I feel. I have been sick for 26 years. I’m tired of being sick. I’m just so tired.

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Anniversaries

(Author’s note: Sorry for the long hiatus. As I slowly recovered, I started to feel triggered by my blog. I’ll hopefully write a catch-up post soon to let you guys know what exactly has been happening in the life of Nadja.)

So, tomorrow is the ten year anniversary of my hospitalization.

I’m… conflicted. I want to celebrate it, but I also don’t know who to celebrate it *with.* I’m alone here in Lansing, and my diagnosis makes my gentleman friend nervous. (We have been casually dating since September, but he still hasn’t decided if he wants to make things a bit more formal. I am dying of impatience.) He felt that me telling him about my illness in a rush towards the beginning was too fast, and some nonsense about taking some of the discovery out of things. Seems how bipolar disorder is such a huge, pervasive part of my life, not sharing it was killing me. I feel like I’m lying when I keep it to myself, especially when I’m beginning a potentially romantic relationship. I don’t want to get hurt if I get attached and then he runs because of it, so it’s partially a defense mechanism, and partially my knowing that I need to make it fairly clear why I have so many strict rules for myself, so there is no misunderstanding of why, exactly, I can’t be out too late, I don’t drink or use drugs, my mood can vary dramatically from day to day and at times over the course of a date, why I can get hypomanic if I’m in an overly stimulating environment for long periods of time, why I might have to cancel a date on short notice due to lack of spoons, why I might have a panic attack, etc, etc, etc.

He is also extremely allergic to cats. I’m… not entirely sure about this one, but he hasn’t run away yet. Even though he hasn’t committed, he hasn’t refused me, either, and he is making an effort to spend time around other people’s pets to acclimatize himself a bit more to dander. I just try not to be too crazy in his general direction.

Next Sunday I turn 31. Twenty-year-old me didn’t think I would ever seen 25, let alone 30. I feel like I’m living on borrowed time, now. I also feel so, so tired when I think about living to 60, or 90, or 100, as I come from a line of very long-lived people. 100 years of life would basically boil down to 95 years of bipolar disorder.

Just the idea is exhausting.

So I feel conflicted. I am proud of myself for making it a decade without a hospitalization (several er visits, but I haven’t been admitted) but I am also nervous about the future. I am afraid I will always be alone, I am afraid of becoming a burden on my family. My stepdad has made it pretty damn clear that I have used my one and only chance to start over now, so if I do fall apart again in the future? I don’t know where I’ll go.

No pressure, of course. But I’d sure better never get sick again, goddamnit.

But, on this anniversary, I am gainfully employed, and independent, and I have my cat. I am ahead of the game from last year’s anniversary, and much more hopeful than the one before that. My life isn’t turning out how I wanted, but it’s less awful than I had feared it could be by this point. So… yay for me?

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Rough night

So on Monday and Tuesday, which are presently my weekend, I was all kinds of productive. I got my entire to-do list tackled, and I started working on my costume design for TFCon. I got very excited, to the point of getting hypomanic about it…. which led to a panic attack and no sleep spiral. I called in to work around 5 am as I still had not managed to sleep (or stop panicking) and said I had a stomach bug. I slept most of the day and feel better now, though I want to cry, and possibly panic some more over things. I am worried about money, about getting debt paid off as fast as my parents want me to… So much worry. And it’s been over a year that I’ve had any kind of medical oversight. I have an appointment next week to meet with a guy about getting health insurance in place, so while that is MORE money going out, at least I might be able to start seeing the doctors I need to see again.

There is a possibility that I might get a promotion at work. I’m excited and nervous and mostly just feeling scared, because things are happening so fast.

I am basically one big ball of anxiety today and I am not terribly happy about it. :/

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Spoonless

My client is still hanging on, and I don’t know how to feel. I know he is tired and hurting and more or less ready for this to be over. Watching his friends grieve, and knowing how his family is grieving, is hard. So, so hard.

I have been handling work pretty well so far, but this week has been really trying. I manage to keep going at work, but I’m thoroughly out of spoons by the time I get home. I went to bed at 7:30 on Wednesday, and am up quite a bit later tonight if only because my brain wouldn’t stop spinning, but emotionally I was wiped out again. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Overall I think I’m doing ok at work. My coworkers applaud my documentation (but seriously, my documentation has always been exemplary- I am anal retentive about details, and a storyteller by nature, so my notes are usually 3x longer than everyone else’s) and for the most part, everything seems to be going well. I’m still a bit shaky about the other stuff I’m doing, but I think I’m getting a handle on it. I have another round of Activity Driving on Saturday, so that should be interesting. And my first group is tomorrow! I’ve never led a group before. I had to develop all my own curriculum and figure out what I was going to cover, and I brought all of my 2+ years of being an elementary education major to bear to develop what I’m affectionately calling “Being a Grownup 101.” I don’t think I’m going to actually call it that in front of clients, I think my official name is “Independent Living Skills” or something, but it’s definitely Grownup 101. We’ll see how it goes, as the target audience are ALSO the ones who are the closest to the client in the hospital, soooo… Depending on the news, if any, my first group might not go over so well.

I did hit a rocky patch Wednesday night, as I was talking to mom about how my client was doing, and my stepdad stopped me and said, “I had a bad day. I don’t want to hear about your clients.” I simply went upstairs and stayed there, not sure how to feel about it. Mom later came and thanked me for giving my stepdad some “space.” I don’t even know. I haven’t seen him tonight, so at least we didn’t have any interactions today.

I need to sleep. I’m tired, but I’m not sure my brain will shut up. I guess we’ll see.

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Feeling rather numb

I have a client who is anorexic, and actively dying. He was down to about 83 pounds the last time he was weighed, and he is just so sick. Hospice was scheduled to come in Monday to get him in the system and work with him- and us- about how best to handle his impending death, as he refused all treatment for his anorexia. As I was the second shift monitor of the clients in the independent apartments over the weekend, I spent as much time as I could with him, and was constantly checking to make sure he was still breathing when he went to sleep. He was simply a walking skeleton, and watching him move around made my heart ache in so many ways.

As my weekend is on Mondays and Tuesdays, I was at home on Tuesday when I checked my gmail and saw that something had happened, though I wasn’t positive what. A few frantic texts to coworkers let me know that he was in the hospital, and medical intervention was the only reason he was still alive.

We’re having an all-campus grief counseling session at 11:00 Wednesday.

I feel numb, and very much in need of a crying jag. I was trying to talk to my mom about it, but my stepdad interjected with a “I had a bad day. I don’t want to hear about your clients.” So I shut up and went to my room to cope with my emotions as best I could.

We’ll see how well I manage to hold it together tomorrow. I’m not confident that I’m going to be able to, but I’m going to try.

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