It’s the little things

I have a suet feeder on my porch.  There is a conquering sparrow horde that eats most of it, along with grackles and starlings, but I have one little downy woodpecker that visits a lot.  I love seeing that little guy.  (To the point where I’ve started to get woodpecker-specific suet.)  I also get the odd blue jay and cardinal.  I forgot how HUGE blue jays are, especially compared to the usual birds that visit.

I just sit in my chair, pet my cat, and watch the birds on my porch, along with my lovely flowers and handful of statuary pieces.  It’s nice to just… be, sometimes.

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Hello, September.

You vile, vile month with no redeeming qualities.

Seasonal downswing ahoy!

Though I am hoping my recent increase in Lamictal (up to 300 from 250) after my manic spell when I got back from TFCon will negate the effects a bit.  It’s starting to show on campus; folks are getting squirrely as they always do when the seasons change.  And the holidays are always THE. WORST.  My residents generally have poor or nonexistant relationships with their family, so the family holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas are particularly painful.  I try to keep them busy as hell with other things as a distraction, but I can’t occupy all of their time.  Those feelings will be there, in the background, just like they are for me.

At least Halloween comes first, and someone thought it was a good idea to give me an Oriental Trading catalogue.  BWAHAHAHA ALL THE HALLOWEEN STUFF WILL BE MIIIIINE!  I will have the most kick-ass party!

I love Halloween.  And I really do love fall, once it’s actually, y’know, fall.  It’s the transition period (read: GODAWFUL SEPTEMBER I HATE YOU) that is awful.

In other news, some of my hair is purple.  I dyed a section green for my Rhinox costume at TFcon, transitioned to cyan as a middle color, and have finally made it to my target color of purple.  It took two bleachings and three dye sessions to get the blue down to a manageable amount and the purple to the shade I wanted, but damn, it’s worth it!

And now there will be a VIP on campus tomorrow so of course I will be in hiding.  Unnatural hair coloring is such a faux pas in the more srs bsns portions of the mental health world, so while my boss is cool with it, I don’t want to make us look bad.  Though my clothing for dress-up purposes take advantage of the purple to match my outfit. ^_^

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Yelling into the void

That’s what I feel like I’m doing these days; yelling into the void.  I hate social media.  There are so many people at my fingertips and I feel so very alone, but it’s all I’ve really got.  I don’t have local friends to spend time with.  I don’t even know how to go about making local friends.  I don’t drink, I don’t party, and Lansing is dying, I’m not sure how to go about finding other people like myself here.

So I post on Facebook some more, and continue to be ignored.

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…*facepalm*

So I wrote a post about having missed writing… and then forgot to write a post for Monday.

Batting a thousand, me.

I’ve been working on getting back into a daily cleaning routine.  unfuckyourhabitat.com is my favorite blog for cleaning, and I use it to teach groups, too.  The system’s easy and being able to swear in groups is awesome.  I’m particularly remiss about my laundry, which is currently mocking me in the living room where I have dumped it so I will remember to wash it, a load at a time, this week.  I did a load Monday, but tonight (Tuesday) I was busy doing grocery shopping and didn’t get home until almost eight.  The washer/dryer is communal and the apartment it’s against has two little guys living there, so I don’t know what time they go to bed and I don’t want to disrupt them.

However, grocery shopping is a chore in and of itself, so I could that as a good day.  And dear lord but it’s humid out, so just carrying my stuff in from the car had me worked into a good sweat.

Fairly recently, I have started dyeing a portion of my hair different colors.  It started with green for my Rhinox costume for TFCon, which has been shifted to cyan in preparation for going purple at my next dyeing.  I wanted to do it tonight but a) I forgot to go to Sally’s before the grocery store and I had frozen stuff in the car and b) the bleach/dye process takes me about two hours to do it correctly.  Doing it on a work night would inevitably make me want to rush so I can get to bed on time, so it will need to wait until Saturday, where I can take my time.  For only having done it three times, I’m getting really good at it.  The first go not so much, but friends who dye their hair weird colors provided some info to help me do it right after that.  So yeah.  Being able to express myself through cotton candy hair feels good.  Work is cool with it, and now that I feel like I’ve got some stability there, I feel a bit more free to do stuff like that.

My psychiatrist was thrilled to see me back at my baseline today.  I scared him pretty bad when I showed up manic after TFCon.  I need to make sure I schedule a break day in there where I’m not driving anywhere and I can just rest and center myself.

…I also need to figure out where to finish exchanging my Canadian money.  I’ve got a couple hundred dollars hanging out because nobody in the States will touch it.  My credit union won’t, banks won’t because I don’t bank there, so I guess now I’m going to have to go to a coin shop and see if they’ll give me decent exchange rates.  It’s frustrating that if I miss the exchange at the border due to it being closed when I get there, I’m SOL.  Last year I didn’t have much in Canadian so I just kept it for fare to cross the bridge the next time, but the rate was almost even.  This year it was about $1.26 CAN to $1.00 American, so I’m sort of waiting for it to go back up before I exchange it, too.  Biggest bang for my buck and all that…

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I missed writing

It’s funny how you don’t miss something until you start it back up again.  For example, writing my blog.  I initially stopped when I started to really recover last time, as it sort of felt like it was hindering me.  I’ve tried a few times since then to pick up the mantle again, but it didn’t feel quite right.

I feel like I’m back in the saddle, as it were.   I’m back to writing several posts in a sitting, and remembering to write in advance.

I wish I could say the same about my yoga practice, which is rarely consistent and has pretty much just stopped.  Or my daily cleaning routine… or just about everything else.  I am the BEST at starting things, but not so great at finishing them.  The Queen of Procrastination is I!

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Still here, just tired and spoonless

I was able to go to work on Friday.  I had an ominous email from my boss waiting for me:

“We need to talk about this when you return on friday. These absences are not going to work for our company as it is creating a hardship.”

So after a few minutes of hyperventilating, I decided to go talk to my boss, rather than letting my rather fertile imagination run away with me.  I poked my head into her office and she was immediately asking “What is that look for?” because I guess I looked terrified.  I was very quickly reassured that I wasn’t losing my job, just that I needed to work with the other two clinicians -the therapist and case manager who has taken on the other half of my job- to make sure things worked well if I had to take FMLA days.  She said whatever I chose to share was completely up to me, but she did encourage me to at least explain that I have FMLA status, to at least help dispel any hard feelings about my absences.  There was meeting later in the day, with everyone present- the CEO, HR, my boss, the therapist, case manager, and myself.  It wasn’t just about me, either; the CEO wanted us (the three clinicians) to formalize a few things, rather than the informal format we usually have when we talk about groups and what direction we’re taking things on campus.  We planned to start having a weekly clinical supervision, led by the therapist, which looks good on paper and also will give us a paper trail, which always makes CARF and the state licensing board happy.

So, everyone at the table has known about my illness for a while, except for the case manager, who just came on about a month ago.  So I took the leap and clued her in, because I work in mental health, goddamnit, if anyone’s going to get it it’s going to be my coworkers.  I had hinted that I had a chronic illness but she was sort of blown away with all of my actual problems, and seemed impressed at how stable I am.

And I am, really.  When I think back to where I was two and a half years ago when I lost my job, and just how sick I was back then, I can’t believe how far I’ve come.  I can have a really bad day and come back swinging the next, rather than ending up down for a week.  I still wonder at times about my future, but I’m trying not to let myself dwell on it.  What happens, is what will happen.  I’ll be ok.

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Checklists

So in case you couldn’t tell, last Thursday was pretty damn bad.  I was a disaster most of the day.  Thankfully, Chihiro was right there with me the whole time, sitting on me and purring constantly.  Around five, I finally started to feel it lifting.  I was in one of those places where I didn’t really even have words- I couldn’t talk without sobbing.  I wanted to call people for support but I am pretty sure someone would’ve called the police to have a wellness check done on me, as I don’t think I could’ve held up a conversation if my life depended on it.  I had my Chihiro, though, and things were… ok.

After managing to drag myself out of my chair and do a few things, I posted this to facebook:

Self-care I have managed in the last 48 hours:
-I took off work FMLA today in order to take care of myself since I was in a very dark place and didn’t feel like being certed involuntarily by a coworker
-I have taken all of my medication
-This was aboout 72 hours ago, but I have changed pharmacies to the Walgreen’s right up the road- as much as it hurts to not support a small independent pharmacy, the shipping costs plus the repeated late packages due to they putting on a signature order (despite my repeated pleas not to) have led to me missing doses of medication at least 6 times in the last couple months, along with stretching my already thin budget. As someone who prides herself on her medication compliance, as I know it makes a HUGE difference, which I’ve felt lately. Now I know if I forget to order a refill, I can go get it with very little hassle.
-I have eaten several meals with fruits and vegetables in them that were not soup (since I’m out) and have been meals I cooked by hand (and I am contemplating a potato with broccoli right now, that sounds good)
-I have stayed hydrated and avoided caffeine all day
-I have showered, and plan to brush my teeth before bed, after eating another meal
-I got 4-5 hours of sleep last night/this morning, and have stayed up the rest of the day so I can go to bed at a normal time to make sure my sleep rhythm is ok
-I have fed and watered the cat, cleaned her litterbox, watered plants on my porch, and fed and watered the sparrow horde (plus one cardinal and my darling woodpecker that visits me a lot)
-I have packed up and mailed a jewelry order
-I have reached out to friends even though the brainweasels didn’t want me to, to let them know I am hurting but I am ok, and tell them what is going on in my head and asked for support.
-I have stalwartly ignored the urge to check my gmail, which my work email forwards to, to prevent triggers. Work can wait until I get there tomorrow, and I *will* get there tomorrow
-And if I don’t get there tomorrow, I will call my psychiatrist first thing and park myself in his office until I can be seen, so he can assess whether or not I should go to the hospital. I feel like I’ll be ok now, though
-I have written a blog post to get the worst of this out of my head
-I have cried and not felt ashamed

All of this was made possible by the amazing Chihiro, who hasn’t left my side since I got home from work yesterday in the throes of this cycle. She backed off when I got up and engaged in a lot of these self-care activities, but she has been following me around the apartment and stayed within about ten feet at all times.

Listing these accomplishments makes me feel stronger than I’ve felt all day. I hope to achieve tackling my dishes later and packing breakfast and lunch for tomorrow, but if I don’t achieve those goals, I plan to be kind to myself about them.

It helped tremendously.  I’m going to start doing that when things are dark in my headspace, because having a list of small accomplishments helps.  One of my friends responded:

I’m so proud of you! Wasn’t long ago that it’d be a good day to do just 1 thing on that list, and look at what all you accomplished! You truly are an inspiration :)

It is a pretty long list, considering how dark things had been earlier in the day and over the previous night.  I still feel good about it.

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