(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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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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Holy worst weekend ever, Batman!

So last weekend was my first weekend as a DSW (Direct Service Worker) which a) means I’m getting paid less as I am responsible for less and b) am working hours and days where I am the only clinician present, though I am not acting in that capacity officially.

The 1-1 staffing wasn’t bad, as the client is presently in the ‘honeymoon’ stage with me, so he isn’t pushing his luck with me… yet.

Activity driving? GOOD LORD. We got lost going to the first scheduled event, and then we had a complete breakdown in the van as two of the clients got extremely angry with me and started yelling and calling me names, resulting in my scrapping of the backup “let’s get a beverage somewhere instead” plan and simply returning to campus. I misunderstood that one of the clients that isn’t “true” SIL (supported independent living) as we basically are providing him all the services as the cottages, but he just can’t live there as he terrorized everyone, and I didn’t think he could go on the SIL grocery shopping, so he was pissed at me. (This is the same client I was 1-1 with on Friday and Sunday. Those days? Complete angel. When I screwed up because it was my first day and I was confused? HOLY MOLY.)

In the interim, I had a client who has been decompensating all week and threatening suicide, again threaten it while I was talking to him, and then producing the bloody razors he’d been hiding him his room for self-harm. Razors confiscated, I called 911, and then had a 20-minute argument with the responding paramedics that yes, you’ve taken him every day this week and that is frustrating, but we can’t keep him safe on campus as we can’t very well lock him in his room and campus is not fenced in or anything, and yelling at me for wasting your time, and subsequently wasting MORE of your time, is not productive in any way. I had to get the program manager on the phone to yell at them, but I was holding my ground and wouldn’t let them leave without my client. This was immediately before the 6:00 outing, so those clients interested kept milling around, wanting to know when we were leaving, and looking hurt when I had to set boundaries with them that yes, we’d be going on the outing, but can’t you see I am presently handling an emergency?

I was a bit frustrated at how the cottage staff didn’t seem all that concerned about his threats of suicide. Sure, it’s a bit of a constant, but this isn’t attention seeking behavior as the paramedics insisted; he has attempted in the past when the voices are really bad and “torturing” him a lot, and they’ve been really bad, as he kept saying the “mental torment is worse than Auschwitz!” Yes, he kept referencing the Holocaust as an example of how bad it was in his head. (Sidenote: this client looks and sounds a lot like Lewis Black, including his overall intensity, so I was trying SO HARD not to break out laughing when he was clearly upset and needed help.) Sure, the wounds thus far have been superficial, but he has multiple extremely detailed plans that are 100% plausible, so FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TAKE HIM TO THE HOSPITAL ALREADY. After five attempts last week, he was FINALLY admitted. Hopefully they’ll tweak his meds and he won’t be so tortured anymore.

The final outing, to the Tim Horton’s up the street, took THREE trips, for seven people, so nobody killed each other in the van. And nobody wanted to just sit and drink their coffee and talk; everyone drank their beverages of choice and/or inhaled their pastry and immediately went outside to smoke, which took twice as long as the rest of the process. It would be funny if it wasn’t somewhat sad.

Today I return to case management, which is MUCH more within my comfort zone, and today is the “Walk a Mile in my Shoes” event hosted by NAMI. I’ll be going along, I think, and I hope it’ll be a good day and not soggy raining like it’s been doing all week. I think it’ll be fun and the clients who were interested hopefully will have a good time.

Overall, having a weekend helped, though my weekend is Monday and Tuesday, and I spent Tuesday afternoon with a feverish, sick nephew, so that cut it a bit short. Ah, well. :/ He’s doing much better, but can’t go back to daycare until he hasn’t had a fever for 24 hours. Glad the family friend who watches him sometimes can come over and do so again tomorrow, as I think I was going to get the short end of that stick and have to stay home with him otherwise.

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“It’s too hard!”

So one of the clients at my new agency says everything is too hard, and tonight I’m feeling it. I had CPI training Tuesday, which means I learned how to deescalate and also how to get out of various assaults- blocking a hit or a kick, getting out of a hair grab or bite, etc. Then I had the brilliant idea to pick up my nephew from daycare on my way home, and spent a solid three hours with him, alone, while attempting to feed the kid dinner. He is still fun, but he is getting more energetic and BUSY all the time. Once my brother got home, I was hoping to be done, but my brother had to mow the lawn, so I watched Frozen with my nephew and tried not to feel completely overwhelmed.

It didn’t work, but I tried.

I’ve also had a complete disaster in my room, and a couple of orders that need to be finished and/or just shipped out. I cleaned my room top to bottom Monday, dusting, putting things away, organizing, etc., and now I can’t find the components I need to finish a commission I’ve been trying to finish for MONTHS now. ONE STUPID CHARM, and I can’t find the darn thing! Both that commissioner, and the buyer of the other piece, have been promised a bonus piece because I have been too disorganized and busy to get their stuff done and out in a timely manner.

I got the shipping info printed for the one, and now I need to figure out what I’m sending as the bonus piece, and package it all up to go out in the mail. And now that I’ve got my beads more or less all in the same place, I can figure out where the heck I managed to lose that package of charms. As my room is more or less full of beads and charms, it’s going to be a challenge. They’re more or less contained right now, but I didn’t see that package at ALL while cleaning, so lord only knows where I managed to stash it.

In other, awesome news, I’ve started full time doing all kinds of things at my new agency. The 16 hours I’m a case manager, I get paid $15.62 for. The rest of the time, I have been started at $10, which is $1.50 more than the regular DSWs get started at, because of my experience and training and because I am willing to do an awful lot just to be employed full time in one place. I presently have like, three jobs there. Once I did the math, I realized I’m already making more than I did at my first case management agency, and am only about $800 shy annually of my second agency. If I’m able to boost up the case management portion another day or two, it’ll be even better.

Now I have to sort out insurance, which is going to be a pain, as my agency doesn’t provide it. Obamacare had already closed down because I was planning to go with Medicaid once the expansion started in Michigan on April 1st, and then I got a job and figured I’d get insurance through it, so now I get to figure out who to go with, insurance-wise. Worst case, I stay in my present holding pattern, and wait until October when open enrollment starts again. I’m pretty sure no insurance agency is going to say “Nope, we’re not taking your money” now that they can’t turn me down due to pre-existing conditions, but I don’t put much past any of them. I do NOT want to have to negotiate this.

Mom and I are going to sit down and look over my budget again, though I won’t get a paycheck for full-time at my new agency for three weeks, so I won’t know exactly where I’m going to fall money-wise every week. (Also, I’ve got some overtime this week, so it won’t be representative of every week.) I also had accidentally filed away a debt of around $600 in my “already paid” folder so gah. I did get a bill from my old therapist’s office finally, and I owe them less than I thought- by about $300, actually- so I suppose it could be worse. Another debt that I paid off last SEPTEMBER decided to send me a bill for an additional $50 recently, so I need to call and yell at someone there, too. My phone continues to ring non-stop with autodialers, and some are telemarketers and some aren’t, but I just don’t answer the phone, anymore. It will ring up until 9:00 some nights, and starts right up at 6:00 am.

Just writing it out seems to be helping some with the overall anxiety I’m feeling. I just have so many things to do, and so few braincells to rub together today, it seems. Being at one place full time is going to help, though; even if I’m wearing different hats, I will be able to keep my shit together a little better, as I’m not transitioning from professional work to customer service on a weekly basis. Transitioning around within the agency, I think, will be helped by wearing scrubs for my DCW work, and I found some really cute ones. Business casual for case management days, and scrubs for DCW days. I have to figure out what I can wear as activity driver, as I don’t know if it’ll be cool to wander in scrubs with clients out in public. We’ll see.

I have so many questions to ask, I don’t even know where to start. I just want to get my life in order again. I’m getting so close I can taste it, and it’s tantalizing. I really need to keep on track with my sleep, eating, caffeine, and exercise habits; of course, as some of my DCW shifts are second shift, I still won’t have a consistent schedule every day, but ah well. We talked about work/life balance at the training and I really need to zealously schedule time for my needs during the day, and develop a healthy balance.

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So… antibiotics.

I have some sort of upper respiratory/sinus/ear infection going on. I have antibiotics that I swear are 2/3 the size of my pinkie finger, they’re MASSIVE. Thankfully they’re only twice a day. I feel like crap, and ended up missing work at my new agency Thursday, but my nephew had eye surgery yesterday to correct his cross-eyed-ness, so I don’t dare be sick around him while he’s recovering. It’s weird as hell for both of his eyes to be looking right at you, that’s for sure.

I’m down to the last six days at Wendy’s, three this weekend, and three next weekend. I spend two hours lost in Lansing on Monday trying to find my CPR class, so I get to try again this coming Monday. So at least I will make up most of the money from missing work today. I really didn’t want to have a sick day so soon, but it was a necessary evil. I spent most of the day asleep, and am planning to crash after dinner. Hopefully the antibiotics will do their job and I’ll feel decent for work Friday, which is thankfully just a five hour shift. The doctor wrote me a script for prescription Motrin but I don’t think I need it. I held on to it just in case, of course, but so far ibuprofen and acetaminophen seem to be doing the trick. I definitely need to take some more, though, because everything aches. Blegh. I also need to get busy actually getting insurance set up now that I can afford it, because I had to go to the ER, as I knew they’d work with me based on my income, versus an urgent care. Thankfully, the hospital has a minor emergency unit now, so I wasn’t in the way of anyone who actually was super sick, and I was actually in and out in less than an hour. In all my years of going to the ER with people, and various emergencies of my own? I’ve never been in and out that fast unless I was simply dropping someone off.

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