Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Life sentence? Or just a bad day?

I'm having a hard time knowing what to write. It seems like everything was slowed down by my lithium level being messed up this week. That's pretty much ok now, it's down to just causing me to be extremely thirsty. Thirsty I can deal with.

It's just that I feel like I've messed up in some of my responsibilities due to not thinking as well with the lithium thing. I have felt like I was moving underwater, and my actions have reflected this.

I'm worried about work because I worked as hard as I physically am capable to get a barely acceptable (maybe) productivity score. If I hear nothing but productivity this job won't work out. My doctor's note informed them that I can't meet normal standards, but they informed me they can't alter the standards. And I have no idea who wins in the accomodation battle. I just don't understand why we can say we are providing good healthcare when in fact we are attempting to provide rapid healthcare. I also do not understand a profession that is supposed to be all about ACCOMODATING DISABILITIES and yet is unable to accomodate mine. Someday I'm going to write an article about this. I just keep waiting for everything to stabilize.

I'm also going through some grieving again. I spent a lot of summer facing for the first time (I'm slow) how drastically and permanently my life is affected by this. A movie on Lifetime a few days ago made me think about this even more. I realized that in my professional life I have come to characterize illnesses as "big ones" and "that's hard but you'll be ok" situations. I think some attitude like that is necessary because how I approach treatment with someone who is terminally ill or just diagnosed with something really serious is different than how I approach someone recovering from pneumonia or something else that is transient.

Until yesterday, despite my years of working in mental health, I hadn't thought about which category these illnesses fall into. By the time my psychiatric patients were my patients it was clear that they fell into the "your life will never be remotely normal because of this illness" category. But then I thought about it yesterday. Atlhough I have never wanted to admit it, for me bipolar is like that. It could be worse, sure. I am so blessed to be able to function as I do. But at this point there is no treatment that is likely to give me much improvement or stability. I have taken meds for 4 1/2 years and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life, and at this point nothing indicates that the bipolar symptoms will really resolve. Even many types of cancer, as dreadful as the treatments are, have remissions and even cures. This form of bipolar (and I emphasize that, because I am a rare non-responder to treatments along with having an appallingly bad set of symptoms; my doctors tell me treating me is pretty much a one of a kind treatment), does not. I will always be a suicide risk at times. I will always have moods all over the map. There is not a point where I can say "if I make it 5 years I will be cured".

These ideas are sort of huge right now. I'm not sure what they mean, if they mean anything. I do know that it's giving me a lot to think about.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Next Lithium War

I increased my lithium dose after a careful discussion with my doctor last week. We only raised it by a tiny, tiny amount, but 3 days into it I had symptoms of toxicity again. Thankfully I caught it and asked if that was it or if I had flu and was freaking out. It was determined to be lithium, and now I'm letting it get out of my body by taking a low dose for a few days. I really, really could have skipped that and been happy. I guess I needed a reminder of how little what I want regarding lithium matters, but I was pretty sure i had it figured out.

I want to understand why having lithium toxicity 6 months ago makes me more susceptible now, even at a dose that is about half of what I used to take. I just don't get it.

Lithium is such a friend, such a lifesaver, and it scares my socks off....

Monday, October 23, 2006

Mania: Up and down and around and over and through a hoop

What a day. For complicated reasons I had to start at the place closest to the Big City where the psychologist is. Then I had to drive back toward home to the other place, then back to the Big City again for my therapy appointment. I had to deposit the checks to fix my bank account before the therapy appointment, stuff something into my face, run to the specialty pet store to get the fancy-pants cat food that my spoiled animals require due to severe obesity in one and vomiting in another. (Some of it was on sale! Yippee!!!) Then I rushed to the counseling center and had a very long (both in time and content) session. Then I rushed to get enough gas to get me to the pharmacy, got to the pharmacy with 5 minutes to spare, grabbed my meds and a couple things I was out of, took my depakote in the parking lot so they would start working a little sooner, rushed to another gas station to actually fill up, and then got home just before 10. And I'm too manic and wound up to sleep, so now I'm trying to calm down.

I did something stupid today. I told the psychologist about the thinking about hurting myself, because that's part of a promise I made a long time ago. Except that I meant to tell him early on, but somehow it didn't come out until I was picking up my coat to leave. This did not go over well. And it shouldn't have because I know I'm supposed to be honest about that. It is just so hard to have to go through the process that surrounds this. 15 questions to prove I really don't want to. Three or 4 questions about where I have help available if I need it. 10 more times of me saying it's just nothing. Questions about whether I am safe to go home and can I be alone. And then knowing I'm going to be watched for several weeks like a hawk.

I just hate the whole thing. I understand it totally, but I hate it. I've had to go through asking those same questions myself, twice, and I understand how hearing someone say they want to self-injure is terrifying, and when I've heard the patients have been in a very safe setting. I hate how it makes me feel. I hate feeling that there is a threat of the hospital, which I am afraid of.

The thing is that I can tell a difference in really scary thinking and this. This is just a suggestion that I can hear is not coming from my own rational thinking. It's like a whisper in my brain. It's hard to explain. When I've truly been suicidal I've been thinking very clearly about this and this and this are the things I need to do. This and this and this must be done first. Etc. This doesn't persist nor is it anything more than annoying.

But my stupid hiding of it (I really think I hoped he would ask, as he usually does when I get way up but I'm not sure he knew how up I am) now means more discussion about this stuff being very important, etc. And yet every time I admit this sort of thing I feel more powerless. Last spring when I was forced to surrender sharp objects in my possession I was suddenly forced once again to face "wow, right now I am THIS mentally ill". I know that he was right to take that from me and that he was correct and I would have hurt myself. Giving it to him was really my decision because if I would have promised to not use it I could have kept it. But from that point on I wonder exactly what else he'll take from me. I was quite honest with him a long time ago that pills are what he'd need to watch for because I know meds well enough to know what to take. (No lithium overdoses here though!) But he can hardly stick those in his desk drawer.....unless I guess he wanted to dole out a week's supply at a time.....which is probably not going to happen. But one of the reasons these impulsive thoughts are safe enough is that they are more violent things and I do not have the stomach to do that. I tried once and learned that I can remain very calm in the face of any injury except my own self-inflicted kind. I barely had a scratch before I was done with that forever.

This is not coming to any natural conclusion and I need to go do my relaxation tape and try to sleep. So here we shall end.

Good night.

Lithium Toxicity (Part One)

Please Note: There's another new post after this one. I thought I was setting this to post with a delay but I was wrong.

I spent half of this year with undiagnosed lithium toxicity. I honestly thought that was something that would never happen to me. I'd been taking it for years, was well educated on all the things to avoid and all the things to do. I did everything right, even exceeding my daily water requirement every day. Yet when it hit it did so in a way that nobody saw it until it was severe. After it was diagnosed I started looking for information and discovered little was available, and most of what was available frightened me. This is my more hopeful story of recovery from lithium toxicity. Regular readers may find this somewhat repititious (if you were able to sort this out as it went, I don't think there were specific posts because I was too confused at that time to write them), but I'm hoping this one may reach someone else who is desperately searching for that search term.

I was very unlucky in how the whole thing presented. I had had frequent vomiting episodes off and on for years, attributed to difficulty taking pills after lamictal was a bad experience. (It had a bad taste and I just learned to throw up if I tasted it). My lithium level was always high but stable and never dangerous.

In January I was due for my 6 month labs. I got the slip from the doctor and before I could have them drawn I had stomach flu. That meant I had to wait 5 days to get a stable level again. The problem was that I had taken on some additional work and just did not have time to get a level done. Because the level has to be done 12 hours after the pill is taken and my lab is a long way from my old work, sequencing the thing is very difficult. Since I'd always been ok I didn't think much about putting it off.

By the end of January I was under huge amounts of stress. My therapist was leaving the country permanently in a month. I'd had a euphoric manic period for a week which always throws me way off kilter. I was so upset about the therapist that I wasn't eating. That seemed a reasonable explanation for the nausea. Without being able to eat I couldn't take my meds, so they just went by the wayside. We all thought when the therapist transition was over I would eat again and get back on meds. I even arranged a very long vacation to allow time for this; the entire vacation was centered on adjusting to the new therapist and getting on full and consistent doses of meds.

After one week of meds I felt terrible again and stopped eating. I went to my family doctor who thought my gallbladder might need removed. I had an ultrasound, and the day of the ultrasound was the first time I really acted lithium toxic, except I did not know it. I was told not to drink or eat anything after midnight but to take my pills. The test was scheduled for 11 and wasn't done until after noon. That is an extremely long time to not have water with my lithium dose. Now I know better. So I spent the morning sort of confused. For example, I had backed out of my driveway when I realized I was wearing slippers, not shoes. I kept getting lost at the hospital. I backed into something. I felt vaguely confused. And oh, the nausea...so bad.

When the gallbladder test was negative I was just treated for nausea for a while and given ulcer medication. When that didn't work I went on super-ulcer medicine. By that point the doctor was pretty sure I had 3 distinct little ulcers because he could always poke precisely the same places and get pain. I really didn't want to have a scope done to verify because I knew from experience I'd have trouble with the sedation.

And so I went on, losing weight, vomiting, and not eating. I lived on water for about 2 months. I lost a total of 30 lbs. from not being able to eat.

During that time work was awful (refer to March 2006). It still seemed reasonable to attribute my illness to stress, at least to me. Others were beginning to wonder but I wasn't listening. My logic was deteriorating quickly. Yet that seemed to make sense as I was not taking meds. Every time I tried, and I did try repeatedly, I just threw up more than I already was.

Ultimately I wound up on disability. I truly thought I could get some rest, get back on meds, and be back to work in 2 weeks. Nobody even tried to argue. I was really upset and shocked when 3 weeks later all I knew was that I was worse, not better. But I was holding the meds down. Lord only knows how, but I was. The goal was to get to full doses of both depakote and lithium for 5 days so I could get a level. I made it. While I was getting to that point I noticed the psychologist watching me walk and trip and looking concerned but not saying anything. By this point my speech was no longer fluent and I had to stop to remember about every 5th word. I sometimes cried because sentences wouldn't come out. The psychologist contacted the psychiatrist with his suspicion that I was toxic. I had no clue and in fact one thing I remember clearly was stating that I thought my level felt low.

The day after my labs I had gone to the greenhouse to pick up a mother's day gift. I had a message on my cell when I got back to the car. I was surprised that it was the psychiatrist and I believe she was equally surprised that I was well enough to be out doing errands. But her news that my level was quite high explained much.

And so a new chapter of my life began.......And to keep this post from being a book, you will have to see Part II for the next part of the story. In fact, there may even be a part III to keep it all divided up.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

It's hitting me now

One week of the new job down. I haven't said much about it really, have I? It's a good job, and I'm happy with many parts. I am especially happy that nobody seems to be doing overtime and that it is just, well, it's an easier job. I am not going to run around saying that at work of course because nobody wants to hear it, but it is. The company is easier (thus far), the patients are beyond easier (I was not hit or otherwise assaulted or threatened once in an entire week!), and my assistants listen. It's so far much easier to do what I must learn to do and keep my work separated from my life.

At the same time I think it really hit me what the last 2 months were like. I'm exhausted and moody and even having occasional thoughts about hurting myself. I will not and they aren't even real thoughts that mean this is what I want, they are just the disease throwing curveballs. I am totally safe and am very good at handling much worse using a technique I helped create that works very well for me. But the thing is that when I have this kind of thought I get to remember that I have less control than I think I do.

This time this is further complicated because my meds are messed up. I needed to refill my depakote on Friday, so I called it in. The store usually says 20 minutes but this time asked for an hour. I killed the time and realized I didn't have my wallet with my debit card. So I tried to pay via check. Except that they wouldn't TAKE my check because I didn't have my driver's license. So I had to leave without it. Then when I checked my bank balance later it turned out that I was overdrawn because I have neglected to deposit some checks and then have had some unusual expenses. With the mania I've had I just haven't kept track well how much was left, and so I made a big mistake. And I can't get the checks deposited until tomorrow, so I can't pick it up until tomorrow. Unfortunately depakote is my heavy hitter med and I can always tell when I don't have it. On top of that we increased my lithium dose slightly to try to stop the continuous cycling of late. And to ice the cake I got a flu shot Friday and have had minor symptoms. Nothing bad, just an itchy bump where the shot went in (I'm guessing I'm allergic to some component although it's not eggs, but they do ask about an antibiotic (gentamycin) this year so perhaps I'm allergic to that) and a headache, but it was enough to make me sleep a lot.

So, I'm finding myself just wanting to wait a few more days before going to work. I made an enormous mistake not taking last week off and resting.

On the other hand, I can go to work each day knowing I'll be home what seems EARLY and that I will have a good day........

Friday, October 20, 2006

Post 106

I read somewhere that the 100th post is supposed to be that 100 things about me thing so many blogs have. My 100th post came right in the middle of ending my job and so I glossed over it. But I had been working on this for a while, so instead we are celebrating post 106.

I am not into trends and would ignore this, except that I realized I've been writing this blog for quite some time now and talk about many personal things and yet share very few of the mundane things that make me myself. Some of you very faithfully come here every day and yet have no idea about anything in my life except my illness. And yet the whole point I want to make by writing is that I am so much more than bipolar disorder. So, we'll see how many of these things I can come up with without giving too much away.

1. I love animals. When I was a kid I had up to 14 pets at a time.
2. Now I only have 3 cats.
3. Almost everyone in my family is a teacher.
4. I've had laser surgery to remove a birthmark twice. It didn't work.
5. I have a talent for home repair although I know my limits due to size and strength
6. I can often eat an entire can of vegetables in one day
7. I have listened to a radio in over a year and have no idea what music is popular
8. I listen to so many books on tape the library has to order new ones for me
9. I was a camp counselor for three years. My campers are all grown up now.
10. I grew up 45 minutes away from any fast food restaurant.
11. When I am depressed I crave tomato products, especially tomato soup.
12. I work in such a rural county that sometimes I drive past more Amish buggies than cars.
13. I have wild, curly hair that I can't control. I love it.
14. I kept this hidden until I was 25.
15. I attended a "stone cold sober college" and 2 "top 10 party schools" in the same year.
16. I hate wearing shoes. They come off as soon as I am home.
17. In college I was a vegetarian because I worked in the cafeteria and was digusted by the huge slabs of greasy meat.
18. I was a camp counselor at a camp for children with disabilities. They called me the "bug lady".
19. I have never smoked a cigarette. Or anything else.
20. One of my cats is scared of people. He is 4 years old and I have held him in my lap 4 times.
21. One of those times was today and I feel so special.
22. I haven't watched a current primetime network TV show in 2 years.
23. I didn't miss a single episode of the first 10 years of ER.
24. I often spend more per month on medications than I do on groceries.
25. I haven't seen my father in 10 years. It only bothers me when I fill out medical histories with "don't know". Except bipolar. Definetely bipolar.....
26. Since this blog started I feel like I am a totally different person.
27. I define myself and my illness very differently. That will be my anniversary post.
28. My "about" section is about to change dramatically.
29. I've never been further west than Iowa but I've been to northern Canada.
30. I've also been to Florida several times. I can't really enjoy warm vacations anymore because of meds.
31. I've never been out of the US and Canada.
32. Once I wanted to travel to many places and hoped to do it professionally. Now that's not realistic.
33. I really wanted to spend time in Alaska. My sickness will likely prevent that.
34. Reading is by far my favorite thing to do in the world.
35. I'm having fun re-reading books from when I had lithium toxicity because I don't remember a word of them. Double my money!
36. I don't have a favorite food. I live by cravings. Right now my favorite are veggie burgers.
37. I loved to be covered up. The more clothes or blankets I have, the happier I am.
38. When I was first a therapist I surprised myself with a talent for mechanical work.
39. I anger slowly but when I am angry I am unpleasant.
40. I love gardening. This year I did my whole garden without help for the first time.
41. I can't whistle.
42. I had to fight to do a thesis in my graduate program because it was too much work for the professors.
43. My grad school program had strange priorities regarding our learning.
44. Sometimes I still need to know things they insisted weren't important.
45. I don't wear makeup. I think it is itchy, no matter what kind I try.
46. When I get sick I usually have a mixed episode.
47. I have tiny veins and only one is easy to draw blood from. Between being in a clinical trial with constant blood draws, years of med levels, and my toxicity this year I appear to have track marks, but only on one vein.
48. I've known since I was 16 that I'd need a knee replacement someday, probably sooner than later although I have no problems now aside from the previous damage.
49. For some reason if I tell patients recovering from knee replacements this it makes them feel better, sort of like it helps to know I'll be in that pain someday too.
50. I love to suck on ice and eat popsicles.
51. I'm not a big fan of ice cream though.
52. In fact I don't eat many sweets.
53. One of my favorite things to do is to visit zoos. I've been to a lot of them.
54. I've had patients say they wanted to kill themselves twice. It taught me a lot about paperwork.
55. Working with psychiatric patients and secretly being one myself has taught me to think very differently about why patients might choose to do the things they do.
56. I have also learned to stand up for my rights as a patient because I have seen how often a psychiatric diagnosis results in poor care.
57. I have eaten a jar and a half of pickles this week.
58. I am not pregnant.
59. Today I hugged someone while she cried because she knows her husband of 69 years may die soon.
60. Nothing describes that.
61. I once went on a "Skyblaster" on a dare. This is a chair shot into the air on a bungee cord system.
62. I was extremely manic at the time but not yet diagnosed bipolar. It is how I know I'm bipolar though, that I did something so stupid (I'm terrified of heights!).
63. I earned an undergraduate degree in biology even though I hated much of it and it was far too difficult for me because I was too proud to quit.
64. I get a lot of hits for people who seem to want to prove that bipolar makes people evil. This annoys me.
65. I babysat triplets while in grad school. It was the best job I ever had; I was paid to play at a time when I really needed to play.
66. Until then I hadn't babysat in a long time because my last babysitting job the kids picked the lock on a gun cabinet and I stopped them just in time. I was scared out of wanting to be with kids.
67. I've had to learn to accept and forgive child molesters during my years working with quite a few of them. It was not easy but I learned some are not as evil as others.
68. I've been spelunking in a fairly small, easy cave. It was a lot of fun and I learned I'm less claustrophobic than most people.
69. Sometimes I run out of things to say and give up.....
70. This is one of them.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

So far......Anxiety! (yet so good!)

So far, so good. The new job is way, way less chaotic than the old, and it seems that there is less pressure to do a zillion things at once. I'm not sure this will always be the case, but at least this week it's ok. The biggest thing is remembering a new way to do paperwork.

On the other hand I feel very odd about the bipolar thing. In the past I have always let employers know but never had specific medical details in my chart (having restrictions in a human resources file means that if they defy them I can sue). Since that didn't work so well over the last year or two and because I have become more susceptible to getting sick over that time I decided to use the preemptive strike method.

In the past I've always dealt mainly with the managers who were beyond local regarding this issue. It seems that this company may separate "lower" staff more or something. Who knows? Anyway, this left me dealing with the managers at the local facilities. Neither one jumped up and down yelling "yay, you are bipolar!!!"...I truly don't know what I wanted, but what I got kind of scared me. One of them seemed ok enough, but then when she talked to the higher up manager today she made reference to a fax she "couldn't discuss" (ie in front of me) and something else that just made it sound like she more than likely was talking about this. I may or may not be feeling totally paranoid. And then the other one talked to me about some of it very reasonably, but sort of in a way that made me want to scream I know more than you do about how to handle this. And one assistant asked questions that I didn't have answers for. The other I haven't told yet.

And some of it is hard. I have to get back in the swing of non-psychiatric patients. Someone got kind of upset with me today. I handled it ok, but in retrospect I'm not sure my approach was right. It would have been with my psych patients, but maybe not in this case. Only time will tell.

Another aspect of my job is predictably difficult. There's this other therapist who well, she just isn't very good. But she does take a lot of work. Therefore I've followed her around most of my career. And every time I've dealt with her evaluations which are so very wrong in many ways. I'm doing that again, and it's already getting old. And it will take a month before I'm done with her stuff, and probably one more before all the patients are fully on my treatment plans.

One place is also odd because many of the staff used to work at the place where I was discriminated against. I know that many very ugly things were said about me very publicly there, and so I wonder what rumors are going around. I really don't want to start with everyone knowing my diagnosis, nor do I want anyone to know some of the false accusations that were made against me.

For the most part though, things are really, really good. I just need to get past freaking out and expecting bad things to happen at every turn. I also need some serious rest. I should have taken time off between jobs. I need to quit believing I need to see 700 patients/day.

Most of I need to celebrate, because I got home before dark. And that was after doing errands! I don't remember the last time I could say that....

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Story of Us

Get a snack, this one is long....

I guess that this story really goes back as long as I was with the former company (They Who Didn't Work Out (TWDWO). Conveniently that nearly exactly corresponds with how long I've been with my psychiatrist (actually I think it is exactly the same), and she says it started at the beginning.

I was honest about my diagnosis from the day I started. I felt that it was best not to make a big deal about it and so I didn't. I never formally requested accomodations or anything. And for 2 years it was mainly ok. I had the episode of being discriminated against (hmm, don't seem to have ever mentioned that. I'm a contract therapist, meaning nursing homes contract with the companies I work for to place therapists in their buildings for financial reasons. I've never been employed by the place I work, which means that I have less ADA protection. A few years ago a very nasty company I would happily name if it wouldn't locate me kicked me out due to my diagnosis), but TWDWO was actually very supportive with that. The biggest thing that they did was that they were very willing to use guilt trips to get me to do more than I could, or to make me feel I should push myself to behave as though nothing were wrong. Generally though things were easily controlled by threats of written statements from the doctor. They knew written limitations had to be followed and so they would back off.

Eventually I ran into a supervisor who wasn't very nice. She would say I was doing things out of bipolarishness when I truly wasn't. She would disagree with something I was doing or would have done it differently herself (despite being an assistant in a different kind of therapy than I do and therefore not really qualified to judge) and report it to my superiors. This was reflected on my annual review. However, even though my review wasn't very good I was given a large raise, which was basically a buy-off for not suing during the discrimination.

Somewhere in there my company was purchased by a larger, much more money oriented company. The personal touches suddenly weren't there. And suddenly I was being assigned extra work because I wasn't making money at the rate they wanted. This was regardless of the fact that much of my work time that was not making money I did free, on overtime, because I knew it was related to my difficulties with thinking and paperwork. Suddenly I was fighting with supervisors and demanding to know if I needed neuropsychological testing to prove what anyone in our profession should know, that bipolar causes cognitive impairment and therefore I would always work more slowly, but that this didn't mean I couldn't do a fine job. Again, no documentation was needed, I was reassured.

Big mistake.

I was doing fairly well, I thought, so that's when I got into the whole sequence of events of last winter and spring that can be read in the archives. That all started with my agreeing to do a little overtime, which I wasn't really allowed to do but I was doing so well it seemed ok for a few weeks. And then people just kept not listening to me saying I couldn't continue working like that.

When my last assistant left in March I told my supervisor very specifically that I would fill in until I started to feel sick, but the minute I felt sick I had to stop. When I told her that time had come she lied to me and promised me help in a few days. When that didn't happen and I said I couldn't do it she kept ignoring me. And so I felt like if I didn't keep forcing myself to work that my patients would suffer, that Medicare rules would be broken, and that all sorts of things would be my fault. The guilt was tremendous. And my powers of logic just weren't there. There had been one day I had insisted I needed to have off: my friend's wedding. I desperately wanted to go to that wedding. Instead I worked until 11:00 that night. My lying supervisor was at the wedding and never even asked about where I was, despite my empty place at the table she sat at.

During the summer I spoke to her every few weeks per policy. She never expressed any sympathy or caring. I made some arrangements to go back to a very limited workload (paperwork only) and was allowed to go back sooner than I would have been otherwise. She really wanted me to cut to 32 hours but couldn't force me to because that's illegal upon a return from disability. It made me feel pretty worthless though.

Once I went back I found out it was all lies. That part I covered some. What I didn't cover were the huge number of other problems. The assistant issues were horrendous. She refused to help with that and lied about what she was doing. But I had no help to deal with anything. I had a 4 inch stack of paperwork I had been told in the spring to just not do until I had help. Now I had assistants but was still being given no time to do the paperwork. Many other issues came up, and I honestly don't even remember them now, except for her starting to push for me to make more money very soon after I returned, when I was only supposed to do a limited amount of billable stuff anyway.

I knew when I went back that I didn't have a great chance of success with this company. I was commuting 2 1/2 hours/day and that alone was a big factor. The psychiatric environment, while something I love, is very loud and stressful (and loud!) and therefore maybe not the best for me. I knew I was going to have to decide whether this was a healthy job, no matter how much I loved it. I had planned to decide in about a month. It took exactly one month.

After I had decided the company reacted to 3 of us quitting at the same time and ultimately removed the bad manager. I was offered my old job back several times but nobody could take care of the things that were most problematic. Things have gotten better in some ways with the new manager, but as you can tell from my last posts, things have been horrible with the assistant. The stress has been incredible. The time at work has been ridiculous and without any regard for my limits.

So the separation is official and the divorce decree has been issued.

Now to see what the future holds...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Much more to come

I can't really start my story yet. I am at K*inkos and don't want to pay to tell it all. But I am done (more or less, I have about 2 hours more to do tomorrow), and I made it through the last day without losing it. Wednesday wasn't so good, but I did well yesterday.

Today I missed my chance. This is so unbelievable to me, but my ex-assistant actually called and asked me to stop down and do some extra stuff for her tomorrow. Considering it's her fault I have to do this at all, well, no. Plus I have no malpractice insurance tomorrow. And I don't see where her not doing her job yesterday is my problem. EVen though I really did cover for her yesterday, she just didn't know it apparently.

Anyway, the truth will finally be revealed tomorrow or Sunday.....

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Big Day

(Warning: Very tired. Probably rambling. Not spellchecking. Not editing at all.)

Tomorrow is the day. Not sure how it will go since I totally lost it today and cried a large part of the day. And that was only with ONE of the hard goodbyes. I had a fight with a friend. He was wrong, I was angry, and I reacted by speaking up in a note. I am just learning to confront people and I felt I didn't have time to do this face to face, especially since today was scheduled so time would be even more limited. Also, personally I have no problem getting a note saying someone is unhappy about something. The things I did wrong were that I didn't make sure the note was private (didn't think and probably didn't care because what he did was humiliating to me), and I was sarcastic. The thing is that I'm normally sarcastic, it's my sense of humor, so I guess I didn't think about watching it when angry. His reaction was way overboard and more humiliating than the original situation. On the other hand, it gave me more to think about analyzing the entire situation of the last 6 months and why leaving is good. We eventually talked and are ok, but my trust level with him changed, and I really didn't want that to happen now. I thought we were friends, and what happened was pretty backstabbing. Not to mention it was one more prime example of how little people were listening when I was trying to say I was extremely sick. Never again will I let anyone's reactions but those of the people treating me affect how I feel about how sick I am. I have learned I too easily can be talked into believing "it's not that bad". I had to accept before I was allowed to return to work that the psychologist now dictates if it is time for a break; now I see he also needs to be the only one I listen to, including myself, about severity.

For now I am just soooooooooooo tired. I'm really nervous I won't handle tomorrow well. I have enough work to stay busy all day easily but shouldn't have to work all night. This is a good thing. The hard part will be the goodbyes. I don't want to have any involvement with the rotten assistant. I think they are planning a lunch or something and that's going to be so hard to handle.

So, tomorrow is the end. The story is to come this weekend I hope. I plan to soak up a lot of rest in these next days though. The next worry is moving on to the next job without taking this one with me. I wish I'd known how bad this would be 4 weeks ago; I would have pushed the new company harder to let me have at least a few more days off between. But they were really wanting me to start 2 weeks ago and I had to give a 4 week notice, so it was hard to put them off more since I know they were desperate.

Wish me luck......

Monday, October 09, 2006


First, this is my 100th post. Seems hard to believe. I had something in the works for this post but the timing just isn't there so we'll have pretend 100th post next week or something.

Today I heard some really neat things at the psychologists. Previously I've had therapists that made a big deal of every success. This one takes a while to get to "big deal". Which means that positive feedback is pretty meaningful.

Today I heard "You've done better with this than I expected". I also heard about my improved judgment and insight, which is also a big deal since those were pretty questionable for a while. And even more than that, I refused to admit there might be issues with those things at all just months ago.

I have no idea how the new job will turn out. But I do know that I can face a new job with confidence and courage I've never had before, because i have finally succeeded in taking care of me. I fully expect my last day, Thursday, to be tearful. I doubt I'll be thrilled about things for a while. But I am doing this KNOWING with all my heart that it's the right decision, and that I made it for the right reasons, using the right processes, and I'll be greatful for that for a very long time.

(Now if I can just avoid the man playing with the sound machine in the waiting room for the rest of my life.....It plays combinations of sounds and certain ones set my teeth on edge. The only way to get away is to wait outside and not only is it about time for bad weather, there is nowhere to sit out there and by the end of work and a long drive standing is not an option. So instead I cower from the noises....)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

More than Just Me

I called the onsite manager who attempts to govern the terrible assistant and left a message regarding my putting things in writing, etc. I just figured he might want to know this. Well, soon after I realized what I had done. I have taken charge of this situation. I refused to let anyone force me into decisions that can make me sick. 6 months ago I couldn't do this. In fact that's the entire worst part of how sick I was, and especially of how severe my lithium toxicity was: in a large sense it was my own fault. Accepting that was tremendously painful, and I didn't do it easily. In fact I spent a lot of time trying to get the psychologist to tell me it was not my fault. But it was. Not all of it, but I made very bad decisions.

I can't believe how much I have changed in the last 10 months. A year ago I wouldn't have done any of this. I wouldn't have done anything about the issues. I wouldn't repeatedly confront the assistant about the problems. I wouldn't have changed jobs. I wouldn't have said "No, I can't handle this stuff and it's not my fault". I know because a year ago there were other big issues and I just kept mumbling about leaving. Then I realized I needed a disability break, except I refused to take it until my paperwork was done. Then things improved at work, even though my moods didn't, so I stayed. Then I felt stuck and let myself get so sick. And now I'm a new person.

This year is the first time I've ever had to cope with the emotions I've felt about my illness. I thought I was so confident about it; instead I learned I'm ashamed of so much. That's kept me from demanding basic, bare minimum, assistance. I've also always tried to compensate by doing and being more. Now I know that won't work and I won't allow anyone to make me feel I should be like that.

I always thought admitting I can't was the beginning of the end. Instead it has become the beginning of a new beginning.

I just never dreamed I'd be excited about my last week of this job. That alone says it's a new me going into the next one.

Here goes nothing.

Some people still are good

I got a call from my manager today telling me not to worry about the worst of the chaos. There is a ton of stuff that should be my responsibility to finish that I can't finish thanks to my assistant not doing her part of it which must precede mine, and I've been in tears over how to handle this. Now I only need to worry about my own stuff. Thanks to the assistant of course it's not nearly as done as it should be, but I think I can manage it.

Oddly at this point the worst part is that a co-worker was pretty rude to me on Friday (not the assistant, she and I are pretty much not speaking), and I have hurt feelings and am very angry with her. She's always been like that, so I don't know why it suddenly got to me, but it did.

So at least I don't feel like I'm leaving on terrible terms even if things aren't done the way I wanted them to be. I just feel wrong leaving with a single thing not addressed, even though I know it's not my fault. Hyperresponsibility goes with my survival of the illness I think...

On a great note I just got new sneakers. Not the ones I wanted because they were out of my size, but that just made it easier to pick the ones on sale that I didn't want only because they are the same style that I have just worn out and I wanted a new look. I don't get a lot of choices because I have to wear wide widths and I'm really picky about support and comfort because I stand nearly all day every day. But I've needed new ones for quite a while and so I'm very excited.

Four more days....

Friday, October 06, 2006

This is NOT a good ending

So it appears I will be leaving amidst a great deal of strife. I kind of fell apart yesterday and didn't even make it in to work until afternoon. I realized there was no way I was going to be working a ton of overtime or working this weekend to catch things up. I informed supervisors; nobody seems to really care. At least nobody cares enough to respond. Or to actually make my assistant do the stuff she has to do so I can finish my part.

Sheer exhaustion, missed meds, and stress (a great deal more occurred with each step just making it worse) combined to make me cry at work this afternoon. And I left with a lot of stuff I know needs to be completed roughly NOW undone because I hit a limit.

I'm going to have to refuse to put in extra time next week to fix things that weren't my fault. I don't know how to handle that.

Once again I feel like everyone just wants to be rid of me because I'm not quietly just doing everything anymore. Because I won't put up with signing off on bad work. Because i have a funny rule about only doing my own job. It's easier if I just shut up, so that's what they want.

At least my new job wants me. I just hope they still do after they meet me...

(Sorry for whining. I am exhausted beyond all imagination at the moment and far too wound up to sleep).

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Do what you do

I am a Christian, so I pray. If you pray, please do. If you're not, I'm open to finger crossing, breath-holding, birthday candle wishes, whatever.

I still don't want to explain the situation at my almost finished job, but in part it has to do with I have major issues with my assistant and the company I work for has has a long history of hiring anyone they can get to do those jobs, then I am left in horrible positions because I'm legally responsible for someone who isn't someone I want any responsibility for whatsoever.

I have quite a bit of things I need to get done before I leave. My last day is next Thursday. I already put in a full day on Saturday and I'm worn out from that; I just can't handle that much extra. I had a plan to avoid extra work this week. Part of that plan included my having clearly informed my assistants that all work I needed to approve must be up to date by this Thursday. It also included having time to do only my job this week.

Just like every week the assistant has called off. This means I need to do my share of her job. She has not completed massive amounts of paperwork. I'm now going to be stuck working on Saturday, and to make it worse she'll be there and if she finds where I'm going to hide she'll harass me, which she does constantly because she doesn't listen nor read any communication I have. I spend a lot of time repeating myself with her, and I no longer have time.

I also have different people asking me to do other things, and it is all too much. I don't mind doing my job, and it does include handling situations, but I cannot handle all situations.

Plus I'm having some manic symptoms and that's not making this easier. It's making it easier for me to be much more assertive than normal, which is nice, and my anger has been expressed, and I've even been able to make supervisors aware that this situation is partially why I am leaving (I do not need the stress and I've reached my ethical limit), but I really don't need mood swings to worry about at this point.

So please, all forms of internet help are accepted in the next 8 days. Oh boy, I only have 8 days......

Thank you.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Who knows what will happen?

I am continuing to do well. I feel good about what is coming. I'm not having mood swings. I've done the hard part of a lot of my good-byes (telling them it's happening) and am getting things wrapped up.

However, I'm probably not going to be posting a ton. Either I'll want to get the emotions out and I'll overcome the exhaustion and do it, or I'll proceed as planned :). I worked a full day this Saturday and am pretty worn out. One day off just isn't enough. So my plan to is be so close to done I don't need to work this coming Saturday. However, I still have to maintain my usual schedule of various appointments and the like, I still have to do multiple things at work, and so I don't know how well I'll succeed.

Obviously the key to surviving this is going to be rest, so if it's been a while just assume I'm resting.