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

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sometimes learning takes a different turn (link corrected)

Somehow that I no explanation for, in the last weeks I stumbled into reading the blog of a woman named Angie Smith. Her husband Todd is a singer in the Christian band Selah. (My finding her may have to do with this, as I'm starting to listen to music again, but it has to be music from my past. Unfamiliar music is jarring and I don't handle it. But Selah was around and I liked their songs back before music hurt me, so I listen and am happy). This spring they gave birth to their 5th child, a daughter who died shortly after birth. Her blog details going through her pregnancy knowing the outcome would be painful, and the grief, which was further increased by the loss of her infant nephew to SIDS only weeks later.

Her writings are so clear and real and speak to me. My therapist has already defined part of what I'm dealing with outside of my work issues as grieving. I'm trying to deal with parts of my past and losses of things from my illness. And truthfully, grief is new to me. I deal with a type of grief with patient deaths, but there's a distance. I should have grieved when my grandma died, but I didn't know how and I shoved it deep inside and probably that's what will bubble up next.

One of her entries made me think a lot. I thought I would try this also. I didn't actually have anything to break, so I purchased a cheap and ugly flowerpot on clearance. I also decided throwing it down would be risky for me what with picking up shards and tremors, so I smashed the thing with a hammer. The smashing probably felt too good because I have too many tiny pieces.

But I worked for 90 minutes or so, and I learned a lot. I knew this was risky business what with already having tremoring hands. I was correct. I learned that broken pieces don't necessarily mend easily. I have burned fingers and at least one cut. I have put together and taken apart many times and I still don't have a flat base. What is coming together is going to be extremely slow, and extremely ugly. I already have "extra" pieces and holes I can't fill. I've learned to not glue hastily, and that sometimes a piece may look like it will fit in one place, but it really fits elsewhere. But this thing CAN be rebuilt. It's going to be changed, but it will exist again. Not as well as Angie's maybe (again, hammer not good idea), but it will.

You may or may not be interested in the Christian rationale for this, but I suggest trying it if you need to think your way through something. I'm already surprising myself.

More on this as it happens.

Bad idea

One of the things I have trouble with is that when I'm sad or alone I miss my "best friend". No matter that she hurt me, I miss her. I think often of her and wonder what her life is like. And the little I know actually is enough for me to know I shouldn't think about it because it makes me sad. She has so much that I wanted: husband, children, normalcy. Yet looking her up isn't something I deny myself because it's a worse shock when I find out from the alumni magazine.

Today though was extra sad. It just makes that "she gets everything" thing feel more real. Years ago I was a runner. I was good at it, and I was young, and it looked like I was going to get to be high on my team. I had spent the winter running further and further and planned to run my first half-marathon in the fall, gradually working up. The timing was ideal as I'd be at peak performance during cross country, when endurance overcame speed (unlike the distance track races). And then on Feb. 14 I fell and ruined my knee. So today it appears my "friend" just ran a half-marathon.

Stupid jealousy? Yep. But I just want something easy. Just once.


I'm doing something I never thought I'd be doing: researching attorneys specializing in disability law. I have no idea if what is happening at work is going to turn legal, but it sure as heck is turning into something I'm about to start fighting. I'm going to consult the lawyer for sure. If nothing else it establishes step one in whatever process may need to happen.

Without being specific, let's just say that I am in major trouble again, and suddenly things that were just talked about are "verbal warnings" from July, even though the words "verbal warning" was never used and I was under the impression I just needed to keep in touch about something. So now I'm fighting with my company about ADA. I am fairly sure I'll be suspended again next week because I am not signing this latest warning without hearing from my experts that flex time is a reasonable accomodation. To make this even more frustrating, my OT was there 2 days ago, when the managers were aware of what came up today, and nothing was said when she could have assisted.

I'm so sick of this. My depression barely was lifting, and now I have cried for hours again, been so upset I had to stop and vomit on the interstate ramp (have I mentioned I need to move up my reflux med to something stronger?), and I just generally have had it.

So, I'm mad, and I really hope I can get into this attorney I found on Thursday. Or that I can find another way to get time to go there ASAP. Obviously I can't just say I need to take a day off for an attorney.......Although I would love to about now. I'm just so angry. Angry enough that at one point I told them that if they are trying to fire me, if this is not working out, then I would REALLY appreciate being told that and arrangements can be made.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I'm battling depression. I know it, and it knows it. I'm upping my antidepressant a bit tonight; the doctor hasn't gotten back to me so I'm just doing it. If I get manic I'll fix that.

I overslept for work today until noon. I had set meetings for noon. People are mad at me. I don't blame them.

I have never in all my life overslept from work. I've stayed home sleeping, but I have always called in, and have always stayed late or come in on the weekend. Today I simply didn't wake up. Now I'm scared to go to sleep.

Since I got in trouble for saying something that I still think wasn't inappropriate but was interpreted as such last week in a meeting (minor issue but still), now I don't want to speak. Too bad since I have to.

I have vocational rehab OT coming Wednesday. I feel like I'm going to hear 9000 ways I'm a bad therapist. I don't feel like I'm good at what I do at all. I can't even wake up on time.

I really need Dr. Mind. And that's 2 days away and I don't feel like an hour is in any way going to be enough for my brain to explode on him.

And I'm just so tired.........

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's not all bad

I can't say that I have any desire to go back to work tomorrow, and I spent the entire weekend in a depressed sleep. I'm very angry with Dr. Mind for missing my appointment, even though I know it wasn't on purpose and that it's just something I need to deal with. I still am frustrated with so much.

But at least everything isn't wrong. It's a small thing, but in the last week there's been progress. As I've said before on here it's been about 5 years since I've been able to listen to music. Over the last few months I've been able to listen to certain songs. And over this weekend I've been starting to listen to many more. They have to meet criteria, and it works best if they were songs I was familiar with before I got sick, but nonetheless I'm starting to have a life with music.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What happened (sort of)

I'm too emotionally drained and embarrassed to be specific, but this week's crisis is more or less over.

Essentially I asked my direct supervisor about doing something because I didn't know how to handle it, I did what we agreed upon, and it was very much against a major policy. Had several things not occurred (like asking the supervisor) I certainly would have been fired. As it was I received a final written warning and was suspended from work for a day and a half. Any further errors in that arena will mean firing.

The whole thing was horrible. All I really could think of is how much I love working and how I seem to just not be able to do so well. Then I did what seemed right and requested an emergency visit with Dr. Mind, only to spend 40 minutes waiting before checking with the secretary. She said he hadn't arrived, to keep waiting and she'd try again. I waiting another 45 minutes or so and they said they had no idea, that he never misses (which I know), and that they'd have him call me. Eventually he did but he didn't have any more appointments. So I sat on a bench at the shopping center I was at and cried and talked to him for a few pointless minutes. It was a communication problem and nobody's fault, but I'm having trouble not being angry at him just because it was one more thing that went wrong this week. I really want to get back in to see him sooner, but I doubt I'll succeed because getting an appointment I can take before my set one would be a miracle.

So that's it. I'm not sure I'm ok. I guess I will be. I feel very shocked still. I also am very embarrassed.

More later....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's always something interesting

At the risk of sounding totally paranoid, I cannot say anything specific here. Bad things are going on and my blog hits suddenly have more than doubled in a day, many of the people arriving here without a search term (ie they knew my website address) and from anonymous locations. There was a time that it seemed someone who knew me might have found this blog and I don't want to risk that they might use something against me. (Yet I say this because well, if you feel I'm talking about you and you know what I'm not discussing you do NOT belong here, are NOT welcome here, and you may leave now.)

Anyway, a lot of stuff happened today. A LOT. I'm handling it better than ok, really, just so my ativan level is stable. On top of yesterday though I am really struggling with a lot of stress, even if I am handling it well. I'm seeing Dr. Mind in the morning, and I have contacted Dr. Brain about more antidepressant for a while.

Please though, if you pray, pray for me. This is serious stuff and I'm not so sure I'm up for being brave right now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I feel a lack of control because I know that I am in trouble when I get to work tomorrow. I've been caught in one of my inattention to detail things and I have a feeling it will be a major deal. I fully expect someone from corporate to be there. Again. And emotionally I'm in no shape. I'm tired, I'm upset from what I'm doing in therapy, and my schedule is all messed up by this seminar this week. Plus my allergies are acting up and I just am out of sorts.

I've discovered something I do to control one of the areas of my life I don't like. I used to have a tendency to miss pills sometimes out of this inability to tolerate them because I'd get so angry I needed them. But recently I figured out the secret: I can skip my vitamins and minerals (I have to take separate pills because a multi-vit. makes me throw up) and not have trouble. And it makes me feel better.

Stupid thing, but whatever helps.

I also just took one of my previously favorite blogs off my bookmarks because I got sick of the constant mental hospital and crazy jokes. I'm really not in a good mood tonight. I think I should have tried to find more time with my therapist this week, but I simply don't know where it would come from. I may see if I can get an appointment early next week plus my usual because I've got a long break and I'm not sure I'm in a good place to handle it. My bipolar feels ok but I just don't. I'm scared I'm going to get depressed.

No, no, no and no.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

9/11 late

This week 9/11 passed for the first time with less notice on my part. That had a lot to do with it happened to be on the day that I opened a chunk of myself nobody is allowed into up for Dr. Mind and I was upset and distracted. I am doing my usual rememberance of the victims, re-reading a book written day-by-day as updates on the condition of his wife, one of the most severely burned victims, by a husband. She was the keynote speaker at the American Occupational Therapy Association conference a year or two later, and her story is amazing and to me is a symbol of the strength of our country.

I was reading another blogger's account of that day and realized I've never written my own down. And while I cannot imagine ever forgetting, I don't want to.

Like everything, to some extent my experience was colored by my illness. That part comes later in the story, and then continued as I developed depression from it, and had no clue how one was to handle such pain when it wasn't from an internal source.

Looking back, the day it happened was so confusing that my story is not as clear-cut as most people's. It started normally. I was a few minutes late for work because I ran into Walgreen's to buy black socks and a gel ice pack to sew into a protective pad for a patient's wheelchair. I was in there when the first plane hit, and out by the time it would have been on the news. I drove the remaining 10 minutes into work with a CD in, oblivious to the news. I still regret that.

When I walked in the office my co-workers gathered around begging for details of an event I knew nothing of. They'd heard what happened, and by then the 2nd tower had been hit. We had no way to stay up-to-date or even accurate because we were in a basement that blocked all tv or radio reception. The only way we could follow news was to watch the tvs in patient rooms and the lobbies as we passed through, and then we'd throw another bit of information at the rest of the staff. We heard so many inaccurate rumors. For some time we thought the Capitol had been bombed. I don't remember others, but I do remember how much we all wished we could just forget work and watch the TV.

I lived near an airport and I had a home health patient late that morning or early in the afternoon probably 5 miles from the airport. The trip to her house was so eery with that incredibly blue sky we all remember so clearly, and not a single plane except for an F16 once or twice. That home visit was one of the most pointless things I've done as a therapist as neither of us cared or focused on it. She didn't need therapy anyway. If she did I hope I didn't miss a need.

I don't remember working anymore that day. I think we were allowed to go home. I remember watching the tv and crying. Strangely this memory is wrong though; I remember sitting on my couch, and I didn't own that couch until the following spring. I don't know why my lack of this bit of context bothers me, but it does. It seems all the facts should be perfectly remembered that day.

I had trouble with my not-diagnosed bipolar during all the hours of watching the news in the next days. I am unable to watch CNN or other channels that use ticker tapes at the bottom of the screen while news goes on; it is sensory overload. So I had to keep searching for channels I could watch. I finally got most of my news off of ESPN of all places.

I remember realizing that one of the planes had been re-routed by the hijackers over (or very near) the city I lived in. I remember thinking how crazy that was, that if I'd looked up at the right time I could have seen it and have had no clue.

Even in the days following there was so much I didn't pick up. Later I listened to a book on tape written by a first responder about the rescue and digging through the rubble. I had no idea about how many people had jumped, nor that people had been killed by falling bodies. I didn't know that they never found even a piece of a file cabinet, much less other office equipment.

I don't know if it was me alone, like I said I was in my own hole this year. But it seemed there was so much less recognition of the events this year. That worries me. Surely we aren't going to start letting this be a done-and-over event so soon? I may have missed things. I don't watch tv. But it seemed strange.

Life lessons

I went to my mom's this afternoon for dinner with family to celebrate her birthday. The winds were high when I left, and became dangerous after a time. At one point a huge chunk of tree missed the house (and the sunporch where we happened to be standing) by 12 inches. It took hours before the winds died enough to leave. The power was off and I became hotter and hotter, no matter what I did. Finally I left because signs of lithium toxicity set in. I had no clue what would be awaiting me at home. Thankfully things must not have been so bad here (30 miles northeast).

Nonetheless, it was scary and for a long time it appeared my only safe choice was to stay at her house without meds. Therefore, Lesson: keep meds at her house for emergency use.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Yet again

One of the things I've written about many times is the value of having a good doctor. If you have a serious illness that is going to affect how your life goes, you need to see the absolute best doctor you can find. If you want to have the best outcome you need to make sacrifices, whether these are financial, time, or distance. On some level I make each of these with my doctors and I have chosen to not do this at other times, so I have a good basis to speak.

One of my greatest sacrifices is that my psychiatrist is 2 hours away, is an expert and wildly popular (although I'm booked around that issue), takes immense amounts of time with people so that each visit is literally a whole day with travel and waiting. I pay quite a bit because I have crappy insurance and if you see someone that good they tend to charge (or rather the hospital does).

However, there are so many benefits. She knows me in and out. She knows my wishes if I am sick. She is available readily in emergencies because I'm a high risk patient. And she's experienced enough to try things not usually done (ie subtherapeutic dosing with certain drugs combined with technically over-therapeutic doses of others). She also has access to many other experts and that has resulted in positive changes to my meds and a guess at what my body does that seems to have helped change my life. (Seriously, just look back at a random post from one year ago).

There's also the benefit that I get around being treated by medical students and residents at a teaching hospital. I was a student, I'm all for students and in all other areas I am very willing to be assessed and treated by them. In this area it is too dangerous. This is one reason I've always refused hospitalization. Now, because I am an attending's patient, I won't avoid them if I'm hospitalized, but my chart has some very specific directions, both things I want and from her. They also will consult with her.

And today I found out another benefit. When I accidentally overdosed 4 weeks ago (at a safe level) I did what I have never done before: called the on-call beeper. I have never had a crisis so severe I didn't feel it could wait until morning, but this time I needed to know I was safe. Instead I was rather surprised that nobody answered. Being that this is a psych pager I figured many calls are of the "I'm going to kill myself" nature, and while my belief and what I hold myself to (you may disagree; what works for me regarding suicide has been blunt honesty and heavy demands on myself-it's not everyone's cup of tea) is that there is a level of personal responsibility even then on the patient's part to try repeatedly to get help. Still, I know how hard it would be for me to call once and calling twice would be 10 times harder. Anyway, I did my own research on what dose had been tolerated in suicide attempts and figured I was ok and that I was better off to sleep than to try to stay away calling and drooling everywhere. (I was really out of it).

I mentioned that to her today and she discovered the person on call was someone she's been aware has been not doing much work if he can avoid it. And while I personally don't care that my call wasn't taken and I wasn't complaining, just mentioning it, I do think that once again, I like having her on my side because if he can't explain that kind of thing then I don't think he'll do it again...

Since with this disease the next person to want to die may be me, this makes me glad again that I drive 4 hours every month. And it appears now that my insurance seems to think it's run out, pay over $225/month....But that's another panic attack.

Hard times

This is so weird. Psychologically I am doing really, really well. Emotionally I am hurting. The wait to talk to Dr. Mind about just the beginning (or maybe just HOW) I've going to be talking to him about what I discussed in the last post was hard. I've been having more and more trouble with wanting to constantly sleep. Since the discussion yesterday I have cried or slept as much as possible, yet not nearly enough. I had no idea I felt so sad.

It's a time of other things though. According to him, words I never use, feeling words, were all over the place yesterday. I really have come to a new place, and I do believe it's the right one for me right now. It's just so, so hard to start.

I have a weird week due to an inservice, so that I see him again Tuesday. I also see Dr. Brain tomorrow. I had wanted her to see me doing so incredibly well on so little med, and she still will, but in a much more sad way. That alone makes me cry. I even almost cried at work over the stupidest thing.

It's also a weird thing to cry like this. I've been on so much medication over the last year that it feels odd to have normal emotions. I'm not sure how long this will last; so far it has no sign of letting up.

And, allergies have returned and I ITCH. It's making me crazier than I already was.....

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A look back

This is a hard post to write.....if my neighbors were being appropriately quiet for 11:45 pm I might put it off longer. But maybe if I start with you this story won't be quite so hard with Dr. Mind on Thursday.

I've alluded to an abusive childhood before. Now it's time to talk about that. Someone who has read this blog and paid rapt attention may know about 1/3 of it. Dr. Mind knows more than that, he's got a decent outline, but I've never been specific with him. I spent 4 years working hard on how it FELT and how to live without it overruling everything good when I was in college, part of that in what would be considered intensive outpatient (6 hours/week plus a support group). In grad school I tried to continue therapy and a moderated group. First I dropped out of the support group as I realized that even though I was the youngest I was doing the best, by far. Therapy didn't go so well. I couldn't find a therapist I clicked with, and I was just in an angry stage that I seemed to need to work out for myself. I was so angry at the world for what had happened to me for a while.

And in the 6 years I've been treated where I go now, I've talked about it from time to time. I've explained what I needed to. But abuse issues aren't first and foremost on my mind almost ever, I'm very proud of how I've handled them, and I just don't need for them to come up. I'm also very defensive about it because I've had too many therapists decide that I can't determine for myself how well I've adjusted to what happened and I have had more than one insist I'm in denial because I said I'm coping well. I had gone to one in particular for a specific issue and rather than listen she kept insisting it was abuse I needed to talk about.

Over the last few months there have been a few times it's come up more. And now it's going to come up intensely for a while. So, here's the story. With some bits left out, and some things altered because I feel safer and it's my story.

It started as more of a disinterest on the part of my father. Like many men, he was not willing to help with baby stuff at all. He took it to a new level though. I was an extremely difficult baby, with severe colic that didn't recede until I was 8 months old. For that entire time I had to be held. He never helped. And the crying angered him. My mother says that she sometimes had to lay me down and walk away because she couldn't handle it 24/7, but he was angry that I cried and that she couldn't stop me, yet he never did anything to help.

When I stopped crying I started talking. I spoke early and clearly. A psychologist later explained to me that memory often starts with increased verbal skills, and I am able to describe events nobody would have had reason to tell me about accurately from 8-11 months old.

Around that same time my mother went back to work from her maternity leave and I started staying with my grandparents. My grandfather immediately began molesting me. It was part of my life as long as I can remember, and it had gone on forever before I questioned anything. By that time he had threatened me liberally, even taking me to a dark, wet corner of a basement where he would lock me up if I told. Needless to say I'm absolutely terrified of basements. This house has many issues but it has a dry, well-lit basement.

At some point my parents found out about it. It's hard to understand and it took me a long time to get there, but they were confronted with a problem nobody talked about in those years and in that place. I grew up in Appalachia and culturally this is kept a deep secret by all involved. At the time there were no laws to help child victims and I would have had to testify. I believe I've also been told the press would have had access to my name, etc. They considered moving away but somehow decided not to. My guess is that it had to do with my mother becoming pregnant and moving would take away insurance. They did set up barriers they felt would protect me. That did not happen.

As the years past my father became more and more mean. I still have a hard time remembering that he was abusive, because he did have really good moments in the earlier days of my childhood. But he also had horrible ones. Once we didn't clean our room fast enough and he emptied it with a shovel, throwing everything down a flight of stairs and breaking many toys. If we were in the car and he had the radio on essentially we were to be quiet. If we talked and he turned it up we were to immediately shut up and if not bad things happened. I don't want to give more examples; I can't even judge was was more irrational than something else. I don't remember him hitting a ton when I was young, but hitting just increased year after year until it was a major problem by high school age.

It is questionable whether he sexually abused us. Things he did qualify as sexual abuse, but I remember only a few times he touched me inappropriately. And compared to the physical and mental abuse it was nothing. So I guess he did, but compared to what I'd already experienced it was nothing. Later he was accused of molesting a neighbor girl. And he became involved with his 8th grade student at some point. That part of the story goes on a long ways, but after many years they were married and had a baby. That's how my "step-mother" was 2 years older than I. We were in high school together (before the marriage).

While I was in high school things worsened. Due to a medical condition he was on steroids a lot and had steroid rage, along with regular rage. High school was miserable and I couldn't wait to leave home. One of the top five reasons I picked my college was Saturday classes for pretty much every student (I had one semester without them) so I couldn't go home.

My mother tried to leave a number of times but he'd threaten her and she'd stay. It got to be so that she was not to be believed about that facet of life. She wasn't leaving. She finally did when I was 19.

I had almost succeeded in shutting him out of my life when my little brother was born. I couldn't shove an innocent being out, and I knew the kid would need help, so I was sucked back in.

Finally the baby's mother also left my father and I was able to walk out of his life when I went to grad school far from home. For a while he would write to us, nasty and meaningless letters showing how bad his mental illness had become. Then the postal forwarding limit came and I've not heard from him in many years. A cousin checks in on him from time to time.

Like I said, I have had many, many hours of therapy about this. And the story is really much more complicated, of course. But I am now at a new place where I have to deal with some parts I never thought about. Like how sad it makes me that I said good-bye. I think in a way my father left my life/"died to me" and I never grieved it. Which means that some of the problems I've had in other areas are because I have been taking things out on other people.

It's just so frustrating; I don't feel he has any place hurting me anymore.

So that's where my mind is for the next week or so.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Next year I'm buying a salt block

It has been hideously hot for September (or July). Today it was still in the mid-90s at 6 pm. I have been not feeling so great because of it. I've also craved salt like it is a drug. I've been eating all kinds of weird things (weird to my usual diet): huge servings of chips with dip (once in the night), tomatoes with tons of salt, tuna salad with tons of salt, peanut butter, I just bought cottage cheese and looked longingly at all sorts of salty things in the store, and I don't know what else. I've been acting starved for salt.

I know it's just my body's reaction to the heat with the lithium and DI. But I'm seriously thinking I could just eat salt straight from the shaker right now. Blech.

Monday, September 01, 2008

By way of explanation

I continue to feel really, really good. However, I am also still going through a major med change and all that this involves. And the weather has been bad for me. So I've been exhausted most of the time and sleeping a lot.

I'm also doing my part of what has to be done to move on to the next topic in therapy. I know what it is, I'm just not really ready to go there yet. Trying to get that way is also exhausting.

So, little blogging. I'll be back soon.