(Most of this was written the other day. I have been a day off for at least a week so who knows if this was the 30th, 31st, 1st.....I'm so mixed up I went to Dr. Mind's today, 24 hours early.)
It's early in the morning but it is the last day of the year I thought would never end. I thought there was too much pain for it to end and I thought I couldn't survive what I lived through this year. Losing my career to bipolar is absolutely one of the hardest things I've face and is quite possibly the hardest thing I've faced as an adult. Even though I knew (and chose to ignore that I knew) that I was probably not going to work a full career I had put that thought far aside in the last few years as my mental health had been better controlled. But the reality is that in August 2006 I wrote on the blog that I knew that I would be doing well if I were still working in 5 years. It was nearly 5 years to the day when I because unable to work.
I wish now I could go back a year. I wish I could know what life with controlled PTSD is like. I am still afraid, in fact tonight I spent 20 minutes frantically searching for a cat I was sure was dead. Instead I think I scared him with my fear so he hid. I still get scared in parking lots and when I saw some guy installing new electric meters on my street I went out to shovel snow so I could see what he was up to when he got to my house. (Poor guy sounded southern and our 8 inches of snow probably aren't much fun, especially since he wasn't wearing boots. They bring in contracters for that kind of thing and this one seems to have come a long way). I still have many issues and I certainly still have PTSD. But PTSD is so reduced that my life is different. I wish I knew that I could, carefully, manage to survive on not a lot of money and that I could make the decision to move in about a year and know that the loss of my house isn't the worst loss I've faced.
What I did not know a year ago was that I could learn ways to cope. (In light of my secret revealed above about totally losing track of the day this paragraph should be taken with a grain of salt). I keep markerboards handy, one propped against the door to remind me what I need before I leave. I keep a notebook with me. I write lists. My mom checks my budget monthly so I don't forget to pay something. I keep different lists of different stores, like "food" "Sam's Club" "craft store". I struggle still with the day of the week and the date, but since I have one fixed moment most weeks with Dr. Mind I often can count forward or backward and figure out what day it is. I did not know that there is such a thing as normal daily living, even for me. I may need help with heavier housework but I can keep up with dishes, kitty litter, laundry and straightening. I can have times I feel well enough to cook. I can take time to spend a day at Sam's Club and other stores with my mom without it being a planning nightmare. I can paint my toenails purple because I have time and find it fun. I made around 250 baby hats this year and that's with a long period I didn't knit because it wasn't comfortable after my hysterectomy, and then the last few weeks because I was sewing. But both of those are fun things. I don't know that I used to have very much fun. A year ago my memory loss was becoming a clearly permanent problem and I was devastated. I may not remember every moment with my niece and family but it turns out that a camera can be my memory and I'm not at all bad at photography and soon I'll be taking a photo-editing class as my birthday present. The family has gotten used to my taking several hundred pictures at each gathering and each time a few are good but the rest help me remember. My pictures pop up on my screen saver and it is so fun to see things I don't remember, or that I do remember but not in this way. There is a picture of me holding my niece the first time I met her. I have this as a key chain because as soon as I saw this picture I saw that all my fears that I couldn't love her were unnecessary. My face is so calm and peaceful and amazed. I love being reminded of that because I was so afraid that I'd meet her and cry because I wanted my own baby. And instead I got this wonderful, amazing little gift of a girl who currently thinks I'm one of her best playmates. She had to sit by me at "Christmas" dinner today. When she played she wanted me to sit close. When I get dramatic (on purpose) she says "Silly Jen" and re-shapes my face into a smile.
That little girl is what I didn't realize I would have. Would I trade my career for the extra time with her? When I was working I would say no. But looking back at how extremely hard I worked to keep up, yes. Her intrinsic ability to know that her Aunt Jen gets very tired sometimes and needs to take naps, that sometimes Aunt Jen is moody, that Aunt Jen is just a bit different are things she has noticed. From being told "Aunt Jen has an operation on her tummy so be careful and she can't pick you up so you can help her by climbing" (my sister said she really barely mentioned it and I didn't either; she just needed one reminder and by the end she saw my bad decisions rapidly. I laid on the floor to reach into her little tent to give her a flashlight and started thinking how to get back out; as soon as my face changed she asked if i needed her to help me.)came my niece assuring my mom that she would take care of me while my mom was gone for a few hours. As I got better she asked, exactly as I'm writing "And how are you recovering?". Nobody prompted it, the most anyone said was that little warning but she seems to figure out how I feel better than almost anyone. This is as true for the bipolar as the surgery. In fact it may be more so with the bipolar since we've not talked about that and she just gets it. I know she knows I'm different than other adults. And she doesn't care. I need someone like that in my life.
(Back to current)
Dr. Mind said today I seemed calm after Christmas. This was true; I did well until I lost all track of time. We talked a little bit about what is upcoming with the MAOI transition. Not that I know much, but I do know I have a finite number of patches left and then no way to pay for them. I'll know more next week after I see Dr. Brain. But what struck me later was that this will freak me out completely at some point. I've done some crying and anxiety already because it is so frustrating and medically unnecessary.But aside from asking Dr. Brain to give me so idea of how long I'll be feeling bad so I can arrange some things (I got the required software for a photo editing class and my birthday is much of the cost of it but I don't want to sign up for a class I will be too sick to handle) I'm really doing ok.
Back in early December and really up through the week before Christmas I cried a lot. Unusually I cried at home as well as with Dr. Mind. We talked briefly about that today, that it feels like I finished crying and see a sort of new life (the looming med thing makes it hard to see this concretely), which I thought was impossible, and he said that was my grieving. I'm glad he just let me go with it and encouraged me to cry as much as a needed to. The grief thing was really hard for me to face and while I'm certain there are days ahead it will feel totally new--things like the anniversary of my resignation and of clearing out my desk in February and the really hard one will be putting my OT license in escrow. I can then pull it out by doing my CEUs and it can stay there 4 years. At that point I will retire it. My national certification has a couple years left and then I'll be retired in good standing which lets me restore my license. But I'm not fooling myself. I almost want to just retire my Ohio license but I don't want to do something permanent just in case something makes me so much better that none of the issues in the past matter, including a job where I cannot push to do more than I can do. I know though that that paperwork is going to hurt.
I thought I had more to say and it feels like this post is wandering everywhere. I think my meds are working finally. I've been having a hard time getting to sleep because the other night I couldn't log into my checking account because I messed up the password. They said my account is locked and then I tried to use my ATM and it said no. I know there should be money in there so I'm hoping it will be frozen. But it's always possible for money to slip away from me, especially when I can't track things. And I'm worried and have to deal with the bank. I also have to make them send me paper statements for the whole year. I have numerous emails telling them I don't want online statements and yet I get a statement a few few months, always online. I need paper ones for taxes and to get some stuff in for Medicaid (that I'll not qualify for). I hate dealing with the bank but probably won't live here long enough to make changing worthwhile.
So I'll say more later. I have a new project that I want to tell you about soon.