Step away from the social media

I can’t imagine what it must be like for Heather Armstrong to deal with difficult issues as someone who has chosen to live in the blogosphere, lots of friends in and out of the interwebs must help. I can’t handle being on social media when there are triggers there for me. The Aurora shooting was difficult for me to watch on the news, then hearing the gun control debate all over social media was awful. Why can’t we just talk about the heros? The victims? Must we do exactly what the gunman wanted and debate gun control and dissect his life? This is a horrible time for his family, I’m sure they don’t want any more attention either. There is a reason he was waiting for the police, there is a reason why his apartment was so difficult to search. It all makes him more popular in the media, it all makes him more important. I’d rather hear about the girl who saved her friend by putting pressure on the gunshot rather than running away. Let’s hear more about the boyfriends who saved their girlfriends by shielding them. Save the debate for later when we can assess the situation fully and really understand what went wrong.

But I digress. I ended up having my husband change my Facebook password to avoid that stress. I also chose to not watch it on the news, I avoided twitter for a while, and I’m just now getting back to updating my blog. Being so plugged in to the rest of the world makes me nervous and angry. People make fun of me because my brand new Kindle isn’t the Kindle Fire, it’s the Kindle 4 with only enough WiFi to download books. The iPod I bought last year is the 160gb classic. I hear all the time that the other devices have APPS. Why in the world wouldn’t I want APPS? Well, it’s because my android phone already has apps. I don’t need to access Facebook while I read a book. When I read a book I want to…READ A BOOK. Shocking, I know. Besides that, the less access I have to outside triggers and stress improves my mental state. As a matter of fact, today I did laundry and cleaned for the first time in two weeks. I’d say stepping away from social media has been a huge help.

Role Models

I came across a Ted Talk by Elyn Saks today that inspired me a lot. (This can be found here.) I started thinking about the kinds of role models I want, and who I choose to look up to. This has been particularly in my mind because of some recent comments on the Thrive community wall. I was particularly excited about the disability appeals board ruling in my favor, so I posted about it. Robin, who mediates the group, asked for advice on how to get disability. There were a few comments made to the effect of being as awful as you possibly can, having a drug/alcohol problem or some other disability for a dual diagnoses, in order to speed up the disability process. As much as it can suck to wait for benefits I disagree with making yourself more sick in order to get disability benefits.

Everyone’s experience with mental illness is different, but there are so many success stories for inspiration. I read about Kay Redfield Jamison, Ken Steele, Terri Cheney, and I’m inspired. Now I can add Elyn Saks to that list. I have the opportunity through education and amazing support from family & friends to do something really amazing with my life. My interest and proficiency in biochemistry allows me a chance to do some real research into the disorder that had the potential to consume my life entirely. I’ve had so many friendships and relationships destroyed by my inability to cope with myself, and as a result  my inability to cope with other people.

I’m not afraid to speak about how awful my experiences have been. I’m not afraid to admit to some really horrible things I’ve done as a result of lack of education, lack of thought, or lack of caring. I’m also not afraid to call employers out on things that I know are wrong according to the ADA laws. If I didn’t have strong mental health role models, and know I was capable of what they are capable of, none of this would be possible. I’d be locked away in a hospital all alone.

Little changes = big problems

With everything I’ve been through in the last year it’s all the little things that are really getting under my skin. This surprises me even though it shouldn’t. The hallucinations getting so much worse last summer, the fight with work, the fight to be able to finish school, the stress and ultimate elation of applying to grad school and getting in…none of that is as frustrating and awful as not knowing where the damn post office is located. Not only that, but not having enough gas to be able to find the post office without worrying about Terry getting back and forth to work. Being stuck at home, completing the little tasks I set for myself, stepping on dog hair while I’m cooking dinner…all of these things are more frustrating for me than any of those larger issues.

My sleep schedule is starting to settle where it needs to be again. That is the most important thing for me right now. My daily TV schedule is set as well.  Which is a whole separate problem. Today I went to fill out my tax paperwork & insurance stuff and the thought of missing the TV I’ve been watching nearly caused me to hyperventilate. Every night I ask Terry if I’m talking too much, how he thinks other things are with my mental state. I focus on eating, walking, and keeping a routine so much that I don’t know how well I’ll adjust in a few weeks when I need to be at work all day long again. I think I have to switch up my routine and stop watching all the shows before I screw myself up for school in the fall.

Some victories come in small packages

I found out today that my long term disability appeal was ruled in my favor. What this means for me is I get paid everything I should have gotten since the middle of May. I was so overwhelmed when the person in charge of my appeal told me that she laughed at my reaction. This is beyond amazing. Terry and I can pay all of those bills left over from when we moved two months ago, we can get caught up on bills that are still mostly overdue, we can finally pay his parents rent. Even now I feel a little sick to my stomach from the excitement. Next I wait to find out about the social security things Debbie faxed for me today. They sent me a questionnaire about my life and how I function every day. If that gets approved that money will help even more.

The most important thing right now is getting the paperwork out for the EEOC before the end of the week. I have a whole bunch of pages that need to be signed and notarized, as well as deciding what I am willing to take as a minimum payment for an early settlement. Mediation is out of the question, I get to turn in my paperwork to start my grad school journey on Wednesday. I am beyond excited for everything happening now. That fear of how I’m going to buy books, pay to get back and forth to school, pay for my parking pass, license my car & change my license…completely gone. Crystal is visiting in August, she said something about Cedar Point, Terry and I may actually be able to go if she chooses a weekend day. This also means huge things for us in terms of being able to see family and friends as well. Terry was thinking of Madison for Labor Day. That’s possible now. We are planning a trip to Colorado next year (late winter/early spring maybe), that is now a real possibility. As is the Christmas trip in 2014 to see my mom and dad.

Perceived Rejection

So there’s this thing called rejection. Every one experiences it at some point in their lives, and for the most part it sucks. A lot. More than a lot, actually.  I read Heather B Armstrong’s blog Dooce.com and every single post I read lately I am so amazed by her strength and perseverance through some really tough times that (to me) would feel like rejection. Which, frankly, only makes me feel worse about my own situation. I’m fairly certain that I’m only dealing with perceived rejection, if I can’t handle this with her strength I’m ridiculously under-prepared for life.

I asked the facebook page I follow (and try to participate in as much as I can) about their coping mechanisms for perceived rejection. Honestly, Team Thrive made me feel way better about my level of preparation for this particular challenge. I am not even close to the only unprepared person when this hits. Mostly I wish it wasn’t so real in my head. I handle the psychotic episodes and the hallucinations a hell of a lot better than I handle the fear that I did something to make my best friend hate me.

So far I’ve decided that small amounts of medicine are worse for this than no medicine, which works because I’m super excited about this guys approach to medication where it is used as episode based, rather than prophylactic. But I digress, that isn’t the point today. The point is since I’ve moved no one asks me to help with anything, I’ve sent my best friend a facebook message, an email, and several texts and have heard nothing. This is my perceived rejection. I don’t belong. I’m terrified that I’ve done something awful to make my best friend angry, but I can’t ask because I can’t fix anything at this point. If I did something wrong it was probably something that happened while I was watching her son, talking to her family, talking to her husband’s family…at that point I’ve likely screwed up so bad it will take a number of months to even begin the healing process. I’ve decided to let that go until I hear from her. I sent her a book for her son, and would like to make her a “baby’s first year” scrapbook…but I need to talk to her for that so I know what she wants to include in it. I don’t want to buy a finished book on blurb that costs $80-$100 without consulting her first. The ignoring plan is going ok, though I spend probably 25% of my day still worrying about where I screwed up. Better than 100% I guess.

In the meantime I’m sitting on my butt with an entire summer off. No insurance because I can’t pay my portion of my insurance without any pay. We have 7 dollars to our name until Friday, then after will be the same because all the bills are past due. I’m waiting for the EEOC to get back to me about the formal complaint I lodged against my company for discrimination. The long term disability was appealed and sent to an independant something or other. Apparently they need until the end of July to decide if I should have been paid since May. The whole thing will be over soon. I have to start studying for my entrance proficiency tests for grad school, finish all the paperwork so I can get paid on time in August, then the beginning of August starts the next steps.

Life is travelling too fast and too slow all at the same time. I hope I get used to sleeping without Seroquel soon…

Transitioning not so smoothly…

I wrote on my blogger on and off for the last two years of undergrad. I’ve detailed on there my trouble with work (most of those posts have been transferred over here), but there have been so many changes over the last few weeks that my brain can’t handle it all. My brain has been extremely overwhelmed and frustrated, starting with my husband moving to Detroit June 1st, while I moved into my friends house to be in her wedding. After that I packed up the several bags I had in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin and my whole life is now in Michigan. After being in the Madison area for nine years I feel lost. The worst part (for me) is I have to not only be in a whole new place with all new patterns, but Terry and I are living with his parents. So now my struggle is not only a new place, but also learning all over again how to vocalize my needs to someone other than Terry. Honestly, I don’t do well vocalizing my needs to Terry as it is, every day is a different struggle.

Additionally, I have been reading a lot of subject studies that indicate the transition to utilizing psychiatric medicine as a permanent solution might be wrong. The instance of illness has increased, the ability to deal with every day situations decreased, the thought is we have become a “nanny state”. People don’t learn how to handle their emotions anymore, there isn’t any knowledge of what kinds of emotions are in the normal realm of society structure. Some of this might be the “friendship” parenting that has happened over the last few decades, but a lot of it has to do with the drug companies & insurance in my opinion.

As a result I’m using this summer to develop new patterns, as well as transition out of medicine. I don’t sleep well, but seroquel is a sleep medicine. It could likely be a few more weeks before I’m able to sleep well again. I’m keeping my medicine around because the case studies I’ve read indicate that medicine is not and should not be the enemy, but only used when needed during episodes. I really like this particular line of thought. Plus, I have another month and a half before the real world starts again to ease into this transition and a really awesome support system that will be able to identify subtle changes. My fingers are crossed that this transition becomes easier. Tomorrow I get to go on a boat for the fourth of July. The nice part about moving to where my husband grew up is there is already a net of friends around that know my trials and tribulations and put up with me any way.