Friday, November 21, 2014

Do I Care Who Knows My Secrets?


I was reading this article this morning - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/18/bipolar-disorder-ellen-forney_n_5823138.html, and it triggered some thoughts for me.


First, how many people have I told about my mental illness and what percentage of negative versus positive reactions have I gotten from them (not including medical professionals)? 

Let’s explore;

SC – mixed, tried to help but didn’t really understand. When her help didn’t ‘work,’ she gave up.

AA – apathy

Support group online – positive, helpful

AM – positive, empathetic

JC – mixed, tried to help but didn’t understand, often very disrespectful. Same thing as SC, when his help didn’t ‘work,’ he would get very frustrated.

Father – somewhat empathetic but told me I would have to ‘go it alone,’ because therapists are not to be trusted and they just want your money. He hasn’t said a word to me about it since then.

Sister – empathetic, helpful. I’m not sure she understands totally, but I only just told her this summer.

Bitchy mcTraitor – freaked out, tried to get me fired

GS – empathetic and understanding when I told her but when I tried to talk to her about my feelings and things that happened that relate to my disorder, I couldn't get empathy at all from her. She was very good at giving emotionless advice…







So; three purely positive responses, four mixed and two purely negative.
I’m counting apathy as a negative, especially since he and I were supposedly ‘in love’ and he never tried to help with my illness or mentioned it at all even though I was clearly suffering.
TRIGGER WARNING













Also, when I asked him if I should commit suicide, he told me he couldn’t think of a reason why not. So; definitely negative.













END TRIGGER

I’ve always kept the information that I have a mental illness very close, and obviously have only told a very few people. I always suspected something was wrong, but I didn’t get help until college when I went to my school counseling center. I didn’t even tell my father, he actually found out because he was trying to buy insurance for me and the insurance companies came back and said they wouldn’t cover me because of my depression (my dx at the time, also this was before the ACA made it illegal to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions). So he called me up to his office area in the master bedroom when I was visiting and asked me if it were true, did I have depression?

                There wasn’t anything else for me to say at that point but yes. And we talked a bit about it, it was good, I think, to have finally let him know about it because up to that point I had been seeing a therapist and psychiatrist in secret. I was so afraid of my father finding out about it that I lied about being on his insurance plan and told my school counseling center that I didn’t have insurance. That actually worked out great for a while since they had a sliding scale for appointments, I was only paying $40 for psychiatry appointments and $2 per therapy appointment. I had a part-time job so I could pay for it all myself. I think I was afraid if my dad found out he would demand I live at home again because he would think I wasn’t able to deal with living at school. I spent my two years of college living at home but it was actually my therapist who suggested that I get the hell out of there and live on campus. It made a huge difference for me to not be around my father all the time.

                It’s not that he was abusive or anything. I’m not even sure I can explain it and have anyone understand. He was just angry all the time and I’m a very sensitive person. You know when you’re with a group of people and then one person just gets really angry about something and starts ranting about it, and then everyone gets really quiet and is afraid to speak up or say anything because if they do they know they’ll get shot down by that person and/or have that person’s anger suddenly directed at them? Like, everyone feels so awkward and afraid that they barely want to move or make a sound? 

                That is what growing up with my father was like. Pretty much every night at dinner would be like that. And he would be angry at everything and everyone. Oh, you have a tattoo? You just sealed your fate as a worthless bum because no one decent will ever employ you. The same goes for men with long hair, people who own motorcycles, and music majors.

                I had also overheard a rant my father was having about me. He seemed to think that the college I had decided to go to would turn me into a burden to the family, because I would never get a job with a degree from there. A burden to the family.

                So; I never told my father about my mental illness and I still haven’t told him about my new diagnosis. If he hadn’t found out about my depression he wouldn’t know now. I still count it as mixed because he didn’t make me live at home, and he didn’t flip out and the world didn’t explode or anything. But, not necessarily positive either. You don’t tell an almost completely isolated, lonely depressed person that they’ll have to deal with it alone. That’s simply irresponsible and ignorant. I needed help, I was desperate for it and I got it, behind his back because I believed I had to. His response confirmed that I was right to do that. 

As he has gotten older, his anger has mellowed out a bit. Also, I’ve gotten stronger and have been able to call him on his bullshit. So, maybe one day I will tell him. I seem to be moving more in that direction by telling my sister – who supports me in waiting to tell my parents until I am ready. I’m also pretty tired of hiding. I have no patience for lying and hiding anymore. 

Especially since he seems more concerned sometimes with pestering me about making sure I have maternity coverage on my insurance (which I now buy myself), than ever even asking me how my mental health is. God forbid he should make sure I have mental health coverage or a proper psychiatrist/psychologist. How it is more pressing in his brain to make sure he will not have to pay for all my illegitimate children from all the wild sex I am supposedly having than to make sure I am being treated for an illness that I will have my entire life and is often fatal, is simply beyond my understanding. Simply…. fucking…. beyond me. So; it’s not easy to not go off on him. But that's not the way I want this conversation to come up.

Anyway, this has gotten off track. The point is I want people to know and I want them to be ok with it and not freak out and complain to management or stop talking to me or talk to me but tell me shitty, ignorant things. But, since I can’t have that ideal situation most of the time I have to keep things under wraps.







-Jane











Sunday, November 9, 2014

What Trust Doesn't Look Like








Saturday night he had gotten drunk and violent. He threw things and threatened to hurt me. He was acting literally like a monkey, jumping on top of the couch and tearing the cushions off. He cycled between yelling, rocking back and forth on his hands and knees on the floor crying, throwing things around, and talking to me in that low, threatening voice. He also spoke to people who weren’t there.
I tried to help him. I had never seen anyone like that before, much less someone I loved. I tried to talk to him, soothe him, and give him something to throw up in. But he threw it back at me. When he went to the bathroom, I ran quietly up the stairs and away from him, shutting a door in between us. I didn’t want to leave because I still thought somehow I could help him. But I didn’t go back down until the morning.

On Sunday morning, I told him what had happened and he couldn’t remember any of it. He readily promised me that he wouldn’t drink at all if we were alone together and he would just drink with his friends.

Monday night he brought three double-size beers over to my apartment. I don’t know what they are really called, but I know that each one was the size of two normal beers. I was in shock and fearful.

“You can’t drink those here.”

He was immediately angry, “it’s just beer! It’s not that much!”

“You promised me you wouldn’t drink when it’s just you and me.”

“I had a hard day at work, I deserve a beer!”

“But there are three of them, and they’re gigantic. Just have one, ok?”

“I’m a grown man.”

He sulked and acted like a two-year-old for the next few hours, while I was a ball of tension, wondering what I should do if he got drunk and violent again. In my own apartment there was nowhere else to go, no one else to help me. I could put my cat in a carrier and just leave, maybe go to my parent’s house and hopefully he wouldn’t destroy too much of my stuff. 

Finally, we got to the moment when he might have one of the beers and I said, “You know, it’s just that you promised. You gave me your word that you wouldn’t drink and now you’re breaking your word.”

I knew that would get him, since he’s always going on and on about how honesty and ‘his word’ is so important to him, even though he was still able to cheat on me and go out with other women while I was still lying in his bed. 

He didn’t have any of the beers and he took them with him when he left. A good idea, since I would have poured them out. 

Before we broke up, we had a couple other uncomfortable nights with his drinking. Once when he put his arm around my neck in what maybe his drink-brain thought was affectionate but felt to me like a choke hold. Thank god for that self-defense class. 

He told me once during these awful nights, “The biggest reason I know we won’t make it is because you don’t trust me. You’re afraid of me.”

Well, asshole, maybe you should behave like someone who can be trusted.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Time for a Change



I’m having a hard time this morning. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a billion times;

MY JOB SUCKS!

I hate coming in on a Monday morning and having absolutely nothing to do. Now, some people say, ‘oh, I had nothing to do today,’ but what they mean is they had light work all day. They probably came in, read some emails, did a little work, made some phone calls, maybe paid some bills. In reality they got some shit done.

I came in to work today to nothing. Zilch. Nada. Nary an email or phone call or item of business to attend to. So what do I do? Well, I haven’t had breakfast so I go get a bagel and some water.
Now that’s done. Now what?

Let’s do facebook, see what people are up to. Okay… self-indulgent status updates… pinterest stuff… a few political items… interesting, attention moving from the fact that a friend is blowing me off now even though she posted a status asking if anyone wanted to do a writing project with her and I volunteered, to a poorly written article about ISIL fighters returning to the US; this probably isn’t healthy and is certainly mildy upsetting. Let’s do something else. 

Maybe I should read a book? I’ve got my kindle with me so I’ll download something.  There’s that Jim Butcher book I’ve been meaning to read and I’ve got a few extra dollars, I’ll buy it on Amazon. Crap, my kindle’s not charged and I don’t like reading books on a computer screen. So what now? Time for lunch? I just had that bagel, I should probably wait a little longer and it’s only 11:30 am. WTF am I going to do for the rest of the day?

This would be an ok thing to happen every once in a while. But, this is my life way too often and it’s not good for productivity or my state of mind. I was actually feeling good at home this morning, which is something that hardly ever happens. But once the ‘work’ boredom set in, I was nearly immediately lethargic, depressed and uninterested in doing anything. You know things are bad when you are so bored you find yourself just staring at your desk because there is just nothing at all to do. There is only so much internet content you can consume before your brain starts to feel like mush. And, after 2 ½ years of this job I’m sick to death of it. I want to feel like a real person again.
At least we have laptops and I can leave my desk in the awful dreary basement to come upstairs where I am now and try to write a bit a feel like I’m not a zombie. Plus, at my desk I have to sit next to Bitchy McTraitor, and even though we have professionally ‘made up,’ I do not like how she is always very aware of what I am doing and I still do not trust her. Her presence stresses me out so I’ve come upstairs to see daylight and write and be alive.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about applying to graduate school to become a therapist. I know that might be a bit shocking, and it might be scary and maybe even abhorrent to some people. But, I have been thinking about it since high school and it was actually my first choice before becoming a biologist. I decided not to go get my PhD because I wanted to marry that asshole I was dating and I thought it would get in the way of having kids and whatnot. 

But, now that biology is off the table due to my injury, I’m thinking psychology again. And, there are other psychologists with mental illnesses, the most famous one being Kay Jamison who was a PhD with bipolar I. But other than her, there’s even a school of thought that believes that you can’t effectively help someone through something unless you’ve been through it yourself, and when you’re in school for psychology you’re required to go through therapy yourself.

I probably will think it through to death, I probably already have. The fact is I need more from my life and I’m feeling that one thing my breakdown last spring taught me is that this life I’ve been living is not sustainable. It’s time to stop giving myself to things and people that are absolute shitheads, like this job. 

I have an endgame plan. Next February, if nothing else, I will apply to become an occupational therapy assistant. It’s not an occupational therapist, so there are fewer restrictions on things like GPA and prerequisites, so I’ll have a better chance of getting in. Also, it sounds like a pretty kickass job and it makes decent money. My only concern is that I’ve been out of school for a few years now and I’m not sure if I’ll be entirely interested enough to learn all the physiology I will need. But, I’ve decided that in February I will HAVE to learn it, come what may. Because I need a change. Unless, of course, I get accepted into a school for psychology where I’ll be fascinated by the material and it will therefore be much easier to learn it. But, psychology comes with a few other anxiety points;

  • I need a therapist myself. What if that fact compromises my patient care?
  • What if I am triggered by the things my patients say?
  • What if my social phobias interfere with interacting with patients?
  • Will the competitive nature of graduate school be too stressful?

I don’t know how to find the answers to these questions. I mean, I think I would be a kickass therapist. I am compassionate and a good listener, I’m able to identify important details in what people say and use them to help people understand themselves and others, I am able to see things from other people’s point of view and help people understand each other, I am passionate about issues such as domestic violence, proper mental healthcare, and women’s issues. I am also a careful scientist and enthusiastic researcher. I have already worked with participants in a psychology clinical research study and the PhD candidate I was working with said I didn’t seem nervous at all working with them and that I did a good job. 

Yea, I think it’s time.