To Your Health

Living with a mental illness and being accident and illness-prone leave you spending long hours in doctor’s offices, in waiting rooms, in line to get your third CT this year or more “routine” labs, at the surgeon’s, at the medical supply company.  And then there’s the routine stuff — the dentist, pdoc appointment, therapy over phone, therapy in person, renew prescription, flu shot, ear infections, the dentist again.

You get the point and I am personally at a point where it feels like all I do is talk to medical and mental health professionals who prescribe tests and medication and specialists.  While all of this does aggravate me (obviously), I am grateful that I have good health insurance.  When I sigh about heading to the next appointment, I think to myself, ‘well at least I can, I have that option.’

I’m not sure what I’d do if I didn’t have any insurance.  I would probably be dead, with two broken feet.  No access to mental health care is unthinkable, unacceptable to me — as someone who has worked on the inside of the system and been a customer on the outside — because it is absolutely vital to many persons, even in a city this size, that meds, therapy, community support saves lives and improves lives and can in many cases make all the difference.

I picture me unmedicated, with my broken foot not in a cam walker, with all the gastro problems of the last year unsolved, no flu shot, no antibiotics for all the ear infections, and so on and so on and, well — I actually can  picture that.  I think you have to live the life of the uninsured or underinsured to really feel the strong pull for healthcare, that desire we all have to be (mostly) well, physically and mentally).

I spent years being underinsured and racking up credit card debt and owing debt to my parents just to pay for my medications.  Then a program was found and it turned out that if QoB laid enough battle down, she could get me on this program.  I’ve been on it for quite a while now, and have since never had to worry about prescription drug cost or what would happen if I broke my foot (again).   And now that I am on SSDI and have two years in, I just started Medicare which will improve my treatment options quite a bit.

What I want to know is — why is it that you must be disabled or elderly before you can get some really good insurance working for you?

Not Giving Up (On This Blog)

This blog is ancient, at almost seven years.  In the past, there have been times I have given it up for long periods.  And as you likely know, the last few months have been sporadic at best.  The decision for my parents to get divorced, to live separately, to not love each other anymore was more than quite difficult for me.  For a very brief moment, I made that my problem and stressed myself even further.  Now, I know it is not my problem, (of course) not my fault, and is (definitely) not for me to fix.

That’s good, right?  So I’ve had those realizations (months ago) and life should be gee-whiz awesome, right?  I do so wish.  Depression and severe anxiety have been constantly tormenting me, and while I now can have a few good hours here or there, or sometimes even a day, it is so very rare to get any kind of real relief.  And sometimes it just feels like I get smacked every day in the face by something new.  That probably isn’t reality.  It does FEEL that way, however.

I was so looking forward to Nano Poblano and I have totally screwed the pooch on that one for this year — I am optimistic enough about this blog to say I will make it up in 2015.  So it shall be, right?  I really admire all of the Peppers and other participants who are cranking out 1+ posts per day in celebration of NaBloPoMo.  I truly find some of you all quite amazing, and then also thankful that it seems you will not intentionally make me feel badly for my less-than-stellar performance this year.

I am here today to say (and declare, mostly to myself) I am not giving up on RosieSmrtiePants or blogging or dealing with my issues or anything else for that matter.  I want out of the “I’m giving this shit up” stage.  All I really want is to feel better, and I think part of blogging holds that key for me.

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Those Who Suffer Around Us

I have really been rolling around in the muck, feeling all sorts of sorry for myself. I can and anyone could  easily get caught up in the stifling desperation, lose all sense of reality and what is real and fair in the world.  Simple enough, you can be oblivious to the world around you, and the people in it — some who are going through their own private hell right now.

Depression makes you appear selfish to others.  It keeps you from loving fully, pass by quickly you whisper to loved and strangers alike as it can render you unable to speak or to even be in the presence of others..  Your ability to naturally happen upon the feeling of compassion for others is nonexistent, thanks to the fact that you just do not see those people.  They are standing there, but if you are depressed enough you can sit or stand or lie very still, and you will not glimpse even a shadow of the people quietly (and at times desperately) living their lives around you.

When you are deep, sunk into depression, you are not as helpful to others; in fact, making contact can be like creating a physical wound, sometimes shallow and able to be ignored, and other times the contact makes your heart stop.  And start.  And stop.  And start.

My mom and stepdad are in the middle of a divorce now.  I have moved past the stage of trying to fix it, to trying not to internalize all of the muck.  My mom and stepdad, especially my stepdad, are the ones I think of when I wrote the above.  So many emotions, most very strong, a whirlwind that can secret you away if you don’t pay close enough attention.


I spent today with QoB and it was nice.  She cooked and I played Dee-jay  and she danced around the kitchen just like it was old times.  We talked about many different things and I spent a lot of time being silent, as did she.  We have always been like that, since forever and a day, able to sit near each other for long periods of time in comfortable silence.

 

The Slip into Depression, Stagnating Uprise

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From  Ms. Greene

 

It’s the turn of the seasons, and like clockwork, my mood shifted too.  Already going through a stressful time, the little neurochemicals in my brain started going extra haywire around the time change (which coincided with crap weather for my area) and I forgot and lost a grip on all I at one time treasured.  And maybe that’s really too charitable.

I had been losing a grip on the things I cared about for a long time.  Staying in more, doing less, hibernating, not talking to friends online or otherwise, not blogging, not keeping with other blogs, not reading, not watching TV, playing with the pups.  Literally, just doing nothing.  And not really caring.

Now, today, I can say I care a little bit, but it comes and it comes and it goes and for the last long while I have cared very little about much of anything, particularly not my own well-being.  Those feelings will come back, I know, maybe when I am done writing this post, or the hours where the sun sets, or tomorrow sometime.

For the meantime, I can pretend that I care about my life, my well-being, myself in general.  It will get me just so far.  I can go through the motions of things people say are supposed to make me feel better.  Maybe that will eventually get me stronger, get me more ready to take on the world everyday, so I  can not cry anytime someone other than a customer at work asks me how I am doing.

So I will try, in my head and my feet, my heart and spirit aren’t there yet.  Maybe a day soon upcoming.  I always come out of a depression slowly.  This one has been dragging on for a while and I know it will end at some point in time (deep in my head I know that, but my heart forgets) and I will plead to the Gods Of Bipolarity to not send me a mixed or manic episode, but to humor me with something close to stability.

Grandpa

Rose:

I wrote this in 2008, about four years after my most dearly loved Grandpa had passed. My mom found the post somehow last night and I have also had Grandpa on my mind lately. I thought it was worth sharing again, since I thought most people who read now have not seen this. Give your grandparents or special person a call today, or even better if possible, a big hug. What I wouldn’t give to see Grandpa just one more time, but I truly believe he is looking after me from above.

Originally posted on RosieSmrtiePants:

Four years tomorrow is the last time I saw my grandpa alive.  He passed away on August 23rd, 2004.  It still seems like yesterday.  I don’t talk about it, but I think about it a lot. 

I think about the last time I saw him, and how I was in such a rush to get out the door.  I don’t even remember where I was going.  I suppose I should feel lucky that I saw him that night, but I can’t shake the idea that I should have stayed longer, said more, not taken for granted that he would always be there. 

He loved me more than I can say.  He came to all of my basketball games in high school.  He would sit up high in the bleachers because he couldn’t walk down them to get any closer.  He would get up sometimes and stand, because I knew it…

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A State Called Home

Clouds and sunset near Hoyt, Kansas.  Photo credit goes to an old high school pal who just left the Navy and moved (with wife and several kids) from California back home to Kansas, to give his kids the childhood he had.  James has traveled all over the world, by himself and with his family, doing the Navy thing proud, making me proud to know him, to see through the computer and talks with his mom just how much he has improved his life.  All the places he has lived, seen, experienced — he told all of Facebook the other day, that there is no place better than Kansas to live.  This is home.  Probably a lot of us feel like there is one place on Earth that has the memories, the beauty, the magic and love to be considered home base.  I’m with James — born and raised, Kansas proud.

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Remembering as a Way to Start NaBloPoMo 2014 — Be a Pepper

The following post is actually a page on my blog that describes my journey with Bipolar I, PTSD, and Eating Disorder NOS.  At the start of NaBloPoMo, November 1st, I want myself and anyone reading to be reminded that mental health recovery is a life-long process.  I am currently going through a very difficult time, as indicated in the posts prior to and after this one will show.  And lately I have given a lot of thought to giving up, and then I read this and was reminded how far I have come.

The Story and the Stigma

Throughout grade school, middle school, and high school, I earned top grades.  I wasn’t the valedictorian, but I gave the high school commencement address, and I rocked it.  People on the outside saw a high-achieving, confident person.  Inside, I was fighting bipolar disorder, crushing anxiety, and an eating disorder.  No one knew, and I didn’t tell them.  I was afraid of what people would think.

When I went off to college, I went somewhere small, about an hour away from home, with the unsaid statement that I couldn’t go far away and succed; not without support.  Not without trips home every weekend.  I accepted it, and as time went on, I learned they were right.

I excelled at this small college, changing my major from pre-med to psychology after a horrific first semester in science classes that I couldn’t wrap my mind around.  I was depressed.  I had stopped taking my medication.  I think everyone knew that, and that summer, Mom tried to get me help again.

Every summer, actually, Mom would try to get me help again.  I would always participate, but then go off my meds as soon as I came back to school.  It was an ugly cycle, and it pains me to this day that I went through it.  But I didn’t want anyone to know what I was going through.  No one knew I had bipolar disorder, outside of my aunt who worked in the counseling center and my academic advisor, who was more like a surrogate mother.

My senior year, I was applying for Ph.D. programs that combined psychology and the law.  Forensic psychology, it was called.  I went on interviews.  Costly interviews.  They bore no fruit because I acted absolutely crazy when I went to these colleges.  They saw through me and saw that I was very ill.

After college and after failing to get into any kind of graduate program, I started working as a mental health technician on an Eating Disorders Unit (EDU) at a local hospital.  As a person living with bulimia, this was a bad choice.  I wasn’t on medication, I was drinking a lot, and I started to gain weight.  I was also working PRN at another hospital as a mental health tech.

I became manic.  Several days a week, I would work 7:30-4 at the EDU and then 5-12 at the other hospital.  A lot of the reason I did this was to stay away from Joe, my abusive boyfriend that I was living with.  All that working didn’t keep his hands off my body, or his reigns of terror on my psyche absent.  I became suicidal.

I moved out of Joe’s house and into my own apartment.  I picked up a boyfriend, almost literally off the streets, and continued to drink heavily and work many  hours.  Eventually, I completely cracked.  I quit drinking and I started seeing a psychiatrist.  When things didn’t level out quickly enough, my parents brought me back to live with them in the little city.

After a few months, I had a job and I moved back out.  I was working as a case manager with the mentally ill.  My caseload was loaded with the sickest of the sick.  It was a very stressful job and I didn’t fare well.  I was written up numerous times for poor attendance and tardiness.  I eventually left that job, three  years later, on FMLA because I had really lost it and couldn’t work.

I did an intensive outpatient program and started to feel better.  After about a year, I was hired at the local prison to work with the mentally ill on things like obtaining disability and getting services set up in the community.  Here, I was constantly being written up and warned about my attendance and lack of punctuality.  I was very depressed, I was very manic, I was very anxious.  I was always very something.  I did good work, though, and even won awards.  My boss liked to say that I’d outwork anybody, as long as I came in that day.

Eventually pressure built up again and I was very ill.  I went on FMLA and had to resign because there was no way I could come back to work.  My mom saw a pattern in my work and educational history, and talked with my doctors and therapist about filing for SSDI.

I couldn’t see a life without work, but I filed anyway.  We applied April of 2012 and it was awarded June or July of the same year.  This quick answer, with no questions or rebuttals, confirmed to me that, while I might feel like I could work, the powers that be disagreed.  SSA, my parents, my doctors, my therapist all concurred — Rose can’t manage full-time employment.

So here I stand, at the bait shop.  SSDI checks coming in and working about 20 hours per week at an extremely low-stress job, so that I can function on a daily basis.  I moved from high-achieving college student, pursuing a Ph.D., to a cashier and bait slinger.  How far we fall, right?

What I can say now, however, is that I’m happy.  I am truly, genuinely living a life worth living.  It’s not always easy and there are many bad days.  Not enough sunlight or getting my sleep schedule thrown off can put me in a tailspin.  If I stick to my structure, to my routine, use my DBT skills, and employ my support system, I do pretty well.  I even like my job in the bait store, slinging bait, ringing people up, and keeping track of files and paperwork.

People who knew me way back when may not recognize or understand who I am now.  I generally don’t give them that luxury, either.  There is a very difficult stigma surrounding mental illness, and additionally surrounding young people being on SSDI.  I tell only those I trust, and only those who I think will have an either neutral or positive response.

What you see isn’t always what you get.  There is more to me than bipolar and depression and anxiety.  If I had high blood pressure and diabetes, you wouldn’t shame me, now would you?  The unfortunate truth is that you will likely never know who I am and what I go through.  I would rather you not know me than be shamed for having illnesses that came to me through no fault of my own.