I’m Long Overdue and Now A LONG Way From Home

Gosh it has been ages. I can’t seem to get much accomplished of the things that I need to and want to do, so I thought maybe a stop in here might do me good. Besides, my original intention was to BLOG regularly. Ha, yeah right. Well, I’m here now. I found the website and thankfully auto saved the password, because there is no way I would have remembered it.. Do I say that in every post? I don’t ever go back and read what I’ve previously written, unless someone comments on it. The comments are so heartfelt and true. Many I do not share because even though this is a public forum, I don’t quite feel comfortable sharing others stories that are so similar to mine. Maybe someday? Who know, right?

Well let’s see. I have a lot to say. Unfortunately there isn’t much good and happiness to share over the last couple of months. I will try to keep “on track” as much as I can as I relate my tale. I did read my last post about finally feeling happy in my home and that I had started painting again. That was all good. I must have been still getting unemployment and insurance from my former employer. That all ended last July (2013). And that seemed to be the trigger or catalyst that jump started this current road I find myself on…. As the heading says, “a long long way from home.”

When the unemployment ran out and the insurance ran out, it triggered something in Buck. We have always had our problems and ups and downs, but this was something else. Something much more serious. Without going into too much detail, I would say that the first 25 years of marriage we had a better than average sex life. Over the last five years things changed. Drastically. Stopped really. When things first started slowing down I attributed it to stress, moving, weight gain, age. All normal. But it turns out that there were a lot of layers beneath that I didn’t discover until it was too late. (I know, it’s never too late!) HA… Okay, so shoot forward to the last quarter in 2013. I had become depressed over our relationship, or lack thereof. I withdrew to my sitting room more and more and Buck parked himself in front of the TV. I stopped cooking, because he was coming home after 7 or 8 pm and I wasn’t about to cook that late. The longer this went on the angrier he became at me for not participating in the little things I used to do. I had no desire to grocery shop or cook or clean for that matter. He started doing his own laundry. The only time we communicated was when the boys were over. And often times Buck would take over and say, we are having X for dinner, and after the boys would sack out in the living room and watch movies. The youngest and Buck always headed to bed by 10. The oldest is a night owl like me and we would stay up late, reading or drawing, talking. It is so cool to have a relationship with my 10-year-old grandson. His life is so different than my childhood or even his mother’s for that matter. I mean, he begs to be on my computer. We designed an animal website for him. He loves to play games. His dad got him a cell phone for Christmas, of which, I thought he was too young, but what do I know? His friends have them, so therefore…… His mom has started leaving them two home alone after school anywhere from ½ hour to an hour. Again, which I don’t approve, but what do I know. And if I’m not available to pick them up from school, she really doesn’t have a lot of options. So in that respect, the cell phone is necessary.

I went in October to my best friend’s only child’s wedding. I am his God mother and “favorite auntie.” Even though I had fallen away over the past ten years, I was very active in their early marriage and when he was born. I have been best friends with his mom, we will call her Barb, since high school. So I was looking forward to his wedding. I knew I was going to see many old friends from our younger days of partying, camping and volleyball. People I really only see once every ten years. But we exchange Christmas cards and know what is going on in each other’s lives. But this wedding turned into a big hassle with Buck. He didn’t want to go. So I said I go with one of my other good friends. That was great. We all were looking forward to seeing each other again.

The weekend of the wedding I had a terrible fight with Buck. We had talked about getting divorced for the first time earlier that year. But we just kind of let that fall by the wayside. Anyway, it is the Saturday of the wedding and made the mistake of calling home. It got real ugly real fast and Buck stated unequivocally that he wanted a divorce. I was devastated but I had to go to this wedding. The other girlfriend I was traveling with, I’ll call her Tracy, knew what was going on, but I didn’t want to ruin Barbs big day. During the vows I burst out sobbing. I stayed as long as I could. I left before dinner and dancing and I felt terrible, but I couldn’t stop crying and everyone was drinking. I rarely drink anymore and wasn’t having any fun. I did have a nice time seeing old friends, but when you are in the frame of mind I was in, it’s just not the same. So, I called a cab and left. I should have said we flew in for the wedding in Ohio and were staying at a local hotel.

The next morning we all promised to meet up again. We decided to meet in our room, mine and Tracy’s. So Barb comes up and her old roommate and best friend along with her daughter, who used to be my girls babysitter. I know that’s confusing, but the point is, we all have a long tight history together. So I told them that I was getting divorced and how Buck had literally was leaving me basically without any financial resources. (I didn’t share that with you and it’s just a bitch to explain.) But I had signed over the computer business, all assets and removed myself from the checking accounts because I didn’t want any of that to affect my social security disability benefits. We just take our normal draw from the business into our personal account and I paid household bills with that. Well, Buck refused to transfer money into the household account. And I could no longer do the transfers or write checks. So basically I was left without a means of income. There, short n sweet. I explained that to my girlfriends and they all rallied behind me. Saying he has to pay me maintenance. Wisconsin is a 50/50 marital property law state.

I still had 3 international business class awards tickets to use up before they expired, so I invited Barb and Tracy to come with me down to Cabo. It would be just us girls. We haven’t done anything like that for years, many years. We see each other and get together for occasions and holidays, but never off on our own away from the kids and spouses. Tracy had four kids later on in her marriage so she still has three teenagers living at home (No thank you). Anyway. The wedding was in October and we were scheduled to go to Cabo in mid-January.

Over the next two months my life was shear hell. I had to stay in the house because I was damned if I was going to leave without any money or means to support myself. Then, I found out that I was approved for the social security disability benefits and they call Buck to see if I was able to handle receipt of the settlement check (People that are bipolar and manic can do very hurtful things to themselves financially. And I had in the past.) But thank God, Buck graciously let me get the settlement. BAMB, I started making plans to get out of there.

I did a lot of research online about where to go? Buck and I had always told our kids that when we retired we would go to Albuquerque, NM. So they knew we didn’t want to spend our golden years (ha) in the frozen tundra. California and Florida were over populated and too expensive or too many people. Anyway, after search for cities within 60 miles of the east, southern or west coast, economic factors like median income, housing prices, unemployment, yadda yadda yadda. I decided to check things out on the east coast in North Caroline and South Carolina. In November I made a whirlwind tour of cities and apartments. I fell in love with Wilmington, NC almost immediately. I’m only 5 minute drive from the ocean. Just the right size. Weather is perfect (except for our recent ice storm, but that was just fun for me and happens rarely).

So when I got back home I told the girls and Buck that I would stay through the boy’s birthdays, both the last week in November (three years apart). That would let me see everyone over the thanksgiving holiday and the boy’s birthdays. And I told everyone I would be home for Christmas and would continue to be home for all the important holidays and birthdays or whatever. My girls were shocked and devastated and very angry with me. They didn’t understand why I was moving so far away. Well there is a lot they didn’t know about me or my situation. There are some things you don’t share with your kids no matter how old they are. And I knew it would be the hardest leaving my two boys, my grandsons, now 7 and 10. The youngest was in school now and they didn’t really need Gram that much (I lied to myself). But they were all I was going to miss. I wasn’t going to miss the weather, or Buck or fighting or money or headaches with one of my daughters (she has problems, let’s leave it at that).

We got through the birthdays and somewhere in there Buck and I were able to talk civil to each other. He still would agree that the equity in the home was worth what it truly is, that his tools weren’t worth anything. His forklift, and trailers and motorcycles and dirt bike and 4-wheeler and on and on and on weren’t worth anything. Fuck THAT. Anyway he was convince that not only was I not going to get half of anything, because according to him we didn’t have anything worth that much. Oh my God, if you knew us and what a wasteful live we have had and every imaginable thing you could ever imagine. Yet it was all worthless. Okay, I have to stop saying that or I’m going to get all pissed off again and way off track. I remember now where I was going with this. Somehow, Buck said he would drive the moving truck out to N Carolina for me. But all that turned in was, when we are going to go??? Well, even though I had a prorated rent on November and December paid, Buck didn’t want to go until between Christmas and New Year’s. THEN he decided what I could and couldn’t take. And what was important to me wasn’t important to him. And we argued about the size of the truck. I was paying for everything, the truck, gas, food, hotel, flight back home. He ended up, as with everything, getting his way. The truck was 16’ I knew I needed a 24’.

Okay, so now I am packed and ready to leave after Christmas on December 26th. With my 16’ truck. Which ended up with me leaving all my most important stuff behind. My books. Almost all my clothes. I wasn’t taking any of the living furniture or bedroom set or bathrooms or kitchen. Only MY STUFF. And the spare bedroom set and my sitting room, my office and painting. Whatever. I’m getting angry again because it is all sitting back there still.

So, the one daughter that I get frustrated with because I don’t agree with how she left her husband, something’s she does in disciplining the boys, and she has never been good with money and is addicted to pain meds because she also has a bad back. Which wouldn’t be bad if she could stay within her pain management guidelines, but never does. She ends up coming over by me crying and wanting my pain meds, which make me short. Or she drives down to Milwaukee and is paying street prices for oxycontin. Anyway, these are some of the issues I deal with between her and I.

A day or two before Christmas she is talking to me on the phone and says she is done Christmas shopping but that the boys are going to be disappointed in Santa this year. Ouch. I always over compensated my childhood with my girls at Christmas and I’m afraid I passed that onto her. So, I of course feel bad for the boys. I hadn’t finished my Christmas shopping yet and told her that I had set aside $200 for each boy and $100 for her and her sister. I would give her her $100 plus the $400 for the boys. She was to get one BIG present from GRAM for each of the boys and the rest could be from Santa. She was so grateful and I felt good too. Some of it was a relief because I wasn’t looking forward to the last minute shopping so it really was a good solution.

We have always spent Christmas Eve up at the lake. Even before Buck and I were married I spent Christmas Eve with him. And my girls had all their Christmas’ up at the lake. And now they are bringing their kids up to the lake. But since Buck’s mom and dad died, and Buck’s youngest sister and her husband bought the lake house and well, let’s just say, things change and people change when you get older. I had to admit it because I still feel like I’m in my thirties. I had to move MY birthday up from 29 when my daughter turned 30. So like all the things I’ve tried to give my girls growing up that I never had. I wanted to instill tradition. Tradition, sorry we have to back up a week or to here…..

Buck didn’t want to put a tree up and that made me very angry. The boys would come over and they knew I had all the village houses and Doogie wanted to know where all my big nut cracker soldiers were. I have tons of Christmas treasures for little boys and girls to play with and marvel at. Anyway, Christmas, besides going up to the lake house was always started the same way. We would trim the tree and I would make the first batch of chili for the season and we would crank Elvis Blue Christmas album on the stereo. EVERY year, but not this year. And I always made cut out Christmas cookies so the girls, and then my grandsons could decorate. So no cookies, no fruitcake, no tree, no chili, no Elvis.

I had the boys overnight the Friday 2 weeks before Christmas, just me, Buck went up north. We had a great time, big breakfast as always. Then we went to the Library, they love that. Anyway Saturday morning when I was taking them home, my youngest daughter’s car is there. So I knew she was in town but just dropped the boys off and told my oldest daughter I wasn’t coming in, I had to run. I don’t know why exactly, but it just hurt me that my youngest daughter was in town and I didn’t know about it. Normally I would. Normally she would have stopped over to see me. Anyway, the next day, on Sunday, I went on facebook and there are all these pictures of my two girls and my two grandsons down at my youngest daughters house making and decorating all these cutout Christmas cookies and they didn’t invite me. It ripped my heart out. I was devastated. I made a smart remark about tradition under the pictures and discontinued my facebook page. Which is really sad because both girls post tons of pictures on there. That is the only way I knew what is going on my younger daughters life and I love to see my boys on my oldest daughters site. I learn more about my girls from facebook than anywhere else. So, that was one tradition hurt.

Next weekend, my oldest daughters’ boyfriend comes over to in the morning to get our tree stand. I said, “wait, wait, you can’t trim your tree without Elvis.” And I ran and grabbed my CD. I don’t know why, but I just thought for sure she was going to call me up and invite me over to trim the tree. I didn’t get a call. And I was just being stubborn. I knew I could have called. That was tradition hurt number two.

And in retrospect, both the girls and Buck said they probably would have thought I would say no I wasn’t interested and would rather sit in my room and read books. So not true. Yes, I did hide in my room when depressed and read books. And yes there were times maybe I shouldn’t have. But dammit, they don’t live with the depression I was in at the time. And they didn’t have a husband that after 33 years of marriage doesn’t love you anymore, to the point of not caring whether I have financial means to care for myself or not. And many more hurtful things about me personally. Primarily my weight was a big factor. Well, shit, HE has gained way more weight than I have, yet I’m not pleasing to him anymore? F’ That. ….breath…. sorry….. take a break.

So, I invited each of my daughters over to have a heart to heart with them. I didn’t want to leave on a bad note. The oldest is fine with everything. Maybe a little too okay with it, but I can’t have it both ways. The youngest proceeds to tell me how she feels I am demonstrating that I don’t love her nor care about her by leaving the state and moving so far away. I tried explaining about how miserable I was, and why I was leaving and that if I didn’t get to where I wanted to be, I might not have a second chance financially to pick up and move. And I desperately needed warm weather and sunshine. So, we hugged and said we loved each other, but that she didn’t understand, doesn’t think it’s right, that I don’t have to do it, that DAD really didn’t want me to go…. On and on. She really had no clue what I was going through, and I wasn’t going to convince her that what I was doing was right for me. Especially since I was not only leaving her, whom I would see occasionally because she is a hard worker, a hard partier and a social butterfly and always going somewhere. We literally have to make appointments in advance to see her. Unless it’s someone’s birthday. Birthdays are a very big deal with my family. Another carry over from my less than stellar childhood.

God I’m whining. I’m tired. This is getting too long. And if you’re still reading this, I promise to come back and finish later. It does turn out “okay” in the end.

To be continued….

Take Care and God Bless,
Love Me


Its 4:46 a.m.

Ahh, the quiet nights of mania.  I feel so carefree.  I was just walking around outside and laid on the back patio.  It is about 39 degrees (F) outside.  Typical weather for this state and time of year.  I spent the day raking leaves with my grandsons, ages 8 and 4.  What a blessing and joy they are.  I often wonder how my own mother could have given me away at the age of 13 (made me a ward of the state).  I have long forgiven her for that was the only way to start to heal myself.  But when I see my grandchildren I think about my own two girls growing up.  They are now ages 31 and 28.  My mother missed a major part of my life, but she also missed being involved with her grandchildren.  I just don’t understand that?  I have two sisters and three brothers.  The rate of alcoholism, depression and suicide in family is extraordinarily high.  My mother always said, “I sat on a bar stool and drank beer and smoked cigarettes with everyone of you kids and there ain’t nothing wrong with them.”  Uhm, yeah, right mom.

Anyway, I don’t want to talk about her.  I have been so into myself and it feels WONDERFUL.  My house is cleaner than it ever has been.  I am actually getting used to this old house and now “see” the old woodwork and charm that everyone else has seen all along.  I had such a hard time letting go of the big house.  But really, what do Buck and I need 5 bathrooms for, or two kitchens, I think I counted six refridgerators in the house.  But it wasn’t THE house, it was that Buck and I designed the house.  I decorated every room.  I had my dream kitchen I did in Tuscany grapes.  I had the big sub zero stainless fridge and freezer (we used to joke we could hide bodies in there), my double ovens and six burner range stove with grill, all stainless steel.  And Buck built all the cabinets.  I had two stain glass grape cabinets on either side of the stove range hood.  But I also wanted the room to have that old world charm.  I showed Buck a picture of what I wanted and he came up with this great idea.  People thought he was totally nuts when we told them about it (until they saw the finished result).  What we did was stain the wood and then before we varnish he went around with a blow torch and LIGHTLY blackened the edges.  We then sanded those down and put a high gloss varnish on.  They were so awesome.  And of course we had the added benefit of the walk out summer kitchen.  We spent the three months of summer on that back porch.  And I really really miss my bathroom.  I had this big two-man whirlpool tub with lights and heater.  A huge shower for two with multiple shower heads.  Heated tile floor.  Big bay window.  I always lit with candles.  To sit in a normal bath tub the water only comes up to my waste and I am freezing.  Nothing is the same.  So, yes, I was indeed greatly spoiled and it took me a long time to adjust to our financial fall from grace (mainly my fault).

But, back on track here.  When we first bought this house we purchased it to flip.  Then the market went to shit so we rented it.  We have had numerous rental properties before, but my God, what the damage the last renter did to this house made me sick.  She had two large dogs, one cat and a bird.  In the winter she let them shit in the basement (use your imagination of the smell when I walked in the door.)  So we stripped everything downstairs, bleached the walls and sealed and painted them.  Thank God we got rid of the smell.  Back to this house, it is about 80 years old and has all of the original old hardwood floors, doors, and windows, the two corner lead-glass hutches in the dining room.  It even has the original old ironing board cupboard that pulls out of the wall and the old milk box in the back where they used to deliver milk.  But what is really amazing is that all the doors still have the original hardware, the old skeleton key locks.  You never find those anymore.  We stuck a lot of money into the house when we bought it so its basically a new old house.  We had all custom windows made so we could keep the old wood screens that are inside the house and open into the rooms (with the hardware).  New siding.  Thats how we found out there was NO insulation in the exterior walls and where we live that is unheard of (very severe winters).  Thats one of those things you find when you remodel, which is why Buck hates doing it so much.  Too many unknowns.  Anyway, continuing on, we put on a new roof, gutted the kitchen and bath and made that all modern and new.  There was basically storage and attic up above so we gutted that out and added a huge master suite upstairs with a sitting room, large master bath (just a shower, this was supposed to be a flip house), and two huge closets.  All the original woodwork was stripped and refinished.  So, like I said, its basically a new old house.  We kept all the original woodwork throughout.  And I don’t need to to hire three cleaning ladies to clean it.  I clean it myself, well, thats not exactly true.  I usually rope one of the girls or one of my girlfriends to come and help me.  We blast the sterio and have some wine.  Sometimes we never do get around to actually cleaning, but its all good.

Then Buck finished off the basement and built me a my huge office, three more large closets (I have a lot of clothes) {WHICH DONT FIT RIGHT NOW, GRRRRR), finished the laundry room, added extra shelving for my kitchen “stuff” and a third 1/2 bath.  Then when I came home from the hospital this last time he had split my office in half and set up my art studio.  I explained that in an earlier post.

So, the boys are sleeping like little angels not 20 feet from me, Buck is sound a sleep upstairs, the house is clean, the fridge is full of food (I love to cook too), the laundry is done, and the paint is drying on my easel, I just finish a novel and am not going to sleep today.  All is right with the world.

Love, and God Bless,

Me 🙂

PS:  It is now 5:46 a.m.  –  A little ironic.  I will go lay down so Buck doesn’t worry that I was awake again all night. (sssssssshhhhhhhhhhhh)

On the road again … (Sort of)


Hello my friends.  I apologize for my long absence between posts.  I have responded to everyone who has contacted me as of today.  I got caught up in the numerous instances of discrimination and legal issues surrounding wrongful discharge of those who live (suffer) with bipolar disorder (BPD).  I really am not interested in becoming an advocate at this time.  I have my hands full keeping up with my current commitments with NAMI and BPD support groups.  But I sincerely thank everyone for their interest and comments.

Now, where am I?  Let’s see.  I was terminated in June at which time I severely crashed and burned.  Once I was able to get my meds regulated and complete intensive outpatient therapy it was September.  Now I am enjoying that wonderful phase where I’m topped out in a hypomanic state due to the drastic increase in my antidepressants.  Of course I don’t want to tell my P-doc or therapist this.  I love this feeling of being high and invincible.  Since I have won 12 months of security from my law suit I have decided that I’m not going to worry about looking for work until there has been a determination in my Social Security Disability application.  It was a real challenge putting together 25 years worth of treatment.  All the doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, ER visits, hospitalizations, ECT treatments, medications, etc.  My saving grace has been my logs, journals, and mood charts.  Someday I would love to get all this information compiled into one place and in chronological order.  I think if I could do that my book would write itself.  Pretty impressive stuff, just all over the place.  I have discovered that some of my more inspirational and emotional writings are in pen and ink.  Even though I can type super fast (former medical transcriptionist) it would be a major project to create these documents electronically.  There is something to be said about putting a physical pen to paper that brings out my words differently than when I have a keyboard in front of me.  I found out the same thing was true when my husband bought me my Kindle for reading.  I love the feel of a book in my hands and turning the pages.  I just didn’t get that with the electronic version of books.  Besides, there isn’t a battery made that can last as long as one of my reading marathons.  Last week I was awake for over 60 hours without sleep.  All I did through the nights was read and/or write, but mostly read.

Many famous persons, writers, artists, leaders, actors, etc. that live with BPD know that our greatest achievements occur during manic phases of our lives.  I am so excited to say that I have FINALLY picked up my paint brushes again after a 15 year hiatus.  It wasn’t a planned hiatus, life just worked out that way.  Once the girls were born and my husband’s construction business took off there just wasn’t time.  Then I spent 20 years dedicated to my career and traveling.  Now that Buck is semi-retired and I am unemployed I have spent the last three months trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life.  I still suffer from, “I don’t know what I wanna be when I grow up.”  Everything I have ever wanted to have, be or do – I have done.  But that was mostly out of necessity and the need for financial security.  The idea that I can now spend several months just painting, drawing, reading, crocheting, knitting, quilting without the stress of financial concerns, is totally foreign to me.  The turning point with painting actually was Buck’s doing.  When I got out of the hospital, Buck surprised me with converting half of my office space into an art studio.  He paid special attention to my tables and easels and lighting.  He hauled out ALL of my brushes and paints; purchased canvases, everything.  I was so impressed and grateful.  Then I was actually scared.  I thought, what if I no longer possess the ability and imagination to create like I used to?  I remember being so burned out on painting the year we had moved and I decided to do a painting for each of my family members.  It was an ambitious undertaking and I did succeed at it.  But with everything else that was going on in my life at the time, I totally burned myself out.  I packed everything up and said, “I’m taking a break.”  What a mistake.   Little did I know that the “break” would last for 15 years.  I still continued to create through wonderful, original creations with my crocheting, stitching and quilting.  I found I love to crochet christening gowns with pearls and lace.  That lead me to design and create a wedding dress for my girlfriend.  I have always had three or four projects going at a time.  Just like my reading.  I am usually reading at least three books at a time, one spiritual, one medical and one for fun (thrillers mostly or templar novels from the middle ages with knights and castles).  So I had enough creativity in my life and self-satisfaction that I didn’t realize that I was missing my paints.  But my very first love and best talent for oils remained untouched.  I have now completed several landscapes, seascapes and floral arrangements.  My confidence is returning.  I have been collecting photographs of things I want to paint.  I have found several photographers that have this amazing ability to capture on film what I want to capture in oils.  With today’s open internet and sharing of art, I’m not sure what the legalities might be if I paint someone’s photograph.  I feel strongly that if I use a photograph created by someone else that I should obtain their permission before I recreate the same in oils.  I’m not sure if there is a precedence for this?  I know about copy right laws with regard to electronic media, but does that same principle hold true for illusions?  My inclination is to say, “yes.”  Buck thinks I’m crazy for even thinking about it in the first place.  Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until she was in her 50’s and she still became famous.

Anyway, that’s my post for today.  I’m painting again.  I have some ideas about teaching painting classes in the future.  I also have ideas about expounding on my computer expertise and doing training there through Buck’s computer store.  Since I have found all the cool social media networks and online businesses one can do, I have played with the idea of becoming a “virtual assistant” in lieu of going back to work for someone else as an executive administrative assistant or contract administrator.  The VA sounds like the wave of the future in this field.   I still have to test for my MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) certification for expert in Word and Excel.  At the very least I want to get the expert certifications under my belt.  I have a feeling these MOS certifications will be the way employers qualify MS Office users in the future since the certification comes directly from Microsoft.  I’m still designing (Cough, LEARNING) website design and all the wonderful SEO “stuff” etc.  I have written four different business plans in the last month for these various new business enterprises I want to examine for the future.  Everything is really predicated on which way the wind blows with regard to my SSD benefits.  I have always worked outside the home for the health insurance benefits since Buck always owned his own businesses and I always carried the coverage.  And anyone who has BPD and PTSD knows we cant live without health insurance.  My mediations would cost over $3,400 a month if I had to purchase them outright.  Sigh.  I’m getting way off track here.  I’m not sure what track I even started this post on.  Welcome to my manic mind.

Stay Tuned.

Love, ME

WOW. Thank you for sharing.

I am totally blown away.  Your photographs are AWESOME.  I felt like I was right there, I could feel the cold crisp air in my lungs.  I didn’t want the blog to end (and you didn’t disappoint).  Needless to say, I saved this blog on my favorites.  I also admit to a little envy in your travels, youth, free spirit and obvious talent as you commune with nature.  These are just beautiful.  I hope you don’t mind but my niece lives in California and she is forever taking off to take pictures.  She has some awesome shots of big sure when the wildflowers are in bloom.  There are people who have lived there all there lives and never seen the flowers she captured that day.  I’m sorry I’m on my laptop away from home or I would include the shot for you.

Stay young my friend.  God Bless.  And thank you for sharing.


Job Termination/Discrimination for FMLA for Bipolar Affective Disorder

In my previous post, I explained the circumstances behind my termination of employment.  No one was more surprised and shocked by this action than me.  All of my co-workers were shocked as well.  I was inundated with emails from co-workers asking me what the hell was up?  I truly could not believe the reason stated for my dismissal.  And, previously I mentioned there was a change in atmosphere after returning from my FMLA medical leave in December for treatment and hospitalization for a serious bout of depression.  I knew deep down in my heart that this was the reason for my dismissal.  My sister-in-law has been the Director of Human Resources for a mid-size manufacturing company for over 20 years.  I forwarded to her the offending email that got me fired and quoted the termination letter paragraph siting the Handbook Code violation and requested her professional opinion.  I also expressed my belief that I was truly let go because of my bipolar disorder, which, of course, is illegal.  Her opinion was the same as mine and absolutely everyone else I presented my situation too.  She gave me some recommendations as to how to respond to the company to be sure I was eligible for unemployment and regarding future references, etc.  Later that same day, I sent a very detailed email to the HR Director who terminated me and my boss (VP Corporate Development and part owner) outlining my belief that I was discriminated against due to FMLA medical leave taken for bipolar affective disorder.  I also sent everything to my attorney.

In this email, I referenced my last performance evaluation conducted by my boss, VP Corporate Development and part owner of the company, completed in November 2011.  Prior to my evaluation, I suggested to my boss that I solicit input from various other parties and departments that I regularly support and that he had no knowledge of.  He felt this was a good idea.  My fellow coworkers sent glowing recommendations from the Quality Manager, Purchasing Agent, CEO, EH&S Coordinator and several salesmen to my boss highlighting specific special projects I had performed for them over the past year and what an outstanding job I did.  Like all previous performance evaluations, I was rated between Very Satisfactory to Outstanding, with suggestions for continuous improvement.  There were no negative comments or complaints sited.

My attorney called me back and I made an appointment to see him the following morning.  I was fired on a Wednesday.

On Thursday morning there was an email response from my former employer, HR Director, in response to my email sent the previous day siting discrimination for FMLA. Attached was a comprehensive “Release and Severance Agreement.”  Under this agreement the Company would pay 12 months of COBRA Health Insurance premiums and maintain coverage at the same level of coverage for myself and husband, as well as the vision and dental (premiums are $1,049.00/month).  It further stated that the Company would not contest my claim for unemployment insurance benefits.  In return for these considerations were six pages of terms and conditions where I would “never” or “forever” hold the Company harmless and forgo my rights to trial by jury and numerous other protections afforded the Company (specifically calling out Federal Family and Medical Leave Act “FMLA”).  The following is an example of the verbiage used:

“As a material inducement to Company and Employee to enter into this Agreement, Employee for herself and her personal representatives, irrevocably and unconditionally waives and releases forever, with prejudice, Company and its officers, directors, shareholders, employees, employee benefit plans (including their fiduciaries and administrators) and agents (collectively Released Parties), and the Released Parties irrevocably and unconditionally waive and release forever, with prejudice.  Employee and her heirs, agents, assigns, transferees and personal representatives, from any and all charges, complaints, claims, liabilities, obligations, promises, agreements, controversies, damages, actions, suits, rights, demands, costs, losses, debts and expenses (including attorney’s fees and costs actually incurred) of any nature, whether sounding in contract, tort or other theory, known and unknown, suspected or unsuspected that have or may have arisen through this date (collectively, Claims), including but not limited to, rights under federal, state or local laws prohibiting handicap/disability, age, race, sex or other forms of discrimination, including by way of illustration and not limitation, claims or rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, as amended, the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Federal Family and Medical leave Act and any and all other labor and employment statues or other Claims growing out of the restrictions on the rights of Company to hire or terminate its employees, but excluding any Claims arising from or relating to either: (i) any fraud or dishonesty by Employee or (ii) the breach of this Agreement.”

Holy cow!!! That is all one sentence.  Definitely written by an attorney.  The Agreement goes on for six more pages like that.  My attorney advised that it wasn’t written for my benefit (even though that is how the Company presented it), it is drafting to protect “The Company.”  I am also bound by strict confidentiality not to disclose any information regarding the Agreement, or that the Agreement itself even exists, so I cannot say anymore.

Well, okay.  So now I have some real heavy thinking to do.  My attorney feels I would have enough objections to raise a suit, but the real question comes down to;  Can I survive the next year or year and half while this thing goes to court or settles?  And the answer is, “no.”  The cost of my psych meds alone would break me.  Not to  mention the frequent P-Doc and therapist visits.  I did want to add (i) that they deem my departure from the Company as being laid off, and (ii) that they provide me with a written letter of reference.  I have never been fired before.  I have excellent references from each of my former employers.  But my attorney advised that if I make any type of counter-offer, it basically makes their original offer null and void and they could rescind it completely.  I asked if there was anything in the Agreement that would prevent me for asking for these things after the Agreement was executed, and the answer was, “no.”   So, if I add up the maximum weekly unemployment benefit, plus 12 months of health insurance premiums, it comes out to around $30,588.  So I accepted the Release and Severance Agreement as presented and returned it via overnight FedEx.  The Agreement allowed 21 days’ time for consideration, but once my mind was made up, I wanted it signed, sealed and delivered asap.

That was two months ago.  I have since been in one of the deepest, darkest, longest horrible depression I can ever remember.  The trigger was job loss, but the net result to me was major trauma.  In addition to my bipolar diagnosis, the therapist and P-Doc I now see diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  This conclusion was reached based on the brief history I provided from my childhood.  Basically, take the book “Sybil” and the book “A Child Called It” and you have my childhood.   Extreme neglect, poverty, pain, physical, verbal and sexual abuse.  I have also been experiencing extreme anger and thoughts of retribution against my former employer and his family.  This is something new.  My insomnia and nightmares are so bad that I am afraid to go to sleep.  So I manage on 0-2 hours a night right now.  All my psych meds have been bumped up to maximum therapeutic range.  My current meds are:

  • Geodon – 80mg twice a day
  • Lamictal – 200mg a day
  • Prozac – 50mg a day
  • Wellbutrin SR – 150mg twice a day
  • Valium – 10mg three times a day p.r.n.
  • Synthroid (Hypothyroidism) – 200mcg day
  • Ambien (Insomnia) – 10mg day
  • Nuvigil (For mornings after no sleep) 150mg day p.r.n.
  • Flexeril (Pain Management) – 10mg three times a day
  • MS Contin (Pain Management) – 60mg twice a day
  • Vicodin (Pain Management) – 750/325mg three times a day p.r.n. for breakthrough pain
  • Relistor (Gastroenterologist) – 6ml injection every other day

I am being treated under Pain Management for chronic pain, mostly lower back.  I have degenerative disc disease at L4, L5 and arthritis at T10, T11; two right shoulder surgeries that is very painful; and fibromyalgia.   This whole topic of pain with depression is for another day.  It is a catch 22 between pain causing depression and the depression making the pain worse.

Enough for today.  There is probably some social media networking blog rule that limits the length of posts???  I don’t write often, therefore, I feel comfortable writing long.

Next up …. Unemployment, Psychiatric Treatment Options, and/or Social Security Disability.

Day 1 – The “Trigger” to this Major Depressive Episode

I am at extremely low point right now. This depressive episode was triggered by my being “Involuntary Termination” (as in FIRED) from my job. I am an experienced Executive Administrative Assistant with more than 15 years’ experience. However, I have been faced with times when my depression gets so bad that I am unable to work for a period of time. My boss, Vice President of Corporate Development and part owner, says he understands my depression and do what I have to do. I fill out all the necessary paperwork in HR for FMLA leave of absence. I have only had to do this twice in five years. The first time was right after I started working and it had not yet been a year, therefore; I was not eligible for FMLA. But the company said they understood and gave me the time off as long as it was always followed up with proper documentation from the doctor’s office. Which I did faithfully. We don’t have sick days or vacation days, per se, we have PTO (Paid Time Off). Normally this is to be requested in advance. However, with depression you never what day you are going to wake up and just can’t get out of bed that day. So I would call in and use a PTO day. Well after 4 years the HR department calls me in and presents me with a “Written Warning, 1st, for absenteeism and a 90-day correction plan.”  During the next 90 days I cannot be late or leave early or miss any work. The REASON for this is because the handbook clearly states that PTO time needs to be “prearranged.” Ahhhh I say to myself. Okay, I can play by those rules. I can usually tell when I’m having a bad day and think or feel it is not going to improve, so I schedule my PTO days. Then in December of 2011 I experienced another severe bout of deep dark depression. I was crying all the time and couldn’t concentrate, I was filled with self-loathing and wanted to kill myself. My husband, family doctor, psychiatrist (P-Doc) and therapist all felt I needed inpatient care and was admitted. My husband and doctor notified work, HR and my boss and followed up with the necessary FMLA paperwork. I was only out for three weeks. Actually I know I went back to soon. But when I got back there was a very definite change in the weather in the office with my co-workers and Salesmen that I support as well as my boss. My boss was not answering my emails. I talked to him about it. He assured me nothing was wrong. Then, shortly after that, one of the girls, who is my backup when I am out of the office, was terminated. So I had to train a new girl to fulfill my duties with regard to my communications while I am out of the office (I’ll call her co-worker #1). The other girl who backed me up was responsible for covering my Outlook calendar, scheduling, travel, and itineraries for the corporate jet etc., (Co-worker #2).

The new girl (co-worker #1) was very young and made a lot of mistakes. I worked with her and understood her anxiety with a new job and everything. I would review her work and bring to her attention any errors for her to fix. I felt this was a good way to improve her skills. Especially proofreading. At the level we function in and outside the corporation, typos, or wrong numbers just don’t float.

So, anyway, I scheduled a day off to take my MOS certification testing for Word and Excel expert level (MOS stands for Microsoft Office Specialist). These MOS classes and certification testing had been approved by my boss. I try to keep my training down so that I am only out of the office 2 to 3 days a month (1-day classes).. I set my “Out of Office Notification” to read, “contact co-worker #1 for anything relative to Sales, Lab, correspondence and to contact co-worker #2 for flight reservations on the corporate jet.”  I advise that I will call in at 10:00, noon and 2:00 when classes break.

So I go to take my exams (aced them both). When I return to work the next morning I am going through my emails and I see a response from co-worker #2 (who was recently promoted to work in customer service, but she had not yet made the transition). Basically I had a flight scheduled for today, the day I’m reading this email. The salesman sent me a reminder yesterday that their trip was tomorrow and they still did not have their itinerary with departure details and car rentals etc. He received my “Out of Office Notification” so then forwarded the email to co-worker #2, who is responsible for covering this portion of my job when I am out of the office. Co-worker #2 replied back to the salesman, something to the effect of:

“I don’t know if you know it yet or not, but I have taken over a new position. Please contact Pilot Company XYZ directly,” and then sent his request back to him AND also copied XYZ Company on the email. I was very upset that she replied in such an unprofessional manner.  She certainly could have (and should have) followed up with XYZ Company and obtained the necessary paperwork on behalf of the salesman.  So I sent co-worker #2 a relatively nice but curt email stating that I realized she had a new position coming up but that no official notice or transfer of duties has been implied or expressed. There was no reason for her to bounce that email back to the salesman and XYZ company. I believe she should have followed up on this request and it shed poor light on Our Company in the eyes of our professional partner, XYZ Company.

I continued to state that effective immediately I would write a notice that co-worker #2 was no longer the POC for the company jet.”

I copied her boss (he’s a real idiot too) and HR on the email as well.

At around 11 o’clock the director of HR asks if I can come see her after lunch, say 1:00? (Note: This is the same HR director who just told me last week that my annual presentation on Travel Expenses impressed the other VP of Operations.  (He had very limited exposure to my work.) He was really pleased and would like me to start attending the quarterly review meetings under my own position (as opposed to taking notes or representing my boss).  She made it a point to pass this information along to me.)

So I go in her office and 1:00 pm and she asks her assistant to join us (never a good sign). She sat down, straight-faced, and read me a one paragraph termination letter effective immediately because I wrote an email to co-worker #2 that was “perceived” as chastisement and I am not her supervisor. Handbook section 111 states, “… yadda yadda yadda not cause discord or disrupt harmony in the workplace, yadda yadda yadda…”

I was livid. I told her she had to be kidding me? There is a precedence set where I train these girls on how and what to do in my absence. If something is done incorrectly, I bring it to their attention. I have been operating in this capacity since I started four years ago. Basically it comes down to responsibility without authority (which is nothing new if you are good at being an Executive Assistant – goes with the territory). But I was like, “hey, all my performance review are good, satisfactory or excellent. I only had the one written warning on attendance. You don’t think this could be handled with a warning?” I certainly did not feel it was enough justification for termination.

So we finish my exit interview and go over all the confidentiality BS, turn in badges, etc. She gave me a paper box and told me to clean out my desk and her assistant (“Flunky”) would walk me to the door. OH I WAS SMOKING.

I picked up a big pile of papers at my desk and was putting it in the box and Flunky says, “you can’t take those, that is work materials and belongs to the company.”  I said, “LOOK, its birthday cards, my calendar, my 401K stuff and EOBs from Health Insurance. Everything in this pile is mine.”  I put the pile in the box.  I continued to take down my pictures and empty drawers, etc. Purposely taking my time because I knew Flunky was inexperienced and nervous as hell. And I was so pissed off there was nothing anyone was going to say to me. Then, I quickly started forwarding the subject emails that got me fired to my personal email address so I would have a record. Well, you should have seen old Flunky freak out. Screaming at me that that computer is work property and I can no longer touch it. I got three of the important emails sent off that I needed. But by this point she is pulling my keyboard away from me and saying she is going to call the cops. I’m like, “whatever.” So then I purposely slowed down loading my personal items from my drawers even more. Then Flunky gets shitty and says, “that’s it, that’s enough, let’s go, right now.” I still had a locker I had to clean out, but by this time the whole office know what was up, so I took my leisurely stroll out the door. Wishing everyone well and saying goodbye. (of course my heart was beating out of my chest and I knew I was going to start to cry.) I made it to my car and out of the parking lot before the waterworks started.

I called my husband and told him what happened. As soon as I got home I tried to login on my remote access and my password was denied. I’m like shit, shit shit, There is so much stuff on my computer, all clearly marked “Personal” that I wanted to get off of there. So now I’m pissed again, so for shits and grins I tried to buy a $2.99 book on ebay using my company credit card. *&%$#% Nope. No go. Okay, so now I’m like, they had to have been planning this way before this morning to have shut me down so fast . My company cell phone, VM, everything was shut down.

Then I called my attorney ……

To be continued….