On the road again … (Sort of)


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

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3 comments on “On the road again … (Sort of)

  1. I hope I will not sound gushing, but your post connected with many of my experiences–the addictiveness of that particular kind of hypomanic state (I have another kind in which I am edgy, quick to anger and even aggressiveness); the what I think of as identity issues, who am I now that I cannot work and am so often depressed; the seeking of purpose (congratulations on painting again). I envy you your creative endeavours; I was so focussed on my profession that over time I had let all my interests drop. There is one major difference: what you are having to go through with your Social Security claim. Perhaps it has to do with duration of the BPD at the time of filing (I only had been ill three years, compared to your twenty-five) or to different national social policies, but the filing my Canadian Pension Plan Disability claim was not that arduous. Similarly, with respect to an earlier post, the treatment we have received from our employers is very different. You had such a tough time of it. Probably because I work for a large organization, a university, I have received nothing but support. There is even a person whose sole task is the facilitation of long term disability claims. I have not worked for ten years and will not for the two remaining years until I retire, but SFU asks nothing of me. I and my psychiatrist have to fill in a form twice a year for the insurance company, that is it. Even CPP does not require any updates. My sympathy went out to you, that at a time you are least capable of dealing with complex issues (at least I cannot when I am deeply depressed) you have had to face so much. You deserve this year to yourself! (And my apologies for going on so long, a common trait of university professors.)

    Linda

    • Hi Linda,

      Thank you for your comment. I am pleased that you found some things that you could relate to. I think it is wonderful that you have the support of your co-workers and employer. Since I started this blog I have heard from so many people that have experienced the same type of discrimination towards mental illness that I have. Often times the employers are simply ignorant about the disease and have this stereotype in their minds that we are going to go “postal” on them. I have had four employers in my 20 years experience as a contract administrator and executive administrative assistant. In each case I have glowing letters of recommendations and professional and personal references from each of my past employers. For me to have been fired was not only wrong and unjust, but a SEVERE blow to my self-esteem. I thrive on success and a job well done. To have been terminated from any job for any reason was just way beyond my relhm of comprehension. Today I struggle with new emotions that I have never experienced before during a severe depressive episode and that is one of anger. I can honestly see now why there is such a thing as the “going postal” stereotype. I confess to wanting to cause severe bodily harm and emotional distress to those who wronged me. And this is so NOT ME. I am a passive person with a general positive outlook on life with a life and let live attitude. Do unto others as you would have done to you. I agree that we all have the right to disagree – and so on … So for me managing the associated anger is so hard to swallow. I guess the biggest thing I want from my former employer is to know “why” this was done to me. I was truely blindsided. Just two weeks prior to my discharge I was being congratulated by the VP of operations on a superb job with the annual travel expenditures and cost savings measures I had implemented over the past 12 months. The Director of HR called me into her office on a special occasion simply to pass on the positive feedback she had received relative to my performance in the work place. So for them to turn around to weeks later and pull the rug out from under me was so unexpected. And definitely not the norm for the handling of disputes, disagreements, tardiness, corrective action, etc. I mean, if an employee in the factory fails a drug test they do not immediately fire them, they offer a chance to go through drug treatment program and keep your job. If an employee has excessive tardiness they have verbal, then written warnings and followed by a final 30-day performance improvement program before they discharge you. When I initially informed my boss (owner and VP of the company) of my BPD and depression and advised that I needed to take time off he was more than accomodating. He and the Director of HR did everything they could to get me set up with FMLA leave and short term disability payments. So for them to turn around and do this about face and just BAMB, fire me for a totally bogus reason is beyond my logical comprehension. And I’m sure, to some of you, you may be thinking that I am just a disgruntled employee and must have done SOMETHING to warrant my dismissal. Trust me, there was not a valid reason. Hence, my overwhelming success in winning my lawsuit and settlement against the company for discrimination. So it only begs the question? If they are willing to pay me more than what I would have earned in a year to settle, what was the point in letting me go in the first place. And, THAT, is my problem. I need the “why” so I can put this behind me. (Sorry, I blog and post like I talk, a lot and fast 😉 ).

      The other topic you mentioned was security in health insurance. I don’t know how up to date you are on American current events or politics, but we are now only days away from our 4 year election for the office of the president of the united states. One of the major reform ticket items on each candidates agenda is healthcare in the U.S. and healthcare reform. As indicated in my previous posts, my husband has always owned his own businesses and has never worked for anyone. As such, we bore the burden of providing the high cost of health insurance to our employees. It finally became so ridiculous that we simply could not afford it any more. One of the reasons that I have always worked outside the home for major corporations is for the health insurane benefits for me and my family. My current COBRA payments (being paid by my former employer) costs $1,079 a month. In addition to the premiums there are deductibles of $2000 per person or $4000 combined total family out of pocket. Office visit co-pays and drug prescription co-pays. Last year the “cost” of my family health insurance (combined total) was over $16,000 dollars. So you can see where someone who does not have an employer funded program or contribution to the cost of health care cannot realistically afford to purchase their own coverage. On top of that, because of my BPD, PTSD, chronic low-back pain, history of cancer and other physical problems over the years (pre-existing conditions), I am totally uninsurable. What that means is that even if I wanted to purchase my own health insurance, there is no commerical carrier that will cover me. So my only alternative is to be turned down by two insurance companies and then I qualify for the state high risk health insurance program. And that is not cheap either. So this is just one woman’s example of the impact of health care, health care costs, costs of living with and treating bipolar depressive disorder and associated prescripton drugs. (Again, I apologize for the length of this post. I type super fast.)

      I finished another painting today. It was a beautiful floral arrangement. I promise to post some pictures of my recent works. I am so happy in my heart to be painting again. The more I paint the more I want to paint. I can’t contain the desire and ideas. I have several easels around my studio that I leave up all the time for practice stokes or color matching. I have found that these “practice” canvases actually look pretty cool just they way they are. So I got the idea of putting a little more thought into these as I am also learning and practicing to create some abstract art (which is new for me). Like I said, I love the manic or hypomanic phase induced by the high levels of antidepressants I was put on to pull me out of my depression. I’m not to worried about it now because I recognize it. If I was truely manic and out of control I wouldn’t know it (supposedly, according to the experts anyway). The other to be avoided at all costs is that if you do truly become manic you are 100% guaranteed to crash. Thats the down side. So I am hoping to manage this hypomanic stage and milk it out as long as possible while still staying in the bounds of reality.

      I have to tell you about this guy in my BPD support group. He was manic and paranoid (they go hand in hand), and he was worried about his job and his money being safe in the economy and felt his wife was going to leave him and take all his money. Over several weeks time he liquidated and maxed credit everything he could get his hands on into cold hard cash currency. For whatever reason (when one is manic there is no reason), the poor sap burned over $40,000 in cash in his fireplace. Can you imagine? The poor guy is just devistated. And to top it all off, his wife did end up leaving him after that incident. So I am fully aware of the many pitfalls of a runaway manic phase. I no longer have have access to hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit cards. After all the spending sprees and foreign travel with explicit affairs over the years I (we, my husband and I) recognize that I just can’t have that temptation. I always fought this decision as a part of protecting my independence and having access to money I felt I earned. After going from filing millions of dollars in tax returns to filing chapter 7, that kind of kills that excuse. I still mange the finances and business books with corporate reports and tax returns, etc. I just dont have access to unlimited amounts of cash and credit. I have to interject here what a wonderful and forgiving man I am married to. He has the patience and forgiveness abilities of a saint. I thank God each and every day for him. He is my rock, my safety net, my friend, my lover, father to my children and “papa” to my grandsons.

      I better get off this blog before I tell the whole world my true life confessions. Switching over to my personal blog. Bless your heart if you have actually takken the time to read this post all the way through. As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments. I am a very honest person and believe i have the ability to speak the truth no matter the negative representation on my self. These are not character flaws. They are a real disease, clincal, a chemical imbalance in the brain that the affected person needs to educate themselves and do whatever they can to protect themselves from the harmful self-destructive behaviours that many times end in such avoidable tragedy. So if I help even one person, it is well worth it, wouldn’t you say?

      Take care and may God Bless you all.
      Love, Me

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