It has been some time since my last personal blog post. Since September 4th, 2020 to be exact, which is when I shared about the worst panic and anxiety attacks I have ever had. I feel like I have really been neglecting my blog but life is just so unpredictable at times.
I completely gave up on trying to get disability because I could not afford to continue living the way I was without an income. I was highly reliant on my loved ones to help me out financially. Not being able to take care of yourself on your own can weigh heavily on your mental health and make you feel like you are somehow less than everyone else.
I started to feel like a complete burden to everyone all the time. My moods were unpredictable and all over the place. Not being able to care for myself depleted what little self-esteem I had and it got to the point where I didn’t even want to be around myself anymore. I felt like if I couldn’t even stand myself how was anyone else supposed to tolerate being around me either.
I feel like I wasted the last three years of my life waiting around and praying for something that was never going to happen. After I left my last job in 2017, despite being highly unstable and out of control, I feel like I should have just went out and applied for another job that most likely wouldn’t have worked out anyway. But at least then I wouldn’t have wasted three years of my life. I still don’t know if I am stable enough to hold down a job but I am going to try my hardest and give it all I’ve got.
I had applied for a job as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) and was in the middle of the hiring process when a gentleman I had reached out to back in August to see if he was hiring (I crossed paths with this guy a year beforehand and I had helped him with some minor tasks) contacted me a few weeks ago and asked me if I was still looking for work.
The next day I went to meet with this gentleman to discuss the possibility of me working for him (he owns and manages his own nursing and assisted living company) and the meeting went so well that I felt like it was too good to be true. He offered me a position as his administrative assistant. The hours are amazing, the pay is better than the DSP position that I was supposed to start, and there is tons of room for me to learn and grow with his company.
Needless to say, I accepted the job offer and just completed my second week of work there as of today. I really like my job so far! There is a lot that I have to learn but I am up for the challenge. I work Monday through Wednesday from 9am – 5pm and Thursday through Friday from 9am – 4pm. My boss’s ultimate goal for me is to eventually have me run his Allentown office so he could focus on other aspects of his business. This seriously feels like this could easily turn into the best job I have ever had and I don’t want to accidentally do anything to screw up. I am honestly petrified that I will someone blow this amazing opportunity because it’s happened to me in the past.
I had a major mental breakdown in 2017 while I was working for my last employer that ultimately led to me needing to go on medical leave before being terminated from the company. That wasn’t my first mental break down that was job related, either. Something similar happened when I was working as a Registered Medical Assistant in 2012.
I have really been trying to focus and work on my mental health this past month. I am fighting for stability every single day. But I feel like I am almost stuck without a fully functional professional mental health care team. I have at least finally been able to work with my psych doctor more frequently. In the beginning of August I had a manic episode and convinced myself that my psych meds weren’t working properly since I was still rapid cycling at an insane rate.
So I did something that I don’t recommend people with mental health disorders ever try without supervision from their doctor and I stopped the antipsychotics that were substituting for mood stabilizers since my body can’t seem to physically tolerate regular mood stabilizers for bipolar disorder such as Lithium or even Depakote. I tend to end up with the rare and sometimes debilitating side effects from most mood stabilizers. But I was convinced that since I was rapid cycling all the time anyway that I didn’t need them. I wanted to try something different. I felt like different might help.
The major problem, for me, with demanding to try yet another psychiatric med is that I have already tried so many different medications that either didn’t work or gave me horrible side effects that my doctor is running out of medications to try me on. We are basically at the end of the line when it comes to meds. At least that is what my psych doctor tells me and I really do honestly believe her.
Once I started looking to gain employment I told my doctor that I will try and do anything to gain stability. She recommend that I restart the one med I stopped because she feels it was a good fit for me (Vraylar) and I am currently on the lowest starting dose. Then, last week during my last phone appointment with my doctor she suggested that I try this first generation antipsychotic called Prolixin (Fluphenazine) and she started me at 5mg.
Finding a good time to take the Prolixin was a bit challenging. I am supposed to take it in the morning but it made me almost zombie like for a few hours and I can’t be that out of it at work. So I tried taking it at night and it must have a small interaction with one of my night meds because it made me twitch something horrible. It felt like someone was shooting lightning bolts through my arms and legs. So I decided to try taking it as soon as I get home from work and that seems to have solved my dilemma.
My next appointment with my psych doctor is on October 15th at 8:45 in the morning. I am hoping that during my next appointment we can figure out what to do about my sleeping troubles. Since about June I have only been getting roughly 4-6 hours of sleep at night and I wake up a few times every night but without fail I always wake up between 3-5 am. Some days it is so much easier to fall back to sleep than others.
The reason I say I feel stuck without a fully functional professional mental health care team is because I have pretty much been out of therapy since June. I missed my last scheduled therapy session back in June and then had been told that my therapist was on medical leave.
Last week I said to hell with it and left a message on my therapists voicemail hoping that she was off of leave by now and when she finally called me back a few days later she said she was getting ready to go on medical leave. I was like hold up, I have been told you were already on leave for months now and she said it was only a partial leave and that she had still been seeing patients part time. She said they should have never told me that in the first place. My therapist said she would contact the clinic’s case manager to find out if they can assign me another therapist within the clinic or if I would have to find therapy treatment elsewhere.
The next day I called the clinic back to try to get the ball rolling so I could try to get back into therapy as soon as possible. I ended up speaking to another therapist there who said she would try to find out if she was able to take my case on since she is apparently their last remaining therapist and she said that someone would call me back with an answer.
Well, I never got a call. Instead, I only received a digital letter within the clinic’s internal system saying that I had to find treatment somewhere else for therapy. They named three other places I could try but that they weren’t sure if any of them would accept my insurance. I was flustered and angry with how the clinic went about conducting their business.
I have been at this clinic since I was 18 and I am now 34. Things have greatly gone down hill with them the past few years and I feel like they just stopped actually caring about their patients mental health and wellbeing and started just pushing people through the system with the bare minimum to collect what they can from medicare and medicaid. Their caseload is more than they can handle. Too many patients, too little mental health professionals within that clinic.
I did call one of the other mental health clinics that they suggested and I have my first therapy intake appointment with them on October 9th. If it goes well and it turns out I like it, I might ask to meet with one of their psychiatrists as well so that my mental health team will be within one clinic instead of say going to therapy here and seeing a psych doctor there.
Maybe with what happened with my current clinic and therapist was a sign and push from the universe telling me it’s time to seek help elsewhere since I have been feeling like I am not making much progress with my current mental health care team for some time now. It just kinda sucks because in a way, I feel like my psych doctor has finally been helpful again my last two sessions. The progress with my psych doctor was what prompted me to try to get back in with my therapist.
Starting somewhere new when it comes to mental health treatment is always scary. You wonder if you and your new therapist or psychiatrist will be a good fit or not. You wonder if they will be accessible during an emergency or crisis. You worry about having to start from the beginning and resharing your story and traumas; about having to rehash everything that you have been through. It’s just a scary and frightening process for many people simply because change can be scary and you are taken out of your comfort zone when you start with someone new. But after going through everything I have been through at my current clinic these past few months, I am thinking that it might be a welcomed change.
I am not sure if I mentioned this in a previous post or not, but back in August I moved back in with my ex-boyfriend because we wanted to give things another try. Things have been going well between us. We have our little spats here and there but they quickly get resolved and don’t escalate to extremes like they used to. We take a time out and walk away from the situation when we need to. Despite our many breakups, on June 1, 2021, Mike, my boyfriend, and I will have been together for 9 long years. I hope he and I are completely done with the breakup and make up crap and that we are both in this for the long haul.
I am going to continue to try to work on my mental health and wellbeing. I am going to continue to fight for my stability. People with mental health disorders will always have to work harder to achieve certain things in life compared to those who are not plagued with mental health issues. It gets hard to function and live a stable life when your mind is constantly at odds with itself. Some people will never know the battles that we have to fight inside our heads every single day. Those people should consider themselves lucky.
These past two weeks since starting my new job have given me some hope that I do have a fighting chance to achieve some stability. For the first time in years, I have some kind of structure and routine which is important for people with mental health disorders. For the first time in years, I have been able to catch a bit of a break in the severe mood swings. I am still cycling through my bipolar moods and episodes, but the last two weeks they haven’t been as rapid or as severe which really became evident this week.
I know that at any given moment I could be at a hard hitting war with my mind and thoughts again. So I am going to try to cherish the good moments while they are here. #SickNotWeak
Thanks for taking the time to read my late night ramblings and for seeing what I have been up to lately!
P.S. If you are struggling with your own mental health, just know that you are not alone. Find support where you can. Even if that means joining some online mental health support groups (Such as the My Bipolar Mind Mental Health Support Group which can be found on Facebook) and confiding in complete strangers.
Reach out for help if you need it. There is no shame in asking for help.
Much Love, Samantha ❤
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Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.