Bipolar Disorder – Just The Facts

In my opinion, for years now, whenever bipolar disorder is revealed on social media it relates to some heinous, horrid crime. Mass shootings or some horrific crime such as a vicious assault, or violent murders.  Less often is anything else said about bipolar, such as research or how the average person struggling with this disorder lives.

No surprise there is a stigma with mental illness, let alone bipolar disorder or depression.  I was diagnosed with BP in the late 1990’s due to a few hypomanic episodes, however, my history shows I’m usually in the “basement”, staggering through the muck, fighting depression.  I wonder how thorough that test was for the doctor to diagnose me as Bipolar?For me, it’s a label, but I hate to even divulge I have BP.  Shame really….imagine being ashamed of an illness?

Written and copyrighted by Deb McCarthy/2017

My chronic migraines ~ I’m cranky

I’ll admit I’ve been cranky with an awfully short fuse lately, however, I’ve also been bedridden with ice-packs stuck to my head, isolated, and living in dark spaces for months. Winters in Canada aren’t kind to me, the barometer changing from day to day and week to week promotes wicked chronic migraines. Weather changes are my triggers.

I’ve posted previously about my 40+ year struggle with these crappy recurring headaches doing anything to prevent a trip to the hospital emergency for an IV drip to end the agony. The waits are lengthy (8-12 hours), torturous and almost always have some nitwit beside me who wants to chit chat.  Leave me be, please!

Currently, in my city, though, migraine sufferers cannot be treated with narcotics relief at any hospitals only providing Toradol which is comparable to placing a band-aid on my forehead.  Best to remain at home and suffer in peace.

Continue reading “My chronic migraines ~ I’m cranky”

My Teacher Wore Oven Gloves

Have you ever had someone enter your life that really made a difference when you were a child, validated your feelings or listened with concern when you spoke?

Perhaps it was a mentor, coach, Girl Guide leader; you get the idea. Reflect for a minute who that person was. For me, it was my high school home economics teacher, Mrs. Fox.

Each day I was greeted with a brilliant smile from her, and the only teacher throughout my entire schooling that I connected with.

I was emotionally abused by my narcissistic mother, forever feeling depressed, apathetic, sullen, despondent and isolated. Her home economics course, for grades eleven and twelve, included both cooking and sewing/crafts (this was back in the early 70’s when it was assumed girls who graduated would ultimately become secretaries or housewives!).

Continue reading “My Teacher Wore Oven Gloves”

Religious Abuse ~ A Psychological Trauma

Religious Abuse

Each time I hear a mention of this abuse, I shake my head thinking “here we go again, another child/adult child sexually abused, coming forward despite their courage and pain, to be treated like garbage or accused of making it all up and the church deals with it in their own way, which is nothing”.  I seethe inside.

It is difficult to define what “religious abuse” means, as it carries with it implications of forcing someone to believe in a faith, but principally it is abuse committed by someone who is a representative of a religious body.

Usually, the abuse takes the form of:

~ physical abuse

~ sexual abuse

~ emotional abuse

~ neglect

The abuse occurs as a result of the religious representative taking advantage of his/her position of responsibility within the religious organisation.

There has been widespread publicity surrounding the abuse by and criminal conviction of priests of the Catholic Church all over the world leading to several leading legal precedent judgments in the higher courts concerning the scope of the responsibility of the church for the criminal behaviour of priests.

Continue reading “Religious Abuse ~ A Psychological Trauma”

Toxic Mothers: “How was I supposed to handle your sexual abuse?”

“Well back in the ‘60’s, we didn’t know how to handle things like that”

That was my mother’s asinine come back to my question, “Why didn’t you even take me to the doctors’ as a caution?” when discussing the sexual abuse a few years ago. I’ve always questioned this, whether it be any decade, wouldn’t a mother ensure her child was ok? All around, I am the daughter of a narcissistic mother which explains everything.

My parents didn’t believe me when I was 8 years old, revealing that our neighbor was sexually abusing me, and making matters worse, had to ask for forgiveness from the abuser. I doubt my mother truly believes me to this day or recognized that she made a huge mistake or perhaps ashamed how it was all handled.

She has never fully expressed regret for her actions, never acknowledged or empathized with the crap I went through (PTSD, major depression, hospitalizations, etc.) including years of therapy to heal and wipe up her mess. (Showing no validation or empathy is a common trait of a narcissist).

She slept peacefully at night during my hellish years, while I was awake feeling guilt, shame, and worthlessness. I finally severed ALL contact with my mother a few years ago, which was the wisest decision and the only alternative allowing me to continue healing and living freely.

(I finally received validation from a stranger (therapist) 45 years later which began my healing journey from feeling anguish and pain).

Written and copyrighted by Deb McCarthy 2016

Reminds me of my Narcissistic Mother In Law and how her adult children's are always turning a blind eye towards her bad behaviour. My narcissistic mother in law got all her adult children to worship and fear her.:

How true is this?  Hugs to all, Deb

Judgment: And you’re so perfect?

Who am I to judge you? Who are you to judge me?

Dictionary: Judgement: the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, esp. in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion: a man of sound judgment.

Stigma: a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation; a mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease: the stigmata of leprosy.

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In my opinion, judgment intertwines with stigma. Why do we judge?

I have voiced previously about encounters with both judgment and stigma, however, this is an example of stigma from a family member. Not long after my hospitalizations years ago with major depression, my brother-in-law severed ties with my spouse and me fearing for his children (or so he claimed). I really questioned at times if he believed I was going to attack him with a knife!

Continue reading “Judgment: And you’re so perfect?”

What If You Don’t Like Your Therapist?

therapy

I’ve consulted a few therapists over the years, and it’s always been advised to “give it some time”, but just how long do you “give it”?   I prefer not to ‘therapist hop’, however, even after a few sessions I can sense if this is the therapist for me. I’ve been with the therapist I have now for almost 6 years and knew almost immediately it was a ‘good fit’.

I found this article in Psychcentral.com interesting.

 

Ambiguous Grief: Grieving Someone Who Is Still Alive

I found this article interesting recalling the grief I experienced while my grandmother struggled with Alzheimer’s, gradually becoming worse and failing to even recognize me.

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My guess is that when people read the title of this article they will react with either a, “what are they talking about?  How can someone be grieving someone who is still alive and what the heck is ambiguous grief???” or a “holy crap, yes!  I have felt exactly that way! Thank goodness WYG is finally covering this topic”.  This is one of those topics where if you have been there, you get it and if you haven’t, you don’t.  Either way, hopefully, you’ll read on.

Before we dive in, if you clicked on this post because you feel like you are grieving someone with a terminal illness who has not yet died, there is another WYG article you should read before you read this article.  Check out our article on Anticipatory Grief, which is about the grief that comes when we anticipate that we are going to lose someone.

In contrast to anticipatory grief, there are times in life when someone we love becomes someone we barely recognize.  The person is still physically with us, but psychologically they are gone. There are a range of reasons this can happen.  Some of the most common are things like addiction, dementia, traumatic brain injuries, and mental illness.  If you have never lived through loving someone in such a situation, this can be hard to understand.  The person you love is still there, sometimes they ‘look’ sick, sometimes they don’t.  But regardless of how they look, they do things they would never have done, they say things they would never have said, treat you in ways they never would have treated you, and they are not there for you in ways they previously were.  This is sometimes referred to as “ambiguous grief” or “ambiguous loss”.

This may sound very abstract, but when it occurs in your life it is very concrete and real.  Your mom, who always loved and supported you, doesn’t recognize you, understand you or says hurtful things.  You husband, who was always kind and considerate, is now lying and stealing to support an addiction.  You son, who was brilliant and driven, is now struggling with delusions and hallucinations.

More on this article @  whatsyourgrief.com

PTSD Survivors: Why is validation so important for healing?

dissociation 3

Throughout my years in therapy, validation was comparable to receiving a gift, at times triggering tears of sadness, yet happiness and contentment at the same time.   Finally, someone was not ignoring me, was respecting my feelings and best of all, no interruptions with cruel words.  As a daughter of a narcissistic mother, very rarely showing any validation, empathy and usually telling me “you’re making things up again.”, this was all new to me.

Validation means to express understanding and acceptance of another person’s internal experience, whatever that might be. Validation does not mean you agree or approve. Validation builds relationships and helps ease upset feelings. Knowing that you are understood and that your emotions and thoughts are accepted by others is powerful. Validation is like relationship glue. – psychologytoday.com

This article from PsychCentral.com explains ‘Validation’.

Have you ever wished you could take back an email that you sent when you were emotionally upset?  Or maybe you made some statements when you were sad that you didn’t really mean or agreed to something when you were thinking with your heart that you later regretted? Or maybe you wanted to be supportive and helpful to someone you love but couldn’t because your own emotions made it difficult?

Communicating when overwhelmed with emotion does not usually work well. Being overwhelmed with emotion is not a pleasant experience. For emotionally sensitive people, managing their emotions so they can communicate most effectively and with the best results means learning to manage the intense emotions they experience on a regular basis. Continue reading “PTSD Survivors: Why is validation so important for healing?”

The Lady Found in the Snow

She was in her fifties and reported missing four or five days ago, a picture of a woman looking cheerful, with striking blue eyes, shoulder length light brown hair wearing a black and green mid-length parka. It was on the news and in the newspapers repeatedly, her picture of a woman with a warm smile.

To me it sounded peculiar, as if intentional or planned; waking in the morning, followed by calling in sick to work then vanishing. When reported missing, the police were summoned, then several friends and relatives began searching also. The investigation dragged on with no success, and it’s as if she went ‘poof’ into thin air, no trace, no use of credit cards.

Days passed, when someone identified her van at a cemetery, and not too distant from the van they discovered her body dead in the snow. The police didn’t reveal information as to the cause of death.

The newspapers stated that she was a registered nurse, worked for twenty-two years at the same hospital, extremely well liked and exceptional at her job. Her spouse was a clergy at the only church in the town where the family lived, and she leaves behind two children.

Continue reading “The Lady Found in the Snow”

PTSD: Why do I have a ‘short fuse’?

Image: pixabay.com
Image: pixabay.com

“She’s such a nice girl”.

I’ve never recognized why I developed a short fuse or experience sudden outbursts of anger while growing up until I was in my therapy session last week. My therapist and I are seldom at odds, yet one particular thing she said ticked me off and I snapped at her which resulted in anger.

We talked it through and resolved the issue, but I was shocked when she said, “when angry, the PTSD kicks in just like that”. I never connected anger, irritability or having a short fuse before with PTSD, but it makes sense.  Yes, I have a ‘short fuse‘ and I’m terribly impatient at times.

I’ve been termed ‘such a nice girl’ often, and to others, I suppose I am. Well-mannered, respectful, soft-spoken, compassionate, but underneath, I’ve held back anger on many occasions. Outside smiles, inside tears.

Continue reading “PTSD: Why do I have a ‘short fuse’?”

Rudolph is banned from the Psych Ward

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Struggling with depression for many years, I found myself spending three joyless Christmases (over the nine years of repeateded hospitalizations) on the dingy psych ward of a medical hospital. Two years of which I was deemed too risky, therefore, forbidden to enjoy Christmas dinner at home with family. Difficult to resign yourself to yet too unwell to converse with people anyways.

Rudolph was banned from the hospital.

So, four of us sat around a laminated and steel table (minus a tablecloth), in the gloomy dining/craft room and picked at our ‘festive turkey dinner’. Each meal consisted of turkey roll, faux mashed potatoes, lukewarm gravy, a scarce array of ho-hum veggies, stale roll, two packets of cranberry sauce and butter.

To my surprise, I did awaken to a gift planted on my side table; a red sparkly colored gift bag stuffed with loads of goodies including handmade crocheted kitchen items and knitted bright aqua mittens, yummy chocolates, which I thought very thoughtful and caring.

The Christmas year when permitted home for a two-hour visit, allotted barely enough time to wolf down a holiday dinner. As memory serves me, I believe we discovered a welcoming diner open Christmas Day, yet unsure if we truly ate turkey!

Christmas mood in the hospital was somber, the three-foot fake tree standing in the TV room was virtually naked due to prohibited string lights, (potential suicide risk) and only a few crocheted and cardboard decorations placed on branches sparingly. Underneath was a dull green round skirt covered with empty wrapped gold boxes assumed to resemble gifts sourced from years before.

TV and dog-eared magazines were there for our amusement, as well as visitors allowed for extended hours. Quick thinking by nurses, miniature candy canes in plastic wrappers were located at the ‘medication station’. Continue reading “Rudolph is banned from the Psych Ward”

Depression: Am I here in this black hole forever? Huh?

I used to ask myself, almost every day throughout my depressive illness; is this it?  Does it get ever any better?  Am I stuck here in this black hole forever?

Sounds pessimistic, but my history of recurring hospital admissions and medications that were ineffective, coupled with suicide attempts and unrelenting depression, didn’t illustrate a positive picture.  At separate hospital admissions, I was frequently greeted by the same bed, same patients and same nurses who precisely dispensed my medications.  Many years ago, hospitalization was a sort of an incarcerated life; that of daily rituals, set meal times, social activities, lights out at 11:30 pm, and scheduled visits from visitors.   Finally, discharge, after serving my “time”, which meant adjusting to home life all over again.

With zilch changing; I’m asking “is this as good as life gets?”

It’s both upsetting and scary, no one should ever have to endure this type of life, and depression, for me, proved a dreadful existence.  After spending months in the hospital, I would continually sense that I was one footstep away from hospital waters every waking day.  Continuously, just a step away from hell; surviving only on the surface.

Continue reading “Depression: Am I here in this black hole forever? Huh?”

Why I Created “Living in Stigma” and 9 Ways We Need To Stop Mental Illness Stigma

stigma_2

When I activated my first blog in 2005, it focused on humorous articles only.  During that time I was struggling with major depression, yet amazingly I was competent enough to write posts, and surprisingly these articles were a remarkable success.

I continued on and gathered many followers, all the time questioning whether to write about my mental illness, yet frankly, I was very embarrassed and uncomfortable to share my thoughts and life of hell with any of my blogging buddies, the blogging world, or should if anyone in my circle of “personal people” were ever to uncover my ‘secret’, I’d be devastated.

I eventually mentioned it to two trusted blogging friends my apprehension, and them replying, “why are you so embarrassed, it not your fault you were ill, write about it, who cares if people don’t like it, go by ‘anonymous’, not using your real name this time”.  And so I did, in 2007, I began this blog.  It’s been an enormous success from day one, with so much support from the blogging community and it was the stigma that held me back from starting this blog sooner.

I was living in stigma (shame) thus the name “Living in Stigma” –Deb

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Continue reading “Why I Created “Living in Stigma” and 9 Ways We Need To Stop Mental Illness Stigma”

Friendship Ruined Therapy

The therapist I have been working with for over five years has been amazing, we’ve dealt with some extremely emotional issues including PTSD sexual abuse and maternal narcissism.  She validated my feelings and showed the kind of empathy that I’d never received as a child, therefore, I’ve often craved her as a friend.  I soon understood boundaries, and realized it just wouldn’t work; therapy isn’t friendship

A friend told me of an occurrence where friendship ruined the relationship with her and her therapist.  She had been meeting X every 3 weeks for roughly 2 years, drudging through many agonizing, uncomfortable, personal issues and trusted X entirely with what she disclosed, more than with any other therapist.

When she was pregnant with her second child, also experiencing difficulties with her spouse, X was there to convey her thoughts to.  By the time the baby was to arrive, they worked through marital issues, which alleviated the situation at home and for her.

After the baby was born, she didn’t see X for several months, however, she did phone her to shout with joy that it was a baby girl, and X exclaimed “hooray!”  She was ‘on the fence’ about sending baby pictures, yet she did send a few via e-mail in the end and X asked to see more.

Continue reading “Friendship Ruined Therapy”

What about the Funeral? ~ When Your Abuser or Estranged Relative Dies

Yes, what about the funeral.  Are you expected to attend, expected to pay for costs, feel guilty and makes excuses for not attending?  It’s a crappy time for everyone.

My narcissistic mother is not in the picture anymore, however, if she passed away how would the funeral be handled?  (I’ve already answered that, but will keep my answer private).

Searching high and low for a detailed answer, I came across this well-written article:


One of the biggest dilemmas faced by escapees from abusive families is what to do when our abuser or estranged relative dies. Should we make an appearance at the wake and funeral, or not? Should we go to the burial?  Should we send flowers? Should we offer our condolences- and if so, to whom?

To the very people who took our abuser’s side against us or shunned us from their family?  What kind of an act will we have to put on if people offer condolences to US?  How will we be able to pretend that the death of our abuser was a great loss, when we can’t even come up with one nice thing to say about him?

See the remainder of this article at:
http://www.luke173ministries.org/655609

(reposted with editing)

MOM, WHY DID YOU HAVE ME?

Mom, why did you have me?

A question I often ask
making no sense at all
for a woman so resentful and hateful

Bringing children into this world
as her own emotional punching bag
used for criticism and anger
against the daughter, who only craved for
a mother to love her

Mom, were you unhappy as a little girl?

I’m sorry if you were
but for you as my mother
you’ve damaged two lives now
that wonderful opportunity at a relationship with me
and my fantasy mom that I forever aspired you to be

I fantasized that we would bake cakes and chocolate chip cookies together,
perhaps getting flour over each other and laughing
Sewing, cooking, reading stories and joking
trying on your clothes, lipstick and shoes
going shopping like two girls together and giggling
but you seldom had patience for me and
I just appeared an annoyance in your eyes

your cruel words brought tears, unable to ever do anything right
starved of empathy and hugs, and hearing only critical remarks
sitting in my bedroom closet where there was peace and no yelling
I tried telling myself, why do I always make her so angry?
I ask once again

Mom, why did you have me?

~~ Deb

Narcissism ~~ Dear Mom, are you listening…

For my Narcissistic mother.

It’s been two years since I’ve cut off ties with her, and although she treated me like crap, I still miss having a ‘mother‘.  In therapy, I’m working on the impact of how living as a daughter of a narcissist has affected my life.

Trust has been a huge problem for most of my life, starting in childhood.  Firstly trust was broken by the neighbor who sexually abused me, followed by both parents who refused to believe, thus making me apologize.  Learning to earn trust again with adults has taken years, mostly through therapy, after all, trust must be earned.

— Deb

 

My Description of Depression

Image source: birchandwillow.tumblr.com/

“Depression, best known of all the mental illnesses, is difficult to endure and treat.   It renders one feeling hopeless and helpless.  Experiencing a sort of wintry solitude, one is completely immobilized with any light of optimism dimming.   It creates emotional and financial fallout, coupled with a horrible emptiness and black death-like existence.  Life tastes sour”. – Deb – Living in Stigma

I was a guest on a Radio Talk Show!

 

Yesterday, on “Hot off the Press” @Wordpress.com, they posted an article: “WordPressers Making a Splash

We read hundreds of blogs and websites every day, from up-and-coming voices and established pros alike. We love visiting those sites on WordPress.com, but it’s just as rewarding to see other platforms embrace the work of writers, journalists, and artists who regularly publish here, introducing it to new audiences.

Continue reading “I was a guest on a Radio Talk Show!”

How Do You Explain Your Mental Illness?

Finding Joy Again

More than likely, at some point in our lives, there will be someone who will ask us what it is that we have and/or how does it affects us. How we answer could have a big impact on them and how they view us and mental illness. Our answer can feed the fear and stigma or take away some of its power.

If someone asks, “What is bipolar—what is it like?” our first reaction might be to go on a rant as to how awful it is, how it can cause extreme mood swings, impair our judgment therefore we might do foolish or dangerous things, how it has robbed us of a normal life or even how it might have disabled us. But that doesn’t explain what it is and what it does in our brain to cause the chaos. That kind of an answer just promotes more fear about…

View original post 242 more words

What is CPTSD?

Definition of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD)

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be defined as a psychological injury which results from ongoing or repeated trauma over which the victim has little or no control, and from which there is no real or perceived hope of escape.   This accumulation of trauma distinguishes CPTSD from the better known Post Traumatic Stress Order (PTSD) in which trauma typically involves a single event or a group of events of limited duration (e.g., witnessing a tragedy, being the victim of a violent act, short term military combat exposure).

What Causes CPTSD?

Continue reading “What is CPTSD?”

When Your Abuser or Estranged Relative Dies ~ The Whole Funeral Thing

My toxic mother is not in the picture anymore, but the question still remains, what about the funeral? The response would be ~ NO for my abuser if he were still alive.

Searching high and low for a detailed answer, I came across this well written post. My intention is not to shove religion down your throats believe me, as this article was written by a minister on a religious site, however, it answered my questions and more.


One of the biggest dilemmas faced by escapees from abusive families is what to do when our abuser or estranged relative dies. Should we make an appearance at the wake and funeral, or not? Should we go to the burial?  Should we send flowers? Should we offer our condolences- and if so, to whom?

Continue reading “When Your Abuser or Estranged Relative Dies ~ The Whole Funeral Thing”

Fibromyalgia ~ This image just about says it all

There’s even a misunderstanding with the chronic pain people endure due to fibromyalgia, some people don’t see it as a disability.

Be kind, don’t judge.

How being unemployed changes your personality

Add another stressor to the financial burden of losing your job. Being unemployed can change the nature of your personality, making you significantly less agreeable and changing your level of conscientious and openness, according to a new study in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers from the U.K., asked more than 6,000 Germans to self-evaluate five of their core personality traits—agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism and openness—over a period of several years. Everyone in the sample began the study with a job, but part of the group lost their jobs and remained unemployed for the duration of the study. Others lost their job and found new employment.

Continue reading “How being unemployed changes your personality”

Poetry: Just Cutting

Just a scratch

What’s that mark?”

“It was just the cat”

~~~

Just an excuse

Just another lie

“What’s with the bracelets?”

“Just fashion, why?”

~~~

Just a tear

Just a scream

“Why are you crying?”

“Just a bad dream”

~~~

But it’s not

 just a cut, or a tear or a lie

It’s always

 ‘Just one more’

Until you die

— Anonymous

MOM, YOU’RE STILL TOXIC & YOU’LL NEVER CHANGE

Who was I kidding, reuniting again with my mother.  I should have left things alone after no communication for three years, but no I had these grand ideas in May of this year of reconciling.  How many times have I attempted to make it work before? Three, perhaps four?  I’ve never truly had this woman’s tenderness or support for fifty some odd years, and it ‘aint ever going to happen.

Why can’t I get this through my thick skull and I allow myself to be disillusioned repeatedly?  But, was craving for parents, namely a mother who truly loved me instead of criticizing and showing my brother the same affection that I deserved, too much to ask for?  I don’t think it was.

You constantly told me to lose weight, criticized me too many times, making me feel worthless and sub-par.  I lost weight when you saw me this May, I thought you’d be so proud of me and things would be different; guess it didn’t matter.

But mom, you surpassed yourself this time, with selfish words again, and presented the “toxic mother” that you are, sent in reply to an e-mail a few days ago.

Continue reading “MOM, YOU’RE STILL TOXIC & YOU’LL NEVER CHANGE”

Brown Bagging It (part 1)

Mental Illness and Work

 When discussing mental illness and work, “work” can mean a number of things.

 It can mean the workplace, as in where we go to do our jobs. It can also mean the act of working, what we do at our jobs, as a volunteer in the community, or what we like to do in the garden, kitchen or workshop to relax.

The relationship between mental illness and work can be looked at in a number of different ways, including:

 ·         the stresses and strains today’s workplace places on us

 ·         the incredible pressure placed upon people to continue to perform at work when an illness strikes, and the extra strain this places on their families and friends;

  ·         the difficult barriers those persons diagnosed with a mental illness face in the working world;

  ·         the strain encountered by people who work while they care for someone with a mental illness at home;

  ·         the therapeutic role the act of work plays in helping to reduce stress and improve mental health; and the benefits work can bring in guiding people diagnosed with a mental illness toward recovery, rebuilding their self-esteem and hopefully returning to the jobs they left when the illness struck

 Mental Illness in the Workplace

 Of all persons with disabilities, those with a mental illness face the highest degree of stigmatization in the workplace and the greatest barriers to employment opportunities.  Persons diagnosed with a mental illness are more likely to experience long term unemployment, underemployment and dependency on social assistance.

 Many employers and employees have unwarranted fears and see persons with psychiatric disabilities as unskilled, unproductive, unreliable, violent or unable to handle workplace pressures.  This stigma creates climate in which someone who has a problem and needs help may not seek it for fear of being labeled. 

  Undiagnosed mental illness also has a high cost in the workplace. If left undetected, overall work quality and productivity can be affected by an ill employee’s misunderstood behavior. Mental illnesses and the fact that they can be successfully treated must be understood by employers.  Only then can they begin to recognize and accept the symptoms of a true condition and know how to establish an internal management program to accommodate their employees.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

MY STORY:

Ten years of ping-ponging between home and hospitals, untreatable bipolar disorder and with life heading nowhere, my luck changed after a new psychiatrist entered my life. With correct meds finally, and great encouragement I began to take two steps forward.

I followed all of this doctor’s directions; volunteering, participating in the out-patient occupational therapy program, taking meds as prescribed, and finally I was on my way to wellness.  Moods were reasonably stable and I wanted to return to the workplace (this was 2005).  My dilemma though found me with limited computer skills caused by years of unemployment, non-usage of computers and coupled by memory loss from ECT.

My psychiatrist though, advised only returning part-time, but my bull-headed nature had me applying for full-time positions.  Tenacity prevailed with the computers; working daily on my typing skills, escalating my speed and relearning the computer programs.  I dejectedly sat back at times, recollecting when I used to instruct computers at my office prior to becoming ill and ending my career.  But, I regained the skills and thought I was finally ready.

At the outset, I had a spotty resume caused by years of illness.  Using my volunteer work, as well as, a short stint with self-employment, filled in the ‘experience’ section of my mottled resume, which began looking presentable.  Next came the job hunt.  I always felt, the search for a job is far more problematical than performing the job itself.

To be continued……. (stay tuned for part 2) 

Brown Bagging It (part 2) – The Long Awaited Interview

Part 2 – The Interview

In Part 1, I discussed Mental Illness and Work and Mental Illness in the Workplace.  Also, discussed was my experience reentering the workplace (in 2005) after many, many years of illness – mental illness.

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So I had my polished resume in hand and now I was prepared for the next step.  This was comparable to waiting at the bus stop…for the bus.

How times have changed compared to years gone by.  I’m ageing myself, but way back when, the procedure in my city entailed catching the bus downtown to Manpower on a Monday morning and scouring their job boards.  Once an enticing ad placed on a recipe sized card was found, you presented it to the recruiter who in turn would with any luck forward your name along to the prospective employer.  Nowadays, everything is so much easier; sending resume with cover letters via electronic mail.  Speaking of which, that was another aspect of the computer I had to get the handle on; e-mail and the cut/copy paste method.

I was essentially new at this job search, and concentrated my efforts on the personnel agencies and employment internet sites such as: monster.ca and workopolis.com.

Months of e-mailing, telephone calls and mainly waiting for ‘that call’, at last paid off. I received ‘that call’, but yet felt frozen facing an actual interview.  Years had passed since an interview was necessary of me, only that of doctors requesting information on my well being in hospital.

Continue reading “Brown Bagging It (part 2) – The Long Awaited Interview”

Brown Bagging It (part 3) – Getting the Job & Landing on My Ass

In Part 1 & 2 – I spoke about Mental Illness in the Workplace, seeking employment, the job hunt and the job interview.  Now comes the really difficult part…..THE JOB.

I was so excited by this new venture; I could hardly sleep at night waiting for the first day.  That ‘first day of school’ feeling.  Luckily, the dress code was business casual otherwise I would have had to purchase an entire wardrobe.   Training would begin at 7:00 a.m., which practically killed me getting up that early in the morning, but I knew I had to get used to this.

The first day was a disaster, as it was essential to become accustomed to their internal computer system, and I sat in confusion having problems with straightforward tasks such as passwords and locating screens.  A panic situation ensued immediately, causing me to actually vomit in the washroom for the first three days due to this.  My thinking pattern was in a ‘frozen’ mode, with no new information able to funnel through.

On one day in particular, I was actually in tears in the washroom, so completely frustrated and angry at myself for not grasping anything.  Why did I continue?  I didn’t want to be a failure again, I suppose, and thought if I failed at this – where would I be then.  So I plodded on. 

The remaining two weeks met with more perplexity, and slowly my self-confidence, self-esteem and self-doubt tumbled downward even further.  I was the slowest and oldest in the class. But, I forged ahead, bull-headed, passed and began the position.

 The position itself was not too difficult, however, I encountered problems with their computer system practically every shift.  The Help Desk was there for Q & A, but after awhile they tired of my Q & A and became unfriendly and not very “helpful”. The position was in sales and customer service.  I was to learn a script to implement during a customer’s call – this was an impossible task.  My memory is impaired at best, never mind learning a script for sales on the phone.  So I basically read verbatim, and though it may have sounded as if I was reading from a sheet, it seemed to go over ok.  My stats weren’t wonderful; yet they weren’t the worst either.  That was another thing; I had to worry now about stats.  People were counting on me; managers, their managers and so forth, for stats. I had to produce good stats so my manager looked good.  The everyday routine felt so bizarre after years of illness at home and in hospital.

Enjoying the job to a degree, I was discontented with management and other factors played, and so, unfortunately after three months I discovered this job just wasn’t for me.

My stomach did flip-flops over this.  I was frightened to quit this position, yet I was unhappy there also.  The job did provide some experience into the working world, brushing up on computer skills (will always have trouble), day-to-day routine and learning how to mix with people again.  I could have given up at this point – but didn’t.

Now the time came for my search for greener pastures.

To be continued……….(see last part 4)

Brown Bagging It (part 4) – Keeping the Job – Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches

In Part 1, 2, 3 – I spoke about Mental Illness in the Workplace, Seeking Employment, the Job Hunt, The Interview, Looking for a Job, now part 4.

 

I was sort of in a quandary and very nervous; do I seek further employment or take some time off.  It was November of 2005, and pdoc and my husband were in cahoots, both advising me to wait until after Christmas.  But, I resisted and applied for some positions.

There was a hiring blitz at two financial institutions and I e-mailed my resume.  One never called, the other phoned the next day and an interview set up the following afternoon.  I wondered what was happening here, and surmised that having the last position’s experience counted for something on the resume – perhaps all of that turmoil was possibly worth it.

The interview went smooth, the manager pleasant, no tests and they advised me “we will let you know by next week”.  I thought “I’ve heard that before”, but by the next afternoon – I HAD THE JOB.  Wow, I was to start in two weeks – but….there was a two week training session to be completed first.  My heart sank.  Here we go again.

The training session was taxing, but this time around, I wasn’t filled with as much panic.  As usual though, adapting to their computer system was again complicated for me to grasp.  Also, learning their policies and procedures also presented somewhat of a challenge, and at the end of the two week session, a quiz was necessary.  I froze at the very mention of a ‘quiz’, failed the first time out, re-wrote and passed.

The monthly reviews I dread so much though; always expecting the negative, and ultimately surprised by the positive.  I feel sometimes like a little kid waiting for a pat on the head saying “good girl, you did a good job”.  Self-confidence and self-esteem have returned to some degree, but I’m still working on it.  I am meeting company stats and competing with the younger folk there – I’m in the running every month.  Depression leaves a scar, but I have learned that a scar can fade.

I do not share my past with co-workers, due to the fact of **stigma.  I recognize I would be treated in a different way, as the general public does not comprehend mental illness.  In secret, I wish my co-workers/management to be acquainted with my triumph.  Existing under a veil of blackness for so many years, then at last standing upright and functioning in the ‘working world’, I feel,  is something of a phenomenon.  I do experience a sensation of gratefulness for this company, as they took a risk hiring me with a resume packed with holes.  They apparently saw the potential I forgot I possessed.

So there are steps: having the strength in preparing to look for a job; the job hunt; the interview; landing the job and most of all keeping the job.  Every step is a difficult step.