Depression: Planning my Escape

Attending a party when you feel like crap? Imagine planning your escape the moment you walk in?

Envision feeling lonely when you are actually with people; with friends, celebrating a birthday party at someone’s house. You experience emptiness. The room is filled with chatter and laughter, yet you are seated; numb.

Depression is lonely. Curled up in a ball – lonely.

This actually happened to me. I was pretty much forced to attend a birthday party, and although I resisted, I soon surrendered due to the fact that it was for a dear friend and I was absent from all other celebrations throughout the past year.

Seated in a Lazy-Boy for part of the evening, I held tightly onto a diet Coke. I thought it polite to rise and finally mingle; show a smile, pretend to enjoy the evening, yet the feeling of hollowness was debilitating. Laughter echoed.

For the majority of the year, I had been in the hospital more than out. Depression was black; I felt as if I was literally dumped into a black hole and left for dead. It was stated there was light up at the top of this hole, yet I was forever waiting to witness any.

Continue reading “Depression: Planning my Escape”

If My Abusive Mother Came Crawling Back, Do I Owe Her Anything?

For me, I positively don’t owe my narcissistic mother anything. Here is the woman who spewed out vicious words, ignored me, displayed rare empathy, criticized, ranted, raved, and left me feeling worthless and undervalued.

My father passed away in 2012 and I (the scapegoat) only have one sibling (my brother, the golden child).

Our last conversation(s) were similar to this:

“Deb, since your dad died it’s been really lonely, I have no friends and have to do everything by myself. You have a husband there all of the time to help you, I have no one. It’s really depressing, all alone in the apartment with nothing to do but watch TV. Your brother is always there if I need him, but you never seem to come over very often. I know you don’t have the car much and I said I could drive you to appointments or to the mall, but you always say you take the bus. We are family and we should do things for each other.

She wants and needs me now, yet she hasn’t changed her narcissistic personality at all, and most likely never will. Am I expected to ‘be there’ for her now that she’s so lonely, yet ignored me throughout my childhood?

She can’t have me now, it’s too late mom you blew it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I really enjoyed reading this article today titled “The Debt” in which it asked just that, do we owe parents who have abused us during our lives anything when we are adults?

See article @ Slate.com written by Emily Yoffe “The Debt” When terrible, abusive parents come crawling back, what do their grown children owe them?

Written and copyrighted by Deb/2016

Originally on my blog niume.com (Deb-Living in Stigma)
https://niume.com/profile/25982#!/posts

Imagine asking: Are you even trying to get better?

What kind of question is that? Who would ask someone that? Mental illness stigma at it’s best.

There are still so many comments made by society concerning mental illness, striking close to home with me and my struggles with depression.

Dusting off some old journals, back from my days in the hospital, I came across one stay where I “interviewed” informally some fellow patients enduring their experiences. While there were many more stories; I only selected these three:

These are samples of mental illness stigma and what society perceives.

~~~

*Denise in her early ‘20’s gave a rather heartrending account of an outing just that evening with her mother.

Denise’s mother picked her up from the hospital for dinner at a mid-priced restaurant. It was trivial talk mostly, due to the fact that she had just undergone an ECT the day prior and depression was relentless. After dinner, they both drove to the mall where they shopped for a new outfit, but it was on the drive home that anger and that feeling of failure set in.

Continue reading “Imagine asking: Are you even trying to get better?”

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”

Quote: Emotional Abuse

My therapist was the first person who ever validated my feelings, allowed me to speak, and believed what troubled me throughout my adult years due to Emotional Abuse.  My mother is a Narcissist and void of empathy, never taking the time or ignoring any feelings that I had. The only words out of her mouth were cruel and nasty.

 

My Interview: Views on Stigma, Depression & PTSD

image: niume.com

Nuime.com is a blogging platform which contains postings I selected from this blog, as well as, personal articles that I have written over the years with a mixture of other topics.

I was delighted when chosen “Niumer of the Week” and the opportunity to be interviewed.  Here’s how it went:

Depression and mental illness affect many people all over the world, but despite its prevalence, it is still met with stigma, silence and even scepticism. There is still a notion many hold, that people who claim to be depressed are ‘making it up’, ‘seeking attention’ or just ‘feel sad’ and will get over it in time.

But the question still remains, why do we shy away from this topic and what do people who suffer from mental illness go through on a day to day basis?

Niumer Of The Week, Deb from Living in Stigma, bravely gives us her thoughts and explains what we can do to understand this issue better.

1) How did you discover Niume and why did you decide to use it over other blogging platforms?

Niume approached me via Twitter, so I checked your site out and was impressed by the layout and features offered. I have ‘signed up’ with other blogging platforms but my posts were not acquiring much exposure and others didn’t have well-defined spheres to post in. It became frustrating and I soon left.

2) Which of the others spheres do you enjoy browsing through?

I browse through most of the spheres, however, my favourites are Literature, Interesting, Humour, Lifestyle, Photography, Music and Art.

3) What are some of the biggest misconceptions about depression and mental health?

One word – Stigma. Mental illness is not a choice; it’s an illness. Who would choose to have an illness, and be so embarrassed and ashamed of it? This leads to isolation, fear, fake smiles, feeling hopeless, and worthless.

Continue reading “My Interview: Views on Stigma, Depression & PTSD”

Why Was I A Disappointment?

Image source: differentdream.com

WHY WAS I A DISAPPOINTMENT?

why was I such a big disappointment
and what age did you start loathing me
your son wasn’t treated like that
and I tried everything in me to please

the sexual abuse wasn’t my fault
yet you made it and believed it to be
to save face in the neighborhood was so important
keeping the secret didn’t destroy you as it did me

Continue reading “Why Was I A Disappointment?”

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

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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

~~~~

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

PTSD, Narcissism & TRIGGERS: Reliving the crap all over and over again

Just a quick glimpse at a man’s hands with dirty fingernails is my worst trigger, followed by a flashback.  Seems whacky, doesn’t it?

Bad memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time.  You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place.  You may feel like you’re going through the event again.  This is called a flashback. Sometimes there is a trigger: a sound or sight that causes you to relive the event.  Triggers might include:

  • Hearing a car backfire, which can bring back memories of gunfire and war for a combat veteran.
  • Seeing a car accident, which can remind a crash survivor of his or her own accident.
  • Seeing a news report of a sexual assault, which may bring back memories of assault for a woman who was raped.    Source:  WebMed.com

Continue reading “PTSD, Narcissism & TRIGGERS: Reliving the crap all over and over again”

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)

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

PTSD ~ Sexual Abuse: When parents fail to believe

I read this captivating book: The Loveless Family by Jon P. Bloch, which described me and my own family to a T.  This paragraph in the book really touched on a nerve, acknowledging how much harm my parents did, not believing me about the sexual abuse.  The wounds haven’t entirely healed and dancing lessons, upscale clothing and oodles of Xmas gifts never swayed my painful memories.

From the book:

“Between children and adults, there may be lifelong disappointment over a child’s failure to meet the parents’ expectations.  The child, in turn, may spend a lifetime fluctuating between guilt for having failed and having resentment for being expected to succeed in the first place.  When parents failed to help when they could and should have – if the child was being sexually abused, for example, and the parents chose not to believe it – the wound may never heal, despite superficial niceties.  Sometimes, too, parents resent never having had their own chance at success.”

image source: differentdream.com

“Once a Victim ~ Now a Survivor Award” for Everyone who is a Warrior

I created and designed this “Once a Victim, Now a Survivor” award in March/2015, as I wanted it to represent and award those who have struggled with mental illness, and especially everyone who is living with C/PTSD (complex/post-traumatic stress disorder).   PTSD includes those dealing with trauma, abuse and for many childhood sexual abuse.  We were victims once, but now we are Survivors

So pay it forward if you’d like and nominate others; it’s a way to recognize some of the bloggers you’ve discovered who are worthy of this award OR accept it for yourself.  You can display it on your own blog and be proud of it.  Congrats!

Deb

 

Suicidal feelings ~ mesmerizing

“The mesmerizing feelings attached to suicidal thinking, at least for me, are the ones who got me into trouble. Life became so miserable and “suicide” was in my back pocket ready at any moment just in case. It really became a habit of such and I had to break that habit. This is not to say that I don’t think of ‘ending it’; sometimes letting my mind wander into white, fluffy clouds – no pressure of life anymore – but I can’t let “S” win”.  by Deb ~ “Living in Stigma”

PTSD Triggers – This time at the grocery check-out

Triggers are so unexpected, although years of therapy have calmed waters and allowed me to cope with PTSD, in an instant a flashback sends me into panic mode.  In this situation, I had unloaded my groceries prepared for the cashier checkout, when I noticed the guy behind me unloading his.  It was his black, greasy fingernails that triggered me.

Continue reading “PTSD Triggers – This time at the grocery check-out”

Great, now the Police are at my door!

Dialing the Distress Center, speaking what seemed like forever with a counselor about my obsessive suicidal feelings and depression, then abruptly hanging up was a terrible idea.  Thoughts danced in my head for days, dreaming and planning of ways to kill myself, yet I still reached out for help.  The counselor’s voice was grating on my nerves, we weren’t making progress, so didn’t want to talk to this chick anymore.

Then a loud rap at my door, “Police”.  A male and female officer are standing on my front veranda, asking if I’m ok and can they talk to me.  Me?  Why me?  Why the police?

Continue reading “Great, now the Police are at my door!”

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”

PTSD ~ Controlling My Terrifying Nightmares

Image Source: mommysurvivors.com

I’ve had problems with dreams and nightmares for years, and never gave it much thought that it may be connected to trauma (PTSD).  After, discussing memories and flashbacks in therapy, I’m beginning to understand how much trauma can have an impact on dreams.  My psychiatrist has prescribed a medication to alleviate the nightmares, and it has been fairly successful so far.

Those terrifying, nighttime dreams in which you show up at work naked, encounter an ax-wielding psychopath, memories from childhood trauma or other tribulations may become a thing of the past thanks to a discovery reported on Reuters.com.

Continue reading “PTSD ~ Controlling My Terrifying Nightmares”

Famous people who have NPD

Lucky Otters Haven

parishilton

This is not my own list, but I agree with most of the people listed in this blog post.

Here is the entire article:

There are many people all around us that suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), more commonly referred to as narcissism. There are many well known individuals who display characteristics of narcissism, if not full blown NPD. They range from politicians to celebrities, from ministers to business leaders. Some writers and researchers believe that successful and famous people have acquired or situational narcissism; they do show narcissistic traits but only after they have worked hard, sometimes for years, to get there. But that success often produces a personality pattern replete with narcissistic traits. Others believe that these people were narcissistic to begin with and sought out opportunities and fields that would satisfy their narcissistic needs. Either way, once they become famous it leads to narcissistic thinking and…

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What happened next when you told someone about your sexual abuse?

There has been a secret you’ve been concealing, that’s most likely eating you up inside, however, you now have mustered enough courage to tell someone you trust.   It’s rough, you’re just a kid.

Protection and trust have already been shattered by your abuser; you just couldn’t take it anymore, now it’s time to receive compassion, tenderness and told you were so courageous for coming forward and that person will be punished.

It may perhaps have been very positive for you, you were believed, acknowledged, obtained love, affection, sorrow and apologies for this ever happening; possibly counselling.  You went on to recover with perhaps some difficulty, but you received support. Continue reading “What happened next when you told someone about your sexual abuse?”

PTSD & TRIGGERS: Reliving the crap all over and over again

Just a quick glimpse at a man’s hands with dirty fingernails is my worst trigger, followed by a flashback.  Seems whacky, doesn’t it?

Bad memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time.  You may feel the same fear and horror you did when the event took place.  You may feel like you’re going through the event again.  This is called a flashback. Sometimes there is a trigger: a sound or sight that causes you to relive the event.  Triggers might include:

  • Hearing a car backfire, which can bring back memories of gunfire and war for a combat veteran.
  • Seeing a car accident, which can remind a crash survivor of his or her own accident.
  • Seeing a news report of a sexual assault, which may bring back memories of assault for a woman who was raped.    Source:  WebMed.com

Continue reading “PTSD & TRIGGERS: Reliving the crap all over and over again”

PTSD & Dissociation

While going though therapy, I had a rough time with dissociation (splitting) and recognize it still recurring at times.   With PTSD, it’s been a bumpy road in psychotherapy, and experiencing the flashbacks and nightmares makes me question if I should have sought out therapy in the first place.

SUICIDE: THE TABOO WORD

Suicide: definition…is an act of willfully ending one’s life.

Males die much more often than females by suicide, while females attempt suicide more often. U.S. Caucasians commit suicide more often than African Americans do.
People commit suicide more often during spring and summer.

Suicidal ideation produces the perilous side of mental illness, acting as both a friend and seducer. Even though thoughts of dying encapsulate our mind on one hand, we yearn to remain living on the other. We desire just to feel better.

Continue reading “SUICIDE: THE TABOO WORD”

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

UNDERSTANDING MENTAL ILLNESS

This may be of assistance as you journey through my blog…

DEPRESSION

Problems and misfortunes are a part of life. Everyone experiences unhappiness, and many people may become depressed temporarily when things don’t go as they would like. Experiences of failure commonly result in temporary feelings of worthlessness and self-blame, while personal losses cause feelings of sadness, disappointment and emptiness. Such feelings are normal, and they usually pass after a short time. This is not the case with depressive illness.

What are the signs of depressive illness?

Continue reading “UNDERSTANDING MENTAL ILLNESS”

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”

FOR ME: THE END OF MY SEXUAL ABUSE

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This year was productive in therapy.  I can breathe after 51 years.  Yes, I can finally breathe now with no fear of a meltdown, flashbacks or sudden tears as I know for certain that the man who abused me when I was six was a bad man.  I can watch Dr. Phil when he has a guest who was sexually abused, not have nightmares, and therapy has helped me recognize that it wasn’t my fault.

The numerous articles i’ve written about my abuse on this blog, described how my next door neighbor gratified his needs, yet sent me onto a hellish future.  He deceived me, pretended to like me and tricked me into thinking I was ‘special’, yet planning and taking advantage of every chance he could get to abuse me.

Continue reading “FOR ME: THE END OF MY SEXUAL ABUSE”

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.