Posts Tagged ‘depression’

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I have Bipolar Disorder. I am a nurse. I am a writer. I am an artist. I am a mess. 

Nursing is not like it used to be. Not at all. I chose long term care as my discipline because I genuinely like old people. The issue is, these days, nursing is not about caring for people, it’s about money. It’s an industry, a business, and no matter how much you actually care, how good your clinical skills may be, the most important aspect of an individual patient is not whether their kids came to visit, or their fear and pain when they are dying, but what kind of payor source they have. They are a number. A dollar amount. And today’s “new” nurses, they have no sense of work ethic, will call out 15 minutes before their shift starts, treat the patients without respect, just draw a paycheck. Work double shift after double shift to pure exhaustion for the money, not because they care. And the patients suffer. Yes, there is a nurse there. But it becomes quantity over quality.

I am not that nurse. I was recently let go from my previous job because I could not understand why a new admission to the facility was being treated as a VIP. I had to make this person a priority over my other patients, NOT because she was the family member of staff, or a celebrity, but because she had really good insurance and had a history of being lawsuit happy. I was expected to prioritize this person over the other patients assigned to me, the Holocaust survivor, the World War 2 veteran, and the school principal. This obese, demanding, young, narcotic seeking patient I was asked to prioritize over others. I did my work as I usually do for every new admission, I stayed 2 hours after my shift was over to make sure all of her paperwork was correct and because I didn’t kiss this patient’s ass…I received a call at home the next day dismissing me from a job I had grown to love.

I just don’t get it. And when you have bipolar disorder, magnify the intensity of the emotions you feel when you lose a job 1000 Times. Devastated, defeated, scared shitless. self worth and self confidence, gone. You analyze and over analyze until your head hurts, and you truly believe you’re absolutely a failure at a profession you chose because you actually care about people. Now I did not mistreat this patient in any way, if fact, I developed a rapport with her immediately, she was an art teacher and I am an artist. She wanted to see my work and I spent time with her discussing art. What I didn’t do was anything different than what I would do for any one of my patients. I didn’t spend my shift catering to this VIP. I catered and cared for ALL of my patients as if they were ALL VIPs, as I did every day of my 30 year career. And I was let go from my job. As my co workers stood around and refused to help me finish the admission paperwork which of course was extensive. The facility is not computerized so I had to hand write at least 25 pages of medication and treatment orders. As I’m doing this my coworker is dragging a demented patient down the hallway backward in her wheelchair as the elderly woman is screaming in distress while the nurse is telling her to “shut the fuck up!” All on camera, in front of the shift supervisor, and she still has her job. I’m confused, disappointed, discouraged. Bipolar disorder does not effective my clinical skills, the way I treat my patients, only my interactions with coworkers and administration because I believe in caring for each patient as an individual, not just a number or a dollar amount. 

So here I am now, about to be out in the streets, working night shift against the advice of my physician, with a nursing agency, staffing facilities I do not know, with patients I do not know, trying not to care, but it’s hard to not be who I am, and it’s a struggle to just do my “eight and the gate” for a paycheck. Having no set schedule and no routine. I keep going, trying, pushing as life throws me hurdle after hurdle with a disorder that most of my family and friends negate, believing I’m just lazy, a slacker, a loser, a drama queen…they refuse to acknowledge that I have a disability. Others, mostly my friends who suffer from similar disorders are very understanding and supportive. And my best friend has gone above and beyond to support me in this chaotic time in my life. I’m proud to call her my friend and after 46 years of friendship, my sister. I love you robin! 

And so I’m determined to overcome this rough spot in my life and I am truly humbled and grateful for all those who have stepped up, sat with me while I cried and wanted to give up, those who understand ‘ long term care politics’ and know the turnover statistics (61% for LPNs) in skilled nursing facilities and that unwarranted termination has become commonplace…I’m not alone, it’s rampant. I guess I just feel it more intensely than most and take it to heart, then beat myself up for feeling like a failure. This too shall pass! And again thank you all for your understanding, love and support! 

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My Bipolar Life

Posted: November 21, 2015 in Life
Tags: , , , ,

I believe it all began when i was about thirteen. My parents were too busy caught up in their own mental illnesses to realize there was even a problem. Actually, maybe it started when I was even younger, because in elementary school, I excelled academically but never made the honor roll because of negative marks on the behavior portion of my report card. “N”-needs improvement or “U”-unsatisfactory in “shows self-control” with comments from teachers like “extremely talkative but very bright.” Yes, that’s where it probably began. Today I would’ve been sent to the child study team for evaluation and probably get a recommendation that I get put on Ritalin or Adderall for ADHD. This was the beginning, I suppose, of this rough road that I’ve been stumbling along for over 40 years.
I can’t exactly blame my parents for how my life is unfolding today. I can blame genetics and heredity. Mom is bipolar and Dad was major depression and alcoholism. Like I had a shot in hell to avoid mental illness. Mom and Dad’s illnesses fed off of one another for years, even after they divorced. Lucky me, being the oldest, I pretty much witnessed the dysfunction from its
inception. Granted, my father died from prostate cancer but I blame it on the depression and alcoholism first and foremost. He just didn’t give a shit about anything anymore and didn’t get treatment for his prostate cancer which IS treatable in the early stages. It’s so much easier to tell people he died from cancer rather than depression and alcoholism. He was quite a tortured soul. I know he’s at peace now-free from the physical pain of cancer, and most importantly, free from the emotional pain.
This bipolar thing I’ve been dealing with for the past six years, it’s not pretty. I was finally properly diagnosed in 2009. In retrospect, every fucked up thing that’s ever happened in my life, well, all “text book” bipolar disorder. I’ve pretty much lost every nursing job I’ve ever had for “misconduct” not related to my clinical skills, but for my behavior. Mostly my mouth when I’m on a “high”, there is no filter. Or when confronted or criticized, I go from 0-60 in a nano second, my emotions take over. What my brain thinks logically doesn’t come out of my mouth correctly. Not a clear thought, only fragments of jumbled words. I’ve never reacted violently towards anyone. I’m an imploder not an exploder. I cry when I’m sad, angry, or happy. I can’t have a successful relationship, the longest being a whole whopping five and a half years. A record for me. I blame my poor choices in partners for the relationship failure as well. I don’t see the potential red flags because I’m too manic and euphoric in the beginning of every relationship. I can also be very moody. not everyone is equipped to handle me and my disorder and because of my poor choices, my significant others had disorders of their own, too. Toxicity at it’s finest.
So, here I am, almost fifty years old. No house of my own, three months behind on my rent, a car that is dying a slow death, no power steering and the head gasket’s blown, looking for a nursing job, full time with health benefits so I can afford my medications and psychiatric visits, being turned down halfway through the hiring process four times because of a really dumb thing in 2006 when I was neither diagnosed with bipolar disorder nor properly treated with medications. I got a disciplinary action on my nursing license for “professional misconduct”. I took a picture of a resident on my cell phone and texted it to another employee who thought that the lady was “cute”. I’m in debt up to my eyeballs. I sometimes wonder why I haven’t given up yet. I have involuntary facial movements from my medication so now I’m taking another medication for that and it’s making me feel like shit. I’m going through menopause on top of everything else. I make art that collects dust. I write books of poetry no one buys or even reads. I’m never taken seriously. This disorder has totally dehumanized me. I’m stigmatized and my cries for help go unnoticed. Left to fend for myself. I don’t want to throw in the towel, so to speak, and collect disability. I’m not disabled, I’m misunderstood. Bipolar disorder does not define me. I don’t want to be a pariah because of this stupid diagnosis. I’ve been in denial since my proper diagnosis in 2009. So are my friends and family. It seems like it was easier to “come out” as a lesbian than to “come out” as bipolar. I hate to admit I can’t do this on my own. I hate that I always feel like a victim. I hate that I become immobilized and incapacitated at times. It IS a disease like any other disease, insidious as it may be. But it’s my reality and at times, my curse. Somehow, someway I’m going to gather up the strength I need to see my way out of this darkness and become human again.

iphone pics 9-19-2013 088                                                                                                                                                                                Welcome to the world of seasonal affective disorder…I’ve been writing & creative, however, I can’t say it’s “uplifting”, but I think we all need an outlet for those dark feelings so they don’t destroy us…

“Dead Things”
October 4, 2013

A calico crab
In pieces
On the sand
Skeleton picked clean
By scavengers
From the sky
Molecular leftovers
For scavengers
On the ground
I put the pieces
Back together
Just for show
Giving the crab
Some dignity in death
A pretty picture
Appearing whole again
Why am I on the beach
Playing with dead things?

***

The Storm
November 9, 2013

Am I in the eye?
Do I fuel it with my heart?
The path of destruction
Is touching everyone,
Not just me.
Selfish to believe
I’m that important.
Swirling, twisting
Winds of random thoughts.
Lies, like paralyzing
Lightning strikes
Thundering, shaking
Souls from the inside out.
Leaving emptiness,
Trust washed away
By the torrential rains.
Hope, like a mudslide,
Oozing away.
There is no stopping
The onslaught
Perhaps only
A small miracle
A glimmer, a spark
Of someone who
Believes in her.

***

The Judge
November 9, 2013

She appeared
From a cyber world
Painting a beautiful
Picture
Like a used car
Salesman
I think I got sold a lemon
It all seemed so good
Caught in a web
Then the retracted
Fangs
Were revealed
The bite, stinging at first,
Superficially healing
But the venom
Lasting effects
Causing doubt
Aspects of my life
Which instill pride
Dismissed as “hobbies”
Acts of romance and kindness
Considered an impulsive
Waste,
Lack of motivation, a worry.
I’m not going to stop
Being me
The venom won’t change me.
Before you judge
Find your way to the mirror
Envenomate yourself…
And clean up the cat vomit
That’s been encrusted
On your kitchen floor
For almost four months
Take off your judges robe
Lay down your gavel…
You have no right.

***

Lost In Fairytales
November 9, 2013

I saw her for brief moments
A shadow,
Defeated.
She reached out to me
From her darkness
For the one thing
That I knew
To the core of my being
Would not help
But feed the monster
Chasing her.
Sadistically, I’ve been told,
I think I fed this thing.
She denies it.
Lost in a world of
Falsehood and fairytales,
So lost, each story
Blends into the other.
Her confusion is
My confusion.
I don’t understand
The stories anymore.
Contradiction
Manipulation
Playing on my sympathy
I can’t help her
She’s disrupting my path
To my own peace.
Empty promises prevail.
I’ve worked too hard
To let it crumble now.
I knew it would be this way.
But I let it happen
I opened the door…

***

Psychic
November 9, 2013

Who believes in
Fortune-tellers?
Intellect says
It’s all bullshit
But the promise
Of a hopeful future
Touches emotions.
I predicted her future.
No need for a mystical
Gypsy
Or smoke and mirrors.
I knew this would
Happen.
I told her through
Anger, tears, and
Desperation.
She wouldn’t believe me,
I was too invested.
So I waited.
And it all happened.
I wanted to bruise
Her some more
With an “I told you so”,
She came to be so battered
so fragile
Or so I thought.
Was it a disguise?
Why are my psychic abilities
Blocked now?
I can’t detect her
When she’s draining my
Rebuilt soul.

***

13th Step Vampire
November 9, 2013

Alone, scared, broken
She entered
The room.
Veins still burning
From the needle.
All eyes on her,
They smelled her fear,
The fresh blood.
From the shadows
He sees her,
Sits beside her,
With an understanding
Smile.
Brooding, pathetic
Stories
Emanate from his
Twisted past.
Weak, vulnerable,
She feels sorry for him
Disregarding her own
Pain
She sacrifices her
Throat
To the vampire…
In the beginning
She is mesmerized,
Enchanted
Giving her life’s blood
Willingly
Until there’s almost
Nothing left.
He changes, transforms.
The demon he kept
Well-hidden
Has resurfaced
Unleashing fury
On her already
Ravaged existence
Nothing left
No strength to fight
She runs and hides
Inside a bottle of pills.

And it begins again…

***

Regrets
November 10, 2013

It’s been 8 months
Since you left
This existence.
I search the past
For happy moments
We had together.
The happiest
Having coffee together
Sitting in silence
Mirrored mannerisms…
I have your hands
I look at them and
Think of you.
Why did you let yourself
Become so broken
And weak?
Why didn’t you reach
Out for help?
So many people loved
And cared about you
You pushed them away
Until it was too late
We scrambled to your
Side
Unaware of the
Severity
Turmoil ensued,
Painful decisions,
Experienced,
Yet inexperienced.
My knowledge
Fell on deaf ears.
If I could have been
By your side for your
Last breath
I would have bravely,
Unselfishly,
Helped you face the
Unknown
So you could finally
Find your peace.

***

Ghosts
November 10, 2013

They surround me,
The dead.
I can sense them
They come to me
Through flashes of light
In my peripheral vision
They visit me
In my dreams
With cryptic messages
I sometimes
Can’t interpret
I feel them
Watching me
Protecting me.
Somehow, I’m not afraid
They’ve never hurt me
I’ve only been touched once
It was fleeting
I knew who’s spirit
Was responsible
I understood the message.
Do I cling to something
That doesn’t exist?
A story? A legend?
Hope of an eternal life.
I absorb these stories
Like a sponge.
Learning away my skepticism
For the hope
There is another, eternal
Plane of existence.

***