Sunday, February 11, 2018

It's a bad time for me.

Well, fuck me! It's been a rough week.

First, let me share this excerpt from a social media post on Friday evening that'll really help set the tone:
I’ve had a terrible last 48 hours. I’m not feeling that much better, but I thought I’d reach out to those struggling and just say I’m sorry we’re all on this shitty boat together. 
An ongoing sore spot for me is my ability to take care of myself financially. If I let myself focus too intensely on losing an income and my ability to find and keep stable work - I have a panic attack. A bad week at work triggers many things in me. These days though it’s just deep dread and self-loathing. It’s shame and it’s guilt and it’s a weight in my chest. I’m still alive, and I know that’s something, but these days it’s painful. I feel limited and broken and incapable of functioning. I’m not the architect of depression, nothing I feel is original, but I feel so firmly inhabited by it. Usually haunted but these days possessed. 
It is such an awful thing. It’s very nature made to make you feel weak, whiny and spoiled for even naming it. What a luxury to have such a convenient, invisible disease. One that robs you of ambition. One that keeps your decisions safe and your hopes for yourself soft and low. I’m sure it’s the depression, and the exhaustion that marries it that keeps you in a lacklustre suit and not your utter lack of discipline or work ethic. And when you try, and things get bad again you’ll remember why you try and keep your life small. You’ll be reminded by everything in your life. Because everything you love and celebrate on a good day screams your incompetence back at you on a bad one. They’re all things you need to take care of - but can’t. 
Your dog thinks you’re a downer. Your life is too big, you can’t take care of it. This space you occupy is filled with things you now want to sell - to save yourself from becoming the wretch you feel you’re destined to become. 
This is only some of it. Last night was worse. My heart is racing and my mind with it. I am so sick of this invisible disease and I’m furious and uncontrollably discouraged about living where any and all care I could possibly access takes money, leisure time and a tremendous amount of energy. 
I hope pain is a limited resource and when mine is great it’s lessened for somebody else.

Things aren't going well with my new job. Initially, I thought it was friction with my manager that would pass, but it turns out I was incredibly naive about that. My manager's boss met with me this week in a meeting I'm still unclear on. She said they were wondering if they should re-sign my contract when it terminates, or if they should even fulfill my current contract, because of a list of points.

The main point being I had a huge problem with my manager and sick-days. I had 5-day a week medical treatments at a hospital, and it meant going over my allotted sick-day credits. I took some in vacation time, and it just caused a huge problem.

Then there's an appointment I took my mother to, that was in my name, not hers, that I marked as a family day, and should not have. Having apologized for the misunderstanding (my misunderstanding of what constituted a family day) the issue was constantly brought back up as if I was attempting some kind of serious fraud. Which I don't get. My manager was so aggressive and odd about the whole thing when I asked questions because I didn't understand it was like she was trying to trap me in a lie. It was so hostile.

She then went on about second chances and her experiences in the department, and if I had anything to say, but all I did was cry. She told me I could feel safe and tell my side of things but I couldn't. I told her I felt it was more than professional (my manager does not like me) and that I was upset because she was telling me I might lose my job.

There are a lot of examples of my manager not liking me, and why I have the feeling it's personal. I even spoke to someone in HR about it months ago. I've spoken to colleagues about it, and they've noticed it as well. If we all went out to lunch together and came back 15 minutes late, I would be the only one who would get an e-mail about it. Once, while "standing guard" at a door, she saw me on my work cell phone and told me to put my personal cell phone away. I corrected her, and said it was my work phone, and she got irritated and snapped that it didn't look good and started getting mad at me so I stopped trying to talk to her about it, even though my colleague openly admitted to being on his personal phone the entire time, and got no comments from her. It's a ton of little things like that. If the team needed something, there was a time we tested what would happen if I asked versus someone else asking. And, in group meetings, I would often say things that were dismissed, or I was responded to as if I was lying, so one of my colleagues would have to agree with me, and repeat what I was saying or else what I was saying would not be heard.

The main thing that upset me the most was early on when I told her we needed professional movers to move boxes because two of my colleagues were going to burn out, doing physical labor that should not be part of their job. She rejected the comment and was very snide with me, saying it's what we're paid to do. When I went back to my colleagues and told them that, one broke-down. She ended up giving her notice the next week. As a reaction to the near burn-out and notice, my manager hired some part-time movers to help us. But it took someone quitting. When she wrote out to the manager her notice, she never got an actual response, and it was an ongoing issue of not feeling heard for most of us. So I did not trust her from the get-go, which she no doubt must have realized.

I was also reprimanded because there was a day when we were all making boxes and we had no black permanent markers left. I asked to order some, and was met with hostility and suspicion, did we really need them? It might take a while, could we get by without them? We're a team of 4-6 making hundreds of boxes a day - the reaction was nonsensical. So I went to the office supply store and got markers. And I said if I'm reimbursed fine if not, that's okay too. That did not go well.

A lot of the friction has been around me taking liberties I shouldn't be taking anymore now that my employer is the federal government. Apparently, all those bureaucratic jokes about it taking 4-6 weeks before your pencil order comes in isn't a joke. It's something I have a lot of trouble with. Clearly.

During the meeting with my manager's boss I mentioned that when I heard she was leaving I was hoping to benefit from a fresh start with the new manager, who I already prefer. Having said that, the department clearly has a laundry list of issues with me, which isn't something I can easily get over or look past.

She said we'd meet again in a few weeks with my new manager. That didn't leave me feeling great. For now I'm going to just keep going to work and doing the best I can, while also spending as little money as possible since it feels like I'm going to lose my job.

Sure, maybe part of that meeting was to get me to smarten up and move forward, but I felt it was more in line with her doing her due-diligence before firing me to keep the union happy. A union I've never seen or heard from by the way.

If this happened on Thursday, I got home in a panic. I cried the entire bus ride home and most of the night. I have cried more in the last 6 months, at work, than I have in the last decade of my life. I asked a friend if I could text her to "let things out" in order to attempt to decompress a little. I know what happens when you call suicide hotlines. They tell you to call a friend if you can. I guess it's an attempt to get you back in your "real life" with people who actually know you, but what it feels like is a dodge. It all feels like a dodge.

I went to work Friday, kept busy with the job, and came home Friday night quite well rooted in a mix of situational sadness and deep depression.

  1. I am not capable of having a decent job because I'm a piece of shit.
  2. I am unable to take care of myself.
  3. I am 34 and dependent on my mother.
  4. If my mother passes before me, I'm fucked.
  5. I shouldn't have adopted my dog, I'm a fuck-up. 
  6. I don't deserve a job with actual reasonable working conditions.
  7. I have an undeserved ego/pride.
  8. I am incapable of holding down a job.
  9. I need to get "worse" jobs that I deserve.
  10. I will never be able to afford care (therapy, classes, yoga, self-care). 
  11. My inability to understand the complexities of all the interactions with my manager over the last few months clearly shows I have a diminishing mental capacity. 
  12. I am a drain on my mother.
  13. I am a drain on my friends and family.
  14. I am a disappointment to my friends and family.
  15. This was my one chance to get into the public sector and I fucked it up. 
  16. I would need to live in affordable housing, but my mental illness is borderline severe so I will never be helped by any official social services.
  17. Any care I could access would have to be paid out of pocket, which I will never be able to afford, so I will never access it. 
  18. All of this was avoidable, but I was too nonchalant because I'm dissociative. 

It goes on and on.

At this point, 2-3 days after the shock of it all I'm calmer, so maybe this makes a little more sense than the sheer panic of Thursday and Friday. It's quieter now.

Yesterday I went to the dog park, ran some simple errands and watched documentaries all day. I watched I Am Not Your Negro and I Am Another You, which hit close to home since it was about being homeless due (in large part) to mental illness. Great timing on that one.

Today I went to the dog park, did some laundry and might watch another movie or cook something.

Sometimes I fall into this crevasse of thinking about losing my job and my heart starts to race.

Other times a feeling of uselessness just slowly covers me up.

It's not a great time. It's not a good time. It's a bad time for me.

Monday, January 1, 2018

It's 2018.

I was primarily looking forward to this holiday break for the time off of work. I'm tired. Work has been stressful, I've had issues with my manager. All of it as a long story, with detailed explanations of why I think she's not a good manager, and how I feel she clearly dislikes me, personally.

I spent Christmas cooking for my brother's family, then headed back home to sleep for two days. I go back to work tomorrow, January 2nd. I'll have had a little over a week off, which is most definitely better than nothing.

It's been difficult though since I've been cooped up inside the house. It's been -20 to -30 these past few days. 

Having Buddy around has helped. He's a booger sometimes but he doesn't have a mean bone in his body. He's been a nice distraction and a cuddle buddy.

The manager I don't like is leaving in January, but I don't know who is replacing her, and what will be said of me to her replacement. I'm only on a one-year contract so it's stressful not knowing what's going on. We should know in February or March if we'll be re-contracted.

I'm trying to focus on my health but it's been hard lately. I feel bloated and exhausted. Seasonal depression on top of already being a depressive fucker doesn't seem like an ideal situation.

I'm still alive and kicking. I'm just not kicking too hard or too high. Limping and bunting.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Jenifer Lewis on bipolar disorder, and being the Mother of Black Hollywood.

Saw some videos pass through on my feed featuring Jennifer Lewis talking about bipolar disorder, and taking care of yourself. I thought her advice was on-point.
I got no problem talking about bipolar disorder or anything that I went through, or am going through. It doesn't go away. Mania is exhausting. It can ruin your entire life, and your families life - and those who love you. You gotta look in the mirror. You got to see that something is wrong. You then have to make a choice whether you want to live or die. It took my therapist 5 years to convince me to go on medication... You then have to be patient for your level of medication... 
Nobody is going to save you. Nobody is going to  rescue you. Nobody can wear your shoes. You have to make your own bed and build your own house. Do your best and leave the rest. Can't handle every fucking thing. Love yourself, so love will not be a stranger when it comes. And it will come, if you take care of yourself. 
For some reason I can only find the video on Facebook - which fucking irritates me to no end.

Also, this interaction with Josh Gad is pretty good. 

After a quick google search I see she was also on Oprah talking about being bipolar. 

She's indeed fabulous. There's also a wee bit on mental health on another piece on her on The Root's website, where she also talks about her work and playing "the mother" for many black-Hollywood productions. I think the first thing I saw her in was Fresh Prince.

Monday, November 6, 2017

I'm still here.

I am still around. Adjusting to my new schedule and the responsibilities of having a dog has been a lot ( he is trying to chew threw a box as we speak - I just stopped writing to try and fake eat his bone so he'd get jealous and switch chew-targets).

I've also been going to TMS 5 days a week for a month, and am only now weaning down my appointments. These have been daily and have included missing work time and taking some sick-time hours and vacation hours as not to decimate my paychecks.

Weekends have been busy, but I'm also tired.

The TMS clinic thinks I might have sleep apnea so I also tested for that and am waiting for the results.

I want to write, I just don't want to be sitting at a computer.

My work situation has ben nuts, it's a long, someone else's work situation story so I'll spare you. Long story short a project that should have taken over a year to plan and execute with a team twice our size is now being forced through in 3 months on an all new team. We're burnt out but for most of us it's our first job for the public service sector so we want to make sure we get repeat contracts.

Unemployment and poverty motivate.

If there's anybody out there that reads this stuff, I'm still here.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Black dogs.

I continue to be busy. I'm working and taking care of Buddy and going to TMS 5-days a week during work hours. It's been a lot. 

The weather has been unseasonably warm in Montreal, so the fall is only starting to make an appearance. 

I've been thinking about how I'd like to write about black dogs as a theme. I read a memoir called Killing the Black Dog, apparenly the black dog is a metaphor for depression

I find it an odd metaphor, since for me black dogs have always been symbols of companionship and familiarity, since every dog I've ever had was black. A black labrador retriever, a black schnauzer and now with Buddy, a black pug. 

The labrador, a confirmation of my fragility and the cruelty of life.

The schnauzer, a crescendo of anxiety and tumultuous happenings.

The pug, an acceptance of the absurd and an attempt to move on. 

Depression to me may feel like a fog that creeps into the brain and covers me like a cloud. Or an evil spirit that feeds off of my energy, joy and ambition. I don't think a representation of depression in popular culture has ever been as spot-on as Dementors in the Harry Potter universe. 

TMS has been going well. The appointments break-up my day. After the first week and a half, I felt my brain to be less cluttered and "cloudy" feeling. Less foggy. It's like there was this density and weight I couldn't see past, and it lifted. I would imagine it to be similar to feeling congested, except without being centrally focused in the sinuses. It's also similar to being sleep-deprived. 

The doctor at the TMS/neurology lab also wants me to be tested for sleep apnea, since I'm perpetually exhausted. I'll be doing that this upcoming Friday. 

If TMS continues to go well (I'm about half-way through the 4-6 week treatment) I may experiment with lowering my anti-depressant dossage, and see if it helps with my energy levels and sleep. 

TMS isn't invassive. It's a time commitment and a hassle to get to, but it's covered by medicare. I think one American I read about having done it paid for it out of pocket and he said it cost him roughly 15 grand. SO, I thank my lucky stars for Canadian healthcare because that's the entirety of my savings for a downpayment. For a treatment that may or maynot help me. 

The treatment itself is a little odd. You sit in a chair, not unlike a dentist chair, lean back, and a large flat thing is put on your head. It's places on your frontal lobe area and then you get tapped on the head. That's basically it. It send you magnetic pulses that feel like being tapped on the head by a woodpecker with a blunt beak. Tap tap tap, 5 seconds, beep, tap tap tap and so on. 

After a few sessions I started falling asleep. It's not painful, just weird and hard to ignore. Some times the magnetic pulses must be stronger, because sometimes it's harder for me to fall asleep since I really feel them, and they make my eye and nose twitch. Other times I feel like a cat leaning into a scratch and barely feel them, but it's comforting. 

I think about writing a lot, I just don't want to spend more time in front of a computer. In a few months time I may start working from home a day a week, in which case I could set aside a little bit of time on that one day a week to write. We'll see. 

I'll definitely keep updating about TMS, since I myself came to it through online blogs and personal accounts, and there's very little out there about it. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

One long day.

It's been really difficult to find the time to update the blog. I have had a lot going on with the dogs' adoption and work. I've just been very busy. I get home during the week and I walk the dog, I have dinner I take a shower and I go to bed.

On top of all of this I started TMS treatments. Everything happened really quickly: they called me, they gave me an appointment for a few days later, there was an intake interview (How depressed are you on a scale of sheetcake to paint huffing? Do you think you're a bummer most of the time, some of the time or all the time?) and I started treatments the same day.

I started this past week. I went in on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I will be going in five days a week for 4 to 6 weeks.

It's all a lot of unknown. I don't know how long this'll last, I don't know how I might react, I don't know if they'll keep me for the full six weeks or shorter/longer.

All I know right now is I'm exhausted and it's a lot to go in for treatments and to work full-time. I am missing work for an hour or two daily to go to these sessions so I'm using a lot of my sick days and possibly also my vacation days. It's causing some stress. When I get home I don't feel like being on the computer so that's why I'm not really on the blog these days. Maybe eventually when things quiet down I'll be able to put some time aside every week and spend more time writing.

I'm still here, doing my best, not dead yet.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Old dog learning new tricks.

It's been longer than a minute, I know. I've been meaning to sit and update, but when I'm at work all day on a computer I don't want to re-commit to a screen when I get home.

I've been at the new job for about a month and a half now and overall it's going well. There's still a lot of learning and training but overall I'm happy with my choice.

It being a "real job" with less down time means I can't log into my personal accounts while at work. Hence, less updating on here.

Sometimes I'd have entire days where I'd be waiting for work so I'd write or I'd work on other things.

When things settle maybe I'll have more time to write, but right now I'm still trying to figure out my schedule and my hours and what my life will look like while working a decent job.

I'm also only on a one-year contract, so there's still a lot of anxiety about job security.

The new job was a salary bump, and the same week I started our union signed a new collective agreement so my salary went up again. This amounts to sorcery since in the private sector capitalist models determine whether or not you're worth a salary boost. Basically, this means sales jobs get bonuses and raises and administrative staff get shit.

My salary has gone up by nearly 7 grand, or, to put it more accurately, it's reached a living wage. I still haven't received a proper pay check, but once I do I'll be able to see how much money I'll be making, and I can start putting money away for my house/condo.

I've been coming home after long days of training, and sometimes I'm so overwhelmed I just go to bed. It's been a lot.

But, the work conditions are better, the hours are better, and the forthcoming benefits are better. There are actual distinctions now in days off. Sick days. Vacation days. Volunteer days. Family-leave days. Before it was all my vacation time. Now I have an allotment for each. Since you know, you can get sick, a parent can get ill, roads can be closed, and other stuff fucking happens. Life fucking happens.

The new hires who started with me are both great, and my stress level has gone down significantly. It's nice to know I have a job where I actually do something. I see my accomplishments daily. They're tangible.

A good job helps. A living wage helps.

Along with all of this I've been actively looking to adopt a dog since I have the funds now to properly care for one. This is an ongoing project. It's difficult to adopt a younger dog. It's difficult to adopt a smaller dog. These are "in demand" dogs and I can't be everywhere looking for pooches. Size and age is a consideration because I'll be caring for the dog with the help of my mother, who will be the daytime caretaker. She doesn't want to wrangle anything, so size is an issue. I'd also like to train my own dog - so younger is preferable.

On top of all of this, my town has breed bans, so there are a number of dogs I am not even allowed to own. A lot of the dogs I've loved at the refuge have been pit-bulls, and they're on the ban list. A lot of pit-mixes are, which is a shame. I really love them, they're big babies.

So I'm keeping my eyes peeled for dogs that need adopting - but it's hard, people adopt quickly and there are a lot of factors to consider.

My friend C also came down from British-Columbia for nearly 2 weeks. This had me socializing and going out a lot. Probably more than I usually do in half a calendar year.

With my bi-weekly volounteering and some packed weekends, it's just been pretty nuts.

I happen to be online right now because a friend needed me to make a postcard design for her real quick while a printer we use is having a 25% off sale. So here I am, on the inter-webs.

I'll try and make more of an effort to take the time to update, or to sit and write on a given subject.

Wish me luck at living a life,

P.S - No news on TMS, I assume my fax is at the bottom of a pile somewhere.