Always there is the struggle of how much to reveal and how much to conceal. How much of my story is mine and how much belongs to other people.
I am uneasy sharing tales that contain other people. But if i only share my own tales, devoid of interactions, the blog will become a solipsist's rant.
If I overshare it will be a gossip column where people try to figure out who it is that I have loosely concealed in these lines.
I need to write while constantly holding in mind the spirit of this blog: keeping me honest in my continuing "recovery" (which pisses me off because there really isn't recovery from something that is chronic and progressive) AND fighting stigma associated with mental illness.
I used to be fearless. I used to throw my truth on the page in a brash and uncaring fashion. I worshipped at the altar of honesty and plain speech at the expense of cautiousness and reason.
Now I find myself... not prevaricating, but writing in such a roundabout fashion that it feels false.
And yet what options are available to me? What I write is deeply personal. It is about how I intersect with other humans to varying degrees. How I react with my own crappy mental illness. The ups and the UPS and the downs and the DOWNS.
And now I have new friends... new friends who have not known me for years and are now finding me on FB. Friends who are at present friendly acquaintances. People I work with. People I like. They mean use FB as a casual way to connect with me... but I post updates to my blog on my FB page. Which, if they choose to read it, goes beyond the casual connection they may be seeking.
I am not closeted at work, but it doesn't mean I necessarily want everyone to be reading about my mental health crap.
Oh! I see! You don't want everyone reading about your mental health crap and so you publish a 100% public blog. That makes total sense. You are being very internally consistent right now. What a reliable narrator.
I feel like I need to put a disclaimer on every page:
dear new friend, this is not about you.
dear new friend, you do not need to read this if you don't want to.
dear new friend, I am probably not as social as you think I am
dear new friend, I often to not read what people write in their feeds.
dear new friend, sometimes my only interaction with FB is to post these updates
dear new friend, I will not try to communicate secret messages to you from within this blog.
dear new friend, this is not about you.
dear new friend...
it is about me.
I wrote in "hell week" that I had some issues with my workplace accommodation not working out so well out of the gate. Here was my response...
I met with my boss to let her know how I had been affected by what I perceived as a violation of my workplace accommodation. I needed her to understand what a serious breach of trust this presented for me.
I wrote everything down. There were three pages. I will not print them here. Although I may excerpt it here and there. I put a lot of thought into it.
In general I laid out that I did not at all feel that she meant to do anything harmful. That there was no malicious intent and in general i felt very well supported. In fact, that was what made it all the more painful when our agreement wasn't met...
Then I covered what it felt like in general when I THOUGHT things were going according to plan. And how my feelings changed; what the experience was like for me when I realized that our agreed-upon plan was not happening.
(I did explain prior to our meeting that there would be crying. And I cried throughout.)
Then I talked about the longer-lasting impact of the SNAFU... lack of trust, feeling of betrayal, feeling unsafe at work, not knowing if I could trust that our agreement would be honored in the future, wondering what I had done wrong, random crying jags.
I made the distinction that I KNOW (in my head) that these are irrational, emotional overreactions, but that emotional overreactivity is part of the disability that led me to request the accommodation in the first place. To try and avoid situations like this.
And that it will now take me some time to recover from this. Which I just wanted her to know. And I wanted to know if I needed to do anything to make this a more "real" workplace accommodation... one that would be treated with greater gravitas.
Boss admitted that she'd screwed up and knew it at the time and felt terrible. That I was the first person that she had done workplace accommodations around this particular issue and there were several things that she hadn't thought through... including the vagaries of her own schedule that interfered with her commitment to our agreement.
She did say that the accommodation I have is real and there is nothing additional I need to do to make it more solid. This was just a screw-up. A blip. A learning curve.
I am writing this without crying. Which is AWESOME.
She offered that if I ever felt I needed to I could talk to the superintendent. Which was not at all what I felt needed to be done. I just felt that I needed my boss to know from my end what things felt like. And I needed to hear from her that this would not happen again. That she and I would work together to find a better way to go forward in a manner that would not be so damaging.
And I feel confident that we can work together on this.
Also, one of my co-teachers offered to come into the meeting with me (or any meeting ever) should I feel the need for support. She is one of my favorite people.
And another teacher (who I think I really freaked out by coming out of the principal's office with a tear-bleary face... ) expressed wishes that there was something he could do to make me feel better. Which made me feel better.
Being open and honest and having a support system at work. This is working for me.
This helps: having even a few people there who see and understand that I am not kidding when I say I need help... but that it doesn't make me a lesser teacher. And having people who encourage me to advocate for myself. And offer to serve as advocates for me. And are in general a group of kick-ass individuals.
Grateful Crap: Done with this particular issue until the spring. Also, grateful for the whole painful process.
meeting with boss
writing up all the crap that I did
meds: 200mg lamotrigine
it has been an emotionally taxing few weeks.
and now I have a show on Saturday to prep for (beading)
glad I talked to the boss before returning from break
because it helped ENORMOUSLY
Over-dramatic. i did not just go through "5 1/2 days of cold, wet, brutally difficult operational training on fewer than four hours of sleep." as part of training to become a Navy SEAL.
Now is when I am going to be terribly oblique. I want to get across a point without divulging a lot of information. Which is always tricky.
Here is the upshot: I asked for and received a workplace accommodation at my job. It was not precisely what I asked for, but it was what we agreed upon and it seemed like a fine plan.
I was then asked not to discuss my specific accommodation with colleagues (thus the oblique) because then "everybody would want this accommodation."
This is true.
I accidentally (before talking to my boss) mentioned that I would be requesting an accommodation based on my disability to several of my coworkers. Especially the ones that I work with closely.
And now I feel "disclosers' remorse." Because I think there is some resentment and some envy and certainly a feeling that I am getting a sweet deal that is Not Fair.
In fact, one of my coworkers commented, "How come I can't have that accommodation?" which I found to be quite hurtful.
I replied that what she needed to do was have bipolar disorder, get a note from her psychiatrist and then it would be no problem to get the accommodation. But that I could not recommend having bipolar disorder just as a means of getting a workplace accommodation.
So already feeling self-conscious about HAVING the accommodation.
But it is not a TRIVIAL accommodation. It is not one given on a whim or out of favoritism. It is not something to make my life more convenient. It an accommodation related to a DISABILITY. An invisible disability. This was a sensible workplace accommodation intended to:
ameliorate the negative effects of STRESS and ANXIETY on my ability to FUNCTION and to do my JOB.
And then this week it was not honored as agreed upon. At which point I was standing in front of the class and my brain shut down and I had to fight back tears and it felt like my whole head was buzzing and I needed to walk around in circles to calm myself down.
Happily, I had a co-teacher during that particular class who told me to chill out. In a nice way. But I still found it impossible to actually teach. Having another teacher in the room made it possible to continue to act like a human being. Made it possible for me not to dissolve into a thunderstorm, a hurricane of tears.
But now I feel hurt and betrayed an ignored and NOT safe. Because the accommodation that I agreed upon with my boss (which was already a compromise and more stressful for me than what I requested) was NOT observed.
And I would like to vent about it with my workplace friends, but that is not an appropriate place for me to do so because of the implicit resentment.
So now I feel isolated, betrayed and hurt. And it is not a fun place to be.
Grateful Crap: My boss really does feel terrible. So it probably won't happen again. At least not in the same way. Also grateful to have a weekend in which to calm down before facing work again. Although I did spend a good deal of time on the internet on Friday looking up legal crap with the ADA on what to do if workplace accommodation are not met.
Ate an entire pan of Special K Bars and half a pizza.
That may NOT have been good for my mental health.
But I took my meds: 200 mg. lamotrigine
1 informal very surprised and shocked I was poleaxed when I heard I’d passed the exam.
2 unable to stand because something has hit you very hard
I don't deal well with surprises. Bad surprises are particularly unwelcome. I'm not going to get into any political crap, because the fact that everyone and their uncle Bob is talking political crap and there is this heightened fear for very real reasons and very imaginary reasons and no reasons whatsoever... I'm not here to talk about that.
This, after all, is intended to be a blog related to mental health. And my own experiences as a person living with a mental illness; specifically bipolar disorder.
Nobody needs yet another cis-gendered white chick living in a safe neighborhood with a job and a family and a house talking about how frightened the election result makes her feel. So that is not what this is.
So I had a current-events related shock on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Something I had not mentally prepared myself to deal with. And furthermore I had done the following things:
This was the second time I was on the edge of a Depressed mood episode at my current workplace. This was the second time that I had trouble pulling myself together from moment to moment so that I would not burst into unstoppable tears.
The first time was simply workplace anxiety related to formal observations of my teaching. And I was the only one who was sad.
This time I was surrounded by sad people and upset people and frightened people who kept telling me or showing me how sad upset and frightened they were. Which meant that as soon as I managed to pull myself together, there was another trigger to fall apart.
I was not at my best teaching-wise.
What was deeply upsetting to me on the mood-disorder front is that it felt very much like the beginning of a full-on "mood episode" in which there is some inciting incident that makes me sad, but then it is like the sad thermostat is broken and I just get sadder and sadder and sadder and I am stuck there.
And that made me really mad. Because I have not (at least I don't think I have) had to deal with full-on mood episodes for a long time now. There have just been some Ups and some Downs that have been kind of tricky to negotiate at times. But overall things have not been such a dramatic roller coaster. I have felt Better.
The last Depressed mood episode I recall was when a F/friend committed suicide. Which was sad. But I couldn't bounce back from that into my normal moods. For a really long time. This was prior to my diagnosis of bipolar and we just figured that my antidepressants magically (the crappy kind of magic) stopped working.
So here I have had another unpleasant shock of a completely different variety. Only now I have the correct diagnosis. Now I am taking medication intended for my mental illness. Now I have an eye on my own emotional reactons...
I am happy to report that several days after the initial emotional blow, I don't feel like I am in mood episode territory. Just in regular emotional territory where I can have the same sorts of situational emotional reactions as everyone else. Still, I'm going to keep an eye on this.
Grateful Crap: privilege (even though it makes me feel guilty)
Quaker, teacher, parent,