I’ve dealt with mania and depression my entire life, but never to the degree that it was 12ish or so years ago before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The several years after diagnosis was even worse as we tried to find the right med cocktail that would work for me. The seizures, anxiety attacks, crying for no reason, the impulsive-dangerous behavior – all of it beat the crap out of me. It was a miserable time in my life for many reasons. I didn’t become suicidal, after all, just because I was feeling sad one day. One thing I had an extremely difficult time with was accepting my limitations, and humbling myself. My loss of independence. I touched on this in a post I did recently regarding I don’t know what, but I’ve been digging deeper in my mind since then and it’s left me with some pretty uncomfortable feelings.
Getting There and Back
Let’s start with getting around. I discussed this the other day so I won’t go too much into it, but this is a biggie. I once lived in Stockton California which is just south of Sacramento and is over 300 miles north of Los Angeles. I was in a long distance relationship with a guy who lived in LA and never thought twice of driving 5 ½ hours south and another 5 ½ hours north again a couple of times a month. It was a straight shot down the interstate. Eventually I took a job in LA and getting to be with him was an added bonus…well, I thought it’d be a bonus, but that’s for a discussion on another day.
As part of my job, I took groups of my employees on tours through San Francisco about 4 times a year. Anyone who’s driven through the beautiful city knows how difficult it is to get around the twisting turning roads and up and over the hills. I had to do that in a stretch van that held 12 people. I always had a good time.
When the bottom fell out on my life, those days were no more. I got too confused and disoriented just trying to ride a bus, much less maneuvering around a major city. If not through the help of many of my friends at our church, I would have never made it to my numerous doctors’ appointments. Without them I don’t know what I would have done.
Getting and Keeping a Job
My last job that I worked was managing a coffee house for a chain primarily here on the west coast (not Starbucks.) I was given the honor of managing our flagship store in Beverly Hills. When the seizures started happening I wound up not showing up on a regular basis leaving my staff shorthanded in an extremely busy store. This store was close to the home of owner of the corporation so it was his hang out. Unfortunately, on one of the days I didn’t show up, he was in line and had to wait 15 minutes for a cup of coffee. I was immediately on his shit list. Fortunately, I had a good relationship with my district manager who listened to me when I asked to transfer to one of the beautiful café’s we had here in the Los Angeles bay. She had faith in me and wanted to get me out from under the owner’s nose, so it was a win, win for all. Eventually, the seizures, mood swings and disassociation followed me and I had to go on total disability. That was about 9 or 10 years ago and I haven’t worked a day since.
Back to School
Out of work, I decided to go back to college. Man, was that a bad terrible idea. I’ve never been a good student, but it was absurd to think I could handle the stress. The school bent over backwards to accommodate me. I was allowed to record all lectures, I was provided tutors for free and I was given longer times to complete tests. None of that made a damn difference. When a project or assignment came due I would have severe panic attacks and would have to drop out of the class. For two years I remained on academic suspension and eventually dropped out.
Bills, Bills, Bills
I was never great with bills, but I did have a
very flawed system in order that I at least would know how much I had in the bank. My hubby, Maurice, now handles all of that and I stay purposely ignorant because I don’t think I can handle it. Just last week I had to pay my dermatologist, my ears, nose and throat guy, copay on my cpap and supplies, lab work that was done over a year ago, and the copay with my therapist. On top of all that I received a bill from Los Angeles county for copays on all my pdoc visits over the past year. That came out of the blue since I was told a year ago that I was in a county program that covered all my copays. How in the world will I pay for it all? Maurice assures me we’re okay, but I’m not so comfortable with that. I constantly worry about our money, yet prefer not to know.
Keep That Sunny Side Up
I’m proud of the things I’ve been able to take back and handle on my own, but I’m angry and frustrated that I am nowhere near true independence. The likelihood is that I never will. The people around me are loving and happy to accommodate, but I still hate it. Being a student of Buddhism, I understand the importance of acceptance and staying in the now, but this damn disease takes me to my limits. On the plus side, despite my whining, I truly am optimistic. I believe that someday I will reach total acceptance and humility, it’s just not going to be when I want it. That’s because I want it now.
What have you had to give up that has taken away some of your independence?