Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Diagnosis

I'm scared, I'm very scared. I know I haven't kept up with my blog in over 3 years, but a lot has happened. Life has kept me busy—good and bad. For the most part, I forgot about this blog and just walked away from it. Maybe it was a trend, but as I sit down and write, I know the words will flow from my fingers as I continue to think.

Think long and hard about how my life has been turned upside down in the past two years.

In April 2015, we were told that my husband was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease. He was only 52 years old. He had an MRI which turned out normal, but the neuropsychologist tests that were given to him is what showed otherwise. For now, he's walking just fine, you can speak to him with an intelligent conversation, and he's heavy into his workouts. But there are little things here and there that are noticeable. 

Such as, occasional words that are mixed up or hard for him to think of. He can't tell you the date or sometimes the day of the week. He doesn't even know the year we're in. Otherwise, he seems very happy. As if nothing was happening.

In the few years leading up to his diagnosis, we noticed changes in his behavior. I couldn't understand why after walking in the door everyday, my husband would just be sitting on the sofa, just staring into space—no TV or anything. He was just sitting there as if he was in a daze. At first, I thought it was laziness; no motivation whatsoever or even depression. In retrospect, I wish that's all it was, because we could have taken care of it; we could have dealt with it. Only to be treated with one simple pill (and perhaps therapy) and he'd be OK and on his way to recovery. But unfortunately, with recent tests, that's not the case. 

We were having our problems for 2 years prior to his diagnosis, to the point that I even contemplated divorce—even adultery. I felt our marriage was that far gone. We fought everyday, mostly because of my frustration with his "lack of motivation" about finding a new job. I couldn't understand why he wasn't going online everyday to look. I was looking for him. I was the one who sat down at the computer everyday to inquire and apply for jobs—for him.

I never in my wildest dreams thought it'd be as serious as early onset Alzheimer's Disease. He was only 52 years old. How could this be happening? It's so rare in the U.S., and it's only 5% of people suffering from Alzheimer's Disease that are early onset. It's something I never considered at such a young age.

I just thought—and hoped—he was depressed.

We were living in an apartment that depressed all of us. We were all anxious to get out, so after almost 2 years, we found another place to live. A single family home. No walking upstairs, listening to their music, or hearing their conversations. Just a freestanding house that was ours. All ours.

As soon as we moved, I noticed a huge difference in his attitude. He seemed so much happier—and still is. But the signs were still there. He still couldn't tell me the date, or the year. He didn't even know who the president of the United States was. And for someone who enjoyed watching the news every night, I knew this wasn't the norm. Even now, after over 2 years since his diagnosis, he still stumbles on his speech and with his sentences. It's difficult understanding what he's trying to say, but we make it through. He still works, but only a few hours a day. Luckily, his employer knows his situation and they work through it with him. His duties are minimal, and since his responsibilities are low, it's good for him to be there and get out of the house and interact with other people. 

I know that one day, I will be faced with the most difficult decision of my life. That time where he will have to go to a facility to live out his remaining days. Being away from him, will be painful and it'll be an adjustment in our lives. Can you ever be prepared for something like that? I don't know. I just want him to be at home with us for as long as possible. 

For now, that is my goal.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Rock Bottom

I think we've hit it. We've hit rock bottom. Aside from being homeless, I feel like we're on the verge of losing everything. We have worked so hard just to stay afloat, only to have it all come crumbling down any day. 

Ever since my husband lost his job last year, and since I lost my job back in April, our lives have fallen deeper into a financial abyss. Last month, I had to sell a piece of jewelry that meant the world to me. Given to me from my husband over 6 years ago, was the only piece of jewelry from my husband that I had left. A year and a half after we were married, I lost my wedding ring. Although it was immediately replaced from our insurance policy, I still no longer had that original ring that he placed on my finger on our wedding day, so as a reminder, I felt like I lost my wedding ring all over again.

I received a decent sum of money to help us through, but as that sum has trickled down, I fear we will be back to struggling once again. I know what we have left, it most likely won't last more than a month; maybe even a few weeks at the most. My husband still hasn't found an acceptable job, something that will sustain us each month, and for now, I am only working part time as a preschool teacher. I wanted to do something different with my life, and although for the most part, I'm happy with it, I miss doing what I love most, graphic design.

I've been able to have fun with the kids as I collaborate new and exciting art projects, but the feeling of accomplishment only goes so far. 

Back in April, I was fired from my job—a job that I held for a year and a half. I was overworked and underpaid. I came home everyday feeling more stressed than the day prior. Everyday was an emotional struggle but I knew, as unhappy as I was at my job, at least I was making money. The entire time I worked there, I had never received a raise, even though I was promised one. Finally after a year and a half, I was fired for reasons of making errors. I admit to these errors, and for that, I blame my disease. I know what my mind is capable of, and for the past few years, my mind has slipped.

Suffering from bipolar disorder makes your mind wander. I couldn't concentrate and as a result, dealing with orders, numbers, etc. was just too much of a challenge.

I hated that job. Hated it more than anything. I dreaded going into work everyday and I dreaded dealing with customers/clients. When I'd get an email asking where their order was, I wanted to scream! It was the same thing each and everyday. Someone always complained about something, and it never seemed to end.

I was underpaid, but I grudgingly showed up everyday like clockwork. Like the rest of society.

Ironically, since that day, I was awarded unemployment insurance, which even today, still surprises me since I was fired. Because I never received any written notices or warnings, they considered that a valid reason. Although my employer fought it, I still won.

That was the best feeling, knowing I had the last word. So for now, albeit temporarily, I have money supplementing my part time job.

Now, I am working half that time and making the same money per hour. Less stress of course, but because I work with 3-5 year olds 5 days a week, it's a different kind of stress. Regardless, I don't go home wanting to pull my hair out and running for the bottle of wine.

After all of this time, and all of this heartache with our lives, I try to look at the positive—we have each other. We're all healthy (knock on wood) and we love each other. I look at my daughter everyday and think, where has that time gone? She is starting high school in a few weeks, and I want her to have the best high school experience that any teenager can have. Even though she is now on the free lunch program, I just look at it as one less stress to worry about. Wondering if she'll have enough money in her lunch account to get a hot lunch at school. Her sports are paid for since she qualifies for the free lunch program. 

She doesn't seem to mind, at least that's the impression she's giving us. For now, I just don't want her to worry about what will come next. I just want her to be happy and enjoy her high school experience. After all, it only happens once in our lives.

Bipolar Gal on Twitter

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I'm Back!

I've been gone for 6 months now. I haven't written in my blog that entire time. Why? Because I got a job in late December and being in new surroundings with new people gave me a sense of importance—of being wanted and appreciated. I loved being in a social environment once again and as the months have gone by, I have become very close with the people that I work with. I've been happy and I love it.

Even though I don't make much money, it feels good to be out there once again. Although it's a bit of an insult making such a low wage, considering the 10+ years experience I have in my field and of course, my education, it still feels good nevertheless. But, I look at it this way, it's a job and more importantly, it got me out of the house and away from my video game and away from my solitude of a constant depression that was permeating my world everyday.

For once, I am not writing in my blog because of a depression due to my Bipolar Disorder, but because I am keeping an up-to-date look at my life as a way to prove to people that I can be happy. All of us suffering from Bipolar Disorder, can actually be happy.

For now.

I'm worried. I must admit that I am terrified of what might become once again. My husband lost his job a few months ago, so the money has become tight, and then even worse, we lost our health insurance. Now, don't get me wrong, he still has his other job as a personal trainer and he's now trying to establish a regular clientele, but in the meantime, we no longer have our health insurance, therefore as my medication runs out, we are unable to fulfill more prescriptions as a result of being too expensive. I am down to two prescriptions out of five total.

I'm scared. What will happen when the last prescription is gone? Will it come back in full force thus causing me to feel depressed once again, possibly affecting my employment? I'm very lucky, I work in a business where the owner is a wonderful, caring human being. He actually cares about his employees and always makes sure we're taken care of. I have become very close with my direct supervisor and as a result, our work environment has become enjoyable. Since she and I share an office together (she is also a designer), we get along famously. In my experience, this a very rare situation.

But I worry that as my medication goes bye-bye, my old "self" will come back with a vengeance. I've been happy, and I know a great deal of that is due to my job and my work environment and the people that I work with, but mostly, because of a regular dose of medication every month. As I inquired—hoping and praying—about the regular cost of my meds, I was astounded. How could something like this happen in one of the richest countries in the world? How could we as Americans, have horrendous and expensive coverage of health insurance and medications—or lack thereof? Don't get me wrong, I've always been privy to the health insurance problems in our country, but we've always been lucky enough to have a good amount of insurance due to my husband's employment, but now that I am one of those 'victims,' it bothers me even more. Especially since I have been told, since my initial diagnosis that medication must be a constant, regular occurrence in my life. It has always been presented to me in a way, as if someone suffering from diabetes will have to take medications for the rest of their life. The same goes with someone diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

I've dealt with that, and I've gotten used to it. Until now.

What will happen once I take my last pill? Will I start hitting myself again? Will I start crying for no reason? Will I take it out on my family? Will I have regular thoughts of suicide?

I'm frightened that this will all come back full force. The cost of my medications is beyond our budget and unfortunately, until we get insurance again (hopefully as my husband increases his clientele), I will be OK.

I know it's that old saying, only time will tell, but will it, or will it be immediate?

I don't know.

Bipolar Gal on Twitter

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Edge of Crazy

Why do I continually test the waters? Why is it I take it out on the people I care about the most? It seems this is a common monthly occurrence for me, and I always realize the next day—if not only a few hours later—how wrong I was, and how I risked so much as a result of this endless act. I am always wrought with guilt if only to consume me and ultimately, fill me with a constant pit in my stomach as though it'll all go away within an instant.

Our friendship will be no more.

But it never does. I am always forgiven. Is it because—as my friend frequently labels it, "I'm having a bipolar day?" I don't mind when he says that, because I know he's always right. Even though at that time, I don't admit it and only deny its very existence, I know he's right. It has become a common joke in our friendship, but I worry that one day, he will finally throw his arms up in the air and walk away. Walk away from what he no longer should have to put up with, but walk away from our dear friendship that has meant so much to both of us.

Walk away forever.

Even yesterday, I told him I must let him go from my life, but as I get ready for my day's work ahead of me, I am filled with regret. Butterflies flutter inside me with worry that he will finally say, "OK, nice knowing you." Would I blame him, no of course not. I didn't mean it, and I know he understands it's what I do—not that it makes it right of course, but it's what I do. Every month I try my hardest to accept our friendship for what it is, without the continuous threat of walking away. He has never made an attempt of ending it in the 2 years we have known each other.

We have been there for each other throughout everything—sad days to good days, depression to happiness. We have been friends through thick and through thin. Isn't that what friends are supposed to do for each other? Of course. Then why do I risk it regularly and risk losing a friend who means so much to me?

While I'm experiencing these regular "bipolar days," I always attempt to tell my friend that we should no longer be friends, and therefore remove him from my life forever. Only to regret it immediately thereafter. What is wrong with me? Why would I say such a harsh thing to a person who has always accepted me for who I am, and who has always been there for me through it all? He was there for me during the worst time of my life—during the death of my father. I will never forget that and I will be eternally grateful.

He's a very special person to me and I know deep down in my heart, it's not what I want. I will always want him there for someone to confide in and go to for advice, if only for a shoulder for someone to listen to me. And he always knows, he can do the same with me. I will always listen to him and be there for him. Recently, I have been experiencing pain in my life and I have used him for my pillow to cry into, and as I always suspect, he's there for me. Sometimes it takes a little longer than I would for him, but I understand that he's busy in his life and busy with his family. They must come first. He has recently reconciled with his 'wife' and as a result of that, it only makes him busier. I have been so happy for him and only wish nothing but the best for their relationship. It's what he's been wanting for over 8 months. I couldn't be happier for him.

When he calls me, it brightens my day. Hearing his voice brings nothing but a smile to my face. Whether I'm having a down day, it brings me new life. We speak on the phone everyday, and even though I know he's busy, he still takes the time to call me. Is it because I expect it and feels it's easier to avoid confrontation? I don't know. I only hope it's because he too likes to talk to me so we can discuss our daily lives. As a friend, he isn't 'required' to call me, as it wouldn't be fair to him to accept such a task, but when I hear my phone ring and look at the caller ID and see it's him, it only makes me smile. 

Does that make me obsessed? I don't think so, but maybe it does. Maybe in some cosmic way it's not healthy. There are days—during my "bipolar" moments—that I sometimes feel it's only for the best that I walk away and make it easier for him, so he doesn't have to feel the obligation that I possibly project onto him everyday.

There are days where we talk for an hour if not longer, and days where we talk for 20 minutes or less. If I ask him to call, he always does, but most of the time, he'll call on his own without my asking. If that's not a true friend, I don't know what is.

So what is the problem? Why do I question our friendship and consistently ask for reassurance? I have always been insecure with my life—from my physical appearance, to relationships—and even today, I still question its very existence and the depth that is felt on the other end.

I try so hard, and I need to continue to try to maintain what we have now and the strength that our friendship continues to endure. I trust him, and I know he sees something in me that nobody else would. I love him for that, and I know he's a dear friend as a result of it.

I'm sorry, M/M. I'm sorry for continually putting you through this up and down "bipolar" spiral that you do not deserve. You have proven to me that our friendship means a lot to you, and therefore you no longer have to convince me of how much it means to you. 

Because I trust you.

Bipolar Gal on Twitter

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Finally feeling better, but not cured...

I got a job. I finally got a job. About a month ago, the week before Xmas, I was hired to start a new job at a local print shop. I never thought I'd work at a print shop, but as a graphic designer, it was always recommended that I do so. There is so much to learn, and I never thought in a million years, with the many years of experience in my field, that I'd be at a loss of what I'm doing. Obviously I was hired as a graphic designer / pre-flight specialist. Pre-flight? What's that?

That's what we do in the printing business as setting up files for the printers to execute for the client. I have a lot to learn, and right now, I'm clueless. I walked into my first day feeling confident, knowing with the 10+ years of graphic design under my belt, I thought I knew it all. 

Not the case.

Everyday I'm learning something new. I know this is good not only for my psyche, but my experience as a designer. This is what I needed to succeed in my field. While in college, professors always recommended to their design students of either an internship at a print shop, or better—a job. Several months ago, I had interviewed for a design position at another local print shop, only to be narrowed down to myself and another candidate. But unfortunately, I was not chosen. I was disappointed because I knew this would have been an ideal fit for me, but it just wasn't meant to be. Then several months later, I still remained unemployed.

Until now.

I knew during the interview that this is where I wanted to work. I knew right away after meeting the other designer and art directior, that it was where I wanted to be to further my career and experience. Then during the second interview with the production manager and the owner, it solidified my wishes. I walked out of that interview feeling more than confident, but assured that I would be offered the job.

And thankfully, I was right.

It wasn't even 30 minutes later that I received that anticipated call to start the following week. I was elated. I couldn't believe I was going to be employed once again. I knew I needed this to further my illness without feeling lonely and incompetent in what felt like eternal depression. I needed social interaction on a daily basis. I craved it.

Social interaction with other people out in the community than sitting by myself, everyday, in a dark loft waiting anxiously for my family to get home. There were days, however, that I admit I wanted to be by myself, but mostly I needed an adult conversation to further my intelligence. But, as any social person can imagine, speaking with my husband everyday and every night, only grew tiresome. Nothing against my husband, of course, but I wanted—and needed—to speak to a friend.

Once I started my job, it was apparent that this was the place for me. The owner of the company was always looking out for his employees, and my fellow co-workers were actually nice. They actually seemed genuine.They were considerate to one another. Something I just wasn't used to in my many years as an employee. 

No cattiness here.

I was happy. I was actually happy. Could this be a feeling I have waited for for so long? For once, I didn't have that overriding feeling of negativitiy; something I have experienced for many months now. I felt confident and I actually have a good feeling about this place, as well as my employer (the owner).

As I continue to feel good about this job, I will work hard and continue to be social with my co-workers, perhaps going out and having the opportunity of sitting down and having a beer together. It's what I have needed for so long. 

I need this to further my recovery, and although I have put my therapy sessions on hold, I will continue my medication regardless, because I want to feel good about myself as a person, as well as my job. 

Dammit, I deserve this.

Bipolar Gal on Twitter

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Joy to Xmas

As I fill myself and my home with constant Xmas "cheer," a depression came over me like no other time of the year. It's expected to fill your tree (or in my case, a decorated ladder in lieu of a tree) with presents and happiness. For us, that wasn't the case. We were unable to buy each other gifts, nor were we able to buy the plethora of gifts that we usually buy for our daughter that has become a tradition every year. Even during Hanukkah, my daughter and I created a tradition of lighting the menorah as well as purchasing her gifts everyday during the 7 day celebration.

It was hard for me to not be able to adhere to this annual tradition this year. It's been a tough year, both financially and emotionally. Being unemployed as well as losing my unemployment benefits in early July, only made that worse for all of us. 

They say that Xmas presents are not supposed to define us, as it's supposed to be about family and love, but when you're one of the few—although it feels that way—who cannot take advantage of the giving tradition, it makes you feel sad, thus inept of this holiday observance. It makes you feel inadequate. Especially when there's a child involved. As parents, you want nothing more than to provide them with gifts, only to see their face as they open the wrapping paper in anticipation of seeing what will be hiding underneath. Even if she did ask for such presents for her Xmas list.

This year only brought disappointment. If not for my daughter (at least she didn't show it), but for us. Both of us wanted to provide her with what we've given her in the past—a bright smile and an unexpected surprise.

As we both sat there and gazed at her 'amazement,' I felt as though I was being jipped out of something that typically brought me a smile. Because I had no gift to open, no gift to rip open the wrapping paper and shaking the small bright box, I was sad and disappointed, if only for myself, and not my daughter or husband. Again, I know Xmas is not about gifts, but about togetherness that a family brings, I felt despaired at the same time regardless.

Does that make me selfish? Shouldn't I have sat there and been happy for our love and health instead? On that day, Xmas day, all I felt was resentment. Resentful that my husband doesn't make enough money to provide us with a plethora of gifts and surprise, only to be felt as though we were nothing; we were nobody in comparison.

I love my husband very much, but the last few months I have felt unhappiness instead. A feeling of loneliness and forlorn. I miss our 'marriage' and I miss the happiness we once felt as a couple. Now it only feels like we're roommates; roommates with a child. Sex has become inconsistent and dissatisfying. It's a rare act that has brought me despondency therefore has only pushed me away from what typically brings love to a marriage. Divorce has permeated my mind everyday, but what would I do without him at the same time?

I don't know.

I know if I walked away, I'd end up being unhappy, or would I? Solitude has always been something I've enjoyed, but on my terms only. My husband has always understood this therefore allowing me to go away for a few days to visit friends or relatives. Whereas most spouses may not accept this as part of their marriage. Isn't that why we get married to begin with, to spend time with that person and include them in their life? For me, that hasn't always been the case. Obviously that changed a great deal once my daughter was born, but for the most part, it never changed how I felt.

Recently, money has prevented me from taking advantage of such feelings, so I've only gotten worse in my confinement and resentment towards him. I know this is wrong, and I know I shouldn't take this out on me as my unemployment and recent lack of benefits has been a large part of that, but I have felt as though I have been deprived of something that has been so meaningful to me over the past several years as a result of this.

I know as time goes by, with my recent job, that will change a great deal. It'll take time as we catch up with bills that have recently snowballed into a large sum of payment every month, into a normal American household. Paying our bills every month, living a happy fulfilling life on a regular, daily basis.

I must, and I will. If only for the sake of my family and my marriage.

Bipolar Gal on Twitter 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Stress of Marriage

As I start this post, I know there's a chance that my husband will read it, therefore causing more hurt than I intend. Since I started this blog, my husband has been respecting my privacy, consequently trusting me with the freedom of writing what I need to express here, allowing me to write personal words throughout its fruition. Is it difficult for me to write this? Absolutely.

Here I go.

The past few weeks have been difficult for our relationship, to the point that we have been fighting everyday as a result. I admit, it's been mostly on my part, not his, as I scream hurtful words towards him in hopes of a change. I realize that's not the right way to approach such a private affair, but at the time, it's what I know and how I feel to react. Even though I regret it immediately after, my stubborness disables me from apologizing, whence continuing the hurt.

Sometimes I don't know how to move forward with our marriage, and sometimes nothing would please me more. It changes on a daily basis and on occastion, I ask myself, is this what I want? Do I want to be married in hopes of being left alone? Or just fight through what seems like a rough patch? I know he is soon getting to the point of frustration, therefore about to walk away from it all. I don't blame him, I have put both he and my daughter through hell. It's not fair to them, nor is it fair to myself. 

The love I feel for him is unquestionable, it's why I have been married for so long. But the resentment I feel is also undeniable. I resent that we are in this financial anguish with only hope to guide us. At the time that I am writing this, we have no food, and my dog hasn't been able to eat aside from scraps we have left over from the previous week's dinner. I look inside our bare refrigerator and ask myself, how did it get this bad? I know that my unemployment has caused a great deal of that, but how can we still not have the money to eat? Forget a xmas tree or lights, we can't even afford that. Our home looks unconventional during this holiday season and nothing displeases me more. I've always loved this time of year and always enjoyed the bright twinkly lights permeating throughout our home. Only to look at dullness instead.

I'm bitter, I'm very bitter.

I ran out of my Trileptal last night and since my "drug dealer" is out of samples, I don't know when I'll be able to refill my prescription. After days of withdrawals, I know that will only hinder my diagnosis, not get better like it's supposed to. 

Everyday I look at my husband with disgust. I watch him work many hours a week just so we can have food on the table, only to see it empty instead. Here is an educated man working at a job he loathes just so we can have health insurance, and work for a company that has not given him a raise since he started 6 years ago. I plead with him everyday to look for another job in hopes of a better life, but I can't watch over his shoulder wondering if he's adhering to my advice. He's a grown man, and I know he only wants what's best for our family and regrets the position we are currently in.

In my eyes, we are living the life of poverty, only to not qualify for food stamps or the like. According to the state, my husband makes too much money to collect. Ironic. We're not big spenders, nor do we have a lot of debt (if any). It comes from bills and rent that must be paid every month, only to snowball with regular past due amounts and regular phone calls fighting after us. 

I don't know what to do at this point with my marriage, he has been there with me every step of the way as I struggled with my bipolar disorder, but as I wake up everyday in a dark depressive state due to our finances, I sometimes think it would only be easier if I went off on my own. Leaving him with my daughter to raise her properly and not have to worry about me and my illness or an extra mouth to feed.

As we sat through my therapy session last week, letting out our frustrations and spewing the hurt, I know that what I decide to do will have to come to fruition quickly, or both of us will sink down into a state of sadness and unhappiness. But what do I decide? How can I move forward with my life with or without him? That is what I need to think about every single day.

But how?

Give me the courage, please.

Bipolar Gal on Twitter