Monday, April 25, 2011

Getting Help & Spilling Beans

With mental illness I find I am frustrated by celebrities owning up to their experiences I don't see a lot of pushing for universal access to help. Even having a great job doesn't mean the help you need will be readily available WHEN you need it. So what do you do to bridge the gap? How do you work on the problems that are going on in your life if the "experts" are just not available? If you need help, ASK!  
Or as I was so very fortunate - if help finds its way to you TAKE IT. 
Worst case scenario they can't help and you move on. But it's something. And when you're dealing with your personal well being and health sometimes anything is better than nothing.

Through twitter I found a life coach who is willing to do some e-counselling, for free. We may skype down the road but for now this is my initial email asking her for help:

We had been chatting on twitter briefly and you offered to help bridge the gap while I wait to be able to afford more specific therapies to my illnesses. I'll try to breifly review my position and maybe you can tell me how you think you can help.

I come from an abusive upbringing.I did very well in school always holding down extracurriculars and/or job and keeping good grades. I would go through bouts of depression and social recluse but home was bad enough at times I chose the lesser of two evils and would foster unhealthy social relationships.My father was emotionally non existent. I used drugs an alcohol semi frequently. Promiscuousness, risk taking behavior ensued. 
I went on to university where the major depressive episodes started to kick in. The verbal abuse from my mother was mounting through phone calls and emails. I started to abuse drugs more heavily. I see my first counselor in regards to a personal matter between a friend and I. It doesn't help. I quit school after my second year unable to manage the financial pressure and depression.
A couple of years go by with mediocre jobs and varying episodes of major depression and wild social life/ drugs abuse. I quit drugs in 2004/2005. I also lost my friends either through not having the stability to be a good friend over time or having to cut ties to be able to quit drugs. I have been lonely ever since and social anxiety has been overwhelming ever since. I shifted my addiction to spending. I start running unmanageable debts. 
I am still dating the same man I was with during my withdraw socially and quitting drugs. He is very supportive but unable to help. We have been on and off. I still smoke marijuana occasionally and I drink occasionally. 
I have held increasingly better (but still in my opinion, terrible) jobs ever since I left school with no level of engagement or fulfillment. I declared bankruptcy in 2009. I have no savings. I work for a bank as a mortgages and car loan customer service representative. I hate my job and position in society. It leads to much self loathing. I need my job for the benefits to cover my medical needs (prescriptions etc). I feel trapped. I am overweight and physically inactive. My diet is far from perfect but not bad. I'm mostly vegetarian with a few meat cheats now and again. Cheese kills me. As I begin to exercise panic overwhelms me. I am sure this is a knee jerk reaction to increased heart rate. I used to be very healthy and active. I'm not sure when the change happened. 
So as of recently I have been diagnosed by my doctor as social anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and my EAP counselling says I have PTSD and recommends specialized treatment for as such. He is a psychologist from another country without his certification for canada but counsel's as "employee assistance council-ling". I don't care how many labels people throw at me, I just want the pain and confusion to go away. 

Currently what bothers me is a lack of focus, inability to stay in the moment. I get confused easily and have no drive or motivation to complete any task set in front of me (this email took all afternoon with several breaks and other activities thrown in). I have always been a strong performer but my statistics at work, productivity, "sales", everything is dropping below par when I was once a distinguished employee. I have been off work for a little over a month and am due back on May 2nd. I do not feel ready to go in and try to do my best. I cannot talk to my boss about it. She's... emotionally retarded. Love her to death but she doesn't get that emotional needs can be just as sever as physical. I tried once. She lectured me for a while  about how time off is for sickness and blah blah blah. 

Also, I crave a social network. Close friends. I know I don't like myself enough for that as I always find fault or reason not to become close to people. 

So I'm not sure- can you help with any of this?

Thanks for the offer non the less :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Lost Man

This weeks doctor appointment was particularly stressful. I was running late so i knew I would be confined to the waiting room for an extended period of time. The gut wrenching fear of waiting rooms, lines etc in regards to my socials phobias is intense enough that most times I'd rather just stay sick than endure the wait to see my doctor.

On this visits wait I noticed what seemed to be a homeless man walking from one end of the wait room to the other. He had straggly grey/black hair, unshaven but no distinguishable beard or mustache... just hair. He had dried bougers coming from his nose. He had dirt on his pants and jacket. A layer of brown dirt- like maybe he sleeps outside? Maybe not. I did notice his socks bright white and clean. Perhaps he frequents a shelter for the homeless. As I'm sitting, judging, analyzing this man fretting over which end of the room he'd prefer one of the staff come along and start ushering him out the door. He tried to object asking where to go but she quickly and quietly excused him out of the office to find his own way from the building. Another half hour of waiting and staring out the window and I get to see my GP. Yippie.

...form, prescription, reaction, debate, advice, concern, advice, new script and my doctor tells me to "Be Strong" as she leaves the room...

I wander out of the building unsure if should call my insurance company and start our tireless debate over coverage. Maybe standing in the misty rain thinking about making a phone call would best be done at home. I start to wander to a spot with a little shelter from the rain/wind to call my taxi when the disoriented older man from the waiting room comes up to me. He is very hard to understand, he mumbles that he is looking to get to part of the city I've never been to. I told him I was sorry I couldn't help. The mans eyes, tired, wild and glossy from the wind plead for direction. He asks me where the nearest bus stop is and I try to tell him. He doesn't understand me and looks very defeated in the direction I had pointed - but not moving.

I wasn't sure it was me speaking until I recognized my own voice "Sir, may I walk you to the bus stop?" I asked. I think he mumbled a reply resembling yes please. We walked the 3 blocks to the nearest bus stop. Not much chit chat as we weren't understanding each other but I'd look at him with a kind smile occasionally and keep saying "its just up ahead". Along the way I walked ahead a bit to catch up with someone else and asked if they knew how to get where he was going. They start to explain and I stopped them, asking if they could explain to the lost man. They declined and hurried off while I waited for the lost man to catch up. I now feel his stigma burning at my tear ducts but I don't cry and instead continue to the bus stop with my new lost man friend.

We don't wait long and the bus I would normally take home pulls up so I jump on and ask the driver if she can help the man. She looks behind me at him and then at me again and says " I'll get him there".

I was so relieved to have helped this man I forgot to be upset and confused and depressed. Even if it was just for 3 blocks. Food for thought :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Getting Started!

A new task at anytime can be daunting. Facing a new challenge (ANY challenge) while wading through the depression pool is excruciating. Like a band-aid, I'll quickly rip this post off and then voila! No longer a new challenge - merely one I have only recently become acquainted with.

And lets' be honest.

Thats great progress.