Sunday, October 18, 2015

R.I.P. W

Just for those who maybe don't know me in real life or on Facebook, I thought I should post here that W died earlier this month.

It did not come as a big surprise. It was sad in some ways but not sad in others. It has been a not very well kept secret in our circle that I had been tolerating him the last few years, particularly since we got back together after our separation several years ago. In some ways, I miss him and will continue to miss him. I was used to him being around. I was used to him taking care of certain things so I didn't have to.

On the not sad side, it was a relief. It felt immediately like a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. It feels like freedom.  I kept my wedding rings on until a couple of days after the memorial service, and that was that. I took them off. With them on the freedom was incomplete. Also, I half-heartedly signed up with I'm not paying so I have very limited use of it, but it has given me an idea of who is out there should I decide to pursue a new relationship in the future. Not ready for that now, but maybe in the future. Maybe...

That's it for now. Maybe I'll right more later. Maybe not. Who knows?

Thursday, January 08, 2015

History Repeats Itself

Want to know what my life is like today?  Refer back to My Snow White post from a couple of months ago.  Came back to work this week to find that although I feel have changed a bit to the better things around here remain the same.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Two More Days

I only have to hang on for two more days.  Just Thursday and Friday and then I am off for six weeks worth of self improvement, renewal, and recuperation from burnout.

Right now I am hanging by a thread.  Snow White's depression is just getting to her so badly that all she can manage to do is message me about it ad nauseum.  Everybody else at work has this question I need to answer or that report I need to get to them or some such thing before my leave begins.

Blah, blah, blah...  It's all just noise at this point.  The brain has already checked out.  The body is barely keeping up.  Must remember to breathe.  Breathing is good.

What I really wish I could do is just walk out of the office now, giving everyone I see on the way out a fine middle finger salute.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Snow White and the Evil Witch

Let me introduce you to Snow White, a coworker.  I've not written about her before here.  I certainly can't write about her on fb since we are fb friends even though she can whine and complain about whatever she wants whenever she wants because, oh my goodness, people just don't do things her way.

I call her Snow White because her looks remind me something of the Disney version of Snow White.  I count myself as the evil witch because I'll be damned if I had a poison apple I might be tempted to leave it on her desk.

Snow and I used to get along, but that was before... before she got promoted so that she is now at the same level that I am but in a different role.  Watching her transform from hard worker and stellar employee to entitled bully has been quite the education for me.  I have been amazed at the immense changes I have seen in her.

She has always been a little self serving, but she is quickly becoming a major bully in the workplace.  Because I'm her friend I've been spared (somewhat), but holy cow the havoc she wreaks around here on an almost daily basis is about to send me over the edge.  Guess it's a good thing I went ahead with that request for FMLA leave which will start next week if for no other reason than to escape this mess for a while.

I pick up a conversation she and I had this afternoon via IM.  I skip the first part because to put proper context on some of it would take too long.  We pick it up when she has been picking on someone whom I tried to defend.

Snow 4:37 PM
Ok. Well she certainly is vocal
Me 4:38 PM
definitely not the roll over and take it type like me
Snow 4:38 PM
Honestly, I think somewhere in between is probably best. She tends to go into it as if it was done deliberately to make her life worse
Me 4:39 PM
Which is generally how I see the world but accept that griping about it gets me nowhere
which is also why the stress builds up to the point it does with me and then I end up on a 6 week mental health leave
Snow 4:40 PM
I think I was told too often that I wasn't special, and that the world does NOT revolve around me to think that way
Oh, and the ever popular "don't be so selfish"
Me 4:43 PM
I suppose I think less that people deliberately sabotage me than I think they cover their lazy stupidity by saying things that make me feel like they are sabotaging me.
Snow 4:43 PM
I have occassional moments like that
That's totally spelled wrong
Me 4:44 PM
They "thought" they told me about that. They were "sure" I knew about that. Those are the times I feel sabotaged.
Snow 4:45 PM
Oh, those don't bother me. I think because I say them often enough to people since my memory is like swiss cheese
Mine is where they keep pointing to records as problems, but the problem is with THEIR system
Me 4:47 PM
See, and that wouldn't bother me because I could easily just reiterate that the records are correct and leave it at that.
Snow 4:47 PM
It doesn't bother me the first time. It bothers me when they come back with more "issues" again and again
Me 4:47 PM
It's mostly the ones where I feel accused of not knowing what I should when I feel that if they wanted me to know something they should have told me.
I can't just "know" when I don't know.
Those are the ones that make me want to kick people's teeth out.
Snow 4:48 PM
Meh, I just figure they forgot
Me 4:49 PM
Then they need to own that and not put the blame on me.
Snow 4:50 PM
I usually just say "oh, I wasn't aware of that" and redo the query
At that point, I just quit.  She and I are on vastly different wavelengths right now.  Perhaps I'm just a wee bit touchy that ever since I shared with her, in confidence, why I am taking the leave of absence, she has been suffering from the most overwhelming case of depression ever and has missed several days of work and is just in so much worse shape than I am yet she keeps soldiering on while I have clearly given in while suffering far less because I've been able to keep up a facade that she can't.
C'mon Snow White, I'd be happy to share my lunch with you.  Why look!  Here's a beautiful shiny red apple.  Have a bite.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Worry -- The Overriding Emotion

It doesn't matter what I do or how I approach things I worry.  I worry about whether I do too much... or too little.  I worry about whether I say too much... or too little.  I worry that bad things will happen to those I love.  I worry that the world doesn't care about me.  I worry that the world cares too much about me.

I worry.  It's what I do.

Today's worry has to do with my leave of absence as mentioned in this post.  But wait.  Let's start at the point where we left off in that post, with me having written a two page diatribe about why I should be allowed to take an unpaid leave of absence and waiting to have an appointment with my psychiatrist to decide next steps.

My appointment with my psychiatrist, who I'll call Dr. K (let's give her a name since she's playing a larger role in my story these days), was first thing Monday morning.  Now there's a way to kick off your week.  Such were my nerves that I decided I needed to treat myself to a mint mocha at my favorite coffee shop on the way to the appointment.  Nothing like caffeine and sugar to calm those nerves! (sarcasm, people; sarcasm)

Although I was her first appointment of the day, Dr. K was running late so I got to sit in the waiting room and worry about how the appointment would go, how to broach the subject of the leave and maybe it covered by FMLA, and why a gentleman chose to sit in the chair right next to me in the waiting room when there were plenty of available seats and sitting directly next to anyone was completely unnecessary.

Once in her office, we got to the meat of the issue.  Since Dr. K is a colleague of Freud and they are basically my mental health team, Freud had filled Dr. K in on my situation.  She let me tell her in my own words though.  I went through much of what I shared here in my blog in that post I linked to earlier.  I cried.  Three times I burst into tears while I shared my story.  Three times!  Within just a few minutes!  I think that indicates how fragile I am right now.

Dr. K told me that if I wanted to go the FMLA route, she would be happy to sign the FMLA paperwork as my recommending medical provider.  She also looked at the combination of meds that I'm on and increased one of the anti-depressants.  I had been taking what they consider a low dose, and she is moving me to what is considered the standard dose.  She also wants me to have a follow up appointment in one month.

I told Dr. K I would return with the FMLA paperwork within the next week so she can sign it, and I can embark on this journey to betterness (hopefully).  Then I scheduled an appointment for the end of October to talk with her again.

On my way back to work, I started the worrying in earnest.  Somehow, I feel like a fraud taking the time off as FMLA.  FMLA is supposed to be for serious medical conditions.  Is what I'm going through a serious medical condition? How serious does a mental health issue need to be to be a "serious medical condition"?  It isn't as though I am on the brink of harming others or myself.  It isn't as though I'm hearing voices that aren't there.  It isn't as though I am completely detached from reality.  Those are the things I think of in the mental health realm that would constitute a serious medical condition.  Am I cheating the system?  Am I selfish for wanting to take a leave of absence to gather myself back together and get back to some semblance of "normal"?  Am I just using this as a way to get back at the U.S. system of not providing adequate vacation time for workers?

These are the questions that buzz about my head day and night since Monday.  So far, I have filled out my portion of the paperwork but haven't gotten it back to Dr. K yet.  I've told Boss that I will be taking FMLA leave, and he and I have been working towards that by establishing who will cover what while I'm gone and developing a plan for training those individuals.  I have an appointment with Freud next Tuesday so I will probably drop the paperwork off for Dr. K at that time.

I am going to continue to worry about this for a while I think, maybe even throughout the leave.  I hope not.  I doubt the leave will be as effective if I spend much of it worrying over whether or not I deserve it.

Bleah... Excuse me, I have to go now.  I feel another good cry coming on...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

How to Serve Meals to the Picky

Meals bring a challenge to me because I have very strict rules about how things need to be served (also eaten, but that's another post).

First off, I am a food separatist, i.e. I like my foods to not touch one another.  Nothing freaks me out more than the juices of one food touching another food, and don't even get me started on the random pickle with its nasty pickle juice placed aside, and ruining, a perfectly good sandwich.  No, you can't just move the pickle off the plate.  The juices remain, and inevitably have already at least partially been soaked up by the poor defenseless sandwich.  Dwelling on such tragedy protects me from having to think about other, more important and unsettling things.  I can't tell you what a nightmare it is when the juice from the green beans mingles with the gravy or, God forbid, actually touches the potatoes or the bread.  The horror of it all!  I believe all plates should be segmented like those old school lunch trays -- a place for everything and everything in its place.

Second, there are certain foods that are definitely to be served and eaten together as one.  Good examples of this are mashed potatoes and gravy or cake and ice cream.  Of course these things come with their own difficulties, the biggest being the proportional balance of each bite.  Running out of either food means wasting what is left of the other food because one cannot be expected, once tuned to the goodness of the combination, to actually eat one or the other foods without each other.  Therefore, I employ a rather painstaking process of making sure I maintain as close as possible to even proportions bite to bite that will allow finishing both components at the same time.  It's easier if the server takes care to serve the foods in the proper proportion to begin with.

Third, there are certain foods that should definitely never be served and eaten together as one. The one that particularly bugs me these days is gravy and cheese.  What?!?!?  In my book, that's a sin against nature.  The dish requires cheese, or it requires gravy.  It NEVER requires BOTH.  Given this seems to be the new "in thing" at restaurants to put both gravy and cheese in certain dishes I have become very careful to read descriptions on menus and ask to have one or the other (depending on the dish it could be the cheese most frequently or the gravy rarely) left off.  Also, meatloaf is one of those foods that generally falls under the category of serve with gravy.  However, if the meatloaf is one that is baked with the ketchup on top, then there should be no gravy. 

I have no idea why the rest of the world doesn't understand these rules.  They seem so natural to me.  It isn't like I thought them up.  It just is the order of things... at least in my warped mind.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Power of Writing and Other Things

Pretty sure my post on my depression last Wednesday had a beneficial effect on my mental health.  I know something did.  Whether it was that or something else I feel better (better being a relative term here) than I did a week ago.

However, I'm fighting another battle, related to the depression sort of, that I have also helped by writing a two page single-spaced missive.  Whether it actually gets used for its intended purpose or not remains to be seen.

This battle is one at work.  It will come as no surprise to anyone to learn that my employer, similar to most U.S. employers, provide little in the way of paid time off to their employees.  Because of that, when there was a shitstorm of family member medical and educational issues that all came up at the same time a few months ago, I took as little time off to deal with them as was possible.  I took care of a whole lot of things for both W and N as they recuperated.  I basically gave up my life to work and family care.  Period.  Nothing for me.  I thought I could do it.  I did it.  Then when W and N were both better, I took a deep breath, relaxed, and basically turned into a basketcase.

Fast forward a couple of months, as I continued to drag myself out of bed, get myself to work to do what I had to in order to get by, provide chauffeur services to W and N since I'm the only driver in the family (and thank goodness that will change in a few months as N gets his license), and to stress out about all the things that aren't getting done because I'm too tired/lazy/overwhelmed. 

Thinking it over, and reviewing The Company's policies on vacation and leave for various reasons, I decided to look into taking a six week personal leave of  absence.  Wanting to work with Boss to make things as smooth as possible I told him about my plan and that I was going to make an appointment with HR to ask some questions that I had about what I had read in the policy and also to assess whether it would be financially feasible for me to bear the burden of about 2/3 of the time off being unpaid.  Reflecting back later, I believe Boss thought that following my research I would decide not to request the time off.

The next week, I met with Boss again, having gotten favorable answers to my questions to HR and also working with W to figure out how we could liquidate some investments to cover my unpaid time, to tell him that I planned to turn in a request for personal leave.  I was a little surprised when he said, "Give me some time to think about this."  However, I agreed, and we left it at that at that time.

I heard nothing for over a week when all of a sudden a meeting request comes through my Outlook to discuss the leave with Boss.  I figured there might be some negotiation on whether six weeks was feasible and was ready to compromise down to five, possibly four if I had to.  Timing, I thought, might also be an issue, and I was ready to be somewhat flexible on that.

That was not what the meeting was about.  The meeting was simply to tell me that just because The Company has a policy on unpaid personal leave doesn't mean they actually grant unpaid personal leave.  Wait... what?  Yes.  My boss encouraged me to try to get the leave covered under FMLA.  Then The Company would have no choice but to grant it if I could present a valid reason for an FMLA leave.  In essence, I was told to go to my psychiatrist, get her to declare me mentally ill to the extent that I need a medical leave, and I can have my time off.  Otherwise, no go.  Also, Boss said I could go ahead and turn in a request for unpaid personal leave, and state my case, but that he wouldn't count on it being successful since it would have to be approved both by him and by HR which won't happen.

Well, I've written a two page thesis on the subject of why I should be granted an unpaid personal leave.  Writing it felt WONDERFUL, very cathartic, very helpful in letting go of the thoughts so they no longer have to occupy my brain but can occupy the written document and be referred back to at any time.  I have not yet submitted it or my request for leave.  I am debating whether to do so before my appointment with my psychiatrist next week or not.  I'm leaning towards waiting and see what comes of my discussion with her.  I've already discussed it with Freud, and he is very supportive of me asserting my need for some serious time off.