sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist, an unschooler, and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Archive for the ‘Anxiety’ Category

Feb 11, 2019: Processing Anxiety

I have been writing more blogs for Child-led Learning and Focused Healthy Family. Please visit these other blogs of mine and share with others.

I decided I can use this blog as my journal, so to speak. Sometimes, I need to just write free form to figure out what it is I am saying.

I started this particular blog to share my life journey and all that entails, parenting, homeschooling/ unschooling, living my life, conscious evolution and spiritual practices to be my best self (a continual process), and share my experiences with mental health, mental illness, and life challenges.

Anxiety

Anxiety goes hand and hand with depression, in my experience.

Helping my children with their depression and anxiety, challenges my own issues with metal illness and mental health.

Today, I took my child to the psychiatrist for a routine follow up appointment.

Today, we went knowing I needed to talk about the depression that appears to be enveloping my child’s life.

My child is reluctant to speak about their issues especially when they are dealing with significant depression.

Isn’t everybody challenged by talking to their doctor about depression, when they are depressed? I am.

Is that not part of the nature of depression? To have difficulty first seeing that we are depressed, and then to be able to share that with someone who is essentially a stranger. Depression involves low levels of motivation and feelings of worthlessness. For me, I always figured, I wasn’t really depressed, not like clinical depression, not like other people who i saw as depressed, typically people in media and people who admit themselves for treatment because they can not function at all in life.

I was very wrong.

It took me years to seek help.

It took years for me to see how much depression was negatively affecting my life and the life of my family.

I saw it first when I moved into a hypomania state. I am grateful for my bipolar depression to help me see that. Looking back over the years, I see the trend of mood swings over time in myself. I think their was mild depression in my past but life events and challenges triggered a much more significant depression. At least, that is how I see it.

Today…

I was very anxious about taking my child to the doctor today to talk about their depression knowing they were reluctant to talk to me let alone the doctor. We talked ahead of time and the responses I got was, “I am not feeling very talkative today.” They did agree for me to talk about it.

I am grateful that my child has been able to open up more to their dad for me to better see the extent of this depression. Yet, I left the house with anxiety and concern that the issue would not be fully addressed.

I am so glad we finally have a good psychiatrist to go to. My children have been on NC Medicaid or Health chose (NC insurance for children). I am grateful for the programs because our financial debt would be so much greater without the insurance program for children. When our income goes up beyond level. To receive Medicaid for them, they have still qualified for NC Health Choice program with very low cost and minimal co-pays. Yet, we have had issues because we need a referral from our primary doctor to go to other doctors/ specialists. The state funded insurance program is very frustrating because the people in place to help have way too many responsibilities and their are not enough resources including no lists of doctors in the plan, to name one frustration. We also never see any bills nor any explanation of benefits.

I found out how Helpful the state funded assistance is for medical expenses for my children when they dropped us last spring and told us our income was too high for either program. I had a good social service worker helping at the time and he recommended I reapply due to my efforts at contesting the denial were talking too long. I mistakenly, signed my children up for our market place insurance waiting for the process of reapplying for state assisted insurance. I thought I should have my children covered. Yet, it cost me so much money because I did that. No one told me, that if approved for Medicaid again, it would be retroactive to when I applied and that if I have private insurance and NC Health Choice, the doctors can not bill both but must first bill private insurance. I wound up with a $700 bill for my son’s OT services (for 6 weeks of visits) that with Health Choice cost us $5 per visit and 0 with Medicaid. And that was with holding off until we had insurance for them again. I called to cancel the private insurance when I found out they did qualify for Health choice, but it could not be canceled for another month and a half and even though it was retro-active a few to when I applied (about 2 months prior), I had these high bills to pay because of the double insurance.

Financial anxiety

I wasn’t even thinking about that when I sat down to write today.

It is part of the picture.

My first child with OCD, began going to a therapist who specializes in OCD treatment and is trained in ERP therapy which is the recognized standard for OCD treatment. At that time, the therapist took Medicaid. When we no longer qualified for Medicaid but Health. Choice instead, she did not take Health choice. She worked out a plan for us. Yet, the cost of continuing therapy with her, added up over time and when my child was doing better, we cut back how often and eventually to not going at all. We have talked about going again, yet, the cost is an issue. We are working to pull ourselves out of credit card debt, something we have done several times in the past 8-10 years. The expenses on the credit cards have been things like groceries, car expenses, health care costs, etc. At least 90% of it has been daily life expenses!

So now here we are, seeing significant depression in my child, depression that has surely gotten worse int he past month. And we have not gone to a therapist in over a year or more. They are on mediation and so we have gone to a variety of psychiatrists which until the current one who we first went to 3 months ago, have been far less than ideal, We went as required to “manage medication” but felt most of the practitioners, many of which were PAs, were not truly qualified to do what they were doing and spent such little time in a visit. It really is sad the quality of mental health care when you are on NC state assisted health insurance. There are enough challenges with mental health care in the US as a whole but when dealing with NC state assisted insurance, the problem is so much worse, in our experience.

I am happy to say that I survived the appointment and so did my child and I feel there was a good understanding of the issue and the psychiatrist spent adequate time with us and made good recommendations. Sure, she is the professional and I should not “do her job”, yet in the past, I have had to manage the job the so called, professionals were doing. I am a believer of the importance of us being our own advocates when it comes to our health and we need to educated ourselves and work with our doctors. The doctor has the “expertise” in their area of speciality, and we are the experts of our own bodies. As a parent, I must be an advocate with and for my children.

Part of ERP therapy, Exposure, response, prevention: is in sitting with “the anxiety” and waiting it out, to see that nothing terrible happens. So the exposure is like my going to the appointment and having a plan of what I wanted to say. Now that I have done it, I will have less anxiety for the next appointment. Other than the anxiety of getting my child to the appointment on time because I don’t like to be late for doctor appointments and I fear we will be when my child is not invested in getting to the appointment on time, or at all. Add the added challenge of my child’s difficulty with time sense along with my own which equals more = anxiety!

As always, I would love to hear your experiences with anxiety and mental health and the family. We gain strength through support of others who understand by common experiences.

Advertisements

Words Not Spoken: 6 months after his heart attack

Powerful writing from November of 2011, 6 months after my husband’s heart attack.

His heart attack was May 4, 2011 and I wrote this 6 months later the week after he was finally discharged from outpatient cardiac rehab.

It was the beginning of recurrent bronchitis that lasted for over 6 months and then I suffered a car accident and the wheezing was present as the medics checked me out on the scene of the accident May 26, 20112.

I left this post as it was to show my mental state as I typed…

The original title was:

What I need to tell the head of Case Management (at Presbyterian Hospital)

You gave me a case manager who listened to my story. She sat and listened and heard me out when I was looking for help early on in the process.  Yet this same person who sat and listened, told me she would follow up on several things and get back to me and she never did.

She also told me things that are not true. She told me we would have been better off with no insurance because then someone from social services would have come and helped me fill out a Medicaid Application. Well part of that is true, someone might have come and done that had that been the case. But what she failed to tell me was how important it was to file for Medicaid right away and she failed to tell me the simple rule for NC Medicaid that you can’t have more than $3000 in money at the end of each month (after paying bills)…that is the best I can describe the “law” not having seen this any where in writing but only after finding out months later that because we had IRS tax refund money in our checking account, it disqualified us from Medicaid until the money was effectively gone.  We lived on that money for several months to pay our basic expenses while my husband nor I was working.

I am just warming up. That is just the tip of the iceberg at their lack of discharge planning and family education and effective “case management”.

Or maybe that just means that they have brief cases that they carry around and take care of.  Do I sound bitter and resentful?

Hell yes!

I have every right to be because I

I AM A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL

My job as  healthcare professional is in part to assist people with being ready to return home or to whatever setting they are returning to and to ensure they will have the assistance needed when they return home.

Ok

first things first

Our lovely Case Manager

who so comforted me in my time of need- but then failed to follow through-

(I am trying to see the positive here)

She then comes to us very late in the day, after the doctor discharged him around 10 or 11, after we inquired and then the nurse got to us, right after lunch I believe.

Mind you, the only help I had at home, was my mother who had been at my house all week, returning after being with us the initial 3 days until my sister-in-law arrived.  My mother was tired, she had been taking care of three intense children and my episodes of panic or crazy blood sugar due to insufficient nutrition- or whatever it all was- stress

So, we have spoken to the doctor and the nurse for discharge and the nurse keeps informing us that we are waiting for the social worker.

I must add that a few days prior, I had called for the social worker, after the first one failed to follow through and come back to talk to me.  It was Monday or Tuesday when I spoke to her and their was no sign of her Friday. So it might have been Saturday when I called and this other social worker came and spoke to us.  I remember wishing she would be the one who came for discharge.  But no, it was not.  So sometime after 4pm, the social worker shows up and begins the conversation

mind you my husband suffered a severe heart attack, was in CCU for 4 days and then the step down cardiac unit for 8 and was on monitors the entire time we were there. When he was finally able to get up and move around well, it was the weekend and I had to throw a fit to get Physical Therapy come see him on Saturday, knowing it was very possible he would be going home Monday and his doctor was off for the first time since we’ld been there and wouldn’t be back til Monday.  His replacement was a Jackass who spoke inappropriately to the nurses (my husband’s description) well, he didn’t call him a jack ass, I did because he walked in, I wasn’t there, and looked at my husband and said, well, it doesn’t look like you’re going any where anytime soon.  This was Saturday morning after his doctor had led him to beleive the day before that he might very well go home Monday.

The next day, he had apparently talked to my husband’s doctor and was much more on the ball with what was going on with my husband and more appropriate, at least with my husband.

Nurses, apparently learn how to ignore the jackass doctors because, well, doctors are not known for their personalities.

Remember, I have worked with doctors, so I know first hand.

So now that we are all agreed that the guy was a jack ass

Oh yeah, my husband wasn’t allowed off the unit, not beyond the square around the nurses station in the small step down unit at the end of the hospital surrounded by vacant hallways due to a remodeling project because it was the weekend, and they would have to clear it with the doctor, have an order (everything needs an order)- I wonder if they need orders to speak kindly- you know, jack ass is the default mode-

anyway, so my fit to have him come off the unit and be wheeled to a new floor to get out of the room he had been for 8 days, unlike my fit to get PT to see him- guess I knew how to play my cards better with that department or maybe cause therapists generally aren’t jackass.. cause once someone called them, they came that day and the next,

so

Now,I am beside myself because it looks like I might be bringing my husband home on Monday and it is Saturday afternoon but I won’t know until I show up at 8:30 Monday morning and sit around and wait for the doctor to come in- cause that is the only way to be sure to be there when he comes to see my husband, is to show up at the earliest possible time that he might come for rounds.  It was 6:30 when he was on CCU.  And then the nurses tell me really I should be there earlier like 7 just to be sure.

So he has been on continuous cardiac monitoring the entire time he is here, all 12 days with frequent checks of blood pressure and pulse and oxygen saturation.  And we can’t leave his unit but in two days, they might just send us home-

with home health care because I insisted on it-

And that is another story, because the lovely social worker, never notified the Home Health Company that he was discharged and so they did not know to come out to the house and the they are supposed to be there within 48 hours of discharge.

How do I know this? Because I have worked in home health care.And so the home health nurse came 2 days after he was home, because I called the agency and I let them know he was discharged

BECAUSE  I DID HER JOB

Put me on payroll please

So back to the hospital when the social worker finally comes into the room after we had been waiting all day

NOW I do understand that case managers or social workers or whatever you call them, are way overworked because I KNOW DAMN WELL THE EFFECTS OF THE CUT BACKS ON HEALTHCARE.

This issue is not so much how long it took her to come but the information she brought to us when she finally did come.

She started her conversation off with us something like this

and it has been 6 months and a blur and I now understand what she was doing but at the time, I had no clue.

She came to us and said,

“OK you can get this medication at these places and this medication at these places”

And she had these long lists, not that she was giving us any list, I don’t recall that she did.  Maybe she did.  And she went on and on and I was like, what the #%!?

I knew I needed a prescription for 5 days until we could get Med Assist (local agency for assistance with medications when you don’t have medicaid) but little did i know that I really needed to go and apply for that while he was still in the hospital.  Like I had time for that between advocating for my husband, caring for him, being there for him and then being with my children in what little hours were left of the day/night.

So I had no idea, it took 5 days from approval and that they would look at our income and base an entire year of income on 1 month of my prn pay checks where I was working more than twice the hours I normally do. The increased hours were temporary while another OT was on maternity leave.  No idea that would be the policy. Because, did you know the entire support system like Medicaid is set up based on people who work for an employer full time or at least regular part time hours.  There is no consideration for prn pay (which is higher than normal pay because you have no benefits and NO guarnteed hours- I have lost a week of work because of being prn- thinking I would work 40 hours one week when they didn’t need me for that and ….I digress

I like being prn- but if you need help form the system, you are screwed.

Just to be clear, I have been sick with some kind of upper respiratory thing, and today I have heard what I believe is whezing and I feel like I am going to cough up my lung.  Well, grief is processed in the lung.

And for some crazy reason, when I try to sleep, I have been relieving 6 months ago and my husband’s blue face and the whole freaking experience.

Maybe I am finally REALLY FEELING IT ALL AND FINALLY REALLY GRIEIVING.

My husband was discharged from Outpatient Cardiac Rehab this week.

Hmm….

Coincidence?

I don’t think so.  Just now realizing that one….

…and it is still sinking in….

ahh, other stories to tell.

Back to.?

Ah yes, the lovely discharge with the Case Manager on May 16, 2011.

So she is talking about all these places to get medication to get the $3 rate and how I can go to more than one pharmacy to get them all and I was like

?WTF?

I GUESS I THOUGHT THEY WOULD SEND US HOME WITH MEDICATION

It was getting late, my mom had my kids and was going to bring them to the hospital and was going to be heading home from there and  I would be driving home my husband, now off all monitors, with our three children, ages 2, 9 and 13 to be alone at home and manage everything.

While he was in the hospital, my family and friends had pretty much taken care of all meals and grocery shopping and all the laundry.

So I am worried about my husband having another heart attack or something medical when he returns home and worried about helping him recover while taking care of our intense and 2 out of 3 very high need childden.  And she is taking to me about saving money for 5 days worth of medication.

so I think I cut her short once we figured out we could just get 5 days worth of medication from the hospital pharmacy and then be on our way, but the pharmacy closes at 5 and we had to hurry.

I don’t really remember what happened next, with the case manager

I just remember the long wait at the pharmacy and the not so friendly pharmacist and the other person who worked there-

shame on both of them, they work in a hsospital, they need to be nice to people!  Everyone else, mostly was very nice including housekeeping staff and kitchen staff- but oh, not the pharmacy.

So we get the expensive medication that I had to pay for then.  You would think it could be on our bill….but no, WE WERE DISCHARGED AND ON OUR OWN!

It wasn’t until Wednesday that I could get to the Med Assist office, when a friend was able to come stay with my husband, and turn in the paperwork and then it was at least 5 days before I found out, maybe longer that we didn’t qualify, just over by like $1800 per year- due to the above mentioned prn pay checks for one month that they multiplied for the entire year even though that was grossly inaccurage and even though they had our 2010 tax return showing our income was less than half of what they calculated.

So This is why I contacted the Head of Case Management. I got the name and number while I was in the hospital before the discharge fiasco and before they failed to notify the home health agency.  And I called them from home and they called me back.  Mind you I was now home with a husband who got dizzy if he stood too quickly, had only just begun walking around on his own a few days prior and was out of breath with the slighest amount of activity and three children and despite us all holding it together while he was in the hospital and doing “well”, thing were challenging coming home.

NO BODY TALKS ABOUT THAT

The COMING HOME after the Heart Attack

They assume, he lives, he does well, he goes home, yeah!

NO one realizes how much harder it really is, going home.

I tried to tell the nurses at the hospital….

The Case Manager, I don’t know that I got the chance, I did share some of this with the second one, who came to us just that once.

BECAUSE I HAD SO MANY OTHER THINGS ON MY PLATE

I never did get to speak to the Department Head at the Hospital.  I left a detailed message and she called back and maybe spoke briefly to my husband because I was not home.

I think I need to send her a letter.

So I don’t leave anything out.

I could send this one, but I might need to remove a few jackasses and the like.

I am adding a note:

I don’t think I coughed once the entire time I wrote this.

It didn’t even occur to me til after i finished writing it and I realized my breathing seamed silent and my chest felt better- from not coughing so much.

The lung processes grief.

Depression and Illness 

I got sick for the first time since coming out of my depression. Really sick. All of a sudden- flu sick.

I never used to be so ancy to get better, or maybe I just don’t remember what it felt like to really not want to be sick
One of the most difficult things being sick has been the fear that I wouldn’t want to do things again that I would find myself happy to be sitting around, in the recliner or in bed and watching movies and streaming an entire season of a tv show in one day. You know how when you get really sick, it’s hard to imagine getting better? Like, you feel so sick like you are dying, but you know you aren’t dying, your body just feels like it is.

I turned a big corner today after 4 1/2 days off illness with high temperature. I actually got to the point where I could tell I felt better and after watching some tv, I told myself, I would stop watching and get some things done. Because I finally felt up to it and finally could see a light at the end of the tunnel of illness. Yet, I watched one more episode and then another.  I have vivid memories of doing this in the past, when I wasn’t feeling well

Depression is an illness. It does leave you feeling sick and tired. No energy, no motivation, thst isn’t Laziness, it’s depression.  You don’t look sick to anyone. People don’t know why you don’t get the project done on time or follow up like you said you would or make that phone call to set up an appointment for yourself or even for your child. Little things take a lot of effort to complete. There are no “little things” everything feels like a big thing, everything feels like a lot of work to complete or it takes all of your energy to do it.

When you are sick with the flu, you are tired,  Have no energy, no motivation to do Anything, no desire to,

When I am sick with the flu, I became content watching movies. I figured, why not make the best of my time and do something I enjoy. I also wanted to keep my mind on positive thoughts. I picked feel good movies and comedy shows. It’s ok to be “lazy” when you are sick. It’s like universal permission to be lazy.

The fear of becoming depressed again can be crippling.

I wrote the above post more than 2 1/2 years ago when I was in a very good place as far as my mental health. I have bipolar depression, the kind where my upswing is hypomania, or just high functioning and feeling good. I have been though a few cycles of ups and downs since I first write this post. I have realized some more things as I reread this post

I get sick more often and am much slower to shake any illness when I am depressed as compared to when I am not. I look back on things I did just days after being very sick in spring of 2016 and in a more depressed state, wonder, how the heck did I do that?

I have gotten sick during my more recent down cycle, one that lasted from June or July until Oct-November. It was ten times more awful being sick as it felt like forever and even when I began to feel better, I still didn’t have much energy to do anything, which just lead to not feeling well again. A vicious cycle of physical illness and depression.

Is it possible that some people with chronic illness are caught in this loop of physical illness and depression?

I see it in my own life. And I consider myself generally healthy.

The only medications I have been taken are for my depression.

What I ask of my readers today is this:

The next time you have a friend or family member not follow through on something or fail to do what they said they would, stop and contemplate the idea, Anne they are dealing with some form of anxiety or depression.

Sometimes I look like a lazy person and yet, I have accomplished much in my 49 years. I have had periods where I completed WonderWoman like feats, as well as many long stretches of barely getting by.

If this post helps even one person dealing with a mental illness or a loved one who has mental illness, than I am forever grateful for the opportunity to write and share my experiences.

Everybody Hurts, Sometimes

Life gets messy at times

We all experience ups and downs and for those for us with Bipolar Depression, this experience is exaggerated often to the point of dysfunction.

For me, it is to the point of barely getting by, doing just the bare minimum.

Barely functioning, yet somehow making it through each day

Yet, in the bigger picture, it really feels as if this life is not my own.

I am listening to R.E.M. sing.

This song is powerful and propelled me to writing a blog today.

I had no intention of writing a blog but as soon as this song came on, I reached in my bag and pulled out my keyboard.

The music and the lyrics brought me to a place of honesty.

When I was younger, I wanted life to freeze so that I could catch up.

Now, I feel like I am the one who is frozen and life is wizzing by…

I am now taking a mood stabilizing medication along with my antidepressant.

I thought the antidepressant alone was helping until I discovered i was spiraling down again, slowly, yet enough that even calling my doctor to get in to be seen sooner took much effort and then I called and got no response and I wanted to call back again but never did.

And then it was time for my regularly scheduled appointment. She didn’t give me much time to talk this time but quickly jumped to adding a mood stabilizer when I began to describe my experience and was eager to prescribe the same medication that has been working for my brother. I agreed.

It takes time with all of these medications. To avoid side effects, you slowly titrate up the dose and so you won’t see any results for weeks or often months.

She told me to come back in 4 weeks after I had increased the dose to 50mg, after starting at 25 for 2 weeks. I went to check out and schedule the appointment and she did not have any openings for 6 weeks.

So what do you do with that?

They told me to call back in a few weeks to see if there has been any openings.

Why do they make it so challenging for someone with depression to come in as prescribed by the doctor for a medication increase.

Don’t they know how challenging it can be to follow through and make that phone call?

Don’t they know how challenging it is to get a person on their phone system?

Maybe she has an online way to get in touch with her, I think I remember that. If only I could figure out where that information is so I can access that.

Because waiting an extra 2 weeks to up the dose feels like too long.

Why do these small tasks feel so large and overwhelming to me?

I sat here at Panera while eating my dinner and enjoying a Netflix show and watched a young couple at a booth across from me.

They were holding hands and looking at each other. They were not holding their phones and had their full attention on each other with that look of total infatuation and young love. That feeling of connection with someone new. The attention and interest with each other, such intimacy.

I glanced up many times finding joy in their connection.

Depression is like the opposite of intimacy

You fell disconnected, out of touch and invisible.

You feel lost and uncertain and out of touch with your inner feelings.

You are lost in the day to day mundane tasks and use any opportunity to escape from regular life that you can.

“I want to break free

I want to break free from your life’s, you’re so self satisfied, I don’t need you

I want to break free”

Queen sings in my ear and I feel the lyrics

I want to break free from this depression, my depression

I want to be free of this feeling of drowning, of sinking, of being lost and disconnected.

“But life still goes on….”

“I don’t want to live alone…

God knows I have got to make it on my own

So baby can’t you see, I’ve got to break free…”

I made an effort today to jump into my work, reading and researching information for my new business endeavor with my husband.

We have developed a presentation and program for Collaborative, Conscious, Respectful Parenting.

This week we will give our second presentation. We have one client now, a family, from our first presentation we gave about 2 months ago.

We scheduled a second presentation for last month but no one signed up to attend.

It felt easy to pursue this endeavor 4 months ago when we first dove into it.

These past 2 months since that first presentation have been very difficult. When I practice the presentation with Don and we discuss things, I am engaged and energized by the experience and I know I can do this.

Life creeps back in and day to day life and my irregular schedule of getting weekly work from on e of the 3 companies I am employed with and it falls to the background.

A few weeks ago, I took 2 of my children to the dentist. My youngest was 9 before he would allow a dentist to clean his teeth. My oldest had serious trauma from dentists. I have anxiety over taking my kids to the dentist because of those experiences. Taking my youngest to any “professional” is challenging because his typical response is not to be compliant and do what he is told. That is challenging for me in a social setting.

We came out of the appointment having a very easy experience with only my daughter needing to come back to fill a cavity. She has no problems going to the dentist and usually does not have cavities.

I realized after that visit, that if I could survive that and we all did very well, then I could surely speak to a group of people about parenting.

In other worlds, getting through challenging experiences or potentially challenging experiences, helps me to realize that doing what I have longed to do, what my should wants to do, is not really as difficulty as it feels at times.

It feels difficult because it is not what I have been doing for “a living” for the past 25 years. It is outside the realm of my usual working experience.

Yet, is is also within the scope of my work practice and even experience with both adults and my own children.

It is new and new things take time to become comfortable.

I need to slowly figure my way in this new experience.

Don and I bring a unique dynamic because of our personality differences.

I am a big picture person, a dreamer of possibilities, and he is detail oriented, organized and follows through.

I am an introvert and process things internally and through my writing. Don is an extrovert and loves being in front of a large group speaking to people.

I have the background of being in healthcare and he has a business background.

It really is an amazing combination and together we share a passion for helping families. In particular for helping families with anxiety struggles, especially those with children suffering from anxiety related issues which we know effects the entire family dynamic.

It is so fun to see him using the tools that I first discovered years ago when our oldest was young and see him sharing books like, “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk” with his Clients in his EFT practice.

Engaging in this new endeavor with him has been a vision of mine since at least 2011. And yet, struggling with depression, takes a toll on my ability to follow through.

I have the benefit of knowing that I have pulled myself up and out of the depression several times before and so I do have hope that I will again. Despite knowing I am dealing with depression, I am still making small steps forward. Today, after sitting and talking with Don about our next steps we need to take, I felt energized to dive into the next steps. I also knew I needed to get out of the house and dive into a place of quiet where I go to write and do inner exploration and know I can focus solely on myself and my pursuits, knowing Don is home and engaged with the kids and dogs and they can reach me by phone whenever they need to.

David Bowie sings, Changes, as I finish this post tonight.

Changes…

Runaway Train

Runaway Train

Call you up in the middle of the night

Like a firefly without a light

You were there like a blowtorch burning

I was a key that could use a little turning

So tired that I couldn’t even sleep

So many secrets I couldn’t keep

Promised myself I wouldn’t weep

One more promise I couldn’t keep

It seems no one can help me now

I’m in too deep

There’s no way out

This time I have really lead myself astray

Depression seeps in

Silently and slowly creeping

Like a shadow obscuring the light

It arrives slowly without warning

A gas leak that slowly chokes out the life

Within us

We struggle and fumble

To find our way out

To the fresh air

And to the light

Again

Rain falls softly

Quietly covering the ground

The wind blows the leaves of the trees

Branches sway

Thoughts of how I use to be

Enjoying myself with my children on a road trip to ohio

To an unschooling conference

Just this past May

Two months later

And here I am feeling lost

We drove to St. Louis over Easter weekend

I had determination, organization, purpose and poise

Now i sit in the silence looking at old photos

Longing for that feeling I once had

Happiness, joy,

It is more than that

Purpose

I sense of divine purpose

Yet each time I encounter the chains of depression

I move forward

Never back…

Runaway train never going back

Wrong way on a one-way track

Seems like I should be getting somewhere

Somehow I’m neither here nor there

Can you help me remember how to smile?

Make it somehow all seem worthwhile

How on earth did I get so jaded?

Life’s mysteries seem so faded

I can go where no one else can go

I know what no one else knows

Here I am, just drowning in the rain

With a ticket for a runaway train

And everything seems cut and dry

Day and night

Earth and sky

Somehow I just don’t believe it

Runaway train never going back

Wrong way on a one-way track

Seems like I should be getting somewhere

Somehow I’m neither here nor there

Bought a ticket for a runaway train

Like a madman laughing at the rain

A little out of touch, a little insane

It’s just easier than dealing with the pain

Runaway train never going back

Wrong way on a one-way track

Seems like I should be getting somewhere

Somehow I’m neither here nor there

Runaway train never coming back

Runaway train tearing up the track

Runaway train burning in my veins

I run away but it always seems the same

Family Road Trip

We left Charlotte at 7am Friday morning.

Four people, suitcases, bags and bags of snacks: gluten free foods, fresh brewed tea sweetened with local honey

Missing a family member, oldest son, home to take care of dogs, attend work and school

Been a long time, four and a half years to be exact, since we traveled to St. Louis

I drove first

Road trip playlist on Spotify

Chai tea with coconut milk, caffeinated chai

When did i become a morning person?

When did I become a morning person who needs her caffeine in the morning to get her day going?

Writing

Time to myself

Music

Starting my day

Time with my husband and two younger kids

Seeing my husband with his family, in his element, relaxed, being the jokester among a family of self proclaimed comedians

Eye rolls from my sixteen year old daughter

“That’s how I know I am doing my job”

Nieces and nephews, who are my age, with children, teenagers of their own

I can’t stand to fly

I’m not that naive

I’m just out to find

The better part of me

Family

Nearly 24 years ago, I married my husband and became a Grothoff

I joined this family

Three new brother-in-laws and four sister-in-laws

Eleven nieces and nephews, from age 8 through age through age 23

Now,

Twenty-four years later… age 32 through age 47, with children of their own

Sixteen great nieces and nephews, if I counted correctly….

Playing with Andrew, age 18 months

Feels like a hundred years since I had a toddler of my own

My youngest is nine…

“9 going on 40” as his aunt said yesterday

Speaking up

Speaking up for my child

Speaking up for my child with social anxiety

Allowing

Allowing him to go off and be alone

Overwhelmed by all these people he does not know

He was four years old when he was last here in St. Louis

He was four years old when he met most of these relatives

That was half his life ago…

It was a house full

They were not all here, several live in Texas and some could not come

Nineteen people, not including us…

Only five other kids, two of them being teens

Family

Large families

I grew up with a large extended family

My mother being one of seven children and my father was one of six living siblings

We visited New Jersey at least once each year

So many aunts and uncles and cousins,

Great aunts and uncles… my parents cousins…

People

Many people

I was the quiet one

Close to mom as a young child

Or hanging with my sister as I got older

Loud family

Difficulty to get a word in edgewise with all the animated extroverts

Fun family

Memories

Creating memories for my own children

Establishing bonds

Building a sense of comfort with being around this family that lives 756 miles away

Three days to visit

Three short days for him to have time to get to know these strange people

People who are “strange to him”, unknown

I feel proud of how well he is doing

He has come such a long way on his journey, overcoming social anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder

It is an ongoing journey

He came out of the bedroom on his own in the middle of the gathering

“I thought I would come out to be with everyone” he told me

He made that decision on his own

Talking with him and

Encouraging him to be a part of the gathering and talk to people, to at least say hello

He has made such huge progress over the past several years

Family

Oldest son at home

Texting and FaceTime connections

Give a little bit

Give a little bit of your love to me

I’ll give a little bit of my life for you

Now’s the time that we need to share

So find yourself, we’re on our way back home

Family

Two more days to be the parent he needs in this new environment

Meeting his needs

And meeting mine

Balance

Being there for all three of my children,

And my husband

And myself

Easter

April 1

Fresh starts

Foolish fun and games amount family

Easter, April 1, 2018

You’re on the road

But you’ve got no destination

You’re in the mud

In the maze of her imagination

You’re lovin’ this town

Even if that doesn’t ring true

You’ve been all over

And it’s been all over you

It’s a beautiful day

Don’t let it get away

It’s a beautiful day

Thank you to: U2, Beautiful Day lyrics

Supertramp and “Give a Little Bit

Five for Fighting and “Superman””

I am grateful for Google and Azlyrics

And grateful for all the poets of this world

Your words inspire me

Bipolar Depression: When Life Just Sucks and the bills need to be paid

I have been on prozac, 20mg, 9 months now. I have birthed myself a new life.

Unlike the last anti-depressant I tried 2 years ago, I feel that the Prozac is helping me and not causing side effects and mania.

It makes me wonder, why didn’t I try this medication years ago?

Here I am now. And somehow it is all perfect and in perfect order.

It can be challenging to really believe that.

The idea that life unfolds, or we create it, just the way it needs to be.

And it is what we do with what happens that matters more than what happens.

We create our life….

Yet, there are those times when it really feels like life is happening to me

Sh#t happens

I work PRN as an Occupational Therapy in geriatric rehab.

PRN means no required hours and no guaranteed hours.

I sign up to work but they can “call me off”if they don’t need me something that can happen the night before or the day of…

I am employed with 2 companies, one for almost 8 years and the other for 4 years.

PRN also means you get paid a “higher rate of pay” because you have no benefits.

Healthcare changed in 2000 and greatly for me in the field of Occupational Therapy.

I had a pay cut and salary caps happened and jobs were hard to find for a while.

My work is very different than it was when I graduated college with my Bachelor of Science Degree in OCcupational Therapy in 1992.

All those Medicare cuts and changes that happened at the beginning of this century, mean I now make less money than I did 20 years ago. I worked PRN 21 years ago in addition to a full time job. At that time, my PRN rate of pay was double my rate as a full time employee. IT was $50 an hour. The current average rate of pay in the area where I live for a PRN OCcupational Therapist is now $45 an hour.

I now have 25 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist and yet 21 years later, I am making less money.

PRN means no increase in pay.

This is healthcare.

Or better named, sickcare.

I vent about this all the time to my husband and close friends and family.

It is time I write about it.

I began asking for a pay increase 4 years ago at my job I had been with for 4 years when I found out the current rate of pay for new PRN employees, therapists, was $5 more than I was making. I got told I would get the pay increase and then called back the next day and told, “I didn’t know there was a hold on raises. But you will be the first to get a raise when it changes.”

I asked again almost 2 years later, I was told I had to wait until the fall (it was early spring) when they do reviews.

As a prn employee, I had never had a review done.

First of September, my boss schedules a review for me. Wow!

I get told I will get the “pay increase”, in other words, they will now pay me what they are paying everyone else who was hired after me.

It will be in my December pay check.

December comes, no pay increase.

I was told that the regional manager forgot to allocate the money for my raise.

Apparently, they can only do raises one time per year.

I inquired about my options. I won’t even share that here because you would never believe it.

And I know my boss went to bat for me for the raise and then after the raise didn’t happen. I appreciate her efforts.

Much to my surprise, a year later, I get the pay increase!

After nearly 8 years working nearly ever week and most weekends for this company being available for most weekends and also being called off work when the caseload was too low, I now am getting paid what they should have been paying me at least 4 years ago.

$50 per hour

The rate of pay I made 21 years ago, when my hourly rate as a full time employee was $25 per hour.

GRATEFUL?

Sure I am grateful.

I feel like i finally made it happen!

Because PRN employees don’t get raises, pay increases, nothing.

I have been told that by my other employer, where I have now worked 4 years.

Why am I prn?

Because in order to be part time you have to average 20 hours per week.

They don’t have that many hours to give me at either place. I often work 20 hours between both jobs.

Many companies only have full time and prn employees and not part time employees.

So this is all good right?

Now the company is choosing to use prn employees as little as possible.

A secret policy that I have only learned about through the grape vine.

I have been called off work as a prn employee and I get that is part of being prn and the status of healthcare.

But now, I am called off work more and more.

It doesn’t matter how many years I have been with the company, nor my experience, nor the fact that when they do my quarterly relives now, I get glowing remarks on what I great employee I am.

What is the point of the glowing reviews?

It feels like a slap in the face!

I began getting the glowing reviews after I was told my raise wasn’t happening, because the regional manager forgot to allocate the money for my raise.

Now, just 3 months after my raise went into effect….

I am finding out not from my boss but from my co-workers, that the company is now choosing to use prn employees as little as possible.

Why am I writing about this and not going to my boss?

I have gone to her multiple times.

I have had many sit down talks with her about my concerns and issues.

I have reached out to her to find out about these rumors I am hearing.

She chooses not to fill me in and not respond to my phone call or repeated questions about the changes.

Each month, I am asked to give my availability for working weekends for the coming month.

I typically let them know I am available most Sundays for a full work day and most Saturdays for at least a half work day. On average, I tell them I am available for 6 our of 8 weekend days, every month, for nearly 8 years.

I find out about how much I am needed for on the Friday afternoon or night before the weekend.

I find out if they are calling me off work on the Friday before and sometimes not until 10pm the night before.

This is the nature of prn work in Occupational Therapy. (PT and OT work in adult and geriatric rehab)

I have been told, that despite my years of experience and time with the company, that if there are no evaluations, I will be called off first rather than the COTAS (OT assistants with a 2 year degree).

OK

It is a financial thing, they tell me.

Something I have never been happy with.

When I am needed for evaluations, they need me. But I am the first to go when the caseload is low.

That in itself sucks.

But what sucks even more

Is the company deciding to use prn employees as little as possible and not sharing this information with the prn employees.

Not openly sharing it.

We all know because we talk to the full time employees

Who are now required to rotate working weekends.

Not because they want to but because they have to.

Sometimes life just sucks.

I have seen that I am being called off more often and despite really liking my fellow co-workers and the facility as a whole at my weekend job, and have been looking for more work hours elsewhere.

My other prn job I work one or two days during the week as well as Saturdays when needed also has a low caseload right now.

And that is a crazy story with its own issues but I will save that for another time.

That being said,

I now have two prn jobs with very little hours for me to work.

And I have been looking for more hours and have let them all know that I am looking for more work hours.

Instead of more hours, I am getting far less hours.

In January, I earned enough to meet and exceed our expenses, to help pay down our debt.

My February pay checks totaled $1000 less, not quite meeting our basic expenses.

So far in March, I have worked a total of 5.25 hours.

It is only March 4, but I have only worked that many hours from Sunday Feb 25 through today, Sunday March 4.
I signed up to work full day last Sunday and today and for 5 hours yesterday and got 0 hours.

The 5.25 hours came from my other prn job.

But I may have 0 hours this week at my other prn job.

The caseload is low and instead of referring patients to our in facility outpatient therapy program, the facility is referring patients to a home health company who is trying to establish a monopoly in the facility, despite our company having a contract with a different home health company.

So I shared a little of that drama…

This is the nature of health care…

Sick care

I usually work at least 15 hours per week, 20 hours per week meets my expenses.

Sometimes I work 25 or more hours per week and other times 10-15, and it balances out.

But working only 5 hours in 2 weeks won’t pay the bills.

I have been asking about other prn work and have a number of companies to call and…

I updated my resume

Today, I am applying for other jobs. I have had that on my to do list for several weeks.

Now it feels urgent

When I began looking around for other work and asking my fellow prn employees and co-workers who work prn, I was looking to give myself more options and to seek work at a higher rate of pay.

I was looking for a third prn job to have the upper hand.

To be able to tell my weekend employer,

“NO, I have other work and work where I won’t get called off the day of or the night before at 10pm.”

I enjoy the jobI work weekends, I enjoy what I do as an Occupational Therapist, the patients I work with, and my co-workers, and the facility.

But I also value my sanity.

And, heck, the bills need to get paid!

Part of the reason, I have hesitated to find other prn work, more prn jobs…

Is because I am also a writer and actively working

To grow my writing, and turn Child-led learning into a paying gig

My husband, Don, and I are making plans to speak together on conscious parenting.

I run a local homeschool website, Charlottehomeschooling.com

I run Child-led Learning blog and facebook page and my goal is to grow that into a community and to also work as a child-led learning consultant.

I am ready to take my experience and skills and more to new work.

I am ready to use my skills as an Occupational therapist to begin a business in well- care, instead of sick-care.

Sundays are now writing time and planning time and goal setting time.

I can embrace my new Sundays.

I am also ready to see the $350 I typically earn (or used to earn) each Sunday, showing up in my life in new ways…

..so the bills can be paid.

I am ready universe.

I am open to new possibilities.

I am a writer.

I am Gina.

I am creating a new realization, a new experience, for my life

…and for my family.