Don’t ask, don’t tell

When I check my site stats it says people are getting here from my comment on the blog post I linked to yesterday.  I didn’t leave a comment though.  I just linked.  But for some reason, my blog appears as a comment.  I was gonna open with something else, but now I’m creeped out by my computer commenting on people’s blogs just because I link to them.  I kinda don’t want that post linked because I’m not as optimistic in my musings about calling and things because I just don’t have a wide audience.  There’s no one to post that info for really.   I linked just in case though, but now if depressed people are getting back to my site I’m kinda upset because my views aren’t great if you’re depressed.  Meh.  Stupid technology and it’s creepiness.

Today was mostly a good day.  Except for the above and the killer migraine I finally had to break down and take Dilaudid for.

My son graduated speech therapy today with “high average” scores.  I’m a proud mama bear!!  He’s always been smart, but he was slow to pick up on talking and has been in speech therapy.  He’s been doing amazing lately, so they tested him and he passed!!   I’m worried about sliding back now that he won’t be seeing someone every week, but I’m so proud of how much he’s accomplished.  He’s a really bright kid, and now I have test scores to say I’m not just being a mom about it!

Mood wise, I didn’t peak above a high range 6 today, which was nice.  Mid-day it was on the real high end of what I’d still consider a 6 and I was probably being generous with the numbers, but that’s where I ranked it when I was there, so I don’t wanna mess with my charts.

However, I did get my usual 5000 thoughts per second deal again today (likely the cause of my four day migraine – why I’m even on here I don’t know).  In those thoughts, I started to stress about something at work that was brought up in the peak of my mania and I just haven’t had time to obsess over it.  Luckily, my brain was slow enough today to allow some time to obsess once the thought made its way in the rotating tape deck of my mind.

At some point, I’m not sure when, I was told that when I get to my new office, I should not discuss my illness with coworkers.  Basically a gag order on what’s wrong with me, as my husband put it.  My boss told me this.  I guess it doesn’t look good to be the person that hired the crazy girl.  I get that.  There’s some issues though…

Anyone with any serious illness has to deal with how to handle discussion of said illness at work.  I’ve tried different ways, and now what I do is within a month, everyone that deals with me a lot at work gets a talk about what’s wrong with me and how best to deal.  If we just say hi to each other, then it’s not your business.  But if it’s your job to have to deal with me in any fashion (liner, above me, or below me) I feel like I need to explain why I’m going to be a pain.

I used to not tell anyone because that’s what my mom advised me.  The thing is, it’s not like you can’t tell.  In small doses, I come off as “not average” but no one that sits with me for an hour is gonna conclude I’m really crazy.  Probably just “eccentric” or “different” or something else.  Even a few days and it might go undetected.  After a month, people start asking questions.  Or worse, making assumptions about things that are far off the mark and making it gossip.  If “Kira’s crazy” is fact and not rumor, it’s not as exciting to talk about.  Comments that get made are usually the same ones that they would say in front of me, not in hushed voices after I leave a room.  In high school everyone though I was going to blow up the school because I didn’t really talk about my issues at school.  I got kicked out because they thought I was going to kill people.  I promise, as much as I hated high school, I wasn’t going to kill anyone.  I was just sick.  If you don’t explain, people tend to assume things that are worse than the truth.  I’d rather be “bipolar” than “potential assassin.”

Even if people don’t think I’m going to kill them, I miss days at work a lot either due to my mental illness making me physically ill or just the mental illness itself.  Without HR to back me up, I’d be out of a job.  So in that case, at least someone has to know why I’m missing so many days.  It’s not for trips to Hawaii or extra three day weekends.  When I’m out, I need to be.

And if that’s not enough, if they don’t assume I’m a serial killer waiting to happen, all my ticks and oddities could be signs of about 9 different personality disorders.  If I take internet tests I score above 70% on all but one or two.  It’s not that I have them, but that bipolar can sometimes mean “all encompassing crazy.”  I’ve never figured out if this is the illness itself or just having to deal with it that causes all these other problems, but a lot of them remain even at “normal” mood levels.  I’m diagnosed bipolar, ADD, PTSD, and GAD.  I have hints of OCD and other such lovelies in there just because of my bipolar, not because I’m really OCD.  My anxiety is a daily issue.  So they’ll come up with way more problems than I actually have trying to come up with it on their own.

I don’t wanna be the girl with 20 disorders.  I’ll take my bipolar plus two (PTSD is pretty much gone).  I don’t like thinking that people would think I’m 20 kinds of crazy when I’m only really one.

I’d get all the cover up if I sucked at my job or something, but the thing is I’m really good at it.  Not in an egotistical way.  I can pull my numbers versus others and I’m usually top 25% in the company.  So my results tend to mean my crazy is magically easier to tolerate.  Such is corporate America.  If I was bottom 10%, I doubt they’d deal with me long.

Without being labeled “bipolar” I’d probably get “bitchy, high maintenance, and difficult.”  I am these things, but I do have a reason.

Some examples?  I can’t have people behind me if I’m on the computer.  This is an anxiety related issue as best I can tell, as I have panic attacks if people stand behind me when I’m on a computer.  I can’t be in buildings alone or in the dark, which means I can’t open or close anything ever.  Again, anxiety.

My memory is non-existant as possible without qualifying for Alzheimer’s.  To combat this, I notate obsessively.  If I talk to someone, as soon as they leave (and sometimes while they talk) I make notes.  If I work on a task and have to stop before it’s done, I have to make notes on where I am, what I’m trying to do, and what’s left to do.  I have to set myself reminders to finish.  While I’m making these notes, no one can talk to me.  Not even a two word sentence.  If they do, the memory gets fuzzy and I’m screwed.  Depending on my mood, this can result in me being very mean to someone who should know better.  I classify this in the “OCD like” things, though I’m not sure if it goes there.  The blame on this one is going to years of bipolar medications that make you stupid.  Plus ADD means I can’t concentrate well.  Double whammy.

Things have to be in certain places, organized certain ways.  If it’s not, I can’t do anything else until it’s right.  Pens go a certain place.  Paper goes a certain place.  Files are organized in a particular manner.  If anything is out of place, sometimes it will take me two hours of frantic freak out to get things just so again.  Thus, no one can sit at my desk, otherwise I waste a lot of day fixing.  I don’t like to waste time at work.  I like to work.  So it just makes more sense if people don’t use my desk unless there is no other choice.

My moods shift, so things that I laugh about one day can make me cry the next.  I try to be aware and give forewarning on mood changes and after you get to know me, the things that will set me off become more predictable.  If I can’t come in and say “today’s a depressed day” I just know I’m gonna end up crying at work over something stupid and everyone will think I’m PMSing or pregnant or something.

I can’t multitask.  At all.  I can do one thing with intense focus (with Adderall) and perfection level precision. Try to add just one more task in, and I can’t do either.  If I’m typing, I can’t talk.  If I’m talking, I can’t listen or write.  No clue what this one is attributed to.  I just know I get frustrated and pissed if people try to throw multitasking my way.  I can finish one thing and go to another in a quick enough way that I can create an appearance of multitasking though (because everyone wants someone who can multitask).

The upside to a lot of these is that I do things perfectly. Not always, but for the most part, people know if they give something to me it gets 120% of my attention until it’s just right.  I get things done fast and accurately.  Very rarely do I have mistakes at work.  I thought I was missing a signature once at my old office and the assistant that checked all that stuff was confused.  Turns out, it didn’t need one, but the system doesn’t check to see if it’s needed, just if it was there.  So it flagged even though it shouldn’t have.  That’s the level of consistency I generally produce.  Things get done right or not at all.

I give the appearance in short term of just being super organized.  It’s only when things aren’t done in my special way that the crazy part is painfully obvious.  The way I react is anything but normal.  If I mess up, I freak about it for lengthy periods, sometimes months.  If things are out of place, I lose my mind very literally.  I wasn’t always this way.  Living with bipolar had made me start to develop these “ticks” to get through the day.  If I don’t do them, I suck at my job because I forget what I’m supposed to be doing other than the most basic job description.  Plus routines keep my mood in check (to a point).

Oh, I also have to work a set schedule because of that.  If you need me there for 8:00am any day, that means I come in at 8:00 every day, or my body will either not allow me to wake up or a fifteen minute change in the time I wake up for a one day event will screw my moods up for a month.  Daylight savings is especially fun for me.  I can work in “7:30am every Monday, 8:30am Tuesday-Friday” or something so long as it’s the same every week.  I don’t know why, but I guess the week is what my body uses for basing routines, not a day.  So I can sleep in on a Sunday and not get messed up, but if I sleep in on a Monday I generally do get off track.

It’s all very complex and exhausting for me.  For other people, it’s just easier to know what my limitations are up front and how to deal with them.  That way I’m the most productive me I can be, and everyone usually benefits.  Like I said, if I’m not freaking out, I do an amazing job.  It just takes me a little effort to get there.

If I can’t explain these limitations, how will people manage to work with me?  How do I say “don’t sit at my desk” without sounding like I’m being a bitch for no reason?  How do I say “don’t stand behind me” without sounding like I’m paranoid or just being dramatic?  Once bipolar is established, I generally can say “sorry, it’s my crazy issues” with a laugh and people kinda shake their heads but comply.

The times I’ve tried to use the underlying issues on some of them (ADD, anxiety), they become too relatable to “normal” issues.  If I say I can’t step on the chair because I’m scared of heights, people relate it to something they have a fear of at a normal person’s level.  A normal person can be scared of heights, yet stand on a step stool.  I can’t.  I’ll have a panic attack.  I overreact.  “Turned up to 11” at all times.  People scared of spiders can kill a small one if needed.  I can’t.  I run like I’m in the Amazon and some terrible man eating creature is after me.  The “anxiety” is too relatable and therefore people expect a relatable response that that won’t get.  A “I’m scared but can still do it” response.  Not me.

Conversations have been tried this way.  “I’m sorry, I have anxiety issues, but if you let me take my medication I can probably do it in about 10 minutes.”  This gets an “oh, you’ll be fine!  It’s no big deal!” every time.  Without fail.  Or “you’ll get used to it!”  Maybe you.  Not me.  It’s not that simple.  If it was, I wouldn’t be crazy anymore.  I’d have “stopped” or “gotten over it” all a long time ago.  So then I end up with “look, I have bipolar.  I can’t do [insert scenario here].”  Then it’s big and scary sounding and they back off.

How do I get that result without the “I’m bipolar” in front of it?  I’ve never found a way.

I don’t want to cause lots of issues because I can’t explain my limitations.  I don’t want my work to suffer simply because I can’t tell people not to touch my papers or not to talk to me until I finish typing.  I also don’t want them assuming I’m 20 kinds of crazy or that I’ll kill them just because they touch my stuff.  I just want to do my job and do it well.  Which I can, if people all agree to play nice with my imbalanced head.

I have no idea what to do.  I’m very stressed about it.  I’m also annoyed about being given a gag order on an illness.  Do you ask the people with diabetes not to talk about it and we can all just assume the needles are for heroin or something?  Or the frequent snacks are an excuse for extra breaks?  No, you tell people so they know you’ll have needles and might need a cheese stick or whatever if your blood sugar drops.  No one puts gag orders on diabetes.  Or any other type of illness.  Add this to “reasons why mental illnesses can suck more than physical ones.”  I need one of those fancy brain scans to show to people.

Suggestions encouraged here because I’m really at a loss.  Husband says “just let them think whatever and deal with it” because that’s just how he is.  If people hate him, he doesn’t care.  If people think he’s going to kill them, well then they stay away and all the better for him.  I’m not like that.  I have no friends, but I do like talking to people, at least when I’m at work.  I hate feeling alone at work.  Work gives me a community feeling I don’t get anywhere else.  Sad but true.  Plus my job relies on cooperation from coworkers, so them hating me will impact my bottom line and theirs too.

I feel like I’m screwed.  *sigh*


About Kira

How do you say "I hate the about me section" without sounding cliche? I haven't found a way yet, so instead you'll now be subjected to random bits of info so you at least know what the blog is about. I'm a 26 year old wife and fairly new mom trying to make a life for myself and my family. These things should be run of the mill, but alas, I have Bipolar (amongst other diagnoses that I have long since lost track of). So here I am, trying to juggle a professional career, marriage, motherhood...and my own general crazy. All the rest of the "about me" sordid details will have to come in time, but the bottom line is that I need somewhere to vent that makes me feel like I'm being heard (even if no one ever reads this) and if along the way I can help another person or two then all the better. **Full Disclaimer** For the record, Kira is not my real name. Pretty much everyone I know is aware of all of my issues, but I do have a career and such and need to keep some level of privacy due to that. And, well, I'm paranoid. View all posts by Kira

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