The Last Two Months; Reality vs. Fiction

Yesterday was supposed to be my “return to work” day after taking a leave of absence when I had that bad episode of depression (or, well, it started out as a mixed bag) that lasted all through October, but I didn’t go.

Fear not, there is no need to panic! When I met with my psychiatrist last week to get my final “return to work” documents, I sent them and my request for accommodations to my HR department.

The final decision my therapist and psychiatrist helped me make was that, since this job involves commuting a fair distance (we’re talking 3-4 hours total per day) and the level of my stress shot through the roof trying to add that on top of my 40 hours per week, it is much more realistic to expect me to work around 40 hours, instead of the 60 (counting the commute) I had been working.

So, I sent a request to change my status to part time (instead of full-time) because I am only able to work there three days a week. I told them I was willing to negotiate if we could work something out in terms of working from home, but commuting that far three days a week seems like a much more realistic goal to me.

I was promptly called and told not to return to work, because my position is going to be reviewed to determine if the accommodations can happen for me and the position I’m working in.

In the meantime, I am feeling quite a bit better so really, I’ve been twiddling my thumbs a little bit, getting some extra writing time in, and going to that suicide prevention workshop I mentioned yesterday.

The waiting to hear what my destiny will be feels uncomfortable, but not unbearable. If they approve my request I will still have a really interesting job, and if they don’t, I expect to apply for unemployment (and will be able to because of the route I’ve taken with this). If both my employer and I come to an impasse about the accommodations, I will be unemployed but not fired, if that makes any sense. I am really happy that even though it is inconvenient, I am taking the time to request accommodations because it is important to me that if I return, my co-workers understand the severity of what I am dealing with.

And actually, to be frank, I believe things to be much more severe than I had really expected.

Now that I’m taking geodon, one of the benefits (it seems) is that all of the rubbish that has been taking up space in my brain has started to be sorted. Junk is being thrown out, boxes are being uncovered that I haven’t seen in ages, and new, important connections are being made. It is kind of like… someone has turned on a light-switch in there, and all of the cockroaches have gone running.

The unfortunate part about this is that many of these new connections have been somewhat disturbing. Almost like playing a game of connect-the-dots and when I’m done connecting them, there is a picture of a monster looking back at me.

At first I chalked this up to hypomania, but now that has worn off and I just feel level-headed and competent. So why are those monsters still looking at me?

It has come to my attention (and this might sound a little confusing, so bare with me for a second) that there seem to be a lot of clues suggesting that at the beginning of last month, the problems I was having with my manager at work were actually fictional. Fictional in the sense that, for the most part, I don’t think she intended the vast majority of the things I accused her of doing, and many of them (like trying to sabotage me) were in my mind alone. 

You’re probably thinking that is a little far fetched, and if I could truly describe to you the nature of the epiphany I had when I realized this, how many pieces of information suddenly came together to form an entirely new perspective in a matter of moments, it might be a little more clear. Unfortunately, how can I best describe the process of the brain thinking? Or reflecting on many moments when, all combined, look like the image of a monster instead of a bunch of dots.

The sensation of reaching this conclusion was so unnerving that I had a sudden hysterical moment right in the middle of the day, because it feels very much like many of my biggest fears are being realized.

Ok. So I had some kind of weird, psychotic break. Big deal, right? I mean, they didn’t even fire for acting so ludicrous and suddenly becoming completely paranoid that an employee was trying to undermine me, so it isn’t like I caused anyone harm or damaged anything, which is good.

The trouble, though, is knowing how very serious that whole situation was, and I had no idea whatsoever. I mean, being completely unable to distinguish reality from fiction has some pretty intense effects on the human psyche, let alone realizing all of this suddenly in the matter of about 30 seconds.

The monster, the picture that those dots created, it was me the whole time, and I didn’t realize it. I can’t help but feel inclined to notice all of the other times, now, in my life where this was probably the case, and all of those instances create a much darker picture of bipolar disorder than the one I had somehow attached myself to in my head.

I thought I had things relatively under control. 

The truth is that I don’t. And what’s more, I can see now that my symptoms have been accelerating in severity. I knew they were, but I had no idea things were this bad. (As in, bad enough to create an upheaval at work because of my own paranoia.)

Through the last couple weeks the Geodon seems to be holding up pretty well, I’m thinking clearly, I have been alert (even if too alert at times) and there haven’t been any mood swings that didn’t appear to be triggered by something I can readily identify. Isn’t it funny how feeling a bit better is acting as a sudden reminder of how bad things have been getting?

Anyway, I think what I’m saying is that I feel a lot less likely to freak out about all of this information.

Still, it is unnerving knowing that I have had trouble distinguishing between reality and fiction, and I can’t help but be a little edgy.

Is it happening now? Is this real?

Well I hope so, I just typed out 1090 something words, so if not I might be a little irked!

So, again. Things are more severe than I had anticipated, and discovering that made me genuinely concerned about all of the paperwork I had just sent off about work. Does this change my potential ability to work? With the new medication doing its thing, I really don’t know. Unfortunately I am just going to have to wait and see what happens next.

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7 responses to “The Last Two Months; Reality vs. Fiction

  1. I can see my brain work stuff out(imagine rabbits digging a burrow with heaps of tunnels and you get the picture. An alternative to that is an image of a dot to dot colouring page). Glad the medication seems to be working. Good Luck with the work situation….

  2. That realization you describe is similar to the feeling I get when I read back over my blog for several years. I can see how out of control I was, and how dangerous I may have been to myself and others. Those irrational, distorted thought processes seem so goddamn logical when you’re in the middle of a mood spiral where you can’t see the way out. … I hope the medication continues to give you some stability.

    • Thanks! I really can’t allow myself to go back and read most of the journals I’ve scribbled in for the last 10 years because I find them to be too triggering. Even if I can read them and learn something from it, I am mortified and often totally wrenched into a state of anxiety and depression. I definitely applaud you for being able to do such a thing!

  3. I understand this. Paranoia is a scary symptom – almost more so looking back on it than while in the midst of it.

    • I agree completely. Looking back on paranoia while rational often makes all of my actions seem totally alien and like I can’t quite imagine how things ever really got that way. It is mortifying to think I could be so far from being rational, and that notion really just makes me more afraid of what could transpire (or what might have already, without me truly noticing!) so the biggest fear I have is for my future. What if I do it again? What does this mean for my life?

      Paranoia, in the midst of it, can be terrifying too though. Just in a much, much different way. In a sense, when it happens I am more afraid for the present. There is too much immediate fear to be too afraid of the future, and that fear of the present overshadows everything.

  4. I often only realize I was showing warning signs and thinking “wrongly” much later. It’s taking quite a bit of time for me to start catching on earlier.

    • I have been working on figuring out what the process is like for me, from start to a very bad place so I can figure out if there is a better way to notice that something is going awry. So far it seems to be a bit of a daunting task, but I am excited to take a closer look at some of these situations and see what I can learn from them!

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