"God counts her tears." -Jewish Proverb
"God counts her tears." -Jewish Proverb
"God counts her tears." -Jewish Proverb
I'm 58. And I'm still here. And that's a miracle.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my father. I seem to have forgiven him.
I’m 58 years old. I say that a lot. It’s such a weird number. It’s such a big number. And it’s so close to 59, which is so close to 60, which is really old. I can’t believe I got here. I say that a lot. It’s a miracle, really. I say that a lot, too.
My father has been dead since I was twenty. So 38 years he’s been gone.
When I put myself back in that place, when I think about those episodes of abuse, it makes me nauseous. But then I just turn away. I don’t want to see that anymore, I really don’t. And I don’t need to. I looked too close for too long. It’s so far gone now, so far back.
I remember at the time, when I was young and the Southern Baptist doctrine was shoved down my throat and beaten into me, I distinctly remember knowing for sure I was going to go to hell because I couldn’t honor my father. And I believed that for a long time. Maybe until I was in my 40s? And by then, I had a whole new slew of reasons why I knew for sure I was going to hell. Failure to follow just one of God’s commands was a miniscule infraction. I’d failed to follow so many of God’s commands, I was black with sin. Ugly and black and doomed.
I don’t believe in hell anymore. It was a long time – that realization – forming and manifesting in my head. A long long time. Probably since my 40s. HA! It seems it was then I started replacing the lies with the truth.
The truth lives inside, did you know that? It lives inside and we just get it brainwashed out of us. It takes a long time for the truth to percolate back up into consciousness. For me, perhaps half a century! Fuck. Weird to say that. Half a century. I’m even 8 years beyond that. I can’t believe I got here. I say that a lot. It’s a miracle, really. I say that a lot, too.
So I was thinking about my father just now, like about ten minutes ago actually, and I thought I might post one of the abuse episodes. I’ve written so many of them out. And it was good. It was good for me to do that. Because when I wrote them out, I believed myself. I finally believed the things I knew to be true, that everyone told me I was exaggerating or even lying about. My father was sexually abusive. No doubt.
It was incredibly sad to write about the abuse. And it was incredibly sad to reread what I’d written. I shared it, and it made other people sad, too. But for some reason, I felt compelled to share. I wanted people to know. I wanted people to look at me and look at my life and know I have a story. A heartbreaking story. And in spite of all that, I got here. To 58. I want people to know you can get through and beyond, but never cured of mental illness. But there is hope, there is always hope. I want people to know if I can do it, anyone can.
As I was considering which of the abuse episodes to post, I heard in my head, “Nah. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to honor him, it’s just that I don’t want to dishonor him. Not right now. Not right today. Not at Christmas time.”
It dawned on me that not wanting to dishonor him was pretty close to honoring him. I mean, close enough. Not really but not not really. So that means I did, finally, at 58, kind of sort of follow that single one of God’s commands.
I have always believed God doesn’t grade on a curve. And he gives major points for effort. He doesn’t just give partial credit for getting the formula right but getting the answer wrong. He gives full credit. It’s easy to get good grades from God.
I did good. I did right. I’m making progress. I still cry a lot. A lot. But hell. I’m 58. And I’m still here. And that’s a miracle. There! Said it again! It’s because I’m kind of amazed I’m still here. So I say it a lot to remind myself what a victory that is. And I say it a lot to remind myself to just keep on putting one foot in front of the other.
I’ve come this far, to 58, I can push on through from here. No doubt.
I Persevere. And life goes on.
“Honor your father and your mother,
that your days may be long in the land
that the LORD your God is giving you.”
Bipolar on the Job
I moved from Washington State in April 2016 to take a prestigious management job with a major corporation headquartered in Louisville. Right away, things weren’t right. I found the organizational culture quite different than that of the companies I had worked for in the Pacific Northwest.
In the PNW, the organizations I had worked for tended to value collaboration above all else. Management consistently sought to empower employees. That meant allowing people to process through information and make decisions. And sometimes those decisions turned out to be sub-optimal, however the employee was encouraged to learn from the experience and move forward. People were generally respectful of one another’s differences. And there was a diversity I did not find in the South.
In the Louisville corporation, the focus was on the hierarchy of power. It sounds so odd to use this term – but it was obedience that was most highly valued. And there were strong repercussions for perceived “mistakes”. I was unable to be successful in that particular corporate environment.
There were multiple other reasons for my failure in that position. But I did indeed fail, and I went down hard. Sensing I’d be let go, I applied for short term disability and got it. That’s how sick I’d become. I had no idea at the time losing that job was the beginning of what I now characterize as my “bipolar breakdown”.
I was on disability for only two weeks before I was able to secure another position in my area of expertise due to connections in the industry. My reputation had been stellar up until I moved to Louisville.
However, I was unable to be successful in that environment either, although it was a robust and healthy corporate culture. My memory began to fail me. I missed conference calls because I’d recorded them incorrectly in my calendar. I’d send emails with confidential information to the wrong clients. I produced documentation that was incomplete and inaccurate. I was flustered and anxious all the time. I was constantly triggered, by my own failing abilities, and because of that I was constantly in a manic panic. I’d stay up all night trying to complete a project. I was exhausted and desperate to succeed. I’d do anything to succeed. But the conditions I’d created for myself weren’t conducive to success. Despite all my desperate attempts, my work was consistently sub par. I believed my firing was imminent, so I left that position.
Again, I was able to secure work in my field through a connection with a former colleague. I was a contractor and most of my work was remote, however I did travel to the client site frequently.
I did well in that position. I was working on a user guide, and technical writing is an area in which I excel. I produced a quality guide and was consistently recognized for my hard work by client management. After the guide was complete, I returned home to continue working remote.
Once back home, I fell into a deep depression, and simply stopped putting in the hours. Although I continued to produce quality output, I had no motivation, and my output dropped each week.
In late June 2017, I did not sleep for five days. I began to have auditory hallucinations. I was scared. I called my manager and told her I was going into the hospital and I didn’t know for how long. I did not tell her why I was going or to which hospital I was going. She knew something was really wrong, however. How could she not? Because I was a contractor, there was no compelling reason to see me through what was clearly a difficult period. She wished me well and let me go.
I was in a psychiatric hospital for 11 days. When I was discharged in early July, I was without a job, without an income. That’s a whole other story – it’s coming I assure you!
I cannot say my experience with bipolar in the workplace parallels Colton’s, the man featured in the video. But his symptoms are my symptoms. He was incredibly blessed to be surrounded by the group of employees that not only understood his illness, but worked collaboratively through his manic and depressive episodes.
Making the conscious choice to value diversity – not just in ethnicity, culture, and varying points of view – but also learning to understand and work with a variety of people that may suffer mental illness, actually any illness – that is the certain way to ensure quality workplace relationships and a win-win for all.
Lonely and Depressed
I struggle with if I should even post this. But I have a really hard time getting through each day. I feel very alone. I feel like this depression isn't getting any better. I feel like at my core, I shouldn't even be alive. I think something just broke inside of me awhile ago, and it's not repairable. I don't have anyone to check on me, and ask how I'm doing. I just feel like I would be better off dead. Apparently I'm not lovable, and am undeserving of being cared for. I don't make any progress in my life, despite my best efforts.