Posts tagged ‘bipolar’

Stress Leave

Bipolar mindFor those of you who didn’t know, I’m Bipolar II and have PTSD. That’s another post best saved for another day. Anyway, it’s no secret to anyone in my post office, or that I’m medicated to deal with it.

We’ve had a tough few months at the ol’ PO, and I’ve also been dealing with some mobility issues. So anyway, I don’t think it was one sudden thing, but a cumulative effect.

So there I was…in trouble again. My temporary Station Manager was doing an Investigative Interview on me as a precursor to some sort of hand-spanking. I’ve been through these before by much tougher people. Had the Postmaster call me a “fucking liar” once, to which I replied, in that oh-so-delicate demeanor of mine, that he should go fuck himself.

I should add here for you postal people, that I’m a supervisor so the Weingarden Act doesn’t apply to me, and not a member of NAPS (because the represent mostly jackasses),  so I don’t have NAPS representation, but I can still request legal representation. I was denied that option by the Station Manager, and repeatedly menaced that failing to cooperate with a postal investigation could result in my being removed from the postal service. ELM 666 appropriately.

I’m not a novice at this thing. As a supe for 10 years, I’ve managed to rack up 4 Letters of Warning, and a 2 Week “paper” Suspension. So I don’t know why, but suddenly I couldn’t catch my breath, and my hands started shaking more than they already do. I mean really, really badly.

I tried to stay as calm as I could but as we were wrapping up, I knew there was no way I was going to make it. I had a huge meltdown about 5 years back, and this was exactly how it started, so I told the manager I was going to have to leave at that point.

“You’re going out on stress leave?” So-called stress leave is the guarantee that for the rest of your career, you’re going to have your chain jerked by management. It’s usually an angry reaction by an employee as “retaliation” against whoever is pissing them off. So it’s pretty screwed up when you actually are mentally ill.

I clarified, “This is not stress leave. I’m having an anxiety attack. Listen to my voice and look at my hands.”

“So it is stress leave!”

dumbass“No dumbass, it’s a severe anxiety attack. I have to go. Now. Straight to the doc’s.” I know a panic attack, and I sure as hell didn’t want it to go as bad as it did 5 years ago.

He initially refused to let me go. Several times. I asked nice. I asked not so nice. I finally told him I was going and he’d have to deal with it. I then actually got lost on my way home.

I couldn’t get an appointment with the doc until the next day.

I talked to the doc and he literally told me that I would have to take the rest of the week off. This is a shrink, by the way, not a general practitioner or family doctor. He said to take extra anxiety meds. He also told me to hold off on sugar and caffeine for the week. Yah, right. Right now I’m just unsafe to myself. No sugar and coffee, and I’ll be a danger to the general public. Besides, he has a candy dish in his lobby. Scored some unhealthy sugary stuff, and went home.

Anyway, he said that the disorientation was part of the flight-or-fight status of PTSD. Rapid breathing as your brain tells you to bring in more oxygen. Trembling of hands as one part of you needs your fist, while the rational side says that you don’t, resulting in a tremor.

So I got my FMLA packet today, and I’ll set up an appointment with the doc to fill out the paperwork. I swear to god, for a severe anxiety attack, the red tape is enough to make you go out on stress leave.

Anyway, not sure of the point of all this, except that there are things that you can tough out when you’re mentally ill, but you have to recognize the symptoms when you start to go in a tail-spin, and know when it’s going to be more than you can handle alone. For your own safety you have to know the difference between what you can handle and what you can’t.

That, and a reminder that calling something “stress leave” in the postal service means the rest of your life with that management team, you’re going to be on shaky ground. And that’s even if you’re a member of management. Like the line on Serenity, “We’re all just folks now.”

God only knows what will be waiting for me when I get back Tuesday. Firing squad (“Blindfold and a pipe, please.” Should stall for about 45 minutes to an hour), retaliation, whatever. I figure I’m covered by the ADA, FMLA, EEOC, and being denied representation, the ACLU. Fuckers. 🙂

Watchya’ been doin?’

Yeah, yeah. I disappeared of of the face of the earth for a while. Probably just making a drive-by at the moment.

If you didn’t know, I’m bipolar, and there’s a bunch of stuff that comes with it. My medication usually works well, but it occasionally doesn’t work as well as it usually does. When that happens, well, all sorts of things happen.

nimrod I should have known it was coming. I started obsessing over a single thing: Nimrod lighters. I ended up with more material than I could ever use for an article, then lost interest.

Then social networking started to feel more like work than fun. Facebook, MySpace, even semi-social networks like YouTube and Flickr felt like it required dragging myself to the computer. I’ve never been totally social, but this was like shutting down.

Then I went through a spree of compulsive spending. I had to have all these antique lighters, and they had to have a distinctive set of rules before I would buy them.

I got on top of that, albeit a bit too late for my credit card, but remember that I mentioned that the selection of lighters needed a distinctive set of rules? Then I started obsessively organizing and compartmentalizing. I spent hours reorganizing file systems on my computer for no good reason, other than I wanted it organized in some specific way.

deviantARTThen I made the mistake of hanging out on deviantART. I started obsessively collecting, again, a distinctive type of art. Then I spent weeks organizing what I had downloaded.

These are soothing activities that keep me feeling safe, but they have become intrusive, affecting a lot of my life. So I’ve been struggling to keep it under control. I’ve got a week off, a week back at work, then two more weeks off, since I always take Halloween off. I’ve done more on the yard in two days, than I’ve done all summer, and I’ve got a bunch of other things done that I’ve been neglecting.

Oh, and I’m specifically Bipolar II, which means instead of manic manic highs, I get really irritable and cranky. And I have a bitch of a new boss. We call her The Gargoyle. So you can imagine what our working relationship has been like, although I have gotten off some of the best zingers recently.

We were at a staff meeting. I tend to have a dry sense of wit, so I’ll say something that will take a minute for it to sink into someone’s brain. We have a supervisor named Phil who really was confused by me for a long time, and then he started laughing, and, I swear, telling jokes. Anyway, the topic of Phil comes up in the meeting, and I look over at Phil and say, “And Phil even grew a sense of humor.” And while everyone was still laughing, I turned to The Gargoyle and said, “So there’s still hope for you.”

And to keep a long story short, she managed to drive through  own garage door the other day.  I swear, it’s true. So her car ends up in the shop. Later, we get in a heated, uh, disagreement over an issue, and I invoke the OIG and my attorney, so you can imagine how loving our relationship was after that.

Later, at closing, she calls me up on the intercom to yap at me about this and that, and then she asks, “Oh, would you give me a ride home?”

“Has Hell frozen over?”

“I was just kidding (with no kidding in her voice)! I’d ask 500 people for a ride before I’d ever ask you!”

“And you’d be lucky if any of those 500 people said yes.”

“You are so rude!”

“And your point is?”

Yeah, nothing but fun at the ol’ postal service… And you should hear my employees say about her. I am absolutely obscene but there’s even some things I won’t repeat. That’s how bad it is.

Anyway, I’m still not all that ready to pop back into the social network scene, and I do have odds and ends to do. I have to fix my stuck garage door, download new firmware for my Omnia and see if I can get it’s internal GPS unlocked, fix a running toilet (where’s it running to?), clean out the garage (yeah, right), and start setting up for Halloween.

I’ll start posting stuff that I haven’t gotten to for a while.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with this thought:

Pipes and Rabbits