Walkin’ the Rocky Road (Not the Ice Cream Though)

I feel like working with the intellectually and developmentally disabled has helped out my patience tenfold, but when it comes to my Asperger’s younger sister, it’s another story. Give me silent autistic people who want to push away their activities and shove me because I’m physically blocking them from going into drawers they’re restricted from accessing. Give me incontinence, give me someone who I need to sit with and prompt to take a bite until they finish their meal…Not this seemingly one-sided love relationship from the person whose going to be all I’ve got one day. It makes it all the worse for wondering what the future will hold for Christmas’ to come when my folks aren’t around anymore, and believe you me I’ve come a long way but I am still a very vulnerable sugar paper when it comes to emotions and Christmas and tradition and change.

Christmas this year was better than it was last year at least. And I’m texting with my male cousins who I care about a lot and seem to give more of a F about me than all of my female ones combined. I’m thankful that I’m mending some connections that were prior voids the past several years.

Today my feelings were so hurt by my sister that I wanted to be emotional and yell and scream and throw a fit…but I swallowed it and numbed my mind and went out to do some light shopping. (I decided since I have income now I would splurge a little and spend some of my Christmas money on Christmas presents I would have loved to receive to begin with). This is one of those days I really detest whatever the reason is that she’s the way she is. The argument was stupid. She never speaks to me but had no problem spitting venom when I asked her if she could PLEASE at the LEAST if she MUST have her box of shoes which she doesn’t even wear and has had for years now out of the closet, that she could put it with the shoes by the door and not in (practically) the middle of the living room. (I know that was a long-winded thought).

Absolutely not, how dare I even F-ing think of such a GD horrible thing to ask. She literally thinks I treat her like “trash” or “garbage” when I make requests of her like that. She doesn’t swear so that’s about as low as she can kick me when I’m down using words like that. My blood boils from feeling so trapped. I thought to myself, “Thank GOD I’m on such a good level of mood stabilizers right now or I’d be in the hospital from an emotional breakdown.” Can’t say I haven’t wound up in the hospital before from mental breakdowns.

I, personally “love the hospital”. I’ve been in and out of them since before I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease at age 16. I like the overwhelmingly calming feeling I get when a nurse takes my blood pressure or hooks me up to an IV. People are there to take care of me at hospitals. People are supportive and nurturing and I like being touched by stethoscopes or those goofy things they bonk your knees with. Hell, go ahead and smoosh my ankles and legs to see if I’m retaining water. It’s relaxing. There are some days I’d prefer to be in the hospital. There are also some days I’d prefer not have to have been born so don’t take it the wrong way, it’s just one of those emotional reactionary thoughts.

Ah, hospitals. I’m sure if I was in one long-term I’d be miserable and want to go home, but I guess the point is that I’m not one of those people who cringe thinking about going. I may be a mess in the waiting room at the doctor’s but once you get me in the exam room I’m calm as a clam. This paragraph is making me seem more bizarre than I actually am about hospitals. Oh well. I just like being taken care of and not having to worry about things. When you’re tense and worried about one thing or another 24/7 (even in your dreams!!) you’ll sound bizarre too when you think about what few things actually make you feel relaxed.

If you think I should go get a massage if I like that sensation of being touched in a therapeutic way, then let me tell you that getting a massage is one of the most anxiety provoking freaking stupid things in the world for me. Not only am I worried that I’m doing something wrong (my body is too stiff, I’m not positioned right, etc.) but I’m always wondering if time is going to be up and when and will I have actually relaxed by then?! It’s awful! I could use a backrub right now though.

Aside from spending the weekend anxious about how the clock is ticking away until I have to go back to work, I’ve made myself feel alright by keeping busy with games. Something I haven’t done in a while. I love games, I’m awful at a ton of them but they’re still a hobby. I don’t make enough time for them, so here I am and that feels good. I also started my stamp collection officially and that’s kind of nice too. I’m really trying hard to do self-care to balance out my stress. School starts the first week of January. Twice a week at night. The change is going to make me feel super gross like most changes do, and add another layer of anxiety, but in the end I’m working hard and turning things around in my life by an incredible amount.

I’m scared at some point or another I won’t be able to keep it up…And I’m well aware I’m wasting precious moments of my life being scared.


Midnight Madness

I had to stop and ask myself if I was manic this evening, or just really excited. I got a lot of shopping done and have been stockpiling lesson plan ideas on Pintrest so I can shape up my classroom. I bought a basket full of things at the dollar store that are going to be perfect. I started having major anxiety around 7 or 8pm though because I’m feeling a little pressured and overwhelmed. Of course the pressure is on me by me. I want to get some of these activities prepared for class this week, but I wanted to use the construction paper we have at the school and I have bus duty this week so I won’t be able to come in early to use it. I don’t feel like it’s right to sit around doing something even if it’s classroom related when class is in session mostly because my co-teachers don’t do much one-on-one or make sure everyone has something to do or change their activity for them when they’ve finished something…it seems like I’m doing 80% or more of the work most of the time. My blood starts to boil when I see for instance, the girl whose autistic and has Down’s Syndrome sitting at her seat rocking back and forth with nothing to do and babbling to herself. Everyone should always be occupied and stimulated during class time. There’s about 15 in my classroom and three of us. It’s a lot to handle and when it feels like one person is handling 12 at a time…well, it makes me feel like I’m failing as a teacher because I’m not able to serve the entire room to its full active potential. I am doing my best though and I recognize that.

I honestly have a hard time figuring out what to do with myself on weekends now. I have zero desire for a social life, and spend my time catching up on housework I haven’t been on top of during the week because I’m so freaking tired when I get home. I’ve been trying to sleep between 8 and 11pm, ideally snoring by 9. It’s funny though because in a few weeks when school starts, Tuesdays and Thursdays I’m going to be FINISHING class at 9:45pm, and then head home and be in bed by 11, hopefully sleeping by 12 but that’s wishful thinking.

I also have gained back a bunch of weight I lost when I was swimming and going to the gym. It’s on my list of things to do now is get back to the YMCA and swim at least three times a week. I know it’s very doable but thinking about the load of tasks I’m going to be taking on makes me feel like I won’t be able to get enough sleep and therefore won’t be able to function or get things done and I’ll be miserable all the time. When in fact, right now, I have two days off to ENJOY, and what am I doing? Stressing myself about how I don’t have any time to relax and enjoy myself.

I guess I’m just not used to this huge change yet, working full-time. And come January my schedule is going to further be complicated and it’s going to be an even LONGER process to accept the changes. Honestly when things are out of the ordinary in my schedule it gives me HUGE anxiety.

I’m hoping to snap some pictures of what I bought for class and give a little overview of what it’s like in the low functioning classroom (for the intellectually disabled- the new terminology for the population). I am seriously a very badass “special ed” teacher though.

Well Whattya Know?

I have news to break. For the past week and a half your favorite Bipolar blog personality (me, of course, har har) has been working as a Developmental Trainer for a group home! It was as if God had the job for me in mind when he allowed me to be Bipolar and OCD and then let me have a string of bad experiences that influenced me to change from a marketing major to a psychology one. With a degree and a year of experience working with the population I could theoretically apply for a case worker position. Most shockingly…I love my job. Me. Barbie. The anxious, paranoid train wreck who has chugged along through hell with dark views of the future. The idea of a career was horrifying until last Monday. Yes. I work FULL-TIME and I LOVE my job. Even better, I start my last class before my BA of Science in Psych in January. Things are coming together!

*KNOCKS VIGOROUSLY ON WOOD* (Here I go starting to terrify myself of ‘jinx-ing’ it. PLEASE EFF OFF, NEGATIVE THOUGHTS.) <–I swear I’m not even done writing this post and I had to go back between these paragraphs three times to keep adding to the anti-jinx/terror I’m having about writing this at all.

I’ve been floated to every classroom we have but am currently one of the three teachers in one of the two low functioning classrooms. We have low, middle, and high functioning clients (separated into classrooms by their ability levels), all of which live at the group home and travel a few miles by bus every day M-F to the activity center where I work as a teacher. We’re not independent of the home by any means, just a separate facility and also have 19 clients from another nearby females only group home who join us for school. As well as carrying out programs with the clients I also change adult diapers or assist with toileting in general if needed and assist certain clients at lunch time. I’m still getting used to the toileting thing. I’m just petrified that I’ll leave someone in the bathroom while I get gloves, etc. and they’ll fall or something will happen. Few clients need one-on-one attention at all times, but those of them who do have severe medical or behavioral issues and are dangers to themselves or others to be unattended.

I’ve had a George R. R. Martin novel’s worth of experiences since last Monday (he’s an author that tends to write very long books). Today, I went for my first day of textbook/classroom training at the Residence (what we call the group home, and we call the school the Workshop). We talked about Human Rights and Abuse and Neglect. I learned a lot of specifics and stories regarding the clients at our home and general state regulations. I’ve been fighting with myself over what stories to tell in my blog, but keeping a private journal of all my endeavors. Maybe next post I’ll give some experiences from that day. They’re all eventful so it’s not like I’m ever going to be shy of stories. No worries, I won’t be revealing anything personal about the clients, nor their real names. In the meantime, I think this is a good, ‘introductory’ post to this new chapter of my life.

I’ve been coming in early to work every morning to read client files before the busses get here. I’ve helped with bus duty once. When they all get here we split into our ‘core’ classes, then have breaks, more classes, lunch, more classes, some free time to pick an activity to engage in, and then back home. I generally like my co-workers. I have a passion for teaching and I’m glad I’ve got the opportunity to do it. It’s an incredible feeling to see progress in someone even over a single day’s repetitive activity. It’s also amazing to build bonds with the clients and have them all smile and wave at you in the halls. I’ve yet to experience any real maladaptive behaviors yet, but I’m prepared.

Seriously though, I’m a teacher. I make a difference in the lives of the developmentally disabled and those who also have mental illness. Time to scuttle through some ideas for tomorrow’s lesson plan!