So the last couple days have been interesting. I’m still thinking about my incident on Wednesday. It’s left it’s mark as I figured it would.
I keep going back and forth in my mind and out loud about everything. On the one hand I’ve spent a year and a half (funny also the same amount of time I was living in Friedman) building up a solid support system and life here.
When I came to Albany care at the end of November 2013 I was totally shattered. Months of trying to run from my mental illness just had steamrolled me. That and a bad interaction with meds and a seizure. And I was suicidal. Still suicidal when at Albany actually though I hid it for a month or so. Really didn’t start connecting with anyone until February 2013 when I started seeing Jonathan. And then slowly built up a friendship turned sisterhood with Jess. At the time I felt I was only hanging around in life for her benefit. At ssome point I started actually liking living again and even though my life wasn’t my old life I had pretty much reclaimed everything I had lost before. My passion and knowledge of counseling psychology/ creative arts. My e-mail list. My friendship with Robert. My connection with my family. Til now the only thing from back then that I haven’t gotten back is singing but that’s another story.
So fast forward to june 19 2015. Oh that’s today!! LOL! So now Jess and after working super hard on our treatment hit the jackpot and have our own two person room. That’s huge around here. Like almost everyone has a three or four person room. Double rooms are usually reserved for couples and I’m sure some strings were pulled for this. But everyone said we did the work and earned it. On the walls are all the cute phraises Jess says to me. I have three computers set up one for Jess and two for me. (well one converts books but don’t tell audible!)
So even when the rest of this building is in complete chaos, or just really annoying as is usually the case we have our own quiet space. Where the air is always the right temperature, Jess keeps the tv on mute/ low unless we’re both watching something and I always have a clean bathtub to use because Jess takes showers so I don’t have to worry about roommate germs.
On top of all this I’ve built up relationships with a ton of caring staff members. Even the most what I’d consider not very good staff member understands mental illness. If I get super anxious/ agitated/ depressed/ self-injure no one freaks out. The nurses/ CNAS call a PRSC (case manager.) The PRSCS hopefully take you to their office and talk, listen nonjudgmentally and help you piece together what went wrong. Where in the rest of the world people would abandon you yell at you and otherwise make things worse.
I have the most awesome therapist ever who also happens to be a clinical director. Who’s worked with people withmental illness for years and years and has seen so much that most anything that happens around here no matter how crazy is like business as usual for him. I love listening to him talk. Which is great because he loves to talk! I love how he understands things sometimes that I doubt anyone would.
So why would I want to leave all this?
Because CNAS (really good ones and a couple not so good) seem to just be walking out the door on their way to school or better jobs. I mean it. Not just one but six left this week!
We don’t have a permanent evening nurse after the one who’s worked here three years left a month ago. I’m tired of like at least two hundred people piled in this building like farm animals. It smells like a farm in here sometimes too. Or a hamster cage with someone smoking in it. I’m tired of the yelling and arguing over stuff like cigarettes and could someone give them two dollars and people selling their clothes and everything else just to be able to smoke. I’m tired of being practically run down walking around even with a sighted guide. I’m tired of even the biggest elevator often being super crowded and at least one breaking down every couple weeks. I hate the chaotic dining room and it seems lately bad food. I hate PRSCS (to me the foundation of all our support systems) just leaving randomly without hardly any notice. That sometimes staff don’t even know accurately who’s leaving or for some weird legal reason they can’t say why. All the things that make this place really good for me are still there. But with so many people I interact with staff wise it really scares me. It’s just completely overwhelming.
And like I said in my last post the visit to Friedman in the back of my mind tipped the scales towards me wanting to live there again. Nice big apartment all to myself. Really clean building. The weirdest rudest person is nothing compared to all the people I have living here now. I could spend all my time with Robert and follow him around on journalism assignments! Well I really wouldn’t want to do that but yeah.
The staff over there are stable to the point that there are some that have been there for years with questionable qualifications who never leave! I wouldn’t have to deal with this shifting of the people that when there do genuinely care. To have them just leave after such a connection feels like such a loss and so wrong. Yet it’s downplayed in all these mental health professional settings as just something we have to get used to and “cope with.” One place even made a big deal out of how upset I’d get by this saying I had “ boundary issues.”
I could deal with it maybe a bit better if I were just going to an outpatient place. It would still upset me. But there’s a difference when it’s in your home and you don’t know when someone will leave and you’ll just be lost and are expected to connect with the next person and wait til they leave.
This and the atmosphere I describe make Friedman very inviting. I’ve learned a lot about my mental illness in the year and a half I’ve been here. Like taking my meds is rule number one! Sam can’t even go half a day or one med pass without them. I know my triggers which are a lot of things. In other ways I’m more vulnerable than before. Because I’m open and feeling and actually letting my emotions out instead of hiding them trying to talk myself out of them (which some therapy actually promotes) or self-injuring. The problem with this is that I’m wicked sensitive and to many my emotional expression is a bit over the top. This is ok here because I have a lot of people to lean on and who are calm and get it. In the outside world with people who don’t understand you do tend to try to hide stuff which often makes it worse.
I just wish I could have it both ways. That I could have a quieter more stable atmosphere with all my friends (Robert, Jess all my other online friends.) and all the support I have here. In spite of my total back and forth and constant chatter (internally and externally) about it all staff and Jess see it as progress. That even though it was random and dramatic I am now starting to think about life outside of Albany. They just worry how I’ll do having to basically manage my mental illness on my own. Thanks to new staff at Friedman there’s more emotional support than before. However it’s nowhere near what one would get at a place like Albany. I’d have to get by on outside services the few staff that get it, deal with the staff that don’t, and my friends in and out of there. I’d have to not self-injure and use coping skills all on my own. With no external consequences like there are here that do honestly keep me from doing it even when inside I really want to! When in a good/ calm place I can say I’d be fine but then I know that certain objects would be extremely tempting. That at some point I would isolate, be anxious and try to hide it not have someone like Jonathan or a caseworker to help me not have feelings snowball.
Edith worries that I’ll end up back here and because of moving will lose the room and quiet haven we’ve created. Plus basically go through another major breakdown feeling like I failed. Though of course Jonathan would say it’s all a learning experience. But he and others I’m sure would totally say they could understand why I’d feel incredibly horrible if it didn’t work out and not want to try again.
The options seem so limited. There are group homes with like eight or so people in them. But you have to clean and cook for yourself. Two things that I’ve tried and been pretty overwhelmed by. Hence why I moved to Friedman where that’s taken care of. There’s a program called moving on that’s run by a couple agencies. They give a person all this support to move out of places like Albany care and into an apartment or group home.They even give money for furniture and first month’s rent and stuff. I asked if they could maybe help using Friedman. She said that they work with mental health organizations so probably wouldn’t work with them. You just can’t win! She said I’ll probably go back and forth on this for a long time and that’s ok. It’s ok to feel so sure I want to run out the door one minute and think of Jess and our super intimate relationship and burst into tears for ten minutes. I’m not exactly totally calm but not over the top like the other day. Just considering. Coleen at new foundation suggested a smaller facility. And Edith pointed out my year and a half here would go well towards me going to another possibly less chaotic place. Plus I have a good treatment plan ETC. But the smallest facility is just over a hundred sadly. However it’s worth just looking. Maybe this is just a phaise I need to go through. Edith said it’s good that I have this idea and am feeling in a way like I can manage things emotionally more on my own. Except two minutes later I don’t. She said I’m not quite ready yet but will be.It’s just like a constant vicious circle. I try to tell myself to just put it aside for awhile and maybe I’ll actually be successful this weekend.
It doesn’t help in my totally panic about staff not being exactly secure at the moment that our normal day nurse is going on two weeks vacation (she was on vacation two weeks ago I guess she needs to use up all her time) and that Jonathan hasn’t been in all week. And he won’t say why. If he’s on vacation just say so. Him silently being away makes me anxious he’s looking for another job or something. Nothing surprises me anymore. I’m hoping Monday I’ll actually do an intake at NFC. I talked to Edith about using trilogy, a bigger Chicago organization that does one of the moving on programs. Their problem is they don’t use Medicaid transportation and I can’t pay the six dollars for however many trips per week with paratransit. So new foundation for now. I just hope my caseworker doesn’t leave right away, wouldn’t that figure, and can actually handle the task of going for visits with me places and talking with people at FP if necessary. For now just trying to relax. Jess is trying to get me to decide if I’d rather have a parrot or a snake as a pet and I want my cat. I wish all situations were this simple!