Tag Archives: bipolar

Why I Want to Be Rich / What Rich Means to Me

There is a growing discontent in this country about the difference in wealth between the super rich, and the rest of us. Forget semi-rich, middle class, and the poor. It’s them against the rest of us. I want to be one of them.

Unlike other personal finance bloggers that write about debt, I write about my middle class life and my dreams of wealth. It’s not like I’d buy Gucci underwear if I was a millionaire… I’d just love to have life free of financial burden. What is the dollar figure on that? $1M isn’t enough. $5M might be enough. $10M in networth would probably be the point where I would feel rich.

I’d spend some of it on myself, sure, but if I were rich…

  • I’d love to buy my friends exciting, meaningful presents. Like the time I bought my friend a dishwasher for her kitchen that she couldn’t afford.
  • To help friends out of debt, especially the ones who are in educational debt because they weren’t as fortunate as me.
  • I’d take my friends on vacation to some beautiful resort, and make memories worth more than the cost of the trip.
  • I’d donate to charities I believe in.
  • I’d start an anti-bullying organization
  • I’d invest in my art, I’d go to school for painting, I wouldn’t waste away my years in art school worried about what is going to happen after I graduate.
  • I’d have a family — maybe three kids — and I’d raise them in an upper middle class community. I wouldn’t spoil them, but they’d be able to have the same middle class luxuries that I grew up with — classes and clubs, occasional vacations, the ability to explore their passions.
  • I’d pay my parents back for my undergraduate tuition
  • I’d buy my parents a special trip to Europe that my dad could take given his poor medical condition, and difficultly walking
  • I’d buy a large vacation home where I could have my family members come yearly to see each other.
  • I’d start my own company (prob need more than $10M for that!)
  • I would probably end up giving most of it away when I die, but I’d make sure that I could give to the people who deserve it while I’m alive.

If I were rich, I wouldn’t want anyone to know. But I’d be less afraid of what the future holds. I wouldn’t ask myself whether I should have kids because of my bipolar disorder, afraid that I’d lose a job and not have enough money to keep a house or maintain a reasonable lifestyle. I’ve always dreamt of being wealthy. I feel like, in a way, I have many of the tools to get there. I clearly need to start my own company, to find the right ADD medication to help me focus, to find the right psychologist to get me out of my head for long enough to succeed.

Life is short. You can be happy on a $30k paycheck and you can be happy on a $1M paycheck. I want freedom. Financial freedom. Every year is another lottery ticket. Every year is another chance. But I’m running out of chances. Sure, I’m still young… gah, I’ll be 28 next month… it just feels like I need to find wealth before I turn 30, 31 or 32. That’s when I really have to start making a family, if I’m going to. That’s when I’ll want to be able to work part time and be in my children’s lives. That’s when I run out of this time called youth to win, and win big. If it wealth were so far out of reach, that would be one thing, but somehow I’ve managed to put myself on a path where it’s possible. There are still a lot of unknowns. Still a lot of needing to focus my mind to impress, fighting my anxiety to be known, believing in myself, letting go of guilt for privilege, and kicking some major ass.

I don’t even know this person I’ve become. Six years ago I was on the verge of suicide, applying for hundreds of thousands of jobs, unable to get even an entry level position. Then one opportunity after another made its way against the tide of possibility, and each failure opened up a new door with a brighter tunnel to walk through, and somehow I’ve gotten where I am today. Some of it I’ve faked, some of it I deserve, some of it is sheer luck. And any day I could fall. Living with bipolar (II), it feels like everyday I’m running on the edge of a cliff. It’s thrilling, it’s exhilarating the rush of defying gravity, and yet I know one of these days I will trip and fall yet again, and have to climb all the way back up. The trick is to never stop climbing, and better yet, to run fast enough that your feet barely touch the ground, to run so fast you’re practically flying and no one knows can figure out how to stop you, because the moment you look like you’re about to hurl yourself over that cliff, you’ve landed on an even bigger success, and even bigger improbability, and you just keep going.

 

 

Living in the Shadow of my Narcissistic Parents – Part 2

I’m not sure how many people actually read my blog these days, but if you’ve been following along you likely read my long rant yesterday about the dinner I had with my father, and how his narcissistic personality disorder tendencies gnaw at me every time I see him, or talk to him.

One commenter posed the question “are you sure he is the one who is a narcissist?” and I wanted to respond to that. Clearly, my post yesterday — and many of my posts — sound self absorbed and ungrateful. Shouldn’t I just be so thankful that my father (and mother) gave me lots of “stuff” in my life — clothes, nice furniture, a college education — beyond stuff, what does a girl really need?

How about love? I’d never argue that I had or have a hard life. I’m way more fortunate than a large percentage of people who live in this world. But I grew up in a love-less house. No one knew how to love themselves let alone anyone else. And, yes, I became a narcissist because it’s the only way to survive when both of your parents are narcissists. It’s a never-ending cycle. The only value I had to my parents was how my existence benefited them. And, as any kid, a big part of me wanted to make my parents happy. It was pretty clear that I couldn’t – that I’d never be the perfect kid they wanted – and I hated myself for it more and more as the years went by.

Continue reading Living in the Shadow of my Narcissistic Parents – Part 2

Riding the Manic Bull, This Bipolar Life

I didn’t sleep last night, even though I had planned with my life coach that I was going to sleep at 10pm and wake up early to exercise and have a productive, regimented day.

Instead I stayed up, played some online poker, sang, read news, got quite a bit of work done that I’ve put off to the last minute, and felt an overwhelming sensation of nervous energy keeping me awake. I must be in a hypomanic state now — as my mood is entirely different than it was months ago when I was most certainly depressed. Now I’m not exactly happy, but I have more confidence, which is helping me get through the days. My anxieties mixed with the confidence sometimes have ill side effects (ie irritability and sadness, though not depression) and generally speaking leave me frustrated. I guess when I’m hypomanic I feel like perfection is possible, and when things don’t work out I get upset. When I’m depressed, I feel like perfection — or anything close to it — is impossible, and I just want to disappear. Neither side of the swing is any good for me, really, but at least on this end I can be productive and somewhat social.

In any case, thank goodness it’s Friday. I need the weekend to get some sleep and screw my head back on straight.

Bipolar II — Handling the Swings, Finding the Balance

For years I wondered what was wrong with me… especially when I got so down in the dumps, as I’d be crying non stop and contemplating something between suicide and running away, and then a few days later, or weeks later, life would be wonderful, I’d have this sense of unstoppable calm, and so my life would go…

Only a few years ago did someone finally suggest that I might have Bipolar disorder. No, not Bipolar I, which means extreme mood swings all the way to mania when you’re off your rocker. No, this was Bipolar II, which included swings of depression and hypomania, but without the extreme mania.

For a while, I didn’t want to believe it. I’ve been diagnosed with just about every disorder in the book, so why would this one be right? Then — every time I felt myself on one end or the other of my mood spectrum, I had to accept it. This explained a heck of a lot. This explained how some months I excelled in my jobs and other months I couldn’t get myself out of bed, and I’d ultimately lose my job. Continue reading Bipolar II — Handling the Swings, Finding the Balance

Not Even Money Can Buy My Happiness

Let me go on record by saying that I have no right to be depressed. There are thousands who have lost their houses or lives in Japan, civil wars killing people daily in Libya, the Ivory Coast, and around the world. Meanwhile, I have a job with pay that comfortably puts me in the upper middle class. I’m healthier than most, and all-in-all leading a good life.

But I still feel empty. My problem is largely cognitive. It is feeling both that I am completely out of control of my life, that time is flying by too fast, and too slow, and that I have no purpose, no place I’m headed towards, just lots of time to waste until I get older and eventually die.

Ok, so if that’s the way I think, no wonder I’m depressed. I really want to change my thoughts — to be grateful for all I have, the priceless moments, unexpected, that make it worth living another day. This is not to say I’m suicidal — I’m not. I’m just wondering how to take my life from watching the days go by to making the days matter.

Continue reading Not Even Money Can Buy My Happiness

Who wants to be Charlie Sheen?

With 2 million followers on Twitter since joining the site a few days ago, it’s unquestionable that Sheen’s celebrity power is worth enough money to fund his addictive, bipolar, goddess-filled lifestyle. America LOVES Charlie Sheen, in all his crazy glory. America LOVES to hate him as well, because he can get away with all the things the average person would be doomed by. His cocaine binges, his self-indulgent media whoring, his ability to become MORE famous for his crazy antics despite causing his show to shut down, makes him almost as invincible as he thinks he is.

I admittedly haven’t followed Sheen’s story closely, and have only caught glimpses of his interviews online, and have seen the stars glistening in my boyfriend’s eyes as he defines Sheen as “awesome,” half jokingly, half… well, half surely wanting to be Charlie Sheen. His 24-year-old blonde Goddesses clutching his side, watching his children, and undoubtedly providing a party in the bedroom, without asking him to grow up — after all, who needs to grow up when you have billions of dollars to blow through?

Our society both glamorizes this type of outrageous celebrity lifestyle, it’s easy to forget these people are human, not gods, and probably have as many downs as they do ups. Yet somehow — even with all the drug use and body-hurting behaviors — most live, and seem, well, happy. Especially Charlie Sheen — maybe he just fakes it well — but he sure seems to love being able to exploit his mania, and have the financial cushion to do whatever he wants in life.

Ok, so maybe YOU don’t want to be Charlie Sheen, but I might. Not to be HIM exactly, but to have enough fame and fortune to live a life of extremes and spontaneity. That may be unhealthy, but I’d agree to some extent that it IS winning. Then again, as someone who struggles with a more mild form of Bipolar, I lust for an even more extreme mania than the hypomania I occasionally experience with Bipolar II. I’ve never had a real manic episode, but — deep down my happiness seems tied to the ability to live manic. Why do I need a lot of money? I want to be able to, when in a manic-type of mood, go to a mall and spend thousands of dollars on clothes and other items. I want to be able to blow a few thousand dollars on a weekend trip to Hawaii, or London, or anywhere else in the world. And I want enough money to buy my friends, because then you don’t have to be the perfect friend, just the one who can afford to keep your selected company around.

I guess I do want to be Charlie Sheen, and with that being my goal in life, I don’t think my dreams are all too realistic. Especially since the female version of Sheen is Lindsay Lohan or something, and I wouldn’t want to be her.

Bipolar Study Update

As many of you know, I’ve been accepted into a study for Bipolar II depression medication at a local university hospital. The study provides me with 4 months of free medication, tracking of my condition, and a side benefit of $25 grocery store gift cards every time I go in for an appointment (once a week for the first 6 weeks then every other week for the remainder of the study.)

The study is designed to find out if lithium, zoloft, or the combination of both is best for Bipolar II depression. Since I’m obviously depressed (I’m still not certain I’m bipolar, but whatever, the meds are for depression anyway. I’m either ultra rapid cycling bipolar or just depressed with random extremely excited and elevated moods throughout my life.)

Lots of people have expressed concern that I won’t ever know what I’m on, since they can’t tell me what I was on until after the entire study is completed years from now. If the drugs work, then it sucks that I can’t know what I was on. If they don’t work, then it also kind of sucks because I don’t know what not to try in the future.

But the benefits of participating, I feel, far outweigh the negatives. Having ADD, I struggle to take pills on a regular basis. The structure that comes with participating in this study is really helpful. I was given this massive pillbox that where each day of the week and each time of day has a separate box for the pills I am supposed to take. I also have to track my moods on a daily basis, which is really good to do, especially when I’m on medication to see if it’s working.

I started last night taking one blue pill, which is either 300mg of Lithium or a placebo. I take that twice a day. I didn’t feel a lot of side effects last night, just some dry mouth that could have been from not drinking enough water.

This month I took one blue pill and one white pill, which is either 25mg of Zoloft or a placebo. I could be on both zoloft and lithium or just one of them, but I’m definitely on something right now. And I definitely am having some side effects. But I can’t tell which drug they are caused by…

Still, I’m having issues with dry mouth. I am extremely thirsty. I don’t drink a lot of water normally and I’ve already gone through almost two cups of it and I’m still very dehydrated. My mood, overall, is calmer than normal. But that might be due to half the staff at my office being out today, and looking forward to a 3 day weekend.

I’m curious what will happen when they up my dosage later in the study. SSRI’s and lithium aren’t supposed to really help your mood right away so either I’m really susceptible to the placebo effect or my brain chemistry is just very sensitive. I don’t have any other side effects yet that I can tell.

Have you been on either of these medications before? What were your side effects?

Get Your Free Drugs Here: Bipolar II Study

Well, I’m one appointment closer to getting free drugs to treat my Bipolar II depression. I qualified for a study at a local hospital where I’ll be given either Zoloft, Lithium or Both (I’ll be getting something, but I won’t know which combo) and went today to get blood work for the final check before they give me the meds. Assuming everything comes back normal (and after I take an EKG next week) I’ll be given the medication and set up to track my moods for the coming 16 weeks.

My psychiatrist gave me a prescription for Celexa but I’m holding off on buying that until I do this study. I think I’ll learn about myself and my mental state by carefully tracking my interaction with medication, especially since I won’t really know what meds I’m on.

In addition to getting free meds, I also get a $25 grocery store gift certificate every time I go in for an appointment (I’ll be going every week for the first six weeks of the study, then every other week for the remainder of the study). It’s not a bad deal… I can basically pay for my groceries for a month and get free meds. I do have to let them poke me with needles more often than I’d like and accept that I might be on a medication that may not be perfect for me, but with any mental health med you have to experiment to find the right medication and dosage. Plus, without knowing what I’m on I’ll avoid the placebo effect. I’m looking forward to seeing if these meds alter the way I think and feel in the coming months.

Career Counseling, Psychiatry, Group Counseling, $$$

I went to a career counselor this morning. It cost $125 for an hour, but she knew I was trying to pack a lot into one session so it turned into more like 1.5 hours. She definitely didn’t have to spend that much time with me, and I think it was money well spent.

While I don’t have a clear picture on what my career should be yet, she did help me clarify why I’m not happy in my current job, and common themes that have been prevalent in my life (my inability to deal with authority, my love of creative pursuits, etc.) She sent me home with a ton of reading material including a workbook on communication, which she said is a birthday gift to me (oh, yea, it’s my 26th birthday today. I’m not sure how I feel about that.)

One interesting part of the session was when she had me identify, of the following four areas, which is most important to me, and rank the rest — people, ideas, data, and things.

I ranked them in this order: ideas, people, things, data

Then she asked me what order my current job had those things…

People, data, things, ideas.

Right, so I’m depressed because what I value most — ideas — is least valued in my current position. The question still remains – how do I find a job that values ideas most?

In the meantime, the counselor convinced me to try to stay at this position for as long as possible, or at least until I have a game plan for something else in place. Which makes sense, it would be stupid to quit right now. And even stupider to put myself in a position to get fired.

I might go back to see her again, but in the meantime she’s given me a bunch of tests and quizzes to fill out to find out more about myself and my values. I think I’m pretty aware of my values and wants, but it helps to put them all down on paper.

I also have an appointment with a psychiatrist next weekend, but I think I’m going to put that on hold because I just got accepted into the second phase of screening for a drug study on bipolar disorder. I’m not 100% sure I have bipolar disorder because I don’t necessarily have long periods of mania, but my mood is all over the freaking map at any given time of day. I know I have depression and depressive episodes, I’m just not clear on the mania. I don’t recall every being so hyper for days straight that I couldn’t sleep or that I’d do something risky. However, I do get super manic when I feel like I’ve accomplished something and it usually sends me on a skyrocketing mood trip for a few hours or even a day. A therapist I saw a few weeks ago thinks I might have rapid cycling bipolar. I don’t know what I have. Something is up with me and my moods, anyway.

So the option is to spend $285 on one appointment with a psychiatrist or to get screened for bipolar for free. I chose free. I have no idea what the quality of the screening will be, but at least they can tell me if I have bipolar or just depression. I can’t imagine I have pure depression because I go up and down. I know people who are always down, feeling empty and agitated. That’s just not me. I have my down phases, when I can barely move, I’m totally exhausted, and find no meaning in life. Then I have my up phases where the world can’t moved fast enough for me. Yet I feel “depressed” in my manic phases too, it’s just a total different kind of depression. I guess it’s more irritability and panic than depression. I just hate answering questions about when I had a manic phase or a depressed phase and how long it lasted. I have no idea. I just know that I’m not depressed as of this second.

In December I start group therapy, which is $50 a session. I think that may help me a lot, at least with my social issues. And my social issues are a HUGE problem which hinder my ability to live to my potential.

This is all costing a lot. On top of this, I’m getting some dental work done which is costing a few hundred dollars above what insurance covers.

I just know I need to sort out my mental health issues. I’ve gone through so much counseling / therapy and even some medication in the past, but it’s all been for anxiety or depression or ADD. I’ve never been treated for bipolar. Maybe that’s the problem.

the nightmare that is figuring out taxes and health insurance as a freelancer

the absolutely marvelous news is that i just landed a steady, well-paid, 30 hrs/week contract gig for the next three months.

the bad news it that now i have to figure out how on earth to get myself decent health insurance… and how to sort out my income and expenses for tax season.

contract work is great because of the flexibility, but all the additional “work” I have to do to be self-employed is rather terrifying.

first off — health insurance: i already know i will be denied if i tell the truth on my health insurance applications, because i took lexapro ONE MONTH for “major depression.” On the Tonik health insurance application, you get to click off your pre-existing medical conditions. Guess what category major depression falls into? “Bipolar disorder/Major Depression/Schizophrenia”

Um. I went to a psychiatrist for about two months, took meds for one month, and i kind of feel better now.

My psychiatrist kind of warned me about the potential health insurance issues, but she wasn’t very clear about it. She just said that she doesn’t like working with health insurance — because it takes her forever to get paid. And then when she was considering diagnosing me with bipolar, she asked me if it would be ok to note that on my diagnosis form, since most clients don’t want that on there, as it could hurt their chances of getting health insurance later on.

First off, I was rather ignorant at the time, thinking that health insurance existed to help you get better (wrong) and that it would be cheaper for me to use my $15 co-pay visits with a ‘major depression’ diagnosis as opposed to 50% pay for ADD or anxiety or anything else that I probably actually have (I doubt I have major depression. It’s probably recurring, but I go through phases in my life. Life is hard and sometimes i’m sad and sometimes I need someone to talk to, but I don’t think this is a life-long condition). Anyway…

So I got my $15 visits, which was nice for the two months I say my psychiatrist and my therapist. And now? Well, chances are I won’t be able to get health insurance. Because apparently whatever it is I have is just as bad as SCHIZOPHRENIA in the eyes of my potential insurers.

I spoke with a health insurance agent who, off the record, basically suggested that i take the risk and lie on my application, because that would be the only way i could get decent insurance. but, of course, then i could basically screw myself over by doing that, since health insurance companies could find out that i lied and make me pay for EVERYTHING since when i signed up for their insurance. that’s a scary thought.

Or – do I just be honest and watch as my applications get denied? I haven’t got my forms for Cobra yet, but I’m sure that will be ridiculously expensive. I had really good health insurance (Blue Shield PPO) through my employer with a $250 deductible, and now I’m looking at whatever I can get with a $1500-$5000 deductible and poor benefits. And to get that I might still have to lie.

But I should have health insurance. I realize it’s stupid to be living without health insurance. I just am not sure what kind to get. Basically I need the doctor to prescribe me Yasmin birth control pills each month (and hopefully for them not to cost me a fortune) — I need “Yasmin” specifically for hormonal imbalances and such, but unfortunately getting cheaper pills through something like planned parenthood will not let me get that brand.

Besides health insurance, there’s the issue of taxes. Gosh, I’m so behind of keeping tabs on what I’ve made in contract work this year. I know, bad me. I just set up a google docs spreadsheet to start taking detailed notes from hereonout, but I’m not 100% sure what I’ve made thus far this year. In any case, I know that taxes are going to take a HUGE CHUNK out of my income, which is fine, they did that before, but it’s just really hard to determine how much taxes will be when I don’t even know how much work I will have each month.

At least now I have a stable three month gig where I will be making $3300 a month, assuming they like me and want to keep me for the entirety of the contracted position. After that, either I get to stay on board, or it’s back to the drawing board. We’ll see. Meanwhile, my goal is to pick up one or two freelance web design projects per month, where I’d make anywhere from $500-$1000 per project (although I’m starting out with really cheap rates of like $200 per project.)

Anyway… for the next three months, my ‘income’ before taxes, minus any additional web design projects, should be $3700, which includes the contract gig and another ongoing contract project where I make $400 a month writing a few articles for my uncle’s marketing firm. $3700 a month is definitely not a bad wage, but after taxes, and health insurance, I’m not sure how much that actually is. It’d be something like $2700 a month or something? So after rent, that’s $1650 a month. Phone bill, gym membership and cable tv/internet are like, $200, so then I have $1450 left. Ok, not bad. Health insurance, assuming I go for a decent kind, will be like $300 a month. So that’s maybe $1150 left for food, entertainment and such.

Ok, I guess that’s not awful. But I just am scared about not understanding taxes and all the complicated stuff that goes into expensing things and such. Meanwhile, I just read that self-employed individuals pay a lot more in taxes because usually the company pays for like half of the taxes, but when you work for yourself you are your own company.

So. I guess I have a lot of figuring out to do. In the meantime, I have to wrap up three projects I’m working on. I’m writing some company for a startup (basically, I’m writing all the copy that will go on their site), then I have to finish this one website for a client, and then I’ve got to wrap up the basic design for a project I’m doing in a ‘trade’ deal with a personal trainer. 5 hours of web design for 4 hours of personal training. It’s not a bad deal, considering she charges $78 an hour and I charge $50. Anyway, I can tell she’s getting antsy to see the page (I already had three training sessions this week, but I told her I’d show her something this weekend.) Well, I’ve got to finish that. I’m trying my darndest to figure out Flash because A) she seems to really like pages with Flash in them and B) I need at least one site for my portfolio that incorporates Flash, so I can show clients that I can atleast put some basic animation on their pages.

Anyway.

Life is going pretty good, minus all of this confusion. My birthday is coming up next week. I’m turning 24. Happy, uh, confused birthday to me.