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Working a high stress job w/ hallucinations and and panic.

Talk about meds, side effects, and the 'med-go-round'.

by Nietzscha » Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:49 pm

So, I work with middle school kids. I specifically work as a therapist for middle school kids. I have been experiencing mild hallucinations (as in I can hear talking, but can't make it out), as well as super erratic behavior. I'm trying hard to curb it, but I feel like I am in no way shape or form okay to counsel kids with their own mental health issues. I have panic attacks almost every night or morning before going (I work in a high risk middle school where I often have "crises" or kids being hospitalized for suicidal thoughts... many of the same thoughts I've had). My psychiatrist said that no medication will suffice for finding another job and getting healthy (overweight after problems with binge eating). I have skipped one day, and called in two more days in a row. The thought of going to work tomorrow has me physically ill. I have enough money saved to stop working for about a year, but my husband says we can't afford it, since I've looked for a job for over 3 years and over 100 of applications with no success (meaning that he fears I won't be able to get another job right away). Also, we were hoping to get rid of some student loans with that money, AND we just moved into a more expensive rental house. He wants me to continue working until I find something else, but I don't think I can hold on that long. Basically, I'm not sure what to do. I don't feel that ethically I can keep "treating" these kids, and I'm going insane. BUT I also know that it's unrealistic for me to be without a job, and that many bipolar people successfully keep jobs. I know I'm rambling, but any suggestions? My new medication says I shouldn't even be driving until I know how it affects me, and my husband works over an hour away from my job, so it's not feasible for him to take me!
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by Pancake » Tue Aug 29, 2017 6:04 pm

Nietzscha, where are you located? If you're in the US, I believe FMLA is the tool you want to have a look at. I think it would be appropriate to take some time off until you're on more solid footing, from what I understand an FMLA should be able to help you do that without repercussions. It might give you some time to find your sea legs before making any big decisions.

Do you see a therapist as well as the psychiatrist? What's the change in medication about?

Edit to add: I work in a high pressure/stress/responsible environment too, but I mostly work casual which in my case means I can pick and choose when I want to work (assuming the work is available). Extended absences are only a problem if I don't meet minimum requirements.
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by hal » Tue Aug 29, 2017 7:53 pm

Nietzscha, first of all, welcome to our community. You'll find us supportive and honest and sharing types.

Your post is not at all erratic, but very straightforward and sensible. I'm not envious of the situation you're in. I've been retired for some time, and maybe haven't suffered as much as some people, but there are others here who have had similar experiences to yours, and I hope they'll chime in.
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by Spm24 » Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:18 am

Nietzscha,

Welcome to the forum you will find many caring and compassionate people here.

I had to quit my last job to the overwhelming pressure it put upon me. It was not easy to do but at this time in my life I am just not able to do any major work. I am not recommending you do this. You have a highly stressful job. As someone else mentioned you should check on FMLA if your in the states. It helped me keep my job for over a year. Regardless you should check into what type of service and support your employment provides.

Hang in there. Take it one day at a time...
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by Nietzscha » Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:24 am

Hey guys,
I do live in the States, and I am recently switching therapists b/c I don't think my overly sweet therapist knows how to treat this issue. My husband has come to a lot of the sessions, and he really doesn't think she's helpful either. I love my psychiatrist, because he tells it like it is, but he was straight up that no meds will sufficiently help if the job continues to be a major stressor in my life. I thankfully have the binge eating under control, but still having trouble losing the weight. I have considered setting up an appointment with my HR rep to talk to about possibilities, and I admit that I forgot about the FMLA. Not sure I know how to go about using one, but I'm sure the HR rep will know how, and if it's appropriate for my situation. I'd just hate to leave my kiddos for a period of time, 'cause I know they're all hurting too. The new medication is usually used to treat schizophrenia (Rexulti) due to the hallucinations and delusional thoughts I've had recently. I'm scared that I'm schizophrenic because my uncle is and we think a lot alike.
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by Pancake » Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:18 am

It's ok to shop around for a therapist, find someone you can trust and work with who will make sure you put in the hard yards too. Why is your husband going to your appointments though?

Delusions and hallucinations aren't exclusive to schizophrenia - there's a bit of of overlap, mental health can be tricky. Plenty of members here have had hallucinations, delusions and take APs so you're not alone there. Are you on any other meds? Mood stabiliser or...?
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by AvantGarde » Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:27 am

Pan is right, there's definitely an overlap between psychosis related disorders, some want it to be a spectrum because same genes basically. Psychosis is usually mood congruent (in BP or MDD) or not mood congruent (schizophrenia, schizoaffective, delusional disorder for example, there are more).
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by robinred » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:13 am

Hi And Welcome.

Many of the people on this forum have suffered from the symptoms you have mentioned.

I had an outbreak of panic attacks and paranoia around 6 years ago , this was before I was on meds permanently , I went to see my doctor and discussed it with him , I was mildly depressed as well at the time , he put me onto citalopram , this stopped both the depression and panic attacks pretty quickly . I felt quite a bit better only after a week or two.

I would urge you not to quit your job right now but to seek help based upon your main problem , panic attacks . I would find a new pdoc as difficult as it may sound and go from there. Definitely consider speaking with your hr department
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by 50calty » Wed Aug 30, 2017 7:15 am

I use FMLA for my current job so I'll tell you as much as I know. You can up to 3 months off in a year. Your HR dept should have all the paperwork. You will need a doctor to sign off it and stating you have a mental illness. There is a section in where it wants the doctor to write when you will be gone. I would advise you to have them write that it will be at your discretion and for doctor appointments. My doc just wrote for his bi-weekly visits. Well that bit me in my ass when I need more days off than that. It wasn't long after that, my boss found out I was at the pward. So he has been more relax in taking time off. But I'm sure I'll have to get my tdoc to resign paperwork for time off. I take every wed off right now. It will be yearly paperwork. So if you do it now, you will do it again in January. Also some people don't know this. Its UNPAID TIME OFF, you will NOT be getting paid. I hope this helps. I know the time off for me has been good to work on things.
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by Nietzscha » Wed Aug 30, 2017 1:42 pm

I do know that realistically I'm not schizophrenic, he even specified that he was using it to diminish experiences of psychosis. I still have that paranoia though (I guess that's part of my whole problem!).

I actually talked to my HR today. She was understanding, and explained the process to me. I don't think my psychiatrist would have any trouble signing off on something like that, since he believes I need to find other means for finances anyway. One thing I haven't mentioned is that I would hate my job whether or not my disorder were present. I failed to get into the graduate program of my choice (entomology), and ended up going with Social Work (completely different field obviously) because I was naive and thought that if I couldn't do what I wanted to do in my life, I could at least help people. Then, I had a job that paid crap, but I liked it. I only took a counseling job because it paid a decent salary. I have only been offered counseling jobs since then despite applying to many others, so I feel I trapped myself.

I like having my husband come to counseling sessions sometimes because (and I know I need to get over this), I don't always talk about important things in session. It's like I shut down. He and I talk about the goal I want from that session, and he encourages me to talk about it while we're there together. It's really only when I want him there. I am lucky that he has been very supportive in every other way, except this fear of me not working completely.

I REALLY want to find a way to make money writing, as that is my other passion. I write and read a lot, but have never had the guts to try publishing anything, making a website/blog, or try freelancing. I just haven no idea how realistic it could be to replace my current salary (which is still sadly not terribly high). Anyway, I write a lot when I get anxious, sorry about that!
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by AvantGarde » Wed Aug 30, 2017 1:49 pm

Nietzscha, I paragraphed your post so it could be easier to read. Just something we do so posts get more answers, if we can read them better. :)

I get it about being stuck in a job you don't like, having symptoms and having to put up with it nevertheless.

Have you considered quitting and finding something like a bookstore for example, a very low stress thing, where you can still make some money while you look for something better?
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by robinred » Wed Aug 30, 2017 10:32 pm

AvantGarde wrote:Nietzscha, I paragraphed your post so it could be easier to read. Just something we do so posts get more answers, if we can read them better. :)

I get it about being stuck in a job you don't like, having symptoms and having to put up with it nevertheless.

Have you considered quitting and finding something like a bookstore for example, a very low stress thing, where you can still make some money while you look for something better?


Have to agree with Avant on this , find a much less stressful job then when you're better go back to counselling.
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by Nietzscha » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:13 am

I would love a lower stress job. I've applied to a bunch of them, even for nearly minimum wage work at animal shelters. With my past experience with animals of all kinds, I thought they might want me... but none of those places even call me back. I didn't think about a bookstore. I've never done sales or waitressing of any kind so I don't even think about it. I even applied to a job at a pesticide company that only required a high school level diploma. Here I am with tons of entomology/biology college classes, and they wouldn't even call me back. :( .

I know I have to just suck it up and make a decision, but it is scary that my only options are to apply while working a horrible job but making money, or apply when I have no job and God knows how long it'd be before I found something else. I think I will start applying for some bookstores around here, that was a good idea. I could learn a thing or two about what genres and style of writing are most successful at getting an agent (which would typically be the books sold in retail).

I'm also really considering taking the FMLA. I've never been a person to ask for that kind of help, but I need a little time to think. HR says my next step is to talk to my supervisor and our boss. I'm sooooo nervous to do that. I've already been a big screw-up at work (just got fussed at today in fact for not remembering some paperwork for a training we did a million years ago). I feel like my supervisor really dislikes me and God knows what our boss thinks about me. Not to mention I work at a school, so I'm not sure how I'd break it to the principal, teachers, and clients. This is all so scary that I fear I won't even try the FMLA. I guess if I weren't such a wimp, things would be a lot different.
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