Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Cathartic Carts…

Work went well this morning.  I was a little tired from lack of sleep, but I handled it with aplomb. Today, I was quietly left to do my job with no supervision which was very, very nice. I wanted to settle into a regular and normal routine.  I want to know what to expect with each day with little surprises.  I didn’t want the socialization of yesterday that involved my coach showing me the ropes all morning.  I was thrown to the wolves as they say and I did fine.  There were only a few moments of stress when the carts seemed to back up faster than I could gather them, but I would eventually get caught up with persistence.  I kept having to tell myself that I used to be a research technician at a major university so surely I could handle this job.    

It is quite a solitary job other than the occasional contact with the greeter or a curious inquisitive customer and I quite like that part of it. It suites my social anxieties just fine.  It can be kind of cathartic gathering the carts and daydreaming as I do it.  I would get lost in my thoughts as I have so many grand plans rolling around in my head these days and the thoughts preoccupied me. The four hours flew by and I almost hated having to clock out and go home. It is so nice having something to do for a change even if it is such a menial task. I like the thought that there is going to be a nice paycheck in a few days on the way.  I am going to buy me a printer for my computer with my first paycheck and print out all my recent blog posts to send to George in jail.  He will love that.  That will be easier than trying to write him.  

No anxiety moments as well and I handled all social situations very well – even the situations involving my supervisor which usually make me very nervous. She’s been kind of doting over me about my disabilities – worrying about my ability to do the job.  I am feeling exceedingly well mentally these days, though.  I assured her at one point this morning that I was feeling fine – that I was going to do her a good job.  I can almost think I am not really schizophrenic or mentally ill and have just suffered from some sort of post traumatic stress disorder over the years from all the crap I have gone through in life to get this far.  I think the pressure my family puts on me has a lot to do with this which has about driven me crazy over the years thus the PTSD and my anxiety.

I thought I was going to be late when my alarm clock strangely didn’t go off, though, but I woke up in time to throw on some clothes, put on my smock, and then I quickly drove to work.  I had been up most of the night listening to Coast as I couldn’t sleep.  My schedule is still all out of whack after all these years of having no schedule whatsoever.  I am going to have to work on this.  I can’t be late for work.  Especially, not in the first few weeks.  I didn’t get a chance to shower.  I was running too late.  I put on lots of extra deodorant and took a quick sponge bath.  I smelled quite nice.  Like Old Spice.  In my haste, I also forgot my cooler of bottled water and ice at home and sorely missed it this morning.  It was a very hot and muggy morning today – a hard lesson to learn that will not be soon forgotten.  I hated to spend what little money I had on bottled water which is expensive – more expensive than gasoline.

“Do you need help with your groceries?” I asked this one nice looking lady as she exited the store and seemed to be struggling with her cart laden full of heavy items.

I had just corralled a big string of carts together to bring inside and was resting a moment in the parking lot before I added the mechanical pusher for the final push.

“That would be nice,” she replied. “Thank you.  I would appreciate it very much.”

I took a moment to unload her groceries into the back seat of her nice Toyota Tundra truck and she tipped me $5 dollars for the help.  I was elated.  That was so nice.  I used the $5 dollars to buy me some cold drinks thus saving the day money-wise.  I still have my $15 dollars left from my mowing yesterday.  I want to save it for gas for my mower and a special treat this evening.

I arrived home at lunch to find three messages on my answering machine.  They were all from Charlie.  He sounded frantic and disturbed.  My spirits sunk when I heard his message and realized what it was all about.  I hate this kind of frantic drama. 

“Andrew? Where are you? I was supposed to take you for your injection this morning at nine! I forgot!” Charlie said on the machine. “You father is going to kill us!  He will never trust me or you again!  You know how crazy he gets about you getting your injection.  He’s already called to see if you got it and I told him yes to cover for us.”

I had completely forgotten all about my antipsychotic injection.  I wistfully thought that’s why I have felt so well lately.  My medication had run out day’s ago.  I am tired of taking all these many pills and injections.  I think all these psychotropic medications I am on are a big part of my problems I have these days.  My brain is swimming in a chemical stew and these doctors aren’t really quite sure how they will affect us over the long term.  I have been labeled mentally ill and it is going to be one of my biggest battles to break that stigma and label. 

Charlie picked me up at 12:30pm and frantically drove me down to the pharmacy to pick up my injection and then to the doctor’s office as if any minute I would break out in a fit of craziness from lack of medication.  My regular nurse, Rebecca, was on vacation much to my chagrin when we arrived.  I had Crystal this afternoon to contend with and she can never figure out how to prepare my injection.  I had to do it as usual when she is there.  Also, small talk with her is a supreme struggle with her being as aloof as I and it makes me feel so awkward.  I missed my usual nurse – the talkative Rebecca that makes me feel so at ease and at home.  

“Where were you this morning?” Charlie asked inquisitively as we drove home up through the Valley. “You rarely leave the house.  It’s odd for you to not be there.”

“I was at work,” I replied sheepishly, but honestly. “I started a new job yesterday at Wal-Mart.”

“You know your father is going to shit a brick,” Charlie told me as he looked alarmed. It took him a few minutes to gather himself when I said it.  He about didn’t know how to respond. “What made you take a job?  Do you think you are actually able to work?”

“I just feel I need to be more independent.  Charlie, I get so tired of never having any money and sitting at home all the time with nothing to do. I want something productive to do with my days and my life. I want to build my self esteem.  I just want to be able to buy some goddamned groceries without getting the third degree when I run out!”

“Well, I can understand that,” Charlie said empathetically. “But I’m not sure your father will.  He will think you will spend all your pay drinking your days away.  He is maniacal about you and that drinking.”

“Charlie! I am 38 years old!” I exclaimed loudly and excitedly. “I am not some child!  I have to be able to make those choices for myself.  Dad can’t make them for me.  At one point in my life, dad was trying to find me jobs when I was married.  It was he who got me the job at Auburn which I hated with a passion – all that stress!  He thought it was prestigious and would brag about his son being a research technician all the time.  It was one of the most miserable times of my life.”

“I know,” Charlie replied. “Let’s just don’t worry about it.  We won’t mention it to your father until he gets home Thursday.  Let’s go get us some lunch.  I am hungry.  I want that Arby’s #19 special again.”

I smiled and agreed – relieved that moment had passed.  It was uncomfortable to talk about.  The #19 special would be nice.

We quietly sat in Arby’s and ate our meals until Charlie struck up a conversation again.  He wanted to know about work and what I was doing.  He was worried about my hours and pay, and how it would effect my disability allotment. He works for the government after all and knows what sticklers they can be. His job is deciding what funds can be allocated to certain community action projects. 

“I just carry the carts into Wal-Mart from the parking lot,” I told him.  “That’s all I do.  It is an easy and simple job, if not hot at times.  There is little stress involved.  A teenager works the shift after me to give you an idea of how easy the job is.”

“How are your anxiety issues holding up?” Charlie then asked.

“I am doing amazingly well so far, but I’ve only worked two days,” I replied. “I have really surprised myself with how well I am doing mentally.  My morning medications you give me at night have helped a lot with the anxiety.  I’ve had a few mental moments, but nothing that didn’t pass with some rest and a drink of water.”

“Well, you be careful,” Charlie said. “You know I am going to worry like hell about you.  I don’t want you to bite off more than you can chew.  I think your father will worry most that this will get you off mentally – the pressure of it all.  Work is a lot of pressure on a man.  And you haven’t worked in a very, very long time.”

“I know,” I said. “I sometimes wish I was a penis-less orphan.  I could never have kids to worry me and I wouldn't have an overbearing family of overachievers to contend with and that make me feel like shit and a lout all the time.”

Charlie burst out laughing and hugged me as we got up from our table to head to his car.  Charlie drove me home and then headed for work late.  I am about to head out for the afternoon to drum up some yard care work.  I hope to mow at least two lawns today for $20 dollars each.  I am headed over to the neighborhood a few blocks over from mine and see if I have better luck over there.  I’ve seen quite a few yards that need mowing when I drove through there a moment ago in preparation on a scouting trip in my Honda. 


Susa said...

I wish you success in your quest for a little independence!

Sharon said...

Well the cat's out of the bag as far as Charlie is concerned. It's good that you were able to discuss it with him, assert yourself and voice your point of view. I hope you can do the same with your Dad. And I'm wondering if maybe the improvement in your mental state has a lot to do with getting this job. You have an opportunity to be a bit more independent and that alone should make you feel good. I hope this works out the way you want it to.

Beth said...

I'm more than a little floored about your self-diagnosis. You were diagnosed schizophrenic when you were a teenager, if I recall correctly. And now you simply think you have PTSD because of your family and their pressure? And presto, you're no longer mentally ill? Uh ....

If you don't like and can't talk to your psychiatrist, find another one. Go to a therapist and start working through your issues. If you are able to get a job, you are able to do this too. And in the long run, this is more important.

Please, PLEASE don't use your money to drink. Mixed with the psych meds, it can be devastating to your body, especially your liver which is already compromised from your drinking.

I wish I didn't feel like I'm throwing rocks into a dark room by saying this. But I do.

glittergirl said...

things have been so interesting on the blog (& in your life) these days!

just remember that your dad being upset with you is not the end of the world. take a deep breathe & "detach with love" if he gets angry.

if you stay calm and focused, and show him that you're making good choices, it's the best you can do.

This IS The Fun Part! said...

You're doing great! I pray for your continued success. I'm also thankful for you being honest with Charlie. That is definately for the best!

Love ya,

Tee said...

This is wonderful! You have gotten past the most difficult part of a new job--the first day. This will lift your self worth, your self-esteem and your spirits tremendously. You have a purpose each day, a reason to get up, shower, shave and get dressed. You have something meaningful to do and a reward at the end of the day, a pay check. Just use your money wisely. This is a perfect time to start you a budget, put your plan on paper (show that to your Dad when you tell him about your job). You already know you are going to buy a printer with your pay check, put that at the top of your budget plan, then add other items to your budget goal, like the part to repair your camera. This is really exciting and your blog reflects your excitement. Great job, Andrew!

Summer said...

I want this to work for you, I really do. Protect your disability by not working too much. Be good and not drink so as not to stir the anger in your dad. He does have your best interests at heart, but, I think you have your own best interests at heart too. I'm proud of you for all that you're doing. Please take good care of yourself!

Sophie said...

I couldn't wait to come home and find out if you made it thru your second day of work... and you did! Yeah Andrew!! And it will get easier as the routine becomes familiar. I agree 100% with what Tee and Summer said above. You have every right to want some independence in your life, now is the time to show your Dad and Charlie that you can handle it responsibly. You can do it if you put your heart into it! :-)