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doing the sensible thing; how do you do it?


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i went in to work last night - I started my shift at 11:15, and finished this morning at 7:45. Then I sensibly went and bought a big container of Greek yogurt (great way to get protein in my while avoiding the heaviness of meat) and some limes, came home, put in my timesheets and began to unwind. 

 

But then I got a call this afternoon, asking if I wanted to take a shift. I actually said no.

 

I think my brain needed rest - I feel exhausted. I took a nap, got up, and I've been doing a few little things around the house. Ordered some pizza. Played video games. Watched this Canadian guy on youtube play video games (his voice is very soothing, and since I can't afford all the games I want, it's like getting to play them by proxy; it also makes me feel like someone is home besides me, which is why I also listen to podcasts). Put makeup on and looked at myself. I look nice. Decided to stay in anyway.

 

Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment so I can get more meds. all of this was very sensible, very life-affirming, very mindful (except for the part where I pigged out on pizza). Nevertheless i still felt weirded out when I turned down work. the dispatcher offered to find out if the law firm would have a third shift available, or if I could come in later. I said no, because I have a lot of things to do first thing tomorrow, like seeing the doctor, talking to my landlord, making some phone calls about my taxes. and then I'll take a second or third tomorrow, and won't feel like such a slave.

 

But I'm wondering - how many of you feel guilty when you don't go to work or do something others want you to do, because you've finally realized you have to put your mental and physical health first if you are going to get well? I feel a little guilty about giving myself some time off, particularly since if I don't work, I don't get paid; but if I'm too tired to work and I mess up documents, that would be bad too, so there's that. When I'm depressed I feel much more guilty for calling in sick. But while i feel slightly guilty now, I'm looking forward to getting in bed in my jammies, reading some Sherlock Holmes, meditating, and greeting the new day with joy in my heart.

 

How do you all handle that guilt voice, and what things do you do to make yourself feel more mentally healthy?

Edited by Washington Park Commons
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I have spent a lot of time saying "yes" to things that have meant a lot of work for me because I "felt bad" about saying no. It took me a whole year to quit a job that I knew I needed to be done with just because I "felt bad" about leaving them.

 

I find that I am getting better at trusting my ability to delegate tasks to my work partners appropriately instead of feeling like I have to do it all myself.

 

And I also find that it helps a lot to have a good relationship with my supervisor, where we both know it's ok for either of us to ask, and for either of us to say yes or no depending on availability.

 

I get it about the "only getting paid if you work" thing. It definitely makes it harder to turn down shifts.  But you know, time is a precious and valuable resource. I would say that my time is more valuable than the money I get paid almost without exception.

 

That doesn't mean I can have no money... well I could, but I probably wouldn't like the other outcomes associate with that like not being able to pay rent and such.

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This is hard. I work shifts like you and as a casual only get paid for hours worked. It's slightly worsened by the fact that the more shifts you don't do the more they don't value you as a worker, but I guess that's casual employment. Sometimes I find it helpful to realise that if you don't take time for yourself to be well then you might end up really sick (I really hope you don't) but I think I burnt myself out a bit, ended up psychotic and was hospitalised for five weeks. So alot of time off work! Which may have been avoidable if I simply didn't agree to every shift and allowed myself time to actually see my doctors, sleep properly and manage my emotions. Guilt sucks, but over time it really does lessen. Life is too important for it to be all about your job, and it really does sound like you need to get some stuff done, you sound like a very conscientious worker so I think you should cut yourself some slack. I hope you have a good day off.

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I agree with not taking time for yourself and maybe getting sick and really stressed out if you always say yes.  I'm glad you realized you needed time for yourself and were able to say no to working the extra shift.  That is hard for a lot of people to do.

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I think taking time off for yourself will only make you a more valuable employee.  It is natural to feel guilty, but you really are not doing anything wrong.  I would try to look at it as taking responsibility for yourself and your own well being.  To be able to greet a new day with joy in your heart is absolutely beautiful, and and to go back to work with that positive attitude will only make your work more satisfying, accurate, and efficient.

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you are already ahead just having a job.this is great.

even a good diet.

 

many of us can't even eat or work.

I try to look at all my blessings these days.

I am blessed in other areas like art.

 

it's a good sign worrying about this.

shows you're a stand up woman who wants to do the right thing.

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Wow, I read your post being so impressed with all the mindful, life-affirming choices you made! It's interesting to see someone have the same feeling (guilt over calling in / not going to work) when they make much better choices (I won't go into what I do when I've called in, but it's usually the opposite of mindful).

 

I wish I could say some sort of magical incantation that would make the guilt go away but I haven't found any. I hope you are at least able to recognize that when you look back on this day you'll probably remember it as a good, fun, mentally healthy day - I find that feelings like guilt, which for me are more habit than anything, fade away.

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So here I am, and all I can say is, WOW!  Thanks to all of you for being so positive! I tend to beat myself up, so it's nice to be affirmed.

 

 

What I did yesterday was sleep a little, play games a little, and generally be gentle with myself. Today I got up, went to re-up my charity care (mainly, it meant signing a lot of documents, promising to bring back the right info, meeting with the clinician, and meeting with the p-doc). I had an hour in between signing documents and seeing the clinician, so I went to IHoP across the street. By town has the crappiest IHoP EVAR. the people who work there are rude- not in your face rude, but just so totally lacking a sense of customer service that it's like watching kids put on a play.  But it was nice to have enough money to go and eat French toast, and make sure that by doing so I wasn't all cranky. 

 

Then I saw my docs. The clinician was fine. I'm not sure if I like my new p-doc; she had this whole 'I know what your problem is' thing going on, and the thing is, she doesn't know. Her assumptions were wrong.  She also seemed to be kinda judgey about my long unmarried relationship with my boyfriend, where we are happily unmarried (we're not really happy about it, but we manage, and that's our business). But as far as I was concerned, I was there to get my med scripts, so I could go shopping, pick up my medication, come home and get some sleep. Right now is the middle of the night for me. 

 

I went to the supermarket, was tempted to buy all kinds of junk food, but decided to get the makings for key lime pie instead. Baking makes me happy, and pie is a lot more limited in consumption than tons of cookies. Got some low sodium V-8 (I like drinking my veggies, particularly if I'm getting ready for work) some items for the chicken salad I'm going to make, and some pretzels (just because),  And I'm home and getting ready to sleep. 

 

Today was a good day for the most part. Talking to docs about my family was painful, but I got my meds and that's what matters to me.  I went to the supermarket and made good choices without overspending. I ate and took care of myself. My apartment and my life are both a mess, but I can live with that right now.  And yeah, I realize how lucky I am to be able to hold down a job, to be able to feed myself (and have the money to do so), and to not have ever been in a hospital. I acknowledge that work went into this, but it's also a matter of providence. The BF and I were talking last night about how in another universe, I've been in a mental hospital since my 20s, and he's in a Federal prison for murder (technically, he just qualifies as a sociopath, although he's able to feel emotions and he definitely loves me - he just doesn't give much of a shit about other people who aren't close to him), because neither have us had ever learned the self discipline that kept us from drugging, drinking, or falling in with a bad crowd.  It's all a matter of circumstance and making positive micro-decisions that has kept me (relatively) sane, compared to many bipolars. And even on my bad days, I'm grateful for that. 

 

I feel less guilty today, too. The clinician gave me a doctor who has morning hours, so I can go right after leaving work or getting a few hours of sleep, instead of having my complete day ruined by an appointment. I spoke with one of the supervisors too, and found out what I had suspected: I'm one of the few 'high-functioning' people who comes in for the outpatient program. Most of the people who are patients are on welfare or have been to jail for theft, assault, drug-dealing, or other petty crimes. Quite a few have never held a socially-sanctioned job (as far as I'm concerned, drug dealing and prostitution are both jobs, if you're running your business right. They're just illegal and, in the case of dealing, socially destructive). This is somewhat problematic, because the doctors there are used to helping people to deal with anger (anger as in beating people up or pistol-whipping them, as opposed to anger as in being nasty to sales clerks) or not flip out, as opposed to healing them so they can go back to work, or helping them deal with the anxiety and issues of putting a life back together. I was advised to look into the next town over, which is very ritzy and filled with academics (Yay, now I can travel and spend more money I don't have, to find medical care I can't afford!) to see if they might have anything that suits me. I've also been told to look in NYC (which is much more likely, although from what I've seen, there's not much for those of us who need morning programs. My p-doc suggested yoga (thought of that; might do it again, but right now, I'm kinda tired handling immediate issues and don't have the energy to chase down leads on  health care. 

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 It's all a matter of circumstance and making positive micro-decisions that has kept me (relatively) sane, compared to many bipolars. And even on my bad days, I'm grateful for that. 

 

(Blargh- my internet failed earlier and cut off my post... below is what I was trying to reply with...)

 

One thing I wanted to say was, AWESOME that you recognize the power in these "micro-decisions"... well worded... this has been one of the most empowering things for me to learn as well; one of my old room-mates taught me about that: most experiences I have are decisions, and I usually have the power to decide to think differently or do things differently in order to change my experiences. (I'm not counting the times when I'm delusionally manic... I just mean most "normal" days). 

 

One of those decisions is allowing yourself to feel good - and yet another of those decisions is allowing yourself to feel bad. Both need to happen. You need to acknowledge that it's okay to feel bad, to be sick, to not be invincible... and it's also important to allow yourself to feel better, to heal, to enjoy things, to allow the dopamine to surge every so often.

 

Your post spoke to me so strongly.... I am currently working only part-time for the first time in 15 years... I've traditionally worked between 40-60 hours per week my whole life, not counting the times where I was working 2 full-time jobs... and I can barely, barely, pull off even the 15-20 hours per week I'm being assigned right now... so to say I'm feeling guilty about saying "no" to work is a painful understatement. 

 

But I'm tryyyying to allow myself to actually heal, for once, and my family is even helping me out financially so that I can afford to stay part-time, and hopefully get better with the extra rest... but somehow, my mental guilt just won't allow it. It's astounding, how hard it is for my mind to allow my body to get better. 

 

So, I guess I just wanted to cheer you on with your video games, and thank you for telling us about what you did with your time... sometimes I need real life examples to show me that it's okay to take some time off, and just pig out on pizza and hang out and feel okay enough to say "no" to added demands. 

 

I hope you can keep feeling alright about letting yourself do what you need to do to stay alive and stay healthy and feel good. Keep making those great micro-decisions and you will be fine. I'm totally cheering for you. :)  

 

 
(edited to finish the post...)
Edited by lostinthoughtandjaded
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Since being reduced to part-time status, at a place where I have worked for three and a half years with two and a half of those as a manager... I relate to the guilt in a different yet similar way.

 

I remember at previous jobs when what must have been my various crazies getting to be too much and I'd phone in sick for work or just not show up at all.  I'd feel guilty as all hell even if the reason was some severe depression and anxiety, even though I knew I was depressed.  My mindset at the time didn't see myself as being ill, didn't see my own problems as being valid enough for taking time off, etc.

 

I've faced that guilt over flubbing school twice.  Over flubbing job after job after job.  After continually wondering why something like just school, or just a job at 7-11, could be so difficult and even painful for me, when others I know can do things like work AND go to school or at least hold down a fast-food job solo.  All pre-diagnosis.

 

Diagnosis has been incredibly validating for me.  Now I'm faced with an odd combination of validation and guilt.  It has become apparent that I actually am disabled, by societal standards, in many areas of my life and for many areas of most types of work out there.  For me, as someone who has spent my entire life struggling and wondering why I fought so hard and got so little in return, whilst being told (and telling myself) that my issues were just normal and that I just had to learn to cope with them like everyone else... well, it's incredibly validating, for me, in this sense, to have paperwork saying I'm profoundly disabled.  I don't feel as though this label limits me (I've never been one for allowing myself to be limited by labels anyway; they are useful tools, and they are all relative to personal interpretation; I can use terms that I know act as access keys for certain resources that I require, while still personally defining the term differently.)  So, that's the validation.  The guilt comes in as it always does.  I'm not working very much now, and I have a desire to keep busy though I know I need to not push myself or else risk negating the good this reduction in work hours and stress is supposed to do.  I feel more guilty when I get out of my house and enjoy social activities, I think, than for anything else right now.  As though I should remain in my basement suite all the time since I'm "supposedly disabled," or else if I can socialize then surely I can work!  Except, that's not how it goes.

 

I feel guilty still, residual internalized crap I think, for daring to think that I can't and shouldn't work most types of jobs out there anyway, certainly not at a large amount of hours.

 

But the simple fact is... my health comes first, and I've been driving my health face-first along the concrete for far too long in an attempt to live up to societal standards not designed for someone with needs and abilities such as mine.

 

It can take a while to internalize that previous line.  I know it's going to take me a while.  Part of how I cope with stuff like this, a huge part, is persistent logic.  I know I feel one way, so I stop and examine the thoughts that come along with that feeling.  I can't do much about the feeling, half the time I don't really recognize it, but I can look at the connected thoughts and challenge those.  Noticing the thoughts in the first place is still something I practice.  Then I continually, but gently, correct myself.  With reasonable, sensible logic.  I find it rather soothing.  It takes lots and lots and lots of repetition, and the timeframe for various things seems to vary quite widely in my case.  I try not to tell myself that I should or shouldn't feel in any particular way.  I leave that bit be, other than to perhaps validate that I feel that way.  I might try logically explaining to myself why I've picked up that belief or thought pattern.  The real focus though is on countering the thoughts themselves.  "I feel guilty" has validity in its own right.  "I feel guilty because blah," well, "blah" is something I can provide a rebuttal for.

 

Repetition, repetition, and lots of time.  Therapy can possibly help with this.  I also find solace in my religion/spirituality.

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I feel guilty still, residual internalized crap I think, for daring to think that I can't and shouldn't work most types of jobs out there anyway, certainly not at a large amount of hours.

 

But the simple fact is... my health comes first, and I've been driving my health face-first along the concrete for far too long in an attempt to live up to societal standards not designed for someone with needs and abilities such as mine.

 

It can take a while to internalize that previous line.  I know it's going to take me a while.  Part of how I cope with stuff like this, a huge part, is persistent logic.  I know I feel one way, so I stop and examine the thoughts that come along with that feeling.  I can't do much about the feeling, half the time I don't really recognize it, but I can look at the connected thoughts and challenge those.  Noticing the thoughts in the first place is still something I practice.  Then I continually, but gently, correct myself.  With reasonable, sensible logic.  I find it rather soothing.  It takes lots and lots and lots of repetition, and the timeframe for various things seems to vary quite widely in my case.  I try not to tell myself that I should or shouldn't feel in any particular way.  I leave that bit be, other than to perhaps validate that I feel that way.  I might try logically explaining to myself why I've picked up that belief or thought pattern.  The real focus though is on countering the thoughts themselves.  "I feel guilty" has validity in its own right.  "I feel guilty because blah," well, "blah" is something I can provide a rebuttal for.

 

Repetition, repetition, and lots of time.  Therapy can possibly help with this.  I also find solace in my religion/spirituality.

 

 

 

Thank you for that. I think part of it is it's hard seeing myself as disabled. But I am. and that means I cant do certain things that others can do.  But I CAN do things that others can't do, and I can find work arounds. 

I had a bad night at work last night, because I'm very tired from getting almost no sleep this week. So today when I got offered work, I turned it down. Because I'm sick. Because I'm disabled, and even if I can't sleep, I can do other things that make me feel good and helps me heal a bit. 

 

I'm using the persistent logic too. Last night I got so upset (more than was necessary) that I wanted to kill myself and that demon in my head started taking over. And as I was ruminating, I pictured myself sitting next to me, and being my friend. And that me was telling the ruminating me that I love myself, and I'm a good person, and I was tired, and I'm up for another job that would offer me stability, which is what I need. And most of all, that I didn't really wanted to hurt myself, I just wanted the hurt and pain to go away. 

 

My spirituality is a big part of keeping healthy for me, too. Growing up Catholic with the idea of saints looking after me and nurturing me has been a big part of my life in the dark moments, even when I felt that God/dess wasn't there because s/he was busy. Even though I'm not religious anymore, that nurturing feeling is still there, and it gives me strength.

 

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I think being "functional"can be a curse in itself.

when it comes to MI functional people suffer just as much,often more, than the institutionalized.

 

keeping a facade can be a full time occupation.

 

I was for the longest time unwilling to see myself as disabled.

truly internalize it like you're talking about.

I worked like a maniac(pun)when manic.

wanted to end it all in depression because I didn't function in society.

 

I like your posts,you write well, it flows like music.

have a wonderful evening.

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Great post, dovescry, you write pretty well yourself.....ahhhhh, yes the guilt I felt over my "mental health days" as a fellow bipolar co-worker and I called them...that was a long time ago, so there was more leeway, without threat of being fired, or I guess threatened in any way, like there is now...but I NEEDED those days, desperately sometimes...lord knows they made a sh@t load of money off of my hypomanic self, I was a machine and high on stress = productive hypomania...but, yes always tinged by "the guilt..." when I'd take a "mental health day, ha!   But, ya gotta do what ya gotta do to take care of yourself, guilt practically always is intertwined with depression for me, I'm sure I'm not alone in this?  I will stop rambling now..! :D

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When I was 18 I had Bipolar starting to manifest inside but didn't know it. I ended up getting fired because of the down slope I entered. Since I didn't know what exactly was going on I couldn't explain it to my Manager. Being able to talk to someone from your work is really important. My partner went through a depressive episode last year at his work, he felt guilty about it and was afraid to tell his boss he needed time off work. Turns out his boss had Bipolar so it went really well. Don't feel guilty, you've done the right thing, treat yourself well.

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But I'm wondering - how many of you feel guilty when you don't go to work or do something others want you to do, because you've finally realized you have to put your mental and physical health first if you are going to get well? I feel a little guilty about giving myself some time off, particularly since if I don't work, I don't get paid; but if I'm too tired to work and I mess up documents, that would be bad too, so there's that. When I'm depressed I feel much more guilty for calling in sick. But while i feel slightly guilty now, I'm looking forward to getting in bed in my jammies, reading some Sherlock Holmes, meditating, and greeting the new day with joy in my heart.

 

How do you all handle that guilt voice, and what things do you do to make yourself feel more mentally healthy?

 

Wow yeah I mean, I totally relate to this. I go through truly grueling amounts of guilt over this, because I have also realized I have to set personal limits for my mental health, but that in doing so I let down myself and people around me, because they and I expect and want more from me. The worst part is of course other people, because they don't understand the reason, they assume laziness or inconsiderate attitude or whatever. It is really bad, I mean I just grit and bear it I have no real strategy. I have tried explaining it to some close people but I think they don't really understand. It's just a matter of being as content as you can knowing you are doing the right thing, no matter what anyone else thinks of it.

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But I'm wondering - how many of you feel guilty when you don't go to work or do something others want you to do, because you've finally realized you have to put your mental and physical health first if you are going to get well? I feel a little guilty about giving myself some time off, particularly since if I don't work, I don't get paid; but if I'm too tired to work and I mess up documents, that would be bad too, so there's that. When I'm depressed I feel much more guilty for calling in sick. But while i feel slightly guilty now, I'm looking forward to getting in bed in my jammies, reading some Sherlock Holmes, meditating, and greeting the new day with joy in my heart.

 

How do you all handle that guilt voice, and what things do you do to make yourself feel more mentally healthy?

 

Wow yeah I mean, I totally relate to this. I go through truly grueling amounts of guilt over this, because I have also realized I have to set personal limits for my mental health, but that in doing so I let down myself and people around me, because they and I expect and want more from me. The worst part is of course other people, because they don't understand the reason, they assume laziness or inconsiderate attitude or whatever. It is really bad, I mean I just grit and bear it I have no real strategy. I have tried explaining it to some close people but I think they don't really understand. It's just a matter of being as content as you can knowing you are doing the right thing, no matter what anyone else thinks of it.

 

 

^THIS.  I came to realize if I didn't take care and time for myself, I couldn't do anything for others (at least decently) because I'd be a mess (stressed out etc).

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I think being "functional"can be a curse in itself.

when it comes to MI functional people suffer just as much,often more, than the institutionalized.

 

keeping a facade can be a full time occupation.

 

I was for the longest time unwilling to see myself as disabled.

truly internalize it like you're talking about.

I worked like a maniac(pun)when manic.

wanted to end it all in depression because I didn't function in society.

 

I like your posts,you write well, it flows like music.

have a wonderful evening.

 

I used to have a friend whose boyfriend was a depressive. He was on disability for it. While my friend went to work at some high-powered company every day, and paid for everything, including the country house and everything in it, the boyfriend sat home every day in his bathrobe and had bran flakes topped with coffee ice cream as the 'milk'. He'd watch tv and sometimes chat on the phone. He was occasionally witty and funny, but mostly he was a snarky pain in the ass who would pull really manipulative and cruel antics on my friend (now, I think, he would be rediagnosed as BPD). At the time I was in grad school and I would wonder while i was reading yet another stultifying, deep-dish article and not having any fun doing it, if maybe my boyfriend would let me wear a bathrobe all day and eat ice cream while he worked and paid the bills.   While in truth I was glad I wasn't so ill that I couldn't go to school, I also hated the 'suck it up' mentality that I had. The same thing happened after my husband (that same boyfriend) died. I just wanted to collapse and maybe get checked into a mental hospital so I could talk to my shrink once a week and make macaroni necklaces during craft time, and maybe read the 10 or so books that I'd brought along with me while ignoring the ugly day room i'd be in (BTW, no insult intended to those of you who have been in hospital; I've visited someone who was on the psych ward, so i know it isn't a piece of cake). After 9/11 I wanted to do that too. And last year. But for some reason my stubborn brain refuses to let me have the threadbare bathrobe (or fluffy bathrobe, if I still had a well-off boyfriend).

 

I want it, though.I want  so badly to check out and not have to think about this. I want to just not have to worry about feeding myself, and whether my moods trouble people and when to take my meds. I want to be sick, really sick. I want occasional visits from embarrassed friends and relatives. I want to be on Thorazine up to the eyeballs. I want to be able to rest. But I can't. Instead I feel a driving need to be brave and courageous and all that bullshit people say when you are matter-of-factly living with a disability that makes normal people feel uncomfortable. But instead of feeling all that wonderful (except when I'm hypomanic, at which point I'm right after Jesus, drag queens and the Beatles in fabulousness) I just feel tired of accommodating people I don't really like for a job that bores me while chasing down leads on healthcare I can't really afford and doing chores that take away time from mood-stabilizing sleep, just so that I don't scare all the 'nice' people out there.  

 

But I also do what I do because if I was in an institution there would be no heirloom tomatoes or crochet or watching HULU or thinking of how happy I feel when my (present-day) fiancé kisses me, and because every day that I make the effort, that means there's one less bipolar person sinking into despair. I'm well enough to do what needs to be done. It would be selfish to throw it away when so many people don't have an option and would love a chance to have my opportunities. Kind of like it would be so much easier to be a drug-addicted single mom on welfare  with the state giving me a threadbare safety net and being able to know that the most that was expected of me was to show up to renew my WIC payments once in a while, rather than a proud African-American striver with so many odds against me. Yeah it would be easier, but I'd be taking away from the people who are truly lost and most in need of help, whereas I still have a mostly functioning brain and a mostly controllable amount of PTSD. 

 

I thank you for the compliment on my writing, though. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the 'disabled' rubric, while remembering that technically, Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale, and numerous others were disabled too, and they ended up ok. 

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I feel guilty sometimes. I don't do it enough but everybody needs a mental health day, us more than others. I try to take advantage of days off and do nothing. By nothing I mean watch tv, cook, whatever I feel like.

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