Astramillie’s Weblog

Just a girl who’s bipolar trying to figure out her world

Mania, money, and me May 18, 2008

Where did it go wrong? So, so many places.  Now, this isn’t a therapy session where I’m going to place all of the blame on my mother.  But, I learned quite a few habits from her, or what I thought were her habits.  Let’s start at the beginning, or at about age 13.

My problem with money has two parts.  Manic spending, and bad money management.  So, its illness related and situational – if you can understand the distinction.  When I was a kid my dad would go on and on about how tight money was, then the next Saturday my mother would take us shopping.  Here’s the catch – My mother had her own job.  I didn’t put that into consideration.  Next – we lived on a ranch and I was a big time 4-H’er (I’ll take a second here for you to laugh and get it out of your system) OK, so I raised cattle.  I needed to be able to buy alfalfa, grain, etc. And have a place to put the money I would earn from selling a steer or what have you.  So, at 13 I opened my first checking account.  Not a joint account, my own.  BAD IDEA.  I kept getting overdrawn.  I have this idea, that I guess started then that I can keep a tally in my head.  Well, I can’t.  Well, mom would end up giving me the money I needed to cover the overdrafts.  So, their big plan to teach me responsibility actually taught me that money comes from the sky.

I still have that theory, because in the worst of times I’ve been able to figure something out.  Yes, at times its been my parents bailing me out.  But, more often its been something more inventive (always legal, so wipe that thought out of your head), like getting an advance on financial aid checks sent to me even though my school only gives them to people who live on campus, etc.  Used to drive my ex-boyfriend crazy when all of a sudden I’d find some weird temp tutoring job right in the nick of time. 

 Yet, it doesn’t always work.  I might find enough money to keep the lights on and to be able to eat, but I’ve had three checking accounts closed and I filed for bankruptcy about 5 years ago mainly due to pay day loans (evil things).  I don’t write things down, I don’t keep receipts, paycheck stubs, tax returns, bank statements, or any of the other things you are supposed to.  I have this fantasy that I can keep it all in my head.  Why I still hold on to this fantasy I don’t understand after 25 years or so of this you’d think I’d learn.

When I’m manic, and if I have money, or some type of access to money, I generally head to Target, I get a cart and just walk around the store in a sort of daze and throw things into the cart.  In these cases I usually can keep a tally of how much I can spend.  If I realize I have too much, I’ll choose something to take out of the cart and just put it on a shelf wherever I happen to be.  As I head to the register its a rush.  While the cashier is ringing things up I’m crossing my fingers that I didn’t go over.  I rarely do.  Its almost better than sex.  When they hand me those bags, I don’t know, it must be what smoking that first hit of crack must feels like.  Then, when I get it all home, I crash.  Hopefully, I did buy something I really needed or wanted.  If I’m well enough I can do what my previous Psych doc used to tell me to do.  Take things back.

Therein lay the problem with ebay.  You can’t return items you win.  You can try and resell them.  Which I did try.  But, I bought a lot of crap that no one wanted.  That’s why I won a lot of stuff, no one else wanted it. 

After my parents realized I had pretty much hacked into our joint account to set up paypal so I could go on ebay, they were furious (obviously) and scared for me and for themselves (I had put them in financial jeopardy).  I was starting to feel better, the new meds were finally stabilizing, and realizing what I had done.  With this realization I knew that I needed someone who was tougher to watch over my money.  I also wanted to take it off my mother’s shoulders, it was killing her.  She was angry as hell, but in deep pain because she saw how ill her daughter was.  I didn’t want to inflict this on her anymore.

I’ve talked to a group of lawyers who act as conservators and money managers mainly for elderly clients, and they set up exactly what I need.  I only need a money manager, I’m in no way in need of anything as serious as a conservator.  They aren’t going to take my case because they are too expensive, but are going to help me find someone who I can afford – they already have a few names for me.  My mother acts like she doesn’t mind doing it.  But, I know once I set this up a huge weight is going to be lifted off her shoulders and our relationship is going to improve ten fold.

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Road from destruction (for best results, start with pt. 1) April 29, 2008

            Now, where have my parents been through all of this?  I’ve been in Sacramento; they now live in Eureka on the northern coast of California.  I’ll make calls to my dad to ask woodworking questions, emailing him pictures of things I want to make.  I have short calls to my mom and sister.  But, they know me and they are starting to realize that something is wrong.

            My birthday is November 20th, right near Thanksgiving.  My parents have decided to come get me and take me to Eureka.  My mom and sister come on my birthday and want to take me out to dinner.  When they get there, I’ve tried my best to make my apt look nice (impossible).  I tell them we need to get take out, I can’t do a restaurant.  I notice many shared looks between them.

            I bring the dog, leave the cat with enough food for a month not for the four days I’ll be gone.  I feel so guilty for leaving him by himself; there is no one I trust to check in on him.  He’ll be fine though.

            During my visit I realize it is actually an intervention.  They have made plans to move me to Eureka.  I can still go to school, since its online I could live in a tree as long as I can get a signal.  Mom is going to be my payee, take over my finances.  She will pay my rent and bills for me (from my money, this is no free ride).  My job is to pack up the apartment which includes getting rid of about half my stuff, and to go to the county clinic and get my meds and find out how to transfer my information to the new county.

            I kept expecting to get angry.  I never do.  I’m relieved.  This is what I wanted when I was in the hospital two years ago after the Geodon stroke.  I knew I was going to get sick, but was too proud to ask my parents for help.  Think of all the things I would have avoided – two black out car accidents, an evil boyfriend, pretending low lives were my friends, and leaving splatters of black paint on the kitchen floor from painting shelves that never quite stood up straight.

            After they drive me back to Sacramento I start to tell everyone I’m leaving.  They all pretend to care on a personal level.  Yeah, right.  The redecorating friend and I put my sofa and huge army surplus desk in two different alleys.  I start just handing things out.  I made a mistake on a couple of things, but most were things I’ve moved from place to place for 15 years and have never needed.

            All the while I’m trying to keep up with the Romance class.  I give up a week before it ended.  I talk to the Dean and it is decided that if I get a Psychiatrists letter I can get a medical withdrawal.  This brings up mom’s rule about meds.  I go to the country clinic, after a week’s wait I see their Dr. I have my meds and start taking them.  My brain slowly starts to come back to me.  Boy, when I start seeing what I have been doing with my life comes to me; I want to crawl under my bed.

            The day after Christmas my parents come with a U-haul.  My dad looks at my “shop” and shakes his head.  We can’t fit the workbench, but I find a friend to sell it to.  I end up selling most of the bigger items in Eureka because my dad has everything, and better versions in his shop.  I’ve made a beautiful Poplar coffee table with my dad, four full size bookshelves (that actually stand up straight and hold books), and a shelving system for the bathroom.  But, I’ll always look back on my kitchen wood shop with a smile.

            Once we find an apartment I can afford my little family settles in (the dog isn’t really supposed to be here, but the owner is 100 miles away) and I start to get used to quiet living.  I love it.  I’m 3 semesters from graduation with a healthy GPA.  I’m writing a lot.  I have plans.  I have an advisor at a university with an online option who is interested in my idea for a Doctoral dissertation.  I found a wonderful Psychiatrist.  He listens to me, he calls me on things. But if I say something isn’t working he’ll say let’s try something else.  If I say I was researching new meds and I liked what they said about this, he’ll look it up as well and give his opinion on whether or not I should try it

Its not all flowers and butterflies, but it’s a nice life.

 

Road to Destruction pt. 6

Filed under: Mental Health,mental illness — astramillie @ 12:50 pm
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So, yes I spent the summer using power tools I had no business using in the state I was in.  I’d be so manic I hadn’t slept in a day or so.  For some reason the old apartment building I lived in was sound proofed quite well (my apartment was sub-basement) and my upstairs neighbor could only hear the router (probably because its one of the loudest tools and my router table was right under her bed) and the table saw if the window was open.  So, I would be up at 2 am piddling around in my “shop” making coasters and planters.

 

            Then school started.  I was really looking forward to it.  I was taking two classes, against my better judgment.  I knew it would be better to start off with just one class, but once I make a plan there is no talking me out of it.  As the classes started I was excited, this is what I was talking about.  The two courses were Romantic Attraction and Close Relationships and Leadership: An Historical and Literary Study.  They seemed to be fascinating topics.

            Unfortunately, my brain was not working correctly.  Why should it?  I hadn’t given it a medication in a month or so.  I tried valiantly.  In each class we had weekly posts to the class online bulletin board.  The leadership class had a long paper due every two weeks.  It was the Romance class that kicked my butt.  Each week the professor gave us five to six questions to answer.  Doesn’t seem hard does it.  I received a C on my first assignment.  What?  I. DO. NOT. GET. Cs.  We each get an email from the Professor with a critique.  I did not come close to the amount of explanation he was expecting.  The next week I work on it for three days, turn in a 7 page paper.  A-.  This is what he expects every week.  There is no way I can handle the work of both of these classes.

            The leadership class is turning into a business class.  We’ve seen how well I do in that realm.  The date to drop with a refund is coming near; I need to make a decision.  I drop it.  It might have been wiser to drop the Romance class and its mountain of work, but at least the topic keeps me going.

            One fantastic byproduct of this school thing is I now have an excuse to tell the miscreants to go away “I’m doing homework, come back another day.”  Besides there really is nothing left to steal.  Someone even cleaned out my jewelry.  None of it worth much, except for my Sweet 16 pearls.  My new mantra: “its just stuff, its just stuff.”

            But, I’m getting weird.  I walk around the house talking to myself out loud.  I’ve always talked to the dog and cat, but this is different.  I’m explaining everything I’m doing.  “I’m going to get up of the couch and walk down the hall to go get a diet pepsi.  I am now walking down the hallway.”

            One of my few real friends comes over one day; He looks at my house and is amazed/disgusted.  This is a wonderful byproduct of the male gay friend.  He makes you almost fashionable.  He insists on cleaning and rearranging.  He’s a big guy and just takes charge.  I’m having a panic attack.  He’s touching my stuff.  I just follow him around talking under my breath.  He can hear me but doesn’t pay attention.  When we are done, its fantastic, a place for everything and you can see the carpet.  He starts in on a lighting scheme.  I tell him enough is enough; all I care about is my overhead lamp.  I give him a big hug and send him on his way.  Four hours with another person in the apartment is pushing it when it comes to my comfort zone.

 

Road to Destruction pt. 4

Filed under: Uncategorized — astramillie @ 12:45 pm
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            So, what else did I do with my time?  I let miscreants come “visit” me.  I had so few friends now I was over appreciative of anyone who would come over.  The people who I met from my apartment complex were not the sort of people I should have let in. 

 

Here is an example.  In good times I am considered messy.  When ill, you have to make a path through the junk on the floor to make it to the next room.  I learned (I always knew people did this, but just learned that it applied to me) I could pay someone to clean for me.  I paid one of my neighbors to clean my apartment for me. She did a very good job.  Then I realized a bottle of Codeine (almost full) I had from the car accident was missing as well as a necklace.  I didn’t confront her, I don’t do confrontation.

 

It was disgusting, but I kept telling myself “well at least they’re my friends.”  Friends, who came to my apartment to do drug deals, steal what they could quickly grab while I was out of the room and who new when my checks came in and could ask to borrow money.  They would run errands for me, since I couldn’t leave the house.  Were always there to clean (of course I was paying them).  Eventually I cut back on their numbers.  But, until the day I moved, I never knew what I still owned.

 

            So, I’m sure you’re wondering A. why was Larry letting this happen? B. What was happening with my meds and the doctor?  Well, Larry didn’t really know.  Everyone came over during the day; I made sure they were all gone by the time he was going to be there.  Ah, the Dr., we tried a few more meds without much luck.  In order to go see him it was a production because I had to find someone to take me.  The anxiety attacks were so awful; it had gotten to the point where I was getting the band around my chest feeling.  Eventually, I quit going.  I was doing what I swore I wouldn’t do; not just to myself but my old Dr. I was off my meds.

 

And now the fun begins.   Watch out EBay! (actually a reoccurring theme in my life!)

 

Road to Destruction pt. 3

Filed under: Mental Health,mental illness — astramillie @ 12:42 pm
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Another Big Mistake

 

            Obviously I’m improperly medicated at this time.  People with Bi Polar Illness make horrible decisions.  I made a doozy.  Larry came over one night, and I don’t know what came over him, and why I didn’t stop it.  I went to hug him good bye, he kind of pushed me towards the sofa and well, you can figure out the rest.  Presto!  I have the boyfriend I never wanted.

 

            A good part was I could borrow money from him and not feel as guilty because well (and this sounds insanely mercenary) I was sleeping with him.  And all of the other things he had been doing for me (car repair, fixing things around the house that I couldn’t etc.) no longer racked me with guilt.  What did make me feel guilty was that I didn’t grow to love him as everyone said I would.  I just didn’t. This went on for over a year so he’ll come into this story again.

 

            I had nothing to do.  I couldn’t work.  First, it would mean leaving the house.  So, I thought I’d try another MA program, an online one this time.  A few years prior I had started a MA of Library Science.  I have my AA in library science, worked in libraries in my early 20’s and cataloged in rare book stores for about 5 years.  I went in with this idealized view even though I knew most of the reality.  I had been working in the library as they took the card catalogs away (my bookstore boss and I tried very hard to come up with away to make money out those catalogs!  Recipe holders?).  I was not prepared for what I found.  My first class was computer programming.  I don’t remember the next classes I took, but I couldn’t write for them.  It was a different style that I couldn’t conquer.  Maybe it was because I had become to hate the topic.  All I wanted to do was sit at a desk with a bun in my hair and help people find the perfect book.  Yes, I knew that was a pipe dream, but I wasn’t going to get anything close to that.  I dropped out about half way through.

 

            I tried a MA in education through Phoenix (might as well, already was a teacher).  I lasted one semester.  First – they didn’t tell me the program was for people who need their credential as well as a MA, so it was covering things I had already done and didn’t belong in that program. Second – If I have to write one more essay on classroom management I will throw the computer through the window.

 

            Next, have no idea where this plan came from, I thought I could eventually get a good job in Human Resources somewhere if I got my MBA.  I went to Walden University.  I’ve never taken a business class in my life. After we were given our first assignment, I read it, read it to Larry, read it to myself again. It was like it was written in a foreign language.  Well, OK so this wasn’t for me.

 

            Eventually I did find a program, but that was a year away, the one I’m in now.  More about that later.

 

 

Road to Destruction pt. 2

Filed under: Mental Health,mental illness — astramillie @ 12:39 pm
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           At the time I was working at a residential mental health facility.  I was trying to get experience so that I could move up to advocacy work, I wanted to by a lobbyist for mental health and those I talked to said this was a good way to go about it.  My friends thought it was hilarious.  But, I was good at it.  My biggest problem was that I became too involved.  I could swap stories with the people in the house.  I wasn’t supposed to, but I felt it gave them some hope.  If I had been as low as they were and now I was where I was, there was hope.  What they didn’t know was that I was decomposing right in front of them.

 

            When I returned, it wasn’t the same.  I was not medicated correctly, not having seen the psych doc yet.  I knew that I was going to have to find a new psychiatrist and start back on the road of new meds, but was scared out of my mind.  I was swallowing my Klonopin and Xanax like candy.  One of the byproducts was that I’d run out of my benzos and then spend a week or two detoxing from them and have to go to work.  If you have ever detoxed from anything you might have an idea of what that was like.  My head was a cotton ball, hands shaking, and nose running like I had a cold.

 

            I lasted two weeks.  Finally one day I took a normal day’s dosage of Klonopin.  Well a Samantha dosage.  But, it turned out what I grabbed and swallowed wasn’t Klonopin and about an hour into my shift I blacked out.  I have no memory of the rest of the day.  This is what I have pieced together.  I had to take the company van to take a client to the county mental health hospital.  On the way back I hit a parked car.  I got out of the van and just left.  I walked about 6 miles to my apartment.  The next thing I remember is a Sheriff knocking on my door asking where the van was.  I said I had no idea; I had driven home from work in my car.  He asked to see my car.  I walked him to our parking lot.  No car.  He walked me to my door without saying a word left as I went into my house.  I had no idea what had happened.  Then I looked down at my feet, I had someone else’s shoes on my feet.  Shoes I had never seen in my life.

 

            The next morning my friend drove me to work to collect my backpack and car; I had already talked to a friend from work and got the story so I sort of ran in and out.  That afternoon for some reason I figured I was supposed to go to work as normal.  I was running late and called in, the boss came on the phone and said not to come in they hadn’t quite decided what to do.  An hour later they had.  I was fired.  Honestly, what else could they do?  I’m damn lucky they didn’t press charges, I got off easy.

 

            So, I’m under medicated and unemployed.  There are two things I need to do.  Get unemployment/disability (no way am I going to get regular unemployment!) and find a new psychiatrist.  I’m manic enough to get this done.  Because I have this talent of finding what I need.  I really do, it amazes people.  When I was first diagnosed, I got Social Security in one try, almost unheard of.  My best friend always said I could get money from a rock.  My mantra has always been when things are at their worst “something will happen.”  And it will.  After three calls I find a private practice Psychiatrist who will take my Medicare.  He’s a 20 minute drive, but I don’t care I need someone soon because I’m running out of my anti-anxieties as well as my Seroquel and Lamictal.  And I need something to take the place of the Geodon, because I am not OK.  I also have all the paper work for disability that I need filled out.  Luckily I can do this on the phone.  I am in the agoraphobic zone big time.  I can make it the block to my new pharmacist.  Some days the three blocks to the corner market, and once a week my church – Target (but even there only for about 15 minutes before hyperventilating).

 

            After my first appointment with Dr. Sanchez (I have to get a friend to take me, otherwise I’ll never make it out the door), I feel OK about him.  He’s no Dr. Barnett, but I know there never will be a Dr. who will match him.  He has approved the disability, the amount of Benzos (anti-anxieties), and decided to add Zyprexa to my mix.  He’s friendly, and he recognizes that I’m not a normal patient.  I come in with a notebook that contains all of my symptoms, medications tried, and I’m upfront and honest.  I answer some of his questions before he asks.

 

            For the next 2-3 weeks the first thing I do every morning is call the EDD to find out the status of my application.  I swear the machine knows the sound of the touch pad on my phone.  I talk to actual people; they say my application went down to Van Nuys.  Then someone else says it is in Stockton.  As it approaches week 4, I call almost in tears and am told it has been approved, there was a mistake and I will be receiving a check within the week.  See, money from a rock.

 

            That’s the money part of the story.  Let’s talk meds. Zyprexa.  I’m closing in on magic day 10; the rule of thumb is that you can’t really know if something is working until you’ve been taking it for 10 days.  I am not feeling much better. Now, 7-8 years ago my doctor gave me Ambien and weird things would happen at night.  I would wake up in the morning and go into the kitchen and there would be detritus from someone making an entire meal.  Since I lived alone, it meant I was cooking in my sleep.  I’d go into the bathroom and the bathtub would be full.  I’d call a friend and start to tell her a story and she’d say “Samantha you told me that last night.”  Yikes!  When I put it all together (no, it didn’t take too long) I told Dr. Barnett, he told me I had better stop taking it “now! Why didn’t you stop the first night you did one of these things?”  Ouch, I just thought it was a one time thing.  A year ago, they put a warning on Ambien about “sleep eating.” 6 years too late.  What everyone kept saying was – at least I never got in my car.

 

            Yes, at least I never got in my car.  I have been taking night meds since 1995.  I had never; never gotten in my car once those pills were swallowed.  One night after taking my new cocktail, which contained the Zyprexa, all I remember is thinking “I want something sweet.”  The next thing I remember is sitting on a curb telling a police officer who had just asked me if I’d been drinking, that “no I took my night meds and I shouldn’t have been driving, I never drove after my night meds, why did I get in my car?”  They put me in an ambulance and took me to the emergency room.  I was fine, I had hit a parked car while zooming down a residential street on my way to the grocery store, I guess.  I had totaled the car, so must have been going pretty fast.  The only injury I had were burns and scrapes on my face from the air bag.  It was very scary; this was my second car accident where I had no memory of it.  I was also fumingly angry.  It had to be the Zyprexa; there was no other new medication. I knew better than to get into the car.  I had blacked out, again.  The next day I called Dr. Sanchez and was able to go see him (luckily someone could take me – two pronged problem, scared to leave house and now no car).  I guess he was practicing bedside manner.  He said, well we’ll take you off the Zyprexa and try something else, but know I am sorry you were in an accident.  He wrote a prescription and sent me on my way.  No discussion, nothing.  I’m beginning not to like this guy.

            Now the agoraphobia has become a problem.  I can’t even go for a cup of coffee with my friends.  I have one old friend who has stuck around, the rest have written me off.  The problem is the one who has stuck around comes with strings attached. Larry cares for me in a way that I don’t care for him.  But, we’ve been best friends for about 9 years and he knows how I feel.  He’s always there to get me out of a pinch, and it makes me feel guilty.  I won’t give in, even though friends and family have told me that he would be the perfect boyfriend.  I know that I’d be taking advantage and would in the end hurt him even more.

 

            So, I sit alone in my apartment.  Larry comes by for a little while when he gets off work.  Some days I welcome this, often not.  I like talking to him on the phone, many of his mannerisms annoy me in person.  Then I start to make some friends, or rather acquaintances in the apartment building.  They don’t mind coming to my apartment to visit and have no problem with the fact that I can’t make it upstairs to theirs.  At this point just going to get the mail makes my heart race.

 

More later…

 

Road to destruction pt. 1 April 25, 2008

Filed under: Mental Health,mental illness — astramillie @ 11:40 am
Tags: , , , ,

            My life had been starting to get more difficult.  I should have seen the signs.  My medications weren’t doing their jobs.  Then there was the day they thought I’d had a stroke.

 

            I was at work and all of a sudden I was slurring my words.  My face felt numb.  I called my parents who said go straight to the emergency room; they couldn’t understand half of what I was saying.  When I got there and was triaged they were perplexed because I presented no other signs of stroke, but as a precaution they admitted me.

 

            I spent three days in the hospital.  They performed every test they could think of because obviously there was something wrong.  Then at the end of the second day the neurologist thought to look at the list of psychiatric medications I was taking.  Aha!  The Geodon is the cause.  What I had was Tardis Dyskenisia, a somewhat common side effect of Geodon.  Late the next afternoon I was sent home with a plan.  I was taken off of all three of my psych meds.  For three weeks I’d start back on them one at a time, the final week being the Geodon.

 

            I took three weeks leave from my job and with much trepidation sat on my couch unmedicated.  I will be unmedicated for the first time in 15 years.

 

Week One.

 

Millie (the dog), Astra (the new kitten) and I spent most of our time on the couch watching the same loop of shows over and over again on E!  One or two of my friends came by.  This marks the end of many of my friendships.  I was too needy and did not want to talk about much more than myself or my pets.  Forget about the things I used to do with them.  I haven’t been able to walk past a club in a couple of years let alone go inside of one with them.  In short, I am no fun. 

 

At this point I start taking my Lamictal, the most benign of my meds.  My brain has started racing at a speed that I have forgotten how to listen to let alone translate.  I’m trying to learn again.  This is bad.

 

I go to my mailbox one day and there is a box of brand new checks from the checking account I was magically allowed to open through the credit union that my new job belongs to.  Once again, this is bad.

 

Week Two

 

            I am still afraid of the outside world, but I have checks.  I start the Seroquel which should calm manic tendencies, but it doesn’t work that way.  It will take up to 10 days for that to happen.

 

            My mind is racing; all I can think of is how wonderful spending will feel.  This is enough to abandon the couch, the animals, and Dr. 90210 to go to the Mall.  In about an hour I have written about $200.  I have no idea if there is enough in my account to cover this.  I’ve been trying to keep a running balance in my head, but the way my thoughts are racing in such a circular motion, who knows?

 

            The next day, deep depression sets it.  I do what my Dr. has always had me do I go back to the Mall and try and return the items that I can.  I’m allowed to return about ¼ of them.  I come home and the Weiland triumvirate does not leave the couch for two days.

 

            While on the couch with my laptop permanently set on my lap I unfortunately realize I can buy things online.  I honestly don’t remember what was bought, but just a little foreshadowing – this was an important lesson that will come into play a year from now!

 

Week 3

 

First day – add Geodon.  Within 24 hours I’m slurring my words again.  We now have proof that I have to give up my Geodon.  I call my beloved psychiatrist.  He has not been very involved in this as he is 300 miles away.  He doesn’t really agree with the diagnosis.  He listens to my story and when I tell him that I was given three weeks off and need a letter from him to go back he is reluctant.  He wants me to go on disability for awhile.  Although he knows me very well and is almost always right I say I need to go back to work, he faxes in permission for me to go back.

 

Big Mistake.