Tag Archives: mental health awareness

Stability isn’t linear.

Dear Friends,

I can say I’ve been reasonably stable for about 5 years. I haven’t been hospitalized for 5 years, but I still have ups and downs. As you know, I was recently fired from my job. That was not easy emotionally to handle. I am diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder bipolar type. According to The MayoClinic, “Schizoaffective disorder symptoms may vary from person to person. People with the condition experience psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, as well as symptoms of a mood disorder — either bipolar type (episodes of mania and sometimes depression) or depressive type (episodes of depression).”

I become depressed very fast, then manic very fast. Yet, I created a safety plan to stay in control. I felt so low I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t brush my teeth or shower. Then I became manic overnight. I was fluttered with ideas, starting art projects, still not showering, felt destructive, felt impulsive, felt superiors, felt empowered by superpowers, and felt like I was a God. Eventually, minor hallucinations started. I would see shadows and bugs. I immediately called my team and said, “I need help” Medication was increased, and so was therapy. My mentor even went into action and became the mom I needed. Rev. Dr. Barn (Mama Barnes) became the spiritual mom I needed, grounding me in prayer and scripture to read. And my professors extended time for assignments. This is my team. This kept me grounded. Even though my mind was becoming irrational, I fought the irrational. With the power of my God, intellect stayed home, didn’t spend money, stayed away from sharps, cooked every night, did the artwork, went to bed on time even though I couldn’t sleep, and remained goal focused to become healthy.

I came to realize what I’ve always known as accurate recovery isn’t linear. It comes in waves. Recovery is possible. Recovery is achievable. I take medicine four times daily, with as-needed prn for anxiety and hallucinations. I also get a six-month inter muscular injection for my schizoaffective disorder. It has changed my life. Thank you, APRN. Sue Brown, for starting me on my first shot because it was my first step in recovery and stability through medication. I take medicine to stable my mood, for ADHD, to help me sleep, to help me with my autism symptoms, to ease my depression symptoms, and more.

I want you to know that I wouldn’t be where I am without God, and that’s my belief. I wouldn’t be where I am without my team. I have three therapists, an APRN, PCP, nutritionist, personal trainer, spiritual leader, and mentor. I don’t have a traditional family, but God gave me a team to make up for what I don’t have, and now I’m making trans friends. Call me lucky, but I say I’m blessed.

Before I was stabled, I have hospitalized a minimum of 5 times a month. I hit one year 50 times in a year. I was miserable. I was a self-harmer. I hurt others with my words, I couldn’t keep a job, complained about everything, and was very ungrateful, leading to me being mentally ill and homeless. I saw addicts with substance illness overdose, I lived in a therapeutic shelter, I lived in an independent living home, and I lived not knowing my next move. Tantrums, crying tears, and praying for a home.

6 years ago this July, I got a studio apartment, my own home, then a year in a bunny rabbit named Jhonni Root-Canal. Then 3 years in, I moved into a one-bedroom apartment. I graduated from college and am now pursuing my MSW at Western New Mexico State University. I feel honored. I have a 3.85 GPA. I am an honor student. I am happy.

So recovery isn’t linear. I had a pit stop at depression and mania, but it wasn’t a pitfall. I am searching for a new job. My savings is almost gone. But I am strong and well able to overcome anything and everything that comes my way. Because the strength, I believe, comes from the Holy Spirit, my team, and my medication.

Recovery is possible, and it’s hard. Please feel no shame or condemnation wherever you are in your recovery. Don’t feel shame for needing medication because it saves lives and is a blessing. You can do anything with it, and without it is hard to do almost everything. Don’t feel disqualified because of your mental illness or disability. It’s not a flaw. It’s a character enhancement. You are wonderfully created by the creator. Stay encouraged. I posted pictures of my meds and injection to see a piece of my life. Thanks for reading. Keep pursuing your recovery! You got this!

My medication and organization




Who I am! Where I’ve been!

Readers and Followers,

I’ve been away! Sorry. I needed time to heal and to become stable. I needed to know more about myself. I am now a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic University. It took 9 years however, I did it.

I needed to create a community for myself. I lost a lot of people on the way. I came out as a Transma FtM (look for more posts on this). I am no longer homeless. I have been declared emotionally stable, with no hospital visits for 2 years and 7 months 11 days.

I’m older! I’m 28. Almost 30! No children or partners yet!

My grandmother has passed. I lost my last great aunt and my forever family. As a result, I was homeless for about 3 years. Life moving from a treatment shelter to supported housing to my own studio apartment has been a journey I’d never want to take again.

I have the best treatment and support team ever. I have the best momma bear Dr. Mouriz. I have a bunny son named Jhonni Root Canal. I am a foster parent to a turtle named Avalos Owen Brown. I have my bio mom back in my life and it’s going great.

I am applying to graduate school. Western New Mexico State University, University of Denver, University of New Hampshire the University of North Dakota. I’d love to earn an MSW and Nonprofit Administration concentration. The next and final degree will be a Ph.D. in Positive or Humanistic Psychology.

I’m out and proud Transman FtM and still Christian! I love my life. I’m loving my transformation mentally and physically. I’m in love with me! I’m in love with life! I’m sad school is over, however, I am learning how to manage time without school for the first time in 9 years. I start my second part of physically transitioning this year (top surgery, look it up).

Life and my goals seem to be coming together. I’ve lost many people and gained so much more. This is really it. My absence has been to focus on treatment, finishing school, organizing my thoughts and battling multiple holiday blues. Now things are settled.

I’m back! Kwanzaa is approaching, my new year! Although I’ve been through a lot in 3 years, It was the greatest journey of my life. The stories I’ve listened to, the prayers with strangers, seeing people at their lowest and become better individuals and the spiritual and religious growth outstanding.

I’m an official Sailfish! Always will be! Graduation was in May! We had a virtual one thanks to Covid-19 I’m still pumped!

I missed you all and missed reading your blogs!

I’m Back!

I’m officially changing my name to:

Domenia Xih Zih

Depression; defeat and conquer

When I think about depression, I think about two words “defeat and conquer”. Depression is a bitch, and there honestly nothing poetic I can say about it. It steals your life, and its a battle to survive. As if life isn’t hard enough. I’m diagnoses with bioschizoaffective disorder, a fancy way of saying bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. A world of chaos. One day I’ll write about my mania and psychosis. Not today.

Depression starts off feeling like minor aches in your body, and then comes fatigue, you may feel like your getting a cold. So you rest, naturally and then the next morning your can’t get out of bed and if you’re like me, you just said “Fuck, I’m crashing”. You spend about an hour coaching yourself out of bed to get to work, putting on the morning radio, but then you’re annoyed by the sound of others people morning joy. So you turn it off. Taking a shower is like world war 3, and all you visualize is the lost of lives and you’re not sure how to keep going.

By now I’m debating if I want to call out of work, so then I rationalize my choices, miss a day of pay or fight. Fight it is! You’re dressed and running late, so no breakfast. Now you have no energy to start your day off because of the chemicals in your brain, but also because you lacked your basic needs of necessity. Coffee, is the solution, and you fake the day through. I work as a barista and I realize I’ve drank about 10  shots of espresso by 11am, because my brain levels are off, and I’m depressed. The only thing that consumes my mind is either killing myself, or sleeping it away.

Mind you, the first person I should have called was my psychiatrist, but nope I text my friend. As if they have the magic pill to take away my pain. Sometimes this mean people will go out and drink, but for me it becomes crippling, and if you’ve never experienced what I’m talking about you don’t really know. You’re annoyed, and irritated with life. You’re contemplating ending your life and it’s tiring. Your friends says “this too shall pass” and with as much truth it holds, you know that it might not. This could be that one depressive episode that destroys it all, and you kill yourself. So, what I did was tell my friend to “fuck off”.

It’s 4pm and you have homework to do, but you just getting home from work, and you can’t focus on anything but your despair. You take your 9pm meds at 4:30 pm and just sleep hoping tomorrow will be better, you don’t shower, nor brush your teeth or eat dinner. It’s all to much. Your brain is telling you to end your life and resting is your only peace.

You’re asleep.  Dreaming about death, and you feel a coat of black death and a sense of heaviness overcome you, like God has just abandon you and Satan is in your bed.

What do you do?

Call your doctor? Call your therapist?

No!

You call out of work, no homework, laundry is pilling up and you haven’t showered in four days, and you need help.

One time I called 911 and just went to the hospital. I was so suicidal and depressed I become psychotic in the most miserable way and was hospitalized for two months. On 1:1 because if I was left alone I’d hurt myself. Staff had to help me shower because I couldn’t take care of myself.

This time, I have more trained support around me, and my doctor is notified and I get a medicine increased. I shower for 5 minutes and really fast. I brush my teeth and never look back at my bed, because if I do, I’ll never get back up. I do things in little sparks of energy, and rest when needed. I’ve learned to how to be depressed. I think about killing myself and then I rationalized through question: “is the forever or temporary?”

I’m depressed and this is my story, this is my pattern. I’m changing it though with every episode. I remember how I was so depressed and crippled by it last semester I did a few assignments a day, and just slept. No work. Then after a test it felt like a touch from the heavens and the depression was lifted. Like my new medicine just made contact with the right part of my brain and I was healed.

I’m waiting for that magic to happen again. I’m going to work, not calling out. I’m showering. But I’m resting a lot. I went to bed at 7pm last night and work up at 11am. I’m not really smiling and my thoughts are tormented by suicidal ideas. I’m doing a lot better than before. I’m making progress and its brings me a sense of hope.

I would suggest to the next person who stumbles across this post and can relate, reach out before it’s to late. Even if you tell your provider or someone “I’m crashing” you won’t have to crash alone. I wrote a blog that is titled “I’ll Make It” and I read it to remind myself that I will. So you will too. I want to say God is there, and he hears you but I don’t feel comforted by that during this episode. It makes me angry and confused. What I will say is that God will provide you with the tools and people to get you through, you just have to identify them.

 

God Bless. (sorry for the grammar mistakes, I needed to write this, when my mood is up I’ll edit it.)

Domenia Dickey

 

Starbucks, and why I quit.

Starbucks.jpegSo, everyone knows that I have a mental illness. I’m not quiet about it, because I want to help break the stigma and increase awareness. I’ve always questioned who should know and how in depth should I be? A question those with mental illness have questioned when entering a new relationship and even starting a new job.

Everyone knew I worked for Starbucks. I loved my job and I miss the joy that I did experience while working; the friendships I made, the connections that were made were astonishing. I enjoyed listening to people and providing them great customer service. My favorite part was being able to serve someone the best cup of coffee and to hear a customer respond saying “this made my day.” Comments such as that made me feel good, and made me feel as though I was contributing to this world in a unique way.

Starbucks, has this rule that when you are going to miss more than 3 days of work you have to report it to Sedgwick. Sedgwick requires that you tell them before you leave, and the date you expect to return. As an individual with a mental illness, you never know when you’re going to have a psychotic episode, manic episode a depressive episode. It’s unrealistic to say I’m going to check in today and be out in a week. When in reality, sometimes your sent directly from a therapist office, from your home and you’re not in the best condition to make a healthy decision. I had been written up 3 times for this.

My manager claimed I was unreliable and inconsistent. When in reality I wasn’t! An absence for a mental illness doesn’t make someone unreliable and inconsistent. My friends and readers with a mental illness, do not allow anyone, not even your boss make you feel as though you are less than a person and incompetent. I had to remind my manager of the many time she has called me to come in early, leave later, come in on days I’ve asked to have off. She and Starbucks has forgotten the time and energy I slaved, to be paid 9.69 an hour. I was working 30 hours a week, neglecting school and my responsibilities in fear that I would lose my job with corporate America.

Starbucks, talks about what they offer their employees medical insurance (they cut out mental health,though). You have to pay extra for dental and vision, and co-pays are about 40$ a visit. If you work for 9.69  hour and need to see a doctor often with only one job, you just spent your entire paycheck for corporate America. Starbucks talk about sending employees to college, you only get one option for colleges, which is ASU; you have to work about 30 hours a week to obtain this privilege. It’s almost impossible if you’re working 30 hours to take full time classes, and attend to personal matters. Trust me, I tried.

At the beginning it was a dream come true, and as a result I was open with my manager (Jennifer B.) and district manager (Lulie T.) about my illness. And in the beginning they were great about understanding it. At least I thought that. I didn’t think it would be used against me. My manager once suggested to me that I quite school, work almost full time in CT (very expensive state to live in) and get on state assistance programs; just to work at a job that made me fearful of getting fired because of an illness I couldn’t control.

We would meet and she would often say “Mia, this is a business this is corporate and they don’t care.” She said to me “I’m not losing my job over you, and if that means you quitting and getting fired then I will do that.” She would tell me, remember “I don’t need you here, you’re here because I say so.” I reached out for help, to have accommodations but that was worse. I often was written up. The individual responsible for accommodations forced me to quit. They said “if you quit you can be rehired, if a store wants you.”

I had previously been out of work because I was in a psychiatric hospital for a week, and before I left Starbucks, I told my boss “you and this job, are making me more mentally ill than what I am, and are making me suicidal.” I was crying. She walked away and said “that’s not my problem, work your shift then call Sedgwick and take leave.” Corporate America doesn’t really care, they just want money, at the expense of their employees health and even the children they have to take care of. I sent in my letter to Sedgwick concerning my inability to return to work, but I also told them that I was homeless. I was told “no problem, you can stay on your leave.” My boss, district manage, and partner services said “then quit!” I was homeless and told to “quit.”

This is the truth behind corporate America and the employees they higher. We slave for long hours, making a little bit of money, and are treated like we are dirt. I’ve heard my manager tell me that her shifts supervisors needed to be fired. She didn’t care about firing people. It wasn’t her problem. As she always said, “there are people begging for your position, and I don’t need you. remember that. you can get fired as quickly as you were hired. you’re lucky to have this job.” but she consistently said, “i’m quitting, this job because it isn’t worth it, I’ve had better jobs and a better degree.” This is the truth! So every time you buy a coffee, know the stress and pain esp. those with health and mental health illnesses are putting in, to serve you that perfect cup of coffee.

My district manager lied on me a week before I became homeless. I told her 30 mins before my shift, however I told my manager and shift supervisor a day ahead that I was not working with a specific shift supervisor, because he was awful. My district manager said, “if it’s going to make you mentally sick, then go home and you don’t have to work” I asked twice and said “Are you sure? I will work my shift if you cannot find coverage, I will.” She called the store with the news of “I found coverage you’re ok.” The next day I was written up with a final warning, basically to never call out again. That next day my boss said “I’m tired of your SHIT” I just cried and I had to return to work and say “Hi, welcome to Starbucks”

My doctor and psychiatrist had told me to leave my job, and I told them this was the only job I had. What I didn’t realize was that, this job, my manager, and my district manager were making me mentally sick. I went home crying, went to work with anxiety. I feared my job. I would go into different Starbucks and fear the environment. Then I remembered how much I love serving people, making that perfect cup of coffee and making friendships. I enjoyed the employees I worked with. We even hung out after work. We kept each other going. We laughed when we wanted to cry, and vented to each other about our concerns and fears.

I was forced to quit me job, or else I would have been fired. I asked “you would fire someone who is homeless, instead of giving me a leave of absence?” I was told “Mia, it’s a business, and I’m not losing my job over anyone.” So I quit. I cried, then felt a sense of peace. I love Starbucks coffee, and would love to work for them again,the discount was great, I loved the customers and my co-workers. I don’t miss the mental abuse and how I was taken advantage of. My store, my manager, and district manager was making me so sick, so sick that I thought death was an option. I felt stuck! But the truth is I needed a job. I have no money now, I’m poor (well I have a savings account-it’s drying out though), no job; because it was a “business” it didn’t matter. I have no health insurance, no way to afford my medication and no mental health support. It doesn’t matter though because it’s a “business.” I still buy their coffee, it’s good!

I miss my job, and I would love to try it again. I would love to apply again and work again. In spite of my bosses words, and and district manager, they’re great people. I try to see the good in all the bad situations. I enjoyed being on store and customer support, my manager even said many time “Mia, you’ve improve and I see your work ethics improving, and I’m glad I hired you” This is the Jennifer I miss! This is the Jennifer who care. This is the Jennifer who hired me. I honestly believe she changed because of the demands and the response from corporate. She’s even told me once that “It’s not me, it’s corporate; it’s not coming from me, this is all corporate.” I feel like her hands were tied and she was forced to look like the bad guy. I’m not sure, maybe we got to close, boundaries were crossed. All I know is I told her and will still tell her, “Jenn, I’ve got your back.”

This blog post may probably destroy every opportunity to work for Starbucks again. However, the truth needs to be told. I’m just an disposable employee! I’m not important to my manager and district manager, and I guess to corporate. Do I really matter? Did I ever matter?

By the way, the next time you want to argue about increasing minimum wage, think about the hard work employees put into serving every customer with a smile and offering them the best unforgettable service.

This is my truth. I’m still without a job, and a home, but, I’ve never been happier. I do miss my discount, but I’ll forever be a customer. I know quality coffee when I see it. Starbucks, is good! Better than Dunkin, and they care about their customers!

So now you know, why I quit Starbucks.

  • To Jennifer B, if you read this “I still have you back, and thanks for giving me the opportunity to work for and with you.”

Domenia Dickey- partner id 1996175.