Struggles and Doctors

So. I was laid off from my second bookkeeping job and I kept my government provided medical benefits. I had no concerns with finding a new position as I had about 5 years of experience. After submitting my application to about 20 positions, I had 3 interviews lined up in the 2 weeks following being laid off. Boom! New job the 3rd interview. I was the only person they interviewed and I rushed them into it since I had already gotten an offer from the 2nd interview. I decided on the latter because of the promise of medical benefits. With my seizures and my mental health issues, I knew that this was what I needed.

Though this job was challenging, it was far less stressful than my previous position in a tax office that was very fast paced and demanding. My issue was with management there, whereas with this job, it was a matter of learning all of the items in our inventory. I was working for a manufacturer of Performance Makeup used for movies and also for airbrush tattoos and body paint. I was in love! I was excited to be around creative people. However, their were many things to learn. I studied and improved by working with my warehouse manager and all the guys in the warehouse and office. Yes, I was working with all men, but I felt right at home. They all treated me like one of their own and I felt right at home. I was not the only new employee so I wasn’t the only newbie. The stress was horrible for the first month, but I was picking things up as I went along. In just 6 weeks, my medical benefits kicked in! I had also begun seeing a therapist who helped, but I felt I needed more.

I decided I wanted a second opinion on my seizures. It had been a year since they had started and I had not been able to get much help with them and they continued on no matter what I tried. I attempted to meditate, exercise, do the essential oil thing, almost anything you could think of naturally to help with my seizures and my flashbacks and anything and everything associated with my PTSD. Nothing helped. I needed professional help. So I went and got it.

First things first, I went and saw my new primary care doctor. I told her all about myself and my medical and mental health history including my most recent hospitalization the year before. I also informed her that more recently I’d begun having little hallucinations and hearing voices. She immediately put me on an antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication and referred me to psychiatry because I was also having panic attacks at work.

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When I first spoke to someone regarding my psychiatric doctor appointment, basically each person I spoke to would ask if I was having thoughts of suicide. The truth was, I wasn’t. I was under lots of pressure at work and now I was searching for medical help yet again. I wanted to get to the bottom of all this and I wanted to be healed. Well, maybe not healed, but I wanted to feel okay again. I was not okay. So, I went and saw my psychiatrist. The voices had not gone away, so she prescribed me an anti-psychotic medication which would help with the hallucinations and the voices. I was diagnosed with depression for the first time in my life, and she informed me that that is where my psychotic episodes derived from.

I decided I needed to inform management at work in case I had a seizure while at the office. I did so in the form of a heartfelt yet informative email to everyone I worked with (once I’d received approval from the owner), and I was so pleased to hear that everyone was very supportive and promised to help me should I ever have an episode at work. Not long after I wrote the email I had a few seizures at work. I do not regret informing them AT ALL.

Soon, I made plans with my primary doctor to see a Neurologist once again. I wanted my second opinion on my Psychogenic Non-epileptic Seizures (PNES or NEAD). This doctor was a total douche. No sooner had he walked into the room than he basically was pushing me back out the door. I wasn’t leaving without some kind of testing happening though and I made that very clear. His medical opinion went something like “What you have are episodes, not seizures.” Well… He was simply one of those doctors who believe that my seizures are “pseudo seizures”, basically that I was faking it. Which has been a common belief for people who have what I have. Non-epileptic seizures just aren’t very well known and their is no medication for them because they are not epileptic. He allowed me to undergo another EEG test that would measure the electrical activity of the brain or show if I had epilepsy or not. Funny thing was, this doctor did sign a letter saying that I should not be driving because I was having “seizures”! The fuck?! So I had to find another way to get to my job which was an hour drive away already for me. I had my family driving me at first until I found my WONDERFUL alternative means of transportation. OCTA Access! Such a blessing let me tell you. I will have to write another little blurb on that entire experience sometime.

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Negative. I had my second opinion and it sucked. So, I stuck with my psychiatrist a bit longer before having a major breakdown in December. Nearing was the date of the anniversary of the sexual assault that had happened to me 3 years previously, along with flashbacks, crying fits, panic attacks at work, and seizures in my sleep…

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My gender? No gender.

I’ve always struggled with being a woman. From being a child to being an adult. I’ve always found that saying that women live in a man’s world is putting it lightly. What I’m wondering now is, where do I fall in the gender spectrum?

Gender Spectrum

For those who are unaware, their does exist such a thing called the gender spectrum, and here are a few links to show you what gender and the gender spectrum are: Understanding GenderSearchable Document on Gender Spectrum.

I grew up in a home where my father was the breadwinner and my mother was the housewife. My Dad would work full time and my Mom would be my sister’s and I’s caregiver and also the one to cook and clean up around the house. As my Mom would buy all she needed to take care of the house, my Dad would provide the funds in order for her to do so. Dinner was expected to be ready when he would come home from work and so on. My mom also would work part time when us kids were in school. For most people this was typical some would say. I disagree. As marriage has changed through the years, almost half of the marriages today end in divorce or in some other manner. The majority of my friends would agree with this. It’s tough to find a happily married couple in society today who can say that they still love one another and provide for each other and their family. I grew up in this gender roles based household and a place where sexist remarks were aplenty.

My family, made up of all women except for my father, normally would end up amongst ourselves deciding that I would be the one to help out my Dad with the yard work or anything like that. This was mostly due to the fact that I was the “tomboy” and was the one who always helped Dad, I was the one he became used to coming to for special projects around the house like little household repairs. As I grew older when he had a job he couldn’t hire a guy for to help him out, I was his go-to girl. Yeah it was nice having the extra cash in my pocket, but at what cost? I was basically the “son” of his 3 daughters. Which I did enjoy. I love my Dad and I was always learning useful things as he is something of a handyman. Was it worth my manly time? Yes. But at a cost? For sure.

When in school, growing up I was forced into dresses which I never felt comfortable in. Once I was of an age when I had the choice to pick out my own clothing, I would always choose the looser clothing, the pants and not the skirts, the blues and greens rather than the pinks and purples. My friends and schoolmates would say things about me being a girl and I would always retort back at them that “I am a man!”. My masculinity was always something I’d felt sure of since I was little. I didn’t necessarily feel that I was more of a woman than a man, but I never wanted to have to feel like less of a person simply because I was a woman. I wanted to be counted as an equal. And indeed, I am just as much of a man as any man out there. The way I see it, we are all humans. Simple.

As far as the physical aspect of things, certain parts of my body weren’t to my liking. I have always been rather busty and so I would end up wearing baggy tops. I did this to not only steer attention away from my womanly figure, but because I never liked them at all. If I had to choose, I probably would say that I would prefer I’d not been born with them at all. I realize that they are necessary when breast feeding comes into play, but I’ve never thought of myself as a child rearing woman. If anything I’ve always wanted to adopt. I also, like many women, hate menstruation. However, I was born into this body and so I have learned to accept that part of being a woman over the years. The breast size though has always been an issue, and I plan on possibly having some work done later on in life to reduce my burden.

When I reached college, the stress of seeing beautiful young women dressed in hip clothing and wearing makeup made me want to hide my womanly figure in my oversized sweaters and my men’s clothing. I had never worn makeup. Yet, here I saw it everyday on girls that I would go to class with. I wondered how they could do such a thing to their faces each day. Why bother? I just never understood the fascination and the infatuation with painted faces. My younger sister as some know, has quite a gift with makeup and for a time I couldn’t understand it. I thought she looked beautiful either way, but I guess it was a way for women to “dress up”.

Eventually, I decided I wanted to explore. The older I got, the more curious I became. I lost some weight and began exercising regularly. When this happened, I sort of along the way became a bit more confidence in my figure, and so I just naturally had to wear clothes that fit my body as my larger men’s clothing could no longer do the job. The smaller my size, the tighter the clothes and the more I enjoyed seeing my reflection in the mirror. Was this it? Was I enjoying being a woman for the first time in my life? Something had definitely changed.

Then. One day, it happened. I asked my little sister to put makeup on my face for a date I was going on. I liked it. A lot. I liked the way she painted my face with all the colors and made all of my features stand out. My eyes, eyelashes, eyebrows (which were nonexistent), lips, and cheeks were all painted, powdered and pretty all set for my date. This became a regular thing. Each little time I wanted to dress to impress, I’d not only have her do my makeup, I’d ask for her to approve my wardrobe as well. I was getting good at this. So good, I began learning about makeup application myself! I’m no expert, but I definitely have improved my skills within the last year. At least in my opinion I have. However, their are days when I choose to not wear the stuff, or at the end of a day of wearing a face covered in makeup, all I want to do is “get the shit off my face”. It’s always so refreshing to have my natural plain face staring back at me in the mirror once I’ve washed the crap off.

Recently, as in my most recent post about sexual harassment at my last job, I realized that some people of my generation are STILL sexist. I was sexually harassed verbally while in the workplace, sitting at my desk, at the other end of the office away from my coworker while he chose to say those things to me. He mentioned the lack of “estrogen” in the office, the lack of certain female physical parts being shown, and he mentioned to myself personally that I must have “too much testosterone in me or something”. I was attacked and since then I realized just how much I’ve always struggled with being a woman. I cried and cried over that incident because this internal struggle has always existed for me, and this man had no idea that what he’d said to me was going to upset me as much as it did.

All of these personal feelings, and now with people becoming more educated on the matter of gender and the gender spectrum, I wonder how people would feel if I told them I’ve never really thought of myself as a woman, but just as a human being in general. This is why I now realize that my gender is gender-neutral or genderless. This means basically that I don’t feel I am either male nor female. I am agender, neutral-gender, null-gender, gender-free and so on. Having said that, I will always outwardly dress as a female, however, I still choose to identify as neither male nor female. Maybe one day I will appear more androgynous than other days, but I still will physically look like a female. I am gender-free and loving it!

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Thank you all so much for reading this and listening to my very personal thoughts. If you have any questions, please know that I am open to answering any of them either in the comments here, or via a personal message if you prefer.

Harassed by a Friend and Coworker

I knowingly worked in a warehouse full of men. Knowing this fact I had been very aware of my surroundings and how the guys all speak to me when we’d be working together on anything. Yes, we did tend to joke and play about certain things and some of the guys are more “macho” in a sense than the rest. That is to say that I did indeed partake in the occasional workplace banter alongside them all. I tried to “fit in” as best I could even though I am a member of the opposite sex. Having said all of this, and having been around for over 7 months, the following occurred nonetheless:

Two of my male coworkers were in the office with me on a Friday just a few weeks prior to me being let go back in March, with no manager in the office, things were pretty chill around there. One of them was on the phone with our offsite operations manager with whom he was discussing the hiring of a new Sales and Marketing employee. He was telling her things like “It would be nice to have another female in the office, someone with a bit more estrogen”. “Make sure it is someone who would not qualify as being described as obese, but someone thin”. Once the conversation was over, he hung up the phone laughing and looked over at me to say “You know Sarah, you must have a lot of testosterone running through you or something”. And with that, I got up out of my chair while my two coworkers in the office both laughed. I stopped to bend over to turn off my little heater and he commented again saying “It would be nice to see a little leg around here, I mean come on Sarah, you’re wearing sweats.” They both laughed, yet again and I told them, not laughing, that “It’s Friday and I’m being casual”. I immediately called my significant other on the phone after clocking out to take my lunch break and told him what had happened, in tears. I had never been subjected to such blatant discrimination in the workplace, nor to such ridiculous sexist remarks. I decided to report him to management immediately. My manager on duty was actually an offsite Office Manager that was working out of her office in Dallas, Texas and so I phoned her immediately to report him. She informed me that I needed to report it directly to the owner as she did not know the correct protocol. So I made another phone call to the owner’s wife who normally handled all of the Human Resource issues that arose at the workplace. I left her a voicemail and walked back to the warehouse. I asked then to speak to my warehouse manager for a moment about what had happened. I informed him and he asked if I’d like to finish out my shift working in the warehouse with him. I informed him, in tears, that I would be unable to do so. I said goodbye and got my stuff from my desk a few desks away from the coworker who had harassed me, and he asked if I was having “boyfriend problems?”. I did not even acknowledge him. I walked out of my office and out of the building and went to wait for my ride to pick me up.

Over the weekend I struggled greatly. Both with my gender and with my having been attacked for being a female while at work and for many other reasons. This man I worked with had said multiple things that were very very wrong to say to anyone in the workplace and it had left me to cry all weekend long. The owner’s wife did get back to me and she told me that I needed to think very hard and write a descriptive letter to her informing her of just what had happened in the office that day because an investigation would happen. So I did. I researched and found that I needed to be very very detailed and needed to show that in my paperwork when I was hired I was told that this company had a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment in the workplace. I referred to it over and over in my writing up of the event. The only thing left to do was email what I had written. I clicked the send button and waited for the next step to happen.

The next week was dreadful. I was told by the owner’s wife that their would indeed be an investigation by an outside Human Resource Representative that they were hiring in order to look into what had happened and that I would be questioned, as well as everyone who had been present at the time. However, I would have to wait a week until that happened. In the meantime, I was to endure the silent treatment from that coworker for the entire week. It was so difficult to concentrate on my work and focus because I was still so very upset with him. Halfway through the week I asked if I could speak to him about it and he said yes and I told him that he’d hurt me badly and he apologized, but things were still weird after that. Once we were questioned, it was still off in the office. Nothing was normal again after that and my managers wouldn’t even speak to me regularly any longer. Communication went downward and nothing was done for 2 weeks that I was aware of about what had occurred.

They had us meet, all of the warehouse and office employees, to discuss the slow season that had hit at last. I had been warned that that time of year it was bound to happen that hours would be cut. And so it happened and I went from a 40 hour week down to a 30 hour work week. It was a big hit, but I was fine as I was still living at home. After one week. 5 days. That first Friday, the owner’s wife asked me to meet with her the last 15 minutes of the day. What I thought was just a regular conversation about my mental health as we’d had in the past, turned into her letting me go from the company.

I was shocked, but then, not so much. I had a feeling that this company was going to be something good for me, but once I had gone through all the medical appointments with my doctors and all, I figured they might decide to let me go after all of it. Especially after the harassment claim I filed against another employee, I just knew something was going to change, and here it was! No big shock here. She was all teary-eyed when handing me an envelope with my last paycheck in it, and I just told her I would be alright and everything was fine. She said no. I went and gathered up my belongings and said goodbye to my warehouse manager for the last time and goodbye to the owner of the company and left the office for the last time.

I realize that I could have made the decision to go after them for what they’d done, but they were a small company, and I just did not want to cause them such hardship and trouble over this. They’d covered their tracks by cutting everyone’s hours across the board, and so they could use that to their advantage to fight me. I just chose to let it go. It was something of a blessing in disguise to me. Here I was, tired and stressed out from all this, and they handed me an opportunity to relax. I took it! I’ve been unemployed and getting unemployment checks and living stress free at home while I look for work, and also visiting family out of state while I have the chance. Things have been good since to say the very least!

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