I got clobbered by my good intentions at the mental health ‘drop in’ center!!!

I’ve hit a snag with mental health advocacy. I volunteered for years at the nearby drop in. I had high security clearance and brought meetings into the psych ward. I developed an eating disorder meeting for them. I got sick with depression and a three year struggle with trying to get Tardive Dyskinesia under control…with both conditions I couldn’t volunteer for about a year  and I fell off the volunteer rolls. Well again, well, well enough, I offered to bring a gentle Pilates Mat class and even get certified in group activity safety measures for them and for me. Well, as you can imagine, since the whole ‘story’ I tried to nicely write about them went south, they no longer think I’m ‘well’ enough to be a volunteer.

Despite this, I still tried to write a nice story about them and their services for International Bipolar Disorder. I interviewed the project director and took good notes. I gave her final editorial approval since I did want to quote her and wanted to improve our relationship. I guess I sent too many emails because as my deadline came and went, she was on vacation and I did not know. When she returned, I got a nasty email full of hypocritical ‘mindfulness’  telling me that her ‘intention’ is to show me kindness but I make it impossible by ‘bombarding’ her with emails. My deadline for the story had come and gone and I wanted to finish it. She works with the mentally ill so why should she expect so much out of me? Am I being discriminated against because I’m too high functioning? Let’s face it, I’m verbal, I’m not all doped up and docile and I ask questions. I try to express myself and spread the good news about treatment options, present and in the pipeline. And you would not believe how much is in the pipeline!!! Ketamine is a comin’!

Steely Dan again, at least I’m not the only one tormented as hell. And that’s a relief

“At night you hide from the madman you’re longing to be. But it all comes out on the inside, eventually.”

from “Here at the Western World” on “The Royal Scam?” I’m not sure. But Steely Dan..even tho I’m an alternative/indie chick, will always have a special place in my heart for their hedonism to escape the demons that haunted them. I’m not the only one living with a ghost for a soul.

Manic while Mystery Shopping

About four years ago I had a sponsor in Overeaters anonymous. She was a tough cookie. She was in her eighties and had survived two rounds of cancer. She was an accomplished and sought after mystery shopper. She did four jobs a week.

She taught me how to get involved. First of all, half of those offering assistance in finding jobs in the field of mystery shopping are fraudulent. They charge people for lists of mystery shopping companies. There are quite a few and some of them specialize in high end, shoplifting prevention and restaurant reviews to name a few. But this ‘charging’ for lists is bogus. Getting good jobs in mystery shopping is a different process. Here it is:

What a person needs to do is become silver certified by the MSPA, Mystery Shoppers Providers Association. Google that, pay them a one time fee of around sixty bucks to study their tutorial, take their test and get Silver Certified. Most mystery shopping firms, like ‘A closer Look,’ and Jancyn (sp?) require that certification before giving you anything.  You get the ‘silver,’ (there is a gold cert available but it’s inconvenient and requires travel. Then you start googling to find that list or request a list from MSPA.  My OA sponsor told me all that stuff. I still have my silver certificate on the wall. It has a number so that the mystery shopping outfits can verify that I am Silver Certified.

I got ‘in’ with a high end outfit who sent me to Burberry, Chanel Cosmetics, Dior cosmetic counter,  Aveda, Dior Couture, Ferragamo, Kate Spade, Coach Barney’s New York, Cole Haan, and other such stores.  I also ‘in’ with a few restaurant accounts. Each company  makes you study yet another tutorial on what that mystery shopping company wants from its’ employees. Then they have you on a list of available mystery shoppers. Sometimes they contact you for last minute stuff that you have to do and report on by the next day with an added financial incentive. A relationship with a mystery shopping company representative involves a lot of trading. It’s ok. If you do them favors, they will make sure that they save the more lucrative shops for you. It works out. But it requires constant computer access. Everything is done over the computer.

What you have to do for every different store job, is study and pass a test. These tests cover what the ‘brand,’ stands for and they type of displays, customer service, how long the line is, what questions they ask you, all sort of things that the parent company wants you to make sure that the employees are doing.  I get triggered in high end shopping environments. Since the jobs usually require you to purchase something and then return it, it can be a double trigger. One time I bought a pair of Ferragamo Shoes that I loved and had to return them. I have foot problems from excessive sports and I have to have really high quality shoes so that my feet don’t hurt. These shoes were 500.00 and I could not afford such a purchase. As I returned the shoes, I felt like a total fraud. I didn’t want to. But the job required that. For the next six months  I visited the outlet stores at Sawgrass Mills, searching for the same shoe on sale. But it was never available In my size. The amount of money they paid me to go there twice and write the report might have been forty dollars. It wasn’t worth the heartbreak. I’d have just as soon never known about this perfect black, stretchy shoe.

After a mystery shopping job, you have to fill out a very time consuming form and write mini essays on your experience with the retailer. Believe me, you have to do your homework and do quality work. If your memory is not so strong (as in my case due to psych meds) this can be challenging. And for a long one like a restaurant, they do not let you take notes because that would give you away as a corporate ‘spy.’

More on mystery shopping while manic tomorrow. There are some funny stories.

Bipolar Vlogging for IBPF

Just trying to learn Movie Maker. I have an opportunity to help develop International Bipolar Foundation’s Vlogging department. I’m happy to continue transferring old acting, radio and copywriting skills! Look, I’d rather still be in the music business but you don’t always get what you want but what you need. My encyclopedic knowledge of music helps me to select instrumentals and lyrics like for example Everlast’s “What it’s Like” in the vids. But there is a lot to learn abour editing and adding these elements to a video. I wish I could find a local teacher!  This time I have to teach myself. What is the easiest program for PC’s?

Mental Health Advocacy: Don’t forget yourself!

I’ve hit a snag with mental health advocacy. I volunteered for years at the nearby drop in. I had high security clearance and brought meetings into the psych ward. I developed an eating disorder meeting. I got sick with depression and a three year struggle with trying to get Tardive Dyskinesia under control and fell off the volunteer rolls. They no longer think I’m ‘well’ enough to be a volunteer. Despite this, I tried to write a nice story about them and their services for International Bipolar Disorder. I interviewed the project director and took good notes. I gave her final editorial approval since I did want to quote her and wanted to improve our relationship. I guess I sent too many emails because when she returned from a vacation that I didn’t know about, I got a nasty one in my inbox telling me to stop ‘bombarding’ her with emails. My deadline for the story had come and gone, and I was just being compulsive in trying to accomplish and be done with a task. She works with the mentally ill so why should she expect so much out of me?

I’ve been lucky in that somehow I’ve been picked up as a blogger by International Bipolar Disorder but truly for every four submissions I send out, only one gets picked up. The rest are rejected for one reason or another. Their was Stigma fighters, I guess that evaluating my 25 year struggle on paper I told too many stories and talked about meds too much. When you develop Tardive Dyskinesia, it’s pretty hard not to., Then there was the seeds of hope and they objected to too much personal narrative and not enough of a “we” presentation. So I’ve realized that in all this advocacy, I have to nurture myself, focus on what’s really important and develop a thick skin. And to stick to my own platforms, like this blog and the book I am writing. Does anyone else out there ‘feel’ me?