When Non-Profits Only Care About the Money

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On Facebook I shared a post about some tax changes that are being made to churches and non-profit institutions. The debate that started, made me think about my own experience working for a non-profit organization and I wanted to share a little bit of that here. For around 6 months or so, I worked for a non-profit religious hospital system. My job was to be one of the people in the emergency department who collected patient information (especially insurance information) and processed payments.

From the beginning, it was drilled into us that it was about the money. We were hounded to make sure we collected certain percentages of money from patients while they were still there in the building, whether they could afford it or not. We were encouraged to apply pressure to them to pay at least a percentage that day, regardless of their personal circumstances. Although patients could legally ask to be billed later, we were told to NEVER tell them that, and only offer that option if they brought it up first.

We were told bluntly that the hospital had to make sure to look like they were doing enough “public outreach” to keep their non-profit tax status, so when they did run public assistance programs we were told to advertise them when talking to patients. It became clear that they didn’t necessarily do programs for the poor because they CARED about them, it was so they could continue to get the tax breaks and other non-profit advantages. I heard so much negative talk there about Medicaid patients and the poor. I was also told flat out that the company was purposefully looking into opening more locations in areas where the people were more likely to pay, and closing locations where the populations were poorer.

One huge issue I had was that even when someone was brought to the ER and died, we were pressured to try to get money from their grieving relatives. More than once, those in charge actually chose not to tell family members that their loved one had passed away until AFTER we collected insurance information and copays/deductible payments. They would send us in, and we would know the family’s loved one was gone, but we were told to lie and pretend we knew nothing. This killed me to have to do. One time a lady begged me for information on her husband who was dead, and I couldn’t tell her anything. I also struggled to go up to a mother whose child has just tried to commit suicide and ask her for money. I felt like scum.

In the end, I couldn’t keep this job due to my own health issues, but I couldn’t have kept doing it with a clear conscience either.

Weekend Life Update: Depression, Meditation, Politics

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I am currently experiencing a real downturn mood-wise, but I’m going to try to write a life update post anyhow. I tried to write a blog post yesterday, but was simply to depressed to complete it. Today I’m just going to sum up a few things that went on this last week, so hopefully, I will get something done today.

  • This past Wednesday, my husband and I tried out a new meditation group (new to us anyhow). I haven’t meditated in months at least, and it felt good to “get back in the saddle” so to say. Even though I don’t find that meditation is all that great at relieving my anxiety and depression symptoms overall, it does at least give me some perspective and allow me to step back a bit when I am feeling my worst and realize that it will pass if I just wait it out. That awareness is definitely beneficial to keeping myself on this earth when part of me wants to check out.
  • My blog post about not being a social media doormat really became popular! I guess many others struggle with all the bullies and haters that tend to hang out on popular social media platforms. Glad to see I’m not alone in this experience.
  • Today I am taking my bike and aerobics trampoline to sell them to a used sports equipment store. I have had to face the fact that I am not physically healthy enough to use them anymore and they are just taking up space. Hopefully someone else will get some use out of them. It is a bit depressing though to just give up.
  • I am so disgusted by American politics right now. I am disgusted with Trump. I am disgusted with his blindly loyal followers. I am disgusted by those on the left that display blatant hypocrisy and pretend to be “the opposition”, but are just as sold out to big money and corporation interests. I am disgusted by all the pointless warfare my country perpetuates. I am disgusted by the news media that twists everything and often outright lies.  I am disgusted by the lack of empathy many people have towards anyone who is different from them. I am disgusted by the fearmongering and scapegoating. I am disgusted that in the richest country on earth, Flint, MI still doesn’t have clean water, and much of Puerto Rico still doesn’t have power. I am disgusted that 40 million Americans don’t have health care and that 40% of the country can’t afford basic necessities like food and shelter. I am disgusted that conditions have deteriorated to the point that suicide rates have risen 30% since 1999. I am simply disgusted and feel powerless to help.

THIS is Bipolar Type 2

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I’ve been severely depressed for a week or two now and yesterday it kind of hit a boiling point. I decided to try to get out of the house and drive to a local park to do some journaling, but all that ended up doing was causing a breakdown. I cried on the drive over, I cried while at the park, I cried on the drive home, and when I got back home I collapsed into bed and sobbed for at least an hour straight. By the time it was over, my pillow was soaked clear through and I had a migraine coming on.

I did journal while I was at the park, but it sort of ended up turning into a mock suicide letter – I was that depressed. I didn’t have the intention to go through with any form of suicidal action, but I sure felt the desire to do so. I felt so low that I had almost convinced myself that even my husband would be better off without me and would probably be relieved to be rid of me. Depression is a masterful liar and can be very persuasive.

Today I’m not feeling a lot better. More numb than anything I suppose. My body feels extremely heavy, like I have put on several hundred pounds, although I know the real weight is internal, not external. I might try to force myself out of the house again, just to see if today might go better than yesterday, but right now, I can’t even drum up the energy to take a bath. The most depressing thing is that THIS is my life. THIS is what living with Bipolar type 2 is like. I’m stuck on a wheel that I can’t get off. I’m so sick of this cycle.

Unpopular Opinion: Assisted Suicide Should Be Allowed for Any Competent Adult

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This post may contain the most unpopular opinion I will likely ever share on my blog. Let me say first off, as a survivor of my sister’s suicide, I know exactly how much it hurts to lose someone close that way and wouldn’t wish it on anyone. However, maybe it is just the libertarian streak in me, but I do think euthanasia should be legal for adults.

When people normally talk about euthanasia, it is regarding those with terminal illnesses. I definitely support the right to peacefully end your life in your own time with those cases. But I also support the right of any fully grown, mature human being to make the decision to not exist anymore if that is what they truly want. There are places in the world that allow euthanasia for severe mental illness, but I would take it even further than that. I don’t think anyone has the right to force another sentient human being to remain alive if they honestly, genuinely don’t want to be here.

Even with my sister, I would not force her to come back to life if I could. She was absolutely miserable. She was in constant mental, physical, and emotional pain. Her life was a wreck due to the aftereffects of severe abuse and treatment resistant mental illness. She tried multiple times to kill herself, and had she survived the last attempt, I have no doubt she would have kept trying, even though I tried my best to encourage her to find reasons to live.

I don’t think that human beings should have to resort to dangerous, violent and potentially severely disabling attempts to end their lives when there are simple, effective ways to end their suffering permanently if they wish to do so. I have been a witness to seeing two of my cats put down peacefully. I can only hope I die so easily and painlessly.

I also don’t think that assisted suicide would be abused as much as people think it would be. When you realize it is the absolute end, with no chance of survival, many balk if they really do not wish to die. Even in documentaries I have watched about euthanasia for mental illness, many people end up backing out during the waiting process because they obviously are not actually ready to die.  I do think there should be some limits set in place, such as age limits, lengthy screening processes (this is certainly something that shouldn’t be rushed into), and mental competency tests to make sure the person is completely aware of the permanent consequences of what they are asking for. It also shouldn’t be something people can decide for other people. You shouldn’t have the right to euthanize your granny or anyone else against their will.

I share this today because it is my personal belief, not because I am suicidal. I actually am not. I have never attempted suicide and do not believe I would do so unless circumstances became such that living was unbearable. It is not something I would take lightly and if I ever did commit suicide, I would likely plan it out precisely and would take into account any suffering it would cause others and would try to minimize that as much as possible. I certainly hope my life never comes to that point, but if it did, I feel like only I have the right to decide if I want to continue to exist or not.

Literally Drowning My Sorrows…

Well, today has been a really shitty day 😦 I only got about 2-3 hours of sleep last night, even with my Seroquel. Something happened last night that really upset me and made me just want to run away. Unfortunately, I have nowhere to run to.

Today I decided to go to a local park with a dam. I knew it would be crazy there with all the recent rain and snow, and felt that maybe seeing the turbulence roaring inside me portrayed in front of me might make me feel somehow better:

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Even way above the dam, and behind a fence, the water was so violent that I got splashed pretty good. You can’t see it in the photo below, but my pants were much wetter than my jacket. Even my hair got a little bit soaked by the spray:

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I was crying a good bit of the time I was there, just from all the stuff going on inside me, and I think one poor guy thought I was going to jump in. He came over and started telling me horror stories about people who had jumped in and died. One was truly sad about a family dog that fell in, so the mom jumped in to save it, and the dad jumped in to save her, so the two kids watching behind the fence watched all three of them drown. Such a horrible story. It made me forget my own pain for a little bit and feel empathy for those poor kids.

“Borderline” Book Review

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Right now I’m reading a pretty cool book called “Borderline”, written by Mishell Baker, which is the first book in the author’s “The Arcadia Project” series. The main reason I wanted to read this book was because the main character (Millie) happens to have borderline personality disorder and the book focuses on that a lot.

The story starts out pretty sad, with Millie in a psych facility, trying to rehabilitate from a failed suicide attempt that caused her to have to have both legs amputated. Sounds like a real heartwarming tale, huh? But things get better and more interesting when Millie is recruited to work for something called “The Arcadia Project”, which is an organization that trains mentally ill patients to work with fairies…yes, you read that right, FAIRIES. The plot really starts rolling when Millie is given the task of hunting down a missing member of the fairy community who also happens to be a movie star.

So, to encapsulate the novel, this book is a hodgepodge of mental illness, tragedy, mystery, Hollywood, magic, and fantasy. And somehow…it all works really well together. I don’t normally read a whole lot of fantasy fiction, but the spin on bpd made me give this one a chance and I’m glad I did!

My Dead Sister’s Birthday

Today would have been my sister’s 41st birthday if she hadn’t committed suicide back when she was 35. It is really weird now because I am 35, so I am the exact same age she was when she died. For the first time ever, I will soon be older than my sister ever was. I won’t be the younger sister anymore…or at least that is how it feels.

Last night I didn’t sleep well at all, I had nightmare after nightmare after nightmare. None of them were specifically about my sister, but I can’t help but wonder if subconsciously the feelings I have about her birthday rolling around might not have affected my state of mind. Honestly, I didn’t even think about it being her birthday until a few minutes ago when I looked at the date on my computer clock and it hit me. Of course, this time of year I often think about her, but I am not good at keeping track of days. When you don’t work outside the home, it is easy to forget what day it is.

I’m sorry if this entry is a bit of a ramble, but I have so many mixed emotions and still so much pain about it all that it might not come out as orderly as my normal posts. Days like this really get to me, even if I don’t consciously think about them. It is like a lurking shadow hanging over the entire week or month. I’m sad today and now I’ve remembered why.

Suicide Isn’t My Biggest Fear

Recently I had kind of a weird realization. If you follow my blog closely, you probably know that I have written posts about how I fear I would be driven to suicide if I lost my husband, mainly because I fear I wouldn’t be able to support myself with all my health problems, and if I lost him I feel like I would lose 90% of my support system.

The other day though I realized something that rather shocked me at first, even though it may not seem such a big thing to others. And that realization was that my real fear isn’t that I WILL commit suicide if I were alone, it is my fear that I WON’T. Maybe that sounds crazy on the surface, but let me explain further. If my husband were to die, that would leave me utterly alone, and I honestly do not believe I could continue to live this life all by myself. If I found myself in that situation, I would have to either A) Give up and commit suicide or B) Find others to trust and rely on.

Option A isn’t my real fear, it is option B. I am terrified of trusting others and letting others in. I don’t trust my ability to choose people who will not take advantage of me or end up abusing me. I feel it is almost a kind of luck that I avoided marrying an abuser in the first place. Most people who grow up like I did, in horrific abuse scenarios (physical, sexual, emotional, or mental) tend to end up surrounding themselves with people who perpetuate the cycle of abuse. I also fear that if any of my past abusers are still around, if I found myself all alone, I would be so weak that I would turn to them. Which horrifies me more than anything. It took me a long time to get free from it all (and I’m still not 100% there), but the thought of returning to hell is far more frightening than the thought of death.

However, deep down I doubt my ability to actually take my own life. I do have a strong survival instinct and an immense amount of anxiety when it comes to any form of danger. Perhaps that is why I always told myself that if I did commit suicide, it would have to be a form that is instant and leaves no chance for reconsideration, because I know if I gave myself time to rethink it I would freak out and seek help.

So, with this odd realization, what is the point of it all? I guess it is some reassurance that maybe I am stronger and more resilient than I always told myself. But more importantly, I need to work on my fear of opening up to and trusting others. It is funny that here on this blog I can be so open and bluntly honest, but in interpersonal relationships I tend to build walls and push people away before they can get too close. Somehow I need to learn to trust myself to be a good enough judge of character to give people a chance. But I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to trust myself, let alone others.

Matchbox 20 “Unwell” – Lyrics of My Life

If I had to choose a song to represent how I honestly feel about myself and my life most of the time these days, this song would definitely be near the top. It isn’t actually even my favorite Matchbox 20 song (which would be hard to narrow down anyhow, but would likely be something off their first or second album), but the lyrics hit home in a way that not a lot of songs do. I don’t hear voices (other than my own endlessly chattering inner monologues), but at this point, I wouldn’t be all that surprised if someday I started lol.

I think the saddest line in this entire song is “But soon enough, you’re gonna think of me and how I used to be…”, which also happens to be the line that hits home for me the hardest. A few years ago, this wasn’t me. Back then I had repressed so much that I was able to function at least, but when my sister committed suicide, it was like the floodgates opened and all the repressed memories came flooding in at the same time that all of my carefully crafted defenses came crashing down. My mental and physical health took a nosedive and has been sinking further and floundering since. Sometimes I’m almost angry at my sister for killing herself and thereby forcing me to face what I had always ran away from or purposefully pushed aside.