Today is the day I start taking twice as much of the medication that makes me lightheaded. Last night I took both of my daugthers and a friend of my youngest to a grade school basketball game. My friend asked if I wanted to sit down, going up the bleachers wasn't so bad. At the top I felt as if the gym was spinning so I made my way back down to get something to eat at the concession stand. After my hot dog, Fritos, apple juice, and Swedish Fish I felt a little better, but not great. I made my way over to a woman I knew who lived close to my daughter's friend and asked if she could drop the friend off for me. We talked for a while about our various medical conditions. She had to have abdominal surgery to pull her stomach down from the wall of her diaphragm. The result of that is now she has to rely on medications to try and help her stomach empty.

The house is very cluttered, I talked to another friend of mine about that the other day. I'm going to continue working on our wardrobes so I can limit the amount of laundry I do. I'm careful going down the stairs ever since I fractured my fiblula. The dizziness is giving me another reason to be mindful around flights of stairs and things like the bleachers. I no longer care that I cling to the railing and move more slowly than my grandmother would have. I'm afraid of falling and I would rather be safe than sorry which sounds odd coming from me. I did some more reading before I went to bed. I need to stop reading about upsetting topics when I'm already down. The good news is that I slept pretty well without relying on my sleep medication, hooray for taking medication only when I think I really need it. 

I've been invited to my niece's birthday. My family is what my therapist would call an activating event. The thought is - my family is judging me, I will be overcome with anxiety, I will get sick from something that is served, and I will be angry that once again my family doesn't take my daughter's food allergies seriously. Here's the restructuring part. I can get snacks and drinks for my kids. I can leave early if I need to, and I can use today as a gauge for how the medication affects me and my head. I'm not going to let some possible side effects prevent me from enjoying my life. I can take some anxiety meds before I leave. I just took one now, it's funny, but I had no idea how anxiety had taken over my life before I went into therapy and started taking meds to counter it.

My mood is pretty high this morning. In therapy a lot of people assign a number to their mood. That hasn't ever really worked for me. When I was at the hospital we had a therapist who came up with different ways of expressing our moods to others. Today I feel like a poisonous green apple. Sour, tangy, and acidic. I'm tired of the girls leaving cups and plates in the TV room, and not putting things away. I'm thinking of giving away some of the plates I have. I rarely entertain and I can always ask people to bring a plate of their own if I would like to invite a larger group. I'm really focused on getting a place of my own. I keep imagining what my life will be like once I'm there.

I could write more, but I'm trying to limit the amount of time I write and other pleasurable activities that spur hypomanic trances. I have papers to organize, clothes to go through, a present to find or make for my niece, dishes to do, floors to sweep, and bathrooms to clean. Once my medication kicks in I'll be calmer and able to think more clearly about the tasks that seem insurmountable in my current state. Last night I read that tracking mood and activity levels can help you and clinicians determine what type of bipolar disorder I might have. This therapist I really liked told me it seemed like I was in a mixed state, I have to learn more so expect to see more pattern tracking from me going forward. 

P.S. It's a relief that I'm not schizophrenic, but the hallucinations and voices aren't nearly as bad as the mood swings and paranoia. 

On September 2, 2015 the vice-president of the corporation that I work for came my factory and announced that our largest customer would not be renewing their contract with us. This customer accounted for about 70% of our sales and we would not be getting any of their buisiness in 2016. He announced layoffs affecting 3/5 of the plant, effective in 60 days, to reduce to a core group and to build up sales again.

However before the 60-day layoff period had matured, the VP returned to let us know that, as the corporation had not met expectations of profitability in the year, that the board of directors had decided to close the plant. For some reason they chose not to pursue to sell the plant, but to close down operations, shut off the lights and lock the doors, leaving all of the equipment in the dark, presumably to sell them off for pennies on the dollar.

It seems that we have been, as Kramer from Seinfeld would say, "written off".

April 30th is the official last day of operations, although the rumor mill has been turning out grist of an earlier date. Anyone staying until the end, will get a bonus equal to seven weeks of their base pay. The corporation has been generous enough to extend severance pay equaling a weeks worth of base pay for each year of seniority, up to ten weeks.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics claim that Illinois has a net loss of 14,100 manufacturing jobs in 2015. In the same period, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio have gained a net 41,500 manufacturing jobs in the same period. It may be that the "unfriendly business environment" here in the Land of Lincoln may have contributed to the decision to close the plant, but I could only speculate on all of the factors that may or have may not contributed to the decision. It does not really matter. [1]

In retrospect, I should have left a few years ago. The corporation had not re-invested in the factory in a few years and had largely ceased any other facets of continuous improvement or preventative maintenance on the production equipment. Ever deaf to our concerns that the machines were full of obsolete technology and falling apart mechanically, the maintenance department went from idleness to firefighting to idleness: a new and dispiriting routine.

Yet I was complacent and reluctant to quit resting on my laurels, my seniority, my familiarity with the equipment and my four weeks of paid vacation. Despite the fact that I had not really learned anything new, that my technologically sensitive skill set was getting a few years behind the cutting edge, I was disinclined to leave the comforts and familiarity of the company.

This was a career-minded place, with folks who had invested twenty years into it. This factory had four different owners since opening twenty-one years ago. To the bean counters in each concurrent corporate office, the factory represented simple expenses and revenues, I am sure. Most of the folks who had put in ten, fifteen, or twenty-plus years fully expected that we would be sold again. In these fellows, there was a feeling of pride, a sense of unique craftsmanship in producing the product, which created a sense of belonging or maybe ownership in their hearts.

This was fallacy. Now we are dead men walking in a soon to be closed factory. Everything and every room in the factory represents a care or an aspiration which has been lost. I came to this place from the automotive industry where competition was cutthroat with a legacy of contraction, idled union workers and hulking, ancient abandoned factories of brick and steel. I did not think that I would remain at my soon-to-be-former employer for more than three years and told people as much that, in my experience, would be surprised if the place would still be open in five.

Yet three years turned into five and five years into ten. To my surprise, I have now spent twelve of my eighteen years of experience in this career in this place. Nevertheless, the lessons of my past came true: in this day and age, no factory stays open for long. One has to remember that no one who works for a corporation has any ownership of the factory, of the operation. The only real ownership that one should have is to oneself and to one's family, to one's skill set and to one's retirement accounts.

It was a long run, a good run. I was adequately compensated. The work-life balance, if a bit uncertain at times, was generally favorable. It was clean and comfortable. I enjoyed the camaraderie of my co-workers and my superiors more often than not. I hope to find the same attributes in my future endeavors. Until then, I need to keep my chin and my spirits up. I would be a liar, however, if I write that I have been doing a good job at this.

The uncertainty of this situation began earlier this year and has had the cumulative effect of being a long-term stressor. I have often been prone to intermediate anxieties, which has worsened and grown to a nearly constant and unwelcome companion. I have gained weight. I do not sleep well. I find the enjoyment of extracurricular pursuits to be elusive. I feel distracted and disconnected. I am uninspired to leave the house or to do routine tasks and activities.

I fill out job applications. There are many positions available and the internet makes finding them abundant. Yet, I hear back from few of them. It is disheartening to apply to a half dozen positions and hear back from none of them. With the ones I do hear back from, I interview well. They view my skills and experience to be favorable but do not have first-shift positions available.

Time is on my side. I have the luxury of staying until they close and the benefit of seventeen weeks of pay as a bonus thereafter in addition to any unemployment benefits that I may take advantage of. I can afford to wait for an excellent opportunity: A growth minded company with a real working philosophy of continuous innovation that seeks to innovate with new technology, the right pay, the right shift, a favorable work-life balance and a favorable commute. I am in a good place to hold out for a position with those attributes.

Until then, I just have to keep my head up, and be grateful for the blessings in my life.

"The days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations, well, I have really good days."- Ray Wylie Hubbard

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