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05/09/2012 12:38 AM

Bipolar Assisted-Living Non-Skid-Row Apartments

dbetts
Posts: 120
Member

Hi,

Is there any such thing as a Bipolar Assisted-Living Resident Apartment?

I know there are group homes i have visited for the mentally ill such as the Conard House, www.conard.org, in San Francisco, but one has to be "severely ill" to qualify. It is a group home to move homeless mentally ill persons into self-management in a group home setting and provide vocational training. Where are the group homes for the non-skid-row bipolar people?

Well, I am severely ill; I'm just not pushing a shopping cart, yet. I am on food stamps and crossing my fingers for unemployment and am thankful I am not in a 'catatonic bipolar depression' and am able to fill out forms and papers and such. Where are the bipolar group homes for the non-skid-row? Im thinking of something like the nice lawn-manicured assisted-living facilities for the elderly... where you have your own apartment, but people come around to help (nurse, nurse aid, social worker, volunteer) you when you need it and the resident elderly neighbors help each other to not become socially isolated.

I am on this awful cycle: employment salary, unemployment insurance benefits, state disability insurance benefits, unemployed without benefits, employment salary. The sequence of each phase may be different based on what condition I was in when I was 'let go' from the job: mania or depression --- this determines my ability to fill out papers properly. I often have to move a couple of times after job losses (for different reasons each time...) too. The cycle is 1.5 years long and I'm sick of it; I'm not getting any better at managing my bipolar and I'm tired of relocating to whatever employer will hire me since my resume is so scattered. I'd like to live in assisted-living residence to help prevent me getting fired and serve as a cross-over if I do get sick... where there is help to 'swoop in' and caregive me during those 4week to 4month depressions/manias.

I'm a high tech engineer. I can land a $100k/year job. It doesn't mean I earn that much because I can't actually keep the job for a year! It's averaging out to about $10-40k/yr which includes unemployment and anything else I can manage to fill out the papers for before or after a catatonic depression. So, I'm not really a skid-row 'mentally ill' candidate for a bipolar group home where they vocationally train me to learn cashier-machine operation skills to work at Goodwill.  I'm still going to apply to Conard though! 

I'm pretty desperate, living in someone's basement as my money is running out. I'm in a hypo-depression (worst part is over) so I'm reapplying to jobs and maybe in 2 months I'll be working again ... and then the whole cycle will start all over.

I need a home where someone will notice me and help me self-manage and recover faster during the 'sick times.' My psych doesn't do it very well because I don't live with him and sometimes he misses signs of a phase change or there aren't any major phases change signs until 'snap' and I can't get out of the bed and then get fired... or the reverse... mania behavior in the office, ugh.

I am single. I don't have family or friends willing to add me to their households on a long-term basis.{I asked. They just want their own lives and don't want my 'crazy stuff' around them.}  I've had roommates, but they don't really want to help and if I do have a depression/mania they usually move out or want me to move out. I've tried finding roommates where I offer them reduced rent to help me, but nobody really wants to live with 'mentally ill' and when I found one, she really didn't know what to do. She wanted me to tell her what to do during a catatonic depression and as I didn't ask for anything she didn't do anything. I lost a lot of weight, the bills all were over due, etc. But i always do when it gets like that. She just wasn't aware of what bipolar is and how to 'caregive' and 'run my life' for me when I can't, monitor my spending to make sure I'm not in a mania, feedback to my psych, etc. I tried to pre-plan all that with her but she didn't execute it. It is just hard to tell when I am 'getting sick' and o am of course very confident/insistent when in a mania and she didn't contest my decisions. {"wow, this new big screen tv is awesome!"} They do that at the skid-row-half-way house; they help regulate you and help manage your spending.  I want that kind of help on a "middle-class"/"upper-middle-class" platform.

I'm considering applying for SSDI disability again. I couldn't 'hold out' that long for the appeal last time, ran out of money and cobra. I've asked my family/friends if they will at least house me for the 8months to 1.5 years while I wait out the social security administration process.... and I'll pay for my own food and things, as I can probably manage that with state disability help. But no. They don't want to caregive me. They've briefly seen me in a depression and witnessed my apartment during that time (dishes, me unbathed eating whatever food left on the shelf as I haven't left the house, cat litter box overfilled) and they don't want that in their house. Of course, if they 'caregived' me a little to encourage eating and going outside and feedback to my psych to adjust meds, the filth wouldn't ever get that bad. I told them I'd sound insulate my bedroom with soundproof foam so they never had to hear me crying, but no go. Probably, it's the manias they wouldn't like anyway. I had a live-in boyfriend for 2.5 years and with his help, things were curbed. Living alone with bipolar is challenging.

Alot of people tell me to get a less stressful job so I can manage my bipolar. Well, a job that I don't have to show up consistently for is the less stressful job. I don't think there is a job out there that you can not show up to regularly and still keep. And yes, i tried self-employed but that is even worse for a bipolar person who lives alone. So, I work in the most high-paying job I can find, cross my fingers I can keep it, and live off the savings (if any) till the next cycle. I am trying to learn to be a computer scientist rather than mechanical engineer and maybe I can get a salary telecommute / flex hours job with quality health/LTD benefits. I've considered getting married as 'my job with health benefits' but I haven't found anyone yet who wants to love me in a long-term relationship. 

I've tried applying for the Long-Term-Disbility coupled with the professional salary jobs, but there is the typical 2 year exclusion period and pre-existing exemption, etc. If I could actually stay at a job for 2 years, I wouldn't go on Long Term Disability, I'd just be able to keep the job !!!

So, I have this sick-remission-sick-remission cycle and it is making life horrid and impossible. I really think I could last longer at a job with some live-in or live-next-door caregiving ... someone to notice that I haven't been sleeping? someone to slide a bowl of Ramen under the door if I haven't left the place? To call in sick for me when I can't literally pick up the phone to do it myself. To notice if I'm over-doing or over-productive? To help me take my meds during that time? -- Nobody is going to do that unless they love you or get paid. I paid my sister for a while to talk to me on the phone when I needed a 'lifeline' or had racing thoughts, but she quit. I offered her more money, but wanted more than I could afford. She kept wanting me to quit my meds and go 'all natural' and it was high-pressure when she visited me and that's partly why she quit. I wouldn't agree to stop taking my psych medication per her recommendation. Actually, I did for a couple weeks; I'm quite vulnerable to influences during depressions. {I tried the 'all natural' approach for 2 years prior to her; Bad experience; now, I still haven't found the ideal medication; some people are medication resistant. But I'm trying the different things my psych suggests to see if anything will stabilize me.}

I want a Bipolar Assisted-Living Residence where there are paid people or volunteers who actually want to help and bipolar neighbors who have understanding and will 'have each others backs' to help guide/pre-empt depressions/manias, if they feel they can cope with the emotional challenge. This would be for non-skid-row bipolar people (without substance abuse problems, etc) who don't really need vocational training to work at Goodwill because they have a profession (secretary, engineer, lawyer, chef) but just need help in an individual apartment but group-home style apartment building. Something where the cognitive behavioral therapy and meditation skill development sessions are in the evenings each night. The problem with a salary job is I can't leave during the day every week to go to doctors and therapy appointments ! It pisses of the bosses if your not at your desk 'during normal business hours' even if scheduling is planned.

Does this bipolar home utopia exist? I am desperate enough to build it, but I'm one person - this kind of thing takes alot of people of varied skills to put together. I don't even know if bipolar professionals would live there. Perhaps they all have good, helpful, non-dysfunctional families who love them and are strong enough to caregive or are rich or something.

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