Bipolar Beat The Odds

Well it looks like I am going to start a job as a Security Operations Center Analyst the day after Labor Day!!  What a long road this has been since I left my job in IT Support in December 2013, thinking I was going on FMLA for six weeks to have a little ECT, and ending up taking three years of private disability pay.  Being so depressed for so many years, and yes, disabled by it, I never thought I’d work again, let alone gain a new career.  That wasn’t even an option that I thought of.  I didn’t even think I’d ever have my own home again!  But this last year has provided some major growing experiences, and life sort of said “Ready or not, GROW!”

It started when I was living in my sister’s basement, which wasn’t ideal, but I couldn’t think my way out of the situation.  By April of last year, the disability payments stopped, and I was working a part-time job and living off savings.  Then last Fall, my sister rocked my world by asking me to move out.  I was completely blown away!!  I felt like the rug was pulled out from under me!  What was I going to do??  I didn’t feel like I could work a full-time job, but I started looking for one, half-heartedly.  And I started looking for a place to live.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, I got a phone call.  Why I answered the phone, I’ll never know, because I never answer the phone.  But you know, it was one of those God things, I think…and this guy starts talking to me about training that I might qualify for because I might possibly be underemployed, and there’s grant money available, might I be interested in IT Security?  In my mind I was seeing a way out of the horrible dead-end that is Desktop Support, my previous profession.  It was all I could do not to cry on the phone, it seemed like a miracle!  A grant to take training and get certified?!?!  It seemed too good to be true!!!  Yet it was true, I did get the grant, and I was able to take two IT Security training classes and certification tests.

So I had a plan!  And now I just needed to find a place to live!  How do you do that with non-verifiable income?  One thing I did when my sister asked me to move out is I started to pack.  It was something to fill my time, and it was something I could do to show my faith that things were going to work out.  People would ask me why in the hell I was packing, when I didn’t know where I was going?  Well, I knew I was going somewhere, and I needed to pack.  So that little act of faith, and seeing the boxes, helped me.  I kept looking at places in Boulder that were like little dumpster fires, they were so bad!  Everything in my price range was just horrific!  And really, I wanted a one-bedroom apartment, not a studio apartment.  So I expanded my search to the next town over, Longmont.  I looked at one place that was like a flophouse, and my gut gave me a hard “NO!”  But then I came across a place that was…ok, and the landlord was trying awful hard to sell it to me, offering a discount, and flexible lease terms, so I decided to go for it.  Of course, he wanted to do a credit and a background check, and with a bankruptcy in my history, and no real effort to rebuild my credit, I had to talk to this guy.  I just gave it to him straight.  “Look, I’m working part-time and bringing in x amount.  I have x amount in savings.  I’m going to be studying for these IT Certifications and I just need a place to live where I can study.”  He said “OK, let’s go for it.”  And I got the place!

All of a sudden I had my own home again!!!  After I had agonized for years about whether I’d ever have a home again, and whether I was just being a fool for storing all of my home goods, like my kitchen stuff, I had a home!!!  It felt great (and still does).  I moved in and unpacked in record time.  I had to be ready for my Security + class, which started in January.

Security + started and I became a student again, studying for hours every day.  There was a lot to understand and a lot to memorize and I was very concerned that the knowledge wasn’t “sticking” like I thought it should.  I talked it over with Dr. Drugs and we decided to add Aricept to my drug regimen, a drug that helps you form new memories.  I do believe it has helped me immensely.  I don’t know what the ECT (40+ treatments) has done to my brain and maybe it’s just that I’m in my 50’s now, but I needed help.  In addition to the crappy book that the class provided, I bought my own book on Security + (much better at defining the concepts) and I also bought access to that author’s website to help me with study questions.  Taking practice tests over and over until I mastered the material proved to be crucial, and two months after taking the class, I passed the certification on the first try (much to my surprise and relief).

Next up, and much harder, was the Certified Ethical Hacker class.  I started this class in April, a month later than planned, but Security + took some study to pass.  Again, the book provided with the class was a piece of shit, and again I bought my own and just began studying that, not bothering with the other book.  I was a bit burned out and had a really hard time concentrating in class, but I made it through the 40 hours of class time.  Then the real work began.  I studied for a solid two months, but even after two months of studying, I still felt like the material was somewhat over my head.  By the end of June, though, my funds were running low and it was time to start the job hunt.  (It was also time to stop my daily marijuana habit, so that I could eventually pass a drug test).  I had to take the certification test, ready or not.  I scheduled the test and poured on the study for one more week.  I fully prepared my family (and myself) for my failure – I just wasn’t “there”.  I went and took the test and at the end it said “Congratulations – you passed!”  —  I nearly fell out of my chair.  How I passed that test, I’ll never know.

So began a job hunt for a Security job, mostly a futile job hunt, posting my resume with my brand-new certifications on all of the web sites, getting NO calls for Security jobs, and endless calls for Desktop Support jobs.  Can you say discouraged?  How could I come so far, only to go back to a Desktop Support job?  Well, hell, I was desperate for a job, so I started taking interviews for Desktop Support jobs, even an interview at Hustler!  You may have read about that J.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any darker, I got a call about a Security job!  Great!  Yay!  Yes!  I’ll interview!!  I got up ultra-early and studied my brains out for the interview, only to go to it and freeze up like a damn popsicle.  Mid-sentence!  Uh…wha…I mean…It was so humiliating!!!  I totally BLEW the interview!!!  It was painful, let me tell you.  I went home and wrote a heartfelt thank you note, trying to re-sell myself to the interviewers.  And then I tried to let it go.

Four days later, I heard that they wanted to hire me.  All I can say is, another miracle.  Because based on that interview, I should have been banned from the building.  So, one background check (how do I pass these background checks??) and one drug test later (60 days without pot now), I have a start date for my new job:  the day after Labor Day.  And I have to say, I’m scared shitless!!  But all I can do is what I’ve done for the past year, and that’s walk through the fear, one day at a time, one moment at a time, and trust that life has a plan.  Just the fact that I’m going back to work means that I’m beating the odds.  All of my doctors recommended that I be on Social Security Disability (denied three times) and that I never work again.  I guess life has other plans for me.  For those of you with Bipolar who feel beaten by it, all I can say is, be open to life.  It can change.  It can get better, so much better.  And I am soooo grateful for that.

This Bipolar Chick Is A Certified Ethical Hacker!

Whelp, I didn’t think I could do it.  Seriously.  I didn’t think it was going to happen.  I cried.  I prayed.  I studied my ass off.  But I didn’t think it was enough.  Well guess what?  Sometimes the Universe hands you a little miracle in the form of a PASS!  And I PASSED the Certified Ethical Hacker exam today!!!  Believe me, no one is more surprised than me!!  Sure, I studied.  But I didn’t own the material.  It was just SO MUCH TO KNOW.  I can’t even convey to you all the different tools they were testing on, things I’d never even heard of, would crop up on questions, and I’d be like, WTF?  I need to know this?  Or WHY do I need to know THIS?  It just went on and on.  I was feeling quite a bit of despair there at the end.  I prayed for a miracle.  And I believe I got one!

First of all, it’s a miracle that this training was even offered to me.  Second of all, it’s a miracle that I decided to try, because I didn’t really believe that I could learn this stuff.  After three + years off work and 40+ ECT treatments, I just thought my brain was fried, end of story.  But something in me said, “Try.”  And I can’t believe I did.  And I can’t believe that this is the outcome!!  To me, this just goes to show, you don’t know the end of the story.  You might think, this is it, this is my life, Bipolar has me beaten (which is what I thought), but Life might have another message for you.  And it might be really, really good.

So I am so encouraged.  I still have a dwindling bank account, and a car for sale, but I have HOPE.  And I have two high-value IT certifications that say that I can learn, that I’m a technical person, that I have abilities.  And I have six baby bird eggs about to hatch!  Life is good.  I think, I actually believe, that I’m going to be o.k.  And for that, I am extremely grateful.

Peaches Laid An Egg! And Studying Sucks.

In Proud Bird Mom News, Peaches has laid an egg!!!  I’m going to be a GRANDMA!!!  Well, maybe, anyway.  This is so exciting!!!  These birds have made so much progress since being in my home such a short time, and they have been such a joy to me!!  I think I might have a full-blown manic episode if babies come.

In studying news, I am steadily going down the toilet.  Last week, I got a 68% on a practice test.  Passing for this test is a 70%, so I thought, hey, I’m on the right track!  Maybe I know more than I thought!  Well it must have been an easy test because I took a test this week and got a 58%, cussing all the way through.  To say that I’m discouraged would be an understatement.  But dammit!  I don’t think I got this opportunity and this grant for these classes by accident!!  I think I am somehow meant to overcome this adversity and pass this test.  I can’t just accept defeat, even though I feel defeated.  It seems like I may have felt discouraged and defeated on the last round, too, but somehow I passed that damn test.  So maybe I can pass this one too.  The question is, can I do it before I run out of money?  Just a little bit of stress and pressure . . .

I had Meetup #2 this week, we went to see Wonder Woman in 3D.  The alien inside me who started this group went to the movies and enjoyed it.  The people I am meeting are very nice.  This is actually really nice to have at least one thing to do per week.  This week, I did three things with people on three different nights.  I better watch out that my Introvert card doesn’t get revoked.

Well, Summer has finally come to Colorado.  I believe the snowstorms are gone for the season.  It is in the high 90’s and I’m running the air conditioner.  I am grateful for air conditioner and ceiling fans and that I just have this teensy little apartment that is very easy to keep cool.  Noisy Neighbor Upstairs has not woken me up for some time now and he hasn’t even played his damn drums, YAYUH!!  Maybe he hocked them.  Maybe he broke a hand.  Maybe he’s depressed.  I don’t care.  I’m just glad for the quiet.

I saw Dr. Drugs this week.  He pulled some major shit with cutting my Wellbutrin dose, I will write about it later because my hands are tired.  Suffice to say I am not on board.  Dr. Drugs does some stupid shit that does not serve me.  I often defy him and do what I think is right.  Rebel Bipolar In Effect!

Hope you all had a great week!

Last Day Of Nerd Class!!

Yeah!!  Today is the last day of nerd class!!  I am celebrating by drinking a vodka and grapefruit juice during class.  Does that seem like a good idea?  No?  I think it’s a GREAT idea!  Vodka makes everything FUNNER!  I know, I know, talk to me in the morning.

This class has really taken the piss out of me.  It’s been 5-9pm for two weeks.  Let me tell you, by 5pm, my attention span is that of a gnat.  Trying to listen or concentrate has been HELL!  Of course, the last night is on Cryptography…zzzzzzzzzzzzz oh sorry I fell asleep for a second there.  It will be a MIRACLE if I stay with it through the end of class.  Pray that I don’t cause a booze-induced disruption.

That’s all for now, back to class, oh!  They’re talking about RC4!  Woo!

I Feel So Much Better!!!

It’s amazing to me how just putting myself out there and saying how I feel can make me feel better!  I don’t want to do it, especially when the feelings aren’t super-delicious, and yesterday was one of those days.  I’m just…scared, like, will people think I’m a big asshole?  And, sometimes I am an asshole!  But feeling bad doesn’t make me an asshole.  Acting like I’m always o.k. does.

Anyhoo, I just really appreciate all the love and support from BlogLand!!  It has made me feel not-lonely and like I can keep going with this studying thing.  I also did some fancy things today that made me feel good, like dyeing my hair (not going to give in to the grays FUCK YOU GRAY HAIR!) and taking a shower (didn’t happen to do that since Monday!), and putting on clean clothes.  SO FANCY.  So I feel shiny and new and gosh, someone should take me out for enchiladas or somethin’!  Life is good.  Thank you, BlogLand!

The Grind Is Getting To Me!

Oh, Glory!  The book that came with our class (I’m sure you know what class but it is Certified Ethical Hacker) is an absolute piece of shit, basically the slide-deck that the teacher uses each night for class.  It’s all graphics and bullet points and no actual substance.  So, I bought a book from Amazon to help me study for the certification.  And the REAL grind has begun.  Again.  I know now what it takes to get a certification, it takes giving it your ALL.  I have been reading the new book ALL DAY.  I created a calendar with a schedule of how many chapters I need to finish per week and it’s fucking intense!  This fucking studying is some lonely business!!  I know it’s time-limited, but my feelings don’t know that.  I just feel lonely and super-tired of studying and I want to do something else.  I know, I know, where’s the gratitude?  For this great opportunity?  Well, I’ve lost it.  Perspective, out the window.  I need to get it back and be able to buckle down and focus and do this.  Ok, Ok, I’m ahead of schedule.  I had one chapter as this week’s goal and I’m on Chapter 2.  I just want to be done and certified already.  I need to be ok with this process.  I don’t know if I have it in me to do this again.  I think I need a hug.

CERTIFIED!!!

Well folks I felt the fear and I did it anyway – I GOT CERTIFIED!!!!!  WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!  (For those of you wondering, the certification is COMPTIA Security +).  Somehow I didn’t think I could actually pull it off, but I did!!!  All those months of studying and test-taking (over & over & over) have paid off.  I took the test yesterday and passed with a 787, about 87.4%.  Do I need to say how happy I am?!?!  I can’t remember the last time I had such a big goal, and I achieved it.  This has challenged me like nothing since college, which is many years in the past.  After 40+ ECT treatments, I really didn’t know if my brain could absorb and learn like I would need to.  Also, this is a 50-year-old brain!  But, I did it!  I’m so excited and encouraged!  You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!  I’m living proof!  And, Bipolar Disorder doesn’t get to win here.  I am not defeated by my illness.  Oh my I am just filled with happiness and hope.  Now on to Certified Ethical Hacker with some confidence that I can do it!  YEAH!