“There’s Gotta Be More”, by Mandi (Caged No More)


I am ‘guest re-blogging’ Mandi of Caged No More’s post from Feb. 3 on her site. She was hoping for some feedback but didn’t receive much then, so maybe we can give her some feedback from here. Our topic this week is “Better Endings” via dreams and dreaming. In this light, Mandi’s honest questioning is worth focusing upon, not as a ‘cautionary’ tale but as a reminder that wherever we are at, Better Endings are RELATIVE, often based on taking and celebrating one small step at a time.

And so, Mandi’s story:

There’s Gotta Be More…

Posted by Caged No More

So…There’s this battle inside of me, a war I’ve been waging for a few years now. It has nothing to do with my father’s depressing condition and quality of life, my Bipolar disorder, or past eating disorder issues. It’s personal, and circumstantial. You see, my world was shaken and changed forever in 2004. It wasn’t just the diagnosis of Bipolar, it was the dark, and tragic events that led up to, and followed that burned deep down through my veins, bleeding into my soul. I made decisions that were poor, but I did what I had to do to survive my inner struggles and to just make it.

At age 18, I had a complete scholarship at the private college I was accepted into;a full ride as they call it. Not only that, the V.A. or Veterans something where my dad is a Vietnam Veteran were happy to supplement any of my other needs at the time like cost of a new computer, transportation, help with shelter, and so on. Plus, my GPA and mile long list of honors and extracurriculars in high school made me look like a major asset. Basically, I had it made. I could have gotten my B.A. in Psychology for free. No student loans to haunt me for years to come. Maybe even some great help in continuing with my Master’s as well, if I had completed it all by a certain age. I think it was 25 or something. I had so many hours left for government help, but as I was in and out of college through the years, they expired on me. I strongly believe in never looking back, never saying I could have or should have. However, this was a bitter pill to swallow. Not only all of that, but my mental illness made my life a nightmare for a long time. Things most definitely did not turn out the way I had planned, or the way I designed my future in my sentimental scrapbook all of the senior’s in high school receive…

The plan was to complete my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, continue with a Master’s focusing in Counseling Psychology, and finishing with a PsyD. Beyond there I would work my way into my own private practice, have a very nice, substantial income, and in the process fall in love! Upon falling in love, my soul mate and I would marry, honeymoon someplace exotic and tropical, and later have around 4 kids. I would be very, successful in my career, a sexy, slim and trim, wife, and at the same time an amazing mommy to my precious kids, that I’d dreamed of having for years. However I did complete 60 full college credit hours without debt…Hold up!

I am now at the opposite end of the spectrum. I’m living poverty line, but fortunate enough to be able to have very fast internet, allowing me to blog like this and keep up with social networking, a decent place to live, a nice car, for now, and food. Most of my clothes were bought by my mother. She has been such a blessing in these dark times. Oh yes, and most importantly, my biggest blessing is my health insurance. It’s the best available, but with this insurance comes a price…No, I don’t pay for it. At all. It’s just that in order to keep it, I must stay in the predicament that I am currently in. For a long time I declared myself a slave to the rules of our government. I became very bitter, and quite ungrateful for this priceless health insurance I currently have. In manic times, I considered going down to the government office that pays me and telling them “I quit!” I feel trapped. I tried the “Ticket to work” program, only to have it blow up in my face. My attempts were unsuccessful because the timing was off. I wasn’t mentally ready for that at the time. Though over a year ago I landed a job at a psychiatric hospital, I was unable to keep it. In fact, I only made it through 4 hours of just orientation. It would not have worked out anyway because the position required me to be aggressive with patients that lost control, do CPR, and handle chaos and crisis on a daily basis. I was high on caffeine upon applying for the position (It induces mania for me as it exacerbates my Prozac which is an anti-depressant, pushing me up too high into a manic episode).

So you see, I want to work. I want to be like everybody else. This is crazy because I’m the one that goes around preaching non-conformity constantly. I just have this ‘get up and go’ about me. I am most definitely a morning person, so upon waking up, I evaluate what I have to look forward to for the day, and desire to get out and get things done. Problem is…now there is nothing to get done, other than to go to appointments or the pharmacy. How did I get here? Why am I here? I was always a good person, except when under the grips of mania, or a deep, dark depression. As time went in during the short amount of time I was in college, my moods or emotions dominated me and all of my capabilities. I had to withdraw. In fact, a few times as my credit hours were acquired over a period of 4 years, which was not only devastating but humiliating.

Since all of this went down this past decade, I have applied and even enrolled in several online universities. Of course, I never went through with any of it. Now I am in a pickle as I ponder on the matter of returning to school, taking out student loans to pay for it, and questioning if I will even be able to work when I must get a decent job within 6 months after graduating to begin paying back these loans. I am not in debt in any way right now. I don’t want to create a large debt either. I don’t trust our government as this country I live in, the U.S., is in such a shape we’ve never seen before. Why take out loans now, when who knows what could happen in the next decade??? I just don’t want to set myself up for failure. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in myself…but, how do I get there? Should I just try to find a job using the 60 hours that I have as a selling point? It worked at that mental hospital. Over the past few years, I have applied to several nice jobs that would make me feel good about myself, as I have college and worked toward a goal career. These jobs had higher requirements and standards. I never met the qualifications. The only jobs I was offered interviews for these last couple of years were for restaurants and things like PetSmart. There is nothing wrong with these if this is where you are. I do not disrespect it at all. It’s just not what I’d dreamed of. I need some type of technical degree for something like a medical assistant or something. I know I am absolutely not going back to a regular college or university to finish that B.A. as my memory is not what it used to be. I think that traditional college isn’t for me now, as I am on both Lithium and Lamictal, which even my psychiatrist agrees affects cognition.

All of this brings me to my actual point. If I take out student loans I am unsure of how that will affect my government situation, and I know for a fact, upon getting a job, after a very, very short period of time that fancy insurance of mine will cease. I will no longer qualify. How can people be so rich with health insurance and so poor financially? There is no middle class anymore. I am on 4 psychiatric meds, but have been blessed to get off of the most expensive one which was 900 bucks a month, and no I am not making that up. Then, I take a stomach pill for the damage years of Bulimia have brought me, a Thyroid pill due to my taking Lithium causing that, and inhalers as I am an asthmatic. So, could I pull off the co-pays for this stuff with a job? I am also very needy in the medical area. I somehow get injured a lot and am quite accident prone, but that’s beside the point. I need really great insurance because of my mental health condition and everything.  I go into therapy and get an entire hour with my therapist absolutely free because my insurance is worth millions.

What to do, what to do…

I am tired of feeling stuck. I just feel I am not living my fullest potential. I have so much more to offer this world. I am not ready to retire because I am not even 30 yet!!! On a more positive note, as I’ve mentioned here in the past, I am finally at my all time, optimum level of mental health! When I fill out this survey every time I go see my p doc, Its been a perfect healthy score these last 3 or 4 months! I am focusing better now that I am off of one of the medicines I began in 2006, I’m concentrating well, reading now, and showing interest in activities like reading, writing/blogging, movies, staying in touch with special people, being better at accomplishing things around the house, I am not scared of going to Church with social phobia anymore and everything! I have my strong points.

I know my posts are typically uplifting and positive, but I am just sharing where I am career wise with you guys. I feel there’s more to my purpose on this earth. I am totally open to any and all input from all of you. Please do comment if you have any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions. They would be so, very much appreciated! I am sending love to all of you this morning! I hope you have a great Monday, wherever you are and whatever you may be doing! Thank you if you have read this far, I know it’s a lot.

God bless!!!


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Dear Mandi,

Thanks for letting me re-blog your story. I wanted to do so because it is important for our blog participants to recognize that “Better Endings” is not all about Polyannish thinking or misplaced optimism. I am interested to see all the work you have done to cope with and to a large degree even to overcome many of the very challenging conditions you are blessed with. And yes, I do see your obstacles as blessings, as your own unique gifts that can help you to grow even in directions many people will not experience in this lifetime.

I notice that you have provided some possible answers to many of your own questions in the process of writing out your thoughts:

“I need some type of technical degree for something like a medical assistant or something. I know I am absolutely not going back to a regular college or university to finish that B.A. as my memory is not what it used to be.”

Since your health condition has improved and you have been able to stop some of your meds, this sounds like a good possibility, if it’s what you really want. You are obviously a very intelligent person, as is clear through many of your blog posts—compassionate, thoughtful, and honest.

With Life Mapping, I try to help people realize that anyone can “Live Your Dream, Now!” The emphasis is on YOUR DREAM and NOW.  Better Endings is not about tomorrow or pie in the sky. What is your Dream, that you CAN “Live, Now”, as you continue to define and live into your Life Dream? You are living with greater clarity since you transcended one drug. You are now in position to be able to contemplate the direction you would like to go, Here/ Now. You are learning from all of your hard won experience, lessons you can help impart to others facing similar problems.

I guess the most I can say, as to a friend, is, keep moving forward, one small step at a time. A flower bud is tightly wound at first and then it opens beautifully when it lets in the Sun and the nourishing force of Life which it draws from the core, from the soil and stem. Stay open to the nourishment and centered guidance of your dreams. Listen to your deeper Self, and…blog on! – Linda

I welcome Comments and Insights on behalf of Mandi, from all Readers & Dreamers!