06 November 2012

Dear Election Fairy...

Dear Election Fairy,

Look, I know we've had our differences. For many years, I would go to bed safe and snug on Election Night and you would bring me a new president. It wasn't always the one I wanted (perhaps the less said about 2004, the better), but he arrived nevertheless.

2000 was the first--and so far only--year you've let me down. I maintain you were mugged, but you've never said for sure. That being said, please plan for extra security tonight, because I just don't have the constitution to go through that nonsense again.


18 October 2012

Attitude, Belief, and the Chronic Depressive

A friend of mine posted a quote on Facebook today. "The only difference between a good day and a bad day is your attitude and your belief." I'm not naming the friend or the source of the quote, because a.) I don't want her to feel bad about what is, really, a generally harmless quote, and b.) It's really not the point of this post.

But as someone who struggles with depression in general and who has been going through a particularly ugly episode lately (ah, how I love the change in seasons--NOT), I have to say that I these kinds of  "it's all in the attitude" quotes crawl under my skin. They're not quite triggers, but almost.

What a lot of non-mentally ill people take for granted is, in fact, a fair amount of control over their attitudes. And it's what sometimes even the best meaning friends fail to understand about the average chronic depressive or anxious person. We don't have those controls. Or, rather, they're locked away from us in a lucite box. We can see them. We know how they're supposed to work. But, for some reason or other, we can't access them. For me, medication and talk therapy help me gain access to those controls, but only ever in a limited way. 

For me, the seasonal change from summer to autumn will always be hard. Babies, thanks to a miscarriage, will always be a heartbreaking blend of joy and grief. Weighty expectations from authority figures can trigger anxiety attacks if I don't manage them just right. I can't just "think positive," as the aphorism I quoted above advises, and push on.  Sometimes I do manage to assimilate or resolve the sadness or anxiety and push on. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I push on and just rant, generally briefly, always at random, for a week. Sometimes I deal with the feelings but don't manage to get dressed before 3 PM for four days.

But the real tiger trap of these positive attitude philosophies is that they hit a lot of mentally ill people where we live. Even if we're not in treatment, a lot of mentally ill people know we're not "normal." We know we're somehow different. Most of us don't want to be different, at least not like this. We want to be normal. We want to be able to be determined to change our attitude, accomplish it, and have a better day as a result. So, for a long time, it was a punch in the gut when I couldn't do it. It was a failing: sometimes moral, sometimes spiritual, occasionally fortitudinous, always personal.

Fortunately for me, I got into therapy. It was for a completely different reason, but hey, I got there. Also, there was the internet where I met lots of other people like me who couldn't just "get happy," or just "get over" being anxious. People and bloggers who were living with mental illness helped me realize that no, I may not be normal by conventional standards, but I'm normal for me. They also helped me understand that I need to fight tooth and claw--sometimes even against myself--to get what I need for my normal. I need to be vigilant and follow the instructions they give you on airplanes: take care of yourself before you attempt to help another person. So I concentrate on self care and pay attention to the signals my body and attention send. I'm even fairly successful a lot of the time. But I'm not always, and it's not always my fault, and it's certainly never a personal failing. I just have to try to do better tomorrow. I've got wacky synapses. They are what they are. And I am what I am.

One thing I would like to point out that no one should stop posting inspirational quotes like the one I started this blog post out with. They really do help a lot of people, and, for the majority of humanity, they ring pretty true. I am very much of the, "If it's stupid and it works, it ain't stupid" school of thought. I am also of the school of thought that if I can't bear an inspirational quote to the point that NO ONE SHOULD EVER POST THEM AGAIN, EVAR!!!1!  I probably need to be logging more time with my therapist. Or less time on the internet. But, as I hope I've conveyed throughout this post, that's just me. 

10 May 2012

Unemployment is Hard.

One of these days, I promise, really, I will have an honest-to-goodness happy, upbeat post.

Yeah, today's not that day.

So, unemployment. It's hard. First of all, you have that no-money-coming-in thing going on. I am incredibly lucky as my husband is well employed in a fairly recession-proof industry. But it's meant loans have gone into deferral, credit cards are off limits, my Kindle is perpetually set to offline, etc., etc. Like I said, I'm incredibly lucky, and I know that. But given my past couple of job experiences (which frequently led to self-doubt) coupled with a chronic mood disorder, things get out of hand in my little world nonetheless.

In what will no doubt echo at least one email I will receive in response to this post, it's difficult watching people complain about their jobs on Facebook and having to physically restrain oneself from commenting "AT LEAST YOU HAVE A JOB. WAH." It's totally unfair of me and intrusive into what I call people's online living rooms, so I've managed to not actually write on people's walls/in people's blog comments/leave notes taped to their kitchen windows. But still. Hard. So then I go offline and become a hermit for a week. This is no better, because then I shuffle around the house aimlessly, half-heartedly futzing around with a project or fourteen, and then I fall asleep.

This is because, you see, time doesn't work when you're unemployed. You heard me. The time half of the time-space continuum: it's broken, trashed, kaput the second you sleep through the alarm that first day. You close your eyes for ten minutes at 10 AM because the kidlet was up in the middle of the night needing to go potty and it took her an hour to get settled back down, and the next thing you know it's four o'clock in the afternoon. Seriously--temporal disturbance. Someone page The Doctor or Jean-Luc Picard, someone who's got a clue of what's going on because I obviously have some sort of acoustic cavitation bubble cloud floating around my house. My personal theory? I think it's caused by CastleVille. (What? I'm depressive. FarmVille is too demanding.)

The other thing that happens when you're unemployed is everyone tells you that this is the perfect time to write that novel or work on that hobby you've always wanted to pursue. Yeah, not so much. I don't know about many of you out there, but I'm not great with internal motivation. Translated out of educator-speak, that means I don't get squat done without a deadline. To counteract this tendency, many writers, advice-givers, and gurus out there advise you to make your own deadline! Conquer your own destiny! Start a land war in Asia! The thing is, I know the deadline's crap. I set it. So I putter, and I putter, and I play around online, and I stare at the screen. The next thing I know the temporal flow of the universe is on the fritz again and it's 5 PM and I should really change out of my pyjamas before my husband and kid get home. Look for my future post, "Hygiene: the Silent Victim of Unemployment."

So, maybe this post was more upbeat than I realized going in. Perhaps it's true what they say about comedy stemming from tragedy. Once upon a time I had a boyfriend who thought I was hilarious when I was angry or bitter, and just hysterical if I managed both. The man nearly hurt himself listening to my commentary when we were caught in a cold downpour on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. Looking back, I should've thrown him over the rail into the cold October ocean but hindsight's 20/20, you should never invade Russia in winter, and you can't leave your fingerprints on his neck and still call it an accident.

24 April 2012

I Aten't Dead.

The depression treatment continues. Much like God's justice, it grinds slow, but exceedingly fine. Today has been a little rough. Kidlet's been sick with what we now know to have been a UTI, but it's meant a beggar of a fever. So I'm currently having my usual after-the-fact case of nerves. Mom, worried herself, particularly where fevers are concerned is Not Being Helpful.

"Did you know your brother had convulsions from a high fever when he was 18 months old?" 

"Yes, Mom, I did. Also, did I remember to thank you for the fever-phobia you installed with the other neuroses and personality quirks? Aside from that, I thought I'd let the kid run around in traffic and sleep in the park tonight."

Combine that with heavy duty surgery for a friend tomorrow, a brush with death-by-breadknife (I kid you not. ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS WHEN YOU GET A CUT, FOLKS.) with another old friend, and having the financial tide brushing my chin, and you have one very fragile-feeling Lyn. Oh, and I keep running into dead and/or traumatized kids as a literary trope.

I wonder if there's a badger in these parts who wouldn't mind sharing a little headspace...

08 March 2012

But It's Dark and Scary In There...

I swear I should just rename this blog "The Back of My Head."

So, depression. It's here. It's situational AND biochemical. And it sucks. I'm not even motivated enough to self-harm or contemplate worse. I sleep a lot, and it's not to escape. It's because I can't think of anything else I'd rather do. I have no passion for anything right now. I've got ideas. I've even written outlines. But I can't take the last step to actual writing. I forced myself to take a shower today and it was the most difficult thing I've done in a long time. Every step was. An. Effort. The weather's been gorgeous and the idea of going outside makes me twitch.

So, yeah. I go to my usual therapy tomorrow, and I've got a "Crap, I need to see you ASAP" call into my psychiatrist.

I just want to care about something again, to have that creative fire burn again. Or, you know, not turn into a vampire. That'd be cool, too.

28 January 2012

Scary Good

So, as many of you who have this blog on your radar know, I am currently unemployed. This past week, though, I had a highly successful meeting with a recruiter named Susie at a national temp/recruiting agency. Yay, right?

Right, but there was something else. They required me to give a reference from my last job. That was a bit of a problem, as my supervisors from my last job adored my teaching, but were not really thrilled with how much time off I took.

There was a point in the interview, where I had to say something. "About my references," I started. I don't remember my exact words, but they boiled down to this.

I had some serious problems starting in September 2010, starting with a miscarriage, and I never quite bounced back.

I am a chronic depressive.

I am on medication, and I keep it in check with regular therapy and visits to my psychiatrist.

I had problems getting to work some days, especially with a long commute.

I said it. I laid everything down. It instantly turned a routine fill-out-the-I9-and-get-to-know-you interview into the most terrifying interview I have ever endured.

She rolled with it. Bless Susie, she took it in stride, appreciated my honesty, and suggested that the change of scenery and pace of temping might help me bounce out of my professional malaise. Not to mention the fact that I explicitly asked for assignments to which I can take the city bus. No more trips to PG county. No disrespect to the county or its inhabitants, but that alone is a huge weight off my shoulders.

The interview went on for another half an hour, at least, during which she asked me about my interests, and what kind of assignments I'd be interested in.

But I did it. Even if she'd put on a bland mask and hustled me out there as soon as possible, it still would have been worth it. In therapy, I deal a lot with being me, not just the person I think others want or need to see. Well, me is a chronic depressive and screwed up her last job kind of spectacularly. It's not the only facet of who I am, but it is one that I should acknowledge and learn from.