You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2009.

Okay, let me start by saying that I love my Dad.  We haven’t always had a very close relationship, but that’s changed in the past ten or so years.  We have started to understand each other better, and since my breakdown, he has done a lot of personal growth.  (“Done” doesn’t seem to be the right word here, but I can’t find one I like any better.)  I do love him, a lot.

But today was one of those days where I wanted to shake him, or smack him, or something.  It was such a small incident, but yet it illustrates one of the most frustrating things about my father.  Hang in for the full story, I think you’ll see what I mean in the end.

Today was Wendy’s Dreamlift Day, which is a fundraiser where all of the local Wendy’s restaurants donate all their proceeds and the staff and management donate all their wages to help local children with life-threatening illnesses or severe disabilities go to Disneyland.  It’s a super-worthy cause, and my parents always support it.

So Dad says he’ll go pick up supper, and we should write down what we want.  I made the list:  an Ultimate Chicken Grill and a baked potato for me;  chicken nuggets and fries for Mom;  and I left it to Dad to figure out what he wanted.  So off he goes to pick up the food.

He comes home, and tells me that he ordered us each a combo meal, with fries and a Diet Coke.  I got my chicken sandwich, but Mom got chicken strips, not nuggets.  I didn’t get my baked potato, and aspartame gives me a migraine.  I asked him, what was the point in giving him a list, if he was just going to choose something else for us?  He said that he’d just decided that the combos were a good idea, and so easy to order.  You’ve got a friggin’ list, what is hard about that???  I pointed out that Mom didn’t even order chicken strips, that she had deliberately chosen to order nuggets.  And reminded him that I can’t drink diet pop.  He just shrugged and said something like well, I decided to do this.

Gaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Maybe I’m over-reacting, but this is an ongoing thing with him.  He doesn’t listen, and when he does, he just does whatever he wants anyway.  He was so matter-of-fact about it, and wasn’t bothered at all that he had completely disregarded what we wanted, substituting his own choice for ours.  He was positively cheerful.  Father knows best, riiiiiiiiiiight.

Petty example, because it’s fast food, right?  Not something that, in and of itself, made any real difference.  But the thing is, he would do this no matter what the issue was.  It is so frustrating.  If he had been going out to buy medicine, and was told to buy Tylenol because the sick person was allergic to aspirin, he’d come back with aspirin if it was on sale, or if he just happened to prefer aspirin himself.  He does things like this all the time.  I am so frustrated with the larger issue that was spotlighted tonight with our food order.

He does it with Dannan all the time, too.  Dannan is a three-legged dog.  His missing leg is his front left.  All of his weight rests on his front right leg, because his centre of gravity is at the front of his body.  The vet has repeatedly emphasized that Dannan has to stay very trim, or the stress on his joints will be disabling.  He cannot become overweight, not even close.  It will affect his mobility, lead to arthritis in his joints, all kinds of awful stuff like that.  I have explained this to my father at least fifty times.  (And yes, I am one of those people who exaggerates all the time, but this is no exaggeration.)

So my father likes to share his food with Dannan, and he wants to do it.  So he does.  Even though I’ve repeatedly asked him NOT to do it.  I have explained the reasons why so many times that he should be able to repeat with me, word for word.  I have shown him what a proper portion size is for a piece of apple, which is the only thing he is allowed to feed Dannan.  Dannan gets a piece of apple about the size of my thumb nail.  Dad gives him a third of his apple.  I have asked him not to, I have threatened to not bring Dannan over to the house, I have scolded, and I have become so angry that my voice cracks when I talk.  He doesn’t care;  Dad wants to feed Dannan people food, and so he will.

Fortunately, I seem to finally have gotten through to Dad, at least on the “apples only” front.  I haven’t seen Dad feed Dannan anything but apple in quite a while, even though Dannan and I have been staying at Mom and Dad’s house for a couple of weeks.  I shudder to think what happens when I’m not around.  But I’ll be satisfied with a third of an apple, if that’s all he gives him.  Dannan loves apples, and they’re not bad for him.  I just can’t believe that it took my father almost four years to get the message that this is a matter of health and mobility for Dannan.

Okay, father rant is over.

In other news, my stalker ex did not try to contact me this past weekend when he was in town.  I didn’t even run into him anywhere.  Perhaps he has finally moved on?  I asked my roommate if I was being too paranoid to be so concerned, and she said, “No, after all, we’re talking about The Stalker.”  I’m just relieved and happy.

My other almost up-to-the-minute news is that the house three doors down from my parents’ house burned down this afternoon.  My mother’s friend, Joan, lived there for thirty years before moving to an apartment when she couldn’t handle the yard anymore.  We don’t know any details about the fire, or even if there was someone home when it started.  But the entire city’s fleet of fire trucks were there, ambulance and police in accompaniment.  I hope we hear more about what happened tomorrow, but the media in our city is just plain incompetent.  The t.v. station itself could be on fire, and the story would never appear on the local news.

Finally, I have a big decision to make, and I’m in a quandry.  I might write about it tomorrow.

… my mind broke.  I wish it had been any other day, because today is also my mother’s birthday.  I hate that her day has become such an awful anniversary for me.

Happy birthday, Mom.  I love you, and I would never have made it to nine without you.

I was reading the paper this morning, and as usual I read the obituaries.  This is a habit picked up from my father;  he has been a bit obsessed   consumed focused on mortality for the past fifteen or twenty years.  (He is 72.)  Anyway, I always look at the obits, and from time to time I do see that a relative of someone I know (or even sometimes someone I know) has died.

Today, it was the grandmother of my very first boyfriend, whom I will affectionately nickname The Stalker.  (The boyfriend, not his grandmother.)  (And hey, sarcasm alert.)  The funeral is tomorrow, here in town.  All day, my mind has returned to this.

I don’t know if I ever knew the grandmother;  I probably did meet her a few times.  I don’t remember her (obviously).  And my preoccupation really has little to do with her.  What I keep thinking about is that The Stalker will be in town for the funeral.

I met The Stalker when I was 17, just out of high school.  He was a good friend of my best friend’s boyfriend.  I had never dated anyone before.  I’ll skip over the details of our relationship for the most part;  let me just say that I was his first “real” girlfriend, and much of our relationship was not good for my self-esteem.  We broke up and got back together more times than I can remember;  he even cheated on me once (I think;  good gravy, my memory is bad!).  We definitely should have stuck to the first break up, hindsight being what it is.  His mother hated me;  after we broke up for the final time, she drove over to my mother’s house to drop off every copy of any picture that happened to have me in it.  I didn’t like his mother much, either.  She would have been the proverbial MIL from hell.  (Marsha, are you reading this?  Your son would have been lucky to have me.  And thank God, the universe, whatever is out there, that I escaped that fate.)

We broke up for the final time just after my nineteenth birthday, which was in June of 1991.  The Stalker was married on April Fool’s Day of 1992, and their first child followed soon after.  He and his wife (whom I shall call The Poor Wife) had quite a few children (I’m thinking four, or possibly only three), and they all came quickly upon each other’s heels.  Eventually, they moved to a town a few hours away.

But before that, The Stalker would often stop by with his young son to see my mother (who felt sorry for him and always invited him in for a visit).  As more children were born, he would bring them, too.  This was happening every few months for a couple of years, at least.  My mother was too nice to tell him to go away.

Then he and The Poor Wife moved.  The Stalker still had relatives in town, so he was often back for visits.  He would stop by (always without notice) to visit my mother.  Sometimes children in tow, sometimes alone.

During this time, there were a few times that he phoned me.  I was adamant that our relationship was over, never to be rekindled.  Never mind that you’re married with a whole passel of kids.   Leave me alone, dude.

So I was mostly unaware of The Stalker’s drop-in visits to my mother, because he always came when I wasn’t home (I lived with my parents while I did my undergraduate degree), and my mother didn’t tell me.

I ran into him once in the grocery store.  He wanted to go for a drink.  I told him to leave me the hell alone.

So time passed, the visits to my mother continued.  I remain unaware of his frequent visits to my house.

Then, in 1995, I moved to Victoria to become an intern at the BC Legislature.  I had not lived there long, when lo and behold, he somehow got my unlisted phone number and called me.  On my birthday, I do believe.  (Keep in mind, it had been four years at this point.)  How are you doing, are you seeing anybody, happy birthday, you were the love of my life…  I was quite rude and told him again to go to hell and never call me again.

Not long after, I changed my phone number for unrelated reasons.  Things were quiet, things were good.

I started law school in the fall of 1995.  I believe it was the spring of 1996 when the next incident occurred, but I may be wrong.  It was certainly sometime before May of 1997;  my memory is bad, but I moved into a basement suite in May of 1997, and I know this incident happened while I was still living in my bachelor suite apartment.

I was in the middle of studying for exams.  Law school exams.  Major stress-inducing, life-and-death exams.  (Many law school courses are graded based on a final exam which counts for 100 percent of one’s grade.)  I didn’t have time to eat or bathe or buy groceries, I was that busy.

I went and picked up my mail one day, and there was an envelope from The Stalker’s younger sister.  I didn’t know what to make of it;  she and I had remained cordial after the breakup when we ran into each other somewhere, but that was it.

When I opened the envelope, I was shocked to read the sister’s letter.  She explained that she had enclosed a letter from The Poor Wife, and would I please read it.  And also something about doing the right thing, or something like that.

I opened the letter from The Poor Wife with trepidation.  In her letter, she begged me to please let her husband go.  That they had children, that she wanted to make her marriage work.  Please to stay out of The Stalker’s life;  it wasn’t fair to her that I kept on with him.  That he told her all the time that I was the love of his life, and she couldn’t take it anymore.

WTF???

She didn’t use the word “affair”, but it was clear from her letter that she thought that The Stalker and I were still involved, that we were carrying on (and not even behind her back;  she made it clear that he threw it in her face frequently).

Now, it has been at least 4 or 5 years since I kicked this guy to the curb.  You can imagine my utter shock at discovering that The Poor Wife thought that I had anything to do with her wretched spouse.  The only communication that he and I had during those years were a few approaches by him, which I cut short immediately and with clear and unmistakable words telling him that I never wanted to see or hear from him again.

I was furious!!  I felt a lot of pity for The Poor Wife.  And I wanted to chop The Stalker’s testicles off and shove them down his throat.  Not only did he torture his wife, he implicated ME in that torture by telling her that he and I were somehow still together.

I wrote a reply to The Poor Wife, explaining that the only contact we had had since June of 1991 was at his instigation, and always met with me telling him to get out of my life and, for the sake of all that was holy, STAY out.  I told her that I was sorry that she had been lied to by The Stalker and put in the position of having to write such a letter.  And I reiterated that I wanted nothing to do with The Stalker, hadn’t in years, and never would.  I mailed the letter to her through The Stalker’s sister, and I heard no reply.

Through the grapevine, I had heard of their marital problems, that they had separated, that they had reconciled but were having problems, et cetera.  Little did I know that, for The Poor Wife, a significant portion of that strife arose out of her belief that I was having an ongoing affair with her husband.  (Shudder.)

I don’t know exactly what happened to their marriage.  But I do know this:  I moved back home after my breakdown, and sometime in probably 2001 or 2002 (again, damn memory!), he called my parents’ house!  I answered the phone, and he said that he’d heard I was back in town, we should get together for a drink and talk.

Again, WTF???

I have never been so rude or plain-spoken as I have been with this person, right from the beginning.  If you ask people who know me, I am diplomatic almost to a fault.  I speak with great tact, generally.  But NEVER in this whole farce had I ever been anything but blunt and clear.

And now, I was angry.  And not especially stable in terms of my illness.  And at the absolute end of my rope, because, holy hell!

I told him (again!) that I didn’t want to get together with him to talk.  I didn’t want him to call me on the phone.  I didn’t want to ever see or hear from him again, ever, not once more in my lifetime.  He was hurt and claimed not to understand.  I repeated, don’t ever contact me again, in any way, shape, or form.  Fuck the hell off, already!

It was after this call that I learned from my mother that during all those years, he had been dropping by to visit her.  She said she had felt too sorry for him to tell him to stop doing it.  I explained that if he should ever darken her door again, she should tell him, in no uncertain terms, not to return.  Ever.

So, that’s the story of The Stalker.  A few weeks ago, I was looking on facebook at a high school reunion group.  There he was, staring out at me from his (brief) facebook profile.  Good lord, will I ever be free of this guy?  After that accidental discovery, every once of a while, his face would pop into my mind.  I had a distinct feeling of unease each time this happened.

That brings us to today.  And I can’t stop thinking, knowing my luck (and him), I will run into him this weekend somewhere.  It feels almost unavoidable.  Will he be at the restaurant where I’m having dinner with friends tomorrow night?  If I go to Safeway, will I run into him there?  God forbid, will he call or try to drop by???

I realize that this is paranoid, but at the same time, it seems justified.  I have a very uneasy feeling.

Well, either the weekend will pass uneventfully (in which case, I will feel paranoid but very relieved), or he will somehow reappear, like the unluckiest penny in the universe.  And if that happens, I will have fodder for another post.  Gotta look at the silver lining, right?

I struggle all the time with the belief that I am not as good a guardian as Dannan deserves.  He has a very boring life, and I always feel guilty that he doesn’t have a better life.  I hardly ever walk him, he doesn’t get to the dog park very often, and I don’t keep him mentally active with training the way I should.  I beat myself up about this all the time;  however, recently I’ve been not too down on myself.

Until today.  My mother commented to Dannan about the fact that he leads a very boring life.  Now my guilt is raging full-force again.  Dannan has done so much for me, and I do so little in return.  He deserves a better life.

Note:  This is a post I am writing to get out my frustration.  I will be bitching a lot, in hopes of getting it all out here instead of in a hellfire email that will probably alienate a lot of people (even though I think they deserve it).  You don’t need to read it.  Unless you want to.  You’ve been warned.

I am the chair of a committee.  There are eight of us.  I am happy to be chair;  I am bossy and I have control issues.  Because I am bossy and have control issues, I began our term by pledging to work by consensus.  Everyone would have a say, and any decision would be made by consensus;  if we failed to reach a consensus, despite working toward it, we would act by majority vote.

I know my faults;  I tried to set things up so that I wouldn’t become Super-Dictator with my crew of rubber-stampers.

We are ten months into our twelve-month term.  Many, many decisions have been made.  I can count on one hand (possibly even on two fingers) the number of decisions that were made by consensus.  Another couple were made by majority vote.  All the rest have been made by me.  Me, myself and I, alone.

This is not for lack of trying on my part to get everyone involved in the decision-making process.  Here is a typical scenario.

Our meeting schedule was set last March.  We would meet the third Tuesday of each month.  At our December meeting, the committee made one of it’s (few) decisions by consensus:  the committee decided that for the remainder of our term, we would not have a set meeting date.  At the beginning of the month, the Chair (’cause who else would do it?) would email around and find out from everybody which day of the month would work out best for the committee members.

(Brief aside for more bitching:  I take my commitments seriously.  When I am on a committee, that committee takes priority over other opportunities that may come my way, like hip-hop dance classes, or a Pampered Chef party, or a hockey game.  That is why I prefer to have a set schedule, so that when someone asks me to do something, I can look at the date and say, “Sorry, I can’t play raquetball with you that night, I have a meeting”.  Apparently, I am the only one who thinks this way.  Any-hoo, back to the scenario.)

January comes, and like a good consensus-seeking chair, I email everyone with a couple of suggested dates.  Two dozen emails later, and I still haven’t heard back from everybody.  Only one person gave me any feedback;  she told me which two dates of the month would work best for her.  No one else did;  they all wrote varieties of “well, let me know when it’s decided”.  The WHOLE FUCKING POINT is that we are making this decision TOGETHER.  Everyone bitched in December about not having a say in when the meetings would be (which they did, back in March, but whatever), but when it came down to it, all but one of them didn’t WANT to have a say in the decision;  they wanted to be TOLD when to show up.

Naturally, I have better things to do with my time and effort than repeatedly emailing people trying to coax an opinion out of them.  Two dozen fucking emails.  Eight committee members.  Two weeks of time wasted in trying to set a meeting date.

A more trivial example:  One of the folks in our organization (not a voting member of the committee, but an ad hoc member) is leaving for different pastures.  I sent out an email letting everyone know that January’s meeting would be the last one at which she would be.  I suggested that perhaps a cake was in order, and what did everyone else think?  Someone made a comment about appetizers (not that this person thought there should be appetizers, but that if we were going to have them, let them know what to bring).  The flow of endless email after that spun out into more of the same.  If the decision is to have appies, tell them what to bring.

I sent out (what I thought was) a very clear email, stating that EVERYONE needed to tell the group what their choice was:  (a) to have cake alone, OR (b) to have appies and cake, and whatever people chose, that is what we would do.  I got back not a single email for over a week.  No one offered his/her opinion.  I was going to send out an email tomorrow about it, but today there was an email in my inbox:  “What’s going on with the meeting?  Are we bringing appies or what?  Let me know once the decision is made.”

ARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Was I not clear enough?  Was there some ambiguity to my words?  Or is it that my illustrious committee members CANNOT READ???

Am I such a Gorgon that everyone is afraid to express an opinion?  I am not aware that I have a reputation of ruthlessly crushing to bits anyone who ventures a thought.  In fact, my memory of the past ten months is of never-ending attempts by me for someone, ANYone, to offer an idea, opinion, thought, preference, something.  It has been worse than pulling teeth, worse than herding cats, worse than hell itself.  Heck, it probably IS Hell itself.

I have tried begging, pleading, cajoling, restating, reframing.  I have asked for input every way I know how.  I have asked REPEATEDLY for some indication of what these people think, on every issue.  Either these people don’t actually have opinions, or they are so scared of being blamed for the possible consequences that they are going to cover their asses with six feet of steel so there is no possible way that a decision could be pinned on them.

All term, I have done this, exhaustively sought input, only to have to make the decisions on my own in the end.  Decisions have to be made, and eventually time runs out to make them.  If I’m the only one who will express an opinion (which I don’t do until the very end of this process, because I am bossy and controlling, and I don’t want to influence anyone), goddammit, I will make the decision.

I know I have dictator-tendencies.  That’s why I tried so carefully to put a process into place that would ensure input frm everyone.  But I have a committee of extreme followers, not a leader among them.  They WANT to be rubber stamps to my Super-Dictator self.  That’s the only conclusion I can reach at this point.  They are happy for me to tell them what the decision is, and then they also want me to tell them exactly what each of them has to do about it.  I can’t even send them away with something like, “We need a poster about issue X”, where issue X is clearly spelled out in our organization’s documents.  Half-a-dozen pamphlets address issue X ad nauseum.  Unless I tell them exactly what to put on the poster, where to place it, and how to stick it on, they don’t seem able to do it.

Have I mentioned, ARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Being a leader myself, I cannot get into these people’s heads.  A friend has offered the theory that they have no confidence in their ability to be right, or that their ideas have merit, so they are afraid to put their thoughts out there.  Well, that’s as may be.  I’m sorry to hear that they have these issues, and I can recommend a counsellor to help them through it.  Just get the hell off my committee.

That sounds really harsh.  But it’s where ten months of this has driven me.  Why are you on a working committee, responsible for implementing the programs of our organization (i.e. you are the ones who are supposed to make things happen), if you are unable to actually do that?

I’m in the midst of recruiting for next term’s committee members.  I’ve never put so much effort into trying to find new people.  Prominent words in my recruitment materials are leadership, self-starter, able to lead a sub-committee. I don’t know how successful I’ll be.  I have to call (yikes!) a woman who is interested in finding out more about the committee.

I’d rather not have a committee next term at all, than have a committee like this one.  I’m going to sit down with each of this term’s members and politely discourage them from running again.  If I’m going to be the only one doing any work, then I don’t need to waste my time with the rubber stamp process.  It will save me a hell of a lot of time.

(The ad hoc committee member commented to me the other day that all this committee had done was create a ton of extra work for me to do, just to do all the work myself.  It’s true, too true.)

Well, I’ve ranted enough now that I think I can send off a group email that is much more diplomatic than it would have been if I didn’t come here to rant and rave.  If you’re still reading, bravo.  You must be sick of hearing me bitch.  You deserve a cookie.  Chocolate chip oatmeal, if you have them.  Please don’t dunk it in the milk, though;  I hate soggy cookies.

(See?  I can be a dictator.  All my effort to avoid it has been for naught.  Perhaps I should just embrace it.)

I am a ruminant.  I allow my mind to focus on some thought, and I worry it to death.  Often, people liken this to a hamster, stuck in a wheel, careening crazily to nowhere.  Apt.  The more I ruminate about something, the higher my anxiety level shoots.  The higher my anxiety, the more frantically I ruminate, I think in an attempt to try to control something.  There is definitely a component to this kind of anxiety that makes one believe that if only one worries hard enough, obsesses long enough, one will have a talisman against bad things happening.  Not true, of course.  All that is guaranteed by this rumination is that one’s stress level will be off the charts, and the bad thing will either happen or not, just as it would have done without the rumination.

At any rate, my ruminations right now have a particular focus.  (Sometimes, they have no focus at all.)  First, the background.

I have begun to see an new psychiatrist, Dr. V.  He has a whole list of new meds for me to try, in the ongoing attempt to reduce my anxiety and improve my mood.  I have been working on Cymbalta since the beginning of December;  it is hard to tell whether my high anxiety and desperation were side effects, or if they were just par for the December course for me.  Perhaps everything would have been even worse without the Cymbalta.  I did wean myself off of it, but then decided that I needed to try it again before my next appointment with Dr. V.

I have to admit, I don’t really think that I will ever find the magic combination that will make me “well”.  (“Well” being a relative term, of course.)  So the rumination that I have been working on lately is this:  if this is the best I will ever get, can I accept it?

After many days of obsessive consideration, I think that I might just be able to accept my life this way, if and only if I can somehow believe that it is okay to let go.  (I was going to type, “give up”, but if I’m talking about acceptance, those words have no place.)  I would really and truly have to believe, based on (probably) input from Dr. V and the Counsellor, that it is okay to live like this for the rest of my life, that I am not giving up, that I am not being the bad person who malingers.  I am not really certain about what would cause me to have such a real and true belief;  at this point, I cannot envision that it could come from within me.

At the same time, I think that I would be driven truly insane if I had to live decades as I now do.  I am coming up on the anniversary of the day my mind broke;  on January 25th, it will be nine years;  in some ways, I cannot believe that it has been that long but in others, it seems like I’ve lived like this forever.  I hope that if I had the real and true belief, I could be satisfied and content.  But it is hard for me to imagine.  Some days I cannot see how I will live through one more day like this, never mind the rest of my life.

I’m losing focus here, so perhaps I will end it now.  The post, I mean.  (Obligatory black humour of a chronic depressive.  Forgive me.)  I am on the cancellation list for appointments with Dr. V until July, so I have no clue when I will see him again.  I am supposed to see him monthly, but it has been eight weeks since my last (and only) appointment with him.  NOT helping my anxiety!

Read the rest of this entry »

Earlier this week, I happened upon Aqua’s blog, Vicarious Therapy. Aqua also has chronic Major Depressive Disorder, and she posted about “the angst” she feels because she doesn’t have paid employment. (What a great word for it, angst.)

In my last post, I mentioned that I feel pressure (from myself? I guess so) to be productive. In the context of naps, the definition of productive is much wider than it is in the context of my life as a whole. Or, to say it another way, my definition of “working” is quite specific. I was happy to learn that someone else feels similar to the way that I do about working. This is an excerpt from Aqua’s post:

My definition of working is much more narrow. To me “working” is employment.

I am stressed because I don’t think I am ready for work, but I want to have a job. I am stressed because I feel okay and then I feel awful. Somehow, someway I NEED to get working. I feel so guilty when I see there are people much more ill than me working. I feel like I am not trying hard enough.

(Sorry, I can’t seem to get the formatting to work the way I want it to.)

And then, in the comments section, Aqua wrote:

…Paid Employment was a sign of moral goodness or something like that.

I can see that others who are unable to work, for whatever reason are beautiful and whole, and that “moral” has nothing to do with whether you are employed or not.

I cannot accept that I am a good person without working. I keep thinking I am using resources others need, or I am not so sick that I cannot work, or that I’m lazy, or evil for not working my fair share. I don’t know if I can ever get past those judgements about my non-working self.

I am quoting so much because it truly feels to me like Aqua is speaking my words. Since my breakdown in 2000, I have spent almost the entire time feeling like I’m not cutting it because I’m not working. (Also, most of my words here are words that I left in comments at Aqua’s post.)

I come from a family where a key piece of a person’s value comes from being productive in employment. I have tried to go back to work part-time, and it was a mistake. So, while I know in my head that I need to just look after myself and leave the question of work until some undetermined time in the future, I still agonize over the fact that I am not working in a paying job.

(Even though I do quite a lot of volunteering, it “doesn’t count”.)

My new psychiatrist has told me that I should not go back to “work” for at least a year, and at that time, we’ll talk about it. He has no problem asserting that I should be concentrating on the task of getting myself well, and that I shouldn’t even be thinking about a job for at least a year.

Still, I feel like I’m not being “productive”… I know I have to change my definitions to value the very hard things that I’m doing, but it’s tremendously difficult.

Then in comes the moral judgement attached to paid employment (in my belief system). If I’m not working, I’m not being a “good” person. And I can’t seem to get rid of those feelings, even though I, too, look at others and see them as wonderful and worthwhile. I do not judge them for being employed or not. When I’m looking at other people, the value of that person has absolutely nothing to do with whether they are in a paid position or not. But I don’t seem to be able to flip that lens back on myself.

I also ruminate a lot about not being sick enough to justify my disability benefits, about taking resources that could go to someone who is worse off than I am, about being “bad” or “evil” because I am not working in paid employment, about being lazy and/or not trying hard enough to get well… And again, like Aqua, I see others that I think are as sick, or sicker, than I am who are working; holy horses, how can I be a good person when I’m just sitting around and those individuals are working?

It was a wonder to find someone who struggles with the same issue that I do. I wish neither of us had this mental paradigm that leads us to so many negative thoughts about ourselves, but it is comforting to know that I’m not the nly one.

If anyone out there has similar beliefs, I encourage you to go to Aqua’s post and read the comments. I’ve bookmarked them because they totally apply to me, and I need to re-read them again and again to help me change my own thinking.

If you feel like sharing about your own beliefs about work and worth, please leave a comment!

I’ve written before about side effects, but I don’t think I’ve done a whole post whining describing my eternal struggle about napping.  So here we go.

When I first had my breakdown, nothing would put me to sleep.  Finally, a med was found that would knock me out;  unfortunately, it was the same med that caused me to gain those 80 pounds.  So it was back to the drawing board.

After many trials of different meds, different combinations of meds, and even more meds, Psydoc and I discovered one that allowed me to sleep without intolerable side effects.  (I’ve mentioned that I’m fairly accepting of most side effects.)

This med also, it turns out, reduces anxiety.  (An off-label use, but I’ll take it.)  It’s not technically a “sleeping” pill, but it works for me.

I find it very sedating, which was, of course, the point.  But it makes me sleepy during the day, too.  It took a while for us to find a dose that would allow me to get some very necessary sleep at night, but not conk me out all day, too.

Just to put things in perspective, I usually take my nighttime pills and go to bed around 9 pm.  I don’t usually fall asleep until 10:30 to 11:30, but I have found that I need that time to settle and relax.  If I go to bed at 11, I won’t fall asleep until 12:30 or later.  So I head downstairs pretty early.

I sleep like the dead until sometime between 1 am and 3 am.  Seriously good sleep.  LOVE that kind of sleep!  Then I get up and take a second dose of my “sleeping” med.  I used to take the whole dose when I went to bed, but I was waking around 3 am and not getting back to sleep.  So I have made the decision to split the dose, which seems to work well.

I go back to bed and it takes up to an hour for me to fall back asleep.  Then, I sleep until sometime between 6 am and 7:30 am, at which time Dannan lets me know that he needs to go outside.  I let him out, go to the bathroom again myself, and give him breakfast.  Then we go back to bed until around 10 am.

Sounds like I get an absolute ton of sleep, doesn’t it?  You’d think it would be enough.  It’s not, though.  Around 1 pm, I get really sleepy again.  I don’t need a nap every single day, but if I don’t have a nap every three days (or even sometimes every second day), my mood plummets.  I can feel myself starting to get jittery, to be overly sensitive and anxious, and to feel on the verge of tears.  I can feel myself slipping into a bad state, and I know that it’s not far to depression’s dark pit.  Seriously, the “lack” (ha ha, sarcasm) of sleep makes me rapidly start to lose it.

I really resent having to take naps.  I hate it.  It is such wasted time.  I have so little of what I call productive time as it is.  I really and truly hate to have to take every second or third afternoon, and spend two to three hours napping.  I fight against this need often, and I always feel myself sliding into a bad place.

Clearly, I need more sleep than many people do.  Whether this is because of the medication cocktail, the mental illness, or what, I don’t know.  I just know that this is one factor that I can control that makes a real, substantial difference in my mood.

So you would think that I would be grateful for this important piece of knowledge and embrace the (rare) opportunity to manage my illnesses.  You would also be wrong — I fight, sometimes tooth and nail, to avoid the nap.

It’s pretty dumb, and I know that.  I think that my resistance is largely fueled by this core belief that I have:  people must be productive to have value, where productive means doing something approximating work.  Which could include housework, reading a book, writing, answering email, or something like that.  (At least, this satisfies my definition of work for the purposes of discussing napping.  It doesn’t, however, satisfy the definition in other situations.  Strange thing, the mind.)

Sleeping and resting do NOT fit within the definition of productive, in this core belief.  I feel like I am willfully wasting time.  (Yes, Counsellor, I do know that what I really mean to say here is that I THINK I am willfully wasting time.)  I know that the definition of productive can be whatever I want it to be, and certainly including “stable emotionally” in that definition makes a lot of sense.  Change is hard, this I know…

So I fight the need to nap.  I took a nap today, because I know I’m getting to the point where if I didn’t, I would be teetering on the brink of slipping tomorrow.  I am unhappy that I have so much conflict about something that is clearly vital to my emotional balance, but yet I still struggle with it.  People are perverse, that’s my problem.  😉

Please visit Violence Unsilenced – Help end domestic violence and sexual assault

Writer’s Relief Blog

Visitors to the Muse Asylum

  • 6,114 hits
Email me at themuseasylum (at) gmail (dot) com!

Follow me on Twitter!

I will post my Kreativ Blogger award here when I figure out how to do it!