Diagnosed Workaholic

My first session with my current therapist was just over two years ago and after explaining how I had been “coping” for years and what was happening leading up to my pending breakdown she looked at me and paused, and then she simply said “you realize you’ve been self medicating with work for the past nine years, right?” Yes. Yes I did. The fact is I didn’t know how to cope so I worked too much in order to distract myself from myself. When I was forced to slow down, I couldn’t handle it. I was a workaholic. I’m not saying that to downplay actual addictions, but addiction runs in my family so I have always been excessively carefully with the actually addictive things, so I ended up turning to work instead.

The last couple of months at work have been nuts. I’m working crazy overtime and barely keeping shit together for my department. I had to cancel my last therapy appointment cause I can’t take time off work, and I still haven’t been able to schedule a new one. I’m too exhausted for crafts or games or anything that I used to do after work. I’m barely blogging, sleeping is hard, it took me a week to finally sew buttons onto my sons sock for sock puppet eyes. I wake up already exhausted, run on coffee and soda energy all day, and lie down with an exhausted body and overactive mind as soon as I get home.

But I realized today that in the last two weeks I’ve had almost no panic attacks. I have not had the constant urge to self harm. I have not cried myself to sleep or stared at nothing in the overwhelming emptiness of my lack of self. I have not begun screaming at someone out of uncontrollable anger held too long. My emotional extremes aren’t there. Today it occurred to me that I am doing almost no self care at all, so why am I suddenly stable? My meds didn’t change, so it can’t be that. Then my therapists words echoed in my head. “Self medicating with work.” Am I doing it again? Am I so overworked that my disorders have taken a backseat? I don’t know. But two years of practicing self care has at least taught me a couple things.

First, work does not define me. I have to keep reminding myself of that, and I do. No matter how much of my day is stuck on work right now, it does not define me. Second, it is important to not judge. I don’t need to judge my overworking nature at the moment, I simply need to be aware that it is there and that it will not last forever. That I need to keep working to build in more self care while I can. Third, I can’t make this permanent. I need to allow myself to slow back down as work slows back down. I can’t allow myself to get so used to this that I don’t stop.

I choose to be aware of my situation and my past so I can move past this. I choose to be healthy, even if it means that feeling good might not be from feeling good or from healthy practices.

Long forgotten happy place

When I was a kid my favorite uncle worked at Home Depot. My mom and I would occasionally go visit him and pick up a plant or paint sample while we were there. I fell in love with the store. I loved walking through the kitchen section and feeling the differing types of tile, looking at the carpet samples to determine what kind will be in my home when I grow up, studying every type of door fascinated by the ones with windows or fancy knobs. But my favorite aisle was the one with wood. Nothing but boards in various sizes, all with the most spectacular smell. I could loose myself in that aisle forever.

Over time I forgot this happy place of mine. My uncle went on to another career, we bought our plants elsewhere, didn’t paint as often. And the joys of this magical place got lost somewhere in the back of my mind. Not too long ago I had to get something from Home Depot. It was late, an hour before closing, and quiet. So I decided to wander a bit. I began to remember how much I loved this store, but as I went into my magical forest aisle it wasn’t quite the same. So I continued to wander until I reached the far edge of the gardening section and became lost in a sea of half grown trees and giant bags of soil. My new aisle, my new happy place.

Today I needed a break. I needed to calm my mind of the anxiety of the week. Week? Actually no, let’s try month. So I went to Home Depot and picked up a new pack of key rings and then went into the forest in the far corner. As I wandered I found myself at the clearance rack, a metal shelf unit covered in half dead plants marked down 50-75%. As I stood there I longed for these plants. But I rent an apartment, and my tiny patio and window sills have more heat than light from the sun, so plants don’t grow for me right now. I had to leave them all behind as I knew they wouldn’t flourish with me. So I spoke quietly to them. I told these plants that they were not forgotten, that I loved them, and that when I have a house and a garden I will fill that garden with clearance plants and bring them back to life. The plants can’t hear me, but that’s okay because I needed the reminder that all living things can come back to beauty and life if cared for properly. Some day I will save those plants, they will not be forgotten, left to die on a shelf.

I loved my moments in my forest today in the back corner of Home Depot. Then of course I hit the grocery store on the way home for a giant bottle of wine cause let’s face it, it’s been a shitty few weeks. So cheers. Here’s to half dead plants, half forgotten happy places, and half empty bottles of wine.

I will not

I will not rage quit my job today.

I will not allow a single email to determine my career.

I will not allow this bitch to get to me, even after nearly three years of her hacking away at my mental state at work.

I will not rage quit my job today.

I will not stay up all night.

I will not be up all night afraid of the dreams that will haunt my sleep.

I will not allow my stress from the day to determine whether or not I will sleep that night.

I will not stay up all night.

I will not spend the day in tears.

I will not hide and cry all day over the devastation in this world.

I will not dwell on my personal experiences of loved once trapped in past shootings and replay the fear in my head while others face this new terror in their own lives.

I will not spend the day in tears.

I will not give up.

I will not forget that this day is temporary.

I will not allow the insanity of my current life and stress levels to destroy the future I am always fighting towards.

I will not give up.

“YOU’RE almost done”

After 3 weeks of go go go craziness, my husband told me I needed to take a day to do nothing. He asked me to cancel my plans for Saturday and just rest. I exclaimed that I can’t do that, that my current reoccurring Saturday activity should be done every Saturday. “Besides, it’s almost done” I stated in an effort to prove my point. He turned to me and said “YOU’RE almost done.” And he’s right. I’m stretched too thin and continuously telling myself it’s okay cause each of these things are just for the season, it’s almost done. My “it’s temporary” thought process may help me fight my depression, but I can really screw with my focus when applied to all of the things I want to accomplish.

So with his words in my head, I cancelled my Saturday plans. This morning I thought it was silly, I felt fine. Around 1pm I realized I hadn’t eaten all day, hmmm maybe the stress has been effecting me if I don’t have my normal appetite. After a light lunch I fell asleep. When I woke up 6 hours later my husband simply turned to me and said “see, I knew you were gonna crash. Feel better?” And yes, yes I do. I’m still enjoying some lazy time right now, and have no idea how this will effect my sleep tonight. But for now I will appreciate the day of rest, the sudden appetite upon waking up, and the fact that my Hubby will always take care of me.

Audio book recommendations

So life is crazy and hectic and exhausting right now. It’s giving off the strange effect of increasing my depression rather than my anxiety or anger like it more commonly would. And because all has gone haywire, I’m struggling to make time for self care, which I desperately need. So I started listening to audio books in the car to and from work in hopes of building in at least that small chance of personal calm and happy. But I need recommendations for new ones.

So please recommend audio books for me. I would greatly appreciate it!

If we were having coffee…

If we were having coffee it would be large, and strong, and multiple cups. It’s been an exhausting couple of weeks due to life and work. Beyond that my emotional regulation is not doing well. And I wouldn’t be too concerned except for the fact that I had to cancel my therapy appointment for the month cause I simply can’t take the time to get there. But as I took back to blogging after a lower amount of posts the past few weeks, I found that I am not alone. You all are with me, and you understand. Your support means the world to me 💕💕💕

If we were having coffee I would ask how you have been. I find that a lot of people around me are facing busy, crazy, stressful, emotional times as well right now. Feel free to share so we can all be there for each other. And if you are one of the few having goods times right now, please share as well. It is through celebrating the goods times that we remember what we are fighting for through the bad.

Namaste y’all

Bigger on the inside

I feel sometimes like having BPD makes me like the TARDIS, bigger on the inside. My emotions are so strong, so powerful, so huge, that the outside of me begins to shut down and shrivel into a tiny lump in the corner. All week I have been trapped in this. Mostly with anger. I physically feel anger the same way I do anxiety. I feel it creeping around in my arms and legs. I feel it tighten my chest and weigh down in my stomach. I feel these sensations spinning around in me until I think I may burst. But I don’t. My insides have made room for the swirl of anger, and my outsides have learned to blend into the background and remain calm and small. But how long will this last? How long until I explode into a million broken pieces from the exhaustion of my insides?

Sit down and shut up

Since the age of 10 I have been told there is a limit to how far I can go. To what all I can do. I push to live up to my own dreams and expectations, but continuously hit a point where someone tells me to stop. I’ve gone too far, done too much, I’m not good enough so step aside for someone else. For over 20 years I have fought this. I have told myself I can reach my dreams, I just need to work hard, listen, learn, try. But once again I find myself in a spot where just as I’m learning, I’m pulled away and told someone else will do it. What have I done wrong? No one can say. What could I have done differently? Nothing.

It’s stupid, it’s probably for the best as I have other things to do anyway. But how long can I continue to tell myself to keep trying? How many years does it take before I give up and believe what everyone else believes of me? I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not reliable enough, I’m too slow, too loud, too active. I need to just sit down and shut up. Do what I’m told without question. Don’t try to live beyond my abilities as predetermined by everyone else.

I’m too exhausted to keep fighting. At least for now.

Children are so beautifully blind

Been at storefronts selling popcorn with my cub scout this weekend, and his blindness to the prejudice of the world is so apparent as he sells. He speaks the same to everyone regardless of color, gender, or age. He doesn’t care if you’re autistic or going by in a wheelchair. He doesn’t notice you wearing a uniform that says you’re working there rather than shopping there. He even tried to sell to two homeless men over the course of the weekend.

I didn’t stop him, I didn’t say anything. As he tried to sell a $20 bag of popcorn to a homeless man today, I just watched. I didn’t answer for the man or get in the way. He politely said no, my son said thanks, I smiled at them both. I knew he didn’t have the money to buy scout popcorn, but I also knew he did have the right to speak for himself. My son sold popcorn to anyone willing to buy, he spoke to everyone the same, he knew nothing of the “groupings” of society.

I am so proud of my scout, and I realized today just how much I can learn from him.

I stand for my team

I report to two managers. I have learned what goes to who and how to work with both, but something has set off one of them recently. I have some guesses as to what, but what doesn’t matter, not when you’re coming after my team. She has begun telling me off for how I manage certain things that are technically under the other managers responsibilities, who is perfectly fine with how I’m running things. She’s pissed that she can’t control this aspect and it shows. She has begun demanding I start writing up my employees for things they have not done wrong. Most of the time I can protect them from that and they have no idea how I am standing up for them when they can’t see it. But occasionally I can’t, she finds (or forces) a way around me.

Yesterday one of my employees compared us to the angel/demon on the shoulders. That technically we say the same things, but it is so drastically different in approach that it feels like those two separate entities. This breaks my heart. No one should feel torn like this at work, work is stressful enough on its own. I want to merge the gap, but how do I do that without losing some of that “angel” side I feel they deserve?

When we have differing opinions she demands that I look at it from a “business standpoint.” That it isn’t her showing a lack of empathy, it’s her watching out for the business because she has to. Well I call bullshit on that! Want to look from a “business standpoint?” Fine, let’s do that.

There are numerous studies on the cost of employee turnover, a good starting point if you’re interested is here. Not only does it have strong explanations, but also links to multiple other studies and articles. In general it is estimated that for each employee lost the company is paying 1.5 to 2 times their annual salary to replace them. So let’s throw out a random number and say your entry level employee is making $12 per hour. Annual salary is $24,960 so the cost to lose and replace that employee will cost $37,440 to $49,950.

So here is one of numerous examples over the last few weeks. An employee is running in at the last minute and clocking in a few minutes late because she had to spend her lunch break getting her mother to the doctor. I am aware, and mention to try to get in a bit earlier and call if you’re going to be late, but that I understand that things sometimes make that hard. I don’t tell little miss “business standpoint” cause it’s none of her goddamn business. Someone else in the office complains and she pulls me aside to say it’s “embarrassing” to have someone else bring it to her attention and that I need to issue a written warning. I mention that the employee technically is on time, but I understand the perception issue and will speak to her. I will not issue a written warning as this has not been an issue in the past and in fact you had just complimented this exact employee on her timeliness. “Well I was looking at a different period of time. This is not acceptable to this business!”

So the following morning I chat with said employee and explain that there are perception issues that can cause concern if coming in at the last minute, and beyond that it is also more stressful for you as well. Try to get in about 10min early as often as possible to have that extra time to settle in and not feel or look hurried. She says that makes a lot of sense, and that she was told we would be “having this chat” but that it made a lot more sense than the previous afternoons conversation. What? Yeah, bitch face had pulled the employee aside after speaking with me the day before and told her that “if you can’t remember to come on time, you can’t continue to work here.”

So let me get this straight. A temporary timeliness issue in order to get your mom to the doctor is worth costing the company tens of thousands of dollars so you can show off your “business standpoint?” And this is one of numerous instances over the course of the last few weeks. I can only imagine what she’s saying to my other manager to see if she can get him to write me up while we’re at it. I only wonder if he will stand for me as much as I do for my team.