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.

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!

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’ll be your farmer if you’ll be my gun

Do you ever think about if you could survive the zombie apocalypse, and how? I totally do. It probably would make more sense to plan for more likely apocalypses (apocalypsi?) but I don’t think I would live long enough to see apocalypse status. Like if it were from war, I’d probably do something stupid like go outside to see what that loud sound was. If it was from a mutant virus, well lord knows I catch everything and respond to no medication. If it was from like a giant meteor or something it’d probably smoosh me anyway. So zombie apocalypse is really my only shot here.

I figure first I need drinkable water, yeah? I know where rivers and streams are in my area and most of my surrounding states thanks to early adulthood road trips, and can easily get my hands on more of the water testing kits to make sure the zombies didn’t poison the water. Though I don’t think they usually do that, do they?

Second I need food. I come from farmers on my moms side of the family, so I have a few skills. I would mostly focus on vegetable gardens and fruit trees with some cows and chickens for milk and eggs. I have a black thumb when it comes to most plants, but surprisingly the only garden I’ve successfully grown is a vegetable garden. So in theory I should be able to make it work.

Third is shelter. I come from carpenters on my dads side, so can actually build things surprisingly enough. So far I’m doing pretty good! I would need to learn how to properly chop and process wood. But after loosing a few limbs I think I’d get the hang of it 😉

Fourth, and this is where I struggle, I need protection. Everyone knows that the way to kill a zombie is a gun shot to the head. Unless Hollywood has been lying to us. But Hollywood wouldn’t do that, they are totally trustworthy! Right?! So anyhoo, I have no coordination and could never trust myself with a gun. So I need help. I need a non-shaking, non-clumsy, very coordinated hand with a gun. Ideally that hand would also be attached to a body, but I don’t judge. So if anyone wants to team up with me for the zombie apocalypse and has a hand that matches that description, let me know. I’ll totally share my veggies and milk and eggs!

Because science

So the kids are back in school, and are learning to share faster than learning to properly wash their hands and cover their mouth. So the whole family’s been sick and it is currently my turn. After a full day of work, a conference call for a new project, and a trip to the psych, I’m at home and exhausted.

I decided to drink some coffee to perk me up and get stuff done, but my nose and ears wanted to be jerks. So I took cold medicine with the coffee, because drowsy + caffeine = ???

So basically I’m a mad scientist experimenting with chemicals. Ok that sounds bad. At this point it’s probably best I lie down and see if I’m capable of falling asleep. Who knows, maybe I’ll be highly productive in my dreams. That could be a fun change.

He’s still processing

I could see that my son was stressed, but unsure why exactly. He's 6 years old so doesn't know the words for what is happening in his mind. We talked and I gave him time to process the words while I listened. And I gave him some new words that might help explain his feelings, and make him feel less alone in his thoughts.

He started out by saying he wishes this was a dream.
"Why do you wish it were a dream?"
"I think maybe it should be a nightmare."
"What makes it a nightmare?"
"Um, because I want to wake up from it."
"Why do you want to wake up from this?"
Long pause….
"I just do."
"If you woke up, what would be different?"
"Well, I wouldn't have to eat all the healthy food" pause…
"Anything else?"
"Yeah, my room would be clean."
"Well, you can make that happen."
"But there's SO MUCH. All the toys all around, it makes me like I'm dizzy."
"Ok. Well we can find ways to make that easier."
Long pause….
"Is there anything else that would be different?"
"Well…"
Another pause…
"You can tell me sweetie."
"Well…. my fish would be back."

And that's when it clicked. He's been more irritable since his fish died. I can't believe I didn't connect the two before. So we snuggled for a bit, he began to cry. I just hugged him. I can see he's still processing the loss of his fish and it breaks my heart. We talked a bit more. I told him that maybe he was stressed, and he asked what that means. I described it as when things make us upset in a way that our feelings make us feel dizzy. But not like spinning around in circles dizzy, just an emotions dizzy.

I could see his understanding. I knew that was what he had been trying to put into words. I explained that when our stress feels really big, it makes us feel overwhelmed. I think he understood.

Today my son learned that his emotions have names, and he is not alone in them. Today I was reminded that he does have strong emotions, and I need to help him learn to process them. I never learned that as a child. I have the emotional (and physical) scars to prove it. I will do all that I can to help my kids learn to process their emotions.

Scheduling sucks

So I got chewed out by my boss this morning for not properly documenting something that I scheduled (technically just approved to be scheduled) back in April. Than I realize I scheduled something else wrong, went in to correct it, and got hit with 20 questions on "why are you making changes?" Maybe I'm making changes to make you stop bitching at me! Clearly my mind is adjusting well to my third new manager in a year.

Then I realize I forgot to schedule a time to stop by the pharmacy, but not to worry, I'll be in that area tomorrow for my psych follow up, I can get them on the way there. But if she changes my meds that's a waste, so I should get them on the way back. But if I do that I'll be late coming home and I have to get my son to Karate class. Why did I schedule an appointment on the other side of town immediately before Karate class?

Of course at this point of my scheduling nightmare of a day I decided to stop dwelling and instead take some notes on what to mention to the psych since it's a follow up from a recent med change. My attempt to think of notes went as follows "it made me constantly exhausted which was not insomnia, but still sucked, but then it got better, but than worse, but I can't tell cause I've been exhausted all day, but it's past midnight and I'm still awake, but the dreams are better, but not last night, but I've been feeling, um, better? Same? Um, I don't know, but BREATH DAMMIT. So I decided not to write that down for her.

What I did notice was that I have no idea how the new med is effecting me, and mostly that is because I'm hormonal. Because apparently I thought it would be a good idea to follow up with my psych during my period. Because of course that would give me a great understanding of my body chemistry from the new med!

So I suck at scheduling, and my new boss already hates me, and I'm exhausted… again.

Good night y'all. Wish me a night of dreamless sleep 😴