It’s been a very busy week.  Very stressful.  And it was capped today by a mistake by omission that sent me home in near tears.

We are putting in a new software system and I have been given quite a lot of extra responsibility with that.  And since it’s implementation was supposed to be Friday, the last week was fraught with various glitches and various things not done.  All while my full time job was not done by me with any great focus.

In the end we did not go live on Friday because there were too many roadblocks.  I was relieved because a good portion of my responsibilities on it were unfinished.

To add stress and work to this, Friday was the monthly close for billing.  On the 1st I am normally putting in at least a 10 hour day.  But due to the system it was just impossible to even get done, after my 12th hour.  So.  I left and came back today.

Needless to say, I have set aside a whole lot of non-urgent tasks during the last month.  And one of them was a contract my boss gave me to read.  It outlines the new rates etc for our biggest client.  I read it today.  After I sent the invoices, which were based on a conversation I had with my boss on how much the fares were.  I don’t know if I misunderstood him or if the contract was not written to his verbal agreement, but it specifies a whole different rate structure than I billed at.   And it doesn’t matter what he or I understood, because what he signed says these things.

When I say it’s our biggest client, I had 1500 line items on one invoice and 600 on the other.  And all of it is wrong.  I have pull it apart and redo it.  Then apologize profusely to their AP folks.

I couldn’t face it and I walked out tonight  on the verge of tears.  I called my coworker and she talked me off the full on breakdown.  She’s good at that.   I might go in tomorrow.  Because Monday is going to be yet another day of system issues and I won’t have time to do it.

But I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  Last time I felt this shitty was when I literally stopped moving, lost my job, and after exhausting my savings became homeless.

On a positive note though, I notice I’m handling it better this time.  I have tools to deal with it, I guess.  Last time I refused to acknowledge it.  Because I had a great life, I couldn’t possibly be depressed or anxious.

But now I see what’s happening and have more tools.   I am better prepared and more aware of it.  When the feeling of near breakdown was worst was the beginning of this week, I just sat myself down and realized I had to let things go.  I had to stop internalizing things I couldn’t control and recognize the limits of what I could do in the space time I was allotted. .  And after that, things got a lot easier.  Although I’m still prone to snapping at people, and all of my coworkers recognize that I’m a bit overwhelmed, I’m not internally as ready to just curl up into a ball and not participate.  Which was how I was at the beginning of the week.  And how I was when I fell apart years ago.  Back then I did just curl up and stop participating.  But I won’t do that this time.

I won’t let this kill me.  I’m fighting for my own sanity this time.  Maybe the odds don’t look in my favor, but I think I go this.

serenity-movies-summer-glau-firefly-river-tam-screenshots-desktop-2117x900-hd-wallpaper-855869

 

 

Passing the Doctor’s Office Visit

I had a physical and follow up visit with my doctor yesterday morning.  I very much was not interested in going when I woke up.  The stillness was enveloping me.

But that was the reason I needed to go.  Also I have a spot on my leg that my anxiety has diagnosed as skin cancer.

But I went.  Using all my mental resources to push the rock up the mountain and get moving.  I love my doctor.  She is kind and thorough and responsive.  She listens.

So.  We adjusted the depression meds.  And she told me I don’t have skin cancer.  And she ran a calculator on my risk factors for a heart attack and found it’s only 2.5% in the next 10 years – which is basically just the standard of the general population.  And since I’ve been harboring an anxiety that I will die of a heart attack at 55 like my father did that released another anxiety.

I normally feel like I flunk every doctor’s appointment.  Something is diagnosed as wrong and then we have to treat it and then we follow up for what feels like dozens of times trying to get it fixed.  So it feels nice to have only depression which feels like the normal.

Which is, of course, why it’s problematic.  I think this way I’m living is normal.  It’s not.  It’s just the life I’m used to.  But when she ran through the questions for anxiety/depression it struck me that this REALLY IS WRONG.  It’s amazing how awful living just stops feeling wrong and just feels like awful is normal.  And in many ways, my ability to manage my depression and keep functioning is why it feels OK.  I never felt like it was OK when I was unemployed and stayed in bed 23.5 hrs a day.  But now I have a job and an apartment and I keep a minimum standard of living going.  It tricks me into thinking life is supposed to be this way.

Hopefully the meds will kickstart a new path in my brain that I can take advantage of.

Cross fingers.

 

 

Work: The Mountain

Both my coworkers have been off since last Thursday.  The back up girl was unexpectedly off last week but thankfully returned this week.

But since she was off for the birth of her newest grandchild, who is now in NICU I don’t think I can count on her.  She needs to be her daughter’s biggest support and that is more important than anything else.

So.  As the days past, the things that don’t get done remain undone and those piles get bigger.  I’m reminding myself daily that tomorrow is another day.

Last night I was there until 11pm.  And still the giant pile remains.  And expands because poor back up now has her own pile.  She took on half my job on the busiest day and she has a full time job of her own.  So.

Life happens as it will, however we plan it.  Only one person was planned to be off.  But my other co-worker ended up in the hospital.  And as I said the back up has the new grandbaby.  None of that could have been predicted.  It’s just how life works.

However.  I intended to go to work over the weekend to clear it to a fresh starting point.  But I didn’t.  So as a result I was there until 11pm last night and didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped.  That weekend choice was something I could control and didn’t.

We always pay for those moments we don’t do something.  I knew it when the stillness of my depression kept me in bed.  But the knowledge didn’t move me.  I wonder why knowledge isn’t motivating?  Imagine how many of our personal problems would be solved if knowledge was enough for us to change.  All the smokers would quit smoking, we all would exercise and eat well.  No one would be overweight.  We would all work on climate change… It’s odd how knowledge is just so useless as a catalyst for changing personal behavior.

I wonder if there are people who learn something and adapt their personal behavior immediately and permanently to the new information?  If so, what is going on in their brain?  Can I get that wiring?

I find emotion is mildly motivating, but not permanently motivating.  Fear, of course, being the best motivator.  But I think because we don’t remember emotions in the same way that we remember events or information, it’s not as permanent.  And we obviously aren’t supposed to because when you remember deeply negative emotions like that, you have PTSD.

Anyway, all of this is to say, I’m not thrilled with my choices this past weekend.  They were mostly dictated by the stillness that envelops my weekend, but it remains true that motivation is elusive, especially with depression.  To the point of being useless.

Watching People be Busy and Productive

I adore youtube channels where people make things.  I watch makers do things I have absolutely no interest in doing myself, I’m just fascinated with their productiveness and the creation of a thing.  I follow woodworking, metal working, cooking, gardening, and artists of all kinds.

Yesterday I binge watched a channel of a young man who is rebuilding a 108 year old yacht.  I think he he is going to be lucky to keep 20 yards of original board on that boat.  It was a mess.  It will take years and years to rebuild it.  And he’s filming it.

He’s a boat builder, so it’s not like he’s inexperienced.  And he threw himself into this project heart and soul.  It’s hard work.  Both mentally and physically.

A few weeks ago he cut off his finger.  He was quite philosophical about it.  Life is about taking risks, he said.  You don’t learn anything or experience anything if you don’t take risks.  Sometimes you get hurt, but it’s all part of the process of living.

I don’t do anything.  Even in smaller ways.  People like Leo, the ship builder, fascinate me.   They just do it.  It might not work.  But the doing is worth it.  My grandmother was like that.  I’m not.  I’m stillness to their wind.  I want to be more like the wind – changing things, making things, doing things.  It seems like it’s just as simple as Just do it.

But something in my brain, Depression, makes the space between thinking about a thing and doing a thing enormous.  It’s like the Grand Canyon and my brain doesn’t seem to be able to cross to the part that makes me move into action.

I call it Stillness.  It’s the antithesis of a well lived life.

I think I watch these youtube channels so I can live the life of productivity vicariously.  That might be making the stillness worse.  It’s possible my brain marks my experiencing the video as a thing accomplished.  Our brains are fucked up wonders.

Saturday

I work 6 days a week.  Saturday is my only day off.  You would think this would be my day of activities and joy and friends and projects.

It’s not.  It tends to be a black hole of nothing.  It the day my depression induced stillness can get it’s way.  I mostly lay in bed reading, scrolling through various websites and basically doing nothing of value.

I have managed my depression in most of the areas of my life.  But my days off continue to be a problem.   Today I want to just clean the apartment a bit, do a couple of loads of laundry and cook something for meals for the next week.  Even as I write that I know it’s more than I can manage.  Despite the fact that it’s a normal amount of stuff for a person to do.

I really need to choose just one of those tasks as my priority.  Probably Laundry.  It’s the most necessary for the next week’s needs.  I can live in a messy house but I still need clean clothes for work.  And this defines why I’m not really getting farther than the treading water.  I do the barest minimum to make my life work.

I’m really just one of the people in those bleak movies.  Trudging along in greyness.

What is even more necessary than all the tasks I think I should do is to find some joy in this life.  To get more social.  To find creative things that bring me personal satisfaction.  I think a Good Life is about the people and making things.  I’m doing nothing to promote that in my life.

I’m so much better than I was 6 years ago.  But only in that I’m not homeless and penniless and jobless.  I’m working and self sufficient and I don’t feel like my life is out of control.  I’m able to interact with my family better.  But I’m not even close to content or happy.  I’m… grey and blank.

 

 

Noticeable Improvement Plan

Because of my depression, normal everyday tasks often feel huge to me.  In the past this has created a lot of stupid chaos in my life.  Including living in disaster areas, otherwise known as my apartment.

The advantage of growing older is that you learn coping skills.  And one of those skills was to recognize that small improvements over time make A HUGE DIFFERENCE.

So now my goals are tiny and I only task myself with noticeable improvement, not perfection.

The holidays have not been particularly happy for me.  And this has led to me not putting things away and not keeping up on the tasks that keep the chaos at bay.  So the floor around the kitty litter didn’t get swept after I scooped and kitchen counters are littered with ingredients that didn’t get put away and the table is littered with various small gifts I got from work, etc.

The things that slowly turn a home into a disaster area are starting to build up.  So today is my day off and I started to do the things.  But I don’t intend do an intensive clean and leave this apartment in shining order.  I intend to improve the situation in a way that I will notice.  So I swept the floor, I didn’t mop it.  I will clear off the clutter but I won’t dust and polish the furniture.  Next week or next month the improvement task will be polishing furniture or waxing the floor.  But it’s OK that it’s not today.

An interesting thing happens when I look at life as an ongoing process of improvement rather than a defined goal of perfection.  I look for and find a thing that will improve it.   And when I no longer need the thing to be perfect, doing it is less burdensome.  I’m not chasing a fantasy of golden perfection.  I just want to see a difference.  I can find satisfaction in the improvement, rather than dissatisfaction at the perceived ways I didn’t meet the perfection goal.

My brain is very good at twisting things into huge hairy deals.  And I think that was part of what made keeping my environment in order when I was in my 20s so hard.  To 26 year old me the house needed to look like a magazine cover or there was no point to cleaning.  All of it should be cleaned to perfection at once.  So cleaning was a huge task.  And so I put it off and things just kept getting worse not improving.

Now I just want my house to feel comfortable and neat.  I no longer feel any burden if at the end of the day there is dust on the tables.  Because that is a task that can be done tomorrow and no one is any worse for it.

As a result my apartment is nearly always in a fairly decent condition.  It may need to be dusted but there is never so much stuff on the floor that I need to step around it.  The dishes are done and the kitty litter is always kept clean, there is no laundry on the floor and the garbage is always taken out.   Because of that, now when I’ve had a bad month, the only things that need to be done to make it feel better about it will take me less than 45 minutes to sort out.

Noticeable improvements.  It’s the only way to live life.

 

I need a list

of things to do when my brain is functional.

Inside my brain are a dozen or more nagging things I should do .  Things that don’t get done because during the brain stillness, I function on a rail.  I do the habits. I walk through the day by doing the next habit.  I focus on conquering the small stuff.

But depression is not a static state and when it moves into the zone of normal I very often get less done than I should because I can’t really seem to put my thoughts into gear to get those nagging tasks done.  I can’t remember them.

I think I need a list.  It has to be on something easily accessible.  So when the nagging thought shows up, I can put it immediately on my list.  Thus removing it’s anxiety from my head.

And when I realize I am in functional normal mode, I can grab the list and do something I wouldn’t normally get done.

I also need the list to be already set up as a functional to-do.  Ie – task broken into it’s component parts.

I will try to do it on one of my phone apps I think.  Although I find writing things down easier, I no longer carry any pad of paper.  I have a phone after-all.

But breaking down the task means it can’t be an app like Remember the Milk.  It has to be a proper to do app.  But that will be an additional electronic nagging rather than a place to put my nagging thought that safely removes it from the anxiety place until I can do it.

I think finding the right app might end up being the first thing on the to do list?  Or at least figuring out how to make an easy app like Milk work for this.

Anyway – that is my current state of mind.  I need more lists in my life.  My brain is way to full of holes.

For the 1st time in 7 years I put up Holiday decorations.

I strung lights around my front window.  I’m rather proud of that step into normal behavior.  I haven’t involved myself in Xmas since my mom died.  But I feel more human and interested in making a pretty place for myself.  So I pulled out a box of lights I bought in an after Xmas sale, with the vague idea of making some kind of decorative element for the bedroom.

Now I need to watch the kitten and how he treats them.  He and Bijou were on the balcony while I put them up.  It’s a beautiful sunny warm winter day and kitten hadn’t been out on the balcony much.  Bijou supervised.  NO GROWLS!!

But I think it was serendipitous because then they weren’t involved in putting up the lights and didn’t see them bouncing about like a toy.

You know.  I really am a WHOLE lot better than I was 5 years ago.  It’s been a long VERY slow slog that feels like nothing gets better.  But it really does.  And it has.  I doubt I will ever be Mrs. Mental Health.  But I’m getting to be Mrs. Mental OK Sometimes.

Maybe I will buy tiny tree too.

The Dentist – a lesson in depression management

My mouth is a disaster.  A disaster created by lack of maintenance which is a byproduct of depression.

When the stillness of depression overtook me I didn’t go to the dentist.   My teeth are not great – very prone to cavities and so they need regular attention.  But I didn’t go.  Until a painful tooth pushed me there and I had to have the tooth pulled because I didn’t have the money for the root canal.

That was the first of 3 teeth I had pulled in that fashion over 6 years.  Those were the only time I went to the dentist.  All of them were visits to the Urgent Dental Care.

But the painful teeth wasn’t the worst.  The worst was a cavity in my front tooth that was visible as a divot on the side of it.  It made me feel shame.  It made me feel like I couldn’t go on interviews because people would think badly of me for having a hole in my tooth.  It made me ashamed to see old friends and family.  It was a huge mental monster in head.

The last tooth I got pulled was earlier this year.  The dentist was very kind.  He suggested we tackle my mouth one tooth at at time.  He didn’t suggest a regime of dental cleanings or plan a giant trip tick of my mouth problems.  He just said – when you have some money saved just walk in.

And that’s when I realized that this was how I could make it work.  The Urgent Dentist is obviously more expensive than most dentistry, but not exorbitantly so.  (at least this practice.)  But they offer something that is invaluable to me.  They work 7 days a week, 5 of them until 10pm.   They encourage walk ins.

Convenient hours is a huge plus and when it’s tied to walk in it works with my brain dysfunction.  It takes a whole lot of self talk and consideration and aborted attempts to get me to the dentist.   And when the moment gels – I can just go.  No need for an appointment – just go.

An appointment would create a whole new layer of problems.  I would miss appointments if my brain moved into stillness at the moment the appointment came up.  That would make me a persona non-grata with a dentist.  And I would create a larger thing out of potentially missed appointments than they might in reality be so I would just make that into a reason not to set up appointments.

Yesterday, a Sunday afternoon, I walked into the dentist and got my front tooth fixed.  It felt like a triumph.  It’s been a source of shame for years and now it’s fixed.  In an  hour.

It’s not the dentistry tradition I grew up with.  And so it never occurred to me that I could do my dentistry by just walking in, but I can.  So, now for the next few years, I will be saving money and when I have enough, doing next tooth.  By walking into the office when my brain will allow it.   I am not rich.  But the extra money is more than worth this benefit to me.  I wonder how many other people would benefit from it.

 

 

Depression is Not a Choice

This idiot.  This Egotistical Moronic Attention Whore wrote a whole pop psychology thread about how – depressed people just need to be happy and change.  Just do it.

Mr. I don’t have a degree in any field related to this but I kick box and have a large following so I MUST KNOW  SOMETHING, RIGHT?

You know what?  It’s not just him.  Tumblr had a whole month where they put non professionals into their Q & A to answer questions about mental health.

Because our culture views mental health as a thing anyone can advise anyone on.

Do you know why I don’t talk about my ongoing nightmare of mental illness in real life?  Because of this shit.  Because my illness would then be subject to everyone’s foolish and uneducated thoughts.  I would be branded as just too lazy to change.  Enjoying my sadness.  And just to blame for all of the nightmare that has been happening in my life for 10 years.

And you know what?  I DON’T NEED THAT SHIT.

And fuckwit up there, with his kickboxing degree is telling me that it’s all just fake.  That my life’s nightmare is all a big self inflicted hoax.

FUCK HIM.

He will go though life feeling like he is MR. FUCKING INSPIRATION. When in fact he is a like a hideous cancer of insidious doubt and self hatred inflicted on people with depression.

Do you know why he did this?  FOR ATTENTION.  LOOK AT ME.  GIVE ME HEARTS AND RETWEETS.  LOOK AT ME.  He is an attention whore entirely oblivious to the attack he just launched inside minds of thousands of humans.

DEPRESSION IS NOT AN ILLNESS ABOUT SITUATION.  It’s a mental state that continues no matter how fucking good things are. The best that can be said is that you manage better in different situations.

But believe me, for no particular reasons, I will feel better one day than another.  I will plunge into an abyss for no particular reason.  No doubt my life can aggravate it, like a germ will infect a wound.  But the germ would have been harmless without the wound.

But no matter the situation, the depression remains.  It ebbs and flows but it’s still there. Always.  And probably forever.

Fuckwit Andrew is the pus from the crusty boil on the worlds asshole.  Others wished him some terrible karma for his wrongheadedness.  But I wouldn’t wish this mental state on Trump. But I do wish he would shut the fuck up.

I don’t mind if people are attention whores, but don’t destroy other people for attention.