I finally got the letter

It’s official, it’s done. I finally got the offer letter.

Hallelujah, praise the FSM. No more of this shuttling from store to store. I now have the ability to rely on where I’m going to be from week to week.

The whole process has been very anxiety-laden. I was told that all of this was supposed to happen a month ago. But the finality doesn’t mean that things are going to be easy.

I’m going to a non-traditional store, which means that there’s a lot of things that are done differently from the way I learned. It also means that there’s a lot of extra things I have to do and learn. And I really have to hit the ground running. I’m hoping to get some quality one-on-one time with my GM next week and really find out what my responsibilities are, what I’m in charge of, and what I need to do every day. I’m going to say it – this is going to be hard. But I can do it. I know I can. Mike has faith in me. My family has faith in me. And my friends are great at pumping me up whether it’s job related, or going to the gym, or whatever I need. I really have an amazing support system.

Someone asked me recently how I managed my anxiety day to day. While I’m not on a typical anti-anxiety med, the Zyprexa really takes an edge off of things. But there isn’t a magic pill that makes anxiety go away entirely. It just makes it easier so all of the things that I have in my mental health tool box can work.

One of the first things that I ask myself is: is this something really to be anxious about? Is this something that a “normal” person would be anxious about? Or am I blowing things out of proportion?

Next: are these rational thoughts? Are my thoughts in reaction to the situation normal? Or are they skewed by negative thinking? For example: you forget to do something. Your boss tells you it’s totally fine, but you immediately think “do I need to look for a new job? Am I going to be fired?” Those aren’t normal thoughts that should follow what was ultimately a positive conversation and a teaching moment. There is no indication that you’re in trouble. But yet, those thoughts come.

And yes, sometimes they reveal legitimate worries. But more often than not, you have to recognize that these thoughts aren’t true. They aren’t real. And they have no power.

Fuck anxiety. It’s the asshole that lives inside of your brain, telling you things that are wrong. Making you worry. Making you shake. Making you believe things that aren’t true. Impacting your life in a grossly negative fashion.

I’m trying to say that I’m done with all of that. I’m using everything I can – twisting the thought and asking myself why I believe that, asking if that thought makes sense or if it is an overreaction, asking if I truly believe that or is that just what the negative thought pattern is trying to make me believe.

You have to take control back. You have to learn to minimize those thoughts – acknowledge them, yes, but understand that they don’t represent reality.

I try, every day. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but the important part is that I try. And tomorrow, I will fight another day.

I have many thoughts

I have many thoughts. But I’m not really sure what they are. Does that make sense? I have all of these thoughts and feelings, but I can’t really define any of them.

One major irritant is that I spent 10 hours (while travelling) doing all of these modules for a food safety exam. I took notes, made flashcards, and studied my butt off. Took the exam this morning. Most of it was stuff never covered in the modules, and what was covered heavily in the modules wasn’t even on the dumb thing! I’m so annoyed. I either did fabulously or bombed the hell out of it. On the upside, if I bombed I can take it again in a few weeks and will have a much better idea of what is on the stupid thing. Although watch, it would be the reverse that time – all of the stuff that I studied for this time, and nothing that I would focus on for next time. For better or worse, I’ll get my results in 10 days-2 weeks. I hate these kinds of tests. They seem to be almost impossible to prepare for. I mean, does anyone else know what kind of cockroach is commonly found in food areas? I threw a Hail Mary and guessed American. Upon googling it appears that I might have been right, but this was NEVER COVERED IN THE MODULES. I quit.

It looks like Mike is agreeing to bring home a 5th cat. He’s a rescue at the shelter where I volunteer. He’s incredibly shy and hides when people come in, so it’s making it hard for him to get adopted. That being said, once he’s comfortable with you he is the sweetest little thing on 4 legs. My argument is that I’m the one that does the litter boxes normally, so he really has nothing to worry about other than cuddling the shit out of the cat. It appears that I finally won him over. I know, 5 cats sounds crazy. But this dude needs a loving home with other cats to play with. We can provide that. It looks like we’re never going to have kids (something we’re fine with), so pets are going to be our kids (something I’m also fine with). There are a lot of shelter animals out there that need a good home. We’re lucky that we can provide that for some of them.

I’ve spent a week and a half in training, now. Part of me feels totally confident that I can do this job. The other is screaming, “management?! I can’t be management!” Everyone seems to have a lot more faith in me than I do. How can you be sure of yourself? How do you shut up those voices in your head that tell you that you aren’t good enough.

I don’t know how. And I also kind of don’t want them to go away.

My anxiety is how I know I’m alive

Had orientation today. We scheduled it before my first day while I’m still at Big Box Hardware Store so I can just jump in and get going when my first day comes.

I had the first realization that – holy shit, I’m management – today. In my orientation were two younger kids, both there to be cashiers. There was a lot of “this doesn’t apply to you” or “we’ll go over how you’ll do that later” directed at me. But… this was the first time that I really had that realization of holy crap, it’s actually happening.

All the while my anxiety is screaming in the background.

You can’t do it.

You’re not good enough.

You’re going to fail.

Then I remind myself that I worked in an incredibly high stress healthcare job that was literally life or death for six and a half years and I survived. I completed a high-level Masters degree while working full time. I’ve done a lot of things in my life that people said I couldn’t do or that I’d fail. And not only am I going to survive this, I’m going to be amazing.

So fuck you, anxiety. Fuck you, mental illnesses.

I got this.

I think I may have done it

Both interviews today went really well. The one this morning was the big one – the final interview for a position I’ve been interviewing for for two months. Ultimately, we decided (mutually), that the position I was interviewing for wasn’t a good fit yet. I needed some experience at a slightly lower level and then I’d be ready. So she verbally offered the job, pending a background check. After that’s done, they can send an official offer letter. All of the interviewing is done. Now it’s just paperwork.

I think this is a good thing. I had really questioned the sanity of putting me in a position, after completing two years of training, mind, with little to no experience. Jumping straight into a store manager role, to me, makes no sense. There’s a lot of experience and learning opportunities I’d miss out on if that was what was going to happen. She agreed. So we’re starting a step lower than that. I’m perfectly happy with that as over the last few weeks I thought about how much stress it would put me under, even in a training program, to jump right into the deep end. I have no doubt I could do it, but I feel that this is a much better turn of events. I’m happy, my parents are happy, the few friends I’ve told are happy… everyone is happy.

I did the second interview, just to keep my options open. And I have to say, I’ve gotten really good at answering the question when they ask why, after a degree and almost a decade in science I went back to get my MBA. I’ll come back to this in a minute, but I felt as though it was important to do this interview – what if something at the first company fell through? What if I needed another option? I don’t want to close a door before it even opens. Besides, doing another interview would continue to hone my skills.

This position is definitely not a good fit. 85% travel or more. The money would be good, but it’s a high stress job that would require me to do a lot of sales work from cold calling, which is something I really don’t want to do. But I’m keeping it in my back pocket if I need it.

Let’s chat for a minute about why I left science.

I love science. I still read up on new research and developments. As it turns out, I really hate bench work. The work is monotonous, at my last job we worked in teams of 2 in a basement with no windows. Especially at night you had no concept of time or the night passing. If no one came into the lab and you were too busy to get out to the other department that was there at night, unless someone came in you literally saw no one other than the one person that you were working with. There was little to no room for a career advancement. To make matters worse, where I worked was at the top of the pay scale for tech jobs. I was never going to go anywhere and make even 80% of what I was making there. I was up against a wall.

To make matters worse, my mental health really suffered there. My anxiety was constantly ramped up due to the culture of “make a mistake, lose your job.” They expected robots, both in and out of work. You were expected to sacrifice your family life and quality of life for them. To be honest, the whole experience really soured me on working in a lab and even in certain sections of healthcare. Which stinks, because I really like the field. Maybe some day I’ll use that part of my MBA, but at least as of right now, I have no desire to.

Anyway, because of the anxiety I was always on the edge of an episode. I can think of three mixed episodes and four depressive episodes off of the top of my head over the six years I was there. There was probably even more minor blips, but that’s seven in six years. That’s not stable. That’s always on the edge.

It is so not worth it to work in a toxic environment like that. The price that you pay is far from worth it. I don’t care if it’s in science, retail, healthcare, sales, culinary – it flat out isn’t worth it if you’re miserable all of the time.

When it rains it pours, apparently.

About a week ago my Big Box Store Boss came to and said a position was opening up that they wanted me to apply for. I had worked for this same company (different store) doing this job while I was in college ten years ago. Granted, in ten years things have changed, but I was confident that I could pick it back up quickly. Also, it was a job that I really didn’t mind doing. I even kind of liked it. It was behind the scenes crunching numbers. So I applied. I interviewed. I got the job.

It’s a small pay bump, but guaranteed hours, guaranteed schedule. I’ll be done early enough in the afternoon that I can get things done, go to interviews, etc. without having to totally rearrange my schedule. So that’s a good thing. And in the interview my manager mentioned that she didn’t realize that I had an MBA and would I be interested on getting onto a management track? This position would help that. I told her that yes, I would and we agreed to keep lines of communication open about it.

But here’s where things get funny.

I had had two interviews with another local company for a management position. The last interview was two weeks ago. I had reached out late last week and hadn’t heard anything back so I kind of shrugged, was a little disappointed, and tried to move on. Guess who called today to schedule the final interview. Yep, that’s right. I was driving when they called, but as soon as I saw the number I knew who it was. I called them back as soon as we parked the car. Interview scheduled for Tuesday morning.

About three hours later I got a call from an out of state number. Another company I had applied to calling to schedule a Skype interview. Set that up for Tuesday afternoon.

Holy crap.

I graduated with my MBA a little over two years ago. Since then I’ve watched my classmates find success. My background was working against me – BS in science and an MBA? What an odd combination. But people are starting to see past those few words and reading the things I did at my lab jobs that were outside of science. Project management. Customer relations. Sales. Technical support. How I took on things that were outside of my normal duties to learn new areas.

It has been an absolute mental battle to apply for jobs. I worry that I’m not good enough. I’m worried that I’ll never be good enough. I worry that I’m going to fail and let everyone down again. I know most people have those thoughts, but thanks to my skewed ways of thinking these are pervasive. Every thanks but no thanks email is just another reinforcing pillar that all of these things are true. Each one was another stab to my gut telling me that I’m going to fail and that I deserve nothing good in this life.

I’m letting myself be cautiously optimistic, for once. But I’m also waiting for the other shoe to drop. Good things don’t happen without the bad. But wouldn’t the last year and a half constitute the bad? If you believe that sort of thing, maybe the stars have finally aligned in my favor. Maybe by the one year anniversary of me taking the plunge and leaving my last major career-like job I’ll have a new offer letter and my life will be full of promise again. Maybe we really do have to put up with the bad to get to the good – the bipolar, the anxiety, the depression, the uncertainty, the lack of funds, the hard times. Maybe it really is my time to shine. And maybe I’ll finally find my own success.

I know, I’ve been around a lot this week. I wouldn’t get used to it.

I mentioned in a previous post that a friend gave me some cash as a bridal party gift to spend on an Erin Condren planner and accessories. I’ve been using it about two months now, and I cannot say how much more organized I am. I had thought that between the calendar app on my phone and the Notes app, I was organized. Holy crap, Batman. I find myself with more and more free time each week, everything gets done, and I’m not super stressed. I’ve always been a list maker and planner, but I also tend to procrastinate and end up having to do a whole lot on one day. But with this I can sit down and plan out what needs to be done each day based on my work schedule. It’s amazing.

Anyway, this post is not about planners as I’m not getting paid to talk about them. If I ever were, I would. But today is not that day.

I found an interesting pin on Pinterest; it’s called Deep Questions To Ask. I think it’s more of things to ask if you were on a date and really wanted to get to know someone, but there were a couple I really found interesting and had to really think about my answers.

Do you live to work or work to live?

Bold question. Currently I’m working to live. There have been points where I’ve lived to work, but right now I’m working to live. I get very little enjoyment out of what I’m doing. I’m constantly annoyed because I’m so underemployed and it’s hard to do this job when you have an MBA and not think, “wow, I’m so much better than this.” That sounds egotistical as all hell, but when you’re working an entry level retail job when you have this kind of education it’s hard not to have that thought. Sometimes I feel like I should at least be grateful that I have a job, but goddamn it I’m so over this BS. I spent a good chunk of today applying for jobs. I’m hoping the interview I had last week where he said he’d put me through to the next round pans out, or something pans out soon. I’m so sick and bloody tired of the job search. I just want six months where I don’t have to or want to look for a new job. I’d prefer longer, but I’m not going to get greedy.

Do you consider yourself to be an introvert or an extrovert?

I am 100% an introverted extrovert. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but in situations where it is warranted, I am an extrovert. People that know me only at work would swear that I’m a total extrovert, but in reality I would much prefer to be at home, alone (or with Mike), reading a book, crocheting, etc. We have friends (mainly some of Mike’s, but a few of mine qualify too), that spending any amount of time with them greater than ten minutes totally drains my batteries and I’m almost useless for the next 2 days. My social banks are not filled up by being around people. They’re filled up by being by myself or with a select few of my friends that either charge me up or are totally neutral in that they don’t drain or charge. I so prefer to be left alone. Working with the public there’s a lot of days that I just can’t do it if we have plans to go out. I need to be at home with my cats. At the end of the day, I really just want to be left alone most of the time. Texts are fine. Please don’t call me. And definitely don’t show up with no warning.

And lastly, What do you want your final words to be?

So long and thanks for all of the fish.

A little of this, a little of that, and a few updates

I haven’t heard anything back from the job last week, and I’m trying not to go into panic mode. Last time it took a week to get back to me, and the guy I interviewed with did say that he was moving me onto the next stage. Still, the panic is creeping in. I’m still applying for other jobs, but while this isn’t my dream job, I think it would be a really good jumping off point for my career.

My mental health is surprisingly…ok. It’s not great, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s ok. I’m motivated to do things, I’m getting things done. I’m not wallowing on the couch in depression, but I’m not doing 6,000 things and not sleeping. I’m kind of cruising in this middle ground where things aren’t peachy, but I’m not actively in an episode or even skirting the edge of one. My biggest problem is the apathy. I’m not really feeling a lot of emotion. I just kind of am, if that makes sense. I’m enjoying things like my hobbies and hanging with my husband and my cats, but I’m not getting super excited about things. Is this how most people feel? I’ve been dealing with this disorder so long and its highs and lows that I’m not entirely sure what the middle ground feels like.

There are things I want to do – I want to get a bike and start biking to work out. I want to try space photography. Too bad I don’t have the cash on hand to do either of these things. But this illustrates my point – I have interests again, I want to try new things. What I really need to do is find something social to do. I volunteered to be a freshman mentor again at my alma mater. But I really need find something that will get me out of the house and be with people. Maybe I’ll join a crafting circle, or something. Might have to check out Meet Up and see if there’s anything local.

I guess at the end of the day I’m kind of lonely. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends, and I seem to be talking to some of them more recently than normal just to chat, but I kind of want to actually do things.

But the thought of meeting new people and going to do stuff scares the crap out of me. Thanks, social anxiety. I really appreciate everything that you do for me. Asshole.

We’ve given my anxiety a name. It’s name is Brian, and Brian really is an asshole. I don’t like Brian much, but I can’t seem to get rid of him. He’s always hanging around and tends to make a nuisance of himself. He keeps me from doing things, or really experiencing things. He’s always whispering in my ear telling me things that aren’t true. And because he sounds so much like me, my brain tends to believe him. Any ideas how to shut Brian the hell up? I’m open to suggestions.

I’ve made a few big changes to the way I live life recently. A friend of mine got me an Erin Condren planner a month ago and it has revolutionized my life. I used to just make a list of everything that I needed to do that week. Now I have a paper calendar that I can use to plan appointments and work and everything at a glance, and a day-by-day breakdown of everything I’ve got going on on a given day as well as everything I need to get done. This has made a huge difference because I know the days that I’m off and can load up on what I need to do on the days that I’m off. It’s really helping me to have an actual plan to every day and week. This is not a sponsored post, but I can’t speak enough about how great this system is. Best part is, I was able to personalize how I wanted the whole thing set up and and how I wanted it to look.

Lastly, a little victory. I’ve lost 25 pounds since January. I plateaued for about 8 weeks, but I seem to be back on the losing track. Mainly through diet and exercise, but I have started intermittent fasting the last month and that seems to have gotten me over the hump. Pinterest for meal and lunch ideas along with prepping has been a God send. It really sucks sometimes (example – I’m not supposed to eat anything for another hour on a 16 hour fast I’m currently doing, and I’m really starting to get hungry. I can absolutely eat if I want, but I really enjoy the sense of accomplishment I get when I see it through. Also there is the benefit of being in a fat-burning state for 4 full hours).

So yeah. That’s where we are this Monday. A little of this, a little of that. A little stability, a little anxiety problem. I guess we’re trending better than normal right now, but it could be better.

I’m quite literally a bundle of nerves

I have an interview tomorrow. A big one. This is one of the last hurdles to clear for the position. And I’m utterly terrified. I know, academically, that it’s my anxiety and two years of a combination of hearing nothing back and thanks but no thanks emails talking, but I can’t help it. I’m literally terrified. I so badly need this to go well, and I know if it doesn’t it’s my own fault. Or maybe the anxiety’s fault. Either way. This has to go well. This will go well.

I need to remember the words from The Help:

I am kind.
I am smart.
I am important.

On paper I tick all of the boxes – between my education and experience it would be a really good fit. But we’ve all either seen someone or experienced ourselves rejection for something that should be a sure thing. We’ve all gotten our hopes up only to have them dashed at the last minute. We all have those moments that we replay in our heads – even years later – because we know we fucked up, or said the wrong thing, or just even dropped the ball.

I can’t drop the ball tomorrow. I need to be at the top of my game. I need to be social and confident and charming. Generally, all of the things that I am not, usually.

I should be confident. I’m well educated, I’m smart, I have an impressive background. I am worthy.

Now I just need to convince myself of all of these things.

Do you know how hard that is with chronic self-esteem so bad to the point where you’re in therapy for it? The internal dialogue goes something like this.

Self: I am well-educated and smart.
Brain: You didn’t get your degree from a top-level school and you almost bombed out because you suck at accounting.
Self: It was one class my first term. I pulled As and high Bs the rest of the program.
Brain: But where has that education gotten you so far? You’re a cashier at a big box store.
Self: Not for lack of trying. It’s hard finding a good fit when your background is science and business. Two completely different areas of study. Two completely different skill sets. I can tell you all about the Kreb’s cycle and in the next breath talk about what keeps shareholders happy.
Brain: Pssht. What good is all of that theoretical knowledge? Nothing.

I hate you, brain. I hate just about everything about you. I hate what you’ve become – that you’ve let negative thinking hijack all thought patterns and twist my self-perception into something abnormal and dirty and untrue. I hate that you’ve caused me to think so little of myself that I feel like I deserve this half-life I’m living, feeling like I’m a burden on literally everyone I know. Feeling like I don’t deserve the friendships and relationships I have with people.

I need to take the advice of Chris Traeger from Parks and Rec: There is literally nothing that you can’t do.

Thanks, Chris. I needed that.

Wish me luck. Tomorrow I’m off to hopefully change my life.

Is it possible to be having an episode without having an episode? Oh, and I may be going through menopause at 36. Or have lupus. But it’s never lupus.

As the title says, is it possible to have an episode – that is, the symptoms of an episode – without actually having an episode? I’m angry, irritable, irrational, moody, cynical, unimpressed by things that should thrill me (*cough cough Endgame cough cough*). But my mood itself feels fine. Or mostly fine, at least. I don’t feel like I normally do when I’m having an episode. I honestly think I’ve just been beaten down so hard by the world the last few months that all of the emotions are starting to vomit all over me.

Like I said in one of my last posts, I’m about ready to give up.

Back to the point. I’m angry, and I anger very easily. I feel very unsupported. Simple things will irritate me until the anger builds until it almost explodes. Unfortunately the tipping point is often my husband. Which isn’t fair to him. But he and I need to have a completely unrelated conversation about how I’m feeling very unsupported, unappreciated, and unloved. But that’s a post for another time.

Moving on.

Those damn irrational thoughts are back. Mostly anger driven. But still very irrational. I think. To be fair, I don’t even know the difference any more. And I’m not sure I care. Because even the irrational ones lead to thoughts or ideas that are based in reality. They just tend to veer into the worst case scenario realm, which is where half of my “normal” thoughts are any way.

I’ve always been a very cynical person. But it’s gotten to the point over the last week or two that has been previously unreached. For example, I didn’t hate Endgame. I actually quite liked it. But there was a lot I didn’t like about it. And when we left the theater I was very cynical about all of it. I reacted similarly to the latest episode of Game of Thrones. To be fair – winter has been coming for eight freaking years. And it lasted an hour. It didn’t even get past Winterfell. I wanted winter in King’s Landing, damnit. This obviously ties in with the not getting enjoyment out of things part.

Oh yes, the early menopause. Ok, so we don’t actually know what’s happening right now (went to get some blood work today for a start), but I get the hot flashes from hell. To every woman that has gone through it, is going through it, or will go through all of it (ok, so all women). I AM SO SORRY YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS. It’s absolutely horrible. They strike at random – during the day, middle of the night, in the shower, at work, at home, in the car, working out, doing nothing on the couch (have one right now). Sometimes I’ll only get one or two a day, others I get one or two an hour for 14 hours. I had my thyroid levels tested 2 months ago with my normal psych blood work, and they were fine. So were my kidney levels. So this time we’re testing hormone levels, liver levels, and a CBC with diff to rule out infection. I doubt the CBC will show anything – I just donated plasma last week and got the email today that my blood was on the way to the hospital, so I’m sure if there was any indication of an infection they wouldn’t send it out. If all of these look fine, it’s off to my Gyn for more thorough hormone testing and possibly an endocrinologist or a rheumatologist to see if this is something autoimmune. It is also entirely possible that this has at least something to do with having lost 22 pounds in 2 and a half months. After years of psych meds, who knows what was stored in that fat. And then there’s the added bonus of my brain saying hey, we’re 1.5 stone lighter and we have no idea how to regulate ourselves! Party time!

Anyway, yeah. That’s the latest and greatest this week. I’m still chugging along. Pieces are bent, but they’re not broken.

Anxiety lies

There’s been a lot of posts on Facebook and Instagram recently (at least on the pages that I follow, which to be fair there’s more than a few about mental health) about anxiety and how it doesn’t look like a lot of people expect it to. Even when I first got the “official” anxiety diagnosis a year or so, I didn’t realize that a lot of the things that I was experiencing could be attributed to anxiety. Headaches, upset stomach and digestion problems, irritability, insomnia, jumpiness, anticipating the worst (I honestly thought that this was a bipolar thing, which it very well might be, but I personally think it’s the anxiety).

But how can you trust yourself when your brain is constantly lying to you? Telling you that you’re not good enough, making up scenarios with absolutely no evidence and then convincing you to believe them (things like your husband is cheating on you while you’re at work, that everyone is just pretending to be your friend and they really can’t stand you, and on and on and on), making you reinterpret things that happened into something totally different.

My anxiety, at least, gives me these really dark, fucked up thoughts. These are not rooted in any kind of reality, but these are the things that my brain has convinced me are legitimate fears, no matter how times I’m told these are not going to happen.

***This is going to get a little graphic, so feel free to skip this paragraph if you have a weak stomach.***

We have an alarm system on the house. Not because we’re worried about things getting stolen, but because I’m convinced that someone is going to break into the house and mutilate, maim, and disembowel the cats and hang their bodies on the wall. I know, this is totally fucked up and has no root in reality, but this is one of my greatest fears. Not many people know about this, but the ones that do all agree that this is one of the most fucked up things that they’ve ever heard and very not likely to actually happen.

I know that. I know this is irrational. But I can’t make it go away.

***It’s safe to start reading again***

I’ve talked about these dark thoughts in therapy (and believe me, this isn’t the only one, but probably the most common for me), and the best solution we’ve come up with is to acknowledge them, understand that this is not reality, and try to move on.

Yeah, easier said than done.

What people don’t realize is that when your own brain is the one that’s lying to you, it becomes really hard to differentiate what is real and what isn’t. Mike and I have played the Real or Not Real game a few times when I really need help sorting through these thoughts. Sometimes they get so bad that I really can’t make sense of things.

I wish that there was a better course of action other than the “acknowledge, understand, move on” bullshit, because I have to tell you, sometimes this is almost impossible. Please don’t take this as bragging, but I’d like to think that I’m a fairly intelligent person. Which makes not being able to trust myself that much harder. I hate it all. I don’t wish this on anyone.

Anxiety lies, and she is also a cruel mistress.