A little bit of everything – work, music, books, mood, and suicide

I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy in my life. Between the two jobs I’m working between 70 and 80 hours a week. The money is good and is definitely helping our financial situation. But good grief, I’m practically never home. I sleep there. Maybe spend an hour or two trying not to fall asleep before it’s time for bed so I can spend some time with Mike or getting caught up on email, or both at the same time.

We have made some time over the last few weeks to see a few concerts – The Wrecks (who if you’ve never heard of them go give them a listen) toured with The Stolen and The Orphan The Poet (who have both made it into the music rotation in the car and at work), and then Thirty Seconds To Mars toured with practically all of the big bands from Sirius’s AltNation. Both great shows. We first encountered The Wrecks about 18 months ago at a Nothing But Thieves show, and I’ve kept up with them since. They’ve easily become one of my favorite bands, and we dragged my brother and a few friends to the show. Good time was had by all. The Thirty Seconds to Mars show was just me and Mike, which was nice having some time that was just us. Despite a few annoyances due to the weather and a few of the people around us we had a really good time. Walk the Moon absolutely killed it; we’ll definitely go see them again if they come around again, headlining or opening.

Despite being busier than all shit and constantly on the move my mood and anxiety haven’t been that bad. There was some drama at my full-time job (I mentioned it last post) but that seems to be over. I got a nice big reprimand, but bottom line I can’t screw up again. I’ve decided between that and some other things that are going on I really need to make a point to find a new job and soon. I need to prioritize the job hunt and get that moving.

Anyway, yeah. My mood has overall been pretty good. I’m tired as hell, but I’m still getting a normal amount of sleep so it’s not like I’m sleep-deprived or not sleeping enough. But this constant motion means I don’t get a lot of downtime.

I need to get back to reading. I was blowing through books for a while there, and I seem to have stalled out on Undeniable by Bill Nye. It’s not that it’s not interesting, it is, I’m just not as engaged with it as I was Neil Degrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Maybe I need to take a break from the science books and read something a little more fun and one that doesn’t require as much active thinking. Between that and the Truman biography I’m reading, while both interesting, there’s not a lot of “getting lost in the story” kind of thing going on. It probably also doesn’t help that the Nye book isn’t written for people that have a four-year degree in the sciences. It’s written for more of a basic understanding.

I wasn’t going to bring it up, since they’ve been talked about ad nauseum, but someone recently asked me what I thought about the Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. They were horrible. It’s horrible when anyone feels that the only way out of their pain is to kill themselves. Whether it’s an 11-year-old who is being bullied of a 60-year-old fashion designer that seems to have everything. For days after both Facebook and Twitter were full of infographics with suicide statistics and numbers for suicide hotlines. But I know from personal experience that when you’re depressed it is literally the hardest thing in the world to reach out and ask for help. Last August when I was stuck in the pit of despair it took more effort that I knew I had in me at the time to reach out to my psychiatrist and to find a therapist. I had even called the local crisis network and the whole thing was exhausting. And then when it turned out that my psychiatrist was out of town for the next week I couldn’t handle it. Everywhere I reached out I wasn’t able to actually get any help. I wasn’t suicidal so checking myself into the hospital wasn’t an option (believe me, I asked), my shrink was out of town so an emergency appointment and possible med change was out of the question at least until he got back. And I had to wait to go even make an appointment with a therapist (I didn’t have one at the time) until I went through an intake interview. Only one person reached out during that month to see if I was ok. I had basically disappeared from everything, I went to work because I had to, but I did my job and didn’t say much and I found out later that everyone knew something was wrong but no one knew what. Fucking ask. Sometimes just having a person to just talk to can be the best thing in the world when you’re that low. Even if you don’t talk about what’s going on – talk about the latest Marvel movie or the newest episode of Chicago Med. Talk about the fucking weather. Just to have someone engage with you can lift your mood, even temporarily, and make it so you don’t feel like you’re the only person in the world and nobody cares. Just a connection, even for a momnt, to someone else.

I was greatly saddened by both Kate Spade’s and Anthony Bourdain’s passing. One of the things I had promised myself is that when I got a big girl job I was going to buy a Kate Spade bag with my first paycheck (or parts of it, two, and three). And while I wasn’t a religious follower of Anthony Bourdain’s shows, I did watch them when they were on and I wasn’t invested in anything else. But more than anything it makes me sad that a person can feel that much pain and despair.

I’ve heard a number of people say that suicide is the coward’s way out. But I really don’t agree with that. And I’m probably going to get a lot of flak for saying this, but I think that suicide is the act of someone desperate. Desperate to make the pain stop. Desperate for it to end. Not necessarily for their lives to end, but for the way that they feel to end. If you haven’t experienced that kind of soul-crushing depression you can’t understand why someone would see suicide as the only solution. I empathize with them, I sympathize with them, and I can completely understand why someone would think that that’s their only and best option.

It makes my heart hurt to think about someone suffering that much.

A shift in perspective

So I’ve been on a bit of a reading tear this week. I think I’ve read three books in the last week? Maybe four. I’ve lost count at this point.

But one book really stuck out for me – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson. I bought it on a whim a few months ago – it was on display at the front of Barnes and Noble, had a pretty orange cover, and I thought, ‘yeah, I could do with learning how to not give a fuck.’

But that’s not what this book is about. It’s about changing the way you think so there’s less negativity in your life. Instead of thinking ‘I hate my job,’ think ‘this might not be my ideal job but it’s a good job with a good salary and I do meaningful work.’ When I think about my job that way I feel less depressed. It also talks about how solving problems is where happiness comes from – the successes you have in life are what drives happiness. That kind of thinking makes sense to me. I’m not big on self-help books – most of them are pretentious in an ‘I know better than you’ kind of way and are not helpful at all. This was a quick read who freely admits that he doesn’t know it all and he doesn’t necessarily know better than you. I’m trying to shift my way of thinking and little by little it seems to help.

Tomorrow I start a second job. I’m not thrilled about this prospect, but we’re broke. And I work 4 on, 4 off. Working three of those four days off makes sense. So back to retail it is. When I left the retail job I worked in college I really thought, this is it. No more retail. Ever. But here we are. But I have to do what I have to do. Even though it’s not what I want. But it’s for the best. I’ll make do, I always do. And at least it’ll be hard to get stressed – my full-time job has taught me what real stress is.

We shifted my medication about a month ago – we lowered the dosage of the Zyprexa because I had gained almost 30 pounds in six months. I literally couldn’t stop eating. But on the flip side, I felt the best I had felt in years. I didn’t know it was possible to feel that good. Even on the lower dosage I still feel pretty damn good, but I’m no longer eating a planet five times a day. I mean by all rights I should be depressed. But I’m not. I’m soldiering on. Getting what I need to get done, done. There might be some signs of mild depression – not doing my hair and makeup like I normally do, sleeping a bit more, but it’s nothing that I would really consider a real depression, or even a mild one.

But at the end of the day I’m going to do what I do best – do the best thing I can for myself and my small little family, take care of my mental health, and the rest can go bugger off.

Books and more

I’m still on the major reading kick, but I’ve slowed down a bit. Dan Brown’s new book The Origin sapped a lot out of me. While I like the early Dan Brown books (both his Langdon series and the stand-alones), I’ve become tired with his style and formulaic approach. I ended up skimming the second half of the book and then turning it over to Mike to read as he still really enjoys them. To each their own. He doesn’t denigrate my literary choices, and I don’t his.

I’ve literally had no time to look for a new job the past few weeks, which has been depressing. It’s just such a process to sit down and search, and then edit cover letters and resumes to try and tailor it to that position. Apply. Wait. Rinse. Repeat. I did get a line on a website to pick up some part-time hours doing proofreading and editing, so I’m going to look into that more thoroughly this week. We definitely need the added cash flow. We’re barely breaking even, if we are at all at this point. Fucking student loans.

My therapist claims that I’ve just about reached the point where we can say I’ve “graduated” from therapy. He’s been impressed with how I’ve jumped into using the techniques he’s been teaching me with both feet. To be fair though, a lot of this I already knew. It just seems like after the episode on August that I lost that skill and had to rebuild from almost scratch. The one thing I don’t like about the place where I get therapy is that a lot of the therapists have religious training of some sort, and reference God and whatnot. So far mine hadn’t done that, until this week. Being an atheist, I was trying really hard to roll my eyes, but I was unsure how to approach it say, ‘yeah, that doesn’t work for me’ without being rude. Then again, he technically works for me, so maybe it’s worth revisiting when I see him in a few weeks. Just a friendly reminder that I don’t buy in to that, and while I appreciate where he’s coming from it’s just not helpful. Maybe it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie, especially if I’m almost done with him barring a quick check in here or there. But their connection with Christian religion made me somewhat wary about being seen there in the first place. Something to think about.

I’ve had some interesting conversations with a few people this week that have confided in me that they suffer from mental illness. One in particular is insisting on treating her depression “holistically” under the treatment of a “healer” (whatever that is). She’s modified her diet to some diet she read about on the internet, is taking St. John’s Wort and Vitamin D, but she’s refusing to do any kind of therapy because she’s convinced herself that they’ll force her onto meds. Now, I have no problem with integrating diet and vitamins into treatment plans (hell, I take vitamin D every night during the winter and when I’m on night shift), but she is far from stable. And I’m not sure the diagnosis of just depression is completely accurate. But I’m not her, I gave my opinion when she asked me, and that’s that. She can do whatever she feels is right for her. I don’t have to agree with it. But I hate watching someone spiral out of control because they eschew psychiatric medicine or treatment. I’m aware that I’m one of those people that need the psych meds and probably always will. I don’t think everyone is in that same boat, but I also believe that there are times that forgoing treatment for is just an exercise in futility and that you’re more likely to watch your life crash and burn. I don’t know. I just hate watching people struggle when they don’t have to.

 

Anxiety, reading, and progress

I’ve been a reading fool the past few weeks. Now that things have settled down some, and my mood is back where it should be, I’ve dived into all the books that I’ve wanted to read for quite some time. One example is the Midnight, Texas series by Charlaine Harris. I really enjoyed the Sookie Stackhouse books, so after watching the Midnight, Texas show on NBC I figured I’d check them out. There’s three books in the series, and they’re easy reads that lets you dip your toes slightly back into that supernatural world. I read all three of the Robert Galbraith books, a few that I’ve been eying for a few months (namely Startup by Dorree Shafrir, and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid). Startup was… ok. I enjoyed it and the glimpse into startup culture (which I’m sure was highly fictionalized for the book), but the plot didn’t really get moving until the end, and then the story just… ended with some loose threads dangling. Wasn’t a big fan of that. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was also quite good, although not what I expected, admittedly. All the same I blew through both books in about a day and a half each.

Reading is very much my favorite way to unwind. If the book is good and well-written, it’s easy to get transported into another world for a short period of time. (Being that I’ve read 29 books this year, most of those since June, I’d say its one of my favorite ways to pass the time.) One of the issues I have with the Midnight, Texas books vs. show is that the character descriptions don’t match between the book and the show. Since I saw the show first that’s who I would picture while I was reading. But some of those characterizations were way off. I would have to consciously think, “no, that’s not what he’s supposed to look like” while reading that would jolt me out of the world.

Onto the bipolar-y goodness. Things have actually been pretty ok. Maybe even good. My moods are stable (my mood tracker shows me floating around in the “balanced mood” numbers). My anxiety is, at least to a degree, better under control, although still a concern. My biggest source of anxiety at this point is people and being around them. For me, being around a lot of people, people I don’t know, people that are drunk, being touched by people, is incredibly draining and anxiety-ridden for me. Mike and I went to a concert last weekend with a few of his friends. When the headliner came on stage people just absolutely crushed forward. After about three songs I told Mike I couldn’t do it and I’d be hanging out on the edge of the crowd where I didn’t feel like I was going to lose my mind surrounded by all those people.

One of the things that I’m working on with my therapist is training my rational mind to be more dominant and not let the emotional mind govern so much. Easier said than done. When I have one of these irrational thoughts, and I know this is going to sound weird, but I picture Leonard Nemoy as Spock, dressed as a crossing guard holding a stop sign and saying, “that is illogical” or “that is irrational” depending on what the thought it. As bizarre as this sounds, it helps to a degree. The thing that really sucks is I used to be able to do all of this, without even really thinking about it. But since that damned depressive episode in August I apparently lost this skill. It’s frustrating.

Why I write

I can’t imagine that there’s anyone out there that actually cares what I think, or what I want to write about. I’m not narcissistic enough to believe that what I say will really impact anyone out there. But I put these thoughts out into the ether in hopes that maybe, someday, someone will read them and something will resonate with them. Is that you? Maybe. Maybe not.

I read The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher last night while at work. In it are exerpts from her journals during the shooting of A New Hope. The way she writes… While I enjoyed the book, her writing made me feel inadequate. I mean really, who talks like that? Especially in something that they assume that no one will ever read other than themselves? I’ve read a number of things that do that same thing recently. Blogs I can kind of understand as the whole point of them is for other people to read them. But some of the prose that’s used, the wording, the cadence, just sometimes reads as kind of forced.

One interesting thing I noticed in Carrie Fisher’s writings is that you can definitely see some of the bipolar coming through, they have a bit of a manic-y feel to them. Overall an interesting read if you like Carrie Fisher or are into Star Wars.

I’ve got nothing else today. Vacation started at 630 this morning and my brain is mush.