Cautious optimism

I’m not an optimistic person. At best, I’m a realist. At worst, I’m a pessimist. It depends on the day, really. Any optimism that I feel is cautious, at best, like I’m waiting for the shoe to drop. But I’m starting to feel the beginnings of that cautious optimism. I have an interview on Tuesday for a part-time job, and I had a recruiter contact me about a job at one of the local hospitals (which I have applied for and am hoping to hear something this week *fingers crossed*). After how many months of fighting to stay afloat, let alone on top, could the end be in sight?

I don’t know if it’s a product of the bipolar, or if it’s just how I am, but I never expect things to work out. No one was more shocked than me (well, I may have been the only one that was shocked) when Mike actually married me. I’m always surprised when things go the way they should – that I finished college, got married, got a good job, bought a house, finished my MBA… I’m always waiting for something to go wrong. And don’t get me wrong, things haven’t been totally smooth sailing, but things generally have gone well.

Maybe it’s a coping mechanism so I’m not disappointed when something doesn’t happen. Maybe I just expect things to go wrong because I feel like that’s what I deserve. Maybe that’s something to look more into in therapy.

In the meantime, fingers crossed, anxiety begone.

Job stress and the job hunt stress

Me working my job should not be possible. Especially not for six years. I work 4 12-hour shifts, 4 days off. Every month I switch between day shift and night shift. I’m sure one thing we all know by now is that routine is the key to dealing my bipolar disorder. As such, I literally should not be stable working this job. At least that’s what my psychiatrist says. He’s not wrong. My sleep schedule is all over the place. My body doesn’t know when it’s supposed to sleep, and I can sleep almost anywhere. And while there is a routine, of sorts, switching between shifts is rough. My days off include sleeping for 11 hours, trying to find the motivation to get off of the couch and out of the house, confusing days of the week, and dealing with everything from laundry to paying bills to grocery shopping and everything in between. My schedule literally should not work. For now, for some inexplicable reason, it does. I can feel it wearing on me, though. This type of lifestyle is just not sustainable, and I’m really starting to feel the toll its taken on me for almost six years. If for nothing else other than my mental health, I need to find a new job. And fast.

But the job search has its own set of problems. The stress of looking for a job, waiting for a call that may never come. Searching week after week for something that might be a good fit for me. It always leads me down the path of wondering if I did the right thing by going back and getting my MBA. But I never would advance or even get out of where I am if I didn’t do something. I didn’t have a lot of options. But what now? What comes next? It’s an anxiety that practically rules my life now. And this? This isn’t sustainable either.

Goals and an incident this week

Hello fair readers,

I’m trying hard to adhere to my goal of posting more often. Let’s hope this trend continues.

Anyway, on to an incident this week that made me realize that despite my apparent stability over the last five months I’m still walking a tightrope of emotions. I’m not sure if anyone heard about the CNN/Apple glitch this week that sent the same push alert multiple times. If by multiple times they mean almost 50 alerts in 20 minutes, then sure. Between my iPhone and my iWatch I got the same CNN news alert that the guy that had triggered the inbound missile alert was fired almost 50 times in 20 minutes. But at the time I didn’t know this was a glitch. I was at work and the two would not. stop. dinging. My coworker estimated that I was getting an alert every 8-20 seconds. Turning both the watch and the phone off didn’t help. By five minutes in, I could feel the rage building. By ten minutes I was practically shaking. That same noise repeated over and over and over again was pushing a button that hasn’t been pushed in a long time. I could feel the rage in my chest. My heart rate was increasing. I was starting to sweat. It was the beginnings of a massive panic attack that had a really pissed off component to it. I wanted to break my phone, my watch. I wanted to slam something off of the desk. I probably should have taken an Ativan and in the moment I did have that thought, but I was clear-headed enough to know that I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to go into that blissful fog. It was almost time to leave and I knew if I took one I might not be okay to drive home. So I breathed. I took off my watch and put it and my phone in a drawer. The alert sound was still there, but it was muffled. I could deal with that. At the end of the day I dealt with what could have been a big trigger, and I survived. Clearly, therapy and all of the tools that it put in my toolbox are working.

One important thing that my therapist and I talked about today was goals. I always set myself goals every year. I write them down in the back of the TARDIS notebook that I haul around with me everywhere so I have a reminder of them. But goals, when you have a mental illness, can present challenges. Some everyone who sets goals experiences, and some that might be more specific to those with mental illnesses.

Everyone procrastinates. It’s a normal part of life. But sometimes that procrastination isn’t really procrastination. How are you supposed to accomplish anything when getting out of bed and getting a shower are extreme challenges? Procrastination goes hand in hand with motivation. Sometimes you have to put your goals aside and ride through those times the best you can. It’s ok to say “I can’t do this right now” and set other things aside and focus on the small things – getting a shower, getting through a work day, eating regularly, having a conversation with someone.

Fear is another component. For me, at least, that fear is bourne of the thought “what if I don’t accomplish this?” Am I setting myself up for another failure? Can I handle this kind of failure? How will I feel about myself if the end of the year comes and I haven’t accomplished this? Am I willing to take the risk of trying and not succeeding? Fear goes hand in hand with doing things outside of your comfort zone. There’s always a fear of doing things outside your comfort zone, I don’t care who you are. There’s a reason that it’s called a comfort zone.

So here’s some of my goals for this year:

  1. Find a new job – this is the biggest and scariest thing on my list. I’ve been at my current job almost six years. I know how it runs, I know what to expect, it’s familiar. But I went back and got my MBA so I could move on to something new. I need to put aside my fear of the unknown, and the fear of changing careers, and get on with it. Someone told me recently that the first job is always the hardest to get. And I think that’s very true. I have the education, I just may not have as much experience as a new position might call for. It’s time to start small. Maybe apply for jobs that might be a step below what I actually should be doing, but instead focus on getting in with a company where there’s room to grow.
  2. Lose ten pounds – this isn’t going to be easy. One of the medications I’m on has a side effect of increased appetite. I definitely get that. At times I get ravenously hungry and eat everything in sight. So I need to work at making better food choices, and probably eating at least light snacks more often to curb that. I put on ten pounds in four months last year after I started it. We just bought an Instant Pot so I’ll be cooking more at home now that I can cook things a lot faster.
  3. Continue learning French – I started using Duolingo last year, and made great progress on it until the Great Depression of 2017. I kind of fell off using the app during that and never got back into it. Time to pick it back up. I at least want to make progress this year as the goal next year is to go to the Benelux countries. At least passable French would be helpful.
  4. Quit smoking – at the very least I want to get back to vaping rather than smoking. Baby steps.
  5. Read 35 books – I’m on book number 2 right now, so I’m a little behind. But I’m going to work on catching up over the next few weeks. Maybe I should start posting book reviews.

So that’s that for this week. What could have been a major setback turned into a small victory. And I’ve set some pretty lofty goals, but go big or go home, right?

It’s time to start taking my own advice

For years, through hardships and bouts of mental illness, through both bad times and good, my unofficial motto has always been “keep moving forward.”

I haven’t been following that. At all.

I’ve let my anxiety cripple me in a number of ways. I haven’t applied for a job in months – there’s always some excuse. My cover letter needs work, I’m not happy with my resume, it’s the holidays and no one is really hiring. There’s always an excuse. A reason not to do it.

I’m worried that I won’t find something. I’m worried that I spent all of this money and time on a degree that I’m never going to be able to use for one reason or another. Now it’s to the point where I’ve worked myself up so much about the whole thing that I’m literally crippled with fear about the whole process.

What if I’m not good enough? What if all of the work that I’ve done, all of the sacrifices I’ve made, leave me with nothing but huge student loan bills? What if I let my husband down? What if I do get a job and I’m really not cut out for it? What if, for the past three years, I’ve made nothing but bad decisions?

At this point, I don’t know what’s worse – failing at everything and letting everyone down, or facing my fear and actually succeeding. Because succeeding means facing all of my fears and powering through them. And that’s a terrifying thought.

It’s times like this I really hate mental illness and the fact that I’ve been burdened to carry the load. Sometimes I think I’m not strong enough to handle it. Sometimes I want to curl up in bed and wish the world away. But I don’t have that luxury. I manage to keep up with everything that needs to be done, but for whatever reason, I have a really hard time facing this.

But I have to face it. It’s time to stop letting the fear run my life. It’s time to take the reins again. It’s time to keep moving forward.

Happy New Year!

I’ve been severely neglecting this blog recently. I resolve to post more often. I’m paying for the domain, I might as well use it, right?

To catch up from the last few months, the new meds are working great. I’ve got some breakthrough anxiety, which I’ll address with my doctor this week, but generally speaking things, mood-wise at least, are going well.

Holidays are an especially anxiety-ridden time for me. Time with my family, time with the in-laws (although due to the weather we didn’t head across the state this morning. I think we’re shooting for February at this point once I’m off weekends again), Christmas parties with friends, Christmas party for work, and we had a wedding to go to in the middle of things. The bottle of Ativan came everywhere with me. I shouldn’t have to carry benzos with me to social functions just so I can get through the night without totally panicking. Luckily I only had to take one twice, and at the wedding, we left before that feeling of panic got too bad. So yeah, that’s an issue that needs to be dealt with. But in terms of bi-polar mood, things are going pretty good.

I still haven’t found a job. Granted, with the holidays I haven’t put much effort into looking. Between being busy and I know most places don’t really hire right around Christmas. I’ve spent some time retooling my resume and my cover letter, and have gotten help from Career Services on both, so I hope they’re ready. I need a new job sooner rather than later. Finances are one reason, I go back to nights in February is another (I’d like to be gone before that happens, although that’s probably a pipe dream), and to be honest I just don’t like my job anymore. I have a lot of mixed feelings about the company I work for; unfortunately, nothing I can get into here, but I have a hard time going to work every day.

I need to get moving on that front.

So that’s it for an update. Nothing major, just a lot of little stuff. But sometimes that little stuff adds up and the combination of them all can be a problem.

An update… of sorts

I’ve been pretty lax about updating recently. Things have been busy. I feel like my days off fill up before they even get started anymore. Which really sucks because I haven’t had a whole lot of downtime. Part of the reason is Mike and I have actually had some days off together, so things get put aside so we can spend some time together. It’s been nice. But nice doesn’t help get shit done.

I haven’t really applied for many jobs lately. Part of the reason is that it’s been so disheartening to have not found anything yet. But I’m making a promise to myself that I’ll set aside some time this weekend and really hit the job boards hard. Something has to shake out eventually, right? I’m about two weeks away from getting a part-time job at Sheetz just to pay my student loans.

I’m tired. Physically and mentally. Like I said, my days off have been go go go for so long and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change at all anywhere in the near future. Ugh.

All I want for Christmas is a normal job, with normal hours, and a pay bump. Is that too much to ask?

Depression, anxiety, and the job search

And we’ve now reached the portion of the game where a touch of depression rears it’s ugly head and causes me to question all of the decisions I’ve made.

The theme this week is should I have gone back to get my Masters? Was it really worth the time and the money? Am I going to be able to get a job?

On some level, I realize that that’s the anxiety and depression talking. It’s normal to question decisions, especially decisions that will affect the rest of your life.

But I also realize that I had to do something – I couldn’t continue to work in my current job if we wanted to have kids, if I wanted to work a normal 9-5 schedule, if I didn’t want to have to be at work at 4 AM on a regular basis. I didn’t have a lot of options. Going back to school and getting the MBA seemed like one of the only viable ones. I don’t regret it. I know that with enough effort I’ll find a job and will get started down a new career path.

It can be hard, though, when you get into these mindsets to not start questioning everything or to not start doubting yourself and everything that you’ve done. The trick is to think past it, to realize that not only is this the illness talking – the part of you that skews your thinking into negative pathways – but also that everyone goes through this, even those that are neurotypical. It’s normal when coming to the cusp of your life where everything changes, to wonder if you’re doing the right thing. Or if you made the right decision. It’s normal to overanalyze and stress and worry. But if you’ve got that underlying mental illness, these same normal things can start a cascade that’s hard to stop.

Don’t let that cascade start.

You have to believe that you made the right decision. You have to believe that you’ll land on your feet. You can’t let the negative thinking slow you down or stop you from doing something, especially something new. If you do you’ll be sitting in the same place in ten years that you are now wondering why you didn’t do more with your life, why you never took risks. I don’t want to be that person. I want to look back on my life someday and see that I challenged myself, didn’t let myself sit idly by and let opportunities pass by. I want to tell my kids and grandkids how I took life by the balls and didn’t sit back and expect things to happen to me – I made them happen myself.

The Dreaded Job Search

Now that we’re back from the beach, it’s time to tackle the thing that is causing most of my anxiety right now – the Job Search. I’ve got the fancy piece of paper that says I graduated, I’ve started paying on some of my student loans, it’s time.

I have a number of anxieties – money being the first. My student loan payments are intense, and I need a job that will cover them. If it doesn’t? I guess I’ll be working a second job. Which is exactly what I don’t want to do.

But I’m also terrified that hiring managers will look at my resume and immediately toss it in the no stack and think that I’m not qualified. I mean, sure, I’m new to the business side of things, but I have marketable skills. I have the MBA. I can do this. I know I can do this. But after five years at the same job, doing the same thing, I’m terrified of the change. But this is what I’ve worked for for the last two and a half years, isn’t it?

It is.

So it’s time to put on the big girl pants and do what I need to do.

I’m off on Friday. It begins then.

PS – I turned 35 last week. It’s time for a new chapter.