Two Years of What-The-Fuck

It’s pretty ironic that a few weeks ago I made a post on here saying I wouldn’t be on here for a while and instead of leaving I’ve been pulled back towards this site.

It’s been a long road. I was skimming through some of my older posts and having a laugh at not only the content, my aggressive nature which quite obviously came through in biting satirical wit, but also the comments and the beautiful souls I’ve met through this blog.

One person commented: “Are you mentally stable?”

If you have to ask that question, the answer is probably no. And I saw how many posts I wrote at 3am, 4am, 5am, and then came back the next day with either no sleep or two hours of sleep. I was busting my ass in Calculus and trying to find a job that wasn’t complete ass while simultaneously losing my mind. I’m pretty sure this blog helped me keep some kind of attachment to reality.

Then I ripped Alex Gorsky a new one (here) because there is no way in hell that man should have any kind of award in any kind of “humankindness” category. He’s a straight monster, and if I ever get the chance to meet him in person it’s going to take all of my strength not to spit in his fucking face. He hasn’t done anything that any other C.E.O of a major pharmaceutical company hasn’t done. The difference is he got caught. And I read about it. And that’s where the real danger for him is.

People ate that post up back in the day before I disabled the like button and couldn’t figure out how to get it back up, and it launched me into the blogsphere at a tremendous velocity. I became known for not only tearing apart pharmaceutical companies, but tearing apart anything and anyone who seemed to throw ethics out the window. And people who park in the red zone outside of my apartment. Fuck those people.

Where is this blog now? I have no fucking idea you guys. I basically recorded my decent into madness (I said that in some post a couple years ago) and the large gaps in between posts are indicative of me either being comatose in bed, in the hospital, or running the streets all hours of the night.

Those times consisted of a lot of weird shit. Like, weird shit. Like . . .like this:

Cat-Fish.

That isn’t even weird enough to really explain all the weirdness. I remember a lot of horrible dreams, traumatic dreams, all of which were caused by some unseen forces, dark forces, demons, which followed me around during the day, crowded my bed at night, whispered in my ears, fucked up my thoughts, intercepted them really, possessed people around me, and somehow I went to class and took notes and took exams and went to work and I guess I just sort of let my body work from muscle memory while my mind drifted into a different dimension.

At one point I remember being in hell, literal hell, and I was strapped to a torture board where some demons–I finally saw their true form, rather than the disguises they use here on Earth–turned their dial and stretched my limbs, trying to rip them from my body. That part was a dream, I’m pretty sure, but when I woke up they were still screaming at me, hissing at me, and I don’t remember much after that, just a lot of them screaming and cursing me, and they promised I would die.

One of these fucking things

Eventually I couldn’t keep up with the classes. Eventually I wasn’t picking up shifts at work, and inevitably, I stopped writing on this blog. The last hospital visit I had followed the Las Vegas shooting. Because those demons were after me, (and still are in all truth, that hasn’t gone away) they were hell bent on—

God it’s so much to explain. It’s so much to explain mini explosions detonate across my cortex when I think about it.

I believed I was here for a reason, on earth I mean, and I still believe I am. I believe everyone is. But for whatever reason this was heightened during this time, and I believed the safety of the human race essentially depended on me, and that was why so many dark forces had surrounded me–they knew what I knew, and they had to stop me.

They couldn’t physically touch me because I had the protection of my ancestors–that’s what I believed and still believe. So instead, they entered others around me. Strangers, friends, coworkers, and everywhere I went I felt attacked and unwelcome. I couldn’t tell anyone because 1) they’d think I was crazy and 2) they were all fucking in on it anyway.

So when the Vegas shooting happened, I immediately knew it happened because of me. I waited and waited and watched videos and theories and news stories, waiting for a motive to come out, and when nothing was found that only confirmed my belief: he’d been possessed and the shooting was a message to me, specifically, that they were coming for me. And that’s when they attacked my thoughts and I remember always feeling confused and drained of energy and I couldn’t sleep and I just wanted to die. I wanted to die and happened to mention my plan (I guess I didn’t really want to die anyway) and got the sheriffs called on me yet again.

I wasn’t in the hospital as long as people would expect. I have this problem. It’s called functionality.

She seems functional, albeit stressed.

Through all of this–and this built up over the course of a year, at least, maybe even two, of being out of my mind–I was still functional. I went to classes even though I had to drop them eventually. I went to work, some fucking how, and I wasn’t speaking strange or obviously disconnected from reality. I wasn’t walking down the street talking to myself or accusing people of things or anything. I was just . . . existing. A shell. My body moved, I responded to people when they spoke to me, and that was that–I was okay by mental health system standards.

And so the hospital just wanted to help me sleep. And that’s what they did. They gave me some Seroquel so I would sleep, waited for about a week, diagnosed me with Bipolar 1 this time, and tossed me to the county mental health system back in my town which gave other optional diagnoses (PTSD–which I’d already been diagnosed with, Schizoaffective–there’s a newbie, Psychosis NOS–okay?) no one ever came to a conclusion on, and then they outright rejected me. I didn’t last long enough in their system for them to conclude anything, really.

Now, the wonderful thing about all this is somehow it’s all worked out.

And the weird thing is now that I quit my medication in the worst fucking way possible, a way that almost cost me my life, I feel so much better. I still get confused by my thoughts often, but a lot of the time I feel wonderful, sparkly, like I’m connected to every inanimate and animate object on earth; sometimes I know what people are thinking, sometimes I know that they know that I’m connected to them.

I haven’t heard any voices since I abruptly stopped my medication–it’s been five months. That’s fucking unprecedented. I’ve been a conundrum in the mental health system since I was 5.

I’m back writing, and that’s a good fucking sign. Welcome to whatever the fuck this blog is now!

Perhaps I’ll find another C.E.O to drag through the dirt and hang by his/her ankles.

Career Shameer

It’s 10:44 in the morning. I got off of work two hours ago. I am sleep deprived from the last few days, and quite irritable. That’s the perfect time to belch out a post. Agreed?

I’m not sure about the rest of you, but my best cognitive realizations and abilities are birthed from pure, elegant exhaustion. I did much better in Calculus at eight thirty in the morning after four hours of sleep than I did in an afternoon class after a solid seven and a half hours of sleep the night before. My brain is backwards and I appreciate that.

However, I am at a rather jarring crossroads in my life right now. After the last three years of being in and out of psychiatric hospitals, on and off psychiatric medications, jumping around from (ignorant) diagnosis to diagnosis, gaining weight, losing weight, gaining weight again, in and out of a four year relationship, it’s left my education in shambles.

Most of you know I currently work as a Peer Support worker at a Peer Respite house and if you didn’t know, now you know. Somewhere on this blog I still have the post I put up about my first day of work there. I’ve been there for 2.5 years by this point, the longest job I’ve ever held. I started when I was 20 years old, a month or two away from my 21st birthday that I don’t remember. In my interview I told them I was a Pre-Med student eager for a career in psychiatry to fight the system.

I am now 23, four months away from my 24th birthday.

I’m not quite sure what happened. I was fully invested in my psychology degree and unscathed by the physics and math required for Med-school. I was a little perturbed about chemistry. I can’t balance an equation to save my fucking life. Another fun fact: put a Calculus equation in front of me, or teach me Linear Algebra and I”ll eat it alive. Put a pre-algebra word problem in front of me and I crumble, I disintegrate. As a writer, you think I’d understand what word problems are asking of me. As someone pretty decent at math, you’d think I’d understand how to calculate what’s being asked of me. Both of your assumptions would be horribly, horribly misled. I’m sure you can, then, deduce how well physics went.

My point in all this rambling is I can’t figure out what I want to study in college anymore. My psychology degree is almost complete and I don’t much care for it anymore. Every psychology class I take I no longer take interest in. Perhaps it’s from 1) living the experience of mental health issues and realizing textbook explanations are pale in comparison, 2) understanding the corruption that lies in the mental health industry/business, and 3) from working in the exact opposite environment that I would be working in were I to pursue my original career choice.

Perhaps it’s my stubbornness. I don’t want to answer to Insurance companies. I don’t want to be solicited or bribed by pharmaceutical salesmen offering me money to push certain drugs. I don’t want to have to deny someone my services because their insurance won’t pay for me because they don’t want medication. I don’t want to make that choice for them, it’s not my business. I don’t want to go into private practice and have to charge 300 dollars an hour and limit myself to an elitist group when we’re all very much aware that the people who need the most help are often struggling with housing, substance use, financial issues, as well as their mental health.

I don’t want to work for a county that would allow me to see that population but underpay me significantly and overload me with cases. I don’t want to only be allowed to see those people for 15 minutes when they need so much more time than that. I don’t want to be considered a doctor that only hands out medication. I don’t do well with rules that are illogical and all of the aforementioned happens to be just that.

And yet I feel that to not pursue this would be abandoning my own people. I feel the difference I wish to make can only begin with legitimizing myself, and unfortunately that requires a college degree in this day and age. But if the passion for the classes isn’t there anymore–where does that leave me? I still have a fiery passion for exposing pharmaceutical companies for what they are, for guiding people through their own mental health journey, for offering other opportunities and healing besides medication and hospitalization, but I just can’t handle sitting through these fucking brainwashing classes and pretend to care about what they’re saying.

So do I start over? Do I accept the psychology degree and switch to a different discipline? Do I follow my original plan, which would require a hard science degree? Do I have the confidence for that? Or will word problems best me? Will I make the same mistake, get the degree, and then not want to pursue the discipline? Will I even be able to get the degree? Or do I say fuck school all together and live the rest of my life check to check, roommate to roommate?

I’ve been off all meds for a couple months now. No antipsychotics, no mood stabilizers, no antidepressants, no sleep medication. I’ve 360’d my diet, and now exercise five days a week for an hour and a half. I’m making a lot of changes and it feels like it’s only natural that my career path do the same.

The real problem is i’d love to have a career in physics and a career in peer support. That just doesn’t seem realistic though. Research during the day, peer during the night? Sounds exhaustive.

What’s helped you choose your career path? Are you still searching for something? Are you at a crossroads too?

Sudoku and Neurotransmission

There’s nothing that can convince me that this life is meant to be as complicated as we make it. There’s nothing that can convince me that we will ever find all of the answers, and to think that we have some already is naive and wishful. These are the things I think about as I backtrack in my Sudoku game, something I used to hate doing as a child because I could never get it right the first time. I have once in my life, but that was in a bout of mania. As much as I like to think it was my own brain power, it was really just a flood of neurotransmitters doing all the work.

250px-sudoku_puzzle_by_l2g-20050714_solution_standardized_layout-svgI was thinking about this the other day, about neurotransmission and Sudoku, and how they both have algorithms to describe their process. We have more neural connections in our brain than we have estimated stars in our galaxy. 1000 times more, to be exact. Sudoku has a bunch of different number possibilities, but only one answer. I fear neurotransmission is not as simple.

We have an algorithm for the probability of neural transmission: when certain neurons will fire and the chance of that happening, essentially. I believe if we do wish to describe the processes that happen in our brain, math will be the catalyst for success in that field. There are too many connections, too many variables, to settle on an explanation as simple as, say, a chemical imbalance.

I came across an essay in PLOS medicine titled “Serotonin and depression: a disconnect between the advertisements and the Scientific Literature.” This is a big deal. Although published in 2005, their words are still very relevent today. I’m sure you have heard in commercials about psychiatric medication that “so and so disorder is a chemical imbalance, and [insert drug] works to correct that balance”. Notice they will never explain how or why, because they simply don’t know. We don’t know.

And that’s where my area of study will be, once I do graduate: let’s explore this idea of chemical imbalance and what it may mean. My ultimate goal? Disprove the theory.

That’s a long way off, and it may only be a pipe dream, but I believe I can catalyst a different type of thought in the mental health community by proving, scientifically, mathematically, whatever you want to call it, that something like a chemical imbalance cannot possibly exist. Why?

As the essay says:

Attempts were also made to induce depression by depleting serotonin levels, but these experiments reaped no consistent results [9]. Likewise, researchers found that huge increases in brain serotonin, arrived at by administering high-dose L-tryptophan, were ineffective at relieving depression.

As it also says:

Contemporary neuroscience research has failed to confirm any serotonergic lesion in any mental disorder, and has in fact provided significant counterevidence to the explanation of a simple neurotransmitter deficiency. Modern neuroscience has instead shown that the brain is vastly complex and poorly understood.

And of course, let’s not forget:

There is no scientifically established ideal “chemical balance” of serotonin, let alone an identifiable pathological imbalance. To equate the impressive recent achievements of neuroscience with support for the serotonin hypothesis is a mistake.

comic-bubble-hmm_1609021If there is no established balance, there, logically, cannot be an imbalance. This article focuses purely on serotonin and depression, but this in fact relates as well to the dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia and any other neurotransmitter they claim causes certain mental health issues. These studies are indeed correlational and not experiments. What does this mean for us that struggle mentally?

It means the door is open again. It means we can find a different explanation. It means we can focus on genes. We can focus on environment. We can focus on the way society structures thought–how we’re taught to think about ourselves in the first place. We can focus on things we can change, rather than this pipe dream that a little pill that may or may not cause more harm to our bodies/brains than good, can cure anything at all.

To deny that there is a biological component would be ignorant of me. To accept the propaganda that pharmaceutical companies place in front of my eyes would be even more ignorant of me.

There could be a chance that neurotransmission is just like Sudoku, and that perhaps there is one single answer and we just have to back track and back track and back track until we find the right numerical composition. But more than likely that isn’t the case. This isn’t a pattern devised by a computer. This is a pattern devised by universal chaos and quantum processes. What is there to correct? What’s created by nature is created by nature, and for us to label that right or wrong, normal or abnormal, is rather selfish and egotistical.

What else could it be, if not a chemical imbalance then? We could brainstorm ideas for hours. Genetics–if your mother has what we label as schizophrenia, there’s a greater chance you will too. But stop. It also depends on: Environment. There’s a striking number of people who receive this label who have been through some type of sexual abuse, physical abuse, severe emotional abuse, and often voices and delusions reflect this pain. What does that tell us? That deep pain that isn’t processed properly leaves a lasting stamp on our neural connections, and turns something on and off in our genetics. Socio-economic status plays a role: think of all the homeless people you see wandering the street talking to themselves. Assume they are not on drugs, and you’re dealing with a mental health issue. You think it’s easy to get well in poverty? You think there isn’t trauma in poverty? What effect does trauma have on the brain? There are studies on this, but what does it mean for neural connections? What does any of the things I just mentioned mean?

That’s what I plan to study in my life. I’ve given up the fight against these pharmaceutical people. I can’t fight a corporation. But I can fight their bullshit research with real research.

Ironic, considering Research Methods is my LEAST favorite class.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

 

How Sick Are You, Pt 2

Another long stretch since I’ve written. I spent some days adjusting to medication, some days hating myself for taking medication, and other days deciding to come off of medication.

Experiment number 2984719374:

Hypothesis: I will have a burst of energy and feel-good neurotransmitters flooding the gates of my synaptic terminals, followed by an immediate and harrowing decline which will, therefore, push me inevitably towards reuniting with the medication I so despise.

Methods: I will stop both the Abilify and Trintellix and monitor my moods and/or whatever aspects of psychosis that may rear its ugly head.

Results: TBD

Discussion: TBD.

Now that we have that settled, let’s talk a bit about mental health and awareness. There are so many great people out there doing great advocacy online and in person. There are so many great Non-Profit organizations doing the same. There are even clubs dedicated to such a thing at my college campus. And yet, there are still people wary and ashamed of their mental health. Let me give an example of how this thought process is still prevalent.

Today, while sitting in my Cognitive Psychology class, we were going over, for the umpteenth time in my life, neurotransmission, synaptic terminals, receptors, antagonists and agonists, Dopamine, Gaba, Norepinephrine, and Serotonin, some of the main receptors you learn in an introduction class. It follows that we should then speak about the dis-regulation of some of those neurotransmitters, and discuss the THEORY of chemical imbalances: regarding primarily dopamine and schizophrenia, serotonin and anxiety/depression.

Again, the idea of a chemical imbalance is a (repeat after me kids):

situation-clipart-theory-5

which means it can never be proven, only dis-proven.

Anyway, that brought up the topic of SSRI’s, their side effects, and their withdrawal symptoms.

One young woman, who was probably younger than I am, raised her hand and said this:

“I was wondering about the withdrawal symptoms, because I take an SSRI, and I noticed that–well, I don’t have depression, it’s for some nerve problems–but I noticed that when I didn’t take it even for just a couple days, I was sleeping a lot, I couldn’t focus in this class . . .” and yada yada yada, personal life bullshit.

But what struck me is that she immediately discounted the experience of depression. She wouldn’t want her classmates thinking she’s “mentally ill” now would she?

And this is why I advocate for changing the culture around this term “mentally ill”. Because people are ashamed of that, of “being ill”. But what if we weren’t “ill”? What if we were perfectly well humans with a variation of neurons (a very, very, very large variation of neurons) that just so happened to result in different experiences? What if believing we are “ill” is keeping us, well, “ill-er”?

What if the perception of those experiences changed from unpleasant to being perceived as unique, variable, malleable, valuable, curious, and wonderful?

That’s not to say the struggle isn’t hard, because it’s very hard. But the harder we believe it is, the harder it will get.

Now, this could all be the feel-good neurotransmitters talking, because I started my little experiment about two weeks ago, and that is about the amount of time it takes for this poison to slowly remove itself from my body. Although, if you know anything about half-lifes, it never really goes away.

But whether or not this is me being euphoric and grandiose, I think we need to expand the discussion around neurotransmitters, and inform the public of just how wrong it is to think that the pathway of ONE SINGLE neurotransmitter leads to something as complex as what we call schizophrenia or what we call anxiety, Bipolar, Depression, any of it.

neurotransmitters-5-638

You’ll read in a lot of studies released to the public–or at least glorified in the media–that they’ve found another link of dopamine to this, another one of serotonin to that, and it’s just not feasible that with 30-100 different molecule versions of neurotransmitters (granted there are a few that do a lot of the work) and 100 Trillion estimated neural connections plus constant variation of cell death/growth, neural connection death/growth, as well as environmental and genetic influences that dictate those neural connection and sell growths and deaths, that ONE neurotransmitter is going to be responsible for making or breaking our mental health.

Now, we can say that they are correlated. We can say we see increased dopamine in people who experience what we label as schizophrenia. But you cannot, and I repeat, CANNOT use that as CAUSATION.

Fuck I can’t stress it ENOUGH.

Psychology 101 folks: CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. 

01100356-36f6-4a94-b89c-3ec0ac29f066-21kh691

Dopamine may be high during what we call psychosis, but that does not mean that the high dopamine CAUSED the psychosis, or that the psychosis CAUSED the high dopamine. We haven’t learned what “causes” mental health struggles yet, that’s why chemical imbalance is a THEORY.

See how much you’ve learned already today.

And that’s what happens in a lot of these articles that are debriefed by media or science magazines online with writers who don’t know a single thing about psychology. They get hung up on correlations.

It’s also a result of research publications being manipulated to suit the needs of pharmaceutical companies.

It’s a fact that if you give someone a drug that decreases dopamine, you’ll likely see a decrease in what we call psychosis. You’ll see a decrease in a lot of other things too, and those are what we cal side-effects. But are those drugs really doing anything to the thing we call psychosis, or is it just blunting some aspects of the self? Because often “psychotic symptoms” continue during the usage of said drug.

These are all questions I can’t answer, and neither can the magazines that publish articles on published research. It’s important to read these things carefully and really take a moment to look inside of yourself and ask yourself if you want to consider yourself broken, sick, ill, and helpless.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

Asking For Help

Things have been troublesome for me. My relationship of 4 years has ended, and I’m still heartbroken over that fact. It’s only been a couple days, and so the feelings are still very raw. It’s difficult to have 4 years of good memories in your head, only to be trumped by the memory of one incident: the break up.

I’m okay with having to move forward. I mean, I’ve been through a lot worse things in my life than a breakup, and have had my heart broken on the same level once before. I’m used to the pain. I’m used to the random crying that hits you when you hear a song that reminds you of everything, or see a couple, or hear about people and their love, or see all the pictures we have. I’m used to the constant feelings of “wow, this is all your fault” because I’m used to things getting ruined because of my mental health. And that’s essentially what all this boils down to.

I still have my cat. I love her, and I will forever love her. And I thank him for buying her for me those 2 years ago, she’s been a great addition to my life. So that’s one thing to be thankful for.

On top of that, the program I work for is also closing in December. I feel I am no longer welcome in this town by way of the universe, and that because both my job and relationship are essentially over at the same time, it’s a sign that it’s time to move on to bigger and better things.

I plan to move down to Los Angeles where peer support jobs are rampant in certain areas, and where I can really use my creative talent: my writing, my photography. I want to be able to blossom in this crazy life, and I’m sick of being stifled and stagnant. All of this stress is really kicking up my mental health issues, and so is not having the money to even pay for my prescriptions right now.

I started a GoFundMe. Hear me out: I hate taking money from people. I hate taking offers from people. I hate doing anything that requires me to beg. But I am in a situation where I can’t just up and leave town and not risk being homeless. I can’t stay in town and not risk being homeless. Again. I’m trying to avoid that. Again.

I would use the funds strictly for moving expenses and nothing more. That means the U-Haul to get my stuff down there, the deposit and first months rent on a place ( a room for rent, of course), and food along the way. I’m asking for 2k. Not too much, not too little.

If you know anyone who is willing to donate, that would be amazing. The link is here. I’m just a young 23 year old trying to make a new start in a world that has beat me down from the beginning. And I’m not trying to act helpless. I’m not even on disability, although with my diagnoses I could qualify. But I want to do things on my own, prove to myself and the world that I can be who I need to be without second guessing myself or degrading myself.

I am just in need of a little help.

I’ve been apart of this wordpress community for three years now, and have been thankful to every single person who has ever liked or commented on this blog. And now I’m finally reaching out to every single one of you and asking for just a bit of help. You don’t have to donate, that’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking for you to share the link on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, whatever. I only have so much of a following, and could use more help in that department.

If you do donate, thank you, thank you. Every little bit helps.

Now, I’m going to try and get ready for my day, as difficult as that’s becoming.

Thank you.

Neurology, The Side Chick

With the intention of speaking words of the otherworldly, I opened this page and now have lost sight of my original motivation.

So I’ll just let the words flow like water.

previewimage

 

Today I had conversations filled with self-acceptance, Dr. Dre, Greek Gods and Goddesses, George Washington, free-style rap, the energy in your pancreas, and meditation. Were I able to repeat the actual words of the conversation, I wouldn’t want to. They were personal and private.

What is this thing call self-acceptance after all? Is it some mysterious being that makes you happy with yourself? Or is it the act of being happy with yourself even when you’re not happy? Is it the act of feeling your emotions without stuffing them away? Seems to me you can’t accept who you are if you’re constantly stuffing away your thoughts, your feelings, and yourself deeper and deeper until they’re gone completely–that’s self-deprivation, a form of self mutilation, if you ask me. Your emotions, your moods, they’re there for a reason, and the reason isn’t to be ignore. It isn’t to be stuffed down or waived away as a defect of your mind. They’re there to remind you of how human you really are.

If you stuff away your humanity, well, no wonder life becomes so miserable.

Granted, I’m not a human. But that’s another story for another time.

I’ve lost my sarcastic spark recently because, if you all remember, a lot of my sarcasm revolved around my own personal anger issues and my fiery hatred for the mental health industry. I mistook it for passion, I really did. I mistook it so easily for passion, it scares me.

That hatred had been sutured on my soul. I never took for granted a moment I could trash talk Big Pharma, psych hospitals, or psychiatrists who prescribe one year old’s Risperdal to parents who couldn’t even spell the word if their life depended on it. But that hatred has long dissipated. In fact, it’s fallen away, rotten and diseased, like a rejected skin graft.

I’ve lost my passion for psychiatry, because it was never about psychiatry. I just wanted to be around the people who dealt with the same kinds of things I did, and I knew being a psychiatrist you often dealt with people who had “odd” beliefs, who heard voices or struggled with trust issues in this reality and others, mood issues, e.t.c.

I do that now. What the hell do I need psychiatry for?

chained-up
Me In College

I didn’t expect for me to lose interest so quickly in something I’ve been studying, literally, since I was fifteen years old. That’s six years. I’ve got so much pharmacology and medication and industry and research knowledge that sometimes I don’t know what to do with it. Now I’m thinking, IF i choose to stay in college, I may go for Neurology.

But one thing is for certain, I can’t stop what I’m doing now.

I know I have many issues I still need to work on. My anxiety is fucking Cthulu, my trust issues are like Jack The Ripper and murders every possibility of having a connection with a hoe who gets near me, and my social skills are dark matter: can’t see it, can’t hear it, not even sure if it exists. Those are the things I’m struggling with. Fuck any voices I hear or things I see, fuck the occult shit, fuck all–all that is normal. I hate the word normal, but I’m using it here because I feel ten times more comfortable with myself when I’m indulged in those things than if I’m outside and fronting against anxiety or trying to blend in with the crowd. THAT shit feels weird. It makes my skin crawl.

I don’t see that as me being broken or sick or “abnormal”. I see it as everyone else being just a little off their rocker too. Who buys clothes just because a rapper has them? Fucking weird dude. You call me weird? You’re copying a multi-million dollar superstar with a cheap knock off, just to look cool in front of your friends. And I’m the one with the problems. Yeah. Right.

Dude. People bought Yeezys. People buy iphones just because they’re iphones. Come ON

yeezy-boost-ebay-prices-1

I’ve probably said this before, but I didn’t talk to other kids when I was a kid. I didn’t have friends. So the world in my head, all the talking cars and the personalities I spoke to that helped me become the fiction writer I am today, all that? THAT was my normal, and I never had any reason to feel wrong for it. Me being quiet and reserved and having trouble communicating–that I got scolded for. That I still struggle with feeling wrong and bad about. See the connection?

Imagine if I would have told my teachers the truth, about the feelings I got at night trying to go to bed, the other worldly forces watching me, the characters in my head that spoke to me, that consoled me when I had trouble, that wrote the brilliant things they called “advanced”. Imagine what would have happened to me. The thought makes me shudder.

At this point I”m just babbling. I would like to continue my involvement in peer support. I don’t really want psychiatry anymore. It’s like that one used up hoe you pounded when you were drunk and feeling powerful and then you woke up so close to her you could almost taste the night’s sweat still on her and realized she a rachet-ass, bat-lipped-ass, saggy-titty-ass, stank-breath-ass hoe. That’s psychiatry to me right now.

Peer Support is like the gorgeous girl working as a cashier during the day and attending school at night and taking care of her kid and struggling to survive but understanding that she can make it, so she smiles at you when you set your items on the belt.

Neurology can be the okay-ass side chick, I suppose.

I wonder how long it’s been since I used the term mental disorder and actually meant it? It’s been a long time. It feels good to have that removed from my tongue. It was starting to leave a stale taste in my mouth.

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. . . And Life Goes On

Life goes on and the unreality of the eighth falls prey to the angry, hungry lion that is daily reality. And in daily reality inquires are made and solutions are dished out and some people work a 9 to 5.

Then there are those of us who don’t. Then there are some of us who have to awkwardly explain to their non-peer professor that she feels the entire class has conspired against her since her return from the hospital but that she’s been keeping up with the work at home and will be back the following week. Then there are some of us who disappear from math class without warning and have to, once again, awkwardly email the non-peer professor and hope he will be understanding.

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That’s what’s been keeping me from going to my creative writing class by the way: the same thing that kept me from going to my Native American Literature class those years back.

Let me say I love this professor. She is hilarious and open and an eloquent writer. Although she is more interested in poetry rather than fiction, she and I understand each other as writers. Her class is very open. Everyone talks among each other, and I was once in a little group. Then I shipped away.

Returning back to class felt wrong. And once I told my professor why I’d been gone, I got this nagging feeling she’s told the entire class who I am, what happened, and why I was gone. Then when I return I’m noticing someone who used to sit next to me, sat a seat away, and while another person used to ask me questions she now asks the guy next to me. I’m sure she told them all to ignore me and hate me. I’ve tried to reason myself into believing it’s because they have all had time to get to know each other better, but that other voice in my head has invalidated and battered reason to the floor.

Driving home one night I realized something significant. First, I realized that this level of paranoia can go fuck itself.

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The Only Image Of Hello Kitty I’ve Found Even Remotely Interesting

Secondly, I asked myself what someone would say to me at  Second Story if I were to explain my thoughts. I asked myself what I would say to someone were I to explain the thoughts to myself. And while I can’t remember the full conversation I had with myself in my head, I do remember the conclusion.

Feeling violated by my professors purported confidentiality disrespect, feeling like an outcast among people with stigma as rampant as it is, is the root of this paranoia. My own insecurity of being seen as “crazy” or “sick” on the outside is the root of this paranoia. And while that doesn’t make me feel any less paranoid, it made me sigh in relief. It made me sigh because it makes me remember all the people I’ve spoken to who struggle in the same way. I sighed because it only confirms there are reasons for thoughts, no matter how “deluded” they could be considered. My interpretation of my environments may be different from yours, but if you’re insecure about the way you look, and I’m insecure about how my mentality is perceived, aren’t we both sharing in the same struggle but seeing it differently?

Crisis averted.

And that got me thinking about the future, about transferring, about digging deep into my career. And all that bone crushing anxiety got me thinking about questions I hear and have been asked often:

What kind of jobs are there for the “mentally ill”?

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Preferably Ones That Don’t Drive Us To Ring Our Necks With A Tie

You all know I refrain from using terms like “mental illness” or “mental disorder” and instead call them experiences or struggles or interpretations. But that is how the question is often phrased.

And one obvious thing comes to mind and it isn’t office job, it isn’t an online position, it isn’t reclusive writer, and it isn’t backroom stocking associate, all of which I’ve tried.

Well, I’m still a reclusive writer, but . . .

I smacked myself on the forehead at the realization: peers.

And with the rise in peer support sweeping, literally, the nation, there’s a huge need for it.

I will be transferring over the hill next year. I refuse to live on campus unless it will be paid for by financial aid and I can have a dorm to myself: those are rather harsh and specific requirements, so I’m not counting on it. Therefore I will need income. I smacked myself again on the forehead before searching for peer support in the county I will be moving too.

Yes, it exists there as well. In fact, it exists in many, many more places and cities and towns than I thought. Second Story may be peer run, but even within health centers there are peer programs. A lot of them. This gave me the hope for humanity Trump tried stealing away.

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To Be Clear, Trump is Mocking Him, Not Me

If connecting with people who also struggle is something of interest to you, I encourage you to search programs, I really do. It may sound like a huge step, and it is,  but let me tell you, you’ll be way better off being nervous around people who understand how that effects you personally, than being in an office where a boss snorts at you and says “tough shit”.

My point is, there are jobs out there for people who struggle in the way we do. I’m not talking people with just Anxiety or depression. I’m talking those who hear voices or bounce up and down with their moods. Self Harm. OCD. WhatEVER it is, we need you.

You don’t need a degree, all you need is your experience with mental health.

The transformation I saw in the woman I met from the hospital who happened to show up a week after I told her about Second Story . . .the difference I saw in her from the time we were in the hospital together to the first week she was with us . . .tremendous. She used to not speak above a whisper. She didn’t make much eye contact and was really stuck in her struggle. The last time I saw her she spoke confidently, she made eye contact, she saw all of the problems she had to go through in terms of housing and such as things she could accomplish: she told me that many times. She said it would be hard, but that they are do-able.

That was the first positive thing I’d heard from her.

She and I cooked a feast that night. I asked her if she was any good at cooking chicken and we were off. We made stuffing and baked chicken and mashed potatoes and a salad and some green beans and sliced some bread. Some of us sat down and ate at the dinner table and joked about Mariah Carey and the 7 million dollar engagement ring her (ex??) fiance gave her.

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*Rolls Eyes Tremendously*

I remember when I left the hospital she whispered good luck to me. Before I left my shift for that night I told her good luck. The last I heard, she’s signed up to Volunteer with us.

You make a difference in people’s lives, and they make a difference in yours. That’s what peer support is about. These are real positions in this life and real places have implemented these types of programs.

There are people out there that understand. And there are people out there you can use your experience to connect with. If you’re curious, I implore you, please, research it. If you have questions about what I do as a peer support counselor, email me or leave a comment, I’ll be happy to explain in more detail.

You might go in hoping to change someone else’s life and come out the one who is changed. That’s when you know you made a good choice.

We need you.

 

Blood Shall Be Shed

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Revelations galore this week, son.

Hardcore, motherfucker.

Wiggity, wiggity, wiggity wack! Don’t do crack!

I needed a non-generic introduction because my brain is non-generic and I’ll get bored of myself if I don’t act ridiculous. 

Could you all imagine me in a business position (without my social anxiety)? I mean, let’s all think about that for a minute. Think about my severe distaste for power-hungry, self-centered authoritarians (of which I could actually be the more I think about it), the majority of Act Utilitarianism, and zombie submission in the workforce today. Think about my atrocious mouth and unconventional (perhaps somewhat Gestalt) ways of handling situations. Think about my humor.

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I’ve already told you all that I would be the psychiatrist listening to the old Snoop Dogg in an easy leather recliner chair with a joint in the corner of my mouth. I’d speak in Ebonics, put up a middle finger to insurance companies and their demand that I diagnosis my clients and prescribe medication even if they prefer not to go down that route (I’d do it for whoever I felt needed it or whoever wanted it of course), and I wouldn’t be scared to write “fuck your shit son, 420 blaze it” on paperwork I felt dehumanized the actual act of therapy or the field of psychology.

Still not convinced psychiatrists should also perform therapy with their clients? Well, let’s get you off mars and back on Earth. Read this here. I’d love to heard valid arguments against it. Honestly, I would, that’s not sarcasm or passive aggressive wording.

All my clients will love me. Especially the teenagers.

Now, I’ll make sure to erase this post in case any future universities/ psych-employers search for dirt on me to tell on me to the board and get my license revoked. I have a feeling there will be a lot of people wishing to do that do me.

For those of you who actually think I’d sit in my office and smoke weed as a professional, shame on you and your inability to read into my idiotic sarcasm.

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My problem with the world if business if their expectancy for a “yes man” mentality without giving anything in return. There is no humanity left in corporate conduct these days. That’s why I’m thankful the department I work for, the finance/cash department has managers kind enough to pull us new people into their office a couple times every few weeks to ask “how are you feeling? Is there anything we can do to make you more comfortable? Anything you need to talk about?”

Now, whether my social anxiety has allowed me the freedom to fully embrace their kindness is a different story. I still need to request I keep my part-time hours through the summer and inquire about switching to the night shift.

Working this position in a field that is literally the exact opposite of what I want to go into has made me search up volunteer positions related to the field I do want to go into. There aren’t many, but there are a few related to social work I’d like to  get involved in.

This could be the good mood speaking, it really good. I do that often: feel great, expect the greatness to continue, and then get myself into situations I crumble under.

1ebrgs73gd5re6t37ugj0un78-299x299x1And that could just be me jinxing myself. I do that as well, I’ve realized. The thing about depression and the mindset of someone with depression is that we’re always finding reasons why we suck, why we can’t do anything right, and using those reasons as justification to why we shouldn’t do something. Anxiety causes that as well, but I think the depressive mindstate has a little more influence in that.

I never volunteered for anything or applied to jobs because I was convinced my social anxiety would prevent me from living up to my expectations and everyone else’s expectations. Now that I’m back in the working world for the second time in a position that I would never dream of being able to handle . . . and to see that I’m handling it, regardless of daily anxiety, regardless of the fact that no one else seems to recognize this huge accomplishment, makes me believe I really have been lying to myself all these years.

It’s very easy for someone else to tell you “oh, you can do it”. It’s a lot harder and a lot more effective if you get out and show yourself you can do it. 

It doesn’t mean I’m not terrified. I still worry if people like me. I worry if I’m too quiet or if I seem shifty or strange or odd. I still need constant reassurance on whether I’m doing a procedure right or not (although I’m trying to hide it) and I’m still trying to push myself to communicate more with co-workers and establish a business relationship.

Deep down I’m not this kind of person. My anxiety makes it seem as if I care but I really don’t.

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I’m the creative type. I use jobs and tasks where repetition is required so I can think about other things–you know, kind of like Einstein and his Postal work. So I don’t care to move up into positions. I don’t care how good it would look on my resume. I have a mind that can take me wherever I want regardless of references or “amazing accomplishments“.

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But, because the world is always looking for a reason for you to kiss its ass, I realize those kinds of positions and resumes can also help you get places. Therefore I intend to get that experience through volunteering in subjects I care about. Like social work. Like tutoring adults in English, Math, and Technology.

Some of them worry me, like the positions that force you to be in charge of people.

Which sounds contradictory given the fact that I love to be in charge of people. In a good way.

Not a narcissistic way.

I hope.

I can’t make this clearer: my anxiety thinks and feels one way, I think and feel another way. I love helping people, and I love guiding them down a path and providing them with good resources but doing it face to face? My anxiety says aw hell to the no. 

I say aw hell to the yes.

Tune in next time to see who’s won this battle. Should be a bloodbath.

From Another World

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As you’re all horribly aware, as I’ve made you all horribly aware per my own personal insistence, I am not human.

At least, I don’t consider myself as such. I’m pretty sure my anatomy is of the human variety (two arms, two legs, two eyes, one brain, one heart, a liver, two lungs, a large intestine, small intestine, and so on ) and other humans seem to regard me as human in most instances. They talk to me and invite me to human gatherings where a bunch of other humans get together and do human things like eat, dance, and drink. I live in a human-based society where they’ve put their value of their humanity above all other animals, plants, and forms of life and deem themselves “rational” (against their own better judgement half the time) and “intelligent” (also against their own better judgement), then spend the majority of their lives finding a way to create a hierarchy of intelligence and rationality until they start considering other humans irrational and unintelligent based on the biased hierarchies they’ve created.

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They create definitions of abstract concepts and argue over them, then conclude “to each his own”.

What was the point in arguing in the first place, then?

There are reasons I consider myself the most confident self doubter I have ever met; I’m confident within my self-doubt. When we’re getting mixed signals as a society, we define ourselves through those contradictions and I have done this long enough and well enough to see fully the damage it’s caused.

writing-passionI have a passion . . . well, a few passions, and see it fit to follow each of them through. To what extent I will follow them I couldn’t say, but I will follow them. Some require school, others require experience, and the majority of them require some level of socialization.

I am both nervous about socialization and horrible at it. Because I did not talk through some crucial development years, I never learned how to establish crucial social skills either, to the point where I am generally clueless on how to assert myself in anything other than written word, my saving grace.

People often mix up assertion and conversation. Once I get used to someone I can carry on a reasonable conversation; but even when I’ve known someone for seven years, I find it difficult to assert my feelings and thoughts into particular conversations.

As a result, I’ve met with enough people and studied enough people through observation (and some experimentation of my own–shhhh don’t tell anyone) to know that my silence is viewed as ignorance, stupidity, weakness. When you have those labels slapped upon you before you even have a chance to prove them wrong, you get a little nervous in making an attempt to prove them wrong at all.

hwyf7I’ve never doubted my intelligence, I think I have a decent enough level of it to get me through my life. I’m by no means a sparkling, haughty-taughty genius, as much as I wish I could be, and I won’t lie, there are some things I learn much, much slower than others. There are other things I learn quicker than other and retain better than others. That’s pretty normal functioning as a human in a human society.

If I were human. I’m not, I swear. I came from halfway across the Galaxy from a little ice planet. Our beings are strictly in a form of consciousness, so the concept of physical bodies took a little getting used to.

My social anxiety and general ignorance of proper social customs makes it difficult to learn in groups and/or ask professors for help. What I learn I learn on my own accord, and for that I am proud.  But it brings in a lot of self doubt about how far I can go. Today in class, as I always do, I observed others raising their hands and blurting words freely from their tongue I couldn’t have. I try to think of something to say to contribute, but verbal, academic words are hard to come by. I can manage easier in casual conversation because no one expects a standard from you, not an academic standard at least. I can say “what the fuck: that stupid fucking piece of shit car just sprayed fucking mud all over my door!” without someone saying (to my face) that I’m stupid.

I cannot, however, contribute to a philosophical conversation with a bunch of “um, well, I think that that concept is fucking stupid.”

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*Cough* Utilitarianism *Cough*

Because then I’d have to explain why. And in explaining why, I’d sound like “well, it’s just . . . it’s stupid because of all the reasons everyone else already said”.

Because the only words that will come to my mind will be unoriginal. I’ve lived long enough with this self to know the first words that will come to my mind to speak verbally will be a rip off of someone else’s.

There’s some kind of eloquence gene for verbal speech I missed out on. If I’m aware I need to speak in class, I always write down my blurb before speaking a word of anything. It’s the only way I can manage.

42441-26750It’s impossible to ever be 100% original, you’re always standing on the shoulders of someone else in the world of academia, but there’s a level of originality you’re expected to achieve, one I know I can in my writing that I know I struggle immensely with in my speech. It gets worse the more nervous I am, but even when my anxiety is low I struggle in forming words.

I say low because there’s never a moment I’m not anxious.

So, my thoughts for this week.

Will I be able to handle this new job which requires my communication to be pristine, which requires I report to authority in a professional way, one that doesn’t reveal how intimidated I am mentally? I was the only new employee who needed to get a “back exam” so they could see if i could carry 45 pounds. I was the only new employee to be called into the director’s office for the third time and asked how I was doing, how I was liking the job, if I had any questions, and what my thoughts were.

When someone constantly pesters you to inform them on your thoughts, you know one of two things:

1). You haven’t been speaking up.

2). Because you haven’t been talking, they’re nervous about you.

There’s not yet a moment in time I feel comfortable telling the director, manager, leads, or my trainer about my mental health issues. There’s a possibility they’d understand, but there’s also a possibility I’ll be seen as even weaker. I’m already only one of three women in a department of all men.

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All of the information I received this weekend was really overwhelming. I’m hoping I can keep up to the level they expect. It only serves further to remind me that I’m not mentally at the level of a 20 year old. I’m stuck in the mind of a nervous thirteen year old, unsure of how to take on responsibility or how to approach people in the real world.

This will be my second job and I was psychotic enough to take a leap from regular line employee at a retail toy store to a cash worker balancing big vaults and mini vaults, processing money, fixing machines, making runs, answering phone calls . . . it’s so intense they have you carry around a note book to take notes on all of the processes like a class. Training lasts for weeks. Months, in some cases.

My problem is I always tell myself I’m not prepared. When logically, how could I ever be prepared? All jobs are different, there are always going to be challenges you have to face and new skills you have to learn.

My second problem is, when I convince myself I’m not prepared, I drop out and say “I’ll work on myself first”.

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And then I never do.

Because you can’t work on yourself by staying in your room and bathing in comfort.

If I drop out of this, I’ll fall into that endless cycle again, and I can’t spend another year of my life feeling like a thirteen year old. I want to gain the skills I should have developed years ago when I wasn’t aware of them.

Will I ever be comfortable around people? Mostly likely not. It’s not in my nature; I prefer being by myself and feel like I’m invading people’s privacy when I’m near them. Will I ever perfect my speech in the same way I’ve been improving my writing?

Hell no.

As long as I can gather enough skill to pass as a human being, I will be satisfied. But that’s a long journey from now.

Hired . . . Now What?

It Never Stops

A few days ago I watched the first part of a two part documentary on Agoraphobia. It featured a man who hadn’t left his house in six years, a woman too afraid of her panic to walk her eight year old daughter to school, and a pregnant General Practitioner who couldn’t stay in a house alone for more than four minutes but couldn’t walk past the parking lot of her apartment.

While each of them had in common their fear of having a panic attack in public, they had individual reasons for their panic. The GP couldn’t handle being alone outside or inside and motorways/highways were a serious trigger for her. She’d start shaking, crying, and spewing words a mile a minute.

With the man I most identified because he had some social anxiety. His was relatively mild compared to mine, but significantly impacted his level of agoraphobia. While he walked down the street with a psychiatrist, his eyes constantly searched the sidewalks across the street for people staring at him and he immediately assumed, as we all do with social anxiety, that something was wrong with him, that he looked weird or dressed weird or something. The psychiatrist took a very “exposure therapy” approach from the beginning, so I wasn’t surprised when he had the man lay in the middle of the sidewalk with him and force him to feel embarrassed over something real. They then sat on the curb and walked around while the psychiatrist started shouting gibberish into the air or just generally screeching right next to people.

Honestly, I was laughing my ass off.

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Laughing my ass off while simultaneously thanking God I wasn’t the one having to go through that.

I think the method helped him. Would it have helped me? I don’t believe so; I’m a loud person when I want to be and I’ve laid in the middle of the sidewalk and I’ve shouted random things right in people’s faces. It hasn’t helped me conquer my social anxiety disorder.

I also identified with the third woman, the one with the child. Much of her panic was triggered by loud noises. When a bus passed by her and two psychologists, she hunched down with her hands over her ears and started shaking and panicking. As the bus left, she slowly returned to a base level. In a grocery store a worker made an announcement over the loud speaker and the woman went through the same process.

I’m not completely incapacitated by noises like her, but I rage if they’re near me (like the bus) or flinch and plug my ears if I’m in a grocery store. It’s why I wear ear phones everywhere. I think I’ve said this before.

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Ha! Can I just point out the address for this picture was literally “Nicole-is-wearing-headphones-that-match-her-dress”. My God. Someone is a creative photographer.

Anyway, the man and the woman with the child both faced their fears exceptionally well and even though they cried and shook and went through the motions of panic during their outings, they took it and felt it and dealt with it. The GP however, did not. She refused to stay in the house for fifteen minutes by herself (she lasted 4 minutes and 30 seconds) and when it came time for all three of them to conquer an obstacle together and hop on a local train without any staff, she refused to get on. The other two were crying and shaking and reflecting on themselves and their fears while they sat on the train ride.

I admire them. I think the GP could have pushed herself harder. That’s not being harsh, that’s being truthful. You have to push yourself, even if it’s to a breaking point. I’ve been the same way, done the same maladaptive behavior, stayed in my house for months and months at a time, and I still do to some extent, but I keep trying. Some days I try harder than others, some days I don’t try at all.

She didn’t try at all at any point. I acknowledge the amount of effort she put into trying to try, but it wasn’t enough. I haven’t watched the second part, because I think it was a stupid idea to take all three of them into a whole new country without acknowledging there may be other mental reasons besides a classically conditioned fear behind their agoraphobia. I saw a preview of the second half where the psychiatrist admitted his work had backfired. It’s one criticism I have about exposure therapy: it’s good for some and really, really shitty for the majority of others.

I want to be like the other two. I can’t hide behind fears any longer, it’s tearing me down.

Today I got hired for that one job. I have to go in for a drug screen and to fill out some paper work this Friday. Training starts every weekend until March in which I’ll be getting a good 20+ hours each week.

I’m worried about the stress. I’m worried about my level of commitment and if I’ve made a mistake. Am I ready?

So I went for a contemplative bike ride. And met this crazy gal:

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I named her Daisy. She didn’t want to be named and labeled like a human, so I told her I wouldn’t call her Daisy.

Not to her face, at least.

I’m crafty.

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Daisy told me there’s no way to know if I’m ready or not. It’s a matter of action, not a matter of contemplation, and she says that’s how I trick myself into backing out of things. I’m a good thinker, she says, but not a good do-er, simply because I think too much. I think I share that problem with the GP woman from the documentary.

I like thinking, I’m a thinker, and all my logic points to being able to solve problems through thinking alone. The majority of the time that’s not possible.

Apparently. 

Training will be stressful, I’ve already thought about that. Because this position requires I’m responsible for insane amounts of cash (I’m not talking hundreds, or thousands, or hundreds of thousands, I’m talking the big Mill), the pressure I’ll put on myself to be perfect and never make a mistake will be the equivalent of a primordial dwarf trying to lift three cars stacked on top of each other off their shoulders.

I’m a perfectionist. I hate and love this fact about myself. I love it because it means I do things right. I hate it because it means if I don’t do it right, even when I’m still learning, I’ll tear myself to shreds. 

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Hopefully the fact that I’m aware of it will help me ease the pressure.

I know it will get easier as the weeks pass. The more I learn, the more equipped I’ll be to handle situations that require I think on my feet.

The main thing I’m worried about is the fact that all the instructions are delivered orally. I’m going to be learning hands-on of course, but when they explain things it will be orally and it takes me a long time to process oral directions.

I don’t feel like that’s a good thing to tell my new employer.

I told them I prefer not to work with customer service but I didn’t tell them I have social anxiety disorder, depression, and rage issues. I figured that’s not a good first impression in this day and age.

 

Stress, stress, stress. It never stops. I don’t handle stress well. This job is either going to be yet another disaster, or the best decision I’ve ever made.