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?

Urgent Update: Life Is Still Shit . . . But, At Least I’m Breathing

Update: My chicken meter is still very high; I have yet to contact the Accessibility Services Center.

But it’s okay.

It’s not okay, but I’ll pretend it’s okay.

As most of you know I’ve been working at a Peer Respite House since Mid June. It was my fourth job in a six month stretch of me realizing I cannot function in the working world. So far I have yet to prove this theory wrong. Work is stressful, and not in the way you’d think.

You’d think people hearing voices and feeling immediately suicidal and wanting to take all their pills or hurt themselves in other ways would be stressful. You’d think hearing stories of someone ending their life upstairs in one of the closets once and not being found for a few hours would stress me out even more. You’d think knowing things could go from perfectly fine to the ultimate pile of shit in less than a tenth of a second would stress me out.

But you want to know what really stresses me out?

The phone calls.

businessman looking and screaming at phone

You want to know what else?

Conducting Interviews.

Can you guess the next thing?

General conversation.

And last but not least?

Connection. Connection. Connection. Something that’s been absent all my life.

If someone is hearing voices, if someone is feeling anxious, those are topics we can talk about. If someone is upset about housing, that is something we can talk about. If someone says “hey” and then stares, I have no idea what they want from me. In fact, I’m more inclined to smile, say hello, and walk on past.

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It’s not me being absent . . . well it kind of is, but it’s also me not knowing what to do next. It wasn’t until I met my boyfriend’s family that I learned (yes, I had to LEARN, at 19 years old to do this) when someone says “hello, how are you?” it’s preferred that you also say “I’m doing good (bad, okay, e.t.c), how are you?”

Unfortunately, at the 2 year mark, that’s about as far as I can get in a conversation with them. It’s better than nothing though, right?

No, no it’s not.

Anyway, always ask “how are you” back. It keeps you looking like 1) you’re human and 2) you know how to have a conversation. Obviously for me it’s a complete ruse because I’m sure I poofed into existence out of blackhole stardust and I have no clue how to hold a conversation.

At 16 I learned how to make eye contact for the first time in my life. It took a year of observing correct technique from my peers, how they interacted with each other and how they interacted with the teachers, and I finally was able to sustain it for more than one second so I too could look normal.

“Normal”.

I picked up a job at this Respite house not to “get through school” like I feel the staff fucking thinks, but so I could find people like me and hopefully gain some social skills. Because my social ineptitude is solely related to my social anxiety and my social anxiety is solely related to low confidence. . .

Right?

That’s what I was told. I have trouble in conversations because my amygdala hijacks the rest of my brain.

R . . . right?

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I’m questioning this diagnosis as of now. Because my confidence is no longer an issue. I’ve worked hard on it for many years. Yet my anxiety seems to have sky rocketed. And it seems, even in situations where my anxiety is low, my social skills are, well, not there.

I was used to not feeling connected to people outside of the world of mental health. But now that I see I struggle even to communicate with people who are “like me”, I took a step back and did what I do best: find patterns. And for the last month and a half I’ve basically come up with the following theory:

What if my anxiety is a direct result of my brain not understanding the world around it? What if my social anxiety presents itself not because I’m scared of someone judging what I say, but I’m scared of them judging how I say it: that is, interrupting–which I do all the time accidentally because I’m not sure if I’m supposed to talk or not. Through observation, I’ve learned over the years that if there is a break in conversation, you should be free to speak . . . but if that break is too long, it becomes weird to speak because mentally everyone has already moved on. That being said, if you do decide to talk in the break, for the love of God stay on topic, don’t just jump to something no one was talking about. That makes you look fucking weird apparently.

'Jeffrey, you're going off-topic again.'

What if my anxiety is related to the fact that I know damn well when I try to speak, I can’t express myself properly. There are so many words rushing around my head that they crash into each other and I can’t say what I need to. So I either gather everything I’m supposed to say before hand and spew it out my mouth at the speed of light before it gets screwed up, or I speak very slowly and stutter over my words.

Of course the more comfortable I am around someone, the less this happens, which indicates anxiety plays a part. But it’s not the whole story because it happens regardless of where I am or who I am with.

What if there’s a reason I feel so lost and confused in conversations? What if there’s a reason I can’t understand things verbally and rather need them written or drawn besides me being a “visual learner”?

What if there’s a reason I was reading and writing in kindergarten, but not speaking?

What if there’s a reason I can’t leave the house without someone?

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I was a master at this for a long while.

What if there’s a reason I still cry at the slightest indication of criticism or being told to “stop”.

What if there’s a neurological reason for my social anxiety besides the idea of feeling “judged”?

What if there’s a reason I’m an observer, a mimicker, someone who knows how to smile and repeat phrases like a robot to people so that I appear that I know what I’m doing? 

How I can’t keep track of a conversation if it’s more than just me and one other person.

How, if I’m talking to someone, one little noise (a crack, a bang, a voice, laughter, several voices, e.t.c) will force me to fall silent until it passes because I can’t think with noise going on. Hence one of my reasons I hate talking on the phone besides also hating people listening to me.

How finger snapping, a mumble from a television in the living room or dim/bright light or snoring can get my blood boiling and possibly send me into a rage if I’m already on edge.

How I can’t say anyone’s name to their face. I don’t even say my own name. I would give some examples to prove my point, but honestly it’s one thing I’m extremely embarrassed about.

shoesWhat if there’s something from the time that therapist/counselor told my parents in elementary school that I was “shy” and “I’ll grow out of it”, to all the interest I rarely showed in my peers or their interests, to the days I spent riding around making lists of every brand of car I saw,  drawing their emblem symbol next to the name, and illustrating how their front, sides, and backs looked until, at 9, I could recite the make, model, and year of a car from looking at it. I still can.

I still have my toy car collection by the way, I treasure it.

How, when I became obsessed with psychology, I listed every psychoactive medication, their generic and chemical names, the class of drug they were, and what they were typically and atypically administered for, until I was 15 and reciting it to my high school teachers and doctors in the hospital.

You know when you get a gut feeling about something and you just know something doesn’t add up?

That’s my gut feeling. And if this is a result of what I think, I’m going to be very furious at some very important people in my past.

FYI: it’s not my parents.

P.S, feel free to leave an opinion. I’m opening to hearing interpretations. In fact, please, leave an interpretation I’m desperate here. 

Plummeting.

I’m always interested to see what countries across the world view this blog and my amazement never ceases. I know many of the people who read me do not have a WordPress account but nonetheless thanks for reading and taking the time to stop by and see what the crazy American has to blabber on about today.

I’m still not satisfied.

I don’t know what’s going on with me anymore. There’s something that’s sucking the life out of me and it’s not school. I think my being “strong” has pushed me to a breaking point. The last time I was this bad, this unmotivated, this blank was when I was 17 and it was the last semester of high school. I got myself together that summer and blazed through the first year of college.

But I’m losing my ability to stay focused and to stay interested. You all know me, I find positivity in everything. I coach people to find positivity in everything. I’m actively enacting every single coping mechanism known to me to be able to hold myself together at the moment, and, like I said, I haven’t had to put so much effort into this in years. It genuinely scares me.

I have another interview tomorrow and somehow I have to keep this flattened demeanor from fucking it up. Somehow I have to gt out of bed and go to class tomorrow.

I like being alone but this is when I hate it. I’d like to have someone keep me company in my room or just take a walk with me or just sit somewhere with me. I’m a very simple person, I don’t need to go through a lot of things for me to feel content. Sitting on a log underneath an Oak listening to birds makes me content.

As for tonight . . .

I just can’t type anymore. It takes too much effort to think of words and that hurts too, because words are my only true friend.