Business Tips For Your Mental Health

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Alright, back to business.

Back to the business of mental health and the importance of protecting yourself when no one else will.

It’s important to know your limits. I’ve reached my limit at this current job; I’ve memorized so much information in such a short time I honestly thought I’d been there for four months already. It’s been about one and a half.

I could spend my free days feeling like a failure once again, I could spend my free days dreading the moment I confront the director and tell him “homie, this shit ain’t workin’ for me” in the most professional way I can conjure, and I could spend my free days reminding myself how much of a loser I am.

Or I could realize the fact that I lasted as long as I did and memorized hundreds of pages of notes as quickly as I did is a true accomplishment. I could celebrate the fact that my social anxiety isn’t the reason I’m leaving this time. I could realize that if I can handle and learn as much material as I did so quickly, than I can work almost anywhere given I’m able to work more independently at my own pace without people breathing down my fucking neck every five seconds.

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Just like it’s important to learn how you learn, it’s also important to know how you operate mentally, particularly if you struggle with your health in that department. For example, through this position I’ve learned I need the mental space to be alone.I’m applying for positions that require I’m mostly independent with limited oral contact with the public. Like a loss prevention associate. You know, those people who stand by the doors of retail stores with their little ear piece and their black suit and they smile and say hi but what they’re really thinking is “don’t stuff a shirt in your purse bitch, I’ll floor you”. 

When I tell people what I’ve applied for, I get comments like “that sounds boring”. And I reply with a round of slow claps and hand them a golden medal with their name misspelled on it: that’s the point. 

I want boring. Why is that so surprising given my personality? Think about it:

Lab Assistant: cleaning beakers, sinks, and machines.

  • Leaves up a lot of time to think about the universe and all it’s inner workings, don’t you think? Maybe I’ll think so hard I find a contradiction in Christopher Langan’s “Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the universe” so I can send him a long email explaining said contradiction with a ton of laughing-crying emoji’s just to add insult to injury. I’ll send him a copy of my IQ test too, since those things seem to matter to people these days.

Loss Prevention Associate: Stand and watch people or sit in a security viewing area. Take action when needed. Although your presence is a pretty good deterrent.

  • I’m paranoid enough to be considered paranoid, but not paranoid enough to be considered delusional (go figure). I can spot a kleptomaniac from a mile away.

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Sanitation Clerk, Night Shift:

  • More than enough personal mental space to come up with my own Coginitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe. Mine won’t have such a cocky title. Mine will be called “Shit to think about, take it or leave it, I’m not an arrogant prick, we can never have an absolutist point of view about reality/cognition/the universe.” 

So there is no such thing as “boring” to me. My mind is always running, always creating alternate realities and theories and ideas and stories. A boring job is exactly what I need. Learn what things you will be good at and what things you won’t. The best way to find out is trial and error. I thought people were my problem when in reality I just need to be by myself.

how-to-say-no-to-your-bossIt’s important to inform your bosses about your struggles, if you didn’t on the application already. I cannot stress this enough. I’ve never disclosed my personal issues to strangers before and it was rather liberating to receive such an understanding approach to scheduling me less hours and less days per my request. Now I’ll be leaving, but not because they overwhelmed my anxiety or my depression or paranoia or any of that. It’s because the job doesn’t fit me. And honestly, my anxiety diminished drastically the moment I told the Director about my struggles. If you work in an environment where you have no secrets, you’re able to focus on the work and not hiding behind your mask.

I’m not saying show up to work without a shower and sagging clothes and tired eyes and claim they have to accept you for how you are, whether you have depression or not. Have a little self respect here, people. I’m saying let them know what they can do for you, take charge of yourself and your surroundings, it will do your mental health a world of good.

It’s important to remember you’re a person with interests and you don’t have to settle for zanyideassomething you don’t want just to appease your mental health. You and your brain are a team, remember? Even if it feels like he beats you into the floor and you’re left defenseless often, you’re still a team. You feed him just as much as he feeds you. Therefore, you and him will disagree on a lot of things. You have to decide whether or not you’re going to succumb to his wants or whether you’re going to pursue life according to your wants and needs.

I found an interesting article posted on The Mighty today (click here to read) about the controversy behind the phrase “Don’t let an illness define you”. This mother argues that chronic illness does define you–and not in a bad way. It defines how you live and what you have to do to live happily. It’s on your mind from the moment you wake up to the time you go to sleep. And in that context, it does define you. Where people have come off thinking that’s a negative things is beyond me; I agree with much of what this woman has stated.

She’s speaking on behalf of physical illness I believe, but it can go both ways. My anxiety and depression have defined how I live. It’s defined my likes and personality. Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so; I enjoy what I like (no shit) and I enjoy my introverted personality. It’s always been other people who have something against the way I think and the way I want to live. So in reality they’re the ones making my illness or my disorder define me in a negative sense, not the other way around.

That being said, letting your struggling dictate how you live doesn’t mean you’re at the mercy of it. Another position I will be applying for is a Sales Consultant in computing. If you’re just tuning into my site, then you’ve missed the rants I’ve posted on technology. I’m a sucker for it. I own several laptops, desktops, Chromebooks, gaming consoles, phones, sound systems, televisions, and have been saving up for more.

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I’d own a Mac, but I’d Have To Sell My Fucking Car

Sales Consultant? With social anxiety? That sounds like a death sentence. 

Yes. Yes it does. But if I can handle Cash Control, I can handle telling people what computer to buy. I’m not looking for a position I’m absolutely comfortable with, that’s going to be impossible. I’m looking for a position I feel I can enjoy and be decent at. It’s not as if I’m a cashier having to have a conversation about someone’s day. No, I’m a factual robot repeating the same selling phrases and technological information to the same set of technologically deficient souls.

It’s important to realize your choice in job should play to your strengths and to never short change yourself just because you struggle mentally. I’ve been down that road far too often. Finding a job is kind of like finding a therapist: you need to take control. You need to tell them what you can do and you need to analyze them to see if they fit for you just as much as they’re analyzing you to see if they fit for them.

It’s a give and take.

As for me, I’m almost gunning for that sales consultant position. I’m waiting for the day someone asks me “So . . . how do you turn this tablet on?”

Or

“So, is this windows 8?” when the sign clearly says Windows 10.

I like those kind of people. They make me feel smart. 

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.

Invest In Yourself Like You Should Have Invested In Google In The 90’s

Wednesdays are always the days I moan in bed. Five straight hours of chemistry can drive anyone’s motivation into the ground. Unless you’re a chemist, I suppose.

But I always try to look at the day with a positive light and today was no different.

In our chemistry lab we work in groups and if you’ve ever read any of this blog, you know that’s not exactly my favorite thing to do, nor is it an easy thing for me to do. However, I’ve learned that before I have to deal with any sort of interaction with people on this personal of a level (you know, having to . . . ugh, talk with them) that if I’m able to convince myself to “Go with the flow” that “whatever happens, happens,” I’m a little less nervous. It helps to remind myself not to over think.

Anxiety is a lot like energy. Energy is defined as “the capacity to do work” and anxiety should be defined as “the incapacity to not think”. Both are rather vague and people argue over their validity every day. If you’re a quantum physicist or whatever, you probably have a way better understanding of the complexity of energy and if you have anxiety you have a way better understanding of the complexity of over-thinking. The Law of Conservation of Energy states energy cannot be destroyed nor created. It just changes forms. It can come in two common categories: Potential and Kinetic. A Before and During, if you will.

I would argue there’s a Law of Conservation of Anxiety when you’re in the midst of battling an untreated anxiety disorder. It’s always there in the back of your head no matter where you go, what you do, or what you tell yourself. You can’t destroy it and you’re so confused because you also didn’t create it. Even on my best days I’m highly anxious. Even when you think you’ve conquered or destroyed it, it rams your head into the wall like a wrecking ball (#MileyCyrusShit) and you come to the disheartening realization that it’s only been in hiding. These are the hardest days of your life, but they’re also the most important. If you can’t learn to deal with the downswings, the discontent of having “failed” against this thing in your head, then you’ll never learn to live with yourself. When you get that sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach, that sensation of self-humiliation, of self-doubt, of depression, don’t fight it; analyze it. Understand what’s happening, why it’s happening, and see if you can rationalize it. You won’t be able to, and that should be a cue you’re over-thinking.

It’s one thing to be aware your thinking isn’t rational, it’s another thing to pick it apart and understand it.

I would also argue there is Potential Anxiety and Kinetic Anxiety. I’ll take a much more literal interpretation than science. When you know there’s an event or class coming up that’s particularly worrisome to you and you spend hours, days, maybe even weeks wrestling for sleep in your bed, fighting off nausea, and ruminating on what could go wrong or what could happen (You ever notice you never think about what could go right?) then you’re experiencing Potential Anxiety; you’re registering a potential threat to your sanity in your future that could happen. When you’re participating in the situation and you get those cold sweats and stuttered speech and red face and scattered thinking, that’s your Kinetic Anxiety taking over.

I give them names because it helps me separate myself from my symptoms. That changes my train of thought; I’m no longer the problem, it’s my anxiety, and I’m allowed to distance myself from it because I am not my anxiety.

If energy can change form, than I would argue Anxiety can as well. It’s highly malleable; you can shape it how you want once you get a good grip on it. You’re not destroying it, just fitting it in the back of the closet in your mind with all the other old things you don’t give a shit about like that one creepy porcelain doll with the satanic eyes that speaks words backwards when you pull the drawstring on its back that your grandmother gave you for your sixteenth birthday because she thought the devil music you listened to meant you were in a cult and she wants to show you that she’s supportive of any of your life choices.

Whatever. The point is to be aware and in control, not obsessively searching for a way to get rid of it and then never learning how to cope. There are two things you can focus on. 1) The anxiety. 2) Coping with the anxiety.

That being said, I only have one partner in Chemistry (Score!) and she already has a bachelors degree for something I forgot (watch her stumble across this post, that’s something that would happen to me). We work well together. That’s something I don’t say often. We both are equally lost in chemistry and our confusion brings us together. When I speak to her or ask a question there’s always that little voice in my head telling me how stupid I’m sounding, how dumb of a question that was, how the group next to us is laughing at how stupid I am, but honestly I’m so wrapped up in Cations and Anions and their fucking non-metal/metal rules and electrons and man-made elements that I don’t have the time for those voices to fuck with me. Therefore, I won’t give them the time.

When we pack up and get ready to leave I’m never sure if I should say “see you” or “bye” or ” see you next week” or “see you next Wednesday”; most of the time I greet or say bye to anyone who doesn’t do so to me first. There’s always the voice in my head saying it’s awkward when you speak first, your voice sounds weird, they’re going to think you’re weird and intrusive, just walk away.

Today I took the initiative to speak first on many things, and I helped her with proper naming and she helped me with proper formulas. I cracked jokes because that’s all I know how to do in conversation. We were a team. And although my anxiety sat on my shoulders from the moment I woke up this morning, I succeeded in forcing it to the back seat of the bus. It’s okay to discriminate against your anxiety, it’s an asshole to you all the time.

A girl walked up to the professor to ask her a question and she got incredibly frustrated because she’d done the entire page of work wrong. He said “Don’t beat yourself up about it, you’re learning, that’s what you’re here for.”

They were simple words, but they fueled a revelation in me. This time I could walk from the classroom and call that social situation, as awkward as I felt I was, a success. If we’re not supposed to beat ourselves up about learning new material in school, than why should I beat myself about learning how to interact with people? I’m learning, nothing more. I’ll make mistakes. I’ll get frustrated. I’ll have my bad days and by the time I’ve done a thousand of these types of interactions I should be 100 times better at squashing that anxiety.

Take it a day at a time. Give yourself a pat on the back when you have successes and give yourself a pat on the back when you don’t. Learning is a process.

Work = (Force) X (Distance) a.k.a, Social Anxiety Disorder Tips

If there’s one thing that haunted me most in my childhood, and still rears it’s ugly head often in my adulthood, is social anxiety disorder. It made it so I was mute in pre-school. It made it so I couldn’t go to a school bathroom until high school; I had several accidents in elementary because I couldn’t raise my hand and ask and was too nervous to go during breaks in general. When I got stung by a bee in class I sat there for an hour, unable to speak, until the pain urged tears down my cheeks and the teacher asked what was wrong. I couldn’t ask questions when I got confused in class, so I fell behind in Math especially. In middle school I did poorly in every subject besides literature, and in high school I failed chemistry, algebra three times, and skipped every other day to get high because I couldn’t stand being in a classroom where my normal level of anxiety, usually about the height of the clouds in the atmosphere, sky rocketed into space. In college old habits repeat themselves; I struggle, especially in math and science, because of my inability to ask for help as often as I should.

I was that weird kid in middle school who stands close to the larger groups of kids to pretend she has friends.The one friend I made in middle school went with me to high school and I sat with her group of friends. I have yet to make any new friends in college, partly because I don’t want to put in all the effort friendships take and partly because I wouldn’t know how if I tried.

Social anxiety disorder is bigger than being nervous. It dominates your life much like any other disordered thinking does. Social events to me are a lock and key situation where the key is an algorithm my brain can’t decipher. I’ve had this anxiety for so long there are cues and social developmental milestones I never reached. Speaking with me in person is like speaking to a nervous seven year old.

That being said, I’ve worked on my anxiety tremendously over the last few years and with maturity comes the ability to realize my thoughts aren’t rational and that people aren’t constantly laughing at me or chatting about me or calling me stupid.

But there’s a problem with just calling Social Anxiety Disorder “social anxiety” or “Shy”. That’s very vague. Shyness could mean anything: maybe you’re anxious speaking to a group of people or in front of a group of people, but do well regardless. Maybe you get a little nervous in class but you plow through it and it’s never impaired your life in any way, shape or form. You may have social anxiety, you may be shy, but you do not have Social Anxiety Disorder.

If you ruminate on every little thing every person has said to you today, last week, last month, maybe those few years ago and still get an overwhelming sensation of guilt and humiliation, as if those people are still laughing at you; and you avoid several social situations (including minor contact like having to walk through the doors at a grocery store) and instead stay in your house and argue with your brain over how stupid you’re being; and you feel overwhelmed in a large group of people because you have to focus on all their conversations to make sure they’re not making fun of you; and you feel inadequate in conversation because you’re not sure if what you said was stupid or that what you said is irrelevant all the time; and you constantly believe the expressions on people’s faces are contorted in disgust when you speak; and you have to mold your life around this monster in your head, live according to its needs, you may have Social Anxiety Disorder.

This could be Mild, Moderate, or Severe, but the key point is it impairs your life’s functionality in some way.

When I clicked on the this BuzzFeed Article about social anxiety in college, I was interested in whether or not they equated social anxiety as a mental disorder with shyness. I won’t go through all 25 tips, but I will talk about the most helpful and least helpful.

Least Helpful (assuming said person with social anxiety disorder has had little/no):

  1. Get Participation Points Through Asking Questions Rather That Answering Them: If I can’t answer a question because I feel like my answer is going to be judged, laughed at, and etched into stone in everyone’s fucking tombstone, how the hell am I going to rationalize asking them? This was my first hint that this article was most likely written for people suffering from some mild anxiety issues. If you can ask a question but not answer them, you’re probably not social anxious. We’re so wrapped up in other people’s opinions of us, asking or answering questions are equally as bad; either way you can be judged for being stupid.
  2. Practice Presentations during Office Hours Before You Have To Do Them In Front Of Classmates: I’m not denying this is an excellent tactic if you have trouble remembering what you’re going to say because you have trouble remembering things. From my experience, it doesn’t work. I practiced for two weeks memorizing a speech and recited it over and over again to people and still forget the entire thing in two seconds during the presentation. Instead, I stood stuttering until my embarrassment caused me to sit down. If you’ve had practice reducing your anxiety this doesn’t happen often (I don’t have this issue any longer with presentations) but it’s worth noting that anxiety causes some crazy fright in your brain and as a result, your memory is shot. But my opinion is biased.

Most Helpful (Also from my perspective):

  1. Write Down Talking Points Before Classes Where Participation Counts: Hell, I’d extend this to any class. When you have something to talk about it’s a lot easier, especially because you can look back at your paper and remind yourself why you were so passionate about whatever you wrote down. Seminars where participation is required is a pretty common thing in college, especially in graduate school, so it’s a good idea to start early if you’re a freshman. I do feel much more comfortable speaking in groups with people to this day and rarely have to write key points down anymore. I can almost fully count on my brain to store the thoughts and recall them when needed. I still struggle, but it’s remarkably less due to this tactic.
  2. Figure Out What Your Social Goals Are& Make some small ones to help you obtain your goals: This is a big one. Do you want a huge circle of friends or do you want one or two close ones? You don’t have to have either, and I think a lot of us with Social Anxiety Disorder (especially if you haven’t had much help overcoming it) think you have to be social because if you’re not, you’re weird. That’s our anxiety talking. You don’t have to do anything but die and pay damn taxes. I enjoy quick outings with groups every once in a while, but having a huge group of friends would kill me. That’s my preference, without my anxiety speaking for me. My only goals are to reduce my anxiety to the point where I can comfortably carry on daily life. Other than that, I’m content having only a few acquaintances.
  3. Understand that getting rid of your anxiety isn’t the goal: living with it is.
  4. Don’t avoid every single anxious situation: Slowly but surely I’ve been able to wake up in the morning with my heart pounding, my hands shaking, and my head telling me “stay home, stay home, stay home”, accept it, and do the exact opposite. As much as it pains you to think about leaving your comfort zone, it’s the only way you can learn. Don’t think about it as changing who you are and do not ever, ever, ever think it’s a way to fix you. There’s nothing wrong with you. If anything, these are just tactics to help you learn a new way of life. You don’t have to change into an extrovert to not be socially anxious (unless you want to); it’s entirely up to you. Either way takes work and Work is always equal to Force X Distance. In other words, Force yourself out of bed and Distance yourself from the house. #PhysicsIsLife.