Functionality Isn’t Easy

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If you have a short attention span, first of all welcome to group. There are quite a few of us, and you kind of arrived a little late, but help yourself to what’s left of the potluck table. Oh, you don’t like chocolate? Well you can get the fuck out.

Anyway, as I was saying, if you have a short attention span, you know when your limits have been reached. You also know that you make tons of tiny (but ultimately large mistakes), particularly when you’re made to focus for an extended period of time on something. Like school work or paper work at your job.

I have done both several times in the last three days and it’s frustrating knowing I overlook the simple things without knowing I do.

I am taking a break from straining my mind through math and even though I’m a little behind on homework, if I have to integrate by parts and partially fractionate (that’s not a word) and substitute and strain my memory for trigonometric identities one more time, I’m going to blow a gasket.

17mu8lzn0thhrjpgWe all know I do not handle stress well.

When presented with stress, I do two things:

1). Storm around cursing at everyone and everything, including myself.

2). Search frantically for a way to drop one of the stressful aspects of my routine.

Because of fun fact number two, I often make rash decisions, like drop two classes because I failed a quiz and feel inferior to every other human on earth.

I haven’t ever done that, but it’s something I would do.

Work is stressful for  me. There’s a lot of memorizing specific procedures and routes and I learn slower when it comes to memorizing twenty two different routes through a maze. I’m also a perfectionist and hate when I make mistakes, even when I have to in order to learn.

It makes me feel as if I don’t have what it takes to be a functional member of society. I can last a day or two before completely crumbling.

Those of us who struggle mentally know we are very sensitive to stress and it’s usually a good idea to come up with healthy tactics to handle that stress.

It’s a good idea to come up with healthy tactics to handle the stress.

It’s a GOOD IDEA TO COME UP WITH HEALTHY TACTICS TO HANDLE THE STRESS.

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I tell myself that all the time and it never happens. As you can see. I’ve told myself three times and I’m still not going to do it. Maybe I don’t know where to start. Maybe I don’t want to start. Maybe I want to start and have an idea of where to start but are procrastinating until I know it works for sure: I’m the perfectionist procrastinator, remember?

Whatever the reason, I’m suffering in the mean time. My anxiety is at an all time high and the depression is slowly creeping its way through all my safe guards and positive pep-talks. I have defenses against these things, but they’re fragile and severely underdeveloped. It’s like launching a basketball at a premature baby and expecting it to catch it.

To top it all off, I left my hot sauce and my water in the refrigerator at work, and my social anxiety is keeping me from high tailing my ass over there and grabbing it before they toss everything out this Friday. I only work Saturday and Sunday this month.

I put hot sauce on fucking everything. Fish, chicken, beef, rice, beans, whatever.

cb45e6e2ab8acbc0e6b464e3dec79370I put A1 steak sauce on my fish as well. People find that strange. That’s because they don’t know how to eat.

Anyway, what I realized today, which set my head spiraling downward, was the fact that I’d need to tell the director, my main boss and scheduler, about my psychologist appointments so he knows not to schedule me at my regular time on Wednesdays when I start working on the weekdays.

I’ve never told any superiors, except one professor in an essay, about what I struggle with on a daily basis because I understand the stigma around any and all mental health issues. Just the thought makes my digestive system churn.

Because, as much as you want to hope for an understanding attitude, there’s always a chance they won’t be capable of it.

21-adhd_sensory-overloadThese people I work with seem really genuine. I know they’ve probably noticed when the phone rings, when the door bell rings, and when there’s a conversation going on in another area of the room all at the same time it’s hard for me to focus on the task I’m supposed to be learning. Sometimes my trainer has had to repeat three times to me what I’m supposed to be doing because my brain is being tugged in so many different directions at once.

Am I good fit for this position? I don’t know. Sure, it’s a matter of getting used to a new environment but it’s also about what I can handle and what I can’t. I’m dealing with a lot of numbers, a lot of precision, and I can’t afford to be making mistakes all over the place because of my brain.

I split my Ativan pills in half and took three halves during my eight hour shift just to keep my nerves at a relatively low level. I have a very high tolerance, they barely effected me. It was probably more a placebo effect than anything.

the-hottest-question-in-europe-did-the-ecb-just-pull-off-a-back-door-bailout-that-will-end-the-crisisI had to sneak into the bathroom with them stuffed in a gum packet because they have cameras on our department’s staff at all times.

There’s a lot of stigma around people with depression and anxiety, just like every other mental health issues. We’re lazy. We’re too timid; we won’t be able to handle anything. We need to be treated differently. We’re, perhaps, untrustworthy in terms of unpredictability. We can’t handle what the others can. We’re too emotional. We’re mentally “less able”.

The good thing is if he doesn’t believe any of that and is willing to ask me questions and accommodate and we can come to a sort of consensus that works for the both of us, I might feel more comfortable. The bad thing is, if he suddenly deems me unfit I might be out of a job.

I would hate for them to be short one more person. They need 24 employees before march 11. They’ve been looking since mid 2015. They’ve gotten four. That’s including me and my friend.

These people are genuine. They’re kind and patient for the most part, and were heartbroken when one of their long time employees stole thousands from them. He now ha1s a felony on his record, as an accounting major. Life = ruined.

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They put a lot of trust in us. They have no choice. With the stuff we deal with, it’s entirely based on procedure and trust. And communication. And the ability to handle ridiculous over time hours because we’re understaffed because fucking people can’t subtract 16.29 from 20.00.

Seriously. That’s the type of math test you receive, and that’s what everyone is failing. That’s why they’re understaffed.

Just for the record, you must be 18 + to work this particular department.

I don’t like feeling as if I’m failing people who put in a lot of effort and time into their employees and into their job. It’s not just a job to them, it really is what they do with their life. I’m among business degree holders and accountants.

Maybe I need to give it more time. Or maybe I’ve bit off more than I can chew.

 

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:

Cow Grazing

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.

#GiveMeSomeWorkDamnit

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My nickname should be Serial Killer because I murdered the shit out of those applications!

No one?

Alright. It’s all good. Go laugh at someone else, someone funnier and richer and willing to stand on a stage at the risk of humiliation, it’s not like I’m going to hack your I.P address and GPS track your computer and find your house and light it on fire and laugh at it or anything.

I won’t, I promise; empty sarcastic threats are my specialty.

Even if I did find your address, I’d probably just steal your dog.

I’d leave a note too, saying “sorry I stole your dog; I left an Iguana in it’s place. His name is Dave. He hates people. Have fun!”

I did murder those applications though.

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What applications? What are you talking about? What’s going on!??!?! WHAT IS LIFE?!?!?!?

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Let Me Put Some Kush Up in It

Job applications ya’ll. They annoying.

But I be murdering ’em left and right trying to get me some income so I can stop being the broke ass I’ve always been. I’m clicking on “apply” to every single position that isn’t Cashier or sales floor representative or sales associate or anything that has me dealing with people’s problems all day long.

I know I can handle a few people, maybe team members who I have to see and interact with every day, people like that. But if you expect me to handle bitchy customers for six to eight hours a day and still go home sane, than you’ve got the wrong person.

I’m not even considering restaurants. Could you imagine me as a server? One of two things will happen:

  1. The people will be so intimidating I’ll have the same breakdown I had at my last retail job and just quit coming–the anxiety would keep me up all night and once this next semester starts up again I can’t have these kinds of distractions. I refuse to let my mental health hold me back from what I want to do with my life any longer. That includes working.
  2. I’m going to get so pissed off my face is going to go beet red even though it’s brown and a bitches head is going to get cut off.

I mean, it is what it is.

I have a mouth and I have anger issues. If you tickle that little spot–err, okay, that gigantic spot–my anxiety will literally poof out of existence. I might not even remember what I say, or even do. I’ll have a rage attack. Don’t underestimate girls man, we can go 0-100 real quick.

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At least, I can.

So I’m looking for jobs that either having me driving or in the backroom or stocking the floor or cleaning–anything with a limited amount of exposure to the public.

It’s interesting the situations where my anxiety seems to extinguish itself. In an argument the anger will prevail. The throbbing in my throat and chest is no longer fueled by fear but by pure adrenaline, angry adrenaline, and it honestly feels pretty good. I probably don’t get enough of my other emotions, that’s my theory. It’s nice to let it all out every once in a while. But how and where–that’s what I need to work on.

If I see someone getting assaulted or, when I was school bullied, I’ll be the first to step in or call the police or put myself in a situation a lot of other people tell me not to.

One night my boyfriend and I were walking out of CVS drug store and a man was shouting at the top of his lungs at some woman in a white car. There’s always security around this story because it’s open 24/7 but this time they were no where in sight. The four homeless men stood by the wall watching and customers were just strutting past hoping they wouldn’t be noticed.

An argument is personal but I didn’t get a good feeling from it. So I stood and watched. The man tried to yank open her car door and when he couldn’t he tried reaching through the window to grab her or punch her; it all happened so fast I couldn’t tell. She screamed for him to get away and I already had my phone out and backed towards the end of her car ready to read the license plate number to the police. My boyfriend kept telling me to come on but I know what it’s like to be attacked–how am I supposed to walk away from that? 

The man ran around the other side of her car and hopped in. Yes, they knew each other, this wasn’t some random robbery or something. They were screaming at each other louder now, loud enough for people to glance over but figure it was unnecessary to put themselves at jeopardy.

I hate the bystander effect. Never been a big fan.

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I’m not going to get myself in their business. I was, however, waiting for true physical confrontation–a reason to call the authorities. He tried yanking something from her, it might have been the car wheel, and I called to my boyfriend that I was about to call the police if he hit her. I Basically shouted it. Both people glanced up and the woman stared at me first. The man stared at me second and I glared and I dared him to say some shit because I’m not scared of cowards.

Sounds like I was putting myself in danger, but I wasn’t. There was enough space between us and enough people around to where neither of them would try anything stupid. She started up the car and sped off. Sure, maybe they went and argued some place else. Maybe she tossed him out her car on the freeway. Maybe he shot her. I couldn’t ever know, but I know at that moment I wasn’t going to stand there and watch someone get assaulted.

They were probably drug addicts, there’s a lot of them in that area, but a person is a person.

I wished I could have had reason to call the authorities. I really wish I did; I would have felt much better. My boyfriend told me I shouldn’t get involved but I grew up around that kind of violence. I’m obviously not going to sit around while it happens right in front of my face, not if I have a small window to intervene.

7388786858851959_cpqabkvz_cThose are the moments I’m not really anxious, but the skills I’ve learned through anxiety come in handy. The ability to assess the danger level of a situation, the ability to skim through a million bad options that could happen in a matter of seconds and assess whether it’s worth it or not.

I’m not saying I’m super man here, but shit, if you’re with me in a tough situation you’ll swear up and down I’m the calmest person you’ve met. By the time you realize what’s going on, I’ll have thought of every possibility that could go wrong and every type of solution for those possibilities. I’m always primed and ready for disaster.

I think that would make me a valuable asset to a workforce. If something horrid happens I’m not going to be the one at the desk breathing heavy, distressed, ripping my hair out or the one kicking walls and getting blinded by panic. I’ll be the one zipping through a million solutions I already on reserve, and I’ll keep zipping through them until one of them works.

Those of us with mental health issues are valuable members of society, society just doesn’t know that yet. And I have to admit, many of us who struggle like that don’t even know it yet. But we are. We see the world in an entirely different light. We can come up with ideas and solutions and options unique from the average person.

We’re applied artists and good workers and intelligence people; we’re college students and Ph.D’s and writers and comedians and actors and band geeks. We make up a substantial part of the population and we have an insight on the world no one else does. Be proud of that. 

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But also be proud of the fact that you’re not that different from everyone else. We all struggle with something, whether it’s mental health, physical health, emotional health, money, housing, whatever; we all struggle. We’re not very different from each other and I think the more we divide ourselves up into categories, the more stigma is perpetuated–not just for mental health but for all sorts of other issues.

We focus on our differences rather than our similarities. How does that make sense?

That’s why, a while back, I bashed the #StopTheStigma twitter sensations with their cardboard signs and medications. We’re different, but we’re not that different. Not so different that we should separate ourselves from the rest of the population. We all struggle. I think that’s what people fail to notice, that mental health issues cause a struggle.

We’re all so used to feeling our own struggle that we invalidate other’s struggles. I’ve done it before. We’ve all done it.

That’s the real problem here. Fuck not understanding the disorders, fuck not understanding the brain or classical conditioning, fuck Political Correctness like the difference between having a disorder or being a disorder, fuck having a disorder vs a disease vs an illness. This runs deeper than that. 

You don’t have to identify with my anxiety or have lived with anxiety to understand how hard it is to simply struggle. You should intrinsically know that tight knot in your stomach and negative thoughts and how hard it is to get out of bed some days. Because we all do it over different things. Because we’re all humans.

I think. Except maybe Ben Carson. I think he’s an alien Ya’ll.

The point is, I’d be a good worker so fucking call me back already. Shit.

If titling this post #GiveMeSomeWorkDamnit actually gets me work, I will take back all the bullshit I talk about # campaigns.