Therapy

“My first therapy appointment is Nov. 6th.”

“I’m so proud of you!”

I was too. I was so proud of her for finally taking a step towards dealing with her issues and setting goals. It was about time she started seeking more professional help in her situations, instead of coming to me for advice all the time.

My thoughts turned to myself then, and wondering why I don’t just buck up and go? I’ve been wanting to for a long time, and since getting married and navigating my relationship, I began feeling the depression worsen slightly, but not enough to alarm me.

Overall, my real issue is I’m too depressed to go.

Building another professional relationship with a therapist feels overwhelming. Becoming a better person takes a lot of time and investment, and I’ve invested a lot of my time in other things, like my friendships, hobbies, and work. You know, those things every human needs to survive and feel functional.

Most days I hardly feel functional at all, but that doesn’t mean I don’t look it.

I find any free time I do have is spent wishing for other things. I used to be such a content person, but since getting married I find I spend more time wishing things in my life could be different. Wishing that I had better things, prettier things, better health, better home, better everything. I’ve spent most days having the “I wants” instead of focusing on the “I needs” in my life. Really, I’d rather put my money to retailer than to my own health, because I’m sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, and the fewer specialists I have to see, the better. I’d rather have my money go to things I want instead of my needs. Thus, I retail therapy. A lot.

I feel terribly guilty after making purchases though, which makes me wonder why I enjoy buying things so much. Heaven knows how it got his way. The things I buy don’t make me a better person. They don’t make me feel better. They don’t really do much for me when it comes to self gratification.

Still the cycle continues, and I wonder why I don’t just do the right thing and go to therapy?

Because, I guess I really don’t want to.

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Nostalgic for Another Age

The Lady in Gold by Anne Marie O’Connor holds my thoughts a lot lately as I’ve been reading it. In a time where wealth, elitism, and a hostile environment towards modernism in art and Jewish culture become a chaotic romantic period all its own. I continually think about what it must have been like to be part of high society. To live with papers writing about you and to see painters display portraits of yourself commissioned and hung on gallery walls. To live during a time of revolution and oppression all at once.

I often think about the way things were then. About what being a young woman in society looked like. The oppression of the feminine sexuality in the brink of its liberation. A time when social standing could be both a blessing and a curse to the private and social life depending on the pastime you chose as a lady. The more I read about it, the more I find myself wishing to ah e lived it. To be part of the golden revolution of sexuality and modernism. To go to fashionable parties and meet the artists of the time, talk to hem about their artistry, to speak on political climates and to spend time bejeweled in gowns at operas with friends.

Most days I wish I was born in another era.

What I both love and loath about the time is he way men treated women. Male callers would respectfully call on you and show you a good time, but to be seen as anything but virtuous while out with the male caller would mean the complete destruction of your eligibility were things not to work out. If you were less fortunate, you’re marriages would be arranged, with wealthy older men who probably had mistresses and STDs. Still, the glamor of the wealthy lifestyle would have been nice. To own palaces and fine jewelry. To attend social events regularly at salons to exchange new and exciting ideas. To get dressed to the aces and go out dancing as a single debutante. The thrill of being chased after, and the thrill of knowing you had a chance against all chances to sense the changing tide of female liberation.

Of course, the book I’m reading takes placed during both WWI and WWII. With political anxiety at its height threatening the liberation you so desperately were seeking and the research of Freud was so nearly honoring, only to be swept under the rug of war along with racism. What a trying, terrifying, and anxious time it would be to live in, if we are being realistic. Not something to envy.

Still, I romanticize the idea of living high society life in those days at its glamorous height. I envision myself much like the rebellious women of the time. Sensually dressed in the latest forbidden fashions. Frequenting salons to talk on the artistic and political climate (which only means talking about men, which I would be a considerable advocate of being young, single, and allowed my forgivable ignorance). Sipping champagne and tea on hot afternoons in galleries, alone and mysterious…and stubbornly unchaperoned. Loudly fighting for women’s suffrage and rights at the turn of the century.

Yes, I’ve been daydreaming about it a lot. Wondering why such things no longer take place? Though, to be realistic once again, such lifestyles require not just wealth, but elitism, something most Americans, myself included, would cringe at. That is the unfortunate issue with fantasies like this…they have so many negatives about them that at the end of the day you wonder how good could anyone in high society, then or now, really have it? Still, the shallow part of me wishes being able to dress up and go to respectable house parties Gatsby style wouldn’t be too bad if one could avoid the drama and times were fairly peaceful.

Fallen Tree

Days passed. As they did, the demise of the felled tree in the neighboring house’s back yard became more and more apparent. The leaves turned a triumphant gold before withering to brown and wilting to the ground. The remnants of crab apples clung to the dead and dying branches, their last chance at life, withering hopelessly as they clung.

Our neighbor had died some months ago, and while the yard was still being kept, nothing was done to remove the old fallen crab apple tree from the yard for several weeks. I inspected the thing the day after it fell. During a storm, the night before, the winds had howled ominously and the rain beat the ground hard, as if the earth its self had committed some kind of terrible crime they sky could not, and would not forgive. It was no punishment for the ground, despite the violence, because the ground took in the water, practically dying of thirst from the many dry and hot days that came before the storm’s relief.

I contemplated the dying tree as I sat with a large cup of tea in one hand, and my feet planted firmly on the freshly cut grass. How long until all things fall and die? How long did that tree stand for before it’s unexpected demise? How long had the old widow next door (who I can say I never saw nor met) lived in that house and for how long alone? I could not and cannot say. We saw the ambulance take her away, and heard from another neighbor she had passed.

She was as much a mystery to me as her death. No. As death itself.

Beach Bummer

My husband didn’t come on this Sunday evening car ride. He had to work. So when my parents stopped in, I felt free to accompany them to the beach to just sit and watch the water move.

“We need you to come up with some different words.”

“Why?”

“Because you always resort to saying, I’m good, just tired.”

Because I’m always fucking tired, mom. I thought as loudly as I could in her general direction. But then I finally blurted out:

“Well would you rather me tell people the truth when they ask me how I’m doing? Would you like me to tell them that the existential crisis is crushing me and my depression is exhausting?”

She said nothing. Her most direct way of mentioning her discomfort was silence. I was used to it by now. So I leaned back in the seat as the breeze met my lips and kissed them and my breath mingled with the summer air. I pretended that my breath alone was the reason the air was becoming more humid. That summer came directly from my mouth. I mouthed the word summer, just to feel a sense of power over nature.

My eyes closed, all I heard were the seagulls on the water honking their loud songs, and my mother shifting in the front passenger seat. Dad was outside the car, talking to an acquaintance of his, who had greeted us only moments before, and to whom I responded when I was asked how I was doing with I’m fine, just tired. Like I did with everyone, including my mother and father.

I had no motivation to get out of the car, neither did my mother. So my father ventured alone into the waves after wishing said acquaintance farewell. As I watched him walk further into the lake, I wondered how long it would take me to drowned if I went out to far and quit trying to swim. I wondered if I would be able to quit swimming if I tried hard enough, or if instinct and discomfort would save me.

On days like this…it felt as if nothing could save me.

Not Ready for Monday

A week long struggle with depression and stress at work ended with a coworker being fired Friday mid shift. Stunned by the sudden unexpected event and at least two weeks behind on just about everything, my coworker and I (the only two in for that day after other coworker was fired) ended up having to just call it a day. Both of us had plans afterward and the former coworker was supposed to be the one to stay late. Not that we planned on getting any work done if we stayed because with the shock we just had no idea what to do with ourselves.

Since leaving work Friday afternoon when my shift was over, I’ve had nothing but anxiety about the whole situation. Another coworker of ours has been gone because his father-in-law passed away. His two weeks of absence has probably been stressful enough , and now coming back to work, he’s going to be met with a workload a mile high and a coworker no longer with us that has been there since the beginning with him. None of this is going to go over well with him. He’s moody enough having not had losses in his life. I have a feeling this week is not going to be his week, and I’m afraid of the backlash me and my other coworker will be met with when he finds out.

So this weekend has been tainted with my anxiety in every moment. At the State Fair with friends, I had little to nothing to say, because my heart kept dropping every time I considered how quickly Monday morning was coming. In church this morning I found comfort in the sermon, about how God is with us in everything like he was with Esther, but still my anxiety was so high I couldn’t help but know the impending doom is coming. Yes, God is with us in all things, but that doesn’t mean it’s all easy, it just means God is there to show you what is next if you trust and obey, and for me…what was next is emotionally preparing for things to go badly, because it’s always better to assume that it will go badly, and to hope that there was some kind of pleasant surprise if it doesn’t.

After church I cleaned the whole house, made dinner (even though my husband is not home for dinner because he works the closing shift), and I called my mother to see how she was and try to get outside my own head, but even after all that….I feel so unprepared for Monday morning. I don’t want it to come, and at the same time I want it to have already been so I can say it was gotten over with and I survived it.

Thoughts on “Boring” People

“I hate working on the assembly line. It’s so boring!”

I shook my head as I overheard the conversation. Despite trying to curb my habit of eavesdropping I’m a sucker for a good story in the workplace, so I end up unintentionally eavesdropping on lots of conversations that happen near by my office door. Hoping for a good one. It’s easy too, because for some strange reason, people at the printer just outside my door seem to think that because the printer is printing they cannot be heard over its sound. So I listen, and every so often, there is a good story or two.

Her story was not a good story. Sorry to disappoint you.

Recently our factory had a bunch of no-call and no-show terminations on our assembly line. With the assembly far behind and tons of orders coming in for our jerky seasoning, an emergency mandatory schedule was made of office workers to assist in two shifts a week on the assembly line stuffing our jerky seasonings into their boxes. It’s a pretty mindless job once you get a rhythm going. It consists of repetitive motion, and lots of it, in a very small area. Her particular story was…well…of how boring she found it, and wished her team had been able to go faster so she could feel busy. I had to sympathize a little, because my team also went much slower than I felt my pace required, but thankfully I did not find the job very boring at all.

There is nothing quite like a factory assembly line to daydream in, and if you can function pretty well in a rhythm and still have a rich inner life, assembly line work is wonderful. My experience had been different than hers because of this. As a story lover and teller, as well as a maladaptive daydreamer, I find that I am nearly never bored. I always have a storyline going in my mind. So as I stuffed boxes to the beat of a whirling and magnificent automated machine, I was also having a mystical fantasy adventure in the back of my mind, where the world was never boring and the story never had to end.

I often wonder how sad the inner lives of boring people must be, if they have any inner lives at all. I knew so little about this coworker, and yet, all I did know was about her dislikes. She hated cold, hot, rainy, or bright weather…which pretty much covers all weather. She disliked her vacation to the Bahamas because her phone got wet and stopped working…and somehow being unreachable makes a vacation worse. She’s a mother, but tends to only complain about motherhood. Over all, she seems to be the kind of person…who is unable to be pleased unless she is at home, her kids are gone, and the AC or heat is just right, and her husband isn’t bothering her, and she can just watch TV, or if people see her as some kind of victim in life and resonate with her struggle.

That’s just what I found out in the bits a pieces of conversations just prior to her comment about the assembly line. It isn’t much, but it’s enough to make drastic assumptions off of…especially if you’re a storyteller. So I will.

I wonder what those people are like in the head. I wonder if they just worry about reality all the time? Do they get caught up and stuck in it? Do they dream about things that are surreal? Do they have any imagination at all? I shudder to think they don’t. I worry about people who don’t daydream. I worry about people who live too much in the now, and don’t get to take a break from it. What must that be like? Do I even want to know?

I put a great deal of pride in having a very rich imagination. I like working on an assembly line and pretending I’m in a gold mine shoving bricks into sacks so my fellow dwarves can present them to the dwarf king. I like pretending that the large plastic mold machine in the other room is actually the engine room of an air ship flying high over an industrial Steampunk city unseen beneath my feet. I like pretending that the cardboard warehouse (where we keep the unused boxes for product) is a cave of layer upon layer of different rocks that I have to venture though to find the treasure I seek. I like that my world is more than it appears, that my mind is bigger than it seems, and that my imagination is free to wander during my waking hours as I wait to return to my evening dreams where I feel more at home. I have a really hard time relating to people who lack vision or imagination, and I worry if they are worse off over all because of it.

What baffles me about this coworker is that people seem to really like her.

I’m in a bit of a catch 22 over it, because a I find I also envy people to are really grounded in reality. I feel like more often than not, they’re far more relatable than people like me. They don’t seem to struggle with maintaining friendships like I do, because somehow they can craft small talk in a way my mind can’t. They aren’t awkward, because boring people can keep conversations going about simple things…and most people can follow that kind of conversation…while people like me tend to feel their soul getting ripped from their body when caught in small talk. People seem to gravitate to boring people. People seem to like to gossip with them and talk really rationally and plainly about stuff rather than wishy washy, awkwardly, and outlandishly like I do. People hang out with grounded people. People don’t know what to do with people who have their heads in the clouds like I do. People know what to expect with a boring person. The conversations will be comfortable. Nothing will get passionate or heated. No one will have to think too hard or use their imagination, and I feel sad for all of them.

Empathy

I have this interesting emotional attachment to this spider who has been living on my drivers side mirror for a while now. It’s been nearly a month since I gave up on removing its web and decided not to kill it, and every morning I feel a little sad as I’m driving to work and keep glancing over to make sure it’s hanging on or still there.

As it flaps in the wind curled up in a little ball and unfurling its legs when I come to a stop, I find myself having a little anxiety about its wellbeing. Is it eating enough? Is it still alive? I hope it makes it with me to the parking lot, and at the end of each day, I hope it’s there to greet me and got a few bugs while I was inside at work.

It’s an odd situation, because it’s not a pet. It’s more like a little friend or consistent comfort. I know it’s not my place to take care of it, because it’s been doing a great job taking care of its self, and yet, I find that if the little thing one day disappears…I’d feel very sad. Like I should have been more responsible for the little creature. Like I should have done more for it.

Why am I so weird?

A Really Bad Dr. Visit

“So, I noticed you’re getting fat…”

Really? You couldn’t have said it nicer? You’re a medical physician. A specialist. Yes, I’ve gained weight, but seriously, 150 lbs is not that bad a weight for someone 5’4″ much less a diabetic who has only been skinny because of bad blood sugars for so long. I finally get healthy. I finally get on track. I finally have lower blood sugars and am eating right. Exercising for 30 min to an hour every day, and for what? You to sit in your white coat and crudely call me fat.

This is like, my worst nightmare and it happened only last week when I went to the doctor. I had gotten my blood sugars down for the first time in ages, and finally was food logging, exercising, and doing all kinds of stuff that I ought to be doing…only to have it once again not be enough. When we got home from my appointment I cried to my husband. I made false promises and threats never to eat again (I love food so we all knew it was a lie), and I walked, oh did I walk that night. An angry four mile walk where with every step I cussed out my doctor in my own head. Furiously. Violently.

I had worked so hard to get better, only to get the mixed message that I had gotten worse.

Insulin is not a cure to diabetes. Insulin, at least the more you take it, makes you fat. The fatter you get….the more insulin resistance you build, which means over time your body may not react to insulin anymore if you take too much. The fatter you get the more diabetic complications you can have too…all caused by taking insulin, the very hormone that is supposed to save your life.

Then they tell you, if the high blood sugars don’t kill your organs, being overweight will. So either way you lose.

Oh yeah, eat healthy and exercise right? That’s the cure! So many people talk about diet and exercise like it’s such an easy fix, but really the food industry makes even healthy living hard.

Insulin is like slapping a bandaid on the real problems. Like how healthy and low carb food costs so much money. How medical companies are afraid of us getting better because a healthy nation means they don’t make money. How most foods in the grocery store at all ever, are practically indigestible for the human body, have little to no nutritional value, and causes people to gain weight with high sugar, carb, and cholesterol content. The lack of fiber and protein content. Oh and don’t get me started on artificial sweaters (which also cause weight gain, cancer, and plenty of other issues). All things that cause so many health issues and weight problems in the US, and no one does anything about them.

I eat as low carb as I can in this kind of environment, increasing my proteins and vegetable intake considerably, and even use meal replacement protein shakes with less than a gram of carbohydrates in them (they taste like slightly sweetened chalk water with a touch of sadness, but I still drink them). Last week I managed to get to the store and get myself organic lettuce, organic peanut butter, organic frozen fruit (3 kinds), vanilla yoghurt, strawberry yoghurt, organic chicken breasts, and 5 varieties of organic and nonorganic fruit. It cost me just shy of $100. For so few items. Most of which were on sale. Then I made my husband Jumbalya, and couldn’t eat any of it….the struggle was so real.

Exercise then. Am I right? Surely that’s the cure!

I’ve exercised for 30 min to an hour every night for the last several months. No less than 30 min daily. Either a walk, a bike ride on my recumbent in the basement or outdoors, and playing Racquet Ball once a week for an hour every week with my coworker. Like, really high impact.

So what is a girl to do? How do I get healthy and lose weight as a type one diabetic? I’m considering eating some kind of parasitic worm at this point because I just freaking give up!

At Work

Today was not all it could have been. While I was paying attention to our task list at work before July 4th, others were requesting their vacation time for the rest of the week, including the higher ups who were more focused on their time off than realizing we needed direction on a package design that has artwork due this coming Tuesday. So without direction, with myself and one other designer in for the rest of the week, and employee photos to do all day today and Friday…I can feel myself panicking a little.

I actually stand corrected. I’m here alone for the graphics team tomorrow. And I have a list a mile long for employee photos and other things that need doing, but require approval from my management…who are all on vacation until Monday. When I am not here.

On Monday, I’ll be at the doctors office in the morning and taking the rest of the day to recover from the doctor appointment…which exhausts me to think about. So, I, team member who is doing the food styling and photography for the panel images, is not going to be around to even start the project. Which means that the day the packaging is due…is the only day all of us are back from our vacation time and can actually talk about the design and process, much less get groceries, do the shoot, and finalize the images in photoshop.

It wouldn’t be such an issue if the images did not require food styling. I was never trained in food styling, and my boss and coworkers are satisfied with my work, but because I am not experienced in it, I feel like I take such a long time to do things that my photo shoots for the front and back panels of our packaging take me all day to do. So of course my anxiety is higher than ever knowing our time crunch and many obstacles.

My coworker has been doing her best to calm me down. She keeps telling me “How can we move forward without a direction from the higher ups?” And “It really isn’t any of our faults that everyone took vacation on us without prioritizing tasks.” Not that it’s really helping. Because normally the graphics team is the last brick in the wall, and until that brick is placed, the wall isn’t complete. Us being behind, no matter who held up the process before the graphics team was even involved, means production is held up…and it ends up being our fault. So we get shafted. Which sucks.

So as I sit down here, waiting for employees to come to the photo studio for their photos to be taken, I cannot help but sit in a puddle of sweat, both from the heat and anxiety. Especially when the employees don’t show up for their photo and I have to fight with myself over if it’s really worth it to be doing the shoots today. Especially with so many people unexpectedly on vacation.

Here’s to hoping today and tomorrow go quickly.

Unhelpful Criticism

“I don’t mean to use such harsh words, but this look like something our China team would come up with.”

Please tell me what in this phrase is a helpful direction? What does that even mean? I guess you would have to be a racist to know.

Clearly, my boss really struggles with giving constructive criticism.

This particular phrase really bothers me, firstly, because it speaks badly of a team that the owners of the company chose to work with overseas and that we are trying to have good communication and relationship with. I haven’t ever seen our China team come up with a design, and if they work for us and were chosen by our leadership, why are you insulting them? Aren’t we all working for the same goal? Aren’t we all supposed to be on the same side? Saying things like this puts a bad taste in the domestic team’s mouth and just makes you look racist.

Secondly, “don’t mean to use harsh words,” is not an excuse to then use the harsh words. You do mean to use them. We all know it. It only makes people more aware of how much you actually mean to use and are going to use harsh words. It means you are aware of how you sound. It means the words you have chosen to use, were selected and intentional to be harsh and you know it. Foolishly, you are trying to remove yourself from your own responsibility, which is an indicator of bad leadership. To be a leader is to have responsibility, and to show you wish to remove yourself from the responsibility of your position and the tact you know you ought to have while holding it lessens your dependability.

Constructive criticism doesn’t use “I” or “Me” statements. It explains why a design or photograph does or doesn’t work based off of brand goals and statements. It doesn’t use insulting analogies. It builds up where it needs to and it makes helpful….emphasis on helpful…suggestions to give a better direction.

Consider this a public service announcement.