Category Archives: Mental Illness

The Currency of Time: Life’s Most Precious Commodity

Lately I’ve been trying to compute the currency of time.

Not every second holds the same value as the next. And value is relative — sleep seconds, for instance, are highly valuable cohesively, yet alone they are nights of insomnia dosed with fissures of awareness. The same goes for time to spend with family, friends, or even yourself, outside of your daily work hours. What is the value of that time? High, surely, but how high? What if you spend four years of your life dedicated to work, almost every minute of your life, to build a successful company, so the rest of your life requires less stress over earning and the ability to appreciate time more — making time more valuable.

At this very moment, I’m sitting on a plane (in first class again – yeay, elite status upgrades) and — after two bloody marys — am quite introspective. God, I only had one and a half bloody marys — they make these very strong in first class! Regardless, I’m once again pondering time as currency, because time itself is the most limited commodity, therefore it’s the most valuable. I also owe you all a post, since I’ve been incredibly busy with — work (and rewarding work at that) — and haven’t had time to write. Or haven’t known what to write about. But now, sweet readers, I impart my thoughts on the most valuable currency of all, the limited moments we have here on this earth between birth and death that are quickly flying by as we sit at our desks, stressing over something that in the grand scheme of things, as far as the meaning, or lack of meaning, of life itself, is not that important, beyond purchasing for more “time” with an investment in today’s time value.

My job doesn’t need to require all nighters, but I do my best work at night, and need to be at the office during the day to handle the thousands of little things that come up — an interview to schedule, a event to coordinate, a new graphic to manage the design process for, and so on. I’m completely overwhelmed by my role and terrified I’ll be replaced. There’s the alcohol truth serum speaking up. I like drinking, occasionally, on flights, because it gives me time to think, straight or crooked I’m not sure, but at the very least, I feel calm, and can process simpler important matters without worrying about the bigger picture.

But back to the point of this point — what is the value of time, and does it make sense to trade in time now for time later? As the company that acquired my former company announces its IPO, I realize that, although I’ll never see a dollar of that success, wealth is within reach. Wealth, not as in becoming a billionaire, but as in earning $1M before I turn 32. Granted, this isn’t a requirement by any means, but it’s more of a possibility now than ever. There are days I believe — despite my ardent atheism — that there must be some great screenwriter above writing my life story. It’s too funny how things work out, or don’t work out, but if you keep pushing, keep going, eventually something works out.

Two bloody marys and a red wine into this 1 hr flight before I have a stopover and get on my next flight, I’m, admittedly, extremely intoxicated. Not to the point of feeling sick, but to the point I love, occasionally, on extremely rare occasions, by myself, when the rest of the world just disappears, where I’m in my mind, in a place where I can examine what matters and what doesn’t.

Red wine, done.

I don’t want to be a billionaire. I’d like to have a million dollars at 30 or 32. To invest most of it and live a simple life. To pay rent off my boyfriend’s salary. To have a family — three kids — we’ve already named them, go figure — and to love them more than anything. I want to paint, to write, to do all the things I have absolutely no time for right now. I want to kick ass in my current role and be a leader in helping this company be extraordinarily succcessful. On one hand, that sounds ridiculous. On the other hand, it’s possible.

It’s so possible it really seems like it’s scripted. I invested $20k into my stock options because, quite frankly, I’ve been blessed (in a non religious sense) with a CEO/boss who is brilliant, who I trust, who knows how to build an extremely valuable company. I don’t know what my place is in that company, as I think I’ll be replaced, or “superior-ized” as a VP is brought in to manage me once it really matters — but I really want to prove I can do that. I can kick ass. I can help our entire company be successful. I love that. For the first time in my life, I believe I have the opportunity to make a difference in the company. If we’re ever to be worth billions of dollars, I’m going to own up to the fact that there’s a good change I’ll have something to do with it. Incredible. That job of mine is not being done well now. I need time to focus. Time to read and learn as much as possible. That time is not available. That time is spent worrying, and then working through the night. I love the night. I wish I had the day to read books about marketing and analytics and the night to work. But I can’t have that — I just need to be amazing at what I do have. The opportunity is there. I don’t want to fuck this up.

Which brings me back to — time. I am more than willing to give all of my time to work now, so I can live the life I want later. I don’t know what that life is — maybe it’s painting, having a family, starting my own business, volunteering — whatever it is — I know money is the only answer to that end goal. It isn’t the answer for everyone. I don’t want to be a billionaire. I don’t want a big house. I want time. How much does time cost? Maybe more than a big house. But that’s what I want. How can I get it? How can I help my company succeed? That is all I want right now.

Living in the Shadow of my Narcissistic Parents – Part 2

I’m not sure how many people actually read my blog these days, but if you’ve been following along you likely read my long rant yesterday about the dinner I had with my father, and how his narcissistic personality disorder tendencies gnaw at me every time I see him, or talk to him.

One commenter posed the question “are you sure he is the one who is a narcissist?” and I wanted to respond to that. Clearly, my post yesterday — and many of my posts — sound self absorbed and ungrateful. Shouldn’t I just be so thankful that my father (and mother) gave me lots of “stuff” in my life — clothes, nice furniture, a college education — beyond stuff, what does a girl really need?

How about love? I’d never argue that I had or have a hard life. I’m way more fortunate than a large percentage of people who live in this world. But I grew up in a love-less house. No one knew how to love themselves let alone anyone else. And, yes, I became a narcissist because it’s the only way to survive when both of your parents are narcissists. It’s a never-ending cycle. The only value I had to my parents was how my existence benefited them. And, as any kid, a big part of me wanted to make my parents happy. It was pretty clear that I couldn’t – that I’d never be the perfect kid they wanted – and I hated myself for it more and more as the years went by.

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Living in the Shadow of My Narcissistic Parents – Part 1

I wanted to be excited about my father’s visit this week. Even though my dad and I aren’t what you’d call the best of friends, I was looking forward to his visit. Ill with terminal cancer, the last time he was supposed to visit, three years ago – when a show I was directing was being performed – he fell ill and was unable to make the trip. That illness turned out to be late-stage cancer, and he was given the prognosis of two years to live.

Three years later, he’s still alive, noticeably weaker, but his other health issues including obesity and diabetes also contribute to his fragile state. And it’s perhaps a miracle that he is healthy enough to have made the trip across the country today, on his own.  And – although I see him maybe twice a year when I visit back east – I was excited to have him visit me in California, on my turf, to “show him” how far I’ve come.

But spending time with him is always futile to my psyche. He’s just a bitter, stubborn man with a quick temper, underneath a shallow layer of narcissism where everything done by anyone else is someone either due to his brilliance or out to get him. I honestly don’t think any interaction I’ve had with him in my life hasn’t been on one of those two extremes. Today was no exception.

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I Fired my Life Coach

Well, I didn’t actually “fire” her — I just told her that I wouldn’t be continuing with my regular weekly sessions at this point.

After years of going to therapy on and off, I thought perhaps what I really needed was a life coach to help me figure out how to manage my time and feel like I was leading a successful, productive life. I sought out an ADHD life coach specifically because I thought they’d be able to help me best focus on the time management issues and all the other things that relate to my being ADHD.

She was trying to earn her certificate, so the actual coaching was on the cheap side — $10 per half hour session by phone, totaling $40 a month. But after a few months of meeting with her weekly, I knew I wasn’t getting anywhere. It wasn’t her fault at all, I just realized that I’m not the type of person who can benefit from a “coach.” I tend to rebel against authority even when I’m paying for it, so the whole concept behind coaching backfired on me.

However, I did get an education in how to think about prioritizing my life, and how over committing is not the right tool for success. Without the authority role in the picture, I am hoping I can take some of the learnings and apply them, perhaps having value out of the months of life coaching yet.

Have you ever gone to a life coach? Do you have a success story?

Riding the Manic Bull, This Bipolar Life

I didn’t sleep last night, even though I had planned with my life coach that I was going to sleep at 10pm and wake up early to exercise and have a productive, regimented day.

Instead I stayed up, played some online poker, sang, read news, got quite a bit of work done that I’ve put off to the last minute, and felt an overwhelming sensation of nervous energy keeping me awake. I must be in a hypomanic state now — as my mood is entirely different than it was months ago when I was most certainly depressed. Now I’m not exactly happy, but I have more confidence, which is helping me get through the days. My anxieties mixed with the confidence sometimes have ill side effects (ie irritability and sadness, though not depression) and generally speaking leave me frustrated. I guess when I’m hypomanic I feel like perfection is possible, and when things don’t work out I get upset. When I’m depressed, I feel like perfection — or anything close to it — is impossible, and I just want to disappear. Neither side of the swing is any good for me, really, but at least on this end I can be productive and somewhat social.

In any case, thank goodness it’s Friday. I need the weekend to get some sleep and screw my head back on straight.

The Big Deal About Small Talk

Shortly after landing on the other side of a college diploma, I realized the vital ingredient in success had little to do with a piece of paper and much more to do with how you could hold your pop culture stats on your tongue and liquor in your belly at the same time. They don’t teach you that in school.

These days, I often find myself at conferences with high-powered execs in business suits, with their slicked back hair and hearty laughs, holding martinis and conversing with each other about the latest (insert popular sports team name here) game or even something nerdier yet still detail-oriented. I’ve come to the conclusion that my biggest obstacle in the way of success is my inability to engage in what they call “small talk.” And yes, it’s a big deal. A really big deal.

If I’m spending time with someone who enjoys talking, I fall back on what I learned as a journalist — look interested and keep asking questions. But when it comes to talking to people — whether it be professionals or in a social setting, I can’t think of anything to say. I go through the same boring questionnaire about where they grew up, where I grew up, and yes, central New Jersey does exist, and no, everyone does not look like Snookie and The Situation there. Then I run into a wall.

In social situations, especially if alcohol is involved, I often find myself cracking a joke or twenty at the expense of myself. People seem to like my self deprecating humor, I like to think of it as charming, but it has no place in a professional networking environment. So — I have nothing to say, only questions to ask. I don’t think I’m all that interesting.

Being in marketing means making those connections by engaging in small talk, by gaining trust, respect. And if there were a college degree in networking I would never have passed. I am such an introvert, with social anxiety to boot. This is why I wonder if I can ever succeed in this industry — even if I were able to get on top of things the whole introversion piece of the puzzle will hold me back. I’m forever awkward. And even when the best connections are available to be made, I manage to misplace them in the unspoken chaos of insecurity.

Bipolar II — Handling the Swings, Finding the Balance

For years I wondered what was wrong with me… especially when I got so down in the dumps, as I’d be crying non stop and contemplating something between suicide and running away, and then a few days later, or weeks later, life would be wonderful, I’d have this sense of unstoppable calm, and so my life would go…

Only a few years ago did someone finally suggest that I might have Bipolar disorder. No, not Bipolar I, which means extreme mood swings all the way to mania when you’re off your rocker. No, this was Bipolar II, which included swings of depression and hypomania, but without the extreme mania.

For a while, I didn’t want to believe it. I’ve been diagnosed with just about every disorder in the book, so why would this one be right? Then — every time I felt myself on one end or the other of my mood spectrum, I had to accept it. This explained a heck of a lot. This explained how some months I excelled in my jobs and other months I couldn’t get myself out of bed, and I’d ultimately lose my job. Continue reading

Personality Types: What’s INTP Got to Do With It?

Apparently a bunch of top personal finance bloggers over at Yakezie had a blog carnival of sorts discussing their Jungian personality types.

Since I’m a Myers Briggs addict, I figured it was as good a time as any to retake the test and see what my results would be. I tend to swing back and forth between INTP and INFP depending on my bipolar phase… hypomanic and I’m INTP, depressed and I’m INFP.

So, today I tested INTP.
I think that’s accurate, at least for now.

Introverted: 67%
Intuitive: 38%
Thinking: 12%
Perceiving: 56%

INTPs are known as “The Architects”

Bolded are the pieces of the description that really speak to me… and also, in a large part, explain much of my frustration in the various career paths I’ve pursued thus far…

Architects need not be thought of as only interested in drawing blueprints for buildings or roads or bridges. They are the master designers of all kinds of theoretical systems, including school curricula, corporate strategies, and new technologies. For Architects, the world exists primarily to be analyzed, understood, explained – and re-designed.

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The Cycle of Addiction, Binging, and Quest for Control

I believe that most, if not all of our psychological disorders stem from the need to be in control, and the reality that control – even when felt certainly – is an illusion. You can be Albert Einstein or Britney Spears, and in the end still end up six feet under, eaten by worms, and eventually dissolved into a thousand nanoscale bits spread across the universe.

Of course, on a day to day basis, control is more about feeling an ownership of time instead of time owning you. It’s about accomplishments large and small. It’s about praise and pride. Success has never felt like control to me, however. Success is the scariest feat of all… because once you succeed, the expectations are higher the next time you try, and you have a lot further to fall.

This leads to my admittance that — my name is Joy and I’m a — addiction-aholic. That is, there are a lot of things I do that i wish I didn’t do that I haven’t been able to stop myself from doing, or things I should do that I can’t force myself to do as often as I should. That is unhealthy, and something I’d like to solve in any way possible.

Luckily, I never ended up addicted to drugs or alcohol, but my addictions range the gamut. Shopping. Eating. Avoiding. Procrastinating. I’m addicted to binging because it makes me feel in control, if just for a moment. It lets me say — fuck you world, I’ll never be thin, so I might as well just eat and eat because it feels good… because I can do it, because no one can stop me from eating this entire box of Oreos until it’s gone — because the only person I’m hurting is myself, and it feels good to stuff my face, to empty one column of cookies from their slots and the next, to hide in my room and finish as quickly as possible to be done with it.

I used to be the same way with shopping — go to the mall, or the bargain store — and buy things I didn’t need because THAT gave me the same sense of control. It made me feel good. It was a rush… of something I could do for myself, on my own, with no one else knowing. I was in charge and in control as much as I had given up on any real control.

Do I have an eating disorder? A shopping disorder? Yes, and yes. I am an addict. And I need to stop the cycle of self abuse. But, like any other addict, I love it. Why? Is it that I feel I deserve the abuse? Yes, probably. Growing up my parents taught me to second guess myself, to not trust myself, that I was always wrong and other people were always right. Spending money, eating junk food, wasting time watching tv instead of being productive or even reading a book… forgetting how to concentrate… and finding a wild talent for daydreaming between binges, was my life. Continue reading

Not Even Money Can Buy My Happiness

Let me go on record by saying that I have no right to be depressed. There are thousands who have lost their houses or lives in Japan, civil wars killing people daily in Libya, the Ivory Coast, and around the world. Meanwhile, I have a job with pay that comfortably puts me in the upper middle class. I’m healthier than most, and all-in-all leading a good life.

But I still feel empty. My problem is largely cognitive. It is feeling both that I am completely out of control of my life, that time is flying by too fast, and too slow, and that I have no purpose, no place I’m headed towards, just lots of time to waste until I get older and eventually die.

Ok, so if that’s the way I think, no wonder I’m depressed. I really want to change my thoughts — to be grateful for all I have, the priceless moments, unexpected, that make it worth living another day. This is not to say I’m suicidal — I’m not. I’m just wondering how to take my life from watching the days go by to making the days matter.

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