Tag Archives: depression

Desire for Chaos, Lust for Stability

Is the meaning of life chaos or consistency? I hunger for wealth, but why? Beyond this “wealth” seeming impossible to achieve, I lust for a life of guided spontaneity, for someone, or someones, to take me out of my comfort zone, to force me to live a life of some sort of excess; perhaps one of indecency, of sin and vice, of gluttony or lust, of jumping out of metaphorical airplanes and pulling the rip cord moments before slamming into the earth, the adrenaline rush of youthful risk, with everything to lose at a moment’s notice; instead of coming home to warm, cozy, love, security, and sleep.

It’s so easy to forget how awful it is to be alone, how awful it is to be amidst the chaos, how any longing to live a life of deep emotional turmoil, passionate kisses, hellos and goodbyes, is not what one should want, or does want, when presented that fate in the moment. I spent my entire life feeling so alone, and with him I’m home. I’m not traveling the world, I’m not out at the symphony, I’m not sharing a $100 bottle of Chianti in the Italian countryside, or over a gourmet dinner, or bringing home another woman to the bedroom, or seducing someone who I’ve longed to have, or having that seduction reversed, where I’m the prize, won in a fight of an intellectual bullfight where each glance is a flick of a red cape.

Yet I’ve never felt at home amongst artists, emotional yet pretentious, nor businessmen, competitive with a constant hunger to win, nor housewives, humble caretakers who find happiness in being someone else’s home. I feel at home with him. We have stillness. Our love is the clearest night when thousands of stars twinkle across the sky. It is the calmness of a puddle that forgot the downpour from which it came. And that is what I see in the future of my life: a glorious puddle. No more want, no more desire, no more longing. It’s all here, whether I make millions of dollars or get by on a salary of less than what I make now, I don’t understand how wealth helps matters any — with it I’d have an option not to work, but I could never not work, I don’t enjoy quiet time, I’d be terribly bored, I can’t live with stillness, I can’t even allow my mind to shut off to sleep; instead I stay awake and try to understand the future that this path is leading me on, try to comprehend my choices as another year has turned its final page to the next chapter.

What do other millennials do for fun? According to my Facebook, those who are the most successful tend to go to the bar or a club the second the weekend starts on Friday, and remain blissfully intoxicated until the weekend concludes. They take vacations to beaches or ski resorts where they waste hundreds of dollars on drinking in bars where they socialize; they wear bikinis and go to Las Vegas where they play Blackjack and lose or win, it doesn’t matter, and they have their friends over and pour cocktails and sangria or pass around a joint or eat mushrooms or snort cocaine or roll on ecstasy and despite illegalities these are all elements of life I’ve see that people my age do in order to lead a normal life. They go on dates, to concerts, and above all they are living their lives in a way that aligns with what all of society tells us that 20 and 30-somethings are supposed to be doing prior to marriage and officially settling down.

Is that what I really want? I’ve spent too many days traveling for work to conferences with some of the most impressive people in the world, out at parties, at the bars, and I feel terribly awkward in this situations, I wander around, alone, look in my purse to pass the time, check my phone, and I am alone, a voyeur of normality, yet it all seems so terribly odd to me; I am a ghost of an onlooker, and even thrown into the center of what I think I want I find it isn’t at all what I want.

Still, I watch my stocks, I invest, I hope to turn my $150k networth into something much much more so I can not worry so much. Or so I can buy a life. How much money do you need to buy a life? How much money do you need to buy friends? To buy experiences? To buy laughter and to buy feeling not so alone in real life, not on some social networking account where it’s easy to collect friends and fans and followers?

I think I am a capitalist. I live to want. I hate that about myself. My boyfriend is a hippie socialist who thinks desire is the root of all evil. I agree with him. He is sweet and I love him and I love everything we have together. I couldn’t bare to be with another capitalist, I’d hate them, I need a bleeding heart liberal to remind me of my values. I dated a man once who refused to give, now I date a man who would give everything if he could.

But this isn’t about who I’m dating exactly. It’s about finding a life for myself independent of my relationship. And finding time for it. And figuring out what that life is. Social lives, however depressing, are rather easy to define a purpose for when you’re single. Your life revolves around finding a partner. And when you do — then what? What does all the money in the world provide when you have someone and have no one to share it all with in occasional gluttonous excess?

Or do I really deep down still want someone to provide the financial stability, the social stability, someone who can help define my life instead of my being thrown a lump of wet clay to mold without another strong hand to reach in, grasping over mine, to guide our creation with a purpose, to mold life together, with passionate kisses, with trips around the world, sharing a bottle of red wine, a dance, a surprise, a cruise, something messy, sticky, imperfect, uncontrolled; I long for someone to make a life of art with me; or to find my own art, and find out how to make it, and to not feel so alone on this global canvas with each solitary yet substantial brushstroke.

Feeling Needed: More than money can buy

After yesterday’s monologue about my overwhelmingly successful yet somehow hopeless sentiment about life, I had to take a long public transit ride home from work since I can’t drive for a month. Even though it’s only six miles away, the train and bus times don’t line up at all for people traveling my direction, so I took a two minute train ride and had to wait an hour for a bus to take me three miles up a large hill. That gave me some time to think, and wander around a mini mall.

I decided to spend that hour in a CVS, because drugstores are oh-so exciting. Kind of like a museum of cheap things that define American culture. While in the store, I was wandering for a while and at one point this 40-something year old man came up to me and asked me a very weird question — what should he do about a spot on his head that was both dry and oily. Really weird question. I was immediately suspicious of his motives, first thinking he might be working fraud protection for the store and attempting to determine if my hour-long wandering around was actually me stealing a bunch of stuff (of course it wasn’t, I was just killing time I didn’t have to kill).

I tried to blow him off, saying “I don’t know,” but he was pretty set on getting an answer from me. Then I thought, I have this hour to kill anyway, can’t I help the guy out? He wasn’t hitting on me (or if he was he was doing a terrible job at it) and if he happened to be a store employee testing out my motives for lingering in the makeup department with a giant purse and backpack, then I might as well play along.

I told him that it sounds like he has combination skin, so he should probably get a moisturizer without oil in it. He was perplexed — “a moisturizer without oil, what do they use for moisture, water?” So I took him over to the aisle with the moisturizers and acne products, which he thought was in a “woman’s” section of the store. I showed him some anti-acne moisturizers that were oil free, then decided those wouldn’t be right for him since he was, apparently flaking. I found him another Aveeno moisturizer that I thought would be good, but it was $16, and he didn’t want to spend $16 on moisturizer. So I then identified a CVS-brand moisturizer that was labeled “for combination skin” and it was $9. “Here you go,” I said. “This is perfect for you.” He thanked me, and I walked away.  I have no idea if he actually bought that, or if he was just a nut job, or a security guard.

Either way, when I left the store, despite being mildly creeped out, I felt really good. After a long day of feeling hopeless, I, with my not-so-deep knowledge of moisturizers, might have helped a man solve his skin problem. How random is that? But I know I feel good when I feel helpful, and I feel depressed when I feel helpless. So I guess the question I need to solve is, how do I make myself feel less helpless and out of control and drowning on a daily basis? And can I afford the psychotherapy required to help me get to an answer to that question?

The Rocky Road of Life

There are moments in life when I’m not terribly depressed. Those are the moments that go by quickly, when time disappears, and I miss its passing. These are the days, weeks even, when I barely sleep, when I distract myself by watching too much TV, randomly browsing the internet, in my limited free time. But more and more life is just a run-on sentence of mild success and the ever-growing fear of failure.

Yesterday, the 22 year old co-founder of a social network called Diaspora was found dead, a victim of what was rumored to be suicide. The motives for this potential suicide weren’t broadcasted on the news, but plenty of people could guess it was due to a failed endeavor. So much hope for success, so much hype, and such a long way to fall. Continue reading

The Gluttony of Choice: Why Options Make Us Depressed and Fat

As much as I love that we live in a free society with an extensive selection of options at any given moment regarding what we eat, wear, drive, etc, etc, I’ve forced myself to step outside of materialism for a few moments every now and again, to discover the square root of unhappiness is often the sheer quantity of choices available everyday.

Because we live in a capitalist society, choices available are often what we want, not what we need. I look no further than my experience today at The Cheesecake Factory as a metaphor for all of the “choice gluttony” we face in modern society. The Cheesecake Factory menu is ridiculous. I love the place. It has so many options of meals to eat, including appetizers, entrees, drinks, and of course, cheesecakes and desserts. Continue reading

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

When I was filling out the “10 financial commandments for your 20s” post, one of the commandments said that you should be focusing on having fun in your 20s. That one bullet sent me into a bit of an identity crisis. I started to try to remember what I consider fun… and it was really difficult to find something. I’m struggling to find anything outside of my job that is fun in my life.

I’m turning 28 next month, and while the birthdays before this one haven’t felt significant, I am starting to feel, well, old. Now, I know some of you who read my blog are much older than I am, and I don’t mean that you’re extra old. I’m just saying that — as the world around me ages — I question not just what I’m living for, but also what I’m not living for. One thing I’ve realized lately is that I’ve died a few times so far in my life. For instance, the young me that I once was died a long time ago. She doesn’t exist any more. She might not be buried under ground, but she’s just as dead as a corpse. And although I never loved her, I still miss her and need to take the time to morn her passing. I also need to remember what made her happy, and try to bring some of that back into my life. Continue reading

Overwhelmed at Work: For Better or Worse

My job isn’t nearly as high stress as a career as an emergency room surgeon, but it has its ongoing stress nonetheless. The stress comes from carving a path that is not clear, and the responsibility that comes with both carving it on your own, while also the pressure of not trying anything too far out in left field, as there isn’t enough time to waste on something that doesn’t work. And you can still mess up quite a bit, even while keeping your work fairly ordinary.

I love the challenge that comes with my current job. I truly have the opportunity to make a huge difference in my company. I also have the opportunity to really hurt my company (not on purpose, of course, but if I just can’t meet my commitments for whatever reason.)

My confusion is when I am fairly overwhelmed and when I’m not organized/focused enough to get things done as they should be. It’s hard to say because I know I do have a tendency to procrastinate, but I’m still working 60+ hours a week, barely sleeping, staying up all night to get projects done. So I might not be the most productive at the office straight through the day, but I’m still putting in quite a lot of hours into this job. I can’t imagine – even if I could manage to retain focus from 8am to 7pm – that I’d be much more productive. I might sleep more, but my output would likely be around the same. Continue reading

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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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.

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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