Tag Archives: mental health

Playing it Safe vs Taking Risks: Fighting the Fear

A few weeks ago when I was in my home state my father was kind enough to drive me to a friend’s birthday party dinner about an hour away. As he drove me to this party (which, by the way, was a dinner at a respectable venue, not that it should have mattered) he, with much paranoia, told me to stay safe and shunned my plan to be driven to the airport after the party was over so I could sleep there for my 6am flight.

I didn’t realize how paranoid my father is about any sort of risk until I grew up. I always thought he was just logical – that it made sense to be worried about all of the horrible things that can happen to you if you test the waters a bit, even if those waters mean arriving at the airport early and spending the night uncomfortably sleeping on a chair.

When I look at the success stories of my peers in the tech industry I look at a bunch of people who thrive on risk well beyond an early arrival to the airport. These are school dropouts, people who believe in themselves so much that they make shit happen whatever it takes. They don’t second guess themselves. They don’t worry that despite their instinct that getting to the airport early will be more convenient than sleeping four hours, catching a cab for 30 minutes and getting to the airport equally exhausted and probably late.

I wonder for these types of risk takers if they grew up in families that supported this type of risk or if they were rebellious and went off and did their own thing anyway. I also wonder if my parents – my dad especially – would have been different with his kids if they were male. Would he tell a 31 year old son to be careful? Maybe. It probably wouldn’t be the same.

Before you say that it’s sweet that he cares so much about me, it really isn’t like that. What he really should be worried about is my killing myself for all of the mental health issues his abuse of my mother and emotional abuse of me over the years has caused. Not that I’m going to kill myself, just saying – on the days I think about it, I picture his reaction, of course not thinking it has anything to do with his behavior and how I’m a mental wreck largely thanks to it.

I’m an adult now and I can make my own future. But I’m still so scared of so much. I want to be someone I’m not but I’m tired of trying to be that person, whoever she is. I’m a scared, timid, shy and weak person in a lot of respects. I’m not a risk taker. I hate risk. I like stability, I like routine – to some extent. But maybe that’s not a bad thing. I just want to be that person who can be bold and confident and amazing. I hope if I ever have children I can raise them to not be afraid – to not feel criticized for every little thing they do. To be able to have opinions and to learn that there is no such thing as a “right” opinion (that’s why they are called opinions.) To always allow a reasonable amount of forgiveness before making someone feel like shit for making a mistake.

I’m having a difficult time with growing up. Being grown up. I’m turning 31 this month… in less than 15 days. I’m a real adult now and here I am still kvetching about my parents. That’s what therapy is for, right? I didn’t have a terrible childhood in the sense that I wasn’t neglected or beaten to the point where I was unable to walk the next day. But I’m still mentally shot over the barrage of paranoia and criticism from both my mom and my dad – to this day they continually judge me for everything I do or wear or think to do. That’s why they’re fairly removed from my life right now, though I wish they didn’t have to be, because I know they won’t be around forever and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to spend time with them, even though it can be quite painful.

The other day watching Shark Tank with my mom she made the comment “why don’t you come up with a brilliant idea?” I’ve never been encouraged to take risks, that’s why. Entrepreneurs are some of the world’s most productive risk takers. But my mother doesn’t get that in order to get to the point where you have a successful pitch on Shark Tank or to any VC you needed to take a ton of risks. You need to not be afraid and to trust yourself and your ideas. You need to not be afraid.

I wonder who I’d be today if I didn’t grow up in that environment of neurotic paranoid fear and hyper criticism. Would I be a very different person? Would I be able to stand up in front of a room and speak without stuttering, without the ums and the likes? Would I have the respect of my colleagues because my presence garnered respect just by walking into a room vs having to build it slowly and painfully through hard-earned results (and sometimes it being too late to get those results with all the lost respect?) I just wish I was someone else. I wish I was a confident, well adjusted woman. I’ll have to make due with the actual woman I am because that’s just the way it is.

 

Why I’m investing $400 a month in an ADHD Coach

Despite wanting to believe I’m capable of being a highly-functioning adult on my own, data has shown that this is not quite the case. While I manage to pick myself up after every fall and keep going, each time I fall the cut is a bit deeper and harder to recover from. This isn’t the first time I’ve sought help, but this is the first time that I felt that I desperately need it.

There are so many different kinds of “help” one can buy. Psychiatrists seek to uncover a chemical imbalance to explain your shortcomings and treat you with costly medications. Psychologists use talk therapy to help you approach situations differently, largely looking at your childhood and how that has affected the current scripts your replay over and over again in your mind. Acupuncturists poke and prod you to reduce stress. Hypnotists claim to be able to help you achieve your goals through mind control. And coaches, well, help you with practical advice and ongoing support so you can determine and then reach your goals.

ADHD coaches are unique in that they focus on helping people who are driven to distraction, as they say. The reality is that so many of the simple tasks that high-functioning individuals can do without batting an eye present a huge challenge to the ADHD mind. I dislike jumping to conclusions that my mind is somehow different than the norm, yet anyone who knows me at all and believes ADHD actually exists would say obviously I have it. I can check off every single requirement in the DSV.

That’s why I’m splurging this year on a coach. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on therapy and what has it got me? Maybe I’m a little more aware of the scripts I play in my head that aren’t really rational, but that hasn’t helped me avoid losing my job (multiple times) or fix my relationship (which is great except for the fact that I’m a huge mess and my boyfriend can’t marry a girl who can’t keep her house remotely clean.)

If you don’t have ADHD or know anyone closely who does, it’s easy to say “just clean your damn house” or “stop losing your job.” It’s not that easy. Ultimately people with ADHD have issues with their temporal lobe functioning properly as well as a lack of dopamine to drive proper task-oriented motivation. Tie this with years upon years of beating myself up for my challenges focusing and staying organized and I end up wasting so much time lost in anxiety and failing to accomplish anything – until it’s late at night when I should be sleeping and only then can I start to hyperfocus and get my work done well.

This clearly isn’t a sustainable model. Now that I’m in my 30s I even feel my body starting to break down. I can’t pull all-nighters anymore. I’ve been sick three times in the last three months. I’m pretty much driving myself batshit and I need help.

In selecting an ADHD coach I wanted to find someone who has worked with ADHD individuals – especially adults – over the years. I want someone who can share tips and tools that have worked for others with similar minds. And I want someone grounded in reality, not someone who is going to try to flatter my ego (one woman kept saying that people with ADHD are brilliant so it’s clear I must be brilliant. While I briefly enjoyed the flattery I need more tough love than some ego boost.)

ADHD coaches are also often very expensive. This is largely because parents – many who have disposable incomes – are convinced their children have ADHD and are willing to send a ridiculous sum on coaches so maybe their kids can do well in school and make it to an Ivy League. And it happens – kids with ADHD, taught the right strategies and put in the right educational environments—can do very well academically. So maybe it’s worth it for parents who have the money.

However, these big-spending parents inflate the cost of help. I wrote to quite a number of ADHD coaches online (many of who do their coaching via Skype so location is not an issue) and one literally responded to me that “if cost was a concern” I would be better off talking to someone else because she charges more than others due to her “years of experience.” When I responded to ask exactly what that meant she didn’t respond. I assume she was in line with another organization I talked with where ADHD-specialist psychologists and psychiatrists charge anywhere from $300 to $500 per session.

The woman who I found is not cheap but she’s not ridiculous. I understand that coaches do this for a living and thus their expertise is worth a reasonable rate. The more standard fees I found were in the $150-$200 per hour range. Some coaches refused interactions between meetings while others – who clearly understand how ADHD works – note that they allow emails throughout the week as long as they don’t get excessive.

I’m meeting with my ADHD coach for my first 90-minute session. She already sent me an intake form and an anxiety/depression questionnaire which I had a strange kind of fun filling out (man, I am SO ADHD.) I am not sure exactly what to expect from this project but my primary goal is to learn how to be better at time management and organization… and ultimately not lose my job (or boyfriend.)

The plan is to invest in the $250 intro session and then three months of $390 worth of sessions (3 45 minute sessions.) We’ll work intensively on very tactical strategies while I’m sure discussing options (not included in cost) to resolve my problems further through the use of medication ($$$.) I’m going to try to solve them with coaching and willpower alone, but if shit starts to hit the fan I’m going to head back to a psychiatrist and see what they think would help this crazy little mind of mine.

That is, it seems to be I have Bipolar II co-morbidly sharing the space of dysfunction with a solid case of ADHD and a touch of anxiety to top it off. Mental illness is real even though I’m the first person to try to avoid labeling my issues as being anything more than just some personal crazy. Yet at 30 I have a pretty good view of my life thus far and these are the reasons for what is going on in my head and heart.

I’m not self-diagnosing either, I’ve been officially diagnosed with these issues (as well as others) but these three seem to make the most sense. I’m going to be entirely open with my coach about this too – and I already have been (bipolar/depression/anxiety are often found co-morbidly with ADHD, so this isn’t going to throw her for a loop at all.) I’d really like to make significant progress and fast. It is certainly worth $400 a month to remain gainfully employed and highly productive. At least for the short term until hopefully at some point I can sustain such “normal functioning adult” baseline on my own.

 

In Limbo but Trying to Relax in my Looney Toon life

With so much up in the air and this cold that won’t go away and my grandfather’s deteriorating condition it’s certainly hard to do what I need to do this week – relax. Every day spent at home is certainly an eye-opening reminder of the makings of my psyche, for better or worse. It’s useful as I pry myself out of my narcissistic personality to address head on the makings of this neurotic mind.

Are your parents crazy? Are everyone’s parents crazy? Are mine just a bit more crazy? It made me chuckle out loud yesterday when – out at a very awkward lunch with my father at the local Indian Buffet – he described my mother as “looney toons.” While that, in fact, may be true, he isn’t exactly Mr. Sane himself. What both of my parents do not have is the ability to understand how their actions effect other people. It isn’t that they don’t care, they just don’t even stop to empathize with another person. Their lives are, individually, more important than any other thing in the world, except maybe – conservative politics, to my dad – and the holocaust, to my mom.

We walked into this nearly-empty Indian Buffet restaurant for lunch and my father, a regular frequenter of the establishment, puts on his awkward fake charm introducing me to the workers at the restaurant, making a comment about “this is my daughter, isn’t she beautiful?” and then he makes some awkward comment about the woman who owns the establishment and how beautiful she is two, he’s “surrounded by beautiful women” and for her to, jokingly, not tell her husband he said so. While that alone was not terrible, what gets to me is how unaware he is of other people and what is going on in their minds. Our waiter – a very awkward probably 18-year-old Indian male who seemed to speak little English and possibly have some sort of minor autism – was greeted with the following message by my father “this is my daughter. Ask her out, maybe you’ll have a date.” What dad? What was that?

I hoped the waiter he didn’t hear or understand what my father had just said. I briefly thought to explain why it was absolutely inappropriate to say such a thing, but saying anything of the sort would be fruitless in use anyway. I got up immediately and walked to the buffet, blushing. Despite letting everyone at the restaurant know how “beautiful” I am this didn’t stop him from later in the dining experience, when I was explaining my braces and how they work, spurting out that my teeth are yellow and I should get them whitened (as if I do not know this already or are not completely self-conscious about it.) A person who thinks about how other people feel might say the same in different words — maybe even “have you ever tried teeth whitening, I was looking into it myself” or “I heard about this teeth whitening thing but it probably costs a lot, are you going to try that for your wedding? I hear a lot of brides do.” There are just more elegant ways of telling someone such news, or not at all. But with him the comment comes out of no where in the middle of an otherwise momentary pleasant conversation. Sure – you’re spending thousands of dollars to straighten your teeth and fix your overbite, and I just told everyone here how beautiful you are – but your teeth are yellow. Nevermind that my father’s teeth are cracked and falling a part, that he has been morbidly obese in various ranges throughout my entire life, and that his own teeth are not exactly pearly white. I held my breath and changed topics.

The Game of Risk: We’d Rather Not Play at All

One thing I never quite realized about my father until this week was just how risk adverse he is. It’s not just risk aversion, which played into his career where his job was to calculate risk, he’s absolutely paranoid. For example, when I got dropped off at my friend’s bridal shower after he screamed at me for failing to have the right address (my phone internet was not working as I planned to look it up in my Facebook history and it took a few minutes or drive time to get into a better reception area) he then didn’t believe me that I had seen the restaurant a few blocks back to let me out of the car, as he was worried I might get hurt. This from a man who used to beat me with my belt and to this day if he gets the strength for it can shove my mother across the room. His definition of hurt needs some work. I convinced him to let me out and walk back a few blocks to the restaurant. He sat on the curb until he saw I got inside, as if I was 2.

My father also could have been a great physicist – for all the crazy he is a very intelligent man. I had forgotten and reminded my week by his sister that he received a full ride to MIT for undergrad, chose not to even apply to Princeton, and went to a much smaller, less prestigious school despite being able to go practically anywhere he wanted for free with his stellar academic career. He didn’t want to go so far from home or to be in a bigger school, so he went somewhere with 1000 people only. Then as a grad student he dropped out of Cornell, unable to take the pressure, it seems.

His parents are fascinating as well – a father who was both to a man from Naples who disappeared when he was less than two – and a Slovakian woman who raised him with a German stepfather in a very Catholic household. He was in the Navy and raised his kids as such. Seeing the shell of the man he once was at the hospital this week is unnerving as he’s always been full of spunk and an energy you know not to piss off. Now he can only make out a few grumbles while squeezing his fist so tight you think he’s going to rip through his hand.

My dad’s mother, on the other hand, is a Jewish woman of Hungarian and Polish decent. She, at the least, has the ability to somewhat understand how her actions effect other people. Yet her six children – my dad being the oldest of the six – all have their larger-than life personalities shaped by her parenting. She’s a strong woman in my mind, though a bit OCD, and I can see where my father gets his monotone range of panic over any unsettling situation from her. Everything that doesn’t go her way is, momentarily, the end of the world. It’s the same with my dad, though she doesn’t react in the same violent frightening way.

Mom is in Her Own Little World

Mrs. Looney Toons, my mother, is probably certifiably crazy. It’s interesting pitting the psyches of my mother and father against each other because in a lot of ways they are the same – living in their own self-entitled world. However my father – to give him some credit – has a limited grasp on reality (working to support a family of four for so many years and a wife who quickly spends a ton of money without understanding of what this does to ones savings can do such a thing to a person.)

A friend of mine recently shared some insightful wisdom on how kids don’t generally know how to do things well, they must have a model to follow. If the parents are constantly screaming at each other and being violent and then the child starts to act up and the child is punished for her behavior, well, then, the parents actually taught the child the same behavior they are punishing her for. It’s a vicious cycle. Same goes for my achilles heel – my lacking ability to clean up my room and keep my life organized. While this was the main source of my own beatings as a child, I had a mother who would simultaneously tell me to clean up my room while freaking out should I ever suggest throwing anything away. My father’s organization skills were no less troubling, his own room and desk flooded with papers and books. Yet somehow I had to understand how to keep things organized without throwing away any of the items. I guess organization comes naturally to some without the model but for me it was very difficult and to this day is a huge challenge. My mind runs on a thousand times in this paranoid loop of whether I will ever need an item before I can part with it – making cleaning take much longer than it would for the average person and causing more stress than it ever should. No wonder I avoid it.

While my father will comment about just anything about you without concern or thought for how such a statement makes you feel, my mother’s comments are much more shallow. Her primary goals are for you as a child are for you to look good in pictures and have a job that she can explain ad nauseam to anyone she encounters who she might possibly somehow know. For example, a neighbor walking down the street with her dog, obviously not intending to stop and listen to my mom’s story vomit for fifteen minutes, got caught up in this by stopping to say an unavoidable hello passing our house while we were out front. My mom – completely unable to grasp that someone may have better things to do then hear her life story du jour – starts to tell my life story, my sister’s life story, the story of what is happening to my dad’s father in the hospital. The woman, who is trying to not be rude, smiles and nods at her dog tugs at his lease and tries to move her along. It isn’t that the woman wanted to not stop and chat at all, but my mother – likely aspergian to some degree – doesn’t have it in her mind to read people’s faces and understand it’s time to stop talking.

In another example of my mother’s childish narcissism, and this is something she does often, we were at a sort of outdoor museum and in one garden area a wedding was being held. It was in public so it was her right to peer inside like many others were doing – however, while the other group remained further back from the opening between two sets of bushes she walked right up to the hole, loudly announcing that her daughter is looking for a wedding venue too. She wasn’t talking to the people inside the wedding itself, she was talking to the air, because she thinks people care. To her credit, this is how she gets into conversations with others about whatever topic she wants to be talking about at the moment – someone usually takes the bait and often it’s another Jewish woman with a similar penchant for rambling on and on and on. My mother, to her credit, has no social fear. She can walk  up to just about anyone and start talking to them on the topic of just about anything. I don’t know how she does it as the thought of such a thing makes me shrivel up and a panic attack arise, but she doesn’t have this fear at all inside of her. Maybe it’s a blessing. But it can be quite awkward and embarrassing in many situations. As my mom explained to the air and to the workers blocking the opening to the wedding that her daughter is looking for a wedding venue, her daughter, struck with the panic of embarrassment, disappeared into another exhibit.

Both of my parents are in many ways like children who are unable to be pleased. Another conversation I had yesterday with my aunt was around how I feel terrible for never buying my cousins and grandparents gifts but I have an honest neurosis around buying a gift that isn’t good enough for them. She said that’s silly, that it’s the thought that counts. I countered with the reminder that my parents would judge any gift I got them with contention, and often the gift would be not good enough for their tastes. My father would complain about it only to later make some comment boasting about his daughter got him a gift. My mother would, unless I got lucky, complain that the gift wasn’t useful or it was something she would buy anyway or she just didn’t like it. So I rarely buy people gifts. It’s not just a financial thing, it’s also this mental freak out I have every time I try to get anyone something.

What my immediate family never had was this ability to care for each other. Everyone is in their own world of self importance. We are a family of egos, my parents hyper-critical of everyone but themselves – and myself and my sister – caught up in this web of learned narcissism paired with a lack of trust in who we really are. That is why, for me, it is so remarkably refreshing to be in a relationship with a man who is the complete opposite of what I know. Where love in my family is only defined by financial support and the basics of life – “I love you therefore I feed you” – my relationship is filled with love and care. I’ve had all of this love boiling up inside of me for so long that I didn’t know where to put it or how to use it. But it really is simple. I love my guy and we can sit and cuddle and laugh and – I try my best – to care for each other no matter the other’s choices. His life is not my life and vice versa. I have no right to judge his choices as long as they do not severely effect my well being. And he doesn’t judge at all. He is there for me in my best and my worst and my worst again. That’s what actual love is. Money can get in the way but as long as you focus on yourself and the money you need to live the life you want and support your children in the way you want then it’s not an issue. Financial independence – from each other – in a relationship makes love possible. Then it can’t be about what the other person provides beyond love, care, and ongoing moral support for the chaos that is life.

#WhyIStayed – Growing Up in Domestic Violence

There wasn’t just one incident that stands out, one knock-out punch or fatal wound, but my childhood was flooded with ongoing domestic violence, and for the most part I blamed myself for all of it. Even though I’ve gone through the story a billion times in therapy, perhaps I haven’t really processed what this has done to me psychologically. The terrible anxiety, overwhelming fear of failure, being so depressed ALL. THE. TIME., being unable to accomplish tasks that should be easy because my mind is a big mush pile of terror. Yea, maybe growing up in a house of abuse has something to do with that.

Since the whole Ray Rice scandal — where he knocked his fiancee out cold in an elevator and — oops, got caught on camera — domestic violence has been a hot topic. So has the hashtag #whyistayed where women are posting on twitter why they stay in relationships where they are abused. And, yes, men are often abused as well, so let’s not forget that. Regardless, of the stories out there about domestic violence one that I read talked about a woman whose friends asked her if her husband “hit” her and she said no (but he shoved her and bit her and even broke her wrist.) Not everyone is a puncher.

I feel bad for my father. He grew up in a working class family, the oldest of six. His father had a temper and a hot fuse. Since I can remember my dad has been morbidly obese, slodging to work an hour on the train five days a week, getting home after sunset with barely any time to see his family. So when he came home and my mother stood at the door complaining about how I didn’t clean my room or I wasn’t doing my homework, he got angry, very angry. If I did something “bad” enough I’d get a quick strapping and go up to my room to cry it off and tell myself how horrible I am over and over again. Then would come the fighting. My mom would tell him that he didn’t HAVE to beat me for it. He’s get extremely angry at her for suggesting that, as she went to him to solve the problem and in his mind he solved it. Or they’d be fighting about something else. I really don’t remember a day going by when they weren’t fighting.

Most fights were benign. They’d yell for a while, her in her high-pitched voice, him low-pitched and fuming. Eventually the noise would die down and I’d fall asleep. Then there were other nights… or weekends, when there was more opportunity for an eruption… when things got uglier. At some point I’d walk downstairs to try to stop them. I remember once walking between my dad and my mom and telling him that if he wanted to hurt her he’d have to hurt me first. He usually stopped then, and acted as if nothing happened.

When the worst fights occurred I wasn’t around. Once, he shoved her so hard that her glasses broke. Actually, I recall her telling me he had done this before – on their honeymoon. He’s caused her arm to bruise numerous times. He doesn’t think he abuses her. He thinks everything is her fault. And I think it’s all my fault. Well, not so much currently, it can’t all be currently as I moved far away and don’t tell them about my problems. On the phone the other day my dad could sense sadness in my voice and he said “are you doing ok, you sound sad” to which I replied “I’m fine.” There is no point telling them the truth. Removing my drama from their lives doesn’t stop the abuse, but at least I can’t feel responsible for it.

I was afraid that one day I’d come home and I’d find my mother dead. I knew that my dad would never mean to kill her. He wouldn’t get a gun or a knife or anything and plot her death. But he’s a big guy and she’s rather small. It wouldn’t take much for him to accidentally break her neck. I tried not to think about it. But the reality was you can’t just not think about this stuff, even if you’re not thinking about it, even if you are convinced that it is all your fault.

So now that I’m this 30-year-old adult and fucking up my life by being unable to maintain a job and get stuff done, now that I’m supposed to be self sustaining and prosperous on my own with a stable, full-time role where I can use my mind to make shit happen, I just fall apart. The saddest thing of all is that the only role in my life that I’ve ever done somewhat well in was one where my boss was rather mean to me and degraded my work. But he provided the structure I needed to succeed. I felt comfortable in that environment, go figure. He knew it too. And I worked my ass off and you know what, I did a really good job because I wasn’t trying to be great, I was trying to be good enough. And I needed to know that I wasn’t good enough and what good enough was so I could strive to be it. As soon as I was in a role where my boss was a sane, nice person, I fell apart. That makes me really sad. That makes me scared about my ability to succeed in any role in the future.

I don’t want to put all of my work issues on this, but what I can say is that growing up in an abusive household really fucks with your mind and your sense of self worth. I know a lot of other kids had it a lot worse than I did — I’ve heard horror stories of much worse abuse, alcoholism, molestation, etc, and I had none of that. My family was sober and made decent money and we lived a comfortable life, with the exception of all the fighting. I just need a way to get past all of it. But the reality is my mother is still with him after all these years. He’s dying of cancer and he won’t be around much longer so she wouldn’t leave him now, but somehow he still finds it in him to call her stupid, to belittle her, to shove her on occasion, to do everything to humiliate and degrade her and treat her like a piece of shit. And I’m trying to find a way to make peace with him and all of this before it’s too late. I just want to move on so I can be a real adult. So I can have a family of my own. So I can do well in my job and not feel like I need permission to be successful and happy. I don’t know how though.

 

Is it Impostor Syndrome or Just ADHD Reality?

Another interview, another scrunching up my face in horror at something all too honest that I say as I’m asked about my experience and weaknesses. But let’s be real – if I were a hiring manager for most of these jobs I would not hire me. The few that don’t see this during the interview process – the only ones who would ever offer me an opportunity – are inexperienced in hiring or somehow unable to see the truth. It’s not just impostor syndrome, I’m just not that intelligent or reliable. Occasionally I have a brilliant idea and execute well, but most of the time I just get super anxious and waste time because I’m too scared to make decisions. Sometimes I come to work late because I’m depressed and have trouble getting out of bed. I can’t multi-task because having too many things to do at once and too many decisions to make equals one very stressed out and unproductive me. This thread really says it all.

So how am I supposed to convince anyone to hire me? I just look around at all of my peers in the business world and most of them just have their shit together. Some are really smart and able to get stuff done like superheros. Others are just able to execute really well, communicate goals and exceed them. All of this, others say, one can learn to do. Anyone can be on top of their shit. Anyone can learn process and get stuff done. Anyone can make decisions, test ideas and pick the best ones to continue with. Anyone can do this – except I can’t. I just can’t.

I don’t know where to go from here. Even starter interviews for junior-level positions somehow seem to end with “you’re not experienced enough.” That is after 10 years in the workforce. I’m not making this up. And it’s true — I have such a smattering of experiences but no one solid skillset that fits any job description. Ultimately it doesn’t matter anyway because if I did get a job I’d just end up disappointing them. I really don’t know what to do.

I am fortunate in that I have a good amount of savings to survive on for a little while, but eventually I need to get a job. Junior level roles, if I could get one, often require more of the detail-oriented work that I’m bad at due to my ADHD. But senior level roles still require the ability to be detail-oriented and set bigger picture strategy while ensuring the day-to-day gets done.

Interviewing is awful. I’m sure it’s wonderful for people like my friend who are just so good at what they do and know it. Everyone who interviews him falls in hiring love because he’s just professionally perfect, from his Ivy degree to his experience and contributions to all his companies along the way. I’m happy for him, and for my other friends who are doing well professionally, but also jealous, jealous because that will never be me. I can maybe fake it for a month or two but it won’t last.

This is why I think I really should leave business… but I’m not sure what else out there I can do. I feel like somehow I have a bit of intelligence inside my crazy distracted head but that’s worthless with all of this anxiety and inability to execute. To whom this may concern, please don’t hire me, I’m a hot mess.

 

Floating with The Fault in Our Unemployed Stars

Despite purchasing a Kindle last year for my trip to Thailand, I hadn’t gotten around to using it for much beyond travel guides until this recent period of unemployment. Between then and now I’ve downloaded a library of inconsistently-themed books on a whim, since books are much cheaper to impulse buy and excuse oneself for at the sake of becoming literate and literary.

Given I tend to shop to offset the feelings surrounding negative occurrences in my life, I downloaded a few more books at Amazon’s suggestion hoping that I’d get through all of them and be able to say I had accomplished reading more in a few weeks than I had in the last 30 years. Instead, for the most part, these books are just collecting pixel dust on virtual bookshelves.

In two weeks of unemployment I’ve forced myself through 50% of the historical fiction tale The Daughters of Mars which, in all of its historical accuracy about being an Australian army nurse in World War I, hasn’t quite aroused my speed reading chip. Another book I downloaded on a whim — The Fault in Our Stars — seemed like a wise trade in honor of the accomplishment of getting half way through the other book – a quick-read, tragic young adult novel where the main character — a 16 year old girl from Indiana — has stage IV lung cancer and spends the book living and dying simultaneously while being as normal a teenager one can be while living and dying respectively simultaneously. I figured I’d read the book before one day soon watching the movie on an airplane.

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Happiness Versus Fear of Uncertainty and the Depersonalization Effect

Taking off next to another plane this morning, I gazed out the window watching our planes part in opposite directions across a perfectly clear sky. The view was spectacular. I fly a lot, but there was something extra magical about the colors today, the light pouring over San Francisco, tinting the Golden Gate Bridge extra golden, the Pacific Ocean twinkling so bright it seemed as though despite the gain in altitude I could still reach out and touch it until our flight made its final turn to the east.

I love to wake up in the morning wrapped in the arms of my boyfriend, his gentle smile, and pull around me in a warm hug drifting in and out of consciousness. I’m very excited about moving in with him and starting our – adult – life together. As terrified as I am about the future, I finally feel ready for the next steps, whatever they may be. Living with my boyfriend, getting married, trying to have kids, maybe having one or two — being two months into 30 I definitely feel a change in my perception of the world and what I want.

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Depression, Getting Ahead, & Life in Quicksand

I feel incredibly stuck right now. Being stuck is not always a bad thing, but for a restless person like myself it’s unpleasant. I like to constantly be working towards some clear objective. But here I am, 30, theoretically successful yet not successful at all. I’ve created an illusion of success but it can easily and will likely all come crashing down at any minute.

When all my friends from back home and here even are posting pictures of their happy families and happy kids (most are on child #2) in their happy houses I sometimes think — well, at least I have a great job. At least I have a career. Except it’s all a rogue. I’m much, much more junior than my title would lead one to believe. Which causes a conundrum as I can’t get a promotion despite having worked at the same company for nearly four years — while a coworker who has worked here one, with more experience, has gotten promoted already. The coworker deserves the promotion, this isn’t about them, but it is about realistically looking at my potential career growth and I’m stuck.

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Fighting Shopping Addiction

It used to be I could avoid shopping malls and manage to refrain from overspending, but with my Internet-connected lifestyle, it’s hard to avoid constant temptation. I’ve made a commitment to only purchase items this year that support my goal to get healthy (or reward me for dropping a few dress sizes), but that doesn’t equate to frugality.

While it seems silly, I get a major rush from shopping. It started when I was young. Since there was little emotional connection in my family beyond constant fights, the one time where I felt I could bond with my mother was when we went shopping. Going to the mall was our thing. And we spent way too much money on my clothes. Spending $1000 at Nordstrom was a common occurrence. I never bought designer clothing but the amount of clothing purchase added up. If I liked a shirt in blue and it came in six other colors, my mother would convince me I needed every color. Being able to purchase all of this made me feel in control, like I was on top of the world. Continue reading

$1000 a month on a psychologist?

I’ve written before on my concerns on over-spending on healthcare, particularly mental healthcare, as my income has ranged from $50k to $100k. Even though today I make more money than I did years ago, it still seems a bit unreasonable to spend $1000 a month on a psychologist. However, that’s how much qualified mental health costs in my neck of the woods. I just spoke with a local psychologist who sounds like he may be able to help me reduce stress and be more functional, yet he costs $235 a 45 minute session. Does it make sense to spend $1000 a month on mental health therapy when my rent is only $600?

You could argue in the long run I’ll make more money if I get appropriate mental health help. I may be able to keep my job longer… be more successful in my tasks… prove to management that I’m capable of sustained success and therefore worthy of a raise… etc. But it certainly won’t help my bottom line in the short term. And wouldn’t something like yoga (even at the really expensive studios around here) or straight-up personal training be cheaper and actually make me healthier in the long run?

Perhaps I’m just resistant to allowing therapy to work because I don’t want to believe I can pay for someone to tell me how to fix something that isn’t physically broken. That said, these days I’ve been about at my wit’s end and need help. I need help enough that I’ve started to call local psychologists. Yet, then I remember that they charge $200 a session, and that means $800-$1000 a month, or $12,000 a year. Even though my take-home pay is $4200 a month after 401k and taxes, that’s still a lot. How much should I spend on mental health?