Happy New Year: Embracing Myself as Myself


Quite randomly I ended up taking a neuropsychological screening this week. Well, it wasn’t entirely random. I was attempting to find a therapist (psychologist, psychiatrist, MFT, social worker, what have you) that accepted my insurance plan since theoretically I am supposed to be able to have $20-per-session visits for outpatient mental healthcare. Searching my insurance provider’s website however returned the names of hundreds of doctors who are no longer practicing or specialists for something that, despite being rather special myself, I’m not special enough for (i.e. serves youth or geriatric patients only.) I admit I didn’t call the entire list, but after about 20 google searches, emails and contacts I felt like giving up. Then, I found someone who responded to my email and said he was covered by my insurance (sort of) and could help.

This doctor didn’t do talk therapy. Instead, he is a neuropsychologist who does neuropsychological screenings. What on earth is that? Yesterday I found out. The screening itself is $1700. Insurance may cover that BUT they only decide after you get evaluated. Also, I believe it goes to my deductible anyway, so I’m basically paying for it out of pocket, or at least out of FSA. So much for the $20 per session mental healthcare.

Why take such an expensive test? Typically, these tests are given to children (though this one was designed for adults) and used to help in school cases. For me, I think I skipped this step somehow in school. I was tested for ADHD in 3rd or 4th grade, so perhaps they took me through a similar testing, but I don’t recall anything as intense. This test was four hours long start to finish and tested everything from my IQ to my attention abilities to delayed gratification, plus a 700-question scan tron to suss out my mood disorders and other issues. I didn’t actually know what to expect going into this, but what I wanted to get out of it – what I want to get out of it – is figuring out what is wrong with me.

I’m not being a mental hypochondriac here. Or maybe I am, but that is equally “wrong” and worth determining. I clearly have a pattern in my life – take job, freak out about job, get fired from job. All this time I thought I just wasn’t good at my jobs, but now I have a sinking suspicion that I actually have a fairly low or low-average IQ (my vocabulary test portion of the IQ test was pathetic, curious how that will score – what does fortitude mean? Oh, um,… “it’s about a fort and war and something…” hey, my mnemonic device from studying for the GREs a few years ago ALMOST worked – for the record, it means courage). I probably have some form of learning disabilities (though I’m not sure if he tested for that) which would explain a bit about how I struggled in school. I’ve always been good at creatively getting around what I couldn’t do, so maybe everyone just gave me a pass. When I failed a class, I was just being lazy. It had nothing to do with the fact that I couldn’t focus on reading for longer than a sentence, and that even if I did focus on that sentence my memory retention was quite low.

I am not sure yet what I’ll do with the information when I get it back. If I do ever want to go to grad school this can be used to help me somehow – extra time on tests (which I never used when I had it anyway since I’m so ADHD I usually finish tests early but I should take more time.) And maybe just knowing the specific areas of my mind that are having troubles will make it possible to focus on exercises and supplements which can help. Having any sort of real issues with my mind documented could be useful at work, though I don’t want to “play” that card. Based on my understanding of the test (after looking up the details once I completed it) I imagine I’ll be diagnosed as severely ADHD and highly anxious at the least. The depression piece will show up but the doctor may for now attribute that to my inability to focus and the relentless anxiety verging on paranoia (no, I don’t hear voices or see things, but I read into things way too much – I’m probably right about most of those things, but that still isn’t helpful to leading a productive life.)

As I head into my first day of work in the new year, a sweeping sensation of anxiety comes over me, and I try really hard to breathe. My best days are the ones where I very clearly lay out what I want to accomplish in the day and I somehow manage to get this done. Those days are extremely rare. The whole situation with my new boss being hired behind my back without it being hidden well at all is taking a big toll on me. I can’t claim that’s the reason for my poor performance to begin with, that only started about six months into my job and for better or worse the first candidate seemed to have decided not to take the role, so it’s taken another six months to find another suitable lead. It just hurts, probably more than it should, to see on our open calendar system that my colleagues (who have all already interviewed her multiple times) are meeting for a “final” lunch meeting, clearly to close her and bring her into the organization. It hurts more that my boss told me to my face that I would be part of the interview process when it was time to hire. And it hurts even more that my colleague who is supposed to be my peer but who my boss clearly respects a billion times more has interviewed this person two or three times, but I’m not allowed to meet her. If he is not planning on letting me go, this sets me up for a very challenging start to the relationship. And I spend too much time thinking about what she was told about me – “you can let her go in a quarter if she’s not working out” – “it’s your team, see how she does, you do what you want” – “we’re going to let her go as soon as you sign on the dotted line…”

See? This is my kind of paranoia. It’s realistic paranoia. It’s neuroticism and I’m pretty sure it’s genetic amongst all Jews to varying extents. It’s these racing thoughts that recur over and over again in my mind that may very well be true but aren’t helpful at all.  Somehow it is comforting to try to find solutions to problems I’ve rehashed time and again but in the end I always fail at coming up with much new and these thoughts just make me miserable. They remind me that it’s too late, that I’m on my way out, that no matter how amazing my work is “today” it won’t save me now. I’m really trying to readjust my mindset. The healthy way to go about this is to say “ok, so maybe I won’t be here 30 days from now, but the only thing I can do is give my all today and if that’s not enough then that’s not enough.” If I could just make that my mantra and really stick to it, I’d probably be able to do my best work. Maybe I’d even be able to save myself, if I want to, or at least stay a while longer…

The new VP seems like she could be great. It’s possible I can learn a lot from her. I want to be

excited about having a new boss who really understands the subject matter I work with on a day-to-day basis. It’s rare I have a boss who really knows this field and can teach me something. But this boss is also going to be under a lot of pressure to perform, and unless she’s the rare high-performant yet nurturing type, she’s going to look at our numbers and when we fail to perform she’s going to need a scapegoat. Quite fairly I might be the right place to put the blame, though she would never know how hard it was to beg for budget and resources as I did, or spend so much time in a very young company building a brand from near scratch. But, unfortunately, that doesn’t matter now. I think she’ll be starting either in January or Feb 1 (I am hoping for Feb 1) and then things are going to change.

I’m torn on how much to focus on job searching right now. A few things have popped up – only one offer that I turned down, everything else is earlier stage and who knows if I’ll get them. It just takes a ton of energy to look for a job and I am so limited on energy right now to begin with, a part of me wants to just channel everything I’ve got into my current role and see what happens. I just don’t want to get fired. I know where this is headed and it’s not looking good. In fact, I’m 99% sure my boss had planned for me to be out of the company six months ago when the other VP hire was almost made, and then that fell through, and my firing fell through. I’ve done some good work since then so hopefully I’ve earned my keep and redeemed myself, at least for the short term, but this is business and I’m an expensive asset. I have a few big shots to prove myself in the next 30 days, which I think I might actually be able to do, but after that it’s the new VP’s strategic direction which will inform what I do, and my less process-based style of getting things done may not jive with a more seasoned professional, especially not at my level. I’m pretty much walking dead right now. The only question is how long I’m going to be able to walk.

All of this causes great anxiety, obviously. The other anxiety-driving factor is the whole wanting to start a family and how my body is unlikely to make this easy. I’ve gotten to this point in my life when I feel like I’m saving up all this money but for what? Yes, it’s nice to be able to afford losing my job and having an apartment with a washer and drier AND a bathtub, but really – I want a family. I’m scared shitless of having kids – I certainly want to focus very carefully on not revealing too much of my anxiety around them to avoid giving them the inevitable complex themselves. I want to instill in my children a sense of humble bravery, a growth mindset, a love for exercise and eating healthy (to an extent) and NOT teach them that they are the center of the universe or extremely intelligent or talented and making a fixed mindset a thick wall in their lives. I want to be a good mother. I want to have time to actually see my children.

There are two sides of the concern here – being able to get pregnant to begin with (which will likely require me to undergo a variety of procedures and somehow refrain from stress), and then what to do after I have a child, should I be able to. It’s hard to think about the “after” when it’s not clear if the before can even happen, but if the before happens I only have nine months to figure out the next part.

I’d very much like to get pregnant in 2017. I don’t know much of anything about my career, and that scares the shit out of me, but I know I want to start a family. I’m 33 and I’m not getting any younger. If there is a chance for me to have two children starting now is the smart thing to do (besides starting 5 years ago.) How do I go about saving my job (or starting a new one) while going through the realities of trying to get pregnant with infertility issues? I know people do this all the time but that doesn’t make it easy. It’s expensive, it’s draining, it’s time consuming, and it might never work. Talk about an anxiety-creating experience!

The plan right now, which isn’t much of a plan, is to try naturally until summer. I’m 99% sure this won’t work, but I partially feel like in six months I should have some more stability in my life and if it happens naturally before I start with any treatments, all the better. I’ve ordered a slew of supplements that are supposed to increase fertility (vitex, royal jelly, maca, licorice) and am determined to take them on a daily basis. I’m trying a new diet lifestyle focused on drinking a high-protein, higher-carb shake in the morning, a minimal low-carb lunch, and a healthy dinner with a protein, and as low added sugar as possible. I’m taking a pre-natal vitamin. I’m going to start exercising soon, I just want to get my weight down a bit so it’s not painful. I’m at 174lbs now so in 3 months I should be able to get to 162 through diet alone. Then the real work begins.

If I can figure out how to force my body to ovulate without chemical intervention, that will be a miracle. It’s still worth trying. My periods have been more regular lately, which is annoying in that I have to deal with a few days of extremely painful cramps each month, but it’s really, really good in signs pointing to my body trying its darnest to work (I imagine my ovaries the little engine that could saying “I think I can I think I can.”) Maybe they can.

Being pregnant will definitely change things at work. I, of course, wouldn’t want to tell my boss until three months in, and at this point if I’m still employed in three months plus however long it takes me to get pregnant than I’m doing a good job and the pregnancy would not be “saving my job” but it would make it much harder to leave and more scary if things are still not going well, even if my boss and I are just not seeing eye-to-eye on things.

The one thing, though, that I haven’t thought much about but that is now giving me a lot of anxiety is the whole “what happens after my baby is born” bit. You know, the rest of life at least for the next 18 years. I’ve been reading a lot about baby’s first year and I see countless friends who have the luxury of working from home or not working at all due to their husband’s income, and while I think I’d probably go batshit crazy if I were home alone with a baby all day for that long, I also think I will feel incredibly guilty leaving my child after six-to-twelve weeks to go back to work. It might not be so bad if I absolutely loved my job or had the ability to socialize with the people I work with – but neither of those things are true right now. It’s not this company. It’s my career and my poor social skills. It’s any job (or is it?)

A lot of women think they will go back to work when they have kids and then they change their minds when they do. I’ve thought a lot about it and I feel like it’s so strange to have a child and then to hire someone else to take care of it full time so you can go work and make more money. My aunt is convinced children need their mothers, convincing she had after leaving her son after five weeks to return to work and putting him in daycare. She thinks his lack of independence today has to do with that, among other things. Her daughter has called her out on “not being there” as part of her post-suicide-attempt therapy. And my aunt LOVED her job, and still she regrets not staying home with her children, at least when they were young.

I grew up with a stay-at-home mother, so it’s hard to imagine anything different. My mom drove me nuts but having her around when I was very young was very soothing (as soothing as my neurotic mother can be) and at least created this sense of stability and probably cementing my mental issues via her constant need for narcissistic fuel (ok, so maybe I would have been better off in daycare.) Still, overall, it just makes me sick to think about going through so much to have a child… thousands of dollars and doctor’s visits and hoping and waiting and disappointments… just to then turn around six weeks later and leave them in daycare all day and be too tired from work to do much parenting at all.

So what do I do? Everyone I know tells me to just wait… we all know that my fertility odds are still slim (albeit not impossible) and it could take years to conceive. Why worry now? Why worry today? That is what anxiety does to a person. It takes all of one’s future concerns and makes them all compete for attention right now. This one is a pretty big deal and I don’t think I’m totally insane for wanting to figure this out prior to getting pregnant. But, today, I need to focus on writing a press release and fixing a website. Everything else is irrelevant. I imagine normal, healthy-minded people don’t spin on these things like I do. I just can’t shut my mind up.

Well, 2017, I hope you’re a good year. I think you have the makings of one. Even if that means new job and a ridiculous amount of infertility treatments and life trials, you’ll be memorable for sure. I still feel positive about this year. It’s just a year like any other. But 2016 does feel like the end of an era in my life, and 2017 is the dawn of something entirely new.






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