Tag Archives: bipolar

Welcome Home: Tick Tock Tick Tock

One of the things I had in mind when I lost my job was spending a chunk of time with my family — the time that I rarely have to see them. I could, I thought, apply to jobs aggressively from my parent’s house and also look for a position on the east coast at the same time. My ideal goal was to have a job with a start date during my visit so I could focus just on quality family time – I mean, the most quality family time I can have with my little circus of a family.

The older I get and the more I visit my parents, the more I realize just how my psyche is completely off kilter because of their crazy, and process it a little better. It’s not always so easy though. Yesterday I was extremely depressed and found myself alone in my childhood house with tears pouring down my cheeks unable to handle both being sick, the anxiety from job negotiations, and the passing of time.

My grandfather is ill in the hospital and all of his six children have flown out to be with him and my grandmother. It sounds like this may be it. He fell, broke his shoulder, and his condition has quickly regressed. I’m an hour away from the hospital but I can’t visit because of this stupid cold that I’ve gotten myself due to all the stress and not sleeping. I’m getting better and I’m probably not contagious but the last thing I’d want to do is visit him in the hospital and for him to come down with a cold that may or may not have been my fault, only to become ever further ill and to get the blame for it. I also don’t want to miss out on the last opportunity I have to see him. I may go visit today but I’m not sure what to do.

And while I did manage to secure job offers before coming out to visit my family I did not finalize an agreement and start date, so I’m left wrecked with this horrid anxiety that’s pushing me into a deep depression. It hasn’t helped that I’ve been stuck in bed for two days trying to kick this cold. In the back of my mind I’m also freaking out about turning 31 in two months. I feel like maybe things are partially falling into place in my life and yet they aren’t quite locked in yet. I know from the outside things look hopeful but every day is a struggle with depression. Every day I have to remind myself that I should be happy to be alive and not the other way around. I wonder often if I have bipolar and try to remember my life’s ups and downs and try to pin where I am on the spectrum now, in 2014, this year, in the grand scheme of time. For the moment that would be down, quite down.

At breakfast my father asked my mother to pass the maple syrup. My mother, who hadn’t used the maple syrup in a good fifteen minutes, took it and poured it on her pancakes as soon as he asked her to pass the syrup. He, in typical my dad fashion, got extremely annoyed at her and started to fume. Her thought process is that she’d use the syrup first and then hand it to him so he could keep it on his side of the table, as if it would be as hard as climbing Mt. Everest to ask for it back should she need more. His thought process that she was doing this just to spite him, as he asked for the syrup so she was going out of her way to be rude to him. My mother is a lot of things but malicious in intent she is not. I was worried that he was about to make a giant scene as he often does, but luckily he wasn’t in the mood. My parents are just these two big children who never learned how to think about anyone but themselves. If I take it all in from an outsider’s view it’s quite entertaining. There they are, back and forth, every day of their lives, bickering about all the things that don’t matter because they can’t take a moment to think about the other person and their well being. I walked downstairs this morning and found a giant vat of ice cream upside down on the kitchen floor. My father says he asked my mother to put it away last night. She says she didn’t hear him. So it melted and someone knocked it over onto the floor. It’s always the other’s fault.

Last time I visited my mother accidentally left the laundry room sink running when she went upstairs to do something and it overflowed. She wanted to call the company that charged her $2000 last time to dry out the carpeting but I was there so I found a company that would do it for $500. My father came home and of course was angry at her but it was what it was. A few weeks ago, apparently, she flooded the sink again. Another $500. Another frustrated and angry dad. What a farce! Those two. And that is who taught me how to be a human being. It’s amazing that I have empathy and awareness at all.

A year into remodeling the bathrooms in the house it’s still the topic du jour. They don’t seem to enjoy discussing bathroom design as every bit of the conversation turns into a fight. “Tile to the ceiling?” “No, that’s a terrible idea!” “Do it yourself then.” “You won’t like what I come up with.” And on and on and on. You’d think that my father with his terminal cancer and who knows how long left to live would be doing something other than spending all of his remaining time remodeling a house, but I guess it keeps his mind off reality. It’s something to do. It’s his money and he can do with it what he wants, he just doesn’t seem to enjoy it much at all with how much stress it causes.

As I wandered around my – parents – house yesterday, I found little that I remembered. They’ve changed so much. The trees in the backyard separating our neighbor’s yards and ours – the ones I hid under as a child when I was sad and needed to get away from things – have been cut down – leaving a huge lawn but no privacy. The kitchen has been completely redone and walls knocked down with a huge modern living room that is home to a large TV, a new bathroom, laundry room, and garage made usable for cars but filled with junk and made unusable again. The living room  has new carpeting and the wallpaper has been replaced with a hideous blue paint that clashes with the sofa and curtains that remain from my childhood. Upstairs the only thing that remains is my bedroom, which I’ve selfishly fought to keep in the same arrangement it has been since I was seven years old. I know it’s terribly immature to want to keep things the way they are, but as everything changes and I’m forced into the rest of my adulthood, I feel somehow oddly comforted by returning to sameness even if it was a place where I experienced many years of depression and solitude.

I don’t really feel like I have a home anymore — I’ve been living in apartments for a good 12 years now — and without home comes a jolting sensation of constantly being off kilter. I’ve found a home in my boyfriend who I plan to spend the rest of my life with – in his arms where I can be quiet and at peace with stillness, and in his eyes where we can have a thousand hilarious conversations without a word. But I still feel the lack of a home, still look to my childhood house – where I lived until I was 17 from the day I was born – as something that is partially mine, even though it isn’t at all. If my parents wanted to they could redo my room and make it into the adult guest room it should be, not one decorated with early 1990s wallpaper covered in remnants of adolescent collage and sticky tack.

It’s this lack of stability and just growing older which is causing my current depression. It is life. Everyone goes through it and I’m no more or less special than the next person who confronts their own aging process and watching others around them grow older and pass, places change and become unrecognizable, the safety of home diminishing as adult life teaches us we are on our own and it’s up to us to make the life we want, no one else will be able to do it for us. It’s exciting to have the freedom to make the life that I want but terrifying to accept that it’s my responsibility and to let go from the safety net. I’m old now. I mean, not old, old. But 31 is an adult. It’s the age many women have children or are about to. It’s not this murky extended adolescence, it’s straight up adulthood, complete with an aching body which can no longer deal with a red eye flight and spring into action the next day or sitting on an uncomfortable chair for hours without straining her back. It is life.

What I want now, more than anything at all, is to find peace with cutting this string to my past, to stop only finding contentment in being the center of attention, that childhood fancy which drove me to where I am today. I just want to be the type of person to give and care and love. I want a home to make my own and a family and friends and enough money where I can invite them over for dinner and cook amazing healthy meals and entertain and travel and see the world.

…I want to somehow truly make peace with my parent’s crazy, to be thankful that somehow I’m nearly 31 and both of my parents are still alive despite ration saying that one of them would have likely killed the other by now. I am the product of narcissists and so is my sister and we’re both dealing with it in our own ways, both depressed, both fighting for a chance at a good and happy life. I have gotten so far and yet so often I fall back and I look ahead at all the challenges in front of me and I gasp for air, panicked, trying to comprehend how I can handle all that is the future, never mind the present. This is my depression. This is my life. I am ready to change but I’m still trapped in this quicksand. It tugs me down into the earth and I can’t move. I know I just need to lift my damn leg up and take a step but all of the sudden I just forget how to walk. I need to relearn all over again.

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.

Continue reading Floating with The Fault in Our Unemployed Stars

On Being an Overly Sensitive Potentially Bipolar Person

At 11am, I glanced around looking for any possible way to escape – not the room – but my life. My heart was heavy with a twisted mixture of sadness and anxiety. By 3pm I had regained my composure. At 4 I felt empowered and free, like I was given a jolt of confidence in the form of a crown and I was ready to rule the world. By 6 I felt hopeless again, miserable, and unable to lift my spirits.

There is clearly something very wrong with my moods. I just often get so overwhelmed that every little thing effects me so strongly. It’s distracting and keeps me from being happy and/or productive at times, and I’d like to somehow change this about myself. But I honestly can’t. You know people say just stop being so paranoid or anxious, just stop thinking so much, just change the way you think about things and you’ll be fine. It’s not so easy. Continue reading On Being an Overly Sensitive Potentially Bipolar Person

Pretzels and Aging, and Money and Roller Coasters

If it seems like I’m posting an awfully lot lately about my fears of my adulthood simultaneously while being an adult, you’re quite astute. I am, it feels, either at a crossroads or the end of a formerly cyclical journey where I’ve gone through first-world chaos and landed back where I began.

At 17, I left home for college, not because I wanted to go to college, or knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew what I didn’t want to be. I knew I didn’t want to live in a house with parents screaming at each other night and day. But I also was well educated in the suffocation of stagnant suburban life. The long nights with crickets chirping. The circumference connecting one mall to another mall to another mall which stood for the area in which my life took place, sans occasional outings to the big city. Even New York felt small in comparison to the whole world, its looming skyscrapers twinkling into the night sky, and thousands of people dispersing from subway stations and walking every which direction, was just a speck of a world that was far from reach. Continue reading Pretzels and Aging, and Money and Roller Coasters

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 Rocky Road of Life

Why I Want to Be Rich / What Rich Means to Me

There is a growing discontent in this country about the difference in wealth between the super rich, and the rest of us. Forget semi-rich, middle class, and the poor. It’s them against the rest of us. I want to be one of them.

Unlike other personal finance bloggers that write about debt, I write about my middle class life and my dreams of wealth. It’s not like I’d buy Gucci underwear if I was a millionaire… I’d just love to have life free of financial burden. What is the dollar figure on that? $1M isn’t enough. $5M might be enough. $10M in networth would probably be the point where I would feel rich.

I’d spend some of it on myself, sure, but if I were rich…

  • I’d love to buy my friends exciting, meaningful presents. Like the time I bought my friend a dishwasher for her kitchen that she couldn’t afford.
  • To help friends out of debt, especially the ones who are in educational debt because they weren’t as fortunate as me.
  • I’d take my friends on vacation to some beautiful resort, and make memories worth more than the cost of the trip.
  • I’d donate to charities I believe in.
  • I’d start an anti-bullying organization
  • I’d invest in my art, I’d go to school for painting, I wouldn’t waste away my years in art school worried about what is going to happen after I graduate.
  • I’d have a family — maybe three kids — and I’d raise them in an upper middle class community. I wouldn’t spoil them, but they’d be able to have the same middle class luxuries that I grew up with — classes and clubs, occasional vacations, the ability to explore their passions.
  • I’d pay my parents back for my undergraduate tuition
  • I’d buy my parents a special trip to Europe that my dad could take given his poor medical condition, and difficultly walking
  • I’d buy a large vacation home where I could have my family members come yearly to see each other.
  • I’d start my own company (prob need more than $10M for that!)
  • I would probably end up giving most of it away when I die, but I’d make sure that I could give to the people who deserve it while I’m alive.

If I were rich, I wouldn’t want anyone to know. But I’d be less afraid of what the future holds. I wouldn’t ask myself whether I should have kids because of my bipolar disorder, afraid that I’d lose a job and not have enough money to keep a house or maintain a reasonable lifestyle. I’ve always dreamt of being wealthy. I feel like, in a way, I have many of the tools to get there. I clearly need to start my own company, to find the right ADD medication to help me focus, to find the right psychologist to get me out of my head for long enough to succeed.

Life is short. You can be happy on a $30k paycheck and you can be happy on a $1M paycheck. I want freedom. Financial freedom. Every year is another lottery ticket. Every year is another chance. But I’m running out of chances. Sure, I’m still young… gah, I’ll be 28 next month… it just feels like I need to find wealth before I turn 30, 31 or 32. That’s when I really have to start making a family, if I’m going to. That’s when I’ll want to be able to work part time and be in my children’s lives. That’s when I run out of this time called youth to win, and win big. If it wealth were so far out of reach, that would be one thing, but somehow I’ve managed to put myself on a path where it’s possible. There are still a lot of unknowns. Still a lot of needing to focus my mind to impress, fighting my anxiety to be known, believing in myself, letting go of guilt for privilege, and kicking some major ass.

I don’t even know this person I’ve become. Six years ago I was on the verge of suicide, applying for hundreds of thousands of jobs, unable to get even an entry level position. Then one opportunity after another made its way against the tide of possibility, and each failure opened up a new door with a brighter tunnel to walk through, and somehow I’ve gotten where I am today. Some of it I’ve faked, some of it I deserve, some of it is sheer luck. And any day I could fall. Living with bipolar (II), it feels like everyday I’m running on the edge of a cliff. It’s thrilling, it’s exhilarating the rush of defying gravity, and yet I know one of these days I will trip and fall yet again, and have to climb all the way back up. The trick is to never stop climbing, and better yet, to run fast enough that your feet barely touch the ground, to run so fast you’re practically flying and no one knows can figure out how to stop you, because the moment you look like you’re about to hurl yourself over that cliff, you’ve landed on an even bigger success, and even bigger improbability, and you just keep going.