Tag Archives: mental health

Adulting Hardcore is Challenging for this ADHD Adult

I’m TRYING to get my life together before I am paying someone to help me wipe my butt because I can no longer do it myself. I have no idea how to manage everything required of being an adult while also saving for (early) retirement while also trying to enjoy life. I get little glimmers of joy out of seeing my kids smile or learn something new every now and again, but for the most part I just feel like I’m stuck in this never-ending horror story at worst or a very bad book that’s too long with no actual plot line or conclusion at best.

What I want… is to feel like I can afford a fairly basic life (which I guess is a fairly fancy life–but to afford taking care of a house and a family and still have money left over to save) while I also am not locked into a career that has me on the verge of a mental breakdown pretty much every second of the day (though that may be the case in any career.)

I’ve put together a new family budget that’s still on the lower-end of what I’d like to be able to spend, and it’s not pretty. I’m tracking it in YNAB to try to actually start budgeting vs just hoping that I get my bonus and stock to pay my bills and save adequately. I feel sad that there seems to be no “winning” this game–the best I can do is try really hard to maintain a job that pays better than I expect to be paid for the next 30 years. Once the house is paid off then… I guess, at 67, we’ll be in better shape?

But as I see many get sick or pass away in their late 60s, I feel sick thinking of trying to make it until then to enjoy life. Even if I live to 100, this doesn’t mean my loved ones will. I keep thinking about how men die younger… how my husband turns 40 next year… (I’m not far behind)… how maybe he has 25 years left to live. I mean, my dad died at 67. It’s difficult to process how short life really is. These are the good years. As long as everyone in our family remains healthy. My kids are young, we’re in our prime, I guess — but it doesn’t feel good at all. It feels terrifying. It feels like I’m watching life slip away and the best I can do is try to plan for what job I’ll get next after whatever one I’m in currently falls apart.

This budget seems impossible, both in that it requires way too much spending AND does not really allow me to spend what I want to spend. Boo hoo, I know, I’m a spoiled brat. But I want to be able to take family photos and go on vacation and dine out and send my kids to summer camp. All “wants” for sure, but why does the next person deserve these things more (or less) than I do? Yea, maybe I should have married someone who cared about earning more income, but given that he doesn’t care he’s actually earning a lot and still able to take care of our kids part time. But I don’t see him earning more… ever… which means I’m just – stuck. And I think the weight of that has really hit me lately. That I have 30 years left of working and that’s a short time and a long time. 30 years of life is short and will go by fast, especially if all the living I’m doing is on exhausted weekends. I really want a job that is fulfilling–one where I don’t dread waking up every day. But can I get a job that is fulfilling and also pay the bills? In a HCOL area? I really feel pessimistic about this. I also feel like I have to make a change soon. I can’t keep doing this.

The budget: $15k

  • Home: $9000 (mortgage, taxes, insurance, renovation/maintenance)
  • Health & Insurance (Life/Disability): $1200 (*health insurance through work not included)
  • Car: $800 (*includes saving for a new car every 10 years)
  • Food: $1500
  • Life: $2500 (kids activities/preschool – with only one kid in preschool at a time, shopping, travel, tech, gifts, etc)

$180,000 / year of spending

Saving Goals $11.6k

  • 401k/Roth – $8.5k
  • 529 – $1k
  • ESPP – $2.1k

$139.2k / year of saving (57.5k pre tax)

Total:

  • $261.7k post tax
  • $57.5k pre tax

Income needed – $493.5k

That makes sense… in that, as I’ve always said, in order to live a middle class lifestyle (this doesn’t include what I’d consider upper middle class lifestyle such as home cleaner, personal trainer, a larger shopping budget, etc) you need a $500k income here. Granted, this is a high savings rate, so if we were to cut back not the savings we could splurge a bit more… but the reason I’m focused on saving so much is that most years we probably won’t be able to! Right now any high earning year must be a high savings year too.

The reality is that we’re not going to be a $500k a year income family. My husband, if he keeps his job, is going to contribute $100k to that. I cannot see how I can find a job that pays $400k a year. It seems much more realistic to imagine both of us earning $250k, give or take, than for me to have a job that actually pays $400k every year for the next 30 years.

My reality is in my current career path I can likely earn $150k with bonus in some sort of stable way. Sure, this year I’m on track to make $750k+, if I keep my job, but that’s just because my stock grant is worth a lot. I’ll never earn that again. I have to live and plan based on an $150k income. So $250k total. I tried to put together a plan based on $250k income and I run out of places to cut.

$250k income… should spend ~ $12.5k / month

The budget: $12.5k

  • Home: $8000 (mortgage, taxes, insurance, minimum fixes)
  • Health & Insurance (Life/Disability): $1200 (*health insurance through work not included)
  • Car: $500 (*we buy cheapest cars possible)
  • Food: $1000 (not really realistic but some people do it)
  • Life: $1500 (all spending goes to kids activities, no travel, no shopping or hair cuts or anything)
  • $1.5k/mo left for saving — plus anything else pre-tax, so maybe max 2 401k and that’s it

Doable? I guess so. But again that’s assuming my husband keeps his $100k/yr job AND I manage to maintain $150k a year employment for the next 30 years. Maybe in 20 years $150k won’t seem like a large salary due to inflation, but then all of our costs — except mortgage — will have increased as well.

I just don’t know how to do it. And we’re “high earners.”

I’m trying to get us closer to that $12.5k budget now, which allows us to save more in our higher earning year and maybe will free us up for more flexibility later. But when is later?

I want to change careers entirely. I have some ideas. I’m scared to start over. I feel like I won’t be able to compete with 20-somethings. I have these ideas but then I’ve been on maternity leave for 2 months now and I haven’t taken a class or anything, which I could have done. My mind is scrambled eggs at the moment. But I don’t have the drive or focus or something to work for anything. Which is my problem. I admit it. Am I lazy? Perhaps. But also something is wrong with my mind. I can’t focus. It’s the bad anxiety. The ADHD. The ruminating on everything I say and do that’s so wrong. I feel lonely alone and anxious with others. I don’t know. It’s all too much.

My dream is to be able to live a life that doesn’t feel like I HAVE to make so much money to do the things I want to do. But I don’t even know what I want to do anymore. I don’t really need more “things.” I’d like to buy some new photography equipment and that’s expensive. I’d like to travel when travel is possible again, and pay for experiences with a family of four plus probably pay for my in-laws to come so that adds up really fast. I always think what is it that I’d ever want to buy and then my spending just adds up. And the I freeze, like I can’t even enjoy what I spend on because I feel guilty for spending anything. I should just be saving.

But at 38, I don’t even own a kitchen table. I melted my cheap-o food processor years ago (oops I left it on the oven that was on somehow) — and I need a new one. We don’t have matching sheets or much for furniture. We don’t have kitchen dishes (we’re still using my remaining target single plates I got when I graduated college.) We need a new garage door and should get a water filter for the kitchen sink. None of my clothes fit… because I just gave birth to a baby… which doesn’t  matter now but when I have to reenter the world shouldn’t I buy some new things so I feel acceptable? Clothes seem like such a waste though. I hate buying cheap stuff but then I hate buying expensive stuff. So why buy anything? My car has a lot of dings on it. And I need new brakes. That’s a safety issue. So it should be a priority. But I just spent a ton on a checkup. We should get a van anyway. Should I sell the car for parts? Should I get a van? I like the idea of getting a new electric mini van but I wish my husband would take on some more clients to help pay for it. He wants the fanciest model with the leather seats and while I’d like that too maybe we should buy something a little cheaper?

My biggest challenge is not really understanding what we can afford. Because I don’t know what I’ll earn in the future. I’m so fortunate to be earning a lot right now, but I’ve already been demoted in title and I can’t maintain this income at my current company. So I need to find a new job to just maintain. And I’m so tired of jumping from job to job and never feeling like it’s right. Never knowing what the hell I’m doing. Always feeling like I’m on the verge of getting fired.

So it’s safer to cut our spending down. $11.5k a month plus anything on top of that saved would be really good. The more we can save, the more cushion we have for the future. And $11.5k should be a comfortable monthly budget. But… after $8k on the house, that leaves us with $3.5k for everything else. I don’t know how to get everything in that. It seems like I should be able to but then things just add up. It’s a fun challenge, sort of, but I’m not any good at it.

A Job Without a Title

When I was demoted/layered/whatever-you-want-to-call-it a few months ago, I was told I’m being moved to a new role, reporting to a new person, and didn’t have a say in the matter. As I was about to head into my maternity leave and was gracious to survive last year’s PIP by the skin of my teeth, and some information I knew via the grapevine via my colleague having already replaced me in that position, I knew it wasn’t worth fighting it. My choices were to agree to the change and do my best in the new role or to move on. With my stock package it makes no sense to move on, at least not now, but I’m still struggling with how it was handled and feeling like I failed myself yet again despite having done some really good work last year.

Of all the flubs in my demotion, I’d say the one that hurts the most is not actually having a new title. I was pitched the new role in a way that surely was HR- and legal-approved in advance of my leave (it’s not a demotion, it’s moving you into something that you can excel at!) I was clearly removed from direct contact with my then boss as much as possible–she seems to appreciate my work at a distance and prefer to not have to meet with me on the regular. My new position was not fleshed out. That too was pitched as my having the opportunity to build something from the ground up. However, my plans were ignored, my budget and project proposal not seriously considered, and any ideas I had brushed to the sidelines. It’s clear this role is not a priority and seems to be created for the illusion of not demoting me one month before my leave. Which, given the amount on the table I have to earn this year due to stock appreciation, I should be beyond grateful for. It just hurts. It hurts because I don’t even know what title to put under my name. I don’t even know if I’m still at the same respective level…

My boss initially wanted to have my annual performance review early, before I went out on leave. Then it got pushed a bit. Then I went out on leave earlier than planned, but I didn’t hide the fact that this might happen. So as it stands, I’ll know in a month, via my paycheck, if I managed to get a bonus last year. I should also know if I received any sort of stock refresh once that hits my account. I’m not expecting it, though. And that’s fine. I know they’re throwing the stars and the moon at my colleague who now has my former role. He is smart and hits deadlines so why not? Last year I eeked by with a standard cost of living raise (~1.5%) which was, of course, better than nothing, but also a clear reminder of how the company views me and the value I bring to it. I’m not sure if anyone who keeps their job at the annual performance review gets 0%, so I’m assuming the 1.5% is for the lowest performers in the company who aren’t asked to leave. That’s incredibly motivating.

I know it’s not just me. It is just me in that I fucked up majorly a few times last year in ways that could have been avoided. I know that the way things run is a bit all over the place, and to survive you have to just make sense of it all and have a ridiculous amount of confidence to make it seem like you know what’s going on so everyone else believes that you do. I just want to do good work, and that requires time to get the appropriate information. People to collaborate with. Perhaps a boss who cares about any of my work other than is it done on time and did anyone complain that I’m running late. While deadlines matter, a lot, some context for any delays might help. Or some support to brainstorm and come up with answers vs leaving me on my own and saying because I couldn’t handle it on my own I clearly don’t have leadership potential. Maybe she’s right. Maybe I don’t even care anymore about “leadership potential,” but I do care about career path so far as being able to pay my mortgage and not going a thousand steps backwards in terms of reasonable salary expectations over the coming years. As I approach 40, it’s clear that there are two directions to go here–up, or flatline.  I guess it’s the mom track. Or the ADHD track. Or the you-don’t-belong-here-but-you-occasionally-do-good-work-so-we’ll-keep-you-on-the-sidelines track and get rid of you when we don’t need you anymore. You’re easy to cut.

Apparently leadership requires a hyper focus on doing the things that have the greatest visibility and ignoring all of the problems that need solving. I tend to get fixated on fixing vs on making myself look good. That alone is a problem. So why am I not fixing that one?

I know this year is just a year and I’ll do whatever it takes to make it through. I’m so fortunate to be in a position where, as long as I don’t totally fuck things up (or get caught up in a massive layoff) I should be able to survive from now until Jan 1. But then what? My new role has no legs. It’s not like I’m going to stay at this company for 5 years in this new position and be successful. I’ll always be at the bottom of the pile when it comes to requesting budget and getting support of ideas. Even my boss isn’t sure what to do to support me as he also can’t get budget buy in for my projects that he thinks are important. Funny that when I joined the company 3 years ago I was in the weekly departmental leadership meetings. How far I’ve fallen.

It is just scary because I still don’t know what my career is. I have some idea of what I want it to be, but no idea how to get there. And I’m old now. Like, not old, old. But old enough that changing careers at this point is hard. Hard when you’re a mom of 2 young kids and want another and realize your career is 30 years more, max, and that’s maybe 6-10 different jobs, or less, until you’re retired, if you retire at typical retirement age. Those years will speed by in a blur. That’s life. You want to do something meaningful. There’s so little time left. But you have to pay your mortgage. And you’re not actually good at anything. Except writing incredibly long blog posts about how you’re not good at anything except writing incredibly long blog posts.

So, I’ve got this year to survive. And survive it, I will. Knock on wood. But then what the fuck do I do?

 

 

Finding Confidence and Value

There are some things I think I’m pretty good at. Work wise. The issue is, I’m not consistent. I’m not able to put the final polish on anything. I’m a starter. A connector. I can understand complex ideas and opinions and simplify them so they make sense, whether that be streamlining messaging or a complex process. I see the big picture and follow all the pipes through their knots and see where we can move the fewest pieces to fix what’s broken. I enjoy solving problems like this. Building systems.

I do not enjoy executing on said systems or taking projects across the finish line. I get things going. I step in and see what can be optimized. Lack of logic, failure to appreciate efficiencies, and the worst–internal politics and recognition for perception over performance–are what gut me the most. Reward for following broken processes vs a culture hungry to always do better. To solve real problems versus do what it takes to look like you’ve got things in order. Fixing the foundation instead of swimming in quicksand and dragging everyone in with you.

It really hurts that I was not put on the new leadership team in my group. I’m not surprised. I sometimes talk even more than I think. But I’m not valued for what I do best. I’ve been demoted to a role where I primarily am a project manager, which is just about my weakest skill. I’m trying to see this as a positive — a year of getting better where I can really use time to improve. It’s ok. I like being able to focus on this and figure out how to be a better communicator and get super organized with project plans and such. It’s painful for me, but necessary to learn how to do this better.

I try not to think about how I’m not in the leadership group that is clearly focused on strategy and direction. I’ve gone from trusted advisor to my group’s VP to someone she would rather never talk to. Yes, it’s that bad. No, I’m not imagining things. I don’t think she hates me, per se, but she doesn’t see me as supporting her own goals right now outside of maybe a few projects I’ve put out that have gotten enough recognition for the team. But does she value my ideas and strategic vision for anything? Clearly not.

In exploring some ideas this morning, I thought for a moment if there might be anyway I could regain her trust and move back up the ladder. But… it’s impossible. The only way to move up in this organization would be to leave my department entirely. I’m stuck. I can do amazing work the whole next year and it will get me nowhere (though worth doing to keep my stock at the moment and focus on this project management and communication skillset I so desperately need to improve on.) But it hurts. It’s not like we’re a giant team and only a few people are in this leadership group. It’s pretty clear I’m not in it when I should be in it, if I hadn’t screwed up so badly. If I hadn’t gotten myself into a situation where my boss probably has had multiple meetings with HR on the best and safest timing to fire me.

Sigh.

I’m trying to just focus on reminding myself that I am good at some things. I think this is just the wrong job for me, and probably the wrong department. I have no idea how to chang ecareers right now but in a year… if somehow miraculously we can get close to the 3M networth mark, well, then maybe I can really explore this. Go back to school. Try something new. Take a risk. Take some time. Stop feeling like the scapegoat of my organization which just makes me perform worse.

Since I can’t compete with the polished professionals who thrive in corporate culture and manage to put off the impression they never make mistakes (and get really mad at you when you do), I need to find a career and environment that encourages people to collaborate and fail forward and be themselves. That isn’t here. I know that will never be here.  I thought, for a while, my unique viewpoint was valued. I felt happiest when my boss asked me to review something she was working on and provide input. Then that stopped. I’ve been banned. Blacklisted. Relegated to the bottom of a very short totem pole that is top heavy. And I’m trying to avoid jealously because it’s useless and really I know I did this to myself. If only I hit deadlines this year… even if my work wasn’t as good… I’d probably still be clinging on to my previous role vs, well, whatever this is. This limbo of title-less existence. Being forgotten and either purposefully forced out or given the “we hope you leave” treatment so eventually I do. Well, I’m sad about it. It is what it is. But either I am good at what I do and I’m undervalued or I suck at what I do and I desperately need to find something else TO do as I’ve got 30 some-odd years left of work to go and while this is definitely work it sure isn’t working.

Am I Really That Bad at my Job?

It has been easier in my past incarnations to accept failure and move on after a few tears were shed. This time is different. It’s personal. It’s being reassigned not because of the quality of the work (well, I’ve heard only positive feedback on the quality), but because of who I am. While I get it, that hurts a lot more than being told my work was not up to par. When I see a friend/colleague who is smart and confident and well spoken be placed in my former role, I feel no bitterness towards him, only sadness in my lack of ability to perform as expected. I don’t blame anyone but myself, and yet the gash of the moment bleeds deep.

There is nothing worse after being transferred from your role than being told the work you delivered is of good quality. Any compliments from this point on feel like paper cuts along the way as you smile and wave like a beauty queen on a parade float on the way to your next position that has been defined loosely as a transfer, not a demotion. But it’s a demotion nonetheless. It may not have a pay cut now, but what’s cut is the potential for any future growth. It is the company telling you they aren’t in the mood to fire a pregnant woman or a new mom, so they’ll let me work that out for myself. Work myself out. Out of the company.

I realize I’m a difficult employee in some senses. But I’m also incredibly loyal and care deeply about my work. It’s not perfect. I make mistakes. A former colleague of mine reminds me time and again that everyone makes mistakes. People miss deadlines all the time, even people who hold me up to a certain standard. It’s just that once people view you in a certain way, it is near impossible to change their minds. I blame myself for that too—but I never have the energy to play the game of perception. I just want to collaborate and do good work that moves the needle.

The transfer has been handled with what can only be described as disrespect (or ambivalence) to me, but I am trying to not take it personally. If only there was clear communication, or perhaps sharing my new title with me and the plans to move my colleague into my former role before sending out a mass email to the company about the transition and failing to mention the replacement situation, only allowing that to happen organically as suddenly he is empowered to run what I was running days ago. Surely the powers that be see me as highly disposable, at least in not caring if I leave on my own, and also knowing that my compensation (for the next year anyway) is high enough that I would never walk by choice. They know I have to (and will) give my all no matter where they put me.

My boss positioned the transfer as using my skills in the right role, vs keeping me in one that would never be a fit. Yet in my first meeting for my new role she nearly fired me over how poorly I ran the awkward 30 minutes. I clearly embarrass her, and she doesn’t want me on her team, but she is putting up with me either due to HR saying to hold off until I’m no longer a protected class employee or because every now and again I do really good work that makes up for being such a klutz of a human being. Or both. Who knows.

This is not to say my gratitude is lacking. I realize in the middle of a global pandemic I am lucky to have a job at all, not to mention one that, due to stock growth, has an earnings potential in the next year I would have laughed about just 4 years ago as a total annual income I could ever make, even years from now at the tail end of a long career. So I know I need to bite my tongue and grin and bear it. I’m not fired, like another friend and colleague who was let go last year and had since gone on to an even better role. I managed to survive the last dark winter, and made it through the first months of the pandemic and WFH with newfound energy to prove everyone wrong. And the everything came crumbling down. Anxiety. Pregnancy insomnia. The state of the world. From failure to top performer and back all in the span of a few months.

I’m trying not to dwell on it. Clearly it leaves a dull ache even when I put it all to the back of my mind. But I’m trying to figure out how to pick up and move on. I know where I lack in polish I can sometimes make up for in my good attitude. If I focus on being thankful and do not complain or discuss how hurt I am (that I still do not have an official new title, for example, or clarity in what success means in my new role which makes the whole thing seem like a setup to fail) and just smile and talk as little as possible and try my best to do the work, then maybe I can survive. At this point, it’s the most I can hope for. Not long-term survival, but 18 months. It’s completely feasible, even with a tattered ego and watching my colleague step in with the confidence and swagger and intellect I’ll never have to thrive.

As I watch him step in to the position, I also question how I’ll ever be able to convince anyone, anywhere, that I am able to lead like that. I know folks on here have reminded me leadership isn’t everything—but I’m not talking people management, more senior IC where people actually trust you and look to you as an expert in the organization. I don’t know if I’m cut out for that role either. I think my ideas are generally good. But I don’t know how to gain buy in until the end product. Then, suddenly, people see the vision and are saying that the work itself is good. I am personally never satisfied with it, but I’ve learned to accept done is better than perfect (as long as there are no blatant errors.)

The challenge for me is getting everyone to buy in along the way. I’ve found, instead, I have two options: 1. Let everyone else tell me what to do and execute on other’s vision to the best of my abilities or 2. follow my intuition and do what I know will lead to the best result in the end. I find 1 impossible as I am incapable of doing much of anything when executing someone else’s vision—esp when there are 6 different someone else’s who all want something different that I fundamentally disagree with. 2 is always why I have a job in the first place. People remember my output and not how I got there. But then as soon as they do remember they label me as difficult to work with and put me on the path to nowhere and likely pray nightly that I’ll leave on my own volition, sooner than later.

Is it possible to find a stable job where I can be my best self and not feel like a babbling teenager every time I set foot into a meeting? Is it possible to position myself as person to be respected instead of someone who is there to take notes and churn out robotic work just to check the box and get it done? If I can survive the next 18 months, knock on wood, I’ll be 38 when I go into my next job. That’s my “40 year old” job, likely. At 40 people are either moving up in their career or falling backwards. As a mother with young kids, it’s pretty common to slip at this point in terms of growth and long-term earnings potential. Maybe if I lived a life that didn’t include a 7k mortgage, 2 kids, a goal for one more, and a husband who works part time, I might throw in the towel at this point and say I accept defeat and will take what anyone is willing to pay me. But I can’t do that. There is a certain amount I need to make to pay the bills and a target amount I need to make so we can live the fairly modest but good life I want us to live. I am alone in this and alone I have to figure it out.

I don’t even have a clear vision for who I want to be—this work persona I need to invent—in order to succeed anywhere. Certainly, I want to be seen as someone dependable and reliable. But beyond that I want to figure out how to have swagger. It seems now whenever I voice an opinion it comes across as nails on a chalkboard to anyone listening. Yet others just state opinions as fact and no one notices. It’s that raw confidence that I find is impossible to embody. It is something I need to figure out in the haze of new motherhood next year, preparing for whatever it is that’s next, and doing whatever it takes to prove I’m worth saving until it makes sense to step into my new work psyche make that leap elsewhere.

When You Do Good Work But It Doesn’t Matter.

I struggled through a new process at work that was ill-defined and required leadership where I did not serve the role as leader effectively for a number of reasons. In the past–less than two months–I went (briefly) from a top performer to bottom of the pack. This time, I really tried. But I didn’t get everyone to move fast enough. I didn’t get myself to move fast enough. I committed to dates that in hindsight were unrealistic, but I also didn’t know enough about what I was doing to fully scope the project and understand WHAT I was committing to, which was the biggest problem.

In the end, I lost my leadership role and was transferred to another position. Which is fine in that I don’t know if I would do THAT much better should I be offered another chance. I don’t think I’m creative enough for the position, or able to produce the best work required by the position. The guy who is taking over (who happens to be my friend) is way more confident, has a clear vision, and is a leader. He’ll do well. He believes in himself and his ideas. I wish I believed in myself but it’s hard when I don’t know what I’m doing.

I’m a bit sad this week because the project was actually launched on time, despite my initial delays that led to me losing my role. There is a lot more to it, but basically my failure to force everything through a new process and timing that I agreed to led to my hitting a wall. In fact, had I not been pregnant, I think I may have lost my job a few weeks ago. I’m not sure. In any case, I am conflicted because I’m proud of the work that I was able to put out and feel like I collaborated fairly effectively with the team, and yet in the end it doesn’t matter because I messed up when it came to certain delivery dates that really had no meaning outside of my setting them.

Talk about self sabotage.

It didn’t help that a project manager came in and threw me under the bus multiple times. That was not a good situation. Again, I take the blame for the dates pushing. She had convinced me that moving the dates for delivery of this one part of the project out a few weeks wouldn’t hurt, and that it was better to be realistic in whatever date I set if I was changing the delivery date. I had a planned vacation in there as well, so the date that was reset to seemed quite far out. I knew it wouldn’t impact the semi-planned launch date (I couldn’t get everyone to agree to a launch date or what launch meant to begin with, which was part of the problem) so against my better judgement (of which I have little) I agreed to the delayed delivery date. I knew this date still gave the team plenty of time to hit the semi-agreed on launch date by end of month for all of the other work that needed to be done once I delivered my part of the project.

Oh, it also happened that the week I was on vacation there was a meeting where my boss joined and the project manager said I decided to move the dates and acted like this was not her idea and she didn’t know why I decided to move the dates or why I was delivering the project so late.

Well, all of this set off a ripple effect of shit sandwich. Everything was hooked up in our project management system so suddenly dates for all the next steps tied to a launch date we never committed to moved out, and everyone freaked out. My boss was unhappy to say the least. I tried to explain that this shift wouldn’t actually move the project launch timeline we committed to (by end of month.) But that didn’t matter. I missed a deadline, which has been an issue of mine that I had to not do again this year, and so, I’m out. Kaput. Well, transferred.

The new role is fine. It’s an opportunity to focus on one area and build processes there and if I can just get shit done on time (and really pad everything even if I get pushback up front on how long the timeline looks) then maybe I can survive the next year and become a better project manager and people will trust me again.

I just wish I was judged for the quality of work and how it will help the business in addition to any pushed deadlines. I should have just said hell with quality and minimized scope. That’s what a true leader would have done. Or any person in their right mind who doesn’t want to lose their job. But I saw the opportunity to do good work and I didn’t want to skimp on anything. This took time and reviews and feedback from a lot of people. I don’t actually love the end result (it’s not even my vision, I took everyone else’s ideas and executed on them generally) but I think it’s solid. I think it will be good for the business. I think it deserves some kind of “not getting fired” recognition for being pretty ok.

What I’m most sad about is I get it now. I could take what I’ve learned and do it so much better next time. But I’ll never have the chance. Not here, anyway. Maybe that’s ok. I can take what I’ve learned and one day apply it elsewhere, even if the processes and people will be different.

On top of this project, I’ve spent the last year building a foundation for a lot of the general processes in my respective area. I’ve done a lot of work that my boss unfortunately doesn’t care about (which is dumb on my part) but I still know it will help the business and maybe, eventually, one day, someone will notice. Or not. But I feel good about that too.

In short, I’ve learned a lot this year and I think I’ve done pretty good work. That is meaningless because I missed deadlines that set and also suck at communication, apparently. Some parts of the communication were easier due to everyone WFH and others were harder. A few slack and email conversations were incorrectly interpreted. There were a lot of cooks in the kitchen and I was just trying to make dinner on time for our guests, but the cooks were all mad at me for delaying parts of the process. Dinner was served on time.

So I’m just frustrated at this point. And unsure if I’d be happier had I met deadlines and kept my role going forward. It would still have been hard, and I still would have struggled to drive alignment and get everyone moving in the same direction. I am sad because my friend (who is very good at his job) was given the role–not because he was given the role–but because of why. Because of all the things he is that I’m not. I’m not jealous or angry or resentful. Just sad. I process things too slowly. I don’t use big words or sound smart and confident when I talk. I don’t have that gusto that is needed where everyone just trusts you and your vision. Nor do I have it in me to put out work that I’m not proud of just to hit deadlines, which seems to be a key skill in leadership. To me, everything needs to make sense. If we’re doing something, we’re doing something that isn’t just to check the box and move on to the next thing. I actually want to put out work that adds value.

I just need to do that faster.

And it’s too late. I have a few weeks left at this point before maternity leave, and I’m already transitioning to my new role. When I come back, I’ll have to build processes from the ground up again. I enjoy doing that, but it puts me at risk for the same issues in a way–because I’m learning how long each part of the process takes and trying to sort that out with a whole other batch of cooks that are slightly different but equally opinionated. I don’t feel good about that. I want to be able to take what I’ve done and learn from it and do better next time, versus start over.

But it doesn’t matter. I don’t get that choice. And to be fair, my boss has given me a lot of runway through the last years, through my mental health issues, through having a baby, through getting a performance plan and then six months later being recognized as a top performer (not by my boss, but still) and then another two months later of letting everything get to me, falling apart, and giving me the opportunity to move to a new role that has less visibility, so I don’t make her look bad. I get it. I’m not upset at that.

I’m sad because I wonder had I just hit those dates, would I still have this job? I know there were other issues with communication and such. I felt like maybe the work I was producing wasn’t good for a while. The more exciting parts of the project requiring more work from others were cut due to reprioritization. I stepped in and filled in the holes versus just accepting that we were cutting a crucial part of the project.

What my colleagues get that I clearly don’t is that you just have to protect yourself. It’s all a game at the end of the day. Good work matters, but we’re already doing good work–that’s why we were hired. What matters is that everyone else sees you as someone they can rely on to deliver. I get that. I don’t know how to do that and also stick to my principles of always delivering high-quality and meaningful work.

In the end, the project was delivered on time, and I’m on-time being delivered to a new position.

I did not get a formal demotion or reduction in pay (likely because of the whole being pregnant thing.) I have no idea what my new title is because things are always so disorganized that no one has brought this up yet. No one has actually even informed me that my coworker is taking over for my role officially. It seems either they are too busy to do this or they are purposefully waiting until I’m on maternity leave to make the transition. However, it’s a whole bunch of awkward given that people keep asking me who will be doing my role and I have to answer them I don’t know. They seemed to want to set this whole thing up to make it look like it was my choice to move into this new role, but they really aren’t giving me a lot to work with to support that story. Meanwhile, if coworker friend takes my title, wtf is my title?

And should I even care? I don’t know what I should care about. My ego is trampled on yet at the end of the day, I still have my paycheck. I am so grateful for that. If I can step back and just look at this whole situation from a purely financial perspective, I’m over-the-moon fortunate, especially given the current state of the world. While there is no guarantee I will still have a job at this time next year, it seems odds are increasingly in my favor. So I should just shut up, stop complaining, and focus on doing a good job in my new role. There is absolutely no reason I cannot, in approximately 18 months, look for a position similar to my original role at another company and try this again, if it makes sense to try this again. I’m not sure yet if that’s what I want to do–but with the experience I do have I can actually go in and make a good first impression versus scrambling to figure out what I’m doing.

I think that will be a good thing.

I am Unwell and I am Scared

I am going to be 37. I have an, on paper, great job where I’m earning a lot of money on my base plus bonus and stock. I just bought a house. And I’m a complete and utter disaster. I’m scared. I’m really fucking scared.

I’m scared because I’m not actually good at my job. Things were briefly going well, but again I’ve been reminded how not good at my job I am. I have improved, but not to the point where I actually have any idea what I’m doing or can be consistent in my work. I don’t think I’ll get fired before I have a kid unless I totally mess up–but I have 30 years of a giant mortgage weighing on me now. I have 1 and soon to be 2 kids. I am the breadwinner. I have to make this work.

My mother is spending down her assets too fast. She refuses to change her spending behavior. I am trying to help her. I don’t know if I’m helping. I found her a fee only CFP who is advising 60/40 split but even that won’t get her to hit her goals. Her “friend” is going hard at her saying she should get an annuity. She already has a sizable pension from my dad and a decent amount of social security. She needs to sell the family home–yesterday–and I can’t bring myself to push her to do that immediately. I was going to go back for a while this summer to help move things out, to say my goodbyes, but then COVID happened. — Even if I tell her she has to sell now, she won’t anyway. She wants to go back and spend too much time going through the hoarder house and moving things into a storage unit in a state she will probably never visit. I can’t emotionally handle advising on any of this. I just look at the analysis and see how she is going to run out of money if she lives as long as I hope she does. But she’s not exactly the healthiest person on earth. Should we be modeling to 85 instead of 100? Does she only have 20 years left, or less?

I can’t get fired from my job. I’m trying to catch up. Trying to dig myself out of the mess I’ve fallen into again. Too many people at work dislike me and throw me under the bus. It’s because I care too much, though. I’m not actually in it for myself or anything. I’m not chasing a promotion. I just want to do good work. And I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m at too high of a level to get any help. My boss liked me for a bit this year because I stopped asking for help and I pretended everything was ok. But then that all fell hard on my head like a pile of bricks. Why did I miss deadlines again? Oh, because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Still. Please don’t fire me. Please give me another chance. I’ll figure it out. I’ll make it work.

Some things are going well, but that’s all negated by everything that isn’t. This house purchase is exciting and feels good like I finally have made something meaningful of my life but it also feels like I just shackled myself and I’m not going to survive the next 30 years. I really don’t think I can do it. I am trying to take it one day at a time. Because maybe I can keep making enough income to pay a $5k or $7k mortgage. I have to. I don’t have a choice. I mean, I have some savings that I can use for a while if I can’t hold a job. But the longer I don’t hold a job, the harder it will be to get a job that pays enough to pay the mortgage. So I have to keep this job, and eventually get another job, and so on, until I’m 66, and have the mortgage paid off.

I don’t want to complain about any of this. Because I’m so fortunate to be where I am and to have this job and to have stock to sell off and I’ll probably be fine because somehow it all works out in the end. But I’ve also kept my living expenses so low and that’s granted me some breathing room even when things start looking really bad. Now I don’t have that breathing room. Not now, and not in the next 30 years. 30 years is a long time. I mean, I’m 36, so it’s not like, my whole life… but 30 years ago I was 6. So.

I wish I could talk to my husband about this stuff, but I can’t because he will just get frustrated with me and upset that I’m being so fickle again. It’s like with my job — things go well when I hide everything I’m scared of. When I try to hide the mess that I am and just pretend like everything is great. That’s how it works in my relationship as well. I mean, my husband can read my blog if he wanted to — but he doesn’t. Which is fine. I just need to write here because sometimes I need a  place to get things off my chest. My therapist doesn’t really help… I mean, she can help me figure out how to calm down in the moment. But that’s not going to help me get better at my job. Or be able to pay this mortgage for 30 years.

This is where I hit a wall over and over again. Why I end up so fucking depressed even if from the outside work I guess I “have it all” — a house, a husband, kids, a good job, etc. I mean, I made a plan and here I am hitting it. Second kid at 37. House. $X in my bank account before I buy a house. It’s like, it’s all going so great then why am I this sad and terrified? I try not to think about it. I’m not going to be happy but I try to just focus on the here and now and get through the day. Keep my job as long as possible. Keep pretending I got this.

But I don’t. I don’t got this at all.

Financial Planning in the Age of Coronavirus

Like many of you, I’ve been trying to stay afloat–mentally–under stressors that appeared practically overnight. With the economy humming along somewhere through a very long bull market, it was clear the upward tick to the markets wouldn’t last forever. However, I don’t think anyone thought it would end so jarringly.

I sit here from my “shelter in place” apartment in one of the worst hit counties in California. My company went a little early in moving to WFH and I’ve been adjusting, but the last weeks have been a bit of a blur. On the Saturday before my company decided to move to a WFH policy, I felt I was coming down with something. I don’t think I had a fever, I just had mild aches, and my chest immediately felt impacted. I went to work on Monday (if I had a fever I definitely wouldn’t have) and waited for my company to make the call. It wasn’t far into the day Monday when whispers of the company going fully remote made their way around the office, then an email formalizing that we would no longer be coming into the office for the next few weeks.

My lungs tight and heavy managed to breathe a sigh of relief. All I wanted was to get home and keep my family safe. At the time my 76-year-old father-in-law who provides childcare was still coming to our house via the train. It made no sense. I feared for his health and safety. In those 24 hours our worlds changed. Grandpa no longer would take the train to provide childcare. But my husband and I would still continue working, albeit with both of us WFH, with no childcare.

Over the next days my lungs felt like they had a cool liquid pouring into them, a slight burning sensation, and I felt winded after walking or picking up around the house. With no fever, I didn’t want to be a hypochondriac, but I emailed my doctor and she said normally she’d have me come in to check out my symptoms (as they were concerning) but with coronavirus going around she couldn’t, so she’d just treat me for pneumonia–just in case that’s what I have. Coronavirus testing was out of the question since I hadn’t been to another country recently and had no known contact with another person who tested positive. I was put on a course of powerful antibiotics and provided an inhaler to help me breathe.

The next day, our entire region went on full lockdown.

Two weeks later, my lungs still hurt. I’m not sure if the antibiotics did anything. I’m not convinced I have coronavirus, but I’m also not convinced that I don’t. My husband had what appeared to be a bad stomach bug with a low fever the same week I first felt ill, and now coronavirus reports say that sometimes it starts with gasterontestinal issues. He too felt some tightening in his chest. Neither of us were coughing, though–so what we have could be pretty much anything. If it’s coronavirus, we’ll never know outside of suspicion. I know whatever is happening to my lungs, this cold fluid sensation and the tightness in the center of my chest, is new to me. Could it be crippling anxiety? Sure. But the cold fluid sensation is strange and I continue to have mild respiratory symptoms.

I think I’m ok. Physically I’m just trying to take it easy. Mentally, I’m a mess. I know way more than I ever wanted to know about pandemics and how they exponentially spread. I’ve spent countless hours trying to convince my boomer mother, stuck in her snowbird condo in Florida, to take this seriously–especially given she’s in an area with a lot of older people mixed with young tourists where things will likely get bad.

Then, there’s my portfolio. Down something like $200k, give or take, prob give quite a bit more in the coming weeks. I’m a buy-and-holder, and got my start in investing right before the 2008 downturn, so I believe in the power of investing when everything is going haywire and how the recovery is when wealth is made. Downturns are good for the market and give us a time to buy on sale. But this whole situation is unprecedented and things can get a lot worse than they are. It’s unlikely–given its fatality rate–that the economy will fail to recover once a vaccine is tested and brought to market. But I don’t know how the economy can handle everything shutting down for a while, especially if this goes on (or on and off and on again) for 18+ months.

I’m using this opportunity to rebalance my accounts, but not to sell for no reason. I’ve been doing some unrelated research regarding asset allocation including real estate, as well as what one should really have in cash for a home purchase. I’ll write another post about that eventually, but I’ve basically determined that 30% of my net worth should be held in real estate. I’m looking at 30% of my net worth including a downpayment, closing costs, and a conservative 12 month emergency fund. In order to afford a $1.7M house, we need $500k cash in the bank.

My CFP who I hired for a year (who is no longer my CFP) recommended putting my downpayment into municipal bond funds for the tax advantages over the low interest-paying savings accounts. Well, that plan went to shit in the last two weeks. Apparently muni bonds funds are usually super stable. But after I put $200k into them, they decided to become volatile in a way they haven’t been since 1987. So far I pulled out the $200k (down to $192k) and put it into a short term bond fund, to take the loss in the intermediate state muni. That hurt a bit. Will probably just move everything to cash soon. It seems like this will be the year to buy–that is, if I can keep my job!

On top of all of this I’m not questioning the timing of trying for my next child. Due to infertility issues (at least with my first kid) plus now my “advanced maternal age” of 36, I really don’t want to wait. I also really don’t want to be pregnant–with the weakened immune system that comes with that–in the middle of a global pandemic. If I do get pregnant, we also have to move, which isn’t horrible since I do think this will be the year to buy. But if we’re on a year-long shelter-in-place, I don’t know how we’d move. We couldn’t even look at houses–or rentals for that matter. I think we could manage a year with two kids in a one bedroom (we’d save a ton that way) but legally you’re not allowed more than 2 adults and one kid per one bedroom, so we’d be in a bad situation… if it gets to the point where I’m pregnant and we aren’t allowed to leave our homes except to get groceries and medical supplies.

My overall thoughts right now is:

  1. Make sure we have our downpayment fund (ideally $500k) secure in cash or cash equivalents by fall (we have about $363k right now if I sold the bonds, and if I needed to I could make up for the rest selling stocks, but I’d prefer to not have to do that.) Be ready to buy when no one else is buying.
  2. Try my best to keep my job. I’ve actually been making progress on my coaching plan and things seemed to be turning around. Then Corona hit and–who knows. I’d be on the chopping block if there were layoffs, probably. I’m hoping we don’t have layoffs coming, but I have to assume they are with the state of the world. If I assume they are, then buying a house sooner than later makes sense (kind of, I mean not having a job won’t be great after buying a house, but that’s why I’m making sure we have a 12 month emergency fund.)
  3. Just try to get pregnant and see what happens. Worst case, I’ll be giving birth while incubated with a shared ventilator wrapped around my head, with my husband waiting from home to hear if I’ve survived childbirth and coronavirus and if the baby is ok. Ok, that’s a pretty horrible worst case, but it’s a possible one. More likely if I were to get pregnant I’d get a different standard of care as the doctors would try to keep me out of the office as much as possible. Given my infertility situation, it’s still unlikely I’ll get pregnant naturally. I do worry about being able to get infertility treatment in the next year, especially if we need something beyond the medication-based treatment protocol we did to conceive baby #1… The good news is that I conceived baby #1 right after a 3 month in-between job break where I focused on my health, travel, and relaxing. This isn’t exactly the same scenerio–I’m working and stressed–but I think over time with this WFH situation, if I can manage to keep my job and be as productive as I know I can be WFH, I can really focus on making the most out of every hour in the day to eat healthy, exercise, sleep, and do the things that set my body up for the healthiest possible pregnancy.

Things sure are crazy for everyone these days. I know I’m not alone. I’m trying to figure out how to balance being a mom and working from home with no childcare and getting to that level of health I want–I ordered some new running shoes and plan to use them, while staying six feet away from the other residents of my neighborhood, to disconnect from the panic sensation that fills me daily and reconnect with the sounds of nature and the taste of spring air. I hope things go somewhat according to plan, but not counting on it.

 

 

 

 

The Things that Matter: American Workaholism and Being a Mom

It’s 5am and I am exhausted but can’t get back to sleep after my son woke up screaming for milk a few hours ago. He didn’t actually drink that much. My breasts are still engorged and I’m too tired/lazy to pump. I’m supposed to “wake up” for work in an hour, to make myself presentable for an 8am meeting. I’m not doing the best job of being presentable given I’m so exhausted and no amount of coffee will help.

But my exhaustion isn’t just due to being woken up in the middle of the night. It’s the hopeless exhaustion of now being in the midst of the roller coaster of life, with time both going too fast and too slow, and memories of long gone childhood reminding me that life wasn’t always like this–always so formulaic in its requirements for supporting basic sustainability of existence.

My fear to pay more in rent a month isn’t helping. My fear of running out of money, or, more so, of getting to the point where I have a nervous breakdown and do not go into work one day because I can no longer stand the majority of my waking hours being dedicated to trying to get people to buy a product that–very successfully–helps companies reduce their workforce (though that’s not its primary purpose, but like most tech for business these days, it’s one of its benefits.) Oh, it’s a great product and it’s exciting to be part of a company that’s growing and a team that is not in it to change the world despite also building products that reduce headcount (the idealism of startups was nice for a while, but it also feels good to be part of a team that doesn’t entirely live and breathe work 24/7.) But, at the end of the day, always the very long yet never long enough day, I sit in traffic on the freeway for 45 minutes with all the other commuters headed home and talk to my 6 month old son on the phone who is crying and anxious for mom (well, for mom’s chest anyway) and who doesn’t care that I’m sitting in traffic or that I have to go to work to make enough money to try to save so maybe one day we can buy a house and go on vacations and such.

The reality is that my situation is so much better than 99% of the world, maybe even 99.9% of the world, and I’m still, well, not happy. I don’t know if I have the capacity for sustained happiness, given it’s me we’re talking about, but I’d like to not constantly live in fear. I acknowledge that buying a house with monthly mortgage payments will heighten my anxiety immensely. If we can make it work to buy a property with my MIL and FIL, and keep our monthly payments closer to what we’re paying now (or at least what we’d pay in rent for a decent 3br/2ba apartment), then maybe that’s ok. But then there’s all the other issues that come up with home ownership. It’s terrifying.

But then I’m also sitting here, 35 going on 40, realizing that there is no “when” at this point in life. I’m past the stage of saving and waiting. It’s now or never. I have a kid. I have a job that is as stable as my work will probably ever be. I have a husband who may return to school to make even less than he does now, but at least he’ll get benefits in case I should lose said job. Why not just take the leap? Have some stability for once? I’d like to give that to my kid. He won’t remember his first year of life, but I’d prefer not to jump around from rental to rental throughout his life. I know it’s not the end of the world, but I grew up in one home from 0-17 and although moving once or twice in that timeframe is ok, moving every year or every other year is best to be avoided. I want to meet my neighbors, I want to feel like we’ve “made it” by having our own backyard, however small it is. Our own kitchen and bathroom and walls and tiny storage area so my bike doesn’t have to live in our living room.

I’m tired. I’m tired and unhealthy and I know my body is upset for it. I feel myself aging too fast. I’m not finding time to work out and my diet has gone to complete shit. There’s so much I want to improve, but for now, I’m barely getting by.

Smile, Though Your Heart is Breaking: My Memoir

The older I get, the more visits with the parental unit become concrete episodes of psychological disorder ripe for analysis, versus emotional jabs to the heart. An obese, hot-tempered and narcissistic father dying from not one but two-types of cancer yet beating the odds thus far despite terminal illness, and a mother who has no ability to process emotion and who lives solely for capturing life in posed photographs where everyone looks happy, never mind how they actually feel.

When I hear of yet another occurrence of my father jabbing my mother with his cane or throwing her phone against the room, shattering its screen, or him calling her any number of degrading terms, I can’t help but blame the victim, or see them both as victims, as she has no ability to empathize with others, only to nag and focus solely on the illusion of happiness in moments captured on camera with no context to the disorder and discomfort underneath.

If I were to write a memoir, perhaps its title would be – Smile, though your heart is breaking. I had rationalized throughout my life that every family takes photos, that smiling and looking pretty in pictures was a normal part of life – which is it, if not to the extent of addiction to photographs without having the ability to live in the moment. The measure of the success of any life event or family outing could be measured in two ways — did my father not have an outburst, and did my mother capture photographs of everyone smiling at the camera with our eyes open and teeth showing just the right amount.

Yesterday, I had to stop my father from flinging across the room the $700 point-and-shoot camera I had purchased as a gift to my mother for the wedding. At dinner with my grandmother, sister and parents, my mother asked the waitress to take a photo on her phone, which inevitably didn’t come out that great because it was dark and the phone doesn’t take good pictures, so she asked the waitress to take another photo on the camera instead. This prompted my father to threaten to toss the camera across the room in a way where you knew he was serious. His mother luckily talked him down and the photo was taken by the waitress, albeit with my father purposely with the back of his head to camera.

Earlier in the day, a friend from childhood came over to visit. She was in town as the same time as I was by coincidence, but she actually had planned to see my parents at the time when she didn’t know I would be there. She came over and talked to us for a bit – time wise it was not ideal as we had to leave for dinner with my grandmother. We had to say goodbye and get going to be on time, but of course, my mother needed to take pictures of us smiling for the camera. My father nearly struck her with his cane, but company was present so he somewhat behaved himself. He took a swing as to threaten, but did not get near her.

I hear that this year when they were at their winter condo in Florida, with no one watching the moment, he struck her on the side. She knows that’s not ok, but at this point it’s just her life.

Mom complains about going to the hospital with my father for his surgeries, and shares that she is not looking forward to “taking care” of him if (when) his cancer gets worse. It breaks my heart that she can’t empathize or sympathize with her husband of all these years, of another human being who is dying of cancer and who has his best years behind him. But then I remember all the things my father has done to her, and I can’t blame her for her reaction – though it would be the same if he were a loving, kind man, she’d still only care about herself. She’d still complain about how the events are harming her life, not showing any modicum of care for another human life.

Smile, though your heart is aching. Smile, even though it’s breaking. — I see my family infrequently, and when I do, I always remember why I moved so far away. I wish I could have a close relationship with them, but that just isn’t in the cards…

I knew, getting out of the car, that my jeans had shifted too low and my shirt to high, and my stomach, plump with the roundness of a long winter’s depression and its related binge eating, was protruding in a non-flattering fashion. My father, of course, had to comment. “I am going to say it,” he said, and I knew what was coming. He paused, for a moment, clearly about to say I look fat but instead shifting the language to say “you should change before we go to grandma’s, she won’t appreciate how you are dressed.” I took a deep breath and said “I just need to pull my shirt down,” and left it at that. Years ago the comment would have been more direct towards my weight gain, but I think at this point since I have a husband he doesn’t bother me with that, only the inappropriateness of my clothing choices, despite having just traveled to visit them.

I know it could be worse – much, much worse. I’ve heard stories of friends who have parents who have done horrible things, or who just weren’t there at all. Parents who were divorced, who got remarried, who dated abusive men or women and alcoholics and drug addicts. Plenty of people are born into much worse situations – perhaps into loving families, but in areas of the world riddled with war. Few, in th history of time, come from healthy, stable families. Some do. And those who come from stable households often struggle with life when it gets rough unable to handle any imperfections. Perhaps in a way being hardened early is a blessing as life only gets more emotionally challenging over time, with the loss of loved ones built into not one the status quo, but the inevitable.

I’m trying to break free of all of this to find myself – before I have my own family. I have a wonderful husband who is everything to me. As I said to a friend the other day — one can be grateful and still miserable. Today, that’s me. Grateful, but broken. Appreciative, but empty. In awe all that I have, but have long forgotten what happiness feels like, my mental definition of the emotion locked in as a moment where I tilt my chin lightly downward, pull my shoulders back, open my mouth slightly with lips tilted upwards at the smile, and wait for the flash to capture the shell of a person who appears to be having a wonderful time.

The Comedy of Attempting to Find an In-Network Therapist

Depression isn’t like cancer. There’s no scan you can get which spots a tumor and clearly requires treatment. It sits with you for years–on a good day you may not even remember you have it, then suddenly a dark cloud forms over your head and no amount of fun activities or success can shake you of overwhelming, suffocating sadness.

I’m fortunate enough today where I have health insurance that covers mental health–well, sort of. It is supposed to be $20 a session for in-network therapy, if only in-network therapists actually existed. I’ve written about this before, but after giving up on finding an in-network therapist I decided to try again. I pulled up my insurance company’s “find a provider” website and started searching names of psychologists both close to my house and my work, and put in a bunch of calls hoping one would actually be open and available at a reasonable time to meet weekly. Continue reading The Comedy of Attempting to Find an In-Network Therapist