Next Time, I’m Going Straight Home!

Last Sunday I had a blah day. A stay in bed and be miserable and whine at my husband kind of day. So, it was a surprise to everyone when I managed to get to work on Monday. Success! I even made the decision to get cat food after work. The kibble they have loved for ages is suddenly the most horrible thing I could possibly be feeding them and I cracked under the pressure of three adorable cats staring at me accusingly.

Monday was not a good day. It was a weepy day. I cried at work. The pressure of Christmas, dealing with the loss of Silvia and seeing how it’s affecting everyone, regular depression. It all added up to a shit day. However, I persevered! Sort of.

I left work early because I wasn’t being productive and I was crying at my desk. I sent my boss this text:

To his credit, he deals with me very well. But never tell him that. We communicate in the language of sarcasm 99% of the time and it would not translate.

I should have gone straight home, but I couldn’t face those accusing, adorable faces again so I went to get cat food.

Before I go into this next part, I need to tell you that when I’m really depressed or anxious I also get paranoid. I feel like people are looking at me funny or talking about me. It’s super fun!

The reason I say this is because I’m at the checkout and there’s a young guy helping me, one girl behind him to my left and one to the right. The one on the right has this little smile on her face and I kept sneaking peeks at her trying to figure out what she was smiling at. What’s the joke? Am I the joke because I look like I’ve been crying because I have been crying? What is it?

Meanwhile, Young Guy helping me is playing with this dog toy that is green and lights up and, to me, looks like a penis. So I think, “Ohhhh she’s smiling because he’s playing with the penis toy while he should be helping me. I totally get it!”

Then ….

Young Guy: This is my favourite dog toy.

Me: Really? Looks a bit creepy?

Young Guy: What do you mean? It’s a stick.

Me: *really starting to doubt myself and wishing this conversation was over* It just looks weird to me.

Young Guy: What do you think it looks like?

Me: *really feeling like I don’t have a handle on what the joke is* It looks like a penis.

Young Guy: WHAT?!?!

Young Girl 1: WHAT?!?!

Young Girl 2: WHAT!?!?!

People Behind Me In Line: WHAT!?!?!?

Me:

I had no follow-up to that so I paid and left the store as fast as I could. On my way out I heard Young Guy say, “I don’t see it.” ACK! Why!? Why did I think I was in on the penis joke when there was no penis joke?! I was the penis joke!!

In my defence … or maybe not, here is the toy:

PENIS!!!!

I sat in my car, replaying the incident in my mind, trying to stop sweating and attempting to figure out where it all went wrong. It was when I said Penis. 100%

I need help… but don’t tell anyone

I get so frustrated when people struggle or suffer and don’t ask for help.  What’s the big deal? I think to myself.  They must know that they’re loved and we will jump at the chance to help, I continue to think.  Then I realized I am exactly the same way.

If it’s something to do with my job I will keep trying to do things myself until I lost my shit.  For some reason it feels like asking for help means I’m failing.  Even though if someone asks me for help I never think they can’t manage or aren’t smart enough.

It’s been a particularly rough year for my in-law family and last week I got a text from Juanita saying that she’d talked to Pierre and she thought that Nigel should call Pierre and I was like, what the fuck? Why doesn’t Pierre just call Nigel!?  Why is this so hard? Why can’t people just tell me what they need so I can make it all better!!?!!?  I ruminated on that for a few days and came up with this:

  1. I can’t make it all better. Nor should I expect that of myself.
  2. Pierre probably has no idea what he needs. He just knows he’s in pain.
  3. Even if Pierre had called Nigel, he still wouldn’t know what he needs and Nigel can’t fix this situation either.
  4. It’s likely that Pierre’s grief is making him feel apart from everyone else and maybe it makes him feel like a burden!  Maybe grief lies the same way depression lies. 
  5. I wouldn’t know what to ask from people either.  I’m sad; make it better?
  6. This is hard.

In conclusion: Let’s all ask for help and make everything better for each other. Not likely.  

How about this instead:

When we’re having a hard time, with any aspect of our lives, let’s force ourselves to think of one person who loves us, or likes us, enough to want to help.  If that means asking a co-worker for help with a task, pick a nice person who you know you would help.  If it means asking your family to help you through your grief or anxiety or depression, call one person.  Send a text.  Sit on their couch and cry and be held.  Watch TV in silence. 

Not easy, I know.

I’ll try if you try. 

UPDATE

After I posted this I found this gem on Twitter. It was meant to be:

Pianic Stations!

I’ve always wanted to play the piano. Seven or eight years ago I started taking lessons, but then I quit. I’m sure at the time I had some acceptable excuse but I’m pretty sure the real reason is that I was afraid to practice. I had moved into a house that was divided into three apartments and I felt so conspicuous every time I touched a piano key. I was afraid they would hear me making mistakes. Silly, silly Jenny.

I started taking lessons again in January and I’m really enjoying it! I practice at home where my husband, brother and cats can hear me and it doesn’t bother me. It might bother them, but I’m cool with that. I don’t practice enough, but not because I’m afraid so I figure that counts as a win!

The weirdest part about the whole thing is my weekly panic when I’m having my lesson. When I first started I would get extremely nervous before my lesson. That is abating now. I still get nervous but it’s not enough to make me want to avoid it. The part that hasn’t gone away is the part where I’m sitting at the piano and working my way through a song and all of a sudden I stare at the page and nothing makes sense. I can’t remember the notes. Even if I just played the same note a second before … nothing. Blanksville.  I usually start to giggle or say something silly so my teacher doesn’t wonder why I’m just sitting there frozen, while in my head I’m frantically trying to remember what note it is I’m looking at. Is it a B?  No, it’s not a B!  Is that my left hand or my right hand!  Ahhhhhh!!!  My teacher always tells me to take my time and eventually I unfreeze and we carry on.

Last week was the best one so far because I was playing and then I froze, my mind emptied and I started to freak out. I actually said, “I’m having a minor panic attack!” and my teacher said to me, “Take your time. It’s not worth it! It’s just the piano!” She’s awesome. Her name is Amy and she’s the sweetest girl around. I would put her picture in here but she might not appreciate it. 🙂

Keep in mind people, these lessons are only 30 minutes. So I sit, play, panic, relax, play, possibly panic again … all in the span of one half hour. It’s exhausting and exhilarating!

I always have a huge smile on my face when I leave and I feel amazing and light on my feet and I think I have figured out why!

Something like a simple piano lesson for someone with depression & anxiety issues is akin to a normy skydiving or bungee jumping. I get my adrenaline rush from the fact that a) I actually attended my lesson and didn’t wuss out and b) I played songs on a piano mofos!!  It’s an amazing rush and so much safer than extreme sports!

Happy Piano

It’s worth the pianicking!

What, Me Worry?

I’ve been thinking about anxiety lately. More specifically, how it relates to me.

Before I started exorcising my depression demons it was so overwhelming that I never gave a thought to the part that anxiety played in the whole deal. Even now, I’m just starting to explore that side of my … okay, let’s take a short detour here: I didn’t know what words to use there and writing “mental illness” felt wrong. I was trying to think of any words other than those for two reasons:

1. I don’t want people to think that’s all I am and that they should feel bad for me.

2. I feel as though by saying “mental illness” that it weakens me. But eff that! Eff it all!! Let’s do this right, and be proud and own it! Here we go…

Before I started exorcising my depression demons, it was so overwhelming that I never gave a thought to the part that anxiety played in the whole deal. Even now, I’m just starting to explore that side of my mental illness (eff you world!). I would tell people that I don’t go out a lot because of social anxiety, but I was always being sort of half serious. The weird part is, I think I’m right.

It’s not crippling anxiety and I think that’s why I never truly acknowledged it. I have a sort of “stage fright anxiety”. If I have to go out and do something I get all wound up thinking about it and I get grumpy. But once I’m there I’m usually fine. Usually. There are always exceptions.

I’m not good with changing plans either. I need to mentally prepare for what I’m doing and if it changes I freak out slightly. Just slightly. Normally that means I end up being rude to someone. I would guess that someone is usually Eric. Poor Eric. He’s a Saint!

Last weekend my mom reminded me that when I was a kid I would always get sick if there was an exciting event coming up. I figured it was just bad luck. It’s hard to think of little kid me having anxiety! Sometimes I want to go back in time and give kid me a hug and tell her it gets better. She was so lonely and confused. But that’s another story!

Look at Kid Me. She's so cute!

Look at Kid Me. She’s so cute!

I don’t have crazy panic attacks where I have to curl up in a ball and hide, but I recently recalled an episode I had years ago, which I will call my “non-panic panic attack”.

I was at work, changing lives, and all of a sudden I couldn’t breathe. I used my puffer, but it didn’t help and I started to freak out a bit. I went into the bathroom and called my boyfriend, who told me to breathe. Not helpful. This was not Eric. I feel I should make that clear. Eric is a Saint.

I ended up going to a walk-in clinic near my work. By the time I got in to see a doctor I was okay. The appointment went something like this:

Doctor: It sounds like you had a panic attack.

Me: No. I don’t have those.

Doctor: Sometimes they occur when you’re worrying about something, or you’re feeling stressed.

Me: I’m not stressed about anything.

Doctor: Sometimes you don’t realize you are until you have a panic attack.

Me: Nope.

Doctor: I’ll prescribe you these pills that will help you calm down. They might make you drowsy.

Me: But I don’t have panic attacks.

Doctor: Take this prescription and get out.

I went home and took a pill and had a nice nap on the couch. I never actually thought it was a panic attack. Perhaps it was. It wasn’t debilitating, but it did freak me out. I never went to my regular doctor to discuss it. I probably should have.

When I review my life with this in mind there are other instances I can think of where the same thing happened. So many revelations lately! Depression and anxiety! Who’s the luckiest girl in the world?

There seriously needs to be a font that indicates sarcasm. Maybe I’ll invent one.

By the way … today I’m winning!