Q&A: Protective

Who in life have you felt the strongest need to protect?

*Sigh* The answer to this is kind of sad.  I don’t feel the need to protect people anymore.  I used to.  I used to want to protect pretty much everyone.  Now if I see someone getting hurt I want to protect them, but in general I feel absolutely no particular draw towards protecting people.  I don’t care any less about the people I love than I used to.  I just… I don’t know.  I just don’t feel like they need me to protect them.  Maybe that’s healthy.  Maybe I’m feeling less obligated towards the people around me and can have healthier boundaries with people now than I used to.  But I suspect it has more to do with the fact that I’m still severely physically isolated from pretty much everyone I know and care about, and so their lives have all gone on without me needing to be there to save them, and I’m feeling kind of useless in that aspect of my perceived role in their lives.  I used to be able to physically be there.  To be able to take care of them if they needed it or stop someone from treating them poorly.  Even when I didn’t live super close by I was still able to go there relatively easily to help them if they really needed it, and now it would be a few DAYS before I could be there if they needed me to be.  So I think I detached a bit.  I like feeling needed.  So this hasn’t been the best change that’s happened to me recently…

now I'm depressed

Check out The Llama’s answer and post your own in the comments!  When do you feel the most protective of people?

Q&A: Predictability

Whose words or actions can you most easily predict?

I have some friends I don’t really talk to much anymore but they’re still on my facebook, and I can pretty much tell you exactly what every post they make is going to be just by seeing their names pop up in my feed.  I have a cousin who posts nothing but religious posts about how awesome god is or posts about narcissists taking advantage of people because apparently ‘thou shalt not judge’ doesn’t extend to ex-husbands.  And another friend who only ever posts things about how the whole world is a bleak and horrible place, and one more who posts nothing but how awesome it is to be a ‘minimalist’.

If you want me to talk about someone I actually talk to face to face, it would probably be my brother-in-law.  Or my mother.  Or pretty much anyone in my life who just complains a lot.  People who complain a lot are incredibly easy to predict.  You want to be original while also talking about how much something sucks?  Think up a fix for it instead of just explaining why it sucks.  Odds are good everyone already knows it sucks.  Say something different.

Check out The Llama’s answer and post your own in the comments!  Do you find a lot of people in your social media repetitive or is it just me?

Q&A: Careers

What would you be best at, were you to change careers?

If I knew that I’d already be working towards doing it.  I took a test once that said I would be well suited towards engineering, but I don’t want to go back to school for at least 4 more years to do something I don’t particularly want to do just because I would probably be good at it.  I’m fairly good at counseling people, so I might be pretty good at that as a career if I so chose.  I don’t know.  I’m a jack of all trades, master of none type.  So I don’t think there’s any one thing I would particularly excel at.

Cop out answer is cop out!

Check out The Llama’s answer and post what you think you’d be good at in the comments.  And what you feel is stopping you from doing it, or if you are doing it, do you actually enjoy it or are you just really good at it?

Diet

This was not the first change I made to improve my life, but it has been the most important, so I want to talk about it.

I am not fat. I have never been fat. I have been bigger than I should be, but the worst I’ve been is a little bit overweight, so when I say ‘diet’, I do not mean ‘I went on a crash diet and lost a bunch of weight and gained self-confidence!’ No, when I say ‘diet’, I mean improving what you put in your body, not controlling how much. Though obviously I do recommend proper portion sizes for anyone with eating disorders of any kind.

I mentioned in my longwinded backstory that I’ve had some health issues. I didn’t really get into them, and I’m still not going to, but they were incredibly painful, and being immune to painkillers, I basically just had/have (some of them still crop up from time to time) to live with that pain. A lot.

I dealt with one of the bigger issues with a necessary surgery that has drastically improved my overall quality of life and likely extended my life significantly…especially since if I hadn’t gotten it dealt with, it was probably going to kill me. It had already nearly killed me once, and there was every expectation that it would try again.

That solved that issue (though it did cause a new one, but one that is significantly easier to deal with), but it certainly hasn’t put a stop to my health issues altogether. Turns out when you’re angry all the time, your body gets used to being in constant fight or flight mode, and once that’s gone, your energy levels plummet. Who knew? I was no longer living on adrenaline; I had to actually fuel myself through food like normal people! God forbid. This…proved difficult. I also mentioned in that longwinded backstory that my parents weren’t around to provide food a lot when I was young, and that even when they were, I started making my own food choices as a toddler. Because toddlers obviously make the healthiest food choices, I basically grew up on junk food, to an even more extreme level than most kids, so when I got older, that buzz that most people get from sugar or caffeine had pretty much no effect on me at all.

So the high adrenaline was gone, the sugar rush wasn’t an option, coffee was disgusting and didn’t work anyway, same thing with those horrible energy drinks; what could I do? Sleep pretty much constantly; that’s what I did. If I wasn’t at work, I was sleeping. For the record, that’s why I kept disappearing from updating this blog; I wasn’t able to muster up enough rage at the books to get that burst of energy/motivation, I had no free time at work to work on updates, and when I wasn’t at work, I was so tired I couldn’t even stay awake long enough to watch a tv show, let alone do anything that required actual thought.

This went on for a while. I found a few things that helped, but they mostly just made it so I could do things that needed to be done without having to fight the urge to pass out. On a bad day (when I wasn’t working), I could easily sleep for 18 hours and still feel absolutely exhausted for the six I would force myself to stay awake through. This was a pretty drastic change from before I’d moved, when I slept four hours a night at best. I didn’t want to have to undo the emotional progress I’d made to get my energy levels back, but there were a couple of points when I genuinely considered it.

But then help found me. Llama and her boyfriend both suffer from terrible highway hypnosis (basically where getting behind the wheel causes you to fall asleep, even if you weren’t tired before getting in the car), and her boyfriend found that B vitamins helped with that. I started tracking what I was eating and noticed that, what do you know, I eat pretty much nothing with B vitamins in it. So I started taking them (specifically B12 and B100, in case you’re curious), and it helped. I wasn’t constantly exhausted.

But I wasn’t done there. I decided I wanted to get healthier. I wanted to physically feel better, not just not exhausted all the time. I was still oversleeping, just not nearly as much, and I wanted to actually feel normal, so I decided to make some drastic (for me) changes. One of those changes was dropping pop from my diet almost entirely, to help reduce my sugar intake to healthy levels.

I replaced the pop with green tea. I want to make it very clear: I hate green tea. It was disgusting and I didn’t want to drink it, but I knew how good for you it was, and dammit, I wanted to be healthier, so I fucking drank that disgusting tea. I tried adding things to it like lemon and honey to make it more palatable, but the best I ever managed to get with it was ‘drinkable without immediately following it up with something else to get rid of the taste’. But it did help me cut out the pop, and tea in general really is good for you. I noticed a difference pretty quickly. The b vitamins helped me sleep less, the tea seemed to help me actually have the energy to do more than just things I had to do.

(For the record, for people who are like me who want to make a change but hate green tea, oolong and white tea have similar health benefits and taste better, to me at least. Still not great, but much easier to get down. Particularly cold. For people who actually like green tea, I wish I could be you…)

So here I am, a few months after making those changes, and not only do I (usually) sleep more normal amounts of hours, but I have the energy to exercise, and think properly again. When you’re exhausted all the time, your mental faculties just go right to hell, and I did not at all appreciate just being able to think about things nearly as much as I should have. I don’t take in nearly as much sugar as I used to (another positive thing about tea is it decreases your desire for sugar, making it easier to cut back), I am healthier, and while in general I don’t restrict myself from eating what I want, I am more conscious about what I’m eating and what I actually need.

It’s amazing how much of a difference getting what you need makes. It has a huge effect on your mood. When you don’t have what you need, you feel tired, have a harder time focusing (which gets frustrating), and sometimes experience minor health issues like getting sick easier, which causes more problems. It can even contribute to overeating, because if you’re missing something important, your body knows it, and it keeps trying to get what it’s missing, which is why a lot of the time, if you have a craving that just will not go away, you should probably take a look at what you’re actually getting from your food and determine if there’s something missing.

I definitely recommend taking a few days and tracking what you eat on an app/website like myfitnesspal.com, or just writing it down if you have the discipline to actually note all that information (which I don’t). After a couple of days, take a look at the nutrition information and see what your vitamin intake looks like on average. Just improving your food doesn’t help everyone, but for some people, a large part of emotional issues that don’t directly stem from circumstances is at least partly due to poor nutrition, so just taking a multivitamin or making even some small changes to your diet can genuinely help some people. Even if it only helps a little bit, that little bit better you feel can make the difference between being able to make other changes and not. That little bit of extra energy, that little bit of extra focus, just feeling a little bit less crappy first thing in the morning, can give you that little boost you need to work on something else that could make an even bigger difference in your life. And obviously it’s not just your emotional health that’s important when looking at your diet; being physically healthy is really important for all kinds of reasons, and often looking at what you eat is the first step to improving overall health for most people. Especially in this day and age, when a lot of what we eat comes from a box, and probably doesn’t exactly add up to a balanced diet.

For the record, I still WAY overdo it with salt. You can take my salt when I’m dead! Pretty much the only thing I specifically limit is my sugar intake, actually. I try to make healthier choices, but I still eat potato chips and pizza and such. I just try to make things myself if I can, cut out pop almost entirely, often going days without any (and I want to stress that I have been an addict my entire adult life and a large portion of my childhood and teens, and actually experienced withdrawal symptoms when I would try to cut it out in the past, so if I can do it, so can you), take vitamins, try to eat more fruits and veggies, drink more water (another thing you really don’t understand the importance of until you do it for a while and feel the difference), and eat fewer cookies. Overall, pretty minor changes, considering the size of the effect they’ve had.

Q&A: Learning

What subject would you most like to learn more about?

Well I’m currently studying Italian and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, so obviously those subjects.  I always want to learn more about physics because that’s fascinating.  I would like to learn more about making films because that’s something I would like to be a part of.  Space is always interesting.  Sculpting is quite relaxing, learning better ways to do that would be nice.  There’s really not that much I wouldn’t be interested in learning more about.

Brains

Check out The Llama’s answer, and write your own in the comments!

Q&A: Life Changing

What is the greatest life-forming experience you ever had?

I legitimately have no idea.  I can’t think of a single experience that has caused me to rethink what I do or change my outlook on life.  For me things tend to be much more gradual.  Soooo…

peteshrug

Check out The Llama’s answer and write your own in the comments!

The Why of My Issues

I suppose the first post in this series should be about the problems I had; why I had issues with depression, and the impact it had on my life. Everyone’s story is different, and everyone reacts to things differently, so this is basically just a summary of the first 26ish years of my life that finally brought me to a point where I could make the changes I needed to make.

When I was a toddler, I was always surrounded by incredibly intelligent people. Everyone in my family – even the individuals who don’t necessarily seem to be on first glance – is ridiculously intelligent and talented. Entrepreneurs, pharmacists, sergeants, accountants, engineers, professors, advanced math teachers, musicians, artists, programmers…and I have a big family; that list only encompasses my parents, my sister, my aunts and uncles, and a couple of first cousins that I spent a lot of time around. I was also very intelligent, and that was a problem. I know it doesn’t sound like one, but bear with me.

When I was very little, I picked up on things incredibly quickly, and my thought patterns were…abnormal for a child. As a toddler, I would watch a piece of technology be used, and immediately understand the principles that made it work. I remember watching a movie (in the ‘80s, long before the days of Google) with my parents in which the main characters were using a device to break into someone’s house by picking up the signal from the garage door opener and mimicking it. The movie didn’t explain that that was what they were doing, it just showed that they had a little device on which, after the person left for the day, they could press a button, and the door would open again. My parents voiced their inability to figure out how it worked, so I rattled off what it was that the device was doing, and they looked at me like I had three heads. I didn’t realize at the time that they were simply hugely impressed at their toddler understanding something that they didn’t, so I took their expressions to mean that I was wrong and they thought that I was stupid.

Things like that happened a lot. Everything except people just intrinsically made sense to me. It all worked on rather straightforward and predictable logic that just came to me, but people I knew to be very smart, who were much older and more experienced than me, didn’t seem to understand those things as easily. I didn’t take that to mean I was smarter than them, or that I was just more capable than them in certain areas, I took it to mean that I must be wrong, that I must be stupid, and the fact that everything seemed so simple to me just meant that I really didn’t understand it at all. So I started to keep my mouth shut when I thought I knew the answer to something; I would overanalyze to a painful degree, and never voice anything unless I was absolutely certain I knew what I was talking about…which was pretty much never.

Obviously, this was not good for my social development, not to mention my self-esteem and confidence. I was afraid to try new things, I was constantly second guessing myself in school, I hated most children because they were even stupider than I was in my own mind, which made me question how stupid I actually was, which then led to a weird sense of superiority that would cause a massive crash as soon as something made me feel stupid again. I would feel guilty for ever thinking I could possibly be smarter than anyone, even people who were objectively really fucking ignorant.

As I’m sure you can guess, that horrible cycle outlined above, coupled with a feeling of isolation from the entire world, (I struggled to connect to people my own age, adults tended to talk to me like a child even younger than my actual age since I was a pretty tiny kid, and as I said, I felt like I was the only stupid member of my family so I didn’t connect with them either, add to that the fact that we moved around a lot so I would constantly lose the friends I had managed to make, and you’ve got a very lonely teenager) caused a lot of problems. I was angry most of the time, annoyed at myself, annoyed at the people around me, annoyed at my lack of direction in life, annoyed about the fact that my parents spent more time away from home than at home and still felt when they were around that they had a right to tell me what to do when they weren’t even there often enough to reliably provide groceries…

I was a highly independent child, and that only got worse as I got older. I didn’t trust anyone around me to help me with anything. When I was a toddler, on top of everything else, I was also a very picky eater. And my parents wouldn’t accommodate that, but they DID let me make my own food. So I had a choice, either eat what they gave me, go hungry,  or make my own meals. So I made my own meals. As a toddler. When I needed help with something, I couldn’t trust my family not to make me feel stupid for needing help, and that wasn’t even me misunderstanding non-verbal communication like the issues with my actual intelligence. My parents did see me as very smart, and so when I needed help with something that they thought should have been very simple for someone who understood the things I understood, they would get annoyed at me and actually imply that it was ridiculous that I needed help with it.

As I got older, it became a matter of no one actually being AROUND to ask for help. Like I said, when I was a teenager, both of my parents weren’t there most of the time. By age twelve I was basically living alone. My older sister would go stay with her friends or boyfriend, my parents had jobs that caused them to leave for long periods of time to other parts of the country, I was just left home alone for days on end, they would come home for a day or two, yell at me for drinking all the pop and not keeping the house spotless, and then leave again. I resented them a lot. But mostly what I learned from that was to never ever rely on anyone else for anything because the people who should have been there for me the most, weren’t fucking there. Even when they were there, they weren’t there. I couldn’t talk to them about my problems. They would tell me that I wasn’t allowed to be stressed or depressed until I had bills to pay. When I had bills to pay, I still wasn’t allowed to be depressed because my whole situation was all my own fault so I should just suck it up.

I make my parents sound like terrible parents, and objectively, yeah, pretty much. But they are really good people. They’re just shitty parents. I know they love me very much, and I have a great deal of respect for them as human beings, but they’d have been much happier if they’d just never had kids and instead put all the money the spent on us into doing things they always wanted to do like traveling to Australia. Instead they had kids because that’s just what people did. So please, if you’re considering having kids, have kids because you WANT KIDS, not because you think you’re SUPPOSED to have kids. Please. Or at the very least remember that kids are human beings with individual thoughts and feelings and needs.

Anyway. So yeah, because of the whole, feeling like an idiot thing, I never pursued anything I really cared about because I never believed I could do it, or if I thought I could do it, I thought it would be something that would make my family look down on me, and for some reason I still wanted their approval. So I had no long term goals, few friends, no ambition to do well in school or give any kind of shit about my health. I ended up in a university I didn’t want to go to taking courses I had no interest in while working part time at a job I hated to try and pay the bills because my parents couldn’t afford to put me through college but I also wasn’t eligible for student loans because they made too much money. I stopped going to school, I ended up working in a call center taking calls from angry old people about how much they were being ripped off by the company that I was representing, and just trying every day to find SOME reason to keep getting up in the morning.

Eventually I couldn’t take this anymore, realized my only way out was going back to school or suicide since I lived somewhere with a non-existent job market and I had few marketable skills, so I decided to at least try school first, and managed to get myself into a retraining program offered through the government through some… I didn’t lie. But I certainly bent the truth a bit. But I got out of the call center, into another school that I didn’t really want to be in preparing for another job I didn’t really want, but at least would suck less than the one I had been doing. I still had to work another shitty job I didn’t want to do to keep up with the bills because I was still somehow not eligible for student loans, but I felt hopeful that at least life would suck marginally less at the end of it all.

Then my not paying attention to my health came back to bite me in the ass.

I am going to say this with all the sincerity I can muster. If you ever have a filling fall out, GET IT REFILLED! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY DO NOT IGNORE THIS! IT CAN KILL YOU VERY GODDAMN QUICKLY AND PAINFULLY!

So that sucked. But then I found a job that didn’t suck! I actually enjoyed it! And I liked the people I worked with! It was wonderful! I even managed to get The Llama a job at the same company, so I was working somewhere I liked for people I liked, with my best friend, and things were looking good for the first time in my life.

It didn’t last long.

The boss I liked who really wanted to see me succeed, left. He recommended me for his job, but they ended up giving it to someone with absolutely no management experience or training, no people skills, and whose idea of motivation was to call everyone morons as loud as he could for even the tiniest of mistakes. Or when they didn’t make a mistake, they just couldn’t get what they needed to do the job because we were ill equipped and there was not a goddamn thing they could have done. And he did not like me. At all. And then Llama got pregnant and moved to another province so the good job now sucked and my best friend was hours away again, and I no longer had a bright future at that job since there was no way in hell I would ever get a promotion as long as that ass was in charge. In part because I had the gall to point out the fire hazard that indeed ended up causing a fire. So the anger that had only been starting to go away came back with a vengeance and the depression and hopelessness came back just as strong.

I grew angrier and angrier every day. I started writing about villains as a way to vent. I contemplated every day whether or not I should just drive off a cliff. Getting up every day was harder and harder. I was jumpy, I was constantly on edge, waiting for the next horrible thing to happen. I had believed wholeheartedly that this job had been the start of finally being able to enjoy life, and all of that had disappeared almost overnight. I had had a career path, now I just had a job. I had had a boss I could actually talk to and bounce ideas off of, who respected me and listened to what I had to say and acted on some of my suggestions, now I just had the stereotypical horrible boss that everyone fantasizes about getting beaten by the watercooler who I couldn’t even approach about legitimate health and safety concerns, let alone suggestions for the future of the growing company.

Even when he eventually left too, he was replaced by people who he approved of who also hated me for daring to bring up safety concerns that one time. (It really was just the once, and it was only after the overloaded wall circuit had already caused power outages.) Though I also dared to point out that they were treating their employees in a way that wasn’t acceptable. I have a bad habit of defending people even when I’m not involved, and watching employees who did nothing wrong get yelled at for ten minutes for technical issues they had no control over wasn’t something I could let go. I went to the higher ups and pointed out that the man they put in charge had anger issues that made him an unfit manager. I also made a point of cutting him off mid rant explaining what happened as point blank as possible when the person he was yelling at was just sitting there taking it. This did not win me any friends with anyone above me. I was a shit disturber. I will always be a shit disturber though. That’s not something I ever intend to change, no matter how many times it screws me over.

So my depression and anger was pretty constant and I didn’t feel like even if I made another drastic change again that I could escape it. I felt like any improvements I made to my life would just go to hell again like this job had. So I didn’t try. I gave up. I dragged myself out of bed each morning, forced myself into the office, and eventually once it settled in that all hope of every moving up was gone, I just completely half assed pretty much everything. I hit another breaking point. End it all, or try again.

I’m stubborn. I tried again.

The way I chose to look at it was that if I was going to kill myself if I stayed, and only might do it if I left, I owed it to myself to at least try the other way first. The worst case scenario was I killed myself. Which was what I was planning to do anyway. So the worst case was just delaying the plans. So I moved to the other side of the country with the help of my family (I told you they were good people. I have issues with them, but they’ve been there in their own way, it just wasn’t the way I needed them when I was young) and then went broke and caught pneumonia.

It wasn’t off to a great start.

I felt horrible in every sense of the word, went with my parents to a bar, met someone who had a potential job for me, got food poisoning from the chicken wings. While I still had pneumonia.

Anyway, despite a lot of issues cropping up, things actually did start to improve, then suck a bit again, then improve, then suck again… But there was enough good going on to keep me from dropping into the severe depression again, which allowed me to actually start working on improving my outlook on life.

This was the turning point that has allowed me to drastically alter a LOT about my emotional and physical health in the last three years.