Friday, August 21, 2015


i. Good News, Bad News Department

Good news:

NASA says the world is not going to end in September
[Really. Do you ever mistake titles of popular news stories with parody articles, like in the Onion?]

Bad news: So, I still have to look for a job.

I  do have three books to edit, so some money is coming in, but I want, need more structure and more built-in human contact.

With Marz moving out (in one week!), and me working on the computer at home, I'll never have to interact with anyone in person.
This is not good for me.

I feel energized to engage [good news: not depressed];
but I also feel vague, amorphous, directionless [bad news: mildly anxious],
like an octopus that doesn't know which way to turn. [Bad metaphor; but, yeah, like that.]

So, I'm willing, but when I look online for jobs, my spirits plummet. 
Shall I write pamphlets explaining how to file a complaint with your insurance company? [um...]

Would I be feel fulfilled Maximizing Information Systems for Market Intelligence? [Why do I doubt it, when I don't even know what that means?]

Alas, the only jobs I'm sure that I want pay no money. 
Like, besides volunteering at the Thrift Store, which I love, there's an independent bookstore run entirely by volunteers, or a nonprofit micro-cinema, or doing activities with seniors at a community center. 

ii. Asking for Help

So, rather than lying around or working for free until I've used up all my savings, I decided to ask for help. Gold star for me!

This week I went to an OA meeting [Overeaters Anonymous, a 12-step program] for the first time in a dozen years, because when I feel formless, I tend to use food to provide some shape, which is truly self-defeating as the shape I gain is bloated. 
I wept my way through my check-in, which I take as a sign that I was in the right place---somewhere I felt safe enough to melt down (it's not about the food).

And this morning I put in a request to see a therapist/counselor, on My Chart [a baffling online health-care thingy, where you're never in the right section to request whatever it is you're looking for].

Even just asking for help felt audacious (in the good sense): 
bold & hopeful, providing something to push against.
Very C-KAPE (Captain Kirk Academy for the Pursuit of Excellence). 

iii. The Past

When I was growing up, asking for help wasn't on the menu.

To begin with, there's not much point in asking a narcissist for help, and my mother, godblessher, was that: charming, engaging, and emotionally expensive to know. 

Growing up, I was her adoring acolyte, casting light on her [very real] excellence.  It was always, always all about her. Even if she hurt you, you ended up comforting her, because she didn't mean it. She never meant it, if it was about you, because tragically she couldn't feel she had any effect. 

(Being a narcissist isn't at root about feeling grand and effective; it's more about feeling invisible & powerless--always on the wrong side of a one-way mirror.)

It was a relief when I saw Metropolitan (1990) and recognized the truth of this line:

I mean, how crazy is it that when I was fourteen my mother wanted me to reassure her that if she killed herself, I wouldn't hold it against her?
And, how sad is it that I did reassure her? 
[In fact, I don't hold it against her, but, come on!  That's so . . . I don't even know. At the time, however, it felt perfectly normal--her s.o.p.]

Then, in the 1970s, high school teachers weren't much . . . encouraged? empowered? to watch out for kids' mental well-being.

A friend who teaches high school in another state was telling me about how hard she'd worked to help a depressed student make it through this past year. (And not just the one, either.) 
It's a terrible burden on teachers, of course, on top of everything else they need to do, and she was wondering if more kids are depressed or if the school system just is more attuned to it.

I don't know, but I was amazed at all the help she and other teachers gave this kid. 

It wasn't like that in the 70s, at least not when I was a depressed high schooler. In tenth grade––the same year my mother asked me for permission to kill herself–– when I skipped certain classes for days at a time, two teachers took me aside for a talk.
They did not ask, "What's wrong?" 
They told me they were failing me. 

What was wrong was obvious: I was a bad, lazy person.
[Thank you, Mr. Spock, for suggesting otherwise.*]

Sometimes I hear people complain that kids these days are coddled in school.  Maybe so, and that creates its own problems, but I say better coddled than ignored.

iv. The Future

So, I'm feeling kind of sad and a bit drifty, but I'm also feeling hopeful and confident about the future.
The good news is that while I'm not a champion at asking for help,  at least I get the concept (unlike my poor mother). 

And there's a ton more help available than when I was in high school.  I've called on it before, and I know it works (if I work), and I know that this––this . . . life, really –– is ongoing work that everybody faces (or doesn't). 
And it's good work, if you're lucky. And really, I do feel lucky. 

I am not, in fact, a formless, directionless creature. For today, anyway, my totem animal is the wonderpus octopus
(below), moving right along. Isn't this cool?

Hm, Yes, it's cool, but on reflection, it's too speedy and elegant to represent how I feel today. I'll leave it up, but in fact my totem animal today is this hop-along baby rhino:

* As Wil Wheaton wrotein his tribute to Leonard Nimoy:
"In ways that I couldn’t articulate at the time, I wanted to be Mister Spock because if I was, I could be myself –– quiet [not that I, Fresca, am quiet], bookish, alien to the people around me — and it wouldn’t be weird. It would be awesome."
For more info on suicide prevention or help if you are struggling:
"The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals."
Outside of the United States, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.


polish chick said...

hello there! looks like you got my post because you and i are in a similar species of pickle! and as far as totem animals go, the baby hippo is utterly adorable - why, i'd give a great job to the baby hippo in a second, if it were within my means! best of luck to you!

Zhoen said...

Such big bumbly feet!

Getting help is not such a bad thing. Tending to one's emotional oil changes and tire rotations. Plus, people tend to like those they do favors for.

Fresca said...

Hey, Polish Chick! I'm glad I got your post about audacity---yes, probably because, like you, I am swimming (or stewing) in brine.

If/when I get a job interview, maybe I should take the baby rhino gif in to show: Employ This Baby Rhino (me).

ZHOEN: I love its plate-sized feet.

A tune-up is a good analogy for what I'm doing (or starting to do) in asking for help.

Julia said...

I just headed back in to find a counselor after a year or two break. It's been a while since I've had one who I felt I was able to accurately explain my situation to and I'm hopeful for the kind of balancing (I like that idea!) that I've gained from counseling in the past. Hope you are able to find a good fit listener-person quickly!