Ah, mental health days. They come and they go, and sometimes they hit like a freight train to the gut.
Yesterday evening I had one of those moments. I was riding high on a mania brought on by exciting new writing projects and opportunities, including two contracts signed in one day, and then the realization hit me:
I still have to go to my fucking day job.
Yeah, I’m growing and progressing as an author. I’m getting there, slowly. But I’m nowhere in the zip code of “writing for a living.” Nope. Not even on the same continent. Not gonna happen soon, unless something big happens first.
I’ve been at my day job for almost nine years, but it’s stressful and stagnating. I don’t have really much opportunity for growth and change, and sometimes I don’t even have the opportunity to get the training I need to do some of the positions I have there.
Some of you are probably saying, “Well, get another job.” Sure. In a small town. Where jobs are scarce to begin with. Oh, and I can’t afford to take a pay cut, so if whoever is hiring could just pay me what I’m making currently–which is so not minimum wage–that’d be great.
I find myself trying to think of what skills I may have to market, if I decide to look for a new job. I am semi-bilingual, but only in regards to medical Spanish, really, and mostly in regards to the eyes. Conversational Spanish is hard for me to remember, because it’s been so long since high school/early college. I suck at verb tenses. I am organized, a little OCD even, and I am one of those rare nerds who enjoys filling out paperwork. But what could I do with that? I honestly don’t know.
I need a change. Something to be different. This knowledge that I have to go in there five days a week and do the same shit every time is killing me. I’ve been in this routine for the better part of nine years. Sure, it changes on occasion, but not much and not often. It’s a grind, that’s for sure.
I think that’s what caused the depressive episode to slam into me last night. My time, at least 40-ish hours of it a week, is not my own. I can’t make decisions for my time, because I need this job. I need to keep plugging away, keep grinding at it. I can’t stop.
Resentment at my lack of choice is eating me up as well. I hate that I’m stuck, hate that I can’t escape. I know, I know, looking at it as a kind of prison isn’t helping matters.
One of my friends is trying to encourage me to at least give it a try to find another job, but I’m hesitant. Hell, I’m scared. What if I find something and it’s even worse? What if I can’t find anything that pays what I need to make? What if I find something great and lose it somehow (closures, firings, etc)? What if, what if, what if….
Maybe I’ll start with baby steps. Update my resume. At least browse job sites and want ads. Work my way up to actually applying.
I know the statistics in my area aren’t good. I don’t have any government experience, and that’s about the only type of availability in my “price range” that there is around here, without any experience, that is…
Another goal hit in my keto life journey! I’m proud to say that I’m under 250 lbs now, which is something I feared I’d never reach again.
I’m far from “done” with the keto lifestyle. On the contrary, I feel so good about the weight that I’ve already lost that I’m planning on continuing indefinitely–not only for fear of backsliding, but also because I actually don’t mind the low-carb life. Can’t eat any of the snacks in the break room? Okay. I’ll bring my own snacks. Not much on the menu at a fast food joint or restaurant? Fine. I’ll pick what I can eat and just not eat the carb-y stuff.
For the official count, here’s my weight loss numbers for the last 30 days, 60 days, and overall since I started:
I’ve been doing a keto diet for about 2 1/2 months now. Almost 40 lbs in 2 1/2 months! I’m so happy.
I’ll plateau eventually. Probably a few times. But for now, I’m enjoying the steady decline in weight. My clothes fit better–sometimes too big now–and I feel better overall.
Speaking of feeling better, today I see my podiatrist to see if my foot has finally healed enough to get this stupid boot off. It’s been 8 weeks today, and I’m 1000% done with the boot. It’s heavy, it’s awkward, it makes my gait weird, and my other foot is getting painful from my favoring the foot with the boot. All that, plus I can’t drive. I miss running errands on lunch or being able to take myself to work. It’s the little things in life, man.
I haven’t had the boot off for much of anything besides showering and changing clothes. Because I wake up earlier than my husband and the boot has a ton of Velcro on it, I just sleep with it on to keep from waking him every time I get up in the night. Since this is a re-break of a bone that tends to re-break once initially broken, I’m trying to be a good patient and stick to my restrictions.
If all looks good on the x-ray this afternoon, I might be able to ditch the boot and just “take it easy” for however long the doctor determines I need to do so. I have a sinking feeling that he’s going to tell me “no sword fighting,” which will be a disappointment for sure. I’m eager to get back to rapier practice and relearn all that I’ve forgotten and recondition myself to holding the sword for long periods of time and sparring with friends, but all that might have to wait if the doctor says it might jeopardize my foot.
I really don’t want another 8 weeks of boot life.
Maybe later today I’ll call and schedule the DEXA scan I was supposed to get months ago. Hard to figure out a time to do it when I can’t drive myself to it! This needing a ride everywhere stinks.
Other news in the health front: I accidentally skipped a month of my biologic injection, but I got it yesterday so that’s on board. Hopefully my doc isn’t too mad at my slipup when I see her in a couple of weeks. (And hopefully I can drive myself to that appointment.) I was out of my Adderall for a couple of weeks while the pharmacy had issues with their shipments, but I’m happy to say that I have that again as well. My mental health is, well…
…Yeah. That. I hate my job. It’s getting to me. I mean, it’s the same thing day in, day out, five days a week. Sure, there’s the occasional half day or holiday, but lately I’m getting called in to either switch which half I’m working or to work the whole day on the half days (usually at the last possible minute), and the doctor has a couple days a month off, which makes the work load on his off days easier because there aren’t any patients, but yeah…that’s not enough. I don’t know what else I would do, though.
I’ve worked in healthcare for the better part of 19 years (9 years in a hospital setting, and close to 9 years where I’m at, with a brief period of joblessness and retail when I moved to Arizona), so I’m not quite sure what other marketable skills I might have. I mean, I’m quasi-bilingual, so there’s that, and here in AZ speaking Spanish is always a bonus, but my Spanish is limited. My grammar is terrible, and as far as conversational Spanish goes I can muddle through most of it, but I know sometimes I’m using the wrong word or wrong verb form. Medical Spanish? I’m almost completely fluent there. I can snag a chief complaint or medical history no problem. But if I want to do something different, something non-medical, I don’t know if my Spanish is up to par for other professions.
I have a degree that’s non-medical–a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice Administration–but that’s 13 years old now, and I have done absolutely nothing with it since I graduated. Well, I got it framed and hung it up. That’s about it.
A friend of mine has been encouraging me to look at the possibility of working on post as a contractor or some other type of government position, but I’m leery of that. When I first found out I was moving here, I spent months ahead of time applying at various positions on a government website, and I never heard back from any of them. I even revamped my resume based on some redacted resumes my dad showed me from hires he’d done as a DOD employee. So I had my Resume Wizard one from Word that failed, and my Based on a Successfully Hired Government Employee resume that also failed. I just don’t know if I can handle the stress of trying to find a job while maintaining my stressful job.
If I was better at marketing–if my book was selling enough to be profitable–I’d hold a sliver of hope that I could make money doing that. It’s not, though, and I’m not, so that’s out. No, writing is a second profession for me, not my primary source of income, and I doubt it ever will be. I can dream, but…yeah.
I’ve gotta get moving on that marketing stuff, speaking of which. I’m part of a group of authors who are making a run on the USA Today Bestseller’s list with a box set of stories, and my newest WIP is geared towards that. I’ve got a lot of work to do with that, though, because I need to get followers and do some heavy marketing as well. Can’t get to the bestseller list without working for it.
It seems like a lot: the boot, the existential employment crisis, the writing, the marketing…Can I do it all?
I don’t know, but I know one thing: Something’s gotta give. I don’t know how soon, but it’s gotta happen. Whether it’s freedom from the boot and freedom to do my normal activities, or a new job, or a surge in sales, something has to happen to change things. And I know, I have to change to make some of these things happen. I just have to be brave enough to try.
It’s been four weeks today since I was sentenced to the boot for the Jones fracture on my right foot, and it’s been four weeks of hell–waiting for rides everywhere, not being able to help my husband with the driving when we travel, lugging around three extra pounds of boot everywhere I go. To say that I’m sick of the damn thing would be an understatement. Today, however, I see the podiatrist again for a follow up and another x-ray, and, theoretically, I have only two weeks left of bootness.
I still haven’t gotten the bone scan done, but then again, I can’t fucking drive myself to the doctor to pick up the order, and I can’t drive myself to the radiology department in town to get the scan done. I’m totally reliant on other people to get around. In the words of Gollum, “We hates it!” Maybe once the boot is off I can get around enough to take care of the scan myself and, hopefully, get some answers as to why my foot keeps breaking.
In other news, as of Monday I was down 27.2 pounds from my initial weigh-in of 287.4 pounds. I’ve been doing the keto diet for about a month and a half, and for two thirds of that time I haven’t been able to exercise the way I’d like, mostly because of the boot. Still, even with less mobility and less exercise, I’m feeling better, my clothes fit better, and I’m not craving carbs like I thought I would. Do I miss them? Sure. Do I sometimes wish there were keto-friendly snacks more readily available at work? Sure. Have I broken down and gorged on candy and bread? Nope. I’ve been a good girl. And, after the next two weeks have passed, maybe I can go back to exercising–and to rapier practice!
That’s right, my diet is going so well that I think I might be able to fit into my chain shirt again, which means more stabbing! I am so out of practice that I may have to start from the beginning, in a way, because I’ve probably forgotten a lot of the fundamentals, but my health and my confidence are up enough that I feel like I’ll be able to once again enjoy the only sport I’ve ever been remotely decent at!
Oh, yeah! Back to “fighting trim”–or at least trim enough to fight! Lol
I know my good friend and rapier teacher will be glad to hear that. I feel like I’ve disappointed her by quitting practice for, what, a year now? Or close to it. It’s amazing what a difference 27.2 pounds can make to one’s confidence, even though I’m far from my goal weight. Ideally, I’d like to be back down to the 150-170 range, which I know is a long time off. Realistically, I’m probably going to be content with getting down below 200.
Maybe the weight loss will take some of the stress off of my foot. Maybe it will boost my physical confidence and make it so I don’t get out of breath putting on socks. Maybe I’ll be able to exercise again and lose even more. Maybe, maybe, maybe. It’s all a waiting game, really, until this boot comes off and I find out what kind of activities I can partake in. Hopefully–fingers crossed!–I will be cleared for light rapier fighting. Maybe just practice for now, then work my way back to tournament fighting. I miss it now. Before, I was so depressed over my weight I didn’t want to fight. Now? Now I want to get back in there. I mean, the shirt fits. It would be a shame not to put it to use. 😉
Exercising might be tricky. I often am not out of work at a decent time to go to the gym where my friends work out and join them. However, now that I’m losing a decent amount of weight (and once the boot is off and I can drive again), I might make the effort to go out there and, yes, exercise in public. Where people can watch me. It’s a little intimidating to think about, but less intimidating than it was 27.2 pounds ago.
My advice if you’re trying to lose weight? Well, I have a couple of things. One: keep your mind open. If I hadn’t given keto a try, I might still be 287.4 and gaining. I’m not saying keto’s the only answer, but for me it’s working. If one thing doesn’t work after, oh, a month or two, try something else. Just try. Two: keep going. Don’t stop trying. Don’t give up. Take your health into your own hands and be strong about it. Three: Don’t be ashamed to tell people what you’re doing. If you hide in shame, you won’t get the support system that you need to motivate you. I’ve had coworkers and friends who never would speak about my weight before come up to me and tell me how much better I look, how I look more slender, how my clothes fit different. I know that they wouldn’t be mentioning it if they didn’t know I was trying to lose weight, but all the same it feels good. It gives me that boost of confidence I need to reassure me that I’ve made the right decision and that I’ll be okay. It may take a while, but I’ll be okay.
Two more weeks. Two more weeks, and then I’ll be free.
I get up and go to work every weekday (unless the office is closed or–rarely–I request off for an appointment or something). I work a full week, sometimes into overtime, and I hardly ever call out or ask to go home early. I clock in on time, and I stay until my boss says I can go. If that means clocking out less than twelve hours before I have to clock in again, then that’s what I do. If it means working when I’m in pain, I do. If it means working through a panic attack, I do. I can’t afford not to.
Most weekends I end up doing SCA things; whether it’s an event, a household meeting, rapier practice, or crafting various things for SCA events, household meetings, or (rarely) something just for me.
I sleep when my body lets me. Sometimes it’s six hours, more often closer to four, maybe four and a half. I drink caffeine and take Adderall to make it through the above listed days without falling asleep sitting up…or standing up. Or while driving.
I do the laundry every week, sometimes multiple days a week. Sometimes I’m aching enough that I have difficulty picking up the clothes that end up on the floor instead of the hamper…. so I leave them. Sometimes I’m so worn out from all the other things that I leave the clean laundry in the dryer for a few days and just fluff it when I need something to wear. Sometimes I go to the effort of taking the laundry out of the dryer and putting it back in the hamper until I have the energy to put it away.
When I have time alone–usually in the wee hours, when sleep evades me–I write. Or edit. Or revise. Or embroider. Or sew. Or plan and execute social media marketing stuff for my writing.
There’s more, but right now I can’t think of exactly what.
I’m trying. I really am. But I am feeling more and more burned out lately. Just thinking about the things I have to do makes me exhausted and depressed. The things that I used to do for fun are now duties. Chores. Requirements. Necessities. There are deadlines upon deadlines upon deadlines. Even the SCA events that used to get me all excited now fill me with dread. It’s not “yay! I get to do this thing!” It’s “well, I guess I have to do this thing.”
I need some me time. Problem is, time is not something that I have available to give myself. It’s all filled with things. Work. SCA. Housework. Crafting.
I can only do so much. My body and my mind and my spirit are all stretched as far as they can go.
I need to think. Introspect. Look inside. Take all the pieces and see where they fit–and what ones shouldn’t even be in the puzzle. I need to prioritize and cut back where I can.
Some people might feel like I’m pulling away, but it’s not trying to get away from them so much as trying to regroup.
I’m committed to several things for the next two months. I have to hold on at least that long. But after Estrella War?
So it’s been 17 years. Babies that were born after their parent died will be graduating this year. Last year, most of them probably started driving. Next year they’ll be adults.
Me? I kinda forgot.
It’s not 100% my fault. I mean, I’ve had the last three and a half days off work. The date escaped me. I didn’t mean to forget. But I forgot.
I wasn’t too terribly affected by the tragedy. Yeah, the news of it woke me from a sound sleep. I stared dumbfounded at the TV as one tower went down, then the other. My jaw gaped as the Pentagon got hit. My mind was blown.
I didn’t personally know anyone affected by the attacks then. (My husband, who I met nearly 8 years ago, was stationed on a ship in the Persian Gulf on that fateful day.) I was isolated, safe and sound in my parents’ house in northern Alabama. New York, DC, and Pennsylvania were, like, forever away. They were concepts. Places I’d passed near or driven through. Not real.
So why do I feel like a total jerk for forgetting? If I didn’t know anyone affected and wasn’t there, why should I remember? Does this make me a selfish, unfeeling, insensitive, unpatriotic so-and-so? Maybe. But maybe not.
Wanna know what story from the days and months after touched me the most? It was one I read I want to say in Newsweek, but it could have been elsewhere; it was the story of a seeing eye dog who guided people out of the building when the smoke blinded and terrified them.
That dog is, more than likely, long since dead, as are all the search-and-rescue and cadaver-sniffing dogs that touched me when I saw them crying on the news.
Yeah. I was more emotional hearing about the rescue dogs whose feet were getting cut up on debris as they searched for life where there eventually was none left than I was about the families who lost that life. Dogs. Not people. What’s wrong with me?
Probably nothing. It’s probably just a thing. I didn’t know anyone affected, like I said, so the whole thing was distant to me. I shouldn’t expect myself to be saddened by the date. I’m holding myself up to standards that have been set by a media-hyped society. Everything’s IN YOUR FACE, so everything should affect everyone…right?
One of these days I’ll stop feeling guilty at not feeling guilty. I’ll stop chiding myself for forgetting.
I could be talking about Independence Day today…but I’m not. I’m not overly patriotic. I’m not political. I’m not a historian. I’m just an average Joe (Jill?), and I’m not that into the revolutionary aspect of the holiday. No, I’m talking about a free day off work. After working 12 days in a row, then going on a day trip, then doing laundry all day, I finally have a day off where I can do whatever.
The start of my free day? Fixing my cosplay booboo from yesterday. I got that done and all of the twill fabric pieces cut out; now comes cutting out the interfacing & lining, after which I’ll start putting the pieces together. It should prove interesting since I’m altering the pattern. I keep doing that…and so far, aside from yesterday’s disaster, it’s been turning out well. Guess I have a knack for it…or I’ve been lucky.
Now I’m taking a break from all that pinning and cutting and I’m just chilling on the computer for a while. I might take a nap. I might make some food. Or maybe I’ll just stare at this screen and do nothing.
Sometimes it’s good to take time for yourself. Burnout sucks. Sure, if I spent all day nonstop working on the coat I could probably get it finished…but is that really what I want to do with my free day? Spend the whole thing cutting and sewing until I’m sore and worn out?
Also, I’ve been having some good ideas about my dystopian/sci-fi novel. Yeah, you know the one–the one that’s been stalled since the cosplay stuff went into overdrive? Well, it’s still stalled (narrative-wise), but some new details about the world and the characters have come into my head that I think will give it some depth and diversity. It’s outside of my comfort zone, but isn’t that the point of writing sometimes? Going new places, trying new things…creating new worlds (or destroying them).
Maybe I’ll work on brainstorming today in between cosplay sessions. That sounds like a good idea.