Saturday, January 29, 2011

Useful Types Of Paddles When Up S**t Creek

Mentally taxing situations are like jungles.  Horrible tangled bits of evil shrubbery with no trails or paths in sight.  I've been trying to machete my way out of the bitch - some days I make a bit of headway, other days I just sit, sweat, tremble and cry.

But let's just concentrate on the Stuff That Helps.

1) Drugs.  If you need to, then you need to.  My work environment is currently unsafe for me to be in.  Therefore, I have not been at work, which means I have been tearing through my leave allotment at a galloping pace.  I received news today that I will not be recompensed for this unless I make a claim through WorkSafe.  This is devastating.  Ergo, it's a two Valium kinda day.  Result?  Drowsiness and a bit of sobbing, which is better than smashing my head into the coffee table, as the case would be if I were in an un-medicated state.  Drugs are good when you really, really need them.

2) Research.  Look for the useful stuff.  For example, Gretchen Rubin's 'The Happiness Project' has a number of life-hacker style tips which I've found useful.  I'm trying a variation of her suggestion of 'Choose One Word To Set The Tone Of The Year'.  It doesn't strictly have to be one word - I've chosen the words 'Better Decisions' to try and guide me.  As in, "It may be a better decision to go for a walk as opposed to hiding under the bed today."
Rubin's blog led me to borrowing Switch out from my local libary. Written by Chip and Dan Heath, it's byline is 'How to Change When Change is Hard' and explains (this is my terrible paraphrasing, btw) that your emotional self is like an elephant, whilst your logical self is like a small rider controlling the elephant.  The rider is a guide, but when the elephant really wants to do something - it's going to do it regardless of what the rider wants.
In my case, the rational self says, "Stick around, you're kinda cool and you like life, remember?"  The emotional self says, "Just go play in heavy traffic already, because eternal rest means eternal peace and fucking quiet and not having to deal with everybody else's gorram fuckups and wouldn't that be nice for a fucking change?"
Alarming, yes, but please don't worry.  The elephant's rider has given custody of all the strong drugs to a responsible adult who keeps them off the premises.  Also, I'm not a slice n' dice kind of gal and have never owned a firearm in my life.  And no, there's no rope in the house either.

3) Get a hobby.  When anxious my hands turn into the fists, the knuckles white.  Then I chew on my knuckles, sometimes in a decidedly undignified and slobbering fashion.  The more upset or hysterical I become, the more I chew on my poor damn hand.  Sometimes I have to sit on them to prevent doing damage.
But - my name is not Rover and my hands aren't Greenies, so I've found it's best to do something with my digits before they hysterics set in.
Recently I've taken up shooting pool.  I'm no good at it, but the mental focus needed to perform a singular task - get the ball in a hole using another ball and a stick with both hands - is a huge relief.

These three things are keeping me going for now.  They're what I do when not coordinating appointments with various medical professionals and dealing with the human resources people.
You know, I've not been at my workplace for some time now - but it doesn't mean that each day isn't damn hard work the second my eyelids flap open in the godforsaken morning.
I'd like it very much if I could one day greet the day with a sense of moving towards better things.
A light at the end of the proverbial damn tunnel would be much appreciated, but I'm not counting on it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Caving In The Brainpan

Over the last little while, my mental health has been in a poor state indeed. Every new day, when sleep turns to groggy wakefulness, my heart turns to despair and not much else.

I've spent the last week and a half away from work.  The work itself is great - every day you go in and your job is to help people; how awesome is that?  But you know, an avalanche is an avalanche.  Hey, I freakin' love those dark chocolate Lindt balls, but it doesn't mean I'd like to drown in the stuff.
So after giving it my best I declare - Atlas has toppled, badly. 
Symptoms are the usual chestnuts that go with depression and anxiety; waking up wishing you'd never been born and that there is no proverbial 'light at the end of the tunnel', anxiety attacks where trembling, sobbing and nausea/diarrhoea hit you like the messy train.

Steps have been taken to mitigate the circumstances.  My GP has been consulted.  I got myself a shrink (man, shrink shopping is always a pain in the butt).  I have been placed on diazepam and fluvoxamine, with strict warnings about diazepam's addictiveness and have been ordered not to have the whole box easily available to me.
I've utilised the EAP program at work.  I must say though, I think EAP's are good for immediate trauma - such as the time when a trusted, very popular long-term employee was found to have defrauded the company and people were bursting into tears at their desk.  Hey, that's what happens when your good rockin' buddy gets escorted off the premises by the police.
For long-term stuff though, I think it's better to get your own mental health professional you can build a relationship with.  Even if it just saves you the exhaustion of explaining and re-explaining things to different people.
Personally I've been struggling with mental illness since I was in my early twenties, when I was in constant pain due to endometriosis.  That's eased off now, but you know that saying "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger"?
That's officially bullshit in my books.



Sunday, January 23, 2011

Been Kinda Rough Around These Here Parts

I've been put through some difficulties lately.

Don't think I'm up to writing about it yet - not because I'm a private person (remember this is a blog about stuff people don't like to talk about) but because it would be exhausting. And my mental and physical resources are at an all-time low.

So here's an observation instead from Deadwood's Doc Cochran.  Calamity Jane accuses him of having "a dark turn of mind".
In response, he replies, "I see as much misery outta them movin' to justify theirselves as them that set out to do harm."

That sums it up for now.

Monday, January 17, 2011

When The Past Screams 'Vagina'

As opposed to 'When The Wind Cries Mary'.  Oh, ha ha.


A little bit past 7pm on a Friday.  Walked into The Body Shop with The Boyfriend and there she was.  In uniform behind the counter.  The face hits me first, then name tag confirms it.  It's Her - dark-haired, pale, pretty, rounder, older.  Aren't we all older now?  Yeah.

In a blink my mind yells 'Vagina'.  And it's not so great when that happens, because it usually means, "I've seen you naked".  Which leads to a fumbling in my skull for context because I have seen so many gorram tits and vulvas and assholes in my lifetime, more than any human could want or stand.
That's what happens when you used to work in 'The Adult Industry'.

I see her and I see... breasts, round, full, large-ish nipples.  Great hips, freckles, throaty laugh, very good curves.  Insertion scene with garden trowel (miniature, green and purple, spotted).  Couples video with then-boyfriend (blonde, average appendage, average handsome).  Solo stills, various.  Group stills and video (girls only, beach?).  We booked her so much; one of our regular girls - friendly and easy to get along with.
It's like in sci-fi shows where there's a close-up of the character's face then a 'swooshing' effect to cue the flashbacks.
It's like Doctor Who meets Fleshbot but awkward.

Last time we met it was in a club bathroom where both us us were really very drunk.  We hugged like long-lost ex-soldiers from the same platoon.  She was no longer with the blonde boyfriend ("god no, I'm not with him anymore the abusive motherf**ker!") and I was no longer in The Industry.

Now I make my purchase with my my best blank consumer face on - right here, right now we do not share a past.

Then The Boyfriend starts to enquire about the shaving products placed helpfully at the register's display shelf.  The three of us chat about soaps, creams and synthetic brushes; then she says to me, "I'm sure I know you from somewhere."
And I say, "Hmm, I don't think so...but, well, maybe we met at a party or something?"
She shakes her head. "I don't think it was a party. But I swear I know you, your face is really familiar."
I furrow my brow."Did you ever work in a call centre?"
She shakes her head again. "No".

The Boyfriend's interest in shaving gear ends.  "Good to chat with you," I smile and say as we leave, with the most naive and well-meaning look I can muster.

Everyone says I'm a terrible liar, that the look on my face gives it away.  They're right.  I'm a crap liar because  lying isn't important to me and I'm not good at things I don't care about.

But when it comes to someone's dignity, their professional standing in their current workplace, the person who they are now in front of me, the person they had been - I will fucking lie my ass off to honour that.

And I like to think I lied well.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

You Can't Take It With You

I get a call from a funeral director.  "Her family had reported her missing and the police even did a search of the house, but no-one knew where she'd gone for two weeks.  Then the daughter found her under a pile of newspapers in the back room where she must have fallen while looking for something."

Don't be this person.  I've had people fall and roll under couches, I've had people have heart attacks and expire behind stacks of Reader's Digest magazines - every issue since since 1984.

This is especially true if you live alone.

I understand that every home has it's fair share of detritus and that people have connections to other people and the past.  It is important to keep your grandmother's jewellery and if her orange and brown crockpot is still in good working order, go for it.  But use it or get rid of it.  And put her jewellery in a safety deposit box at the bank, except for a piece or two that you will actually wear.

Right now I'm out in the country in a very large, very new house filled with unplugged computers, boxes that haven't been open since 1993, biscuit tins containing tool parts and you can't eat at the dining table because it's full of Stuff.  My boyfriend's parents are massive hoarders.  There is a vague intention to tidy, catalogue and label.  It's crazy (driving ME crazy) but not unsalvageable.  At least the building itself is new and structurally sound, plus they're still in good health.  There is still hope.

Further down the slippery slope however, lies a friend who lives in the crumbling wreck of her father's old house.  There are various issues with his Estate that need sorting out, but in the meanwhile she lives in a home where you can see the stumpwork through holes in the bathroom floor.
You cannot see the floor in her bedroom however, because of The Stuff covering it.  In the bed itself you'll find everything from books to candy to knives and about half of all the underwear she owns.
It's a frightening combination of  shrine to the dead (his old books and furniture are still there) and a college frat house.

  • Don't hold onto other lives that aren't yours.
  • Don't confuse getting possessions with getting a life.
  • And if you have to walk sideways down the hall because of The Stuff, and if guests have to clear away small mountains of The Stuff before they sit down - you have let The Stuff take over your life and this is Not Good.

So yes, I know you love your grandmother and her things mean a lot to you.
But please, please do not keep her ageing issues of Reader's Digest magazine.
Because you know, one day you'll have a heart attack too.    

~ Useful ~

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

On A Note Of Optimism

Okay.  I'm not letting the glass be half empty around here.  So here's a list:

1) Today was better than yesterday.
2) I've found Susannah Breslin's blog again, which is great
3) ... which led to finding Penelope Trunk's blog.
4) ... which leads to gratitude and empathy and hoping that Ms. Trunk has recovered a little from the 'smashing lamp over head' incident.

Good?  Good.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dead Folks Plus Crap Management Equals Huge Pile Of Bloody Awful

Usually, it's an experienced four-person team.  We're can tell you which funeral director can do cremations in your price range.  We know that you can leave someone at Monash Medical for longer than at Bethlehem.  We know that in 2010 the Coroner was fuller than it was during the year of Black Friday and they are still busy as fuck.  We have, well, had The Knowledge.
Now it's a huge pile of scorching rubble, because there's now only the two of us to put out the fire.  Our two noobs are on holiday and the team leader is also on holiday and is usually as useful as a fart in a haybale.  Trauma cleans were supposed to be done five weeks ago.  The nursing home wanted the room back at least a week ago.  Files are coming back with the wrong legal documents.  Each file (meaning, each dead person) is like a plane falling out of the sky, running out of fuel.  I start silently crying while I put a misdirected call through to another area, thinking, "Oh shit, that used up 7 minutes I can't spare."
Every damn day, it's like putting out a forest fire with tears and pee.  The noob backlog is terrfying (one of them can't even work our CRM system) and everyday we uncover another fuckup, another job not well done.  And it fucking kills (haha) me.  Seriously.