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Monday, July 31, 2017

Prozac and Pain

I woke up last week and realized something startling: I missed my wife.

Jess and I have spent a lot of time apart in our nine years together. Graduate field work, academic conference travel, the logistics of an international partnership all conspired to create separations of anywhere from one week to nine months. Being apart is never pleasant, and it never gets easier. This isn't one of the longer separations - she'll be home in two weeks, she is safe and having a nice time with her family. There's nothing particularly worrying about this separation.

I have always felt I coped okay with being apart from her. Mostly I would go through my day-to-day responsibilities and not think of her much. The sadness confined itself to ten or fifteen minute sessions a few times a week: a deep longing so painful it left me nauseous and unable to breathe; passing with a few tears. These moments were dreadful, but survivable. There was even a shameful feeling of freedom when I would spend hours doing things that could be seen as selfish - sewing, talking on the internet, absurd activities that I curtailed when we were together.

Now...this time...I miss her. I feel her absence every moment; when I get up and eat breakfast alone, when I spend hours on those absurd projects. I made bread for myself and felt sentimental over how Jess wasn't there for me to nag in to eating it (even though I know she doesn't like it.) I pick up my phone and send her messages without thinking of the time difference, or the absurdity of the lover's shorthand through which I repeat my love to her.

And this is a good thing.

People talk a lot about how psychiatric medications change someone, and make your emotions inauthentic. They make you artificially happy, the argument goes; you will lose touch with your actual feelings.

What I think gets forgotten in this is that depression, and other mental illnesses themselves - those are standing in the way of our authentic feelings, too. That person who could calmly say goodbye to my wife at the airport and move on to be on my own, that person isn't me. That strangely numb attitude is not who I wanted to be. And now I am.

I expected Prozac to give me happiness back. But it also gave me sadness, and I embrace it.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The More Things Change

I didn't write at all last quarter.

As an academic professional - that weird job category rebranded as 'student services' and 'campus life' - I think on the academic calendar, with the arbitrary waypoints that are built in: Fall, Winter, Spring, reading period, finals, break. Scheduling things with friends who are also orbiting the ivory tower is a quick exchange:

"I can't, the kids will be returning that day."
"But it's not even the 10th!"
"We're on the quarter system."
"Oh....so see you in June then?"

It was a weird and difficult quarter overall, which is something I feel I say a lot: things were weird, and things were difficult, and it's a tired thing to say because things are always weird, and difficult, and even if the things that make them weird and difficult change, there you still are: weird and difficult.

One of the things that was especially weird over the past few months is that I started a new job. Yes! After all my angsting and what I thought had been a firm decision to stick with the job that was unsatisfying but consistent, another opportunity popped up and I went for it. And got it.

My 'day job' and 'night job' now happen on the same campus, a midnight-to-midnight thrum of students and colleagues among which I am working to find a place. My world abruptly shrank from encompassing the city to being a sixteen-block-square.

This is my commute. I am still late at least once a week.
The job is nice. I like the work, it's good to be academically involved with students again, I have quite a nice office. What I still lack is a sense of purpose and drive. But I am working on that.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Treadmills

I was planning to write about prepping a garden pumpkin for freezing, or something more profound about the pointlessness of unnecessary pain...but I'm not really feeling either of those topics today. I'm rather tired, and thinking about all the things I need to do before next week, and the week after, and so on.

Two big  things on my mind are a conference that I get to go to for work in two weeks - which is also the same week as a 5k run I am planning on doing. The two things don't conflict, it's just that they are more things I need to plan backwards for.

I'm really excited about the conference, partially because of the topic - international credential evaluation! whoo! I'm a dork - but the 5k is bringing up all sorts of complicated feels about being on a treadmill that keeps going around and around in circles.

Circles that are not as adorable as this baby.
This 5k was something I first did in a year I refer to as The Year of Good Health. It was a time when a friend of mine decided to work on losing weight and getting more physically fit, and somehow I went along with her. And for six months things were great: weight loss, daily walks and runs and Pilates sessions. I even went to the gym regularly. But then, things came up. Dissertation, work, marriages, and then it was the first 5k date and it had been two months since I had tried to run. I did the race, but I mostly walked, and it wasn't the triumph I hoped for.

And then, of course, the weight I'd lost came back on.

The same thing the next year.
And the next.
The fourth time, I had a vaguely-legitimate excuse in that I had sprained my calf muscle, so running? Running was not going to happen.

But it's another year, and I didn't train. And while the same excuses of writing, and marriage, and work are there, I still feel rather let-down by myself. I don't want this to keep happening. I want to be better, and actually meet the goals I've been planning for.

Last week was another week with good intentions. And little accomplished.
This is seriously getting old. Even my fussing about goals is getting repetitive now! There really isn't much  point in fussing about it over and over. I just have to actually try to get these done, and try it again. Because this time, maybe it will be good!

And here we go again!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Beginnings at the End

Early morning, move-in time.
A friend asked me the other day if I was still blogging. I haven't been. I've been very busy, but haven't been doing anything that I wanted to blog about, because I couldn't figure out how I was feeling about different events.

The biggest one is that my residents came back. In what I persist in thinking of as my 'night job' - even though it consumes most of the day and night - I live in a college dorm and...it's hard to describe what I do. Crisis counselor, editor, financial manager, friendly shoulder, school principal, social justice warrior. It's a job I love. Unfortunately, even though it's easily the most satisfying and enjoyable work I have ever done, it's unlikely to turn in to a full-time career. This reality has made this move-in time pretty painful, actually, because I'm caught between wanting to throw myself in to it with the enthusiasm it deserves, and trying to hold something back so I can be ready when a real career opportunity presents itself.

I have been trying to remember to look to the sky.
In my 'day job ' I've gotten the chance to change my focus, which has been re-invigorating, even if the tasks themselves are rather dull at this point. I think it's okay to admit that - all my colleagues acknowledge that once you've gotten over the learning curve, it's just a matter of processing for hours and hours, with a few bright spots of international mysteries.

(Or maybe that last bit is just my own geekiness.)

As well as the misfortune of wondering if I will be able to continue the part of my work that I love, I'm also still mourning the fact I had to drop the certificate course I was hoping to add to my resume. There just wasn't time in there for me to put the work in to it - not if I wanted to be able to do my two jobs, eat, sleep, bathe, and oh yes - write.

So I let it go.

I found this tree in an unexpected garden in the city. I sat here for an hour.
I feel rather at loose ends, though. I was working on that certificate as a way to have something new to be working on in my life. I've been trying to change my career direction for two years with very limited success, so I thought I should turn my focus to something else. But I was caught in a bind: in order to have the resources to change my fate, I had to keep maintaining the situation I was in. But there wasn't enough time or resources to make changes while trying to maintain the basics of the status quo.

Things are stable right now, of course. I have two jobs. My wife has two jobs. They are good jobs. I have a reason to do things I enjoy, like baking and sewing, and even enough time to try to do the things I have always thought I would be good at, like writing. I can find the moments to write resumes and cover letters and keep trying to find a job that will be a good career, at the same time as working with what I have. There are possibilities.

So I'm dusting myself off, and starting again. I'm trying to remember that the leaves change color at the end of the season to make way for what's next...nothing ever really ends; it just starts a new direction.