It's a GAD GAD World
Friday, January 21, 2005

So yes, it's true--I have a Real Job now at Prestigious Institution. But allow me to fill you in on some of the highlights & lowlights of my life in the 8 months when I didn't post.

May 2004--Went the entire month without any work of any kind.

June-July--Got a few short-term assignments from what turned out to be a very shady temp agency. I actually had to threaten them with legal action just to get paid.

August--Landed a job at a music store, the first FT permanent job I'd had in nearly 2 years. That was the good news. The bad news is the store owner was the meanest miserable old man I've ever met. He's slowly going senile, but that was only part of what made him unbearable. He was also just a nasty, stingy, miserly old bastard--an honest-to-God living personification of Ebeneezer Scrooge. I could do an entire separate blog just about the crap that went on in that place. But that's for another time.

Labor Day--I spend my day off clothes shopping (for the first time in nearly a year, now that I could afford it) and I thought to myself, "Life is good. I have a job, maybe not one I want to stay with forever, but one that at least allows me to eat and pay rent and afford occasional little extras. My meds are working, my anxiety and depression are at low levels. Things are OK right now."

Day after Labor Day--I go into work and begin to straighten the pile of papers on my boss' desk (that wasn't snooping, straightening his papers was part of my job) when I see a printout of an invoice from the NY Times. It was for an employment classified ad. I went online and looked up the ad--it was for my job. My anxiety returns with all the subtlety of a two-by-four skillfully applied upside the head.

October--My doctor is once again invited to give a lecture to a group of second-year med students, and once again he invites me to be a part of the presentation. (This becomes relevant later.)

November--I discover a neat website that I want to share with all of you: . It's a personals/dating site for people with mental illness. Even better--it's FREE! I place an ad, I see an ad from an interesting guy, we meet in the city and have what I thought was a pleasant time. I've not heard from the man since. (Story of my life.)

December 9--I get a very early morning phone call from a family friend. My grandfather is dying and not expected to live through the weekend.

December 10--10pm I get another phone call. My grandfather died at 5am that morning. Aroud midnight I get home and there's a phone message from a friend in North Carolina asking me to call him back late. (This is highly unusual--he almost never calls out of the blue.) Now, you have to understand some of his background. This friend is the surviving husband of one of my best friends, who died a few years ago from a freak illness, leaving him to raise 2 school-age kids by himself. Almost exactly a year after she died, he got laid off and hasn't worked since. So when I got this msg I thought maybe he was calling to tell me that he'd found a job--wrong. I called him back. He wanted me to know he was scheduled to have brain surgery on Monday. The resulting stress keeps me up till 3:30 am.

Monday, December 13--I take off work, telling the powers-that-be that I'm going home for a funeral, but instead I stay home and take care of Christmas errands. I wasn't really that upset about my grandfather dying. He was a good man and I was sorry to hear of his passing, but he was a very old man, he had his wits about him till the very end, he wasn't in much pain, and he died about as gentle and as peaceful a death as anyone can hope to die. What had my anxiety shooting thru the roof was my internal debate over whether to go to the funeral. I haven't seen or spoken to anyone in my family since my parents threw me out of the house 6 years ago. If I went, I feared all the old issues of me being a worthless slacker who can't get a damn job coming up, plus a lot of crap about me being a rotten ungrateful person for turning my back on the family. (No I didn't turn my back on you, you threw me out, remember?) Plus it would have involved a lot of running around that I just didn't have the energy to do after being up till 3:30am dealing with the news of my friend's brain surgery. If I didn't go, I feared what the family would think of me for not bothering to show up for my grandfather's funeral. Ultimately, I figured I'd be a loser no matter what I did, but if I stayed home I'd be a better-rested loser.

Friday, December 17--Exactly one week after my grandfather dies, one week before Christmas, and one day before the office Christmas party, my boss finally drops the bomb and fires me.

Saturday, December 18--2 days earlier, while thanking me for the Christmas gifts I'd left for him in his office, my doctor tells me--"I'll be reachable via email and cell phone, but don't call me unless you're hanging off a cliff." Now he takes off for a 10-day holiday in India.

Monday, December 20--I show up at a temp agency to be put on standby for a 2-week data entry job. It comes through. I'm still employed--at least for the next 2 weeks.

Wednesday, December 22--I land an interview at Prestigious Institution. The Dean is a very nice, plain-spoken, no-nonsense kind of woman--just like me.

December 25--I wake up Christmas morning and open all 3 of the Christmas cards that people sent me. This takes me all of 10 minutes. I spend the rest of the day doing absolutely nothing.

December 26--The tsunami hits. I remember that my doctor is still in India and I freak. I immediately fire off an email to him asking if he's ok. I spend the rest of the day checking my email every 30 minutes and resisting the temptation to pick up the phone & call.

December 27--I wake up, get ready for work, and check my email. Still no msg from him, so I break down and call. I get his voice mail, and I leave a msg telling him that if he doesn't get in touch with me and let me know he's all right, I'm going to call all 3 of his workplaces and put out an APB for him. Around 3:30pm I check my voice mail and there's a msg from him. He's OK. I still spend the next 3 days scanning the news reports expecting to see his name on a list or his bloated corpse washed up on a beach somewhere. (That's the beautiful thing about GAD, you never run out of things to worry about.)

December 29--While on my lunch break in the break room at the temp job I get a call from the Dean at Prestigious Institution. I've got the job. As soon as I hang up the phone I start shaking and sobbing uncontrollably. I can't believe it's finally over. 4 miserable years of temping & interviewing and classified-scanning....for the first time in about 10 years, I can STOP job-hunting. I no longer have to get up early on a Sunday morning to get a copy of the NY Times. I'd always known that my lack of work was a factor in my anxiety, but I didn't realize just how huge of a burden it was until it was finally lifted from me. I feel so much...lighter now.

So I started the job in early January. It is a major stress pot in many ways, but I think it's going to be a lot of fun.

Remember when I said my part in my doctor's presentation was going to be relevant? Well, it turns out that I'm working at that very same school where my doctor gives his annual lecture. My job involves a lot of student contact. And one student recognized me today. I was OK with it--we were alone at the time. Eventually I plan to "come out", but not right away. I want the Institutional community to get to know me as a person first, not just a wack job. My doctor's annual lecture always occurs in the fall. By that time I will have established myself, and I'll feel better about standing up in front of a group of people I know and saying, "Hello, I'm a mental patient."

I've been typing for over an hour and I'm tired. So I'm going to shut up now.

My parents are about to throw me out of the house :( - its sad that you feel you cant contact them again. I would like to hope that, that does not happen to me.
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