The Big Dream

So, this is an extension of my last blog that covered work.

Basically, last time, I put the vibe out there that I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the job I have that makes me money. By and large… Yes. That’s a fact.

I do have another job that fulfills me in every way a person could possibly imagine. I wish every day that it could be my paying job.

I am on the board of a non-profit organization called Crossroads Universal. We organize and host two very large community events every year: Cleveland Pagan Pride Days and The Cleveland Witches Ball. There are so many other dreams we have for the organization, but these two events are very solid, though, due to the ‘rona, we had to cancel the Witches Ball and we made CLE PPD a live-stream event.

Every summer, the weekend of PPD, I am with my true tribe, with my people. There is such a spirit of community, togetherness, and pure magic. It makes every ounce of work we put into it so worth it. Just having someone walk up to me and thanking us for all our hard work and sharing about what a wonderful time they’re having… well… it’s a very special time.

Watching children dance along with the drum circles, friends who don’t see one another often hug, laugh, and pose for a selfie together… it’s truly the most wonderful feeling, for me. I know the rest of the board and the planning committee agree with me.

Part of me wonders if I’d still love it the same way if it were my paying job. Part of me says yes because I could move the organization into so many different directions and do so many wonderful things for our community.

No… not part of me. All of me.

Time to figure out making this happen.

For Money

Week 2 of the Daily Om writing course involves work.

For money, I am an insurance follow up representative in the billing department of a very large, world-renowned hospital system. That should make me proud. In actuality, it does not. To be perfectly frank, I have never worked in such a … well … toxic environment, and that really says something.

See, I started this job after the pandemic introduced itself to the world, so I’ve been working from home since day one. I’ve never experienced their “in office” environment, but if it’s anything like the “at home” environment… let’s just say I’m going to have to actively pursue other avenues.

Most of my adult life was spent in the medical billing field. I gained all of my experience from a good company that cared both about their patients and about the people who run their processes and make things happen… you know, the workers. Every day I worked there, I felt valued, appreciated, and like what I had to say mattered. Where I’m at now? I have none of these things. In fact, it’s not a matter of simply not having them. Personally, I’d call it less than zero. In my world, that is a possibility.

Life tends to sling shit around, so, for the sake of practicality and for the sake of my sanity, I had to leave the job. I walked away from a great paycheck, excellent benefits, people I loved being around, and feeling cared about. Sure, I was a cog in the machine, but I was well-oiled and tended to. Any accumulated grease and grime were of my own doing, and they had a lot more to do with me and my own personal issues than they had to do with what I did to make money.

When I left that job, I took some time off to see if I could figure out what I truly wanted to do. I ended up working technical support for a huge company. I spent exactly one year of my life walking retail workers through the process of restarting their cash registers. For a lot of reasons, it simply wasn’t my thing. See… in the medical field, sure I was billing outrageous sums to people who may or may not be able to pay, but in the daily battle with insurance companies and with the “powers that be,” I, more often than not, was left feeling like I was genuinely able to help others, so I decided to go back to that.

Currently, I’m left wondering if that was the grandest idea I’ve ever had. Not because the specifics of the job don’t resonate with me, but because of where I am.

People and their attitudes about other people and life, in general, matter. You’re never going to have a good and easy time in life when you encourage adversarial relationships with people and entities who can make your lives easier or more difficult depending on your approach.

There are a lot of avenues to this “work” topic I’d like to explore, so there will probably be several posts for it. For now, I’m tired of writing and am struggling for words. This is the last day of my long weekend, and I don’t want to spend it bemoaning what I’ve lost and dreading what I get to go back to tomorrow.

Have a great Sunday!

Obstacles

Last week, in an effort to make myself dive into some self-exploration, I bought a writing course from Daily Om. Every week, you get a topic to ponder, explore, and to write about. I’m not sure where this trip will take me or if it will give the kind of discovery and growth I’m hoping for, but, for now, let’s get started.

This week’s topic is “Obstacles.”

I have two massive obstacles in my life, currently. The largest, I’d have to say, is myself.

I tend to get in my own way in numerous ways.

It’s funny, to me, how, before I sat down to write this out, my mind was brimming with ideas, yet, now that I’m here doing the damn thing, I’m at a loss for words. Why does that happen? Is that me, yet again, getting in my own way?

I feel like I compare myself to others too much, and, if it seems I’m doing better, then I must be doing something wrong. For example…

I signed up for an online yoga teacher training course. I was doing all the “technical” learning modules, and, on the online support group, everyone was bemoaning how difficult the anatomy section was. Personally, I didn’t struggle with it. I thought it was easy, and I aced the test the first time I took it.

That caused me to worry, though. Everyone else is struggling with it. Maybe I’m not learning it right. Maybe my study method was wrong. Maybe I only studied in order to pass a test and not to truly learn the content. “Everyone else is having a hard time, that means this shit is difficult, so why aren’t YOU struggling? You know, that means you’re probably just doing it wrong.”

And there’s obstacle number 1. I question myself far too much.

In fact, that may be my biggest obstacle. I can’t think of one thing in my life that wouldn’t be better if I just stopped doing that. But how does one accomplish that? I have all the basics down… we fail so we can learn, there’s no shame in not being the best, if at first you don’t succeed… you know, all that happy horseshit. I wholeheartedly believe them for others. For myself? meh… some days yes, some days no.

I read somewhere that anyone can know all the correct and right things to do, but true growth and wisdom comes in the doing of those things.

What about an asshole like me who knows and only does sporadically?

They say habits form after doing a thing x amount of times.

If that was true, I’d be out exercising, improving my finances, and not getting myself into fucked up relationships instead of doing this.

Yet, after waaaaaay more than the x amount of times doing a damn thing, seeing good results, and feeling successful, I just stop. Yet those bad habits linger. Why does my nature not drop a bad habit the same way it drops a good and productive habit?

Good habits are work and bad habits are not.

Which leads me to potential obstacle number 2. Maybe I’m just lazy.

That’s not a pleasant thought. Especially when I consider the myriad ways I bust my ass. But then I consider the myriad ways I really don’t. It’s a mix, so I’m not quite sure I can slap the label of “lazy” on the situation.

I want to do things. I want to know things. I want to be things. I lack the energy, motivation, and know-how involved in getting started. I was never trained in the process of achievement. Of course, that doesn’t mean I couldn’t train myself, but … again … energy, motivation, know-how.

Fear. Maybe it’s fear. I fear failure. I fear success. I fear losing. I fear winning. I fear not winning (I see a difference between “losing” and “not winning”). I fear mediocrity. Maybe, one day, I’ll get to the point where being “nothing” is no longer satisfying. For now, I mostly sit on the sidelines and watch life go on around me. I wonder if I’ll ever go on ahead and dive into the pool of life and swim.

This writing exercise has taught me that, for all the ways I know myself very well, I really don’t know myself all that well. It’s time to dive in and know more. The knowledge I do have is impressive. Most never achieve that kind of self knowledge, and that’s kind of a bummer, but the focus of these exercises is me, so no worrying over what everyone else has and does. I have a wealth of wisdom under my belt. It’s time to apply it.

Goals Schmoals

“you just need to set goals for yourself…”

I’ve heard this, ad nauseam, since I was a child.

“you’ll feel so much more accomplished…”
“it really boosts your dopamine…”
“imagine how good it will feel to have a goal and to finally achieve it…”

I guess you could say I’ve done this on numerous occasions, and I’m still waiting on this feel-good thing to kick in.

I had a goal to make my living room useable before Thanksgiving, and it’s done.
I lost 100 pounds, give or take a few, on any given day.
Today? Most of my house got cleaned. Well, let’s not exaggerate… let’s keep it real. a lot of my house got cleaned today.

And still… I want to know… When does this amazing feeling of accomplishment kick in? When does the dopamine surge occur? When do I begin to stack my successes so that I can achieve even more?

Goals… I’ve never really been goal oriented, and I don’t know how to fix myself so that I can be. I’m not sure if the lack of this quality makes me deficient or if it makes me … me.

I hate those emails we get from work… “it’s time to set your professional goals for the upcoming year…” Ummm… I don’t know… maybe “not be unemployed?” How’s that for a start? I’m entirely certain that “not killing anyone during my perimenopausal hormonal outrages” is not acceptable, but do they even give a shit that this may be what I actually want? Nooooo…

I guess I can see how maybe it would help in building certain types of skills. I mean, I’m certain that if I had a goal of practicing my yoga every day, I’d be way better at it than I am now.

Alas, I do not.

Maybe I should make it a goal to set a goal.

State of The Dissy

I’m finding it difficult to share these days. I seem to have fallen back into the headspace of, “no one gives a shit.” It’s not really in a “bad” way, though. It’s more like something I can’t quite describe.

I’m down to 1 twenty-five mg tablet of Effexor per day. I quit taking the Clonidine with it, as it was making me tired.

All in all, I’m feeling like a reasonably competent human being. Every day isn’t perfect, but I feel like I can successfully navigate through what comes my way.

At first, I thought I may want to stop drinking during my weaning off period. I felt, a couple weeks ago, like I was getting a little irrationally angry, but I’m thinking that may have been more PMS related than anything else. I had my once-a-week vodka drink last night, and I was just fine.

Without the Clonidine, the feelings of vertigo are a little more frequent, but they’re nothing that isn’t manageable.

I’m still seeing the shrink. I’m trying to decide if she feels too basic for me or if I’m just looking for an excuse to not engage. I’ve been known to do that from time to time (meaning, every other damn time I’ve spent any time with a mental health professional).

She is heavily encouraging me to look for a new job. The one I currently have is not contributing anything meaningful to my life, and, in fact, it makes me pretty irritated every time I’m here. It’s also made worse by the fact that I can’t exactly cover my bills and enjoy my life on my current salary. I guess we will see what we will see. She seems to have a lot of faith in my intelligence and my ability to do better for myself. Me? I’m fraught with impostor syndrome.

My sista and I have been hitting up a yoga class twice per week. We’ve been doing a yin yoga class and a vinyasa flow class. I’ve done yin before, and I suppose this class is ok. Personally, I think, in order to get the desired result, longer than an hour is needed. But, it’s something fun to do with Barb. Maybe, one day, we can do some work with the dvds I have. You know, after I have space in my house.

So, that’s about all that’s new in my world.

At Least the Stormtroopers Aren’t Coming to Get Me… yet.

Once, a long time ago, I told one of my “doctors” that Prozac was not helping me. For some reason, he decided to try me on some hard core crap. I can’t even remember the name of it, but that medication taught me all about side-effects. I guess some folks out there may have found them amusing. Me? not so much.

One evening, probably about 30 minutes after taking my medication, I left work. After stopping at the local shopping center (shit, are they even called that anymore?), I went about my drive home. I drove under a bridge and came to a stop at a traffic light. As I waited to turn left onto the expressway, I looked into my rear-view mirror.

I shit you not…

I saw a fucking Stormtrooper walking toward me, all business-like with his gun drawn. I mean, not that he’d have hit me or anything… But still… fuh-reeeeeeaky.

This is not The Dissy you are looking for.

I squeezed my eyes shut, shook my head, and looked again. As luck would have it, it was just a dude on a white crotch-rocket wearing a white jacket and a white helmet.

Fast forward to current times and current events…

When I advised my doctor (different from the doctor mentioned above) that I wanted to discontinue the Effexor, she told me she was going to prescribe something called Clonidine to help with side-effects.

Now, when I am prescribed a medication I’ve never heard of before, I go out of my way to dig up ALL the information I can find about it. You know… because I want to know if my arm hair is going to fall out, or if I’m going to grow some testicles from my belly button.

Luckily, the information only said they may cause some hallucinations.

I kind of thought that was bullshit until the other night.

I keep seeing movement around me. Shadowy figures and images. Usually, it’s just the screen door blowing in the breeze or the clock changing time, but for that minute, there is something in the room with me.

That aside, my mood has been excellent. I’m not going to lie and say I’ve been joyous one hundred percent of the time, but I’ve been able to cope successfully with things like anger, loneliness, sadness, and happiness.

I am, once again, experiencing pure, genuine laughter, and, thanks to a bit of flirtation, I am starting to notice other feelings returning. (“hello, lady parts, how you doin’?)

Everybody Loves Joey.

But… that’s where I am right now. Jumping at shadows and gladly interacting with myself again.

Wait What??

Right now, I just really wish I had some chocolate pudding. Jello brand, sugar free, and with the layer of vanilla in the middle.

The other day, I saw an offer someone was extending. For a nominal fee, the person in question will re-blog your blog. What the actual FUCK? I am not down with this in any way, shape, or form. I think it’s one of the purest forms of bullshit I have ever heard of.

“here’s my money, now re-blog my bullshit writing and ideas…”
OR
“I don’t have any money, so please skip over my well-written, thought-provoking blogs.”

Is this the state of blogging these days? The very thought kind of makes me want to barf.

Actually, it really makes me miss MySpace. I had a wonderful blog there. I had a huge following, and when I was shared, it was because people liked, admired, or respected what I had to say or because I had amused them, and the same applied when I shared someone else’s material.

Enough of that…

Day three of weaning off Effexor:

I feel like I’m sleeping a little better, and, emotionally, I feel pretty steady. I’d say “good,” but I feel a little flat. I’m still not falling into any pockets of despair, and I can bring myself “up,” but I sort of feel kind of dull. Maybe it’s because I had to be to work at 10 for a few hours of overtime.

Physically, I feel okay. I do get a dizzy spell here and there, and I get the brain jolts on occasion. I thought the vertigo was going to be more of a factor, as I got a pretty good case of that yesterday. It’s very mild today.

The nurse practitioner I was seeing (who initially prescribed the Effexor) said I was having a hard time sleeping because Effexor is partially a norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitor, which means it will increase adrenaline in your system. It’s a sizeable difference I’m feeling with cutting the dose by so much. I’m sure it’ll continue to improve. I think that’s why I’m sleeping better, and I think it’s decreasing my anxiety.

I need to focus on finding natural ways to increase my energy. I need to get back into an exercise routine, and I need to make sure to eat well. Hopefully, the therapist and I can work out why I seem so neglectful of myself.

Today, I would continue to call this experience good. The telling times will be in about 5-10 days when PMS kicks in. muaaaahahahahahahaaaaa…

Tomorrow is Another Day

Yeah, yeah. I’m obsessed with Scarlett O’Hara. Well, maybe not obsessed, but she is definitely a resourceful woman, and I am infinitely inspired by resourcefulness. When I’m running at 100%, I fancy myself something of a resourceful gal.

Why, yes. Yes I should.

Anyhow, Happy Valentine’s Day to those of you who are celebrating. Lupercalia blessings to those of you who may be celebrating that, as well.

And here we are at day two of the great Effexor detox. I’m definitely feeling it a little more. There are periods of dizziness and lightheadedness. I am also feeling a weird sort of fatigue in my muscles. So far, none of this is particularly bothersome. It’s just there.

I tried to meditate last night, but I kept yawning. I remember yawning a lot when I first started, so maybe that’s going to be a thing for a while.

Emotionally, I’m feeling a little strange. As a whole, I feel okay. At certain points, I feel bad, sad, or angry thoughts try to slip in, and then they just stop, and I’m back to my even-keeled feeling. It’s very strange, to me, because I usually have to put effort into feeling better when thoughts sneak in.

When I woke up, I spent some time petting my dog. Then I sang a song to her. In this song, I reach into her mouth and play with one of her teeth. She loves it. Anyhow, I got to thinking about what a good girl she is because she never bites me, and it reminded me of my ex’s dog and how I was trying to train her to be gentle with her teeth. That, of course, reminded me of the breakup fight. In the act of being a petty shitbag, he told me I was never allowed to touch the dog again. (I should point out that I’ve touched that dog a LOT since then (well, maybe not a LOT, but every time I have seen her, I touch her)). That made me cry for a minute because I loved that dog. It was relatively easy to cry, so progress is being made there.

My Daisy-Lou licked away my tears, climbed up on the mountain of pillows, and she sat on my head.

Bottom line? It’s a good day.

New Stuff and Things

Today, I woke up knowing that this was day 1 of weaning me off of my prescription of Effexor.

Prior to getting out of bed, I did all the usual things I do in the morning. My doggie loves wake up time. For her, that means she gets to roll around in the bed, slobber all over my face, and, then, for her crowning achievement, she climbs up on my mountain of pillows and sits on my head. Every morning. For me, this means giving her the time she deserves while hitting the snooze button exactly 3 times. No more, no less.

Eventually, Daisy-Lou and I got up and went downstairs. After she tore around the yard like the Tasmanian Devil, we went into the kitchen and she got her customary doggie treat for making piddles outside. Then I knew it was time to get down to business.

I’m not sure whether it sounds like it or not, but I’m actually pretty jazzed about doing this. I’m hoping it proves to be a successful decision I made and that it’s the beginning of a better time for me. I’m a bit ambivalent about the weaning period, as, per all my research, Effexor is the worst antidepressant to come off of, but I am committed to the process.

That being said, I pulled out the doctor’s instructions, and I got a little concerned.

My normal dose is a 100 mg pill three times daily, so a total of 300 mg a day.

My new prescription was for 25 mg. I’m to take 3 and a half pills a day for a week, then decrease by half a pill until I’m done. So I’m going immediately from 300 mg to 87 mg? Okay, doc. If you say so. I also took the other medication she prescribed to help with symptoms of withdrawl, Clonodine HCL.

Right now, all I feel is a little weird, and that could just be because I’m expecting to feel weird. My mood is steady, I’m not short fused, nor am I feeling overwhelmed.

Next Wednesday, I see my therapist. Won’t she be surprised. haha.

FYI: this blog is not medical advice. If you think you want to stop your antidepressants, do so under the instruction and supervision of the doctor who prescribed them to you.

The Other Side of the Hill

Without a ton of kicking and screaming, I went on ahead and turned 50 yesterday.

In all, I’d say it turned out to be a pretty swell day.

In all, I’d say I’m embracing this change. It appears to have been significantly more than my number of years increasing by one. I actually feel like I’ve leveled up in many ways. I feel ready to take over the world.

Since I’ve committed to sharing my mental health journey, I will share that I started yesterday off with a visit to my primary care doctor. She and I discussed weaning off of the Effexor I have been taking for about 2 years now. Many factors have gone into this decision, for me.

  1. I will chuckle if I’m amused by something, but I have not experienced uncontrollable laughter in 2 years, and I miss it. I will cry if something horrendous happens, but I also enjoy those tears that come during a movie or during those stupid Hallmark commercials.
  2. The circumstances that were contributing to my anxiety are no longer factors in my life. By and large, it was my old job that prompted me to look into medication. I have a new job, one that is devoid of the factors that caused my problems at my old job.
  3. Depression may still be a factor, and we shall see if it is, but I think I may be able to do this with just a therapist.
  4. I finally have found a primary care doctor who understands how trying it is to transition off of these pills and was willing to prescribe something to help with the anxiety and dizzy spells that are sure to come during the transition and while my body adjusts to the new reality.
  5. I sort of miss having a libido. For as small of an amount of a sex drive as I had, I really couldn’t afford to lose what Effexor took away. I mean, I’m not shopping for a new boyfriend any time soon (if ever), but it also sucks to have certain parts of yourself closed down prior to you being ready for that to happen. Maybe there’s a friend out there. A friend who is a friend and also puts out (damn… do I sound piggish, or what?). Maybe there isn’t. Who knows? The option to find out does need to be present, though.

Sure, I am completely open to being on medication again, down the road, if I need it. I’m just hoping that I can make positive changes on my own now. You know, with the help of licensed mental health professionals. During this process, it will be nice to laugh so hard that it makes my stomach muscles hurt and to cry over the way that movie or story turned out. Anyone who has known me for any length of time has to have noticed how flat I’ve been.

Anyhow… Fifty is here, and she is nifty. This is the absolute first time that turning any age has caused me to feel anything, and I’m glad it is a positive thing.

I hope it turns out that way for all of my friends who are entering this decade this year.

Have a good one!