Executive Function

Brain Fog

Brain Fog

This is one of the most important topics I’ll post about on this blog (hence why it is permanently “stickied” to the top of my blog). I don’t expect to do much on it tonight. It’s too important to me and too overwhelming. *cut for sheer length* Continue reading

Who am I?

I don’t know who I am or what I want.

I’m passing time. I’m very successful at passing time.

I have confidence that if I knew what I wanted, I could put all of my focus into achieving it.

But, I don’t know what I want.

If I look back across my history, I see continuity up until high school ended. It is as though my life honed my beliefs and desires to a razor-sharp point by the end of that year. I knew exactly what I wanted in life for the long term.

Then I said goodbye to you, not knowing it would be forever.

[If I could rewind and do anything in my life differently, it would be that. I wouldn’t go to the special college. I would go with you. My heart is in my throat and it’s hard to swallow without tears. It’ll never be less painful to recall. And you’ll never, ever know.]

In first year college, I change dramatically and abruptly, because I had some kind of amnesia, but I’m not here to discuss that. But two things stayed the same: My love of nature and my desire to create things artistically. So, I still had good enough path.

Second year college removed all of that from me. I won’t discuss it here and now. That’s when I became a caretaker without knowing and without preparation and without success. The panic attacks started and my loss of God[], for reasons left unwritten for now. I had no warning or knowledge about such things. I had no way to correct for what I was being told about my place in the Universe.

But then came many years of being suicidal with severe PTSD. I behaved entirely differently. I thought entirely differently. I was quite literally a different person. Any continuity was discontinued. I was diagnosed with a dissociative disorder and told that it would never go away and nothing would ever feel free or have any sort of meaning to me again.

But after so many years, I did get a thread back. I began to be able to physically feel my environment, for instance the wind on my face. And later more. Certain things that were important to me in the past became important to me once again. For example, my love of certain animals. I started to re-develop an interest in art, although in a very different way than before.

My folks and I learned about autism spectrum disorder. I was diagnosed. It helped in so many ways. It forged a language between us and for the first time in my life, I was able to communicate with my parents. I lived with them and we fell into a pattern and I was, for the first time since 12th grade, fairly content with my life.

Then I got married and I changed again. I won’t go into it. I am an anxious person on my best day, and I was often afraid. What always strikes me is that when I was at my most afraid with him, when he was in one of his PTSD-induced rages, I would undress completely. Maybe I felt he would see that I was totally vulnerable and stop feeling the need to attack. Maybe part of me wanted to make death come as quickly as possible. The marriage ended badly and I won’t discuss that still. A lot was my fault but in my defense, I don’t know who I was at the time. It wasn’t me making the decisions that I was making. It makes me sick to my stomach to even think for one second on the actions I took during the ending months. I was a very different person and I would like to discuss it here, but it’s not safe.

Then what? The police and his psychiatrist told me to leave town immediately, so I did. I have lived away for over six years, maybe even seven.

All this time, my life has been both on hold and yet also, of course, me changing into something new. There are times when my heart yearns to feel a connection to who I was so long ago. Maybe that’s ridiculous. Nobody stays the same as they were growing up, I feel fairly confident.

But I know why I refuse to have kids with my partner, and why I refuse to buy a house with him. Because I know that my life has all been a waiting game until it’s safe to resume what I wanted from life before. I still want those things. I still want my animals and land with a view of the wilderness. I still want the snow-covered mountains. And my partner doesn’t want that. He wants to live in the heart of the city forever. In the concrete jungle. No matter how much he supports me and no matter what I like about him and his long term goals, we never want to end up in the same place.

I live a lie. It’s not safe for me to pursue my old dreams and I’ll never feel safe. But I can’t pretend forever that I’m happy in a city when it was only ever supposed to be temporary.

And what of my “career”? Well, I never cared how I’d earn a living. I am lucky to have finally gotten my degree and to have found a job in it, even though the stress is causing me to become mentally ill. I’m not exaggerating. I’m really struggling and feel so trapped, I don’t know how to get help at this point.

How will I have the farm animals in a city, where they’re illegal? You see the problem when I clarify that I’m not talking dogs and cats. But also, I was never a very high-energy person, and now I’m old enough to have little enough energy to be unsure if I can do it on my own now. I feel so old and so tired. I wish there was someone on this whole entire planet who understood. I wish things had been different. I wish I had stayed in touch with my extended family, who mean so much to me yet I never interact with.

Maybe retaining the positive memories of youth is actually self-destructive. Maybe one should not recall positive things from the past, because then there can be a way for one to compare the present to the past. And that can only hurt. Negative memories from the past should also not be remembered. This is because it lets the fear continue. It gives such a strong blue print for how to hate myself, and feel ashamed of myself, and how to fear in all these millions of situations, and how to avoid these people, and avoid these other people, and never reveal this about myself, and never reveal that about myself, and never trust anything positive that anybody ever tells me, etc. Etc. forever. Perhaps it would be more useful to me if I could only recall neutral memories.

I don’t know what to do. I’m trapped in my job and it’s causing me to fall apart mentally. I can’t afford to go into a crisis right now. But I don’t want to just quit because I think the company would collapse if I did, unless I gave a lot of notice so they could find a replacement. But then it would just be even more stressful for a month or however long it took. Also, it’s possible it’ll get better. We might be getting a part-time assistant to help my department. I don’t want to think about work.

The cold, the snow, the ice, the moon, night clouds, clouds on a blue sky, ice fog, the feel of warmth as the sun returns, the knowledge that the ground will thaw and seeds will sprout.

I think what I need to do is get back in touch with doing art as I did back in the day, so long ago. I imagine that would help. I would like to begin real meditation again, as well.

The stress at work

Hi again. I’ve been promoted. But I honestly don’t know how long I will survive it. Tomorrow is my manager’s last day. As a reminder, my team was loosely six people and tightly four people. One was fired abruptly. Two were laid off. Now my manager’s position has been eliminated. The leaves me and my high level boss remaining for my entire department. It’s already official that he’s retiring in six months. I guess they’ll try to hire /////

That’s not what I’m here to write about. I’m experiencing impostor syndrome at work. I experience impostor syndrome at all things and at all times, but I’m here to specifically discuss this in regards to work.

I feel like I’ll be found out at any moment that I am a fraud. That I can’t do anything. That I have shit for organizational skills, can’t remember anything, don’t know what I’m doing, and can’t keep up.

I sometimes wonder why I’m with my partner when we don’t have the same life goals and have very few overlapping interests, and make each other so stubborn sometimes that we can’t move forward from certain things in a productive way. But one reason is certainly this. He doesn’t see me as an impostor. He sees me as real and capable. Sometimes, he thinks I’m so capable of certain things that I actually get really frustrated — I mean like when I was taking Piano 101 and he handed me an insanely complex song that could be played by someone who’d had 15 years of practice under their belt, and he expected that I could play it in like a week’s time if just practiced. I mean, I was insanely frustrated by his lack of being able to see my skill level clearly (he’s played for nearly his whole life, so could reasonably know skill level progressions, I believe).

But in this, he has faith in me. He had faith that I could get my B.S. degree in a topic I’d never studied before in my life, and I did it and excelled. My teacher in one class said I’d gotten the highest grade on the final that he’d ever seen. None of it was “my normal”. It was truly all because my partner just treated me like I was capable and competent.

He does that and he’s doing it now as well. We’re still living apart, but he just gives me these matter of fact suggestions on how I can handle a situation, and sometimes I think the ideas are ridiculous because they would be appropriate for a manager to do, not for a lowly nobody like me to do, but I think that overall, it starts to sink in that I can do this, and I am a capable employee.

Except that I’m not. I mean, I’m doing my best. I did say a few things to someone in the company last week that I am insanely anxious about. I really did something wrong. I even … ugh, I can’t talk about it. It’s too shameful and there was no deletion button.

But, all I can say is that I am not afraid of getting a new job. And if I treat this like I always treated school, then it should be okay in the short term: I will quit in two weeks. That’s how I got through all different aspects of school, from long ago to the more recent degree.

But at the same time, I feel so alone when I think of work. My partner doesn’t understand how afraid I am, and how out of control I feel. My best friend, “Joe” was it?, understands a shit ton (he has Autism Spectrum Disorder in some similar ways as myself), but he doesn’t know why I haven’t quit yet.

The stress and anxiety is pretty unbearable. I am living on Lorazepam in the past two weeks. Well, I am taking 0.5mg every other day, except that ever since I said something super condescending (accidentally so) to the executive director, which I cannot delete, with full regrets, I am presently taking it every day. Which I know is not sustainable — I will need to take a week off altogether soon enough. But I just don’t know when things will be settled into a pattern enough for me to feel less scared and anxious and out of control.

It’s the out of control part that scares me. It reminds me of other times in my life when stress and dragged down my mental health. At those times, I have made some amazingly, seriously bad decisions that I could never write online. I’m talking very serious mental illness and very unusual behaviors that were “not like me”. But that I am apparently capable of, because they did happen and I did have control over my body. At least sort of — when it’s like that, it doesn’t feel as though I am in the control. I mean, it feels that I am not me. It feels that I am someone else, or maybe that I am nowhere and there’s just someone else controlling my shell.

I feel all kinds of existential crises happening. All I can tell myself is to keep an open mind: Keep an open mind that maybe I can do this. Maybe I am capable and competent. Maybe I can learn this. Maybe I can get enough of the important tasks onto a calendar, and consult the calendar every single day and not miss the vital things. I did always say I wanted to learn how to be a reliable person (it is not one of my strengths) and always wanted to be dependable and able to follow a calendar and trust myself to do what needs to be done on time. Maybe this is just my personal playground for learning these skills.

If I’m fired, so what? It will not end me. I will be able to get work in the future. If I’m not fired, and my mental health goes downhill too fast, I will have to go on medical leave until I’m more balanced. And then will probably have to quit. I would like to say I could go straight to the quitting, but from past experience, once it hits that point, it’s already an emergency and I won’t be able to make a decision such as quitting or working until my mental health is more stable again.

I can’t let it get that bad this time. I don’t want to ever go through that again. I live a horseless half-life thanks to letting myself get like that the last time. What would I lose if it happened again?

I wish I could live the life that I know makes me feel whole, but that life doesn’t truly exist.

  1. Horses
  2. Crafts
  3. Outdoors / mountains / skiing
  4. Close family / partner / closest friends / dog
  5. Extended family <– this is the problem. They live all over the map. Even at my most complete-feeling, I did not feel complete, because I was not with them, and it is physically impossible to be with them all, unless everyone moved to the same area.

If anything on this list is missing, I do not feel whole. By what makes me feel at Home, I can never feel complete.

It isn’t an exaggeration. I mean this literally. Although, any of these can bring me close to feeling complete when I do own a horse or pony, because horses are, for me, for lack of a better way of explaining, how God[] speaks to me. And certain natural spaces as well, but mostly only places near to where I grew up. I wish it could have translated to all of nature over all of the planet, but I believe my high childhood anxiety influenced where I am able to connect and feel Home. I felt God[]’s presence in certain valleys, and on certain mountains, and in certain winds, and in certain trees, etc. I don’t like saying this out loud, but it’s my truth, and I don’t think I’ve ever put it into words before.

Poem: My love for you

What if the edges are tinged with lilac?
What if the leaf is soft and gentle, and not sharp with razor teeth?

What if you love me and the world is kind?

What if you’re good enough as you are?

What if you don’t have to pretend anymore?

What if the wind brushes only softly against the grass blades?
What if the heat dissipates as soon as the sun sets below the dirt?

What if the sound of thunder is only your hoofbeat?
What if the touch of silk and sweet, sweet smell is all that brushes my nose?

What if you’re out there?

What if my heart is whole and filled with love?
What if my love for you overflows and bathes the whole world in light?

What if we’re all connected?

Journal entry accidentally left untitled

Hello out there, to anybody who reads this! I am in a strange mood tonight, to say the least. I’m hyped up, without knowing why.

Work is falling apart but I’ve made it a sort of self challenge: SEE WHAT IS THE BEST I CAN DO AND WHERE IT GETS ME. I expect it to not be enough. My department cannot be run with only two employees. It is madness. It is insanity. It is company self-sabbatoge. Why am I not quitting, except to see how far I can get? Curiosity? See what exactly *can* I do?

And if I fail and my company doesn’t get their paychecks and one of them sues the company? Then I’ll be fired, I’m sure.

I need to tell them! It’s a disaster.

That’s why my intestines are ill every day in the afternoon. Because I cannot relax. It is harder to do the simpler tasks now. What was routine is now like pushing a boulder up a hill. It is harder because my heart is beating too hard and my mind is racing and trying to figure out every detail I need to ask my manager before he quits. He has two weeks remaining. Why they won’t replace his position after he leaves? I can’t understand that. How he and our supervisor agreed that it could be done with only two people? I can’t understand!

The simple tasks. If I could get the simple tasks done at the speed I used to accomplish them, it would sure help my stress level. But the stress level is so high, there are no longer any tasks that feel simple.

It is no matter. What I wanted to talk about was not reality. I wanted to talk about dissociation and also imagination. In some way, I am tapping into imagination more than I have in years. It’s nice.

But, I was trying to paint, and I hit a point in one of the paintings where I am too afraid to touch it any more. It’s nice as is — not good enough to give to my friend, who I was painting it for, but good enough that I am afraid my next stroke will ruin it.

I’d like to close my eyes and feel wind on my face. I suspect there’s an indication that I’m dissociating again right now. It’s been on and off lately.

I don’t know who I can turn to at work. I can’t talk to my manager; he’s leaving and he’s a sensitive person. If I confess my struggles to him, he might feel guilty for leaving me. On the other hand, maybe he could take back when he told the executive director that our department could be run with only two people!!!!! That would be a big help!

I’m listening to music. It’s been a couple of weeks now, where I am O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D with certain audio things, and sometimes audio-visual things. But every day, I listen to a song. Often, it is a different song than the day before. But for that day, it is just one song, on repeat. I cannot turn it off. Maybe it is helping distract me from the stress.

Dissociation was always meant as a tool of protection. It just isn’t safe with me, because my body doesn’t always know how to turn it back off. I don’t mind feeling unreal when things are filled with stress, but as long as it stops again when I want it to stop. But in history, that hasn’t been the case. At least it has been many years, maybe even a decade, since the last time I couldn’t turn it off for several years straight. That’s unacceptable. I will have to deal with the stress in a different way this time.

It is not bad now. I am in reality plenty, only going in and out to unreality at times throughout the day. I believe I will be okay.

I asked my doctor for a new prescription of anti-anxiety medicine. He said no, I must make a tele-appointment with him first. It hasn’t even been a full year since the last tele-appointment. That seems harsh. The truth is, *having* the medicine is what’s important. I just need to have it available. The truth is that I lost the prescription he wrote me a year ago. I picked it up from the pharmacy. I am like 85% sure it made it into my bedroom. But it was months before I needed any, and by then I couldn’t find it, and I felt too uncomfortable to ask him for a new one. It’s only 30 tablets of 1mg lorazepam — like I don’t think that’s a big deal. He makes it seem like a huge deal to prescribe, though. He could give me 30 tablets of 0.5mg if he wanted, too. That would be fine. Like I said, I just need to *have* it, and I stay pretty calm. But now, I’m getting really low on my 3-year-old prescription of 1mg clonazepam, so I’m getting more anxious. I only take 1/4 tablet of those ones as necessary. Usually I just need a few every few months.

But like I said, it’s low now, so I’m getting more anxious. Why does he have to be so harsh? Why does he think I can just take time off of work for a tele-appointment, or how does he know I can afford it? I do have health insurance, so the cost is probably mostly covered, I’d hope. But having an appointment with him is so stressful. This is a medical doctor I’ve had for like six years, but I don’t trust him. I always tell myself I need to find a new doctor, but that’s really hard to do. I don’t want to talk about.

I sort of feel like I’m free-falling through the sky, passing beautiful clouds at sunset. There might be some magic involved. But I’m not going to talk about that tonight, although it’s what I originally sat down to try and talk about.

I wish someone at work knew. But then, I also try to appear professional and like I can handle anything. I think I pretended too much, and that’s what made people think our department can function with only two of us! But the truth is, I’m really having a hard time right now and I don’t know where to turn. My partner is a manager and says only logical things that I could do if I were a manager with the feeling of authority. He doesn’t understand that I always have the mindset of a peon and have a fear of authority. My best (and kind of only) friend is so kind but sometimes his support demonizes those in charge of me, and I don’t really want that, either. I don’t think my employers are bad people or like, maybe even aware of what they’re doing. Our company does really good things. Our company helps the environment and helps certain people in certain ways. We are a nonprofit and I really believe in our mission. I don’t believe they want to cause suffering. Yes, we’re having financial struggles, and so they are trying to cut back on as much staff as possible, and we’ve had to come back on some of our programs, but I think they’d help me if they knew what kind of support I needed.

For instance, I want to have a consult with our accounting books account manager. I believe there is some automation we could pay for that would save me countless, countless hours. They would save on an employee, but pay a bit more for that automation, but they’d come out ahead. I just need to present it to them. They have to take me up on this. I cannot do all of this data entry and also the reports and also keep up with all of the A/P! And the questions, and all of payroll! I’ve become the entire payroll department! I’m scared SHITLESS. I already reached out to an awesome young lady in another department and asked her to help me just by reaching out two days before each pay period ends, and asking me the simple question: “Have you already determined which day you’ll do the preprocess?” That’s all I need. If I haven’t worked out the day the Preprocess will take place, then payroll won’t be happening! That’s me. I’ll have a mental block against doing payroll and will forget it exists if I haven’t worked out the date of Preprocess on paper and scheduled it onto my calendar.

I already f-ed up this one because I didn’t Monday was a holiday for our payroll system, so everything is due 24 hours earlier than I thought. I would literally have missed this one except my manager is still around, and told me today that it is due Thursday at noon, when here I thought it was due Friday noon this time around! I just can’t even! Can you imagine?!

I have executive function difficulties!

Voice 1: I CANNOT DEFINE MYSELF BY LIMITATIONS.

Voice 2: I CANNOT PRETEND TO BE SOMEONE I’M NOT, WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES TO MY HEALTH.

Voice 1: FIGHT FOR YOUR LIMITATIONS AND YOU WILL NOT GO FAR IN LIFE.

Voice 2: DIDN’T YOU SUCCEED IN FINALLY GETTING YOUR DEGREE ONLY AFTER YOU ASKED FOR AND ACCEPTED HELP IN THE FORM OF ACCOMMODATIONS? DIDN’T ACCEPTING YOUR LABELS AND STRUGGLES HELP YOU GO FARTHER THAN EVER BEFORE?

Voice 1: IF I PRETEND TO HAVE EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL, I WILL LEARN MORE AND EVENTUALLY HAVE EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL

Voice 1: IF YOU PRETEND TO BE PROFESSIONAL AND HAVE EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL, YOU CAN STILL MAKE A PRESENTATION ON HOW AUTOMATION WILL ALLOW YOUR TEAM TO SUCCEED. YOU CAN STILL PRESENT YOUR NEEDS, JUST IN A MORE ADULT, PROFESSIONAL WAY. HAVEN’T YOU ENJOYED WHEN YOUR MANAGER HAS COMPLICATED YOUR ORGANIZATIONAL ABILITIES, AND WHEN YOUR MANAGER’S SUPERVISOR HAS BEEN IMPRESSED WITH PROJECTS YOU’VE SET UP?

Yes. I’ve learned a lot and honestly this pushing myself and pretending shit has gotten me pretty far. But the current situation is not okay.

My manager and our supervisor both know I have Asperger’s. I chose to tell him once. It was after a COMPANY-WIDE MEETING where out of the blue, we were all asked to go around and present on what we do at the organization. It was MY idea! I’m the one who talked with the executive director about how wonderful it would be if we could all present what our days look like, since our departments were soooo isolated at the time, and I never had a clue what other departments were working on.

But this was out of the fucking blue! Other departments knew it was coming and had fucking PREPARED presentations for the meeting! I’ve left out another amazingly ridiculous detail — THAT VERY MORNING, my supervisor emailed me and my manager about changes in our job duties, which was a complete shock to me. So I had only known about my new/revised job duties for about 2 hours, and then I was supposed to present them to the company out of the fucking BLUE!

Well, after that, I cried and cried. But later that night, after I had pulled myself together, I composed an email to my manager and explained that I have Asperger’s, and I require more advanced warning for (a) changes for things as large as my job description, and (b) given time to prepare before having to present.

I mean. Come on. He apologized a ton, and honestly he’s given me a lot of advance warning for changes ever since then. For instance, he and our supervisor told me how he’s leaving well before it got announced to the company, so I would have some days to process it before anyone other employee reached out to me with questions.

I don’t know how to go to bed tonight. I’m in a different room than my bedroom because I didn’t want to be staring at a screen in bed, but it’s the music I’m listening to. It’s hitting me too hard. Too emotional. I can’t stop it. I want to scream and maybe cry and maybe just dance.

I’ve been clenching my jaw like CRAZY. I mean, yeah yeah you get it, I’m stressed. But the jaw pain is getting unbearable from it.

Maybe if I get into pajamas, I’ll feel more sleepy. I mean, I know it can’t happen until I turn off the music. But. I can’t. And I charged my phone earlier, so I can’t just play it until it dies, either. Well, if anyone has made it this far, thanks for listening.

Changes at the workplace

I need to write. There’s no other way to say it. I learned shocking news about my workplace on Friday, and have been slowly processing it all weekend. I’m supposed to meet one-on-one with our executive director tomorrow morning to discuss it. I have a small list of questions, but certainly I take longer than this to process massive changes.

I work on a team of three. Together, we make up two departments that are highly interconnected. My whole organization would be considered small, especially after the layoffs of some months ago. However, we are always extremely busy and get a lot done, and the work never ends.

On Friday, my manager told me that his position is being terminated, as is his boss’s position (although the latter won’t be for a couple more months). I suppose a way to look at it is that those two positions will be merged into just one position. My manager, who hired me and has been training me for over a year, will not be accepting the new position and will be leaving the company. My own position will have an increase in responsibility, and some things will change and some will stay the same.

Our team of 3 was sort of two departments, as I said. They plan to contract out for the smaller of those departments. They would also allegedly be bringing on some kind of administrative assistant to help with some of the data entry I do. That said, I have been wracking my brain and I can’t see how it’s possible to do the remaining department’s work with two people, one of whom doesn’t yet exist (the person who would become my new manager).

But during this brain wracking, I find that my mind is blown. My view of the world has shifted slightly. Things that seemed so important at work, and which I put so much effort into, now seem trivial. Things I haven’t yet learned how to do now seem vital, and spike my anxiety the moment I think of them. How can we accomplish what needs to be done each month? It is as though I am viewing our department from so far away, and through a very narrow hallway. It looks barely recognizable.

And I took my manager for granted. I have a lot of regrets. I am so easily intimated by authority. Now, I wish I had talked with him more. I wish I had picked his brains more. I wish I’d asked more about his weekends, and formed more comradery. I wish I’d offered praise of his work, as he’d offered toward mine. I wish I’d done a better job of letting him know my appreciation for the things he taught me and how patient he was with me. Maybe he would be staying if he’d felt appreciated. I had taken his presence at the company for granted. I never dreamed he’d choose to leave, as I’d never dreamed they’d eliminate his position, and I never dreamed they’d try to take a team of three that was barely staying afloat and cut it down to a team of two.

I will certainly write him a letter full of belated appreciations. And tomorrow with the executive director, I will have to state my view that two people cannot be successful, unless perhaps they hire a data entry person FAST and we get 80% of their time. I don’t know what she could possibly say to me about it. But, with three, we haven’t been caught up a single time in over a year. And when I was hired, there were 4 of us!

I spoke with my uncle today, over the phone! The one I used to live with. That was fun. He is always comforting. He says that if you know 10% of a topic, then you are ready to be a consultant. What a crack-up. But it’s true in the sense that I did get a degree in this subject. I don’t have to kowtow to anyone about the things I don’t yet know about the job. I know enough to know what isn’t possible with two people. I don’t have to sound like a total know-it-all, but I’d say I’ve learned more than half of the job. Maybe even up to 70%. There are still some important, complex things I haven’t learned, but I’ve seen a lot of the process.

I don’t know why they’d even try to swing it with two people. Why not outsource the whole department? I would get another job. I do love what this company does (I wish I could share, because it’s great!), but what’s the point of crashing a vital department? Honestly, if this department goes down, the company will go down.

Later this week is when the latest batch of “transitions” becomes official. At this point, I don’t know if losing these two is it for the transitions, or if we’ll be losing more employees as well. What a mess. I know the last year has been hard for a lot of companies, and the fact that ours is still afloat is something to be grateful for. Many companies have run out of luck before now. But I don’t like this process. If I need to look for a new job, I’d rather just know that right now, and not have to watch one after another person get laid off, not knowing if that will be enough to keep the rest afloat.

Meanwhile, there’s actually a job opening at a place I’d LOVE to apply to. If I wait, I might be too late. It would be in a different field than my degree entirely, so that makes me cautious about applying. But oh man, it would be so great in so many ways. I know some of the people who work there, and they’re some really nice people. I used to work for one of them, many years ago. She’s the one who told me about the job opening. But I don’t know if I’m ready to just abandon my current company, particularly know that it’s in such upheaval, and I think would really need someone in the department to stick around at least until they’ve gotten the new manager into the picture, and got the person trained up in the procedures! So, you know. Life. And all that.

Maybe I’ll be able to sleep tonight.

A New Year

This is the time when one year ends and another begins. It’s based on the Earth circling the sun for one complete lap. What’s interesting is that I don’t know any reference point. On the planet, I would say I am starting on the North side of the track, or the East side, or what have you. But what’s our reference point for a year? What do astronomers consider up or down or left or right? I should look this up. We must be closer to one constellation than another at the start of the year, for instance. Are we closer to the heart of the milky way, farther, more this way or that way?

This is all to say… Not much. I don’t know what my hopes are for the coming year. I hope for a little bit of what I’ve got from this ending year, but not the rest of it. I want some things to change, and some to stay the same.

I’ve got some of what I want, but it’s so temporary that I can’t settle and live my own life. It’s all like I am floating. I’ve gotten to live here, but it’s only short-term, and then I have to go back. In choosing to stay here for now, I am blissfully lucky and happy, but also can’t relax, and can’t put out any roots. I can’t get a pet, or set up files to organize my paperwork. Because my paperwork doesn’t come here. I haven’t changed my mailing address.

I’ll probably have to go back within 2021. It’ll return me to my partner, who did visit me for a month, which included two weeks of quarantine. It’ll return me to sunshine and weather that lets me go scootering around the city. It’ll return me to many acquaintances and my best friend (an ex, “Joe” was it?). It’ll return me to other family I would very much like to visit. It’ll return me to my coworkers, some of whom I was getting to know a little bit before the pandemic. But let me tell you, work has changed a lot since then. Downsizing is no joke. I am lucky to still be employed, and luckier yet that they have let me work from afar this long, in spite of having wanted me to help do the mail and check runs.

I don’t know how I feel about it all. I can’t stay here forever without it being intentional, because I need to be able to set out roots. For me, that specifically means owning a pet. I never feel settled or truly “there” without the unconditional love and the caretaking role. Pet ownership is a rock around my neck for me, that helps me feel PRESENT and tied down in a way that is good for my mental health. Like without it, I feel constant anxiety and lack of self, not knowing who I am or where I should be or what I should be doing. I suppose that when I own a pet, I know exactly where I need to be and what I need to be doing. “At this time, creature needs food.” “At this time, creature needs exercise”. Etc.

I feel constant anxiety even with a pet, but at least about different things. There is no escape from anxiety for me. Aging has been good for me in some ways, though. My level of fear and anxiety is much less than when I was little.

I am physically much older this year than ever before. It’s the first year where I actually feel it. I am more tired, and injure things much more easily. I need to do way more stretches to stay the slightest bit limber. If I drop something on the floor, there’s actual effort involved in bending over to pick it up. I have to really make myself do it. My hearing is much worse now, too. I have to ask a particular household member to repeat things very frequently. My eyes don’t seem any worse, at least.

“Joe” sent me a weighted hula hoop as a Christmas gift. I didn’t expect to like such a thing, but I love it! It’s really fun to use. I sometimes take a break from work to hula for a few minutes at a time, and then again after dinner for a longer period of time. A household member has been enjoying it, too. If anyone reading this has Aspergers and likes the tactile pressure (eg. I am CRAZY about my weighted blanket–I could sleep with 3 of them on me and still want more pressure, although that would get too hot), I really highly recommend trying out a weighted hula hoop. It’s sort of like having a lower back massage.

For a summary, I don’t want to leave here. But I also don’t suppose that staying is feasible. If I were to stay, it would need to be an intentional decision and would free me to get a pet and filing cabinets and set up an actual life of my own. But, if I do have to go back to my pre-pandemic life, there are also things that are positive there. Maybe I wish I could do half and half. Or 1/4 there and 3/4 here. Well, I need to think of other things or I’ll never be able to fall asleep tonight. Goodnight, all, and Happy New Year! I hope you are all safe and well.

This is not an update

Hi all,

This is not an update. I’m not sure what this is. I just feel a need to write. It’s been quite a while and I’m not sure what to say. There’s a lot going on, probably. Or maybe there’s nothing going on. It’s hard to tell. I’m not depressed, but I’m not relaxed.

It’s probably because I’m still living away from my partner. We talk about him coming to visit me here. But we are pretty strict here with how we treat possible exposure to ‘the virus’. He’d be tested upon flying, and then be in strict quarantine here at the house for at least a week or two until he’s tested again. We wouldn’t encourage breathing the same air until then. It would be a hard time period.

Then, he’s willing to take more risks than we are. He’d probably be going into local bakeries for pastries and such. He does that presently. We don’t do that. We’ve gone into a store at least 8 times in the past half year, but only for some supplies and groceries.

Well, you know. It’ll be what it is, I suppose. I’m just not sure what it is. Part of me can see positives of me returning back to what was my previous life. Part of me would leave where I presently am over my dead body, so to speak. You’ll have to drag me out kicking and screaming. And yet. I had friends and stuff in my previous life. Well, not like REAL friends, except the one. What was his fake name on here? “Joe” or something? The person I used to walk with once a week. He was a real friend. The others were just upbeat acquaintances but that could be so much fun. My Pokemon friends, I suppose I mean. And I had been developing some kind of friendships with people at work, but also not exactly. That is complicated.

Work is really, really, ultra weird. I suppose my paranoia and self-doubt is what’s kicked in, really. I’m pretty convinced everyone hates me. It’s funny to write that out, but I’m dead serious. I wish I could just do my work and not worry about what other people think of me. That would be so nice. It’s worse long-distance, because I don’t get any smiles. Apparently I find smiles really comforting when talking with others. Who knew. Also, nobody asks me how I am. At least in person, people might stop and ask how was my weekend, or whatever. Long-distance, nobody reaches out to me. It’s frustrating. I try to reach out to a couple of people now and again. But it’s so hard. I can’t tell what anyone else is doing. I don’t know what they’re doing! I don’t even know if they’re working half the time. Maybe more than half the time. What are they doing?

If this long-distance was going to go on a long time, I’d want to work elsewhere. I’d want to work for a company that is willing to work on developing a healthy mode of connection online. We suck. It’s so awkward. People don’t even turn on their videos during Zoom meetings, and typically keep their mics turned off, too. Are they even there? Are they listening? Are they working? Are they out driving around in their car, or doing house chores? How can I know? It’s frustrating.

Maybe I don’t like the people there anymore. I did before. Maybe I don’t now. Maybe it’s just a job. Maybe I need to calm down about it and just treat it like a job. Before, I was making it a center piece of my life, hanging out with some of them after work, trying my heart out at work, doing my absolute best at every moment. Not having energy left over for my personal life.

So, you know. Life’s weird. But isn’t that what I always say? Maybe I don’t know what a normal life would look like. Maybe it’s staring me in the face and I think it’s weird.

Well, I’m exercising a bit more finally. And I’m eating pretty well. I’m getting some chores done that I’ve wanted to get done. I guess that’s all I can ask for. I talk with my partner over the phone most every day. I don’t feel that I’m missing anything, other than talking with him and his parents. He doesn’t do things that I wish I could do– like he doesn’t go on hikes or anything, so I don’t have fear of missing out. I get to talk with him over the phone.

I’ve set up a ton of bird feeders. So far we’ve seen seven different types of birds, only 5 of which have used the feeders. And a squirrel, of course. But we love squirrels, so that’s good.

I can’t believe it’s going to be winter soon. The weather has changed.

Topic: OCD and the so-called novel Coronavirus

[Hi all. I’ve been wanting to write a post about this for a while. But full disclosure: I have been very, very, extremely lucky. I was able to leave the city for the country, where I have been for three months. I did touch three airports and then quarantine for 14 days on the other end. Also, I am still employed and working full time from home. And largely, none of my friends or family have died from the virus so far. So my thoughts on this topic are not as panicked and stressed as they would otherwise be. The only negative I feel at all times is anxiety/guilt — because I am so far away from my partner and workplace, and feel I have been more lucky than I “deserve”. And work is super stressful because three people were fired and the rest of us have to pick up all of their work. But that is all for a different post.]

What I want to discuss is this highly contagious virus and my observations from the perspective of someone who experiences contamination OCD on a good day. To me, it feels like a very cranked up version of how I’ve always felt. It’s like my normal tendencies are amplified.

I was born to wear a mask. I was born to avoid touching doorknobs and avoid outstretched hands of greeting. I was born to avoid breathing in another person’s breath. I was born to stand across the street when chatting with neighbors. I was born to avoid standing in a crowded post office. I was born to stay a hundred miles away from a sneezing or coughing person. The amplified part is that I do feel strong anxiety when a non-household member gets very close, particularly if they’re not wearing a mask. And I feel quite upset when I have to go into a store, with double-mask and typically gloves (for which I have a specific routine), and so many other people are not wearing masks at all (if they would wear a mask, there would be less chance of virus in the environment).

These parts of the so-called “new normal” are easy. What will NOT be easy, and may in fact be impossible for me, is going back to a previous life. How will I possibly snuggle in shoulder-to-shoulder with a hundred other people on a dirty train? How will I possibly walk around in a grocery store in the future without a mask and possibly gloves? (How had I ever become so mentally healthy that I was able to do those things?)

Hearing people TALK about hand-washing for 20 seconds, and proper washing technique as though it was a brand new concept was shocking to me.┬áHearing people actually think aloud about what might be on a mailing envelope or a piece of grocery store fruit or a public railing was a little satisfying for me, I’ll admit. For a brief time, non-contamination-OCD people actually had one second of insight into my mind. There’s never been ANYTHING in public that I’ve EVER touched in my adult life that didn’t cause me to at least briefly consider what might be on it. 99.99% of the time, I’m able to pick up or handle the item anyway, but it’s ALWAYS the first thought. For a brief time, people around the world seemed to take a moment to consider those things, too. It was nice.

I use past tense because a lot of areas within the USA seem kind of done with considering surface contamination. That’s fair enough, because now we believe the virus isn’t as transmittable by surface contact, so even I don’t wash my hands after handling the newspaper (which was delivered four hours before I touch it anyway, so I don’t know if that example should count).

How I’ll deal with life going back to the old-normal, I have no idea. Frankly, I’m probably isolating myself so much that I’m missing out on a lot of germs that would be helping to strengthen my immune system in the long run. But the future will come when it comes. For now, you’ll be speaking to me through a mask from a great distance away.

Corona virus and wanting to go Home

Well, it’s finally gotten to me. The whole virus thing. I’m not even worried about catching the virus, because I’m not in a particularly vulnerable group, so it would probably be like a normal flu for me. I hate flues, but I don’t think I’d be hospitalized or anything like that. But all the same, I want to go Home. I want to be with my parents. I’m tired. Everyone is talking about working remotely for a while. I wish my job didn’t involve the fact that I have to go to the office for certain tasks. But I don’t know how I could do certain things from afar. MOST of my job, I could do from afar. Like 90% of it.

I’d want to go Home in the best of times. But now I’m very stressed. I’m snapping at the people I live with. I’m getting a bit short with people at work when they don’t respond to my questions within 24 hours. And it’s probably because they’re choosing to work remotely at times and I can’t, so I’m jealous.

You know, whatever job I get next, I’m going to make damn well sure that it’s something I could do remotely if push came to shove. I hadn’t PLANNED on going Home yet, but my partner has to stay home for the next month. A lot of places around here have told their workers to work remotely. The trains are bizarrely empty and it’s nice because I get a seat, but it’s also weird. I wonder if I’m the smart one or the stupid one.

My parents are kind of worried. They’re in a vulnerable group. I want to be with them. I am Homesick. If the vision of going there hadn’t entered my head, maybe I wouldn’t be so wistful, but it’s in my head and I want it so badly.

I mean look, if worst came to worst, I could ask for unpaid leave and go there anyway, and leave the company in a lurch. And if they said no, I could quit and walk away, and go Home.

I’m kind of lonely lately. I have been arguing a lot and, like I said, I’ve been very snappy with the people I live with. I don’t feel connected with them right now. Everything they say and how they say it feels alien. They don’t understand me and I don’t understand them. But it’s become so bad, I’m not sure how to get out of it and get back on the same page, at least with my partner.

Oh the things I wish I could say on here.