Worrying

I’m a worrier.

For those of you who know me, this is no surprise. I worry about my friends, my family, the people I care about. High on my list right now is Calla, because I know there’s a lot going on with her, and I wish I could help; I know I still have feelings for her, even though I’ve come to terms with the idea that we won’t have a romantic relationship; there’s a gap between the rational side of my mind – the part that know’s we are just friends – and the emotional side, which spent months building up feelings for her, and is extremely slow to let them go. I’m stubborn like that. I worry about my friend who is switching medications, because she seems to be taking it pretty hard, and it’s not like things have been terribly easy on her. I worry about my other friend here, who’s a single guy and an awesome friend who just seems to have a hard time catching a break. I know it’s coming, but I still worry about him.

I know I worry, and I know it can be intense and annoying. It can cause me to try to intrude more than I should, and just be more of an ass than I normally am.I also know that for a lot of people, this would be a cause of a lot of stress. But I worry because I choose to, not because I have to. I want my friends to be happy, and I worry about them when things aren’t going so well. I’ve had one friend come very close to killing herself – not one of the above friends, a separate one, in Canada – and another actually go through with it – my friend Alice, my took her life in June. I know that I can’t change the past, and that ‘what if…’ scenarios will just mess with my head. But I wonder if having someone to reach out to, or who reached out to her, might have made a difference. So I worry about my friends because I never want to see one of them get to that point again, or if they do, to know that I am here for whatever help or support I can give.

In other news, things are proceeding as planned, and I know that two blog entries in two days is pretty unusual for these times – more reminiscent of my early blogging. But I had this on my mind, and I spent the day at work thinking about it – well, the part of my work day when I wasn’t going through the process of reporting a workplace injury, because I slipped on a loose piece of cardboard and twisted my knee. It’s nothing serious, but I’m going to be limping around for a day or so. Thankfully, I’ve got the next two days off, so I’ll be able to keep things easy on my knee. So, whoever is reading this, don’t worry; it isn’t serious, just an annoyance, and I’ll be fine in a day or two.

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Keep On Keepin’ On

So it’s been a while since my last post, but I have good reason. The last week or so has been pretty busy for me; last Tuesday was my third session with my Dungeon World group, and last Monday was the character creation session session for a 4th Edition D&D game that should be starting up soon – I’m not running it, thankfully. Just yesterday was the fourth session of my Dungeon World game, and it went very well – much better than session 3. I think the group works together pretty well, and it’s fun to do, even if it is exercising new narrative muscles in my brain.

I met up with Calla on Sunday to see a movie, and again on Tuesday – we met with some friends at a place called The Mad Potter and painted some pottery, which was fun and a cool new experience. I’m still not entirely sure where things are with her; last year around this time she was essentially placing her life in my hands, and now it seems like – well, I don’t know what it seems like. I know there’s not a relationship in the cards, but it feels like she’s even distancing herself as my friend. It sounds like she’s trying to take on a lot by herself, and I wish she would ask for support if she needed it – but I know how hard it can be to ask other people for help. I spent a long time trying to handle everything in my life alone, because I didn’t feel like anyone else could understand what I was going through – and that didn’t work out so well for me. It took 2 suicide attempts and a trip to Menninger Clinic, as well as four months in a step-down program, to hammer that into my head. My head, as you might surmise, is pretty hard. So I hope my friends don’t do the same thing and try to take on everything alone, when those close to them are willing to help.

Today I was at a workshop with NAMI on learning how to effectively tell my story, to communicate it in ways that would be helpful for advocacy. It’s just another thing to do to work towards getting into the social work field, on the side of mental health. It is so frustrating to me that so many people don’t understand even the smallest things about mental illness, and so I want to do what I can to change that. This blog is a piece of that, certainly, but I want to do more; I want to try to help people the way Menninger and the step-down helped me. I don’t know exactly what I’ll be able to do, but I want to do something; it’s hard for me to see my friends in distress and not want to do more to help. I know I’m not their therapist, and I don’t want to be, but if I can help make any part of their lives easier – and then do the same for other people, while I’m at it.

In a couple weeks I’m going to head back to St. Louis to help my parents figure out what they’re going to keep and give away, sell, or leave behind, and soon after that, I should be an uncle. The next month or so is going to be pretty interesting – and that doesn’t even get inot holiday season in retail. So we’ll see how active I can be here.

Bad Day

Yesterday was not a good day for me.

It really started Sunday night; sometime around 9 or 10 PM, I started feeling intensely sad and lonely. At that time of night, there’s really not much that cane be done for the lonely part, and the sad part didn’t really seem to have a cause – it was just a rush of emotion that came out of seemingly nowhere and just made me feel lousy. Then Monday started, and things got worse. I went to work on Monday morning, and while I was boxing up books to send back to the publishers, I just kept feeling these waves of emotion. It was always sadness, and it happened pretty regularly, every 15-20 minutes. I would be doing just fine, and then bam, sadness, and I felt like I was about to start crying – which would have been hard to explain at work. That happened basically all day, and while I was on break I told a couple friends, but they were either working shifts that started before mine ended, making them unavailable, or having their own issues, which might not have made for the best company. So I just had to tough it out, go home, get dinner, get in touch with some people, and hope for a better day today. It probably didn’t help that I was turned down – again – for certified peer specialist training, which I only got notification of as I was coming home from work; that’s something I really want to do, but they keep telling me that the people they give preference to are either working or volunteering in the field. I wonder how, though; every place I’ve talked to that deals with mental health and accepts volunteers doesn’t have anything like a certified peer specialist area, and apparently volunteering with NAMI, while the right general area, doesn’t count. It’s really frustrating, especially since the next session of training won;t be offered until next January.

I’m not really sure how today is going to go, though it hasn’t started so well – I’m not normally up at this time, but I just woke up at around 5:30 sweating like crazy and didn’t feel tired anymore. One of my friends had recommended journaling as a way to try to work things through in my head, and while I just didn’t have the energy for it last night, right now is a different story. I’m not really sure what brought on these erratic waves of emotion, but I have been feeling kind of lonely for the last few days; the work schedules of me and my friends have been clashing this last week, so they seemed to be working whenever I wasn’t and vice versa – and Calla has been busy with family from out of town, which is leaving her stressed and frayed and without much time to herself, let alone to hang out with me.

I’m writing this knowing that my mother, at least, will read this, and probably my sister, and some other friends. I know that my history in this area has been pretty bad, but I’ve managed to make it here for over a year, and I don’t think a couple bad days will affect me long-term. I’m going to try to meet up with a couple friends after work tonight, and I hope that will help out; traditionally, being around my friends always cheers me up, even if we’re not together for long. And tomorrow I go to see my therapist, which will also help; he’ll probably have some ideas on what might have brought this on. If nothing else, I can always try to go see my psychiatrist and ask him what he thinks; this may just be some odd kind of seasonal issue. I’m feeling bad right now, but I’m not feeling particularly worried; one or two days of badness does not a pattern make, and as someone with depression, I know that occasionally there will be days like this. Generally, though, I hope that they won’t be on days when I work, because trying to explain to my fellow employees why I just started crying for no apparent reason is not something I look forward to.

Hell, it might just have been a Monday thing. Maybe, like Garfield, my psyche just hates Mondays. I guess I’ll find out.

Religiosity

Yes, I’m aware the title isn’t a real word. But I like it, so I’m using it. In any case, what I’m writing about right now is my recent experiences with religion and faith, and the realizations I’m coming to about my own faith. In the last week or so, I’ve been going to church with Calla – last Sunday and this Sunday, to be exact. I grew up Catholic, then spent a long time as an atheist, and Calla’s church is a Methodist church, so it’s been an interesting journey.

One of the first things I noticed about Calla’s church is that they’re a relatively young congregation (at least, at the services I’ve been to), and they’re very energetic. For someone who grew up with solemn Catholic hymns and the smell of old incense at church, in buildings most often made from hard stone and bare wood, the Methodist service was practically exploding with energy. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Catholic service, it’s just a very different feel. It was kind of nice, actually, feeling all that energy in the room. I got the feeling that the people there really meant what they were praying for and singing – and the music was much more upbeat, too.

Being at church has had me thinking a lot about my beliefs. I’m pretty sure I don’t fall under the wings of any particular denomination; I’m Christian, but that’s about as far as I can go. Instead, my faith is kind of a grab-bag of things; some deism, some Christianity, some other bits and pieces – I think at one point I was seriously referencing the “Godfellas” episode of Futurama. Essentially, it all boils down to this: I think that there is a god, but due to the immensity of his/its likely power, intelligence, and abilities, there’s no real ability for humanity to seriously understand God, because we just don’t have the perceptive abilities to encompass him. And once God ensured we had free will, and the ability for rational thought, he stepped back, letting us find our own way, and watching as we tried to understand. Eventually, though, God decided that our understanding was important to him, and so he sent a messenger, one very important to him, to act as a conduit for our understanding – that being Jesus. And while we have free will, and God doesn’t often step in to act directly – because that would contradict our free will – we might never know if he does, because, quoting from the aforementioned Futurama episode, “When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.”

For the most part, I think that my particular version of Christianity is pretty chilled out – we’re supposed to be good to the people around us. We’re supposed to give aid to others in need, especially if we have more than we can reasonably use – if I have 600 sandwiches, and you have none, it doesn’t cost me much to give you food, but it might mean the world to you. But we’re supposed to give not for praise or acknowledgement, but because we think it’s the right thing to do. The belief should be matched by works – some effort, large or small, to help our fellow man – because words need to be backed up by deeds for faith to be taken seriously. I don’t know that I feel the need to actively spread my faith – if people are helped by what I do, then that’s good enough. I don’t need to proselytize; if they want to know, they’ll ask. Christianity isn’t a secret, hidden religion anymore – it’s the biggest faith on the planet, even if it is broken up into dozens of denominations.  And my faith is my own; I don’t have, or feel the need to be identified as, anything other than a Christian. I don’t think  my faith has any bearing on the faith of others, either – my beliefs are mine, and given that I can’t possibly know that God is real for certain, who am I to say that my beliefs are right? All I can do is act like a good person, and believe what I believe, and go from there.

As a nerd, this is the metaphor I’ll use. Imagine a computer – one so big that its internal working are so immense that we couldn’t explore them all within our lifetimes, or even affect them in any meaningful way. We can look at the code, but it is billions upon billions of lines long, and in a language so complex that we can’t even start to understand more than even the most basic functions. We can understand that it is some kind of vast intelligence, far more complex than our own, but our communication is limited – until one day, we investigate and find an interface that seems designed for us. It lets us interact with the computer, make inquiries, and try to understand what everything is about. The computer is God, and the interface is Jesus. We still have extremely limited understanding of how things operate, but at least we have a start – and that can help us to expand our understanding on our own.

My views aren’t terrifically sophisticated, but given that I’ve only had my own faith back for a few months, I think it’s a decent start. I still have a ways to go, but it’s my faith. It’s not anything I’m certain of, but then, that’s part of what faith is – I can believe in God, but I’ll never know for certain until I die. One of the things I do believe very firmly is that once you go from belief to certainty, then you have passed through faith and into something different – and that something different is something I often find scary, because absolute certainty is something that only the most zealous people have, and they can do some pretty extreme things because of that certainty.

And hat’s all I have for now. Sorry for the gap in between posts – my move to the receiving room at work has left me less stressed, but more physically exhausted, which is a win in my book, but it means I also don’t always have the energy to think up and then post something here. But questions and comments are always welcome, especially on this topic.

Stress Relief

So I started at a new area at my job today; I’ve moved to the receiving area at my store – which basically means that instead of working behind a cash register or at the customer service desk, I instead unbox and sort all new book and media deliveries. I don’t have to interact with customers at all, and even though it’s a little more physically taxing than the other work, I feel so much less stressed afterwards that it is easily worth it. I’m more relaxed at home, I can talk to people without getting frustrated, and I just feel much more at ease.

It’s weird how change of one thing can make such a big difference. I don’t know how this will pan out in the long term, but for at least right now, it’s a big relief to me. Also, yesterday I went to church for the first time in… well, probably since Christmas. I went with Calla, who is making a lot of progress and is coming back into her faith with a passion I haven’t seen in her in a while. It’s good to see her so excited about something; I think it’s an indication that she’s getting back to a stable place. Even if our relationship doesn’t go past friendship, it is still good to know that things are getting at least a little better for her.

I have another friend who just moved to a new place, and she seems to be settling in; it might take a while to get used to a new place, but from everything she’s said, it sounds like a good place to live, with a pretty friendly, it eccentric, mix of people in her new apartment building. I got to visit her this past Saturday, and while she still has some unpacking to do, it seems like it has a lot of promise, and will let her express herself much more authentically than her old place. I’m hoping that it will be a first step to her moving forward with other things in her life, because she’s a good friend and it’s hard to watch her go through what she’s had to live with.

Sadly, not everything is great; I have another friend who’s been in the hospital for the last week. I haven’t had a lot of contact with her – which is on me – but it’s not the first time she’s been there, and I wish I could do more to help her out. There’s a lot in her background that probably has played a part in her problems, but it’s not my place to say; I just hope that this is the time that really helps her turn a corner. 

Relationships

I’ve had a lot of time recently to think about things, and while I’m muddling through a book or two, I don’t think I’ll be writing about those. Relationships have been on my mind recently – both damaged and lost ones, to be exact. As someone with depression, I’ve never been very good at dealing with loss; negative feelings like sadness tend to hit me pretty hard, and relatively easily. So the last few months have been both a trial for me – and an exercise in seeing how far I’ve come since coming to Houston.

I think first, and most permanent, is the loss of Alice in June. We really formed a connection in Menninger, and getting to see her again afterwards when she eventually wound up at the same step-down program as me was nice. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t tend to form friendships easily or quickly; that’s why making so many friends at Menninger was surprising to me. Even though, after the step-down, Alice and I grew apart, I still considered her a good friend, someone who I would do just about anything for. And so, when she died, it hit me pretty hard. I still think about her; I wonder if maybe talking to people who knew her from Menninger might have helped. And she’s one of the reasons I want to go into social work; maybe my first-hand experience with mental illness, combined with training in therapy, might be able to help someone in a situation similar to hers. But she’ll never be back; there will always be an Alice-shaped hole in my life.

More recently, I’ve had some relationship troubles with Calla. She told me that she doesn’t feel like she is ready for a relationship, and might not be for a long while, and I wanted to try to understand why. My misguided attempts to understand what she felt was holding her back may have pushed her too far, though, and now we’re not speaking. She’s an important part of my life, and so every day that I don’t hear from her just makes it clear to me how much her absence can cause me grief. I want to talk to her, to try to explain what I was trying to say, to apologize, to do something, anything, to get her back in my life. But for right now, the only thing I think I can do is wait for her to decide to talk to me again. Hopefully, she’ll do that soon, and we can work on repairing the damage.

It’s weird; the closer I feel to someone, the more frightened I am that I will do something to drive them away. And now, in some way, that fear has been realized with Calla. I guess it’s just a fear of being abandoned or rejected – well, I say ‘just’ when it’s clearly pretty serious for me, but I guess it’s not all that unusual. It means I kind of need to be in contact, and meeting up with, the people I care about in order to live a healthy life. I can’t do that with Alice, but there’s still hope for me to do that with Calla.

What becomes of the broken-hearted?

Earlier today, I got some really bad news from Calla – she doesn’t see a possibility in the future, at least not anytime soon, of having a romantic relationship with me. That was pretty painful news for me. I’ve always known there was a chance this would happen, but I was hoping, really hoping that it would turn out differently. I knew I had feeling for her way back in October of last year, and over time those feeling grew, and I fell for her as hard as I’ve ever done before. And now that there’s really not any possibility of a relationship like that happening, I have to deal with the mess that results.

I’m not angry; she has perfectly valid reasons for not wanting a relationship right now. There’s just a lot of pain and sadness – an ache in my chest, that kind of burning, anxious feeling I get in my chest when I’m feeling stressed out and panicked. I had to go to work after finding out, so I didn’t really have time to just sit with it; that’s coming now. It’s just an awful feeling; not entirely unlike when Alice died last month, because the possibility of something I had really been hoping for has died. Now I have to figure out how to deal with that, and how to deal with Calla just being a friend.

I feel a little like I’m not entirely in control of my body; I was kind of on autopilot at work tonight, because I was still in shock about what had happened. I can see my fingers typing, and I know my brain is telling them to, but it almost feels like I’m playing some kind of really warped video game. I wish I was, because I’d choose to play one that turned out better for me. I always seem to fall for great women, but never at the right time. I know two isn’t really a pattern, but it feels like it is; I’m almost 35, and if it’s as long between my next almost-relationship as it was between my first and Calla, I’ll be almost 50. My love life just feels kind of hopeless right now, and no amount of telling me how this is all for the best, or she didn’t deserve me, or any of those other cliched lines is going to do anything to make the hurting stop.

I wanted so badly for us to be together; I thought we would have been a good couple, But that’s over now. I’m not sure it was ever really in the cards except in my mind. So now I’m going to go cry, fall asleep, and then wake up in the morning and go back to work. Such is life.