Thursday, May 16, 2013

Changes Come in Floods

If you're my friend on Facebook or see me more than once a month, you know that I was recently laid off from a job I worked for near 10 years. The official reason was that the company that bought my former employer found my job to be redundant and obsolete, and apparently they couldn't place me elsewhere in the company (they told a friend who was also laid off the same day that she could apply to current open positions. Apply, as in start over. Yeah.). Anyway, I'm now finding myself unintentionally unemployed for the first time in my life. It's an experience I never wanted, and hope to never have again. But for now, living must continue.

And that's kind of a thing all its own, because there is now zero income to pay for my mortgage, or my electric bill, or my cable, or my groceries. Despite my best efforts, I spent (still spend, really) a good part of my now unoccupied days drowning in my own despair. Given my history, I recognize that I'm in danger of finding myself in a deeper depression than I've ever known. I'm fighting it. I really am. Really. It's hard. It's a daily thing. I'm working on it. Ups and downs. The day after I got the news was pretty bad. It's been a while since I've been that bad. The truth is I am not ok. For all my going through my days like nothing is wrong, most if it is a lie. My stress level is through the roof. I am not ok.

But I've been dealing with the chemical imbalances in my brain on my own for decades. I know a thing or two about stress and depression. I understand that this is stress that I've never had before, but I will deal with it on my own as I always have. At this point, that's all I can do.That's all I have to work with.

There are a few things in my list of activities that release feel-good chemicals in my brain no matter how I'm feeling when I started. Finding the will to do those things is its own challenge, but once I do them, I always always always feel better. Even if it's just for a moment. Those moments keep me going right now as it is.


I'm not kidding, reading really does help, but it's not just any kind of reading. It is something very specific. What helps me feel good is getting settled and set into bed, with my cats in their preferred sleeping positions around me and I read aloud to them. But not just any story, it doesn't work with a Terry Goodkind or George R R Martin novel (I might argue that those two write things that are stressful in general anyway), or even a Shakespearean comedy. It has to be a fairy tale, a silly children's poem, some story that I remember and love from my childhood, or something with the same flavor as those stories that I remember and love from my childhood. My default go-to is Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss. Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree is a close second (anything by these two usually work).

This book belonged to my brother and somehow found its way to my bookshelf.  It has since been returned to him.


This one is tricky, because the inspiration to create something is usually not there at all when I'm very depressed. If I have one moment of muse, I have to take it right then and there, or it will go away altogether. Painting, sculpting, writing, or, at the very top of my list, crocheting usually do the trick. If I can bring myself to get started. That's the hard part.

Make something fun, like a crocheted Ewok.

Oh, cooking. Cooking is an adventure all its own when I do it, and I have to be prepared for the consequences. By those, I mean the kitchen in need of cleaning when I'm done. The joy from the creation of food usually is enough to ignore the kitchen for a couple days. But, like being creative as I mentioned above, I have to find just the right motivation to do something new or wonderful or delightful or creative.  But usually once I get going, I find myself in the zone. Baking delivers the best happy-brain result, but I have to be mindful of the guilt afterwards - guilt if I can't find anyone else to eat it!

The cake is not a lie!


I recently discovered this one. It's silly, because it's been in front of me forever. It's kind of like reading, though. Not just any game will do. Something old, something that I really enjoyed as a child delivers the best feeling during and after. I spent the last two days fighting off a migraine and, when it wasn't consuming me, I was playing one of my top three most beloved games ever. It amazed me how wonderful it made me feel. I was even contemplating how calm I was during a boss fight I was losing. For some reason, just dusting this sucker off brought a nice happy buzz and none of the stress that losing boss fights usually bring.

Go 16-bit for the best result!
None of these tricks really solve my problem, of course. But they help me through my days that are getting more and more stressful, especially as my next mortgage payment looms.

I said "changes come in floods" and they do. My boyfriend, who recognized that my house and my job are the only two things keeping me in that state, asked me to move in with him. He's searching for a house of his own and with my job gone, and my 3-year First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit requirement almost up, the time is just right. It is, and I can't even find the right words to describe all that it means to me. But now there's the added stress of moving this summer, getting my house ready to sell, how long I might have to still pay for it while I'm trying to sell it, where will we live from here. More stress. It's good stress, change is good, and hoped for beyond imagining, but stress nonetheless. Additional stress from my parents who have opinions about things and me living with my boyfriend (and selling my house to do it) doesn't fit in those opinions. Floods of changes. Of possibilities. Of stress. Of dreams. There is adventure in here and it is exciting and wonderful and unexpected and amazing all at the same time. I know I said earlier that I'm not ok. I'm not, so much is still uncertain. But I know I will be. I will be.