Chemical Dependency

Increasingly, over the last several years, I find that the maintenance of my health requires prescription medications. Thyroid conditions, birth-control pills – all of a sudden, half the things in my body seem to need external assistance with their proper functioning. During the period a few years back when my migraines were really bad, I had a combination of 5-6 different medications to take on a semi-regular basis. I would look at my sink and think, “What does an able-bodied twentysomething woman need with all these drugs?” I felt very old, and sickly. These days, though, my meds are down to three, and there’s only one of them that really bothers me.

I’ve struggled with depression since I was a young child, and a few years back decide to finally head in for some overdue counseling. I hadn’t exactly looked down on therapy before, I just wasn’t sure that I would find a therapist who understood my worldview and could help mw work through my issues in a way that was consistent with my faith. But it worked out pretty well – I found a series of good psychologists I could trust, and I found that my experience was very positive overall.

But anti-depressants? That was another matter. I had a lot of hang-ups about meds for my mind; I didn’t like the idea of having to rely on a drug to alter my mental state and keep me functional. I know there’s no shame in it, I have family members who are on anti-depressants and friends who have considered it, and I’ve never looked down on any of them. But somehow, for me, it felt like that would be a failure, a sign of my weakness and inability to control my emotions like a normal human being should be able to. I thought that would be the final signal that there was really, truly something fundamentally wrong with me, and that would justify why other people never seemed to treat me the way that I wanted.

Well, I guess there is something fundamentally wrong with me, because after a few months trial on anti-depressants and a few months unintentional hiatus as I switched doctors and tried to get all my prescriptions re-ordered, I’m discovering that I just don’t cope as well without them. And I do feel ashamed, especially now that I realize I need them to stay on an even keel – before, it was just a trial and something that seemed to help me out a little, but now I feel dependent, and I hate knowing that I can’t respond to things without crying and being hypersensitive unless I’m being chemically aided. Blah blah blah imbalance, blah blah blah there’s no such thing as normal – tell most people on the street that you can’t get through the day without bursting into tears over something, and you can just see the “emotional freakshow” warning sign start flashing in their brain. No matter how much people like you, even if they love you, no one wants to be around a depressed person for very long.

And that’s at the heart of the thing I’m still struggling with, even after all the therapy: I don’t believe that anyone would really accept me as I am, moody, overweight, opinionated, bossy, messy. I know that’s probably partly the depression talking, and that I only listed bad qualities there; but no one stops hanging around me because I’m too nice, or too friendly. I want to know that there’s one person in my life who will be able to look at me and still see that I’m beautiful, fun, sweet, smart and loveable, no matter what other aspects of my personality might be on display. And I feel so tired and so frustrated and so alone when I have to keep fixing myself to be what everyone says I should be; no matter how hard I try, I just don’t seem to be doing it right enough.

At any rate, I hope this stuff starts kicking in soon, because this week is off to a crappy start so far.

Denying My Countrymen

The Olympics are the worst time for me to be an American. Somehow, watching us exhibit our sportiness on the international stage builds up this huge tidal wave of anti-American sentiment that I would never exhibit at any other time. I’m rooting for everyone else to beat us, and part of me is sad every time we do well. It’s a little disturbing, really; and what’s more, it’s not something that has been with me all my life. I remember the 1984 Olympics and how excited I was about everything – I think my family must have taped at least half of the TV coverage, certainly all of the swimming and gymnastics and probably a good portion of the track and field – and I loved America back then. I loved that the games were here, I loved our teams, and i think it might have been one of the last times I remember really loving the Olympics themselves.

Now they make me feel disillusioned, jaded. I’m still not over the professional athletes thing; I hate how much, despite the way everyone talks about showing off the global community and international spirit, the Games make so clear the disparity between rich and poor nations; I hate that the IOC lets China decide what Taiwan ought to be called. I hate Olympic commentators, because they fill the airwaves with stupid, stupid, not even midly entertaining blather. I hate NBC’s super-hyper-America-centric coverage, as if no one in this country wants to see anyone else but us. (What’s that joke about how Americans doesn’t understand the term “other countries”?) I hate that, in the parade of nations, they cut away when all these little, obviously unimportant countries are marching, but they’d never even think of cutting away during America’s or Australia’s million-man marches. I hate that the parade of nations reminds me that the United States, a supposed democracy, holds numerous territories where the people who live there are governed by laws they have no ability to help make or change.

When did I become so bitter?

I don’t know why I can’t see the good in the Olympics. Well, that’s not totally true; I just can’t see the good in America’s part in the Olympics, at least not most of the time. I was really moved by Japan’s win in the men’s team gymnastics finals and, I loved South Africa’s win in the swimming relay the other day. I like the underdog stories, that’s part of it, but I also like the fact that the South Africans wiped that smug look off of Michael Phelps’s face. But why did Japan only matter in the last round, when they beat the American men? This team went from 7th place after the 2nd rotation to a gold medal; that must have been some beautiful gymnastics. Why didn’t I see more of it? Am I just watching the wrong NBC channel, and maybe if I tune into USA, it’ll be better?

I remember how we used to look forward to every 4 years, the Olympics are coming! It was a big deal, we all dropped everything to watch it. It was like the space shuttle going up, but for 2 whole weeks. Now, the space shuttle gets an AP news item, and nobody stops to care unless it blows up. What happened to the world, and to me?

The DNC Empowered ME!

I’m probably taking far too much credit for this, but it’s fun to believe that my comments make a difference.

I live near Boston, home of the 2004 Democratic National Convention. (Yes, of course, take over my city, please!) My rant on how they could hold this convention in the capital of one of the Union’s most consistently liberal states and somehow manage to piss off almost everyone who lives here will be left for another day; today is for celebrating the triumph of one small voice in the halls of power.

(Seriously, I’m so full of myself.)

In the last few weeks, the DNC has had campaign workers all around Boston and surrounding towns recruiting voter support. Their initial call to action: “Want to help defeat George Bush?” This slogan has vied with those with bumper stickers about “re-defeating Bush” (whatever – quit yer whinin’, ya crybabies) as my most hated thing about the Dems mindset in this campaign – not to mention the least productive, in my opinion.

As I noted in a strongly-worded message to the DNC, posted through the comments feature of their website, the defeat-Bush push does nothing to help me get excited about voting for Kerry. If the best thing that his own party can say about the guy is who he’s not, then I think they ought to be a little concerned. I know of a lof of people who aren’t George Bush, but that doesn’t necessarily make me want them as President, either; despite my more conservative leanings, I would love it if one of these campaign workers could explain to me why I should vote for John Kerry, not against someone else. The “We Hate Bush” slogans just focus my attention on how I feel about GW, and leave me wondering whether Kerry has any identity at all.

And this is the crux of the Democrats’ problem, both in 2000 and 2004. If you can’t field a candidate with enough discernible appeal to rouse voters from their apathy and to his (or her) side, expect that you’ll have just as successful an election as we did last time, where Democratic hopes were hung on a few thousand people who couldn’t even figure out how to cast a ballot. The problem is not that some right-wing bought-off Supreme Court conspiracy tresspassed all over the separation of powers – it’s that the election was so close that it had to go to the Supreme Court at all, because American voters were so meh about the two options that they basically coin-tossed it to see who would win. (By the way, these outraged Democrats wouldn’t be complaining about separation of powers if the decision had been in their favor … so just accept that you lost and move on to finding better people to represent your party.)

I have a better sense of what Kerry’s running mate stands for than what he stands for; why is that? Why don’t I understand Kerry’s personality and stand on the issues? Why, when I ask other people who are more left-leaning, can’t they tell me either? Why hasn’t the DNC worked much harder to show me that he believes in something, represents something, has a viewpoint, has some passions? I may not like John Edwards’ populist focus, but I appreciate that I’m aware of it; and as for Bush, although I think he’s probably not up to the job and surrounded by bad counselors, I know that he has an opinion about how the world should be and is trying to do something to make it into what he feels is better. I can respect that, even when I don’t like what he ends up doing.

Which is the long way ’round to my point – this afternoon, when walking by some campaign workers, what do I hear?

“Want to come help us elect John Kerry?”

It might seem trivial and purely semantic, but it’s the first sign I’ve had in weeks that there might be something about Kerry that’s worth knowing. And I’m encourged to think that the DNC powers-that-be are listening to us little people, the voters.

Tomorrow, I might even stop and ask them some questions.

Beat

“Well, adieu, most stressful week of my summer. Please do not stop by again.”

I don’t think last summer’s session of this program was this stressful, because I can’t imagine wanting to do this ever again after having a month (or, really, not even a month yet) like the one I’ve been having. Or maybe I did what women say you do with childbirth, when your mind fades the pain into some sort of warm, glowy memory, so that the human race has a chance of multiplying rather than dying out because no one wants to do more than one pregnancy.

Or something.

I’m insanely tired. I thought I had been pretty tired before in my life, but right now, i just want to melt into a napping puddle on the floor at least once an hour. I know I must look like crap to my kids, and they’re probably wondering what’s wrong with that old bag at the front of the room. Good heavens – it’s right before my 28th birthday, and I’ve turned into that worn down, old-lady teacher who looks 15 years older than she actually is. That’s depressing.

Anyway, because of my crazy week, I haven’t been blogging much; not that I haven’t had stuff I wanted to vent about, I just couldn’t work up the strength to do it. And this week, surprisingly, I’m having a pretty good time of it. I think my decision to engage in minimal contact with everyone associated with my proram who isn’t a student is paying off, although I suspect that as a result there’s one staff member at the school who I might never again address in full sentences. That’s kind of a shame, because when he’s not throwing “a 12-year-old hissy fit,” as one of my co-workers called it, he’s funny and good to hang out with. Maybe I should just avoid working with him again, and we can return to being friends.

I think that my stepping back from making any more comments about how poorly this program is run has also forced the other staff members to speak up themselves if they are having issues, rather than leaving me to be the spokesperson. Not only does this keep me from being left flapping in the breeze by myself whenever I press an issue, it also allows the upper levels of management to see that it’s not just me yelling like a crazy person – other people are experiencing these same issues with similar levels of frustration.

So I feel more at peace, and secure in the knowledge that in less than two weeks, I’m free!

Why Faithlife?

What does it mean to be a Christian?  How does that define and alter the way that I choose to lead my life?  What effect does that have on my interactions with the rest of the world?  What are the issues I wrestle with, and how do I deal with them?

 

I suppose Faithlife is a Christian blog, because it’s written by someone who believes in Christ as the Savior of the world, the fully-human incarnation of the Divine who came into the world to teach us how to live, and then died and rose again to life in order to provide a way for men to be back in fellowship with God.  That’s the foundation of what I believe, and then there are a lot of other things that follow from that.

 

But I think sometimes people take Christian blogs, or any other thing with a Christian label, and assume that they will contain certain content or a certain point of view, or be written in a certain way.  Of course, they do that with a lot of other things about me, too, whether it’s blackness or femaleness or whatever other characteristic people want to use to indentify me.  I suppose if I had a sub-mission, after serving God and trying to tell people about Him, it would be to show people that things are not always what you judge them to be by their labels.  I like to be contrary, I guess.

 

So I write about my life, as a Christian, as a black-hispanic woman, as someone in school, as someone with money problems, as someone who likes to travel, as me.  I write about how I deal with things, and how I deal with some things better than others.  I write because I might like to be a writer professionally one of these days.  I write so I have a better outlet than smacking people upside the head, even if I think they really, really, really deserve it. 

 

Although honestly, don’t we all sometimes?

Catharsis

Ah, crazy summer supervisor strikes again.  What do you do when you’ve exhausted all of your current options for complaint, and someone is still driving you up a wall?  I’m trying to find my “Zen place,” as I recommended to one of my co-workers, but I seem to be better at dishing out advice than at taking it.

 

To get it out today, I wrote a memo.  Writing is truly theraputic; after a 7-page memorandum, I feel much better and less angry, even though nothing has changed since 7 hours ago when I read his email.  But getting all of my thoughts out onto paper (or into Word, as you have it) helped so much.  It’s nice to have another way to work through this besides moaning to anyone who will listen among my family and friends; I’m sure they’re tired of hearing about it, and I’m starting to feel like Lindsay Lohan’s character in Mean Girls with my constant word vomit about this particular issue.

 

And so it’s good to have my blog, where I get set my shorter rantings and ravings free without alienating my social circle.  For all the questionable things the internet offers, this is one of the good ones.

Office Politics

I think I’m something of a firebrand. I guess it’s one of these waves in my personality – when I was younger, I was a huge people-pleaser, always seeking approval and attention and affirmation of who I was and what I was doing. I still thrive – probably too much – on those things, but of late I’ve become more willing to do things regardless of whether others like what I choose. I’m more willing to speak out, slowly becoming more willing to look foolish and take risks; I think this is a good part of becoming more comfortable with who I am, but it’s a little like a pendulum. I feel like I’m swinging between extremes of self-loathing and complete arrogance, though I’ve never resided fully at either end. (Except, well, I do have a strong tendency to self-loathing.)

At any rate, I’m becoming very direct these days – not quite in-your-face confrontational, but defintely not mincing words. I’ve always been sensitive to the way tones and word choice create certain effects, but now I’m more willing to let those effects or impressions be negative, if that’s what I want. I think it makes people uncomfortable sometimes; I come out very strong, I’m very expressive and opinionated and passionate. I require others to meet me with equal strength, and I have less and less patience with people who are not able to do so. I’m a little more hard and exacting, whereas I used to be more forgiving and willing to make excuses for people. It’s not that I’ve stopped being aware of the reasons or excuses behind people’s behavior, I’m just not always willing to put up with it.

I suppose I’ll find that happy medium as time goes on; I probably need to learn to moderate my presentation of ideas a bit more and be more accessible to people who aren’t used to such a forceful approach. I guess I’m just not ready to pull back from this extreme yet. I like being willing to more fully express aspects of my personality such as my passions and emotions that have been repressed in the past because I thought people wouldn’t like me for them. I feel like I’m coming into myself, and I’m enjoying this phase of my emotional maturation.